Design And Performance Lab
Caroline Wilkins as Instrumentwoman.(c) DAP-Lab, 2009
Cinematic movement character studies by Johannes Birringer
Notes on the creation of interactive audiophonic and amplificational design
by Michèle Danjoux, Johannes Birringer, Caroline Wilkins
I should very much like to see the research/writings Caroline has been doing on the 'Zaum/Saum', to understand better the way our thought processes are developing in order to further inform the designs I am working on for the 'instrumentwoman'.
The term 'Instrumentwoman' was inspired by Barthes and his writings on the relationship between woman and garment and then more specifically on the idea of the hair as 'promised garment'. I saw the Bandoneon as very much a 'promised garment' or extension of Caroline... or is it that Caroline is an extension of the instrument? She seems fused, inseparable and the bandoneon is some weight and yet she makes working with it look effortless! Actually, I was totally amazed as I spent several hours intricately studying the Bandoneon at the weight you lift and create such strong and controlled sound from...I could barely lift, it felt like a 'bullworker', no wonder Caroline's arms are so beautifully toned.
Anyway, to say a little on design and of becoming instrument, I am hoping to somehow integrate design features as well as colour and fabrication of the Bandoneon into my garment ideas for 'instrumentwoman'. I would love it if for instance when you lift your arm to create the Sun God image that you have a cream leather diamond shaped gusset under you arm which has the same construction and appearance as the cream leather gussets of the Bandoneon... I think your garment has to be about design detail/attention to detail, beautiful and intricate detail. I think you need to echo the colours of the Bandoneon, so black, gold and cream (maybe also some silver tips). The proportions of colour I am not sure of yet, whether to mimick Bandoneon or almost invert so that you are more cream and gold, less black...still thinking of overall effect. I would like ideally to have some type of pleating or concertina/opening out effect but that needs time to work out and everything needs to be sympathetic to your movement.
I am thinking of gold and cream leather and perhaps a black neoprene (wetsuit fabric)... Presently I am designing neat fitted jacket shapes but that might change. I look at the small sketches you made, Caroline, of the woman and Bandoneon and would love to be more extreme and extravagant with the fusion of shapes and forms... I worry however that such shapes would be awkward to move in and unsympatheic to your own movement plans; lying down and on an up/down axis. So I wonder had you also considered performing without your Bandoneon but in a dress totally inspired in its creation by you and the Bandoneon? Maybe it could emit sound like an instrument, sound sampled from the Bandoneon but now played differently? Of course I would need technical help to know how to create such a sound emitting garment... It's a thought.
Let us hear any thougts you have on how you see garments working with you, the Bandoneon, your research and proposed movement.
Caroline's excellent notes and observations take us further. Some of these notes go back to our rehearsal, others to her own research, and her beginning to interpret the music-theatre potentials of the scenes involving the audiophonic/kinaesonic characters.. I believe Michèle has come up with some very strong design sketches for a dress/suit Caroline might wear that, to an extent, incorporates or echoes the golden & leather "Saum" (linings)/"Zaum" (poetry) of the bandoneon into the black fabric.
Caroline's research on "Zaum" (the transrational poetry) is inspiring,
A nd yes, i was quite aware of the resonances between "Sonnenschein", the SSR revolution which I gathered from the brief excerpts i was able to read in ther summer of Christian Kracht's book which had not appeared yet in print, and the engineering research Imade on 1910/1920 revolutionary Russia, on futurism. And the fictive "names" I picked for "scene" titles, such as "Kruchonykh", were deliberately meant to refer, subliminally, to the futurist opera Victory over the Sun.......
The zaum poetry of one liners interested me as well as a kind of code / digital language -so, to answer your question - yes, indeed, in the Sonnenschein book, now available, there are two or three small chapters that function as flashbacks. The Parteikommissär, whose name is not mentioned in the book, who is nameless, was raised in East Afrika, in an area called Chongoni, and he belonged to the tribe of the Chiwa. He was then trained in Swiss schools that the revolution had opened in East Africa, and he was prepared to become an officer in the revolutionary army, His childhood language was Chichewa, but now he also speaks Swiss dialect (German, French), and persumably slavic or russian languages as he also moved between the SSR lands (Swiss Soviet Republic);
following your poem citation, Ithen looked for Chichewa words in the Sonnenschein book, and there are none, except two passages:
Tikuoneni Maria wa tschaulele tschodzadzae
Maria ojera amaji a mulungu mutipemfere ife
Tsopano ndi pa ntawi sosata
(this, strangely, is a Catholic prayer:, and we all grow up with it:
Heilige Maria Mutter Gottes, bitte für uns Sünder, jetzt und in der Stunde unseres Todes, Amen.
The only other one-line words I find are at the end of the book, when the war has been at its worst, and the African Kommissär survived bombardment inside the Swiss mountain Réduit, and then decides to return to Africa, taking a ship.
here is the passage:
Unter einem brennend blauen Himmel näherten wir uns endlich der von Skorpionen befallenen Küste Somalilands.
Ein Delphinschwarm begleitete unser Schiff.
Vögel waren dort, Bambo, Vögel, das Blut der Chiwa sang in unseren Adern.
Und die blauen Augen unserer Revolution brannten mit der notwendigen
As you pointed out "zaum" is a kind of onomatopoeia, and "Ndafika. Ndakondwa." could be names for birds or birdcalls
I like your suggestion very much: <<Should this character 'sound' the text as a counterpoint to different, 'silent' gestures of the bandoneon? (ie. air button depressed in order to allow the bellows to move 'silently', when in fact the air sound is audible.) >> yes, we have to try and find a way to do this
T he test rehearsal was very fruitful, helping me to develop ideas and thoughts on my character, Kruchonykha, based on a Russian poet / musician who was part of the Futurist movement. I enclose some notes made after the rehearsal:
this character 'has a weakness for the people and utopian visions, floats underwater' (original suggestions), is dreamy.We explore slow,liquid movements/gestures made with the instrument (bandoneon).
Kruchonykha wrote an opera entitled 'Victory over the sun' (curious parallel with the title of one of the working projects: 'Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein') together with Malevich and Matyushin. He invented a poetry called 'zaum' ( za = beyond, um = mind). One example of a poem:
ika mina ni
(note: the vowel 'i' is very present in this extract. Research other 'zaum' poetry).
Is there a link between this sound poetry and the East african languages / birdsong mentioned in the book ' Ich werde..' by Christian Kracht? Should this character 'sound' the text as a counterpoint to different, 'silent' gestures of the bandoneon? (ie. air button depressed in order to allow the bellows to move 'silently', when in fact the air sound is audible.)
I presented graphic sketches of body/instrumental movements. Other developments of this manifested themselves during rehearsal, the instrument encircling my head whilst lying on the floor,(sun image, mexican goddess?)or over the knees whilst sitting on the floor.
It would be good to try amplifying the instrument with a contact microphone when it produces air sounds only.
A contrast to Kruchonykhas' slow movements are those linked to abrupt, mechanical operations, such as seen in automata figures /machines. These movements/gestures are short, energetic, repetitive, punctuated by a sudden stillness as if interrupted. They generate percussive noises, squeaks, sudden tones, reminiscent of the 'Noise Orchestra' invented by the Russian Futurists. The bandoneon is standing on its end and 'operated' from the top. Should we suspend it like a marionette during part of the performance?
For the development of the choreographic installation and its interactive images, go to the February 2009 workshop images:
This research project is funded by a PM12 Connect/British Council Grant and a RDF (Brunel University) grant.
dance tech network site of Ukiyo project
All photos (c) DAP-Lab
a new project created in a research collaboration between DAP-Lab and Keio University / Inetdance Japan
all images from the new rehearsals and software design devopment at DAP Lab Studio (c) 2008 DAP Lab & Keio University/ inetdance
Further notes on design and performance concepts are published on this site.
(c) dap 2007-08
Project directors: Johannes Birringer & Michèle Danjoux
Brunel University, West London