In October the creative team of The Spookmaster, which is a new play for children, spent a weekend in ICU experimenting with combinations of narration, physical portrayal, puppetry, sound and video projections.
One of the common questions I'm asked by children is, 'Is that story real?' The Spookmaster is a play where the answer isn't yes or no. Things are real and make-believe. The story is told as a memory, a thing that no longer physically exists but is nevertheless 'real'. Similarly, the central character isn't defined in one medium, he's physically enacted, he's a puppet, he's a projection, he's a puppet seeing himself in his own nightmare. Even the videos are reality shifting – they combine actual Super 8 footage from the performer's true childhood in combination with invented material. But which is which?
So next time a kid asks me, 'Is that story real?', I'm going to reply, 'You tell me?'
There's a short video of us working at
The Spookmaster opens at Castlemaine State Festival. Written and performed by Mark Penzak, Lynne Kent directing, Jim Coad video, Andrée Cozens sound and Eliza-Jane Gilchrist set/puppet design.
--------- Blog 6: Surveying coordinates
I made the most of the sunny morning and took the theodolite out to practice some coordinating movements.
Exercise 1: Aligning the theodolite to the concrete walkway:
Exercise 2: Pivoting to gaze into the field:
Spotted a friend in the yard... I think I was being surveyed...
Exercise 3: Surveying the path:
--------- Blog 5.2: measuring the library
On Thursday and Friday I set up in the foyer of the Castlemaine Library, and took to exploring the brickwork as a new unit of measure...
--------- Blog 5.1: measured walking
Today's excercise was to examine the path out the front of Punctum's ICU space where I am working. I wanted to know how the path moved, how its incline altered my movements and footsteps, and if there was any way to measure these concrete-footstep-movements.
Questions to consider: How might a concrete path move? How might we walk-with a footpath?
There was a lot of stumbling, balancing, and awkward walking....
We made lists with a small group of women today:
The sum of our parts
Eat it too
We performed some material we created in the last few weeks, asking what the text, objects and images brought to mind:
She was left wanting fries, just as some are left wanting with motherhood.
Why are there good eggs and bad eggs, or good parents and bad parents.
We wonder if any of the material confronts or offends, and why.
This morning, we pulled our shopping trolley (full of props, clothes, and stuff) on a dirt road from the house we were staying at to Kangaroo Flat station. A 45-minute brisk walk.
We overlooked to take a photo as we were too mesmerized by a herd of kangaroos.
“Quick! Take a photo of the kangaroos!”
Later in the evening, we took a photo of the trolley at the station to prevent further regret. We have to document the trolley.
This is what the trolley on the dirt road might have looked like.
If you had a child, what food item would they be?
CARROT. My son adores carrots to the point of obsession – carrot themed decorations, carrot tattoo (fake), carrot toys etc.
CHOCOLATE HEART. My chocolate heart that walks around outside of my body, sweet & delicious out there in the world.
We are looking into symbolism in performance.
Jude asks how engagement with audience at this early stage of our process may influence the form of the work? Are the activities we have undertaken with our potential audience simply creative research, or could these activities (list making, curious questions) be incorporated into the final artwork?
One of us is off to Europe, then one of us is off to have a baby (cake). We were serious when we said: this is a performance project and life project whisked and folded into one.
------- Blog 4: moss as measure
An exercise in finding different scales of attention. In this case, the moss growing in between the footpath, gutter and road.
The moss growth becomes a new scale to measure by. Marking the moss as measurement onto a surveying pole, this recalibrates the measurements of my footsteps as I walk along the side of the road.
----------- Blog 3.2: surveying: walking paths
17/07/16 afternoon, partly cloudy, top 13C.
Using a folding-survey-ruler I attempted to measure the footprints and tracks on the path, and the distances between rocks, leaves, broken sticks, mud, etc.
A person and two large dogs came walking past - the dogs were very eager to say hello and add new paw prints to the ground...
--------- Blog 3.1: surveying: seedlings and paths
16/07/16 afternoon, Sunny, top 12C.
Went to the Botanical Gardens, walked around twice, decided that the seedlings planted, enclosed by plastic and stakes to shelter them, were an interesting pattern and site. A few days previous I watched a council person planting them. His footsteps were still evident in amongst the soil in the area. Walking in the indents of the footprints, I traced out a new path. There were traces of practice - the action of planting the seedlings was left in the footprints.
Then, using a folding ruler, I tried to survey and measure the footsteps and new paths, aligning to previous traces of activity, and the seedlings’ new structures and positions.
Punctum Week of experiments
Jude wants to know: Does durational process lead to making, or does making lead to durational outcome?
I’ve been thinking about: Repetition, duration and creating meaning; and how human’s contextualise themselves within their environment.
Daily report: Friday 24th July, 2015
My experiment for the day: Circle drawing (making>duration>making>duration etc.)
For my last experiment I decided to introduce drawing to the performative process. I have been playing with drawing documentation of my performances for the past couple of years. More recently I have found that repetitive patterns, and observational drawing work similarly to meditation for me.
Today my experiment was to introduce observational drawing into my process of building the circle. My aim was to see if I could swap my repetitive process of stacking rocks with the repetitive drawing to transform physicality of the rock into an idea of a rock. Thus the viewer could place the rocks into their own context, their experience of repetition, duration, cycles and the natural environment. This would help me connect to my initial intentions to investigate how people connect to and understand their environment, and creating meaning using repetition and duration.
As I drew I thought about why people draw. Drawing transforms the object into an image, making the idea transportable, and malleable via the artist into the new context. When I drew these rocks, it was for people to look at, but also so that the ideas and processes I have been working with over the past week could be transported with me, back to Melbourne, and considered further.
I feel like I cannot say if my experiment was successful today because it was the beginning of a process that will take a lot longer: The process of making this series of experiments with and for myself, to making an artwork with and for other people.
By partaking in this intensive week at Punctum I have come away with a structure for working. Jude’s request for daily updates and prompting questions gave me a scaffold to stretch out techniques, processes, and ideas that I have been collecting for years. Using this framework that Jude describes as Action Research I have been able to take risks, let my ideas lead me to unexpected perspectives, dive head-first into unknowable outcomes, and make without cutting myself short before I’ve even begun. This style of working has let me balance the spontaneous and intuitive maker with the critical and structured editor.
If my rock circles develop into live art outcomes you may see some more of me at Punctum in a year or so.
Thanks very much to Jude for her structure and mentoring, Adrian for his ever-helpfulness and serenity, and Ellen who was a surrogate mum to me, nurturing me with some truly delicious dinners this week.
Thank you for reading,