5 degrees

It’s not as sunny as it was yesterday but my dashboard tells me it’s 5 degrees outdoors. I suppose it’s even warmer in Toronto. Ah well you can’t have it all.

Super exhausted. It’s been only a week since I’ve left Toronto but it feels like — weeks ago? Months ago? A great deal has happened since. The CCA cultural strategy meeting went well. I had a great time blogging live. We even got some comments! If the blog looks a bit skimpy to you – I apologize – I can take excellent detailed minutes but to summarize for an audience without any context (and might not be familiar with the key players) is a very different sort of challenge. check out the links I posted; they should help round things out.

The day after I met up with Tracey, the cybercartographer. VERY EXCITING NEWS but I can’t say anything just yet. Just an idea, just exploring the possibility right now. But I am VERY EXCITED. It’s thrilling. If we pull this off it’ll be an awesome installation. For now, I’ll just give an example of a cybercartography project. I might not have the details of this exactly right but it gives you a sense of what cybercartography is: Tracey showed me a video clip of a glob. This ambiguously-shaped white object represented the Arctic circle. Squiggly, scrawling blue and red lines appeared around the white mass, representing different explorers moving through the area. The lines appear and disappear as the timeline moves forward. Over time, the white mass gains definition; the conventional markings of a “real” or “normal” map appear here and there in various corners of the white blob – representing the land being discovered, explored, mapped. Cool, isn’t it? That’s just the start. When you consider all the data out there that can be related to geography and time, and when you consider all the different types of graphical representation that we already see in other types of design, it’s evident how great the possibilities are with cybercartography.

Did you know that cybercartography is a Canadian invention? Indeed. A Scottish professor came up with the concept at Carleton University. Tracey also told me the distinction that archivists make between “interactive” and “dynamic”. Interactive works allow users to manipulate elements without changing the nature of the object (or experience). Whereas dynamic works actually allow users to change the nature of the object through their manipulations.

Speaking of which, I went to see Kondition Pluriel’s show, Passage last night with Andrea Naan. It was a dance installation-performance in which audience members could move around, sit / stand / walk anywhere they liked. The white room was cut up with curvy, wavy projection screens and three sculptural objects. (Sculptural is a generous description; they were three-dimensional and two out of the three can’t be summed up as a box or some other recognizable shape.) The solo dancer was dressed in various shades of (off-)white fabrics and leather. It was a great costume – all kinds of zippers, knobs, S&M lacing, and strips of metal all integrated. That was probably the best part of the show. The boredom was good too; I like being bored – it gives me a chance to think.

The show was boring. Which was sorely disappointing, ultimately, even if boredom is good for me, because one of the choreographers was Benoît Lachambre. I saw Louise Lecavalier interpret one of his works last summer at Canada Dance Festival and it was magic and brilliant and indescribably great. (Meaning, it inspired wonder, was acutely intelligent, and was even emotionally SATISFYING.) This show however was none of those things. It was all neither here nor there. Everything was formless and indeterminate which would have been FINE if that was what they had advertised. Actually, no, I don’t need to know that something will be abstract, but then for heavens’ sake don’t advertise that it’s an INTERACTIVE show. Yes, they marketed it as an installation-performance piece in which audience members would interact with the dancer and the room. In reality, when you walked into the room it was clear there were boundaries everywhere – your interaction was extremely limited. There was very very little sense of impact. You could twist and turn knobs all you liked but it wouldn’t necessarily do anything because there were little men sitting at big tables with shiny macbooks controlling the aesthetic of everything and blurring the crap out of any form or dynamism you might’ve tried to give the piece.

I am not an extrovert nor without inhibitions otherwise I would have stripped to my knickers and ran around the room screaming at the top of my lungs.

It was exasperating. Everyone was so decorous. God bless the man who periodically whispered audibly at his partner, “il faut toucher la nana? … oui oui, il faut! Les gens, ils touchent la nana.” (You have to touch the chick? … yes, yes, you’re supposed to! People are touching the chick.”) When the dancer came up to talk in my ear I tried to talk to her but she was non-responsive. When she came to hold my hand and move it around I also tried to move with her but again she didn’t reciprocate. Maybe I wasn’t being bold enough but in theatre if you want audience interaction you know you have to reward any sign of life in the audience in order to encourage them and signal that this is the way you want to go.

Maybe I just want it to be too plain and obvious. Maybe it was all very subtle and mysterious and beautiful. Didn’t register that way with me but who knows, maybe everyone else loved it. Anyone else out there saw it?

Sent four or five drafts of a one-pager on the Atypical Art Guide project to my co-conspirator. Haven’t heard back yet but I hope Su-Ying likes it. I’m psyched about that too. Much fun to be had. Many interesting questions to consider.

Today I have two mini proposals to write and send off. Plus a letter of support for TK. Hope to finish at least half of this in the next two hours so I can start cooking at 5pm. Tarragon-flavoured butter is on the menu. Will let you guess the rest.

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