|Nida Art Colony Day 1|
Greetings from Nida!
Absorbing lots of projects and ideas about journeys, maps and sound right now*, in the midst of creating Bridgeland meta-nation and thinking through composition and production for the global bridge symphony, in preparation for our lovely friends at shapeshifters to work their magic.
I hadn't quite conceptualised that I was actually going to be living on an art commune... again!
Slowly adjusting to the landscape, aural surroundings and social environment. I guess the name 'art colony' would have been a dead giveaway, had I stopped to think about it :)
It's strange how you imagine that somewhere 'remote' must necessarily also be 'quiet' or peaceful.
When really, it's another corner of the world where different people are doing their thing. You can adapt to and discover more about each other, or stay distant and separate even in close proximity. Choosing when to dip in and when to bow out is an endless dance. The bustle and flow of people and activities is soothing in a way - the tiny dog yapping (his name in Lithuanian means 'small rat'), artistic director's baby now and then squalling, artists chatting in the kitchen, metallic instrumentsl resonating, pots clanging - it's an aural art symphony.
Enjoyed a short demonstration by the sound artist upstairs, Natalia who is making strange and beautiful resonating instruments from old oil cans and scrap metal - the subtlety and musicality of the work is exquisite, watching her manipulate the physical materials to create shifting tones and sound textures.
Failed in the smoked fish eating workshop, I just can't hack those tiny bones, although the caraway bread was delicious. Talked trans-disciplinary research and writing techniques with Julijonas Urbonas, visiting from Vilnius/London who told me about his work creating some over-arching narrative threads through the disparate material using funfair architecture as a metaphor. I can't wait to read it! We both extolled the virtues of scrivener for accessing order through the chaos of a writer's mind.
One of the artists is hosting a mead tasting and salad dinner tonight, with a screening of 'The Secret Life of Plants (1979)', so you can definitely see there is no lack of creative inspiration and stimulation.
Which is lucky as the town contains precisely one supermarket, one cafe, one restaurant and one bar. As far as I can make out. Almost everything else is closed as it's off-season, but once the tourists start arriving it will no doubt be promenades and ice creams all round.
And I'm writing this as a way of filtering and documenting the creative process - for myself and anyone else who may be interested enough to dive into these words when you happen to wander past.
I was very taken with Jurij's idea of the internet as a wunderkammer, unexplained and unverified cabinets of curiosities, that are somehow passed around through anonymous channels and not closely examined or questioned, usually viewed through a Western perspective. A joke, something to pass the moments with, nothing serious, and then on to the next thing. That's exactly what I tried to avoid last time I was writing like this. All depth, no surface is usually my problem... must read 'Zero Comments', the Lovink book Jurij translated into Lithuanian five years ago. It's interesting how things you cross paths with turn up again later, filtered through experience and new understanding. One hopes.
Jurij is the philosopher and translator who joined traces meeting in Ljubljana, and he has proposed a very intriguing perception intervention for the Nida Interformat Symposium. The provocation is for people who are new to the place to explore the landscape and make up their own mythology. Preferably without knowing any of the existing myths, or even place names to start with. I've stumbled across a few in my readings - 'the hill of witches', for instance - although I have no idea where it's actually located...
So it was perfect timing as I emerged from the sanctuary of my self-contained apartment-room this morning, after yoga and breakfast but no internet (challenged myself to stay offline until I've done exercise and been out in the world, every day, for a month) that we ran into each other at the doorway to another artist's studio. Vytautas was conducting a small tour for some visiting friends, and before I set out to explore, Jurij said, let me give you an imaginary map. So we stopped for a moment to do the mental transfer, and I continued on my way. One of the art students on the bus with me from Vilnius yesterday (five hours, starting at 7am sunday morning, let's not talk about that) looked at me as I walked past him filming the balcony and said 'If you go left you get to the sea'. Exactly what I was looking for, I told him, to which he replied 'I read your mind'. Spooky!
The path contained many paths and signs, more of which I will elaborate on later...
Developing the work to create mythic sound brides in various locations, and write stories to accompany them. I was thinking to actually play the sound physically in each place, then today realised that it could be more poetic for people to download them and take a map - even if it's imaginary - to find their own locations for listening. I need to get out and into the world more and so do you, I'm guessing. Do less on screen and online and more in person and in the flesh. That's my vibe here anyway. The map idea somehow led me to reflect on the impossibility of transferring your experience to another person. Even if you give them exact directions and somehow recreate every stop you took, they will of course have their own experience of the place, the journey, the smells, the sounds. So why not make the map imaginary and the journey conceptual?
Leaving you there right now to go and invent some bridge fairytales and mythic places.
Fishtale drawings by: Julijonas Urbonas Text: Jurij Dobriakov
Art + Money 'Avoid gatekeepers : Do it yourself!'
Sound itself is Queer ie outside language and structures: from an interview with Mutek in the Wire
2012 The end of the world? Information is Beautiful
Monumental Drift: Europe's many midpoints Strange Maps
Artist's Love Song: this came up randomly by itself from an old bookmark
Conductor MTA & ME: Wonderful piece that turns the New York Subway into an interactive stringed instrument
Sound Manager 2: cross platform audio under a single API
Intelligent Infrastructure: Environmental Monitoring (including Golden Gate Bridge)
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