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spacer Talking to Tania
Introduction
Dialogue 1
Dialogue 2
Dialogue 3
Dialogue 4
Day 1 01.02.05
Day 2 02.02.05
Day 3 03.02.05
Day 4 04.02.05
Day 5 05.02.05
Day 6–12 06–12.02.05
Dialogue 5
Dialogue 6
Dialogue 7
spacerarrow Dialogue 8
spacerarrow Dialogue 9
spacerarrow Dialogue 10
spacerarrow Dialogue 11
spacerarrow Dialogue 12

 

 


Temple of the Golden Mount
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gold leaf
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Candidate No500

 

Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 4
Day 5 • Saturday 5 February 2005 • Bangkok, Thailand

TK I want to try a different approach

RL To?

TK Day 5

RL How?

TK Let go of the sequential side

RL But yesterday you wanted to get sequential

TK That was about separating one day from another. And that was yesterday.

RL What did you have in mind?

TK You take three key moments from Day 5. You go into them in detail, experientially. I don’t need to know where they came in the day, or the background, only the foreground. I’ll reflect or comment on each one, could be freeflow.

RL What kind of key moments?

TK You decide. It doesn’t have to be any different from the stuff you usually talk about. It’s the framing I’d like to get rid of.

RL Ok

TK Ok

RL Right. Well, the first one would be...sitting on the floor of the Temple of the Golden Mount. Headphones in ears. Camera on floor, not tripod. External mike switched on. Lens pointing fairly randomly. I’m looking into the camera’s monitor/screen and listening to sounds of bells, chanting, talking and traffic far below, the occasional bird. I write in my notebook afterwards: “it can be so minimal - an abstracted visual with multi-layered sound is enough. Performance or act of ritual?”

Other people are sitting on the floor, making and writing on offerings, and chatting like they’re at home. A few tourists walk past. Sometimes the camera picks up their trouser details, sometimes it’s a blur. I’m part of it and not part of it, in a more subtle way than in International Cleaning. The camera and I are entwined in an act of some kind, absorption and comment, documentation and contribution, technology as interface between art and religion. Move camera. A bare arm comes into frame and stays there, framed by two floor pots. This is the video moment, the one to watch. I’m thirsty and hungry but not delirious.

TK Treating video as art, like photography as art the other day. You’ve moved on. Become more essential. Where more is possible. Cut the frills. Place yourself, myself, any-self in a context and wait. No hesitation. Thirst and hunger help. Not cosy. Knowing when you know. Next?

RL Another temple, Wat Pho, Chapel of the Reclining Buddha. Overwhelmed, I keep walking around it. On third revolution decide to participate in The Ritual of the 108 Bowls. Dropping a coin in each one brings good luck. I’ll film as I go. The sound of coin dropping. I try different methods of holding the camera, freeing the other hand up for the drop. It takes three attempts to find a smooth way. People are piling up behind me, popular ritual. The fastest I can go with this film/drop is much slower than the average. I step back to let people pass, every so often. Some Thais laugh when they see what I’m doing. And everyone notices. I’m just another tourist with a camera. Or I’m engaged in techno-ritual, a performance, and this video may run, have a life.

TK If I’d been there with you the piling up of people would have been part of it. No stepping back. Doing it our way. Collective event. Money makes a great raw material, like food. Coins can be such a nuisance. Universal currency. 108 wishing wells. You joined in, not stepped back. Put your hands in. Feel the metal. Give me more.

RL Talking to Varsha’s architect sister-in-law in the evening. She’s flown in with her two children from Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. Used to work as an architect in London. We talk about architecture. I mention the Didcot commission and ask her about ‘design and build’. What does it really mean? She explains, mentioning another, easier strategy called ‘partnering’. I understand. It finally makes sense. I realise why the architects for Didcot don’t want ‘design and build’ while the project manager does. I see how peripheral the artist is in this kind of process, even though the design input has been significant. The penny drops. The moment is: that I’m learning this on a Friday evening in Bangkok from an Indian architect based in Hong Kong, who I’m meeting for the first time. Placing Didcot on the global map? Universal architectural processes? The artist as token team player? The client’s nerves?

TK I like the moment. You came away to get the knowledge from an unexpected source. Sounds like a fairy story. Wisdom from the Indian princess. Thick-headedness from the simple traveller. I forgive you. This time.

RL You had any moments today?

TK Maybe. I had lunch with Phil Baines. He suggested I drop the obsession with Letraset and take on typography in a big way, but not through word processing. It wasn’t the advice. It was when he talked about the spaghetti menu in typographic terms and his world became opened up on the formica table. I want some of this. I may work with him.

   
 
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