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Seminar transcript
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Mapping Processes
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the Motivation of the Artist
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NightWalking
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NtU Book Launch
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Postgrad Seminars 01
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Virtual Physical Bodies
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Navigating Process
with Graeme Miller, Richard Layzell and Rosemary Lee

Thursday 19 October 2006 at 7:00pm

Venue:
Paintings Gallery
The Theatre Museum – national museum of the performing arts
Russell Street
Covent Garden
London
WC2E 7PR
www.theatremuseum.org

Editor: Marianne Tyler

Length of Discussion: 115 minutes

Rosemary LeeGraeme MillerRichard Layzell

This transcript can be downloaded in full
as an Adobe Acrobat pdf file (file size: 184 KB)

 

Christopher Bannerman

Chris BannermanI am head of ResCen, centre for research in the creation of the performing arts, which is based at Middlesex University. Tonight in the ‘Navigating Process’ we have three ResCen research associate artists representing their work. We have Rosemary Lee, Graeme Miller, and Richard Layzell. This seminar is actually the twin of an earlier event called ‘Mapping Process’ and we can perhaps make a distinction between mapping and navigating process. The earlier event featured the work of the other three ResCen research associate artists, Ghislaine Boddington, Shobana Jeyasingh and Errollyn Wallen. However there has been a bit of a pause in our ResCen seminar series and that’s not because we were tired, or tired of you or feeling lazy. It’s because we are working on another project, and so I’m going to invite my colleague, senior research fellow Joshua Sofaer, to tell you a little bit about that other project.

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Joshua Sofaer
Yes so we’ve been working on a publication which is called Navigating the Unknown and it’s about the creative process in the terms of performing arts. It brings together about five years of research, the research ResCen artists have worked on, and discussions with external experts from other disciplines outside the performing arts which reflect and comment upon some of the issues of things that we’ve been concerned with at ResCen. And we’ve tried to tempt you in the last seven or so weeks, with some free publications, and for those that haven’t already picked them up here they are. There are still a few copies available on the tables at the side. This will be our first publication where we require you to pay and we hope you’ll come along to the launch. The launch is going to be here on the 23rd of November and it will be a celebration of this magnum opus, that gave birth to this artefact and that has come out of this research process of five years. ResCen are going to continue now with a programme of publications and this publication along with the others that are on the side there marks the beginning of our process of disseminating through publication, alongside our website, our research concerns and findings.

There will be discounted prices at the book launch.

 
 
Christopher Bannerman
Yes, discount prices at the launch, in case you missed that. Well, the seminar tonight, in many ways like the previous seminars, they address a kind of central ResCen concern, which is about the ways in which we might have attempted to represent artistic process. And this is involved in reflective dialogues between members of ResCen and others, and the artists themselves. Affective dialogue I think in a sense, has become an intrinsic part of their creative process and the stations of that dialogue have rather blurred the boundaries between the notion of an art product and artistic process. So without further ado I would invite Rosemary Lee, the first person presenting this evening, to do her presentation. Thank you very much.  
Rosemary Lee
You’re going to see something as well as listen to me, so when you can hear the music you’ll see somebody else …

(MUSIC)

So I’m joined tonight by Paula Hampson. She’s dancing and improvising around her memories of the piece Beached, which is the book that I’m going to tell you about. The music you will hear will be faint at times and louder at other times. It is John Leaver’s original score for the work Beached. Paula is an artist, she’s turning into a visual artist as we speak and having been a dancer for many years she’s now doing a fine art course. She is from Chapter 4 in Liverpool, and one of the dancers that commissioned the work Beached.

Paula acts tonight with a sort of ghost voice of that piece, as a memory of it and every so often I’m going to stop talking so you can watch her, and she’ll be in and out. I don’t want to tell you too much about the original work, but then I’m supposed to be talking about the document and the way I’m trying to reveal that through the book, but I’ll just tell you the bare minimum. It began when Paula and two other dancers, Andrew Buckley and Ruth Spencer, commissioned me to make the work, and it started in 2002 at Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh.

That place had a huge effect on the piece and on the music. It was revived recently and slightly re-worked and altered and completely re-costumed. I think Beached the book has arrived as well is because of those stars like Paula and Ruth and Andrew. Its skill and intelligence I admire so much and I find it very inspiring. I think in a way it’s made each become bigger than the live work it originally was. Its last performance ever I think was this March.

I was going to tell you a little bit about the co-writer. This is a co-authored book, and the book’s over there, it’s a white book, Beached: a commonplace book. Niki Pollard is the other author who worked with me on this publication.

I first met Niki in 2000 when she was working for ResCen, and we’d just begun as a group and were looking at ways that we might be able to document our process. At that time some of us kept notebooks as a document, I felt I couldn’t write about my process while I was doing it and I opted for having an observer, which was pretty scary, but Niki became that observer. We did this through a peace called Passage that was rehearsed once a week for a year and then the performance took place at the end of that year. Niki watched every single rehearsal. She came for her own research as a student for the PhD.

What came out of that process of observation was a Passage website that was our first collaborative venture, where we really tried to find ways of revealing, through website design and written word. The depth of decision-making, doubts and difficulties, that happen in a rehearsal studio meant that we wanted to get away from the way I guess it’s been traditionally documented. We did this and then it went to performance. It doesn’t feel like that when you’re making it but there’s lots of lateral diversions. Niki wanted to find a way of showing that in her writing. As we began to work together to find ways to reveal that process in different ways, a dynamic relationship between us developed. Lots of conversations, taped conversations, written work, then swapped and written in the margins. What was going on inside or what the dancers may have thought, or what I said.

So we’re constantly looking at ways of revealing a sort of secret language between dancers and choreographers and trying to unravel and unpick that. In her work that she’s trying to do, which I think is represented in this book, is to give the artist an equal voice so that I never felt like I was on a table being dissected as a specimen of a researcher. What we wanted to do was find a way of us both having an equal voice and a way of coming back to the challenge. I want to add that over there on the table is a little selection of source material and the book that inspired us was Michael Donaghy’s Wallflowers, which I highly recommend you all buy. Our book is dedicated to his memory as he died two years ago.

When in the studio I found that Niki was a kindred spirit, of whom I could really trust, which I think is quite rare because at times we were in very intimate and difficult situations where you would want no-one to watch. She felt like a silent sounding board. She tried to look neutral and was very good at that, but if I’d been engaged and non-judgemental, if I found that though she was observing me (I’m secretly observing her), I’d look at her face at moments when I thought I could see something in an improvisation that grabbed me and that was like a connecting moment.

I’d then check it out, just look along the wall to see if there was a little crack in her neutral, non-judgemental gaze, and it was for me a way of doubting myself less, and doubting my decision-making. She writes for you, but she can’t be here tonight due to her health. About watching me: “Watching Rosemary as she watches the dancers, I’m aware that I’ve barely glimpsed at what she sees. Her watching is active, she is watching for, waiting for, what she can work with, what she can change and what she can turn into performance.”

Rosie's presentation(MUSIC & DANCE)

I quote from the introduction of Beached: a commonplace book. “In Spring 2002 reflecting on Beached and its rehearsal process, we looked over one another’s process notebooks and journals, interjecting responses between lines and in the margins, reading from our contrasting viewpoints and degrees of involvement in rehearsal. We were frequently encountering different memories of the making of Beached.”

Niki Pollard writes: “I was fascinated reading Rosemary’s studio notebooks. Some of my strongest memories of dance are from experiences in rehearsal, not in performance. I began making this book with Rosemary, curious about my fascination, and wondering if it could be shared by people who had not been in that rehearsal or looked through those notebooks, or I would add who had not actually seen the performance. Beached: a commonplace book is an exploration into revealing something of the making of a piece through both our notebooks, mine and hers, and our comments about each other’s.”

So the book includes one section – I won’t open it up, but at the beginning there’s one section where my notebook is quoted on the right hand side, and interventions from Niki are on the left hand side. And then the second section – Niki’s notebooks and observation journals are on the right hand side and I interject my comments on the left.

I think what we wanted to try and reveal here is the nature of imagining a piece, envisioning it and creating the world of that piece. There’s a large unspoken underbelly, and I wrote originally for any work that I guess that’s not fair for me to say personally, I feel there’s this huge kind of underworld that stays in the notebook, and then there’s the piece itself that has grown from that. With Beached particularly, I felt that the underbelly of this piece was really full of images and ideas, and that’s because I think the dancers when they commissioned said I could do anything I like to make an installation and improvisation, a set piece, a live piece of film. Because I had no context to work from it meant that my imagination was more dispersed in a sense and I had to create a stronger world to know what to hold onto and that was really interesting for me. And so that world that was created, that you can hear in the music - I think the music could be a bit louder actually. Yeah - that you can hear in the music and see her memories as she dances and was present before any step was written in stone. Somehow the world had been created, and this book is trying to show how that world came about.

Niki writes: “I think we were trying to find words that could connect with some of the creative choreographic unknowing energy, intuition, skills, knowledge and expectations with which Rosemary began making Beached.

Together we tried to mark and sift layers of decision-making, and tactics in collaboration of associational memory and pacing of intervention. Time and again our re-readings, conversations and writings took us to knotted ideas of collecting, hoarding and loss. This book is a gallery from that spring.”

(MUSIC)

I quote from the introduction: “Our pages trace how, both in and out of the studio, the dancers and I were searching the ebb and flow of movement improvisation, conversation, nuance and association, for elements to net verbally, perceptually and sematically. The materials of rehearsals, dancers’ skills and imagination, choreographic notebooks, video documentation, they’re all perhaps for me what commonplace books were for Renaissance writers.”

They were books that were carefully accrued albums of quotations and ideas for prompting a new invention or a new composition. That’s something I discovered through the notebooks of Beached, and comparing them, and speaking to Michael. This book then goes to the commonplace book that was never written, a book of my practice from which I sourced Beached. I quote from the book again:

“Caught in the covers is the dust of images, hunches and memories that I used to make Beached but had been swept clean from the work in this performance. By reflecting on the making of one work, a second work has emerged, a subtle shadow of the first.”

So the original notebooks are over there, I don’t know if that was foolhardy or brave to leave out my notebooks. They were tools for us initially, but they’ve become a new resource. The world, that underbelly I was talking about, though it was tapped into a live piece that Paula performed and toured, I felt hadn’t been run dry, and there was a dissatisfaction that it wouldn’t live longer, and you always feel that with dance because it’s so transient. But somehow this felt greater for me, and by writing Beached I’ve created another work from that place. It’s a way of recording with more permanence the images that I hold dear.

(MUSIC/SINGING)

“Bird women, costumes, toys and things on strings, fans, skeletons, bird wings, wicker prams, shell interiors, bird cages. Laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing, hop, hop, hop, laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing, hop, hop, hop, striding out, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Come in, come back in, come in, as she drops the skirt. Bridge of the nose, white cups, white skirt, lifts the support, falling together on the bell. Knives and forks around, smelling salts, frost wings, banquet table, passage down it, depth, lying body. The most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together. ‘This’, she said, pointing at the long table with her stick, ‘is where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me here.” Great Expectations – Dickens.

Our memories from rehearsals are personal, imprecise, and shifting, and even the reasons for studio decisions made at the time with ferocious care are often rapidly forgotten. Instead we sift the debris of decisions that remained in notebooks after the first performance. We are beachcombers, even as the dancers in Beached are, but of a verbal shoreline.

(MUSIC)

Thank you.

 
Christopher Bannerman
We’ll just have a brief changeover here and then there might be time for one or two questions, specifically to Rosemary, if anyone would like to raise their voice.  
Woman
You said that you played off one another, Niki and yourself, in terms of both watching the rehearsals. Did you actually find that she affected the final performance?  
Rosemary Lee
Yes I think she probably did.  
Woman
So by watching it she changed it?  
Rosemary Lee
Well I suppose in the sense that in Passage, the first one she watched, I suppose in the sense that she may have made the decision quicker than perhaps I would have come to, but by just sort of glancing at her, to see if there was like a little glimpse, I’d sort of think oh that’s working for her. And she almost became a sort of individual audience.  
Woman
Do you think that if she’d been the wrong sort of person instead the right sort of person it would have made a difference.  
Rosemary Lee
Oh absolutely.  
Christopher Bannerman
Right, is there anyone else?  
Woman
Do you think that the final performance was affected by her presence? I mean did you lead you in a different way choreographically?  
Rosemary Lee
In Beached no. I don’t think so, no. I think possibly our writings together and our reflective practice in writing must have affected me in some way and I haven’t figured that out yet. Sometimes negative, and sometimes it’s very hard to then not reflect on what you’re doing possibly and I was sort of battling, sort of stopped thinking about what I was doing. Like, you know you kind of get behind the camera, and you’re not really in there, and the camera becomes a barrier because you are thinking about what you’re doing.  
Christopher Bannerman
I think Graeme Miller might be ready and we’ll have time for questions at the end.  
Graeme Miller
graemeYou’re not getting your hands on my books! I’ve brought them along though, but I’m going to take them along to the West End. They’re just staying at home watching television with me really. I’m quite protective about my books, but recently I’ve been working with designer Andrew Lang on the website section, the ResCen website, for which I had a difficult time finding a title. I hate finding titles for things. I hate most finding costumes for things, and finding titles for things, and also I never quite get there. I finally came up with a title just the other day called Backcombing, and it’s a journey back through the pages of these books. The books go back, the first one was written in Kent in 1987, so it’s coming up for about twenty years.

graemeI’m going to take you through the books. I’ve been to Paris and I’ve been spending a lot of time on my own. I’ve spent nearly ten days alone, working. I don’t know whether it’s Paris, I don’t know whether it’s because people aren’t very friendly in Paris or it’s because the place I’m working in is an ancient nunnery and some of that stays. But I kind of spend a lot of time now just talking to myself, and I thought that rather than talk to you I’d just leaf through these books again. Then the next twenty minutes go back nearly twenty years, which is about a minute per book – I’ll see if we can do it. Just zoom in there.

You’ll see parts of it, and in way I don’t know which parts. I’ve never looked through all these books, they were never designed to be read. Here’s a town and a shadow. I was interested in the casting of shadows, I’m interested in objects and I’m interested in events, the things that they cast, singular events. I seem to have gone through a little phase here about drawing wheat. I like to draw the margins of things; I like to draw the frames.

Oh I remember what this was now. It must be a mouse in a boat, lives on a sea of wheat. There’s a lot of wheat. This is about six years ago. The ideas go in here, and I never plan to get them out except I do plan to get them out but only in about three weeks’ time. So to go back over these, over these years, takes a long time. But in theory it’ll contain all the things I never did. I never did that, I think I’ll have to speed up a bit, and see dances going on, I can see the floor, I can see down here dust exploding, or I can see this. I make a list of some of the pages, and very ordered, some of the pages are very wild. There’s an alphabet working with Rosemary Lee and we’re making a physical alphabet, an idea that had never happened, except existing in this page. I’m in Surrey. Why am I in Surrey? I don’t know, I can’t remember that one. There’s a map but it’s just a map so you can’t even get in and see where it goes. Trawl – there’s a very appropriate word going in there. And here I’m on a train; I’m on a train that says Mole, the word Mole, a big meadow.

I’m writing on the windows the names of things that I can see out of the different windows. This is another project. I’m working in Surrey and Mole is the River Mole that runs through an area. And this page keeps coming in time and time again, and almost everybody I ask, Adrian Rifkin, Alan Read, Rosemary Lee, Christopher Bannerman, that have looked through my books, this page came up. It’s a page of snakes and ladders. Not very well drawn snakes and not very well drawn ladders, but there’s something in this page that’s really attracted me, I see goat legs, and I see a chandelier. This in a way is a map, but this is a map that shows country dances, along with all this stuff it has come and it’s gone, and I don’t really know what to do with all this stuff. Maybe I’ll do this one though.

Another page that came up recently and is on the website is Dominos, and I remember talking with Rosie about this thing here. It’s the thing that exists on the edges of the painting, and I was just looking at the paintings here, and around it are these carvings of all these kind of tendrilled things – leaves, tendrils, shoots. They’re the things that hem in paintings, and in a way I like flicking through the margins of things. There’s the opera director, Peter Sellers. I think was at a conference and I was drawing him a bit like when I was at school and I used to draw teachers as a way of becoming slightly popular with the other kids. The thing featured again, I can’t remember if this was a good one or a bad one, but even in the bad ones the thing seem to, seem to have a don’t worry about it too much kind of tone of voice.

This, I can’t imagine myself doing this nowadays. It seems incredibly excessive and organised, but the shapes of things, the shapes of the momentary things, actually looking at this makes me think a lot of the art of looking through books and doing things and I keep flicking and talking. A lot of the idea about books is to have an external network, is to have a memory outside yourself to allow yourself to forget things, because if I remembered all this, if I could remember what it all was, I’d go mad I think. It’s all down here, records of things. a page of crowns, Saracen style – I like that.

This is all from an era of, probably about 1999 this page. Books sort of last… Ah, Chairman Mao’s morning exercises. So they go through, I was looking for that the other day, so that actually is very useful and I’ll keep that book separate. I think I need to up my pace a bit, I’ll let you see in some detail.

That’s a watercolour somebody did of a boil I once had on my bum. True! It’s true. I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I think this is actually to do with dance, and looked at the time when these wiggly lines were important, I was interested in country dance and in the hay and the weaving in and out of people. These books used to be available quite nearby to here actually, at Falconer’s Art Suppliers in Bloomsbury, and then suddenly they stopped making the books. You get in about a year and a half into one of these books, which is very convenient; absolutely everything goes into all these books. A very leaden zeppelin in a leaden sky.

A lot of figures and people appear on the edges of my work, they happen so whenever you’re talking to me and you think I’m paying attention beware because I’m actually using thinking of something else and drawing it in the margin. And in a way this kind of marginalia is as much a record of what I’m really thinking about, which is often something else. Everything’s a lot more oblique than it seems to be, and when shit comes to fan I can really get down and organise time. Maybe that’s the trick about being an artist, is somehow being able to just doodle away and draw wings and make faces. But often I start with just the eyes. Maybe I’ll build that one day. I should give these books to someone else to do.

As I say, I start to draw, I either start with the eyes or I start with the nose and the reason I draw people all the time is they start to look back at you. Books are full of detail. PZMs, covered microphones – very boring stuff here, but I like this page, this is …… these are sort of little flames ….. and leaves and dots hanging down, so I decided to leave that page quite empty whereas most of these are quite full. Flicking back through years and years and years of stuff I’ve done a lot of things, but I’m always a sort of empty. I have a list of things that I sometimes do go through these books and I gather up the ideas that I’ve ever done, and I’m starting to add up. I’m going to be fifty in about a week’s time and a couple of weeks if you want to send me a present. I’ll give you details afterwards!

But I am, I’m sort of adding up the kind of active years I’m likely to have as an artist, and the ideas that I’ve not done, and the ones that I’ve not done I kind of need to really need to get my skates on to get them done, so I have to think of all the batty ideas I have, which is a kind of homing service of the ideas I’ve not got done yet. The trouble is it’s a bit like Battersea Dogs’ Home, it’s a way I had of writing all the data down but it’s a bit long-winded as I discovered here.

There’s a diary here. Usually at the back are my expenses, that’s right, and there’s a little picture, so this was a long time ago, with these things. God we’ve got to get on. This is another one of the very fine, well I think the colour fades here, that’s right, somebody gave me some unusual ones going on here. Well are these kind of magic pens that kids have that do them in, they cross one with another so I can put in some bit of tart in here, and the burning bush. I’m not sure what it’s about but I really like that. This is some complicated electronic system. The worrying thing is that I know I actually did this. This really looks like it’s a real plan for something.

Ah yes, this was collecting tape. This is a map; these are maps of where to find lost recording tape in the Hackney area. There’s a bit tangled in the barbed wire outside the Atlas studios, there’s another bit there, in sand behind the wall, on that page. So these are kind of nice, they’re sort of nostalgic, but that’s about all. At the time this was a real sort of necessary sort of route map so I could go and find these places and go and film them and confirm the sound I made with John. There are times I think when just the marks on the page are what really makes sense about these things. I think we’re just sort of really in some kind of rhythmic time, you know instead of just sort of tapping your foot on the ground and staring out of the window or stretching your neck. Your kind of moods either go through these things where I’m making them jagged, angular things, with a whole flock of these kind of worrying stars falling to. And here these kind of arabesque squiggly curly things, I think those just mark a very different frame of mind from these sort of effervescent emanating states of mind. And lots of sort of hashed things, and other times my drawing style changes and what emerges just emerges, and it’s not always my work. Whereas this strangely is my work, this is a piece of music. Sometimes I get very very obsessive. Here’s a piece from Russell’s bustle – I think I just like words, show. Going back in time, you’re writing music, two-headed dogs, and palindromes. I love palindromes in words, I love palindromes, I love push-me-pull-yous. I love drawings that reflect backwards, mirror images, texts, things like that. I tend to draw those a lot of the time. This is another one populated by people, and they all look a little bit anxious you notice. A lot of words here as well, I write down words but I would only ever re-read them, maybe never read it. There’s a car on fire, it says a car on fire from my window, which is a full. Cities scare me sometimes, they scare me, like everything I suppose… Scary things you’re afraid of.

Here we go! Yes we’re getting a bit sort of angular stuff going on here, more and more pertinent, more and more things. Now this is the period of mapping. Actually this is a conscious style, this is mind mapping, I’m doing mind mapping. I’ve read a book about it and it entered into my way of collating together all the ideas. But I never ever really… sometimes the most important things are here. and are expensive actually to be honest, although the dates, although the phone numbers, although these very very specific codes and things, and all this other stuff, this composition of ideas, all rests in my head and what I decide to do and what I decide not to do usually gets decided in that week. Look, my cat, another palindromic figure – they keep appearing.

A lot of them just aren’t really drawings though, most of them are these kind of things – well they are drawings but they’re just sort of rapid thoughts and they’re going on all the time and all the time, and their exact relationship to my work is very very oblique indeed.

Coming up to the latest book, here I’m in Paris, there’s the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. This isn’t a bit what it feels like though. And here’s the page which I’m quite proud of really, is the very very front page of the website, it’s this page here, and it’s me trying to find the title for this idea of leafing back through these books, leaves behind, leaving, leafings, leaving these things, re-leafing paper trail, back combing. Ends up being called Back-Comb in fact. And it reaches to he or she ………… androgynous back combed, heavily earlobed figure is now the face of the ResCen website. We’re doing it right. We’re going to flick through a few more very very quickly.

Here we go. This is also what gets into my books, and they all land there. This is my kitchen. This is a really important project this year in many ways. Again, there are the sizes of Formica – where am I going to fit that? Can I get the dishwasher out of the thing? Will I use the dishwasher even if I’ve got one? I’ve got …… collected washing ….. You’d like to know that I did actually get the dishwasher in, and I used it for the first time the other day and it’s fantastic, it really gets that cutlery clean. More kitchen things going on, but at the same time something else – G G G – got to get a guitar to show, Tania, Circulating, people, plans, ideas. The coal bucket. That’s a cold bag, or is it a cold? It’s an enigma, I’d say enigma. It certainly is an enigma.

An apple, poisoned, produces gargoyles. These are the things, these kind of edges in the corner here, they’re actually designed as a kind of trail, and I’m only going forward in these books, it’s really strange to go backwards, but they’re designed as a sort of laying down of and running a ball of pink wool behind as you go through life, with an idea that you might somehow for some reason go back again, and specifically these little nuggets to do with this show that I have yet to do to point that I can do shows. This is a piece of baseline. This is me actually; this is interesting because I sort of had this idea that I would be able to do this piece. I walked around Vienna for a week and then I had this idea about doing a piece in a tunnel underneath the grounds with all these screens, but actually no such place existed. And then they found a place at the very very place for it, so I did this drawing maybe a year and a half, they actually found the place, and it did look like this in some way.

Okay just looking through another couple of pages of it. I’ve got this idea but I’m not telling you in case you steal it. Here we go. I’m working at mixers and speakers and things like that, and this actually happened too, but I like it mixed, the mixes of all these different things. Let’s go to one more and then I’ll take you back to the end.

There’s a picture, it’s a caravan. This is a caravan …… but I think I’m thinking about 1953 and it’s the great flood that inundated Canvey Island in Essex. People were living in caravans on the caravan site down by the muddy Thames and I was interested in this as a sort of starting point for a piece of work. Still whining in my brain with these batty ideas of things like …….. It does relate to other things I’ve seen.

NightWalking. Here we go; we’ve got the first ResCen conference. The strange thing is that coming into all this is the beginning of a sort of process about processes, looking back at things that normally I’d say were really quite under cover and quite secret and quite personal. I don’t know what I was doing with all these books that suddenly disappeared.

I’m going to take you now to the very back of the mists of time. You can just imagine these. This is my first and only book that I’ve managed to keep all the other junk out of, and it was a brief but important phase of my life. And the whole project went into here. This was my first real sort of solo show. No Formica in here. Two grand pianos, I ended up having two grand pianos. And I looked at the page the other day ……… It’s got people, it’s got cording, obsessed with cording. The scenes are sort of coming together, I’m writing them down and getting them down, and I’ll just show you some here if I can find them, just to show how unhealthy things can get.

Here we go, …….. to show you. This is finally, the whole of this show is maybe an hour and a half, came down into exactly measured time and I had thirty second scenes and twenty second scenes, I had thirty twenty second scenes. I had thirty twenty second scenes followed by one ten second scene, and there’s film here, there’s music, and I somehow managed to count every single, every single second of ninety minutes was written down in this book and either accounted for in terms of stage action and time. It was a work method and I’d say to be abandoned. But here it is. I’m amazed. God I mean it is really quite close to kind of obsessive actually. But there it is, and I’d forgotten about that. It was only in these things that I’ve got through with Rosemary and Adrian and Alan and Chris, that some of these things have come to light. And a lot of it will never come to light.

Sometimes when you go to a boot sale you come across whole packets, boxes of packets of people’s snaps and they’re usually, in the place I used to get my photos. The place I used to get my photos done used to give you all your photographs in a packet that said ‘Memories’. God! And now I’m losing them and I don’t really care, they’re sort of too much, I’ve got to get rid of a certain amount of stuff, so to some extent all these books are about the getting. And there are certain pages here that you’ve seen tonight that neither me nor you or anyone else probably will ever look at again.

 
Christopher Bannerman
So yes there’s now another bit of a changeover, so an opportunity for questions.  
Woman
Yeah that was very interesting, but I’d like to know how this process of looking back through things is actually useful to you? Things like you know it’s quite an interesting humorous process for us but to understand what value you think that actually had to you I’m going to ask you to go back and answer the question – I don’t know what I’d feel if all these books disappeared. What would you feel if all these books disappeared?  
Graeme Miller
Well it’s one of those things that I don’t know, I really don’t know, but the possible things would be momentary absolute grief, panic, like it is such a terrible panic if lose one set of …. But the other possibility is absolute liberation and I think that, I’m absolutely serious about this process of getting this very very important process of memory, it’s what all my work’s about, about memory.. And you’re talking about actually retrieving and momentarily observing things and I just dipped in archives. It’s actually about, almost one of its possible scenarios ….. and so these diaries and for example, specialisms, special archive. It was about it and what’s useful, changes from moment to moment, and it certainly does through time and through history, and that’s true of your own personal experience. The great thing about keeping them, you never know what might be useful, but if you just bury them away and you’re never going to see them they’re just no use whatsoever, and actually you do have to wake up in the morning and hope. You wake up, and wake up because the light’s streaming through the curtains, and that’s enough to sort of feel that life’s okay. And we’re always trying to maybe return to that state.

I once did a workshop at the Serpentine with kids and I got them to draw their lives so far, and they sort of drew it out on long piece of paper, and I said mark here in the margins all the important events. I carefully rolled them out and sealed them into tubes and then labelled them with My Life so Far on them and they had this, well they were like children’s archives, and really short, but still already when they drew, they did this.

But in a way what I was doing, it means that I don’t know if they’ve still got these sealed archives under their beds, what happened to them? The actual act of making those little archives brings that shape and trajectory up. There’s a funny game between leaving things utterly behind, and then throwing them up in the air and then browsing in order to find what’s important. And it’s also true that I think well if, you know if I suddenly felt I could do those things I’d be handing those things to other people and say you do them, you do them, quick, you too might like them.

 
Woman
But bearing in mind that you think “oh God I did that”, are you going to be more explicit from now on in your notebooks about what the hell this means? Has it changed the way you think you’re going to make the diaries?  
Graeme Miller
No, no, because there’s plenty more where that came from.  
Christopher Bannerman
We have time for another question or is Richard Layzell ready? Thank you. Richard Layzell.  
Richard Layzell
Well I know that a lot of you may be familiar with the collaborative relationship I have with the artist Tania, and a lot of you may not be familiar with this. This is the way of things. We could discuss it, this way of things, this absence of presence of knowledge and information. But it might be less painful to simply pass on. So I’d like to propose that we do just that.

richardThis evening Tania has asked to be represented by this basket. I suspect she just wanted me to suffer on the tube with it!

She has also requested that I perform a series of gestures for you, before going any further.

(MAKING PREPARATIONS FOR PRESENTATION)

No I was just about to. But I didn’t actually, no I didn’t. I didn’t …… actually. If I had ….. it would have been sort of like… But I didn’t do it.

Okay, well I’m here to talk to you about the collaborative project that I’ve been working on with Tania now for about a year. I mean not that we haven’t worked collaboratively before, but this particular project is the big one. And it’s called The Manifestation. It’s the manifestation of a very special relationship, a collaborative partnership that is leading us into all sorts of unknown territory. Not completely unknown to me, but also, also unknown to me, and to her. It’s a relationship that’s leading us to galleries, to curators, to venues, to places to discuss our work, our proposed project. But the nub of this is that these meetings are works in their own right, as this is tonight. So if this is a meeting, then you are a part of it, make no mistake. We’re in it, we’re off, we’re running.

Yeah but you know I haven’t got time …… I’ve only got twenty minutes.

Okay, well we had six of them running, there are lots actually, there’s so …… Okay.

All right space in Hackney. That was in May. It did raise issues about projecting the website, but actually I mean I turned up on my bike because, I mean the previous meeting it had been fine on the laptop, it may have raised those issues, but you know you have to go through, it’s a process, it really is. Okay, this is it. This is the dialogue that we’ve had about that manifestation of a meeting on, as you can see, the 25th May.

I don’t know if you can read this at the back. I’m not going to read it out though, I haven’t had permission.

This is the next page.

I mean if, you know if this was a meeting and you said I can’t see the bottom, then I’d say well lift the projector, but in this case I can’t because it’s on the ceiling. But I haven’t got permission to read it, so …… This is the last page from that dialogue about that meeting in May.

Well I know this is throwing you in the deep end, but we decided this was the best way to begin. After every meeting, first the wine bottle that Tania was represented by at that meeting, I mean she has an aesthetic of absence which is why she’s not here this evening. I took a photograph of everybody’s hands at the meeting. You might notice that Anna’s hands are a bit long-looking. Anna’s wearing the dark… I see that she’s got plasters. So this came up in the meeting although it doesn’t appear in that particular part of the dialogue, that she’s been learning African drumming and she’s hurt her hands. So I’ve… I mean you could say I manipulatively offered to lend her my African drum. I haven’t delivered it yet, but you know you could see that as a gesture of friendship, kindness or manipulation. Anyway it hasn’t happened yet.

What you also see on the table are these treats. Biscuits, cakes – this is a vital element of the meeting, it always seems to open doors. It did at the gallery with the Marks & Spencer’s butter cookies – you would be amazed. Changed the atmosphere immediately. So the idea is not to photograph places because you know what that’s like. Hands are enough. And as I’m obsessed with tables anyway, to me the table speaks volumes. This is the exterior of the space building with its new foyer, which is mentioned in the dialogue.

Well you know to tell you about Ivan is a big chunk, because Ivan in a sense is me now, Ivan represents the me, when I was performing, whatever performing is, or standing in front of you is. And he’s now entered the dialogue, so occasionally he makes a brief rather shirty appearance. He’s usually critical of the amount of documentation that I use, he feels that the being here with you is what it’s about, not the microphone, not the camera, not the photograph. He’s a very good performer and I do respect him, but I disagree with him strongly about the documentation. And he’s getting more shirty.

Well Bangkok is where Tania and I were working together a year and a half ago, and it was quite meaningful to be honest. We, well you’ll see, because the same thing happened in New York, the dialogues which would not ….. the manifestation, the dialogues were the work, but they made work on the way, so things happened on the way about the dialogue which affected what happened and the documentation. And yes I didn’t know that we were looking for the perfect image but I kind of think we were. I mean I wouldn’t have said that, we never discussed it in those terms.

The curve was a feature of our last dialogue and we’ll perhaps look at that dialogue. It was in July. This is one of those images from Bangkok which I feel in retrospect was looking for a certain kind of perfection, and of course Tania’s relatively recent interest in minimalism has also influenced these images, like this one in New York.

But I think it’s only really fair to you to show you the bit about, well the truth of it really. I mean if you think It’s fictitious. So I just need to find the ResCen website, and this will be hard to see from the back. Well that won’t be, but you might have difficulty when I open things up. So it’s kind of this throne here, leading down to talking to Tania, and this throne here leading down to international cleaning, and these works down here. I kind of get interconnected, you see there’s an arrow for international cleaning – well that could also go to talking to Tania, and if we had the manifestation then that would be somewhere, maybe between the two. So talking to Tania. Thank you. So glad you told me that! You don’t know what I was on about do you? I could have been making it up then.

So this is the line I was speaking about, which is leading in this skeletal fashion down, this is to talking to Tania. And this side leads down here through research international cleaning, to this where I worked as a waiter in Norway for a week, and the project here with an organisation with the public, problems maybe.

So international cleaning, not ………… you see the obsession with tables crops up, but also to talking to Tania, because she’s rather keen on this work and I might as well just show you a bit of it here. And we’re talking of trying to integrate this into manifestation in some way, which will of course be an installation in prestigious venues. I won’t click on any of these, they would work but I won’t click on them because I don’t want to. But I do want to show you this series of seven dialogues with Tania, which have all interwoven into various things. So for example number five, no, is prominence in New York, number four is Bangkok and Thailand, and interestingly the green string on the kerb measures which I was showing you earlier came from Thailand.

But the one I’m really going to show you, not in detail, is number seven. It’s the most recent, and we’re going to look at day three. Now what Bandra has cleverly done here Andrew Lang is to slightly animate one of my international cleanings here, so you can barely see it but I am actually cleaning a very large anchor here, and this is The Radiant Curve. It took its name from expelling curves in this extraordinary swimming pool in Penzance called the Jubilee pool, so one of my jobs, as well as cleaning and waiting, was as a curve measurer, and this is the beginning of curve measuring here.

I was also a gardener. Really packed it in then.

So there it is all is, it’s… whenever you feel like a look it’s all there, lots of detail.

Just to… Oh I think the next thing to show you is actually… I thought we needed a bit of documentation, if I’m honest with you, so I think that’s what we’ll do. Not that this isn’t of course.

richard(SHOWING FILM)

And I think putting this together for this evening, for this particular meeting, made me realise that the business of curve measuring had an earlier place.

(FILM CONT.)

Although this came after Penzance.

(FILM CONT. & CAPTIONS)

Thanks.

 
Christopher Bannerman
While we change over, more questions, some more general discussion, some questions and comments?  
Man
Hello, just a quick general question for Rosemary. With the book, which I now have – very nice – it’s a very finished document as a book and I’m just wondering where, in relation to your work as process, where did this kind of stand? Was this watching you? It’s like an audience member, always there kind of judging the work as you went along.  
Rosemary Lee
No, I think that’s a really good point because I realise in trying to write about, trying to write the presentation I didn’t talk about the design element at all, which is a mistake, around that time. Julie Kim is the designer and that, the book came about… After the live work was made the book manifested itself, so the live work was already made, but the conversations and the notebook sharing was happening just at the end of the process before it was performed. So then Niki felt that there was something in this interchange that we were having, and then we started to think well how on earth would we put that on paper and how would we share it with someone. So then the big experiment, which took a few years actually, was to find somebody that could design with us and find a way of putting it on paper, that felt a bit notebook-like and that had a quality of the work that was a bit about memory but a bit about something new. Does that answer it?  
Man
I was just wondering if it was there all the way through.  
Rosemary Lee
Not at all.  
Man
It would make a very different dynamic.  
Rosemary Lee
No not at all no, it’s after the piece existed.  
Christopher Bannerman
But the point you’ve made actually Rosemary does talk about this …. or the kind of development of kind of self-consciousness I would call it, my words, in the book Navigating the Unknown.  
Rosemary Lee
As you do.  
Christopher Bannerman
It was a time in which you know she didn’t want to pick it apart any more.  
Rosemary Lee
But I’m being unpicked. This felt like putting back the unpicking. The process of being a ResCen artist sometimes feel like you’re unpicking yourself, a bit like unravelling knitting, and it’s hard enough to do the damn knitting in the first place so to unpick it is kind of like oh no I only just got that row done. So this book in a way helps me piece it together again in a new form perhaps, but I think what Chris is referring to is there are times during this six years of working in ResCen where I kind of say don’t get a notebook near me, don’t let anyone in, I just need to go back to working again in some way without that outside eye. Is that what you meant?  
Woman
I’m interested in the fact that you all chose to work in a couple this evening, with Tania, with yourself, and with a dancer present but also the idea of the observer. So there was in a sense, there was a duality in every one of the performances. It was dialogic, and I suppose my question is, is that conscious? Are you all going through a process at the moment of thinking about reflecting on process needing to happen dialogically, or not?  
Richard Layzell
I think it’s gone a bit beyond that for me, to be honest.  
Woman
I’m glad because I feel, I felt a bit limited by my, by the conclusion that I’ve come to now, I felt as though that conclusion was limiting the process.  
Richard Layzell
It’s for me not really about the process but it’s about working, that’s what’s happened, through this, like on the website that journey from the top to the bottom, which started at asking myself questions and led to the invention of four artists for an exhibition, and then enjoying one of them, imagining their work, Tania’s work so much, that I kept talking to her. And now it’s gone to somewhere else so it’s become a major part of what I do now. And strange as it is it’s incredibly interesting and engaging. So it’s the dialogue. I found really useful, and having writing, I just like writing dialogues a lot, and having someone who exists but doesn’t exist as well is a way of accessing bits of me that I wouldn’t probably be accessing, so I have found it useful.  
Graeme Miller
I mean what’s missing or is available on the website is real dialogues where I do engage in the kind of the bouncing, kind of riffing with other people. And one of the last conversations that we had was talking about conversations that you have while looking out of a windscreen, which is where two people are both sitting facing the same things, not necessarily head to head dialogue, and these are the kind of dialogues we had, and strangely enough when I spend a lot of time by myself I do you know verbally I do really talk to myself. And then I kind of …… interested in some of the things that… you know Tania was kind of quite encouraging sometimes, well she pushes you. And that’s one of my voices, is the ……… And I just, you know, I’m quite a good listener to myself ………… There’s a kind of role play going on. And maybe some of it is also to do with the fact that the process often involves paradoxically a large amount of time in your own company, that you call that amount of time in your own company, so dialogue, whether it’s with other people or it’s with an audience in situations like this, that’s what performance is about, is a kind of dialogue, or whether it’s even discussion with other peers if you like about your work and you’re kind of sharing about your work. It’s a way of teasing ……..  
Rosemary Lee
Nicki Childs who I worked with at Arts Admin, we worked together collaborating to make the work which is here tonight, but she reminded me just recently of how important it is for me to collaborate and how hard I find it to make decisions on my own, but I do of course make decisions on my own but somehow it’s pretty lonely you know. You’re alone a lot, and I am alone a lot. Even though I work with dancers, most of my time I’m in bed with a laptop. So in a sense, for me I have to have that sounding board to reflect back what I’m doing. I need somebody else to stir me and question me to find out better what I’m doing.
I wouldn’t be interested in writing a book that I just wrote about myself because it would be well, very self-obsessed I suppose.
 
Woman
I’m kind of interested in the extent to which the practising artist is involved in self-analysis and self-reflection. I’m aware of the need to suspend that as well, but I’m also aware of the need for it. This is clearly a very particular set of circumstances over a six year period in a sort of, in a forum, but I’m wondering whether wasn’t that something that was part of your work anyway?  
Richard Layzell
It’s a great question.

Well, yes but I wouldn’t have given it the time actually, and I am reflective but this has been really, has changed my work somewhat. having to make, just producing the web area actually felt like a piece of work, and it was about making connections, and I’m sure that other artists maybe would reflect more than I did at the time but in my case it’s been good and beneficial.

 
Woman
I guess as well there’s also a change when you kind of organise that, give it a format, as you do when you say okay how am I going to do this through the web or whatever.  
Richard Layzell
And I think for me to start making it into a manifestation, or us to, is like the answer, well you know this is now going to become the work instead of a reflection on the work. So I suppose I’ve answered it in that way a bit.

I think I was someone who’s very at one end of the scale in terms of being very very nervous about too much self-reflection, and really feeling what you describe as the need to not do it, or is the kind of thing you do on the loop, and so doing it in a university setting is kind of strange, and the fear was that too much sort of self-analysis and opening too many windows on that is actually either putting too much energy into something that wasn’t going anywhere. Even worse than that, I shed so much light on these kind of private things that you try to get through in order to make work.

I’ve always, when I started thinking picking work it was always as if that was the last thing I was able to, I would ever do, is try to constantly make that. It’s very hard to keep up when things get into decades you know, and actually to my surprise the culture of looking at the work and of tasting where I think, to some extent in preparing for people like this, even though what I did was spontaneous really, I nonetheless prepared for something that I felt would be of a kind of product. So it’s not just the actual sharing of it, or the consideration of going to do it and boy, you know to try and get artists to make a website and be obsessed about the entire phase, every sort of little piece of it because everything smacks of work and everyone becomes a sort of level and a layer of work. I’ve not found that self-consciousness that I thought might be paralysing, not paralysing at all. But you know I now know I can have the same idea again and again and again and it doesn’t stop me from having it another time.

 
Rosemary Lee
The difference is formalising it. So yeah I think I’m sure I was quite reflective before but to try to put it into words is another matter, and then to try to design something that reflects that either on the web or to write articles. When we first got our job description from ResCen, it said you won’t have to write, don’t worry. And what have we done all year?  
Christopher Bannerman
The observer can make an observation.  
Rosemary Lee
I’m sure.  
Christopher Bannerman
Yes absolutely. One of the things that, I mean I agree with you, I think that the reflective aspect is very much a part of artistic practice anyway, and even the dialogue must be happening anyway, but one thing that seems different to us, we didn’t make any attempt to select artists from a particular aesthetic, only from different disciplines. But they also have at times profound aesthetic and philosophical differences, which makes some of the conversations likely. I think that’s a different thing, having to kind of articulate your position in a kind of opposition. That’s all recorded in an archive; sometime after we all shuffle off this mortal coil people will be able to hear it. Another question, yes?  
Man
Graeme was really this thing in watching, I found myself sort of increasingly uncomfortable, like I was not supposed to be viewing what you were showing us. And with that discomfort came a kind of wonderful sense of exclusion from it. I you know struggled to develop a relationship with it if you like, because of the doodleness of it. And, my question is about this idea of reflecting on the process and of documenting, if you like the questions about more than why but for whom is it?  
Graeme Miller
See it’s an interesting question, and it’s actually a very challenging question. I think you feel those things, the fact you feel those things doesn’t surprise me because obviously I kind of wanted to lay you in at the speed I was going and have the sheer obscurity of everything in the obscurities of me because I couldn’t figure out. You know a lot of the time exactly where I was, is part of a sort of smokescreen I’m building around that material. However in a sort of, at a sort of slower pace there is an alternative route into that kind of material. But that maybe answers the question about who it’s for. I mean certainly none of that material is to be so interesting, that those books sitting over there, we’re going over there – we’re going out late now to Pizza Express - but those books over there have no, no-one really mentions say the maximum kind of recall of those things was probably a few weeks while I was looking and working on the project on my last eight weeks, so they might have a couple of months and a sell by date, but because they don’t actually decay they’ve remained.

And so you can possibly look at those books and think about the process in a similar light or the analysis of the process, who are those books for and where does that go? And I think you know the practice of looking at a process is really about you know framing work it has an enormous relationship process, it doesn’t come out of that, it comes out of being in the history, it comes out of lots of what we call research decisions. So in a way the evidence there, even if you see it at breakneck speed, is about chains of decision making, filtering processes, a kind of chemistry I should say that makes things happen, so the work is kind of constantly made by process of artistic constantly in process.

So disseminating always tries to have a kind of live element to it. And the idea in some senses is, is the same. You were saying earlier that the artists in ResCen all work by different processes, just as you, a lot of you make of yourself. Everybody is a creative individual, is also dealing in recipes. So to some extent there’s a kind of idea of a kind of conference of chefs, there is a sort of recipe sharing going on, and the access and its historical significance and what people get from it is very hard to determine, it’s very hard to know exactly what people are getting out of it. But by making that data available for the first time is an exciting project. What ResCen is about, is simply about, to some extent it’s about opening the doors. So it’s as much for you to govern those public events, it’s as much for you to discover whether that is useful and what is useful, but it’s about releasing that data.

 
Christopher Bannerman
Perhaps even a final question or comment? We can carry on the conversations in more depth in a social situation. But a last comment or question? Yes?  
Woman
I’m just wondering about what lies next after. Obviously there are the publications and I really enjoyed the ResCen seminars that I’ve attended so far, and the dialogue between the academic and the artist. It was fascinating and illuminating. You’ve talked about how much you’ve developed and Richard talked of how you have moved and changed. Are there going to be other opportunities for these artists or other artists to research in this way as part of the development of this project?  
Christopher Bannerman
Do you want me to answer that question? Yes. Well there’s more life left, but of course we never know, and I guess what we can do as we move into the future is make plans, but of course there is no sort of guarantee of funding. And in fact I suppose it’s partly been that way from the outset. I think if you had said to me in 1999 at the South Bank Centre, guess what, in 2006 you’re going to be sitting, standing in the theatre museum with these people I’d have said don’t be crazy, you know.

Any six highly volatile individuals, being in a highly volatile higher education sector in which those things are going to happen. But somehow we are here and I don’t really know what to say beyond two years in the future, I really don’t. I think the best thing we’ve got to do is kind of form it as best we can. Maybe plan another conference and a conference called NightWalking, return of NightWalking, or some kind of walking, like walking to, or like walking came back from the swamp or, I don’t know, maybe another conference. So even if we do have to fold on in, we will fold it not. That’s the best answer I can give I’m afraid. Shall I invite you all for some food and refreshment and we’ll try to carry on. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

 
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