|Sven seems to be stalking me. One by one he talks to all the women I
talked with. First we have Eva, whom I hardly had a chance to get to
know. I'm a little shy when I address her. I vaguely idolize her, since I discovered that she is the assistant of Arnon Grunberg, one of my
favorite writers. I should know better. This whole conference was all
about playing with authorial power reversal for me. Well the conference
was not about one single thing, but the game I played in my one-on-one
was amongst many other things, overemphasizing the power role of the
speaker, by blindfolding the listener.
|The second women Sven talks with is Nelle. I was happy to see she responded to my invitation to the conference. We only talked about some things not directly related to the conference. She is going to coordinate and assist the choreography of a TEDx-lecture by a acquaintance of mine, John B. This TEDx-lecture is conceived as an overturning of the relation between talk and illustration: in stead of using a power-point, John will use live dance to demonstrate his ideas about communication of complex ideas.I actually have the feeling I didn't really talk to anybody at the conference, about the concerns that it lay on the table. I spoke in debates, or posed questions, ... But I do remember meeting people, the chemistry, with a sense of receiving guests at a place which I consider a little bit my home: excitement at handling fragile mental luggage, adjusting the level of amphiphile actants, confronting cultural immunities on all kinds of levels.
|Sven also sat with Nicolas, the male co-organizer of the conference. I wonder why Sven didn't put into this soap of his, my talks with Elke
and Adva, the women-co-organizers of the Don't Know conference? Does he
have some problem with women in power. Indeed. An other conversation
that is missing from this little photo-novel: my visit to the one-on-one
of Margareth Kaserer, which started with me purposely throwing a glass
of water at Margareth. It was no coincidence that I did this: In my own one-on-one I asked my visitor to look at a picture of a glass of water; I then explained that the meeting between my visitor and myself is a place, not unlike the space obtained from the surface between air and water, by covering the top of the glass with your hand and shaking it.
|I never met Eung before the
conference. But the first time I approached her, during the opening coffee table, I wasn't wearing my glasses and I thought she was Michele Yang. So our first encounter was
more informal than it normally would have been. I realized she was a stranger as I got closer, but decided not to interrupt the impulse to great her warmly. In spite of her surprise
I decided to pretend nothing was wrong. I guess this determined to a
certain measure how smooth her visit to my one-on-one proposal went. She
was my first client and I was definitely less nervous, because of the
way I could "play her" from our first encounter.|
|Caroline came to the conference, out of general interest for how things happen in a.pass.|
She shared some impressions with me, from the one-on-one sessions she visited: she felt she was part of an experiment and that people were trying to get information from her.
She also recommended to me, on the second day of Don't Know, the worktable with Robert Stein, after participating in it herself, at the morning session. In fact she saw my physical temptation and hesitation to join this worktable at the first session in the morning, but then I decided to first participate in the proposal of Joel Verwimp about value. I took Caroline's recommendation serious and joined Robert's magic Circle in the afternoon. I confirm: it's really something I want to dive in to deeper. Caroline and me should talk more about why she thought that was so good for me. I would have loved to hear also what she had to say during her session in Robert Stein's circle: what story does Caroline come up with, when she has a chance to just talk about whatever she wants, in front of an audience of strangers, with whom you have just shared a massage.
|Michiel said "Mayonaise is foam: liquid and solid at the same time. Can you get your head around that Sven?"
|Since the word Soap and the genre it names became an obsession, Sven has trouble relaxing in bath.
||The fun seems to be out of waiting for the Eureka moment.
||What else can soap produce for entertainment?
I don't really want to make art that explicitly takes on an existing popular genre, that is: tries to engage a discussion on the basis of a label and the mainstream critique attached to it. I certainly do not see myself cozying up to a fictional critic, tactical approach to seduce an audience for my own medium. I really don't want to write this soap. I don't understand how I could let myself be tricked again, into such a project. I've always been trying to make dance theater performances, with the question “why dance” on a hidden agenda. Now it seems I'm trying to do the same thing all over, in a setting totally foreign to me. How did I imagine having any chance of achieving whatever ambition that drives me. That at least, I must conclude, is what drives me: ambition, in the blandest sense of the word. Career goals. My question “why dance” I must admit, is just given in by a jealous insult thrown at successful colleagues: “why the fuck are they still dancing! don't they realize the stink that fills their personal atmosphere comes from the shit they produce themselves!
The logic of the soap for foam idea is a flimsy excuse anyway. Soap as a solid form! As an ingredient of foam! What am I trying to hide, in pretending to offer -how generous- an answer to an imaginary demand. What am I covering up in the self fabricated image of a demand, projected onto what was actually just a superficial remark pronounced in a momentarily careless attempt at advise about the apparent absence of form in the path of my search. Any critique on soap has to start with the admission that the genre has no clearly defined borders, that it holds to no consistent form. And thus I can only use this soap impulse, this flash of consciousness-ex-absurdum, as another example of how the obsession with form keeps leading us, me, astray. The polarization of form against content crumbles as soon as one tries to touch it, as one tries to grasp whether the form is appropriate for the content. Not necessarily in order of appearance: the idea of soap, the word, the material, the everyday commodity... they all have already turned up at some point in the foam saga that I'm sucked into. I've tried chewing on soap to see if I could blow foam. The need to work in confrontation with something which one might call 'a form', namely 'the form of soap opera', is part of a systematic interest for the philosophical-narrative-productional function of foam. Is it a metaphor? Is it a figure of speech? We have called it a 'thought figure'. I came up once with a name to still be filled in: 'figure vivant' – implying that it could die also. But soap opera! What's in a name? Here I really border on hallucination... of an intimate relation between my personal search and a genre. When in fact, on first but very caring glance in the mirror, only in the absolute contingency of its name, does the form of the serialized television drama perhaps graze the skin of my puzzled and foamed face. No blood drawn.
But wait! The crumbling! This fragility to the touch, what about it! The terms, perhaps are spheres? “Form-sphere” and “content-sphere”. And to ask the question of their relation, is to fold their meeting surface. No! Hold it. I've the feeling I'm running in circles. Because now it seems like any two concepts, any two big ringing bells of words, can tauten the screen on which to project a little moving image of foam coming into existence. What an illusion.
Perhaps not in circles then! I'm running in foam. Aaarrrrr
Hold it! The horses got foam on their bits.
Did we take a wrong turn? Yes! At the number two! Just as much as the geometrically termed 'sphere' is not about oneness, foam is not about 'fundamental duality'. Foam figures – I interrupt myself again, because the word “figures” spells a huge potential for my attempts at reaching a public meeting place. Research en masse. Figures! the verb. In Dutch it rather connotes an unimportant role, an element in a group, which only as a group means anything. In English it means exactly the opposite. If foam figures in my vocabulary, it is to say that I do use it an awful lot of the time and that its meaning is essential to what I want to stimulate – in English.
So that is the tension which keeps me alive. The gain in translation. The form of writing is the space for this meeting of apparently mutually exclusive senses.
So the meeting is not merely about the duality of form and content. It's not just the two of us. I guess then I have to tell more about all the other spatial and mobile constituents: why surfaces? why tension? why contaminants, bubble nuclei, surfactants or amphipathics, evaporation, elasticity...
So Perhaps I do want to make a soap. Or at least fantasize about it.
In that case an answer is due, to your remark about the similarity between our projects.
Let me throw back your favorite question of the day: what do you want? What response are you aiming at with that remark? How exactly do you want to deal with this issue. Can I add to it, an other of your questions? What role do I want you to take in this request for mentoring? I'll start by wondering which role you already take. You're a pain in the ass. That's what you are. What about making this disagreeable provocation reciprocal? I think that the wild story of foam is about to be gently folded in to the sticky batter of urgent issues: an instantaneously improvised list goes from tolerance, equality, difference, society, solidarity... over progress, system, reality... to co-ecstatic being, inter-autism, hyper-dimensional folding, trans-human invention...
How are we going to survive this close identification. Is it real? Perhaps it could be part of a symmetric strategy, to elaborate our respective projects and meet regularly, to continue describing them each time in two ways: once to make them appear in all their similarity, and again to stage them in heated disagreement. We're confronted now with a question of value: what is worth disagreeing about, and when assuming two things to relate on an equal base, do we expect anything in return of such a favor, or is it a gratuitous opening? Concerning our cross contamination, if the old question is, where do we come from? - where do we get the stories that we tell, the stories on which we depend for survival – then I would propose to ask, at least as a preliminary inquiry, where are these stories that we live off? Or even better: what kind of a place do we want them to be for us?
I'm suddenly reminded of the version I saw of Xavier Leroy's Project/Projet. The piece then consisted of a sequence of gaming rounds. First just one game of football was played, and the participants, performers, were divided in two equal teams. In the second round, two games happened at the same time on the same stage, lets say football goals were set, one at the left and one at the right of the stage and two handball goals back and front. So four teams equal in number were playing against each other, but important to know: each person belonged to two teams at the same time, so half of the people who would be your team mates in the football game, would be your opponents in the handball game and vice verse. In following rounds people competed in more and more games simultaneously, each player belonging to more and more teams playing different games at once. After each round the score and the winners were announced. Of course, if you imagine the first round, it's clear who are the winners: one team. But in the second round, within the winning team of one game, one has to consider the two halves that won or lost in the other game. Of course if you belong to the winning teams of both games, you rank higher then if one of your teams lost. As the amount of simultaneously played games increases, the intersection of winning teams must decrease in size – leaving aside the case of ties. So you end up with an individual ranking. This whole construction could be a direct mise en scene of a basic game-theory class. But beyond that mathematical element, visually the games are not easy to follow from the spectators chair. Besides the competition between the playing teams, the games themselves seem to be competing for the spectators attention. And the final surprise: by repeating the exact moves of a small section of the game action, we are made to wonder if the whole thing is not choreographed, or at least the games are set up. Indeed, how else would a decent demonstration of the game-theory be possible: the scores of the live performances have to be somehow representative, a statistical sample.
The structure of the latter competition-composition reminds me of the descriptions by sociologists of soap opera dramaturgy: different story lines compete with each other, to draw out our attention, the separate lives of each character perhaps not rallying enough interest glue an audience to the screen. So all together now: what about a soap opera which would open with would introduce the team compositions at every new episode, ending with a score board after the 45 minutes tranche de vie? Why would you want to show something like that? What kind of rules would those games have? How would a drama look if every interaction in it is actually played out by two teams? Of course the whole team is not at the ball at once, but they operate in a common strategy. Would the teams be composed of equal amounts of players, or are there other criteria to start from a fair balance of forces?
Competing egos, morals, desires, needs, ideas, forms, moods, drugs, politics, cultures...
Where does this reframe your remark on how my ambitions seem to have grown on yours? Which teams are we playing in? What if we both ask subsidies with a dossier written on the basis of the 'similarity and disagreement' redoubling principle I described above? Totaling four project descriptions, for two projects involving one and the same duet, us. Worries for later. Back to soap now.
To be continued.