February 2020 'Between our words I will trace your presence' (3rd iteration), Performance at Borealis Festival, with Idun Vik


 


 

Andy Lock and Idun Vik performing Between our words I will trace your presence, at Kode 2, Bergen, February 2020, as part of Borealis festival's Radio Space

Introduction to the Kode Performance of Between our words I will trace your presence

 

The exchanges between the two voices who perform ‘Between our words I will trace your presence’ are punctuated throughout by audible pauses and hesitations; amplified and intensified by the intimacy of radio-listening, but as the work’s two protagonists’ narratives weave around one-another – never quite meeting, gaps and silences of other kinds begin to emerge.

 

Andy Lock’s work as an artist and artistic researcher makes it clear that he has been preoccupied for a long time with identifying, creating, inhabiting and sharing intervals and gaps of different kinds, but always with the ambition of bringing those who participate in his works into contact with whatever presences or phenomena may be lurking, overlooked, repressed, disavowed or denied within the gaps with which he works.

 

Andy’s latest work continues this pattern. In staging ‘Between Our Words I will Trace Your Presence’, for radio, Andy has created a work which draws on his own personal history as the source-material for exploring how the gaps and the silences between us and those seemingly closest to us, come to define our most intimate relationships, and shape our being.

 

‘Between Our Words…’ is also a meditation on the broader significance of gaps, pauses and silences in literature, art and our everyday lives and Andy’s writing draws on the works of other authors, filmmakers, artists and composers, whose own work speaks about the significance of pauses and “silences” as sites of undisclosed or repressed presence.

 

‘Between Our Words I will Trace Your Presence’ was written and adapted for radio by Andy Lock. It was recorded with a live audience, at KODE 2, in Bergen, in February 2020. The performance features Idun Vik and Andy Lock. 

 

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In February 2020, I had the opportunity to create a third iteration of 'Between our words I will trace your presence', the work which was first performed at the Cracking the established order, conference, at De Montfort University, UK, in 2019.

 

There were a number of decisive developments in this iteration: I had conceived this new version of the work as a live radio broadcast, with the experience of the radio listener becoming central to my conception of the work.

 

However, as events transpired, the most significant development was not the innovation of transforming the work into a radio experience, but the transformation of the text into a dialogue and the work's live performance, no longer a monologue, now turning on a dialogue between two performers.

 

Where I had originally wanted to work with the space of radio in order to exploit the unique opportunities offered by radio-listening; to explore the experience of gaps and pauses through medium’s singular formal properties and cultural conventions, in experiments and rehearsals, the textual material which I was working and my dialogue with collaborator, actor, Idun Vik, began to draw the work in a different direction.


The most significant gaps within the work remained not the formal, durational, experiential gaps of radio’s “dead air”, but the gaps and the silences between the father and son in the story. However, as a consequence of my dialogue with Idun, the presence of two “voices” within the script, always formally implicit in its structure, also became more explicit and as we rehearsed, a relationship began to emerge between those two voices, whereby the interpersonal silences between the father and son in the script are echoed and mirrored in the work’s performance by the repeated failure of the two performers’ “characters” to engage with and acknowledge what one-another is saying.


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Journal Entry 08,02,20 reflections on ‘Between our words…’ for Borealis

 

Having conceived the idea of adapting ‘Between our words...’, for radio, but before beginning work on that process, I had imagined that the much of my effort would focus on the exploration of the literal, that is audible gaps between words and the experiential impact of those gaps as part of the radio-listening experience.

 

Even as I began the process of developing the work for radio, I was focused less on the relationships suggested by the script / text itself and more on building experiential gaps into the participant-listener’s experience.

 

I even considered building a timing device – perhaps based on a quartz crystal similar to those utilised in early radios – which would dictate the duration of gaps between segments of speech.

 

However, as the work began to develop, and crucially, from the moment where I decided to explore the conception of the text as the basis for a dialogue, by involving a second reading-voice, the emphasis of exploration began to shift to the relationships generated between the two voices reading the text.

 

From the outset, I had conceived that there were two facets to the text: on the one hand, the fictional story about the autobiographical relationship between father and son and on the other, a collation of fragmentary accounts and word-images, which are based on the work of other authors, artists, film-makers and composers, whose own practices speak to my own, through a shared preoccupation with gaps and intervals and all that they may contain.

 

What emerged in rehearsal, was the way in which these different narratives, when allocated to two performers became two distinct voices; two characters in dialogue with one another. However, dialogue is not quite the right word, since – as a number of listeners have observed, the two speakers although notionally, apparently exchanging ideas do not in fact engage other than at the very beginning and end of the text. They exchange, but do not engage.

 

As the performance developed in rehearsal, my co-performer (Idun) and I both developed the sense that in reading her part (that recounting the relationship between father and son), she is engaged in trying to draw the other voices into dialogue, however, he (I) remain/s only able to respond with the fragmented images and accounts that I’ve described above.

 

As the work developed then, it was the exploration of interpersonal gaps and silences, through the text itself, rather than the experiential, durational auditory gap or “silence” which became the focus of the work’s contribution to my research. 

 

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Journal Entry 30,03,20: Ozu's Late Spring and the theme of interpersonal silence

 

I've been reflecting on Ozu's film, Late Spring again today and specifically the scene where the camera lingers in the family home after the reluctant departure of the daughter to be wed.

 

The story is replete with interpersonal silences between father and daughter; what cannot be said. I've found myself re-watching this scene in the light of this and at the same time in the light of this recent comment:

 

'...my investigation as a whole seems to be coalescing around the phenomenon of institutional and interpersonal silences and what they conceal'

 

When I wrote this, I had in mind the interpersonal silences between father and son, in my own auto-fictive work, 'Between our words I will trace your presence...', but it strikes me now that this short, but significant sequence from Ozu's film is itself freighted with the intergenerational withholdings and silences that characterise the film's father daughter relationship.

 

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Introduction

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Oct-Dec 2016, rolled bedding, recently vacated apartment room, Nygardsgaten, Bergen. Photograph 

 

Oct-Dec 2016, unoccupied rooms, forensic investigation training house, Nottingham. Photographs

 

Oct-Dec 2016, unoccupied room, forensic investigation training house. Video

 

Apr 2017 recently vacated room, asylum hostel, Voss. Photograph

 

Apr 2017 recently vacated room, asylum hostel, Voss. Video work

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Feb 2017, 'Birdsong'.

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Mar 2017 material from PKU Spring Forum, first presentation

 

Mar 2018 PKU Spring Forum, second presentation

 

Apr 2018 paper delivered to 2018 SAR conference, Plymouth

 

Mar 2019 PKU Spring Forum, third and final presentation

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May 2017 'A performance after a performance', Voksenåsen, Video work

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Aug - Oct 2017 video work: coats in corridor, chairs in gymnasium, nr. Helsinki; rolled-bedding, recently vacated apartment, Bergen

 

Nov 2017 the empty walls of DH's studio

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Oct 2017 'Between, Before, After, Elsewhere'. Exhibition at Kunstgarasjen, Bergen

 

Jan 2018 KMD, image and situatedness

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Feb 2018 'The objects perform themselves', Bergen. Photo & Video documentation of performance

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Mar 2018 CCFT fieldwork, Agios Sozomenos, Cyprus

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June 2018 initial tests with hospital ventilators. Video documentation

 

Apr-May 2019 'It's only when I rest that I sense your presence', installation, HKS, Bergen

 

Apr-May 2019 It's only when I rest that I sense your presence, text work, HKS, Bergen

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July 2018 'In silence', performance, Berlin. Audio realisation of performance and photo documentation

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Nov 2018 A Foreign Body: Absence, a denial of presence. Transplanting a Sitka spruce tree. Tælavåg. Video work

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Feb 2019 'Foreign Bodies, Empty Rooms', Bergen Natural History Museum. Audio-visual realisation of performance

 

Aug - Oct 2019 'The Wrong Bodies', installation, Bergen Natural History Museum

 

Aug - Oct 2019 'The Wrong Bodies', text work, Bergen Natural History Museum

 

Oct 2019 The Museum's Wrong Bodies, presentation at Bergen Natural History Museum

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July 2019 'Between our words, I will trace your presence' (1st iteration) performed at Cracking the Established order

 

Oct 2019 Between our Words... (2nd iteration), performed in UN Buffer Zone, Nicosia, Cyprus

 

Feb 2020 'Between our words, I will trace your presence' (3rd iteration) performance at Borealis Festival. Audio documentation

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Feb - Mar 2020 abortive (pre-Covid) plans for final artistic result at Bergen Natural History Museum.

 

May 2020 Lecture on revised work in progress toward final artistic result, to staff and students at KMD

 

October 2020 Artist's book, The Wrong Bodies, based on work on the body and institutional silence, at Bergen Natural History Museum

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Artistic Result

 

Reflection


Between our words, I will trace your presence.

(the text of the performance)

 

 

 

woman: Listen! Quiet! Just Let’s be quiet!

 

You know it’s only when I rest, that I sense your presence.

 

You say this space in which you and I now move is empty, but I sense others here. Can’t you feel their presence?

 

man: Perhaps it’s only us, unseen and disembodied as we are, that you can feel.

 

woman: Well, I don’t think we’re alone at all. There are others here. It’s not just you and I. This?…   this isn’t empty, at all.

 

man: Berlin, 1955.  Evening, and the building around him is quiet, the office workers long departed. High above, the empty cars of a paternoster lift circulate, endlessly. Far below, in rooms insulated from the sounds of the city; occupying a world in parenthesis, a young radio producer runs his hand over the surface of a studio console, salvaging small clippings of audio tape.

 

Each fragment contains a pause, a breath, the shape of a thought. Each represents a hesitation, a withholding; a lacuna, edited out from some or other speaker’s utterances.  He sweeps the clippings into a small tin. Pockets it. Later, he will splice these fragments together, to create a recording composed not from words, but from the gaps between them.

 

Now, he sits alone, reflecting that he has covertly become a collector of silences, in a country and at a time where every silence is like an unexploded bomb, peopled not by absence, but by presences denied.  

 

woman: The son arrives at his father’s house in the early afternoon, noticing that the garden is beginning to fill with weeds. The house as he enters it, is quiet, but he senses his father is there, inside. He will talk to the old man, today. Will tell him, at last, that instead of a recollected childhood of words exchanged, it is all the words withheld, that he now remembers: the frequent spells when he, the father, withdrew and would not speak either to the son or to his wife. 

 

Living as he does these days amid other, ever-growing gaps, it is doubtful whether the father can remember those earlier interruptions in the discourse of family life, but as a child, the son had lived amongst the silences his father had created, had inhabited the gaps produced by the father’s withdrawal.

 

Silence breeds silence and the son imbibed the father’s habit, became practiced himself in the art of withholding, until non-disclosure became a way of life. Was more the father than he cared to know; answered silence with silence, became the man; reserved.

 

“Why did you behave this way?”, the son will ask his father now, but the old man will not, cannot answer and will only look at him questioningly. It is safe to ask now, because there will be no answer, only further silences.

 

man: New York, 1991: the composer sits by an open window, in an apartment overlooking a busy thoroughfare. He speaks to an interviewer as traffic rolls-by, below.

 

‘Noise,’ he says ‘is always different. When we overlook the noise around us we mistake it for silence and we neglect to understand that no two “silences” are the same. What we think of as silence is always full of noise.’

 

woman: Growing to adulthood, the son found himself compelled by encounters, which somehow spoke to his own memories of earlier, incomprehensible silences; discovering their echo in other, unexpected places, experiencing a frisson of recognition each time he did so.

 

He too became a connoisseur of gaps, of intervals; all the while, drawn to discover what might be found therein. His compulsion leading him to recently vacated rooms, where absences hung quietly like over-coats, expectant, waiting to be claimed.

 

man: An image surfaces; a 4x3 window of grainy black and white; a movie playing in the mind’s eye. The image flickers into life. A domestic interior, post-war Japan, framed in wide-shot by a movie-camera’s lens. It reveals a bride-to-be on the verge of leaving her family home.

 

She exits, but instead of following her story, her narrative, the camera unexpectedly chooses to return, lingering in the unoccupied rooms of the house. Contemplating, each in-turn, mirrors and the forms of empty chairs.

 

woman: Where once the son had perceived only absence, only silence, he now found that both had form; that the silences between lovers were not equivalent: superficially identical, they were capable of signifying both deep contentment or separation and loss.

 

He understood that conversation was created as much from the pauses between words as by the words themselves and if a conversation, then why not a text. If a conversation, then why not a human life?  

 

man: ISBN 0956569218, circa 2010. The author has embarked on an act of calculated violence; an act of destruction which he hopes will also prove revealing. Taking the leaves of a book he loves, taking up a scalpel, he begins to cut into the skin of each successive page. Gaps in the text proliferate. The Street of Crocodiles becomes a Tree of Codes. He continues to cut, neatly excising words, so that not even their ghosts remain, creating a multitude of carious gaps, which cannot be spoken and cannot be named.      

 

Meanwhile, in a land that is not his own, a poet, deafened himself as a child, writes at night about a subjugated country that becomes deaf, because to hear is to be complicit. An act of defiance. A deafness of denial, comprised not of silence, but of what must not be heard.

 

woman: Home: the template for all the silences, all the gaps that followed. He, the son, has come home, to a site that for all its familiarity, is nonetheless the hardest to perceive.

 

Even as he sits with his father, unspeaking, holding the old man’s hand, father and son both drifting back to their respective childhoods, fresh silences begin to emerge between them: an ever-growing, untraversed terrain and the son reflects that far from framing absence, these silences are freighted with all that remains unsaid; all that is now unutterable between the two.

 

man:  And you and I? In the gaps? Between our words?

 

woman: between our words?  …you and I are becoming.

 

 

[maintain eye contact. count 30” “silence” to end]