Articles - December 2013
Three FARMS dotted with various punctuation and a few hanging words — the only remaining, yet distinctive, characters of three short poems by John Ashbery — fenced in (along with various photocopy noise) by musical staves. A fragment of each poem casts moonglow down on the constellated marks below, which sparsely outline the poem’s transposed typographic space. In “Farm,” Ashbery writes:
… the geometry remains,
A thing like nudity …
Poem scumbles whitish page, breaks through in so many little ways, creates an opening when dense opacity (huh?) gives way to oh, what’s this? — becoming immediacy: suddenly all the world is close at hand, pulsing darkly. For my least part, I take it down. This is how John’s poetry has struck me, and this is music as he has given it to me, again and again. The way a typed mark occasionally breaks paper and lets in light, as indeed happens in the FARM pieces, each poem’s notation literally imprinting the world beyond — the space and time that we occupy, unveiled by dark light of the poem.
I made this piece after a failed attempt at choreographing a very mathematical solo using John Ashbery’s “Default Mode” as a movement map. It was tiring and the words weren’t sticking with the individual movements. I made a “seed phrase” for “They were living in America” that was repeated with different variations for each line. I didn’t get past “Does this doughnut remind you of a life preserver?”!
I read “Uptick” and found it to be a rather chewy poem, meaning it’s terse but there’s so much there about time and sequence and viewing. After reading it about twenty times aloud in the studio with Marissa (my collaborator) I decided to make a duet that never left the floor where the dancers never touched each other. I was interested in extremes of timing and creating a certain reverberation in the air between the bodies. The piece, to me, feels like two different audio frequencies on one side of a very strange phone call.
Editing by Cory Antiel. Videography by Adam Fitzgerald.