Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 5

The place was under the Granville Street Bridge; it was our rainy weather location and it was deemed necessary earlier in the day. The space was remarkably different than the others; primarily it was the quality of the light, or lack thereof, that was in stark contrast to previous locations. Also, it was not as pretty. However, the space did lend itself to a chalk mural that Nola brought to the project. She outlined everyone in dance pose and then we filled ourselves in. Robyn followed suit, with yarn in hand, and connected us all by the hand. I, on the other hand finally found myself inspired to “install”. I must admit, my work is minimal by nature and I have resistance to decorate for decoration sake. It was the coloured cup cake papers that enticed me. They were delicate paper three-dimensional bits, and I was immediately taken by them. So, as we had all noticed the tendency for passers by to pass on by, marking as large a space between them and us, I decided to snake the cupcake papers in along the sidewalk, forcing people to engage with us, even if it is only to avoid stepping on a paper.

Unusually, I have described the place before describing my project. Hmmm, I wonder what that means? Perhaps I am being taken over by the group…something to consider. So tonight’s project revolves around art theory, art school and the tendency to wear black. I have heard the stereotype that artist’s wear black. I don’t know too many artists who do this; however I do wear black. But I’d like to point out that I have been wearing black since sometime in the mid-80s, long before I ever identified with being an artist, if that is indeed what I do now. But anyhow, I wore black tonight, and I danced to an art theory lecture, one from my MA at Goldsmiths college, something regarding the way in which the city is framed and how that can be a political thing and how representation can help to build and breakdown political agendas. The class is called Reading the City and it was given by Michael Keith sometime last September. The piece is called Self-Portrait While Mobile Dancing to an Art Theory Lecture.

I will post the self-portraits just as soon as I get them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day 4

Tonight was magic. Our location was the Cambie Street Bridge, and I had been looking forward to this location from the beginning. It has a narrow pathway with the direction moving in only two directions. This configuration lends itself very well to public interaction of a different kind. This nights installation was pared down in contrast to the environment my colleagues provided. Their theme was party. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision for the group, but in the end, that is what one would suspect. There were streamers blowing off the bridge and decoration was everywhere. My project on the other hand was comprised of my camera set up on a tripod and a sign with the phrase “take a photo”. I didn’t necessarily mean that people should take a photo with the camera as I left it. I just thought people would be less likely to steal it if they also had to take a tripod. And then I started dancing. Jamie lent me his ipod after I complained that my minidisk player, which is not mac friendly, only came with two music discs, I usually use the device to record lectures and don’t have my own personal stereo. He also set up a “Rina needs to boogie” playlist with 3hours of dancing fun. That made a huge difference! I had such a good time, my dancing felt better, I was internal rather than focusing on the passers by, and I genuinely had a good time. In fact, the time just flew. Okay four sessions and a cynic like me is hooked.

These are the photos that other people took.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day 3

Tonight seemed hard, but in the end, it was all in my mind. The location was the community park on the corner of Richards and Davie. Now this park is long and narrow with water features at both the north and south ends. There is also a long, narrow trough connecting the two features. It appeared that we should pick one end or the other in order to maintain visible from the street. Initially I thought the north end was superior; due to the current civic strike, the water was not flowing and that left these amazing step-like stages to play with. However, by the time I rallied the troupes to have them move to the other end, the skateboarders had moved in to the space and I was intimidated into picking the other end. So our end was square shaped with a circular pool with a central raised platform where the water is usually pumped. That meant that we were not contained, and in fact, we were considerably separated, a figuration that I found discomforting, not to mention that we were surrounded by occupied benches, providing our first ready-made audience. In the one corner there were three young guys, they dressed hip and their body language was aloof even though they were obviously watching intently. I could see one of them had an ipod and I was irritated that they refused to dance. Then the most fun thing happened: someone I know joined us. He danced with vigor, and I was so happy. After the session, I asked him how he had heard about us. Apparently he was told by a mutual acquaintance and he came by to check us out because “he was on his way to get green onions anyways” And then Robyn told me that the “cool kids” would be joining us tomorrow, that they were really interested but that only one of them had an ipod on them. And it was all-fine.

Tonight I danced without a strategy. I needed time to reflect on the act itself.

This is us getting ready

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day 2

In keeping with my plan, I head down to Science World, strategy in hand. Tonight I dance without a personal stereo device. I mean, if one of the points of mobile clubbing is to do something on your own simultaneously within a community, what happens when you try to enter that community without following the proper rules? Well, if I thought I was uncomfortable being looked upon by those who pass by, and my camera pointed directly on me for a whole half hour, this night was excruciating. Without an internal focus, ie. the music, my attention was propelled much further than the bubble-like boundary of space in which my body occupied. To further complicate the matter, I was without a stereo, the signifier that alerts people to why I am there and what I am doing. So, the gaze was not only from the passer-by, but also from other members of the group. Although I could be imagining this due to my heightened self-awareness, I am sure I did notice more eye contact that was not followed by a smile. Last night, eye contact was usually always followed with a smile, the smile of recognition that we were into this activity together. So there I was, trying to dance away with no music and not much connection with my comrades. It certainly felt as if I was on the edge of a dance circle, not able to get in.

Day 1 of Mobile Clubbing

I have been thinking about my strategies –my art-making strategies that I usually use—and I am trying to employ them in this strange context. I always worry when I get involved with other people, other artists, and particularly the “public”, whatever that is. I am a bit of a control-freak. After all, I have been successfully indoctrinated by a certain art college, and that has had a profound and lasting effect on my ability to have un-analytic fun. So I am taking this project far too seriously and have decided that the best approach is to come up with a different strategy every night that pertains to my discomfort, and that the nightly experience of enacting out the strategy will help guide, or direct my decisions for the next night’s strategy bringing me ever-closer to the distilled visual version of my discomfort.

On the first day I head over to the site, it is the Granville bus loop at 5th Avenue, right next to the great waterfall that I love. I arrive much too early and I feel like I might throw up. I want this feeling to translate digitally. In my anxious mode, I grab on for dear life to the strategy I have used many times, and I ask the kind volunteer to take photos of me every minute as I dance in front of the lens. This project will be called Thirty Minutes of Sheer Hell, or Thirty Minutes of Discomfort, depending on my sense of humour when I hang the photos.

Mobile Clubbing? Me?

I’ve hooked up with a duo that operates under the name Foolish Operations. They are the mobile clubbing scene in Vancouver. And what is my interest you ask? Well my interest is two-fold. First, I have always been disappointed in the lack of community and political engagement found in the citizens of Vancouver. I suppose it is easier to get a couple hundred people to show up to something, or even nothing at all, in London, a city with the population of about 10 million compared to our puny 2 million (both numbers include the greater area). But still, as long as I remember, it has been tricky to get Vancouverites to buy into anything that might be construed as fun, silly, or not cool. They will aloofly await another city to try something out and then proclaim that thing over. And although mobile dancing, or flash mobbing, as it, and similar spontaneous group actions, have been theorized through their politics, I have been giving it a second look through a narcissistic lens. My personal interest is not in its politic. Rather, I am interested in it phenomenology. How does it work on my body? How does it work on me when I act abnormally in public space, space where others, people not in the know, are going to see me acting silly and un-cool? So I decide to meet Robyn Campbell’s challenge and join her and her collaborator Julie Lebel for a half an hour a day of mobile dancing over the course of 2 weeks and see what I can see.