Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Recently visited the Mill End Store with Diana Lang and purchased fabric for Flock & Tumble dancers Woolly Mammoth Comes to Dinner and Linda Austin. A perfect environment for appreciating the details of materials. No piped-in music, natural light and blissed-out quiet. Woolly will be clothed in raw muslin, with shimmery frills, in colors as seen above.

Meditations in the midst of fabric bolts followed some strange tangents. I'm interested in the infinite specifics of various materials. In this case cotton, linen (my favorite), lycra, polyester, silk, bamboo, hemp, nylon, etc. Each has the possibility to seduce with their individual colors, textures, reflectivity, softness, stiffness... not to mention the rituals of folding, cutting, labeling and displaying. There's a concentration to places which are dedicated to materials, a specialized focus which I find attractive - Kremer Pigments is another of these. Or the paper drawers of well-stocked art-supply shops. Or certain old-fashioned lumber yards. Or maybe the light bulb lady on Mississippi (though her shop is a bit cluttered to feel calm). These places contradict the modern desire for convenience and all-inclusive availability. I hope we don't lose them.

There's also the relationship to materials which is implicit in each of these examples, a relationship which builds through use. It's the information held in hands and muscles - a tactile knowledge. A true craftsperson refines this connection though a preference for certain qualities based on predictability and intimacy. I feel like a voyeur to such practices, as I never fully belong to any. Like attending a religious service, I can observe, appreciate and enjoy but never fully belong... Perhaps this is due to my interest in observing meta-patterns, applying comparative models, and breaking down divisions between categories, genres, etc. I've always been a bit mystified by those who dedicate themselves entirely to one thing - Zen buddhism, experimental music, ethnomusicology, oil painting (while of course understanding that there is more than a lifetime of depth in any of these). Applying these thoughts to Flock & Tumble, I wonder how to describe and promote this merging of music, dance, video and performance which will (hopefully) contradict all of these categories.

Yesterday I finished the mastering of Flock & Tumble (the CD which shares only the title, forthcoming on Sonoris) with Timothy Stollenwerk. Now it sounds delicate and brutal at the same time.

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