Inviting the Opposite
The moment of initiation is a leap off of a cliff with the sureness that one will land well -
- or sprout wings.
This is the essence of spring, the next installment in the Long Tone Choir's seasonal installation series.
But how we begin something and how we see something through are entirely different processes. I find myself creating about the ignition of life while actually being in the middle of a larger process - a process that seems to attract into my life the opposite of what I'm creating.
When I began producing the seasonal installation series for the Long Tone Choir in late 2016, my life was very different than it is now. I lived in a home I loved in a central neighborhood in the East Bay. This space was large enough to comfortably host frequent choir events in the living room. And halfway across the country, my parents lived together in their own home.
Thinking nothing of my parents or my living situation, I began the seasonal installation series with winter. In my way of understanding the seasons, this was a natural starting point due to the death-that-leads-to-rebirth nature of the season. There is, however, an irony I hadn't intended or noticed until now in beginning at the end of things.
I couldn't create all five installations in a row, so I developed a call-and-response pattern of winter (death and rebirth) followed by summer 1: insects (life in full expression) in the first year of the project. 2018 follows with spring (awakening, rising and growth) and then autumn (descending, returning and decay). 2019 will complete the project with summer 2: harvest (fruition and ripeness).
And thus I began creating works about the cycle of life.
winter went off without a hitch. A few months later, just when I was about to begin work on summer 1, I unexpectedly had to move due to a massive rent increase. This landed me in a much smaller and less central home, which forced major shifts in how I led the Long Tone Choir.
Then, after months of meticulous development in a sunny corner of my tiny new-to-me kitchen, and days before the performance of summer 1: insects - a piece about the fullness of life - my father died suddenly and unexpectedly. At that time, my life was consumed with trying to keep the wind that whipped through my new home from destroying the feather-weight and sail-like sculptures that were to set the scene for the performance. I left these delicate insect-like creations to their own devices, and flew off to identify my father's body, organize and attend a memorial for him, and get my feeble mother into a care facility in all haste.
The choir then performed summer 1 under my shocked, be-grieved, and travel-weary direction, and plans were made to continue on with spring and autumn -
because life goes on.
Months of squaring away my parents' complexities in the Midwest ensued. Just as I started to heave a sigh of relief from all of that, I noticed that the world was sputtering and bursting with spring's start-up vitality.
And so I find myself wearily plodding through the creation of a composition and score-sculptures that are to somehow express exuberance. Creating expressions of newness as I find myself - not at the beginning - but in the middle of a mysterious periodic creative process:
Walk on the earth.
Observe what's new, different, or disappeared since the last amble.
Ways of expressing words through sound and breath come and adjust themselves.
Gather ingredients from the landscape.
Ephemeral objects infused with enigmatic instructions are formed.
People make and listen to the sounds these artifacts describe.
A creation describes a life process.
And my own life details the opposite of that process -
Beginning while expressing endings. Death while expressing life. Slowness while expressing life's quickening. It's some kind of balance, some kind of wholeness.
The Long Tone Choir performed spring at The Center for New Music in SF, CA
on Sunday, April 15th, 2018
Photos of spring's sculptures can be seen on instagram.
The photos in this blog were taken by Eric Thiese
at the summer 1: insects performance on July 30th, 2017.