Friday 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson Was Always Good To Me

Elvis used to get his chimp Scatter stoned and encouraged it to act real nasty, looking up women’s skirts and wrestling with a midget stripper in acts of simulated sex – then he abandoned it to die of madness and neglect. Some even say the lonely animal slowly drank itself to death locked in a cage back in Memphis.

Michael turned Bubbles into a star: he dressed in Osh Kosh dungarees and sat him at his side for a ride through the Tunnel of Love. As soon as Bubbles learns how to sing, he’s going to tour Japan on his own. The whereabouts of Scatter’s grave, however, are unknown at this time. Unlike Bubbles, Scatter really understood the price of fame. He really lived it.

From the essay ‘Electronically Yours, Eternally Elvis’, published in the anthology The Last Sex edited by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Rehearsing Lonely Creatures

There were two main issues confronting us during the rehearsals for Lonely Creatures at Manchester the Green Room. The first was that the disparate pieces making up the performance would form some greater whole. The second was that the sound balance would allow the voices on the various film soundtracks be discernable over the live music.

When preparing the six individual films for the performance, Howard Walmsley had stripped off the original sound design and musical accompaniment, leaving only the voice reading my text. As none of the readers were professionals, having been chosen for the natural quality of their voice and delivery alone, there was a real danger that the music and electronic sounds would make them less effective. I wasn’t worried so much about the three new live texts I was reading – ‘Alien Metal’, ‘I Am the Uniform’ and ‘The Promise’ – as the audience would clearly see their delivery. When the voice is coming out of speaker stack and bears no apparent connection to the visuals on the screen, it becomes a slightly more complex issue.

The stage had been arranged so that Howard Walmsley and Graham Massey would be playing on the right side of the stage while Dave and Luke of Hot Bone would be directly opposite them on the left. I had my lectern set up in the far right-hand corner of the stage area, with two female singers opposite me on the left. Together we formed three walls of a box, leaving the fourth open to the audience so they had clear access to the screen to watch the films while we performed.

What made Lonely Creatures such a fascinating piece to work on was that most of its constituent parts had been turned inside out. The performance area had been hollowed out leaving their performers on the outside edge of the space. The films, which already felt as if their content had been inverted due to the deliberate lack of coordinated audiovisual action at their core, had been hollowed out even further, having been reduced to sequences of images and texts and nothing else. The abrupt changes of change and mood, content and delivery, also meant that the piece had no discernable continuity whatsoever: were we rehearsing a film show, a theatre piece or a concert? Hybrid forms such as this have to establish their own parameters. The transition from rehearsals to the actual performance is entirely about this process.

Pictured above: Howard Walmsley tunes up; Graham Massey gets wired; my lectern in the far right corner of the stage; Howard Walmsley responds to the lighting test

Monday 22 June 2009

Hot Bone: Heroes of Speed Metal

It seems that Luke and Dave of speed metal combo Hot Bone never perform without their masks on, preferring – for some sordid reason – to disguise themselves as a fox and a sheep respectively. These two pictures were taken during rehearsals for the Lonely Creatures show at Manchester’s Green Room last Friday and offered merely to show what fine upstanding young men they actually are. It would take too long to explain what Dave is actually doing with that toy lamb but there is a good reason why its eyes have lit up. It was a real pleasure to work with Hot Bone – they were disciplined, quick and easy to get along with. And they reap the absolute whirlwind when they play. All hail the speed metal power duo for they shall lead us into green pastures!

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Big Vaudeville Presents Lonely Creatures at the Green Room

BIG VaudeVille is proud to present Lonely Creatures in association with Biting Tongues Arts Lab: A Spanish tale of romance that drifts alarmingly away from its starting point; a Japanese scientist obsessed with notions of unrequited love; an announcer struggling to recap the increasingly complicated plot of an old television serial – welcome to the world of the Lonely Creatures. Only ever heard and never seen: these are the voices of individuals who can no longer connect with the people around them. Inhabiting a universe where nothing seems to fit, least of all the Lonely Creatures themselves, they dream of aliens and monsters, world domination and sordid sexual intrigues…

Following the sell-out shows Earthquakeland, Ego in Exotica Sum and Dr X: a Version of Events, Biting Tongues Arts Lab in association with VaudeVille present Lonely Creatures - a unique cinematic event. Six short films with live score and voices, performed by Graham Massey, Ken Hollings and Howard Walmsley with intense musical interludes featuring HotBone.

Presented as a series of six short films made up of conflicting images, words and soundtracks, Lonely Creatures is a fragmented study of isolation and obsession, fantasy and collapse: each one a portrait that is at once haunting and funny, disturbing yet oddly familiar.

“…the spectacle is worth the price of admission alone”

Fri 19th June, 7:30pm - see Google Calendar for more details

Saturday 13 June 2009

Rational Rec Online Archive

Rational Rec has a new website with an online archive containing details of their thirty-two past events. You can find it
here. They are also planning something new for 2009-2010. Having taken part in a Rational Rec events in the past – see entries for January 2007 and May 2008 – I’m curious to see what this unusual and intriguing proposition gets up to next. The above image, by the way, has nothing whatever to do with Rational Rec. I’m just a sucker for a cute manga cover. This one is about a female voice-over artist in Japan who wants to be Audrey Hepburn – but then, who doesn’t these days?

Friday 12 June 2009

Reflections on Postgraduate Design Education

I will be chairing the student panel at this conference. See the Google Calendar entry opposite for more details. Peace out.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Laurie Lipton Still Knows Where You Live

Continuing her reign of absolute terror with an HB pencil, the fabulous Laurie Lipton has a new show coming up in Basel, Switzerland. Going by the exhibition flyer alone, it’s clear that her detailed anatomy of a failed morality remains as fine and unflinching as ever. Go see it if you possibly can – check out her website if you absolutely can’t. Either way, prepare to fall in love with her work. It makes fools of us all.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Lonely Creatures at the Green Room in Manchester

I am currently madly busy completing a number of new texts, all of which have deadlines coming up over the next two or three weeks, so posts have become a little infrequent of late. My apologies. Preparations are also in hand for the first live presentation of Lonely Creatures at the Manchester Green Room on the evening of June 19.

At the core of this show are six short films I’ve been working on with Howard Walmsley of Biting Tongues, responsible for the recent Dragman 2009 video. The individual content of each film is made up of a set of conflicting images, words and soundtracks. Together the series forms a fragmented study of isolation and obsession, fantasy and collapse.

This is the first time that all six films will be shown together, and a special live soundtrack will be performed by Graham Massey , Howard Walmsley and tech-core thrash-meisters Hot Bone (check out their Flightless Bird video on YouTube) plus some surprise guests. I have also prepared three new texts and will be reading them as part of the show. More details, pictures and press releases as they become available.

The above image is a screen grab taken from 'Lonely Creatures 5': the one audience participation moment scheduled to take place during the entire evening.