Archives for posts with tag: Laurie Anderson

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I am so fucking distracted not only accidentally distracted by an event that happened on this morning’s trip from the village to the house but by trying to be intentionally distracted. However, inside these diversions I’m searching for a driving force that will direct my performance.

He has shouted again in his insidious, attractive Bavarian accent. He is a child and I literally can’t stand his voice any longer. But what can I do? More plays in dreary Darmstadt?

Oh, this is good. I’ve already wasted 15 seconds. It’s really not easy putting on this state of mind, this necessary exercise; a constant internal monologue. Distraction, concentration, and distortion.

Slowly I lift my head and I can feel the second camera taking over, Andrea looks knowingly pensive.

The wind in the trees has a perfect momentum echoing the delicate sound of nothing being played on the turntable. Last night at the bar Raben was trying out records, matching composers to pills. He ended with what he will dub the scene with; an all too obvious choice of Mahler’s eighth symphony, he is such a sentimental phony, why is he still around? Did R.W. not stop fucking him last year?

It’s easy to smile and I can tell R.W. is enjoying this. I drink in his eternal character and externalize it through the tight corners of my lips, hoping and knowing that the lip-gloss has a perfect, tight uncrackable surface. Why can I never believe a reality that someone else creates, even when it is on my own body?

I just don’t have faith, spiritually or practically.

The truth evades me in every splintered second. Anxiety crawls into every part of my body and always has control…

Good, this is working I can turn my head, keep the smile, keep the negative thoughts yet remember as R.W. said ‘like a machine, a romantic anarchy in movement.’ I therefore turn my head as if it were a perfect sphere locked onto a pole, joined by a greased socket. Then I let my lungs take over. The inward and outward movement of air brings the entire gesture to a perfectly choreographed conclusion.

The rolodex in my mind flutters like a cloud of bees escaping small puffs of smoke. I’m searching for yet another character. I feel the camera over my left shoulder. I put my left hand in a clutched position (I imagine the bee keepers smoke gun in my grip) and I move my hand towards the open packed of unmarked cigarettes.

For an instant I see my nail under a microscope. Tessellating plates of hard matter, interlocking lines, jagged like the peaks in a dried up muddy puddle. I slowly pull my hand back. I have managed to use only my middle finger and thumb to remove the cigarette. I have completely avoided using my index finger lending an air of exact complicity to the act. I want the lens to see the full cigarette, both colors, dirty speckled orange and off white. I drag it through the frame and over the mirror; its reflection is tantalizingly blurry. The bees have been chased away by the time I pick up the lighter.

It is all I can do to muster the energy that is needed to keep my concentration on the formless dimension I have created with the resulting smoke.

I let my mind become opaque with the imagined noxious world of gray fumes.

I haven’t blinked throughout this thought.

Again I mentally prepare another fictitious mood. I know the camera has pulled back. R.W. can only think in specific compositions and he is looking for another one.

I quickly raise the cigarette to my mouth. I want the trees ruffled by the wind to frame this action. The trees will decorate the edges of my form and imply a stark contrast between the suicidal tendencies of a human being and the unrestrained shape of nature.

I raise the lighter bringing it to the cigarette. For a very short moment I reach back 6 seconds and grab the mechanized articulation I used on my neck pointing my attention to my hand. The lighter’s hinge makes a sharp noise, the cigarette ignites and I inhale. It’s disgusting and has a peculiar armor of wet logs sprinkled with cinnamon. The feeling of the smoke in my lungs completely envelop my body. I let a small cloud of smoke linger on my lips and I inhale.

My dead brother, my poor dead brother is alone.

This is not working so I concentrate on a workman I saw 13 years ago at 5.31am on a Tuesday morning when because of by ex-husbands bizarre habits I couldn’t sleep.

I focus on the memory of the stranger’s hands; wrinkles, dark yellow skin, veins, cracked fingernails. His fingertips are worn smooth by handling hundreds of cold glass objects.

I tap the ash. I pick up a small blush brush in the same mechanical gesture. Before I bring it to my face, I imagine the instant the man’s little finger glanced the cold white object. The object splinters. I feel the glass separating the flesh from the food, magnifying the milk. I gently stroke my face drawing the brush slowly across my cheek.

My distraction is intentional. I hope the image of the man will complicate my action to create an atmosphere of childhood innocence, the child that Andrea is playing across the room.

The glass bottle in my daydream looses its comfortable form and becomes a single hook tearing at the man’s hand, drawing a line from his thumb to his wrist. Blood slowly, neatly, cleanly flows.

I channel this image to refresh my body language.

I spin my head (again mechanically) to look at Andrea. I have not forgotten my eyes, heavily made up they flick into action highlighting my characters vanity. This introduces Andrea’s character and the inhuman distance between my thought and actions and the very human love of a mother for a child. I know the shot has changed but I keep firm and Andrea raises her head, her blue eyes like the workman’s meet my own.

Immediately yet slowly I swing my right leg onto the floor. The vibration of the impact echoes through my leg and I use it to shake off my melancholic persona of the last 76 seconds. This is a disciplined and well-practiced move, one I have been using in films with R.W. since The Bitter Tears.

I move casually across the carpet letting my whole body subtly curve and glide. I hold my cigarette up to echo the previous movement’s frozen anxiety. Then I calmly raise it to my lips, my eyes at the same time focus on the orange dot placed by R.W. to create an exact diagonal between the, the center of my pupil and the frame of the camera. I imagine all the other orange dots strewn across the room designed to create an image the audience’s eyes will follow and subconsciously interpret.

I raise my head slowly and while looking past the new Aalon 35mm gingerly clutched by Michael I utter the first work of the film,

‘Schon.’

In this final collaborative A Moment of Eternal Noise Exquisite Corpse the project started with an image created by Alex Eagleton this was given to Ebe Oke who donated the song, this was sent to Richard Evans who wrote the text.

The text is a fictional internal monologue imagining what the actor Margit Carstensen could have been thinking before the first word uttered at 92 seconds into Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1976 movie Chinese Roulette.

The title Coolsville was picked at random from all of Laurie Anderson‘s commercial recordings that use a place name as the title. The date is a randomly generated number from 0 to 2014.

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The Crystal Land

Ice is the medium most alien to organic life, a considerable accumulation of it completely disrupts the normal course of processes in the biosphere.

P. A. Shumkii, Principles of Structural Glaciology

The first time I saw Don Judd’s ‘pink-plexiglass box,’ it suggested a giant crystal from another planet. After talking to Judd, I found out we had a mutual interest in geology and mineralogy, so we decided to go rock hunting in New Jersey. Out of this excursion came reflections, reconstituted as follows:

Near Paterson, Great Notch and Upper Montclair are the mineral-rich quarries of the First Watchung Mountain. Brian H.Mason, in his fascinating booklet, Trap Rock Minerals of New Jersey, speak of the “Triassic sedimentary rocks of the Newark series,” which are related to those of the Palisades. In these rocks one might find: “actinolite, albite, allanite, analcime, apatite, anhydrite, apophyllite, aurichalcite, axinite, azurite, babingtonite, bornite, barite, calcite, chabazite, chalcocite, chalcopyrite, chlorite, chrysocolla, copper, covellite, cuprite, datolite, dolomite, epidote, galena, glauberite, goethite, gmelinite, greenockite, gypsum, hematite, heulandite, hornblende, laumontite, malachite, mesolite, natrolite, opal, orpiment, orthoclase, pectolite, prehnite, pumpellyite, pyrite, pyrolusite, quartz, scolecite, siderite, silver, sphalerite, sphene, stevensite, stilbite, stilpnomelane, talc, thaumasite, thomsonite, tourmaline, ulexite.”

Together with my wife Nancy, and Judd’s wife, Julie, we set out to explore that geological locale. Upper Montclair quarry, “also known as Osborne and Marsellis quarry or McDowell’s quarry,” is situated on Edgecliff Road, Upper Montclair, and was worked from about 1890 to 1918. A lump of lava in the center of the quarry yields tiny quartz crystals. For about an hour don and I chopped incessantly at the lump with hammer and chisel, while Nancy and Julie wandered aimlessly around the quarry picking up sticks, leaves and odd stones. From the top of the quarry cliffs, one could see the New Jersey suburbs bordered by the New York City skyline.

The terrain is flat and loaded with ‘middle income’ housing developments with names like Royal Garden Estates, Rolling Knolls Farm, Valley View Acres, Split-level Manor, Babbling Brook Ranch-Estates, Colonial Vista Homes-on and on they go, forming tiny boxlike arrangements. Most of the houses are painted white, but many are painted petal pink, frosted mint, buttercup, fudge, rose beige, antique green, Cape Cod brown, lilac, and so on. The highways crisscross through the towns and become man-made geological networks of concrete. In fact, the entire landscape has a mineral presence. From the shiny chrome diners to glass windows of shopping centers, a sense of the crystalline prevails.

When we finished at the quarry, we went to Bond’s Ice Cream Bar and had some AWFUL AWFULS- “awful big – and awful good… it’s the drink you eat with a spoon.” We talked about the little crystal cavities we had found, and looked at The Field Book of Common Rocks and Minerals by Frederic Brewster Loomis, I noticed ice is a crystal: “Ice, H2O, water, specific gravity-.92, colorless to white, luster adamantine, transparent on thin edges. Beneath the surface hexagonal crystals grow downward into the water, parallel to each other, making a fibrous structure, which is very apparent when ice is’rotten’….”

After that we walked to the car through the charming Tudoroid town of Upper Montclair, and headed for the Great Notch Quarry. I turned on the car radio: “…count down survey…chew your little troubles away… high ho-hey hey…..”

My eyes glanced the over the dashboard, it became a complex of chrome fixed into an embankment of steel. A glass disk covered the clock. The speedometer was broken. Cigarette butts were packed into the ashtray. Faint reflections slid over the windshield. Out of sight in the glove compartment was a silver flashlight and an Esso map of Vermont. Under the radio dial (55-7-9-11-14-16) was a row of five plastic buttons in the shape of cantilevered cubes. The rearview mirror dislocated the road behind us. While listening to the radio, some of us read the Sunday newspapers. The pages made slight noises as they turned: each sheet folded over the laps forming temporary geographies of paper. A rally of print or a ridge of photographs would come and go in an instant.

We arrived at the Great Notch Quarry, which is situated “about three hundred yards south west of the Great Notch station of the Erie Rail road.” The quarry resembled the moon. A gray factory in the midst of it all, looked like architecture designed by Robert Morris. A big sign on one building said, THIS IS A HARD HAT AREA. We started climbing over the files and ran into a ‘rockhound’, who came on, I thought, like Mr Wizard, and who gave us all kinds of rock-hound-type information in an authoritative manner. We got a rundown on all the quarries that were closed to the public, as well as those that were open.

The walls of the quarry did look dangerous. Cracked, broken, shattered; the walls threatened to come crashing down. Fragmentation, corrosion, decomposition, disintegration, rock creep debris, slides, mud flow, avalanche were everywhere in evidence. The gray sky seemed to swallow up the heaps around us. Fractures and faults spilled forth sediment, crushed conglomerates, eroded debris and sandstone. It was an arid region, bleached and dry. An infinity of surfaces spread in every direction. A chaos of cracks surrounded us.

On the top of a promontory there stood motionless rock drills against the blank which was the sky. High-tension towers transported electric cable over the quarry. Dismantled parts of steam-shovels, tread machines and trucks were lined up in random groups. Such objects interrupted the depositions of waste that formed the general condition of the place. What vegetation there was seemed partially demolished. Newly made boulders eclipsed parts of a wire and pipe fence. Railroad tracks passed by the quarry, the ties formed a redundant sequence of modules, while the steel tracks projected the modules into an imperfect vanishing point.

On the way back to Manhattan, we drove through the Jersey Meadows, or more accurately the Jersey Swamps-a good location for a movie about life on mars. It even has a network of canals that are chocked by acres of tall reeds. Radio towers are scattered throughout these bleak place. Drive-inns, motels and gas stations exist along the highway, and behind them are smoldering garbage dumps. South, toward Newark and Bayonne, the smoke stacks of heavy industry add to the general air pollution.

As we drove throughout the Lincoln Tunnel, we talked about going on another trip, to Franklin Furnace; there one might find minerals that glow under ultra violet light or ‘black light’. The countless cream colored square tiles on the walls of the tunnel sped by, until a sigh announcing New York broke the tiles’ order.

Robert Smithson,The Writings of Robert Smithson,” edited by Nancy Holt, 1979

Attica Frederic Rzewki : Low Speed – Otto Luening overlaid by Cricket Music – Walter De Maria overlaid by The Mathmatics of Resonant Bodies – John Luther Adams overlaid by Lifespan: IV. In the Summer Terry Riley : Glass: Tissues (From Naqoyqatsi) For Cello, Percussion & Piano – Tissue #2 – Wendy Sutter/Philip Glass : Coming Together – Frederic Rzewski : Liquid Strata 3rd Movement – Morton Subotnick : Pastoral for Clarinet and PianoElliot Carter : Aract Graham Fitkin : The Fifth PlagueLaurie Anderson – 78 Mins

Image – ‘This alchemical wheel with a crank is supposed to have been the mark of the Danzig monk Koffskhi. Like Dee’s Monas Hieroglyph it is assembled from the seven metals, on the basis of an inverted glyph of Mercury: “For quicksilver is a mother of all metals, and the Sun (…) it is also Sulphur.” Father Vincentius Koffiskhi, Hermetische Schriften (1478), Nuremberg edition, 1786, “Alchemy & Mysticism,” Alexander Roob

Elements of this post were inspired by Smithson’s text which was selected by the artist Douglas Park. Douglas chose it based on the last word in the title. He then gave Dick Evans the last paragraph and he created the music selection, after that the image was chosen.