Sunday, August 27, 2006

The planets move in your tiny videos in real time. Light that covered an inhuman distance is focused through a lens onto a mirror, captured by a camera, and plays back now in a space the size of a matchbook.

Your translation from light years to pixels approximates your motion between me and your restlessness and me and your exuberance and me.

The scale of things entrusted to us staggers even ourselves. Your pixel-level graphing of what you know to be going on out beyond where we can see with the unaided eye reveals your trust in the mixed meanings. A certain comfort with motion, at any scale, lets you shift between here, in this kitchen, and here, in this coastal weather pattern, and here, in this planetary orbital path, and here, in this unfurling galaxy.

This will take up all the available time for a while. I can see from your face I’ve made an impression.

This paradigm shifts so that words are as nimble as neurotransmitters. Like a small chemical messenger, a word can do anything you can think of. A word can move muscles. A word can hold eyes.

Does size what--? Oh, forget it. You know the only thing that matters.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Experimental Text Festival Call for work:

Experimental Text Festival at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater
Curated by Sally Oswald and Jennifer Tsuei

The Ontological will host an Experimental Text Festival, a four-night multi-arts event designed to promote interest in new forms of notation and unorthodox methods of making and presenting work. The festival will feature short form works by established and emerging artists who will gather over a few months to discuss issues around working with experimental texts.

Intent to apply e-mail: September 1, 2006 to
Application due in hand October 1, 2006.

Writers and artists concerned with experimental text: you are invited to submit project proposals to take part in this May 2007 festival. Your involvement will include several meetings with fellow creators as well as two - four performances. Curators Sally Oswald (Play: A Journal of Plays) and Jennifer Tsuei (Fantasias for the Immoderate) seek graphically dynamic, alternately oriented, unusually notated, or formally rebellious texts that call for new approaches to staging and performance. All genres and all media welcome: poetry, sound, video, dance, visual art and beyond. Curators are especially interested in artists who are taking aesthetic risks, and who will participate generously in discussions about making work and supporting each other in development. Emerging artists encouraged, established artists welcome.

We would prefer to hear from you by September 1, 2006 if you intend to apply. No one will be disqualified for not dropping a line, but it would certainly help us look out for your application.

Deliver your application in hard copy to the Ontological by October 1, 2006 along with any supporting materials. Since we are trying to present the newest of ideas, we need a bit of explanation of your goals and methods. Don't sweat it - and write us if you have questions.

Festival Tech and Performances are May 14-20, 2007. Light board, sound op, and Stage Manager to call the show will be provided. Groups must provide own running crew, rehearsal stage manager, and designers as needed. Available lighting will be a very simple rep plot hung for our festival and another festival, which will be running at the same time. The Ontological will promote the festival on its website and will print postcards, but cannot provide rehearsal space or any additional resources.

Applications should be initiated by writers. Festival Tech and Performances are May 14-20, 2007. Writers/artists will be asked to attend four developmental meetings between February 1, 2007 and the festival. These meetings will allow participants to get to know one another, discuss working methods, resources, and production needs. Depending on participants' wishes, meetings may be oriented towards showing work-in-progress, problem solving, or sharing technique. The meetings are, overall, intended to be short, helpful, and build community.

1. COVER PAGE your name, address, e-mail address, phone, and contact info for all collaborators.

2. RESUMES for main collaborators. List three references for yourself (This is only to give us a sense of your artistic community).

3. PAST WORK include a text you've completed and a paragraph describing where and how it was done or could be done. You may include any supporting graphics, video, etc that you think will help us envision your past work.

4. EXPERIMENTAL TEXT: Enclose a copy of the text you plan to explore through this festival. Running time may be as short as 7 minutes but no longer than 25 minutes. While we expect your text could change through the rehearsal process, please submit what you have right now. We will be reading it for the inventiveness of your tactics towards composition and the page. You may include a page or two of seed material that has helped you generate this text (images, found text etc) if applicable.

5. APPROACH (1 page max) – please answer these questions:
-what do you want us to know about your text?
-what should we know about your text in performance?
-where are you coming from in terms of your training or background?
-what are your aesthetic goals and desires?
-what kind of impact do you want to have?

6. WORKING METHODS (1 page max) – please answer the below, briefly:
-who are you going to work with to present this text?
-what will your working methods be?
-what are you envisioning this performance to look like?
-what is your access to rehearsal space and materials?
-what about this festival appeals to you?

Intent to apply courtesy e-mail by September 1, 2006.
Mail your application materials to arrive by October 1, 2006.
Ontological - Hysteric Theater
131 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
Attn: Experimental Text Festival

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"I return to the fragment: while it is never unique, still it has no external limit--the outside toward which it falls is not its edge--and at the same time no internal limiation (it is not a hedgehog, rolled up and closed upon itself). And yet it is something strict, not because of its brevity (it can be prolonged like agony), but through the tautness, the tightness that chokes to the breaking point: there are always some links that have sprung (they are not missing). No fullness, no void."

Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, translated by Ann Smock (Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1986), p. 46.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

We responded to the ubiquitous emergency as if it wasn’t happening to us. Our island of pleasure seemed all the more fanciful as we absorbed the continuous updates about the far-away detonations and the dismemberments. Perhaps that was the purpose of the uninterrupted disaster stories, to lull us in our own comfort. Or perhaps it was only an unintended consequence that it threw our surroundings into sharper focus, as if we’d upgraded to HDTV and all our verdant foliage glowed in a CGI spectacle. Our foods were more savory, our sweets more sumptuous, we congratulated each other on the personal milestones in our lives—marriage, pregnancy, professional advancement—we read each others’ lips and shared in carnival laughter that was the only sound to drown out the subtly pulsating high-pitched whine, a modem’s signal or perhaps a smoke alarm, a constant intrusive undertone as if the photograph in which we appeared were underprinted in red. The whine gave a consistent center to all our activities, a center line around which the graph of our pulse rose and fell. The whine was there, comfortingly, whenever our attention fell away from other things.

It provided a constant more compelling that the absence around which we usually came together, it provided an activity with which our over-stimulated, underutilized panic response could occupy itself, it made us feel that we were doing something. It made us feel that we knew something important about what was going on. And knowing something important gave our current pleasures more resonance, and our struggles more meaning. There was a larger evil outside of us, this could explain why some things never went right. And it made even more precious the things that did. Here we were, in this shady back yard sharing a meal, when we could have been lying at the side of a road somewhere, dismembered.

We stirred in our sleep, a gigantic baby whose slightest movement disrupts millions.

The blush on the apricots was flawless.

When one of us was quietly bombed and disappeared, the others kept talking, perhaps the pitch of the whine rose a few intervals in one or another’s head, this would cause some tightening in the muscles of the temples, maybe followed by closing the eyes and squeezing the temples between the thumb and middle finger of one hand.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

from Childhood, Nathalie Sarraute, 1983:

-- Is that true? have you really not forgotten what it was like there? How everything there fluctuates, alters, escapes… you grope your way along, forever searching, straining… towards what? what is it? it’s like nothing else… no one talks about it… it evades you, you grasp it as long as it eventually finds some fertile ground where it can develop, where it can perhaps manage to live… My goodness, just thinking about it…

-- Yes, it makes you grandiloquent. I would even say, presumptuous. I wonder whether it isn’t still that same fear… Remember the way it returns whenever anything inchoate crops up… What remains with us of former endeavors always seems to have the advantage over what is still trembling somewhere in limbo…

-- That’s just it: what I’m afraid of, this time, is that it isn’t trembling… not enough… that it has become fixed once and for all, “a sure thing,” decided in advance…

-- Don’t worry about it having been decided in advance… it’s still vacillating, no written word, no word of any sort has yet touched it, I think it is still faintly quivering… outside words… as usual… little bits of something still alive… I would like… before they disappear… let me…

-- Right. I won’t say any more… and in any case, we know very well that when something starts haunting you…

-- Yes, and this time, it’s hardly believable, but it was you who prompted me, for some time now you have been inciting me…

-- I?

-- Yes, you, by your admonitions, your warnings… you conjure it up, you immerse me in it…

(Translated by Barbara Wright. George Braziller, 1984)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Some lives bear no resemblance to the things that happen in them.

Going forward, without being seen, they clutched to indignation as the only expression of their having been there, having been not quite where they meant to be, but the unfulfilled desire by its very existence attested to what might have been, and if anything might have been otherwise, then why not, why not hold on to what might have turned out to be a better way.

Some events happen too slowly to be registered. Some changes happen too slowly to be perceived.

Every little thing that could make one want to die might have happened without one dying. If the sheer kindness is too exquisite to bear, the time elapsed must increase in order to be borne.

--from A Series of Water Disasters, work in progress

Sunday, July 16, 2006

from The Adventures of Telemachus, Louis Aragon, 1922:

"I still wonder how I could have lost myself in time. I had accepted with pleasure an invitation to go to Normandy where one of my friends, the recently married Celeste P... has a villa. With Paris practically deserted, the prospect of spending a few days at the seashore in the bracing atmosphere of brine and fresh air delighted me. But I did not suspect the parlous states awaiting me in this land of peace and tranquility. The day had been splendid. Dust had invaded the compartment, but as son as we approached the sea a delicious coolness established its reign in our hearts. Upon arrival, I looked around and saw that the sky was sky blue. Celeste came toward me, his hand extended, when lo and behold, my mind wandered, and I thought of something else. Once you have thought of something else, it's all over. In no way could I return to my point of departure and, from one thing to the next, I found myself in a desert region at an undetermined period of the universe. At first I did not understand what was happening to me. I said to myself: "It won't last." Now I no longer know if it is still lasting.

I have ascertained that in the temporal blind alley where I have lost my way there is not a living soul. Only a companion in misfortune could enable me to come back to life. Together we would reconstitute time. Purely a question of comparison. But alone, I elude myself by dint of believing that I remain identical: if I stay the same from one minute to the next, how can I experience the quality acquired at this movement of the hand? Finally I no longer feel the continuity of my thought; strictly speaking, at certain moments. For the most part, everything seems logical to me in my solitude, and if I write for problematical rescuers, eyeless savages or the irresponsive waves that will carry off my bottle, I can no longer rest assured that the language I use will ever be intelligible to anyone but myself. I find reading impossible: I understand myself only within the moment. The words that come to mind wear at times odd faces, bare and perhaps different from themselves. Pricked balloons. Pastimes, pleasures, leisures strike me as strange customs: fire is what I consider the most mysterious.

(Translated by Renee Riese Hubert and Judd D. Hubert. Exact Change Press, 1997)