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Transformation and the Artist – seminar transcription
Presented by ResCen

Thursday 5 November 2003

Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe

 

 
Transformation seminar panel
Research Associates:
  Richard Layzell
  Rosemary Lee
  Graeme Miller
  Errollyn Wallen
Chair:
  Christopher Bannerman
with Guest:
  Adrian Rifkin
     
transcribed by:
  Jessica Williamson
edited by:
  Hannah Bruce

This seminar transcript can be downloaded in full
as an Adobe Acrobat pdf file (file size: 412 Kb)

 

Introduction by Chris Bannerman

The first thing I should say is good evening and welcome to ‘Transformation and the Artist’, a seminar presented by ResCen, the Centre for Research into Creation in the Performing Arts, based at Middlesex University. My name is Chris Bannerman and I’m pleased to be joined this evening by four of our six artist researchers: Rosemary Lee, Richard Layzell, Errollyn Wallen and Graeme Miller. Our other two research associates are Ghislaine Boddington and Shobana Jeyasingh. Ghislaine is currently on a personal research trip and might even be in Japan or China as we speak. Shobana Jeyasingh has travel problems this evening and she may arrive later, but says she is too embarrassed to come and sit up here and disrupt things, so she will sit in the audience, (but we might have to embarrass her and drag her up here!).

We are also as a group delighted to be joined by Adrian Rifkin. Adrian happens to be a colleague from Middlesex University, but he also does a number of other things and is very hard to categorise, so I won't attempt to do that. He has interests in fine art, visual culture and Errollyn tells me he knows a great deal about music. He is also very interested in new forms and modes of research and he will be here this evening as a responder.

Before I outline the format of the evening, I thought I’d just say a few words about how we got here (and I’m not referring to the London tube system when I say how we got here – although I do quite like this spatial metaphor! – but instead I want to give you some background about ResCen).

ResCen is a group of six artists who work across the performing arts. They have met regularly over a three year period, sometimes to discuss particular themes, sometimes to see what themes emerge from discussion.

ResCen is a particular kind of initiative, which we hope is located somewhere between the worlds of higher education and the professional performing arts. We sometimes see ourselves as a kind of bridge between those sectors, although clearly those sectors overlap in lots of new ways now. At ResCen we do not attempt to bring a group of artists into the institution in order to academicise them, or teach them to theorise about their work. Rather we are doing the opposite: we are assuming they have a knowledge domain and we want to hear about it from them, in their own words. I think from the outset the notion at ResCen was that these people would have to be willing to talk about their work, and look deeply at the artistic processes they used to make work. They had to be willing to do that in an honest and rigorous manor. Those were the key criteria: knowledge of higher education or academic theoretical perspectives were not criteria.

To select this evening’s theme I have looked back over the discussions which took place in our closed sessions. This is a process that actually started in September 2002 at a conference, or major event, called NightWalking. It continued last summer with our seminar ‘Intuition and the Artist’, and continues this evening with the seminar ‘Transformation and the Artist’. I should make clear that in the transcripts of our past discussions the word Transformation has not always been used, the concept has been referred to in a number of different ways. We have discussed notions of change, catalytic processes, alchemy, cooking, and a frenetic worrying of material in order to move it on. These are all references to notions of transformation. Sometimes these words apply not just to the work, but also relate to the artists themselves, which has caused us to stray slightly from the focus on creative processes alone, but which has allowed us to see the artists more fully.

We will undoubtedly be looking at transformation in a number of different ways this evening. In order to do this, the format will be that each research associate will have about five minutes to share their thoughts about transformation. Then, as Adrian has suggested, it’s over to you and we will hear a bit from you. Then Adrian will respond to the artists and all of your responses.

The only other thing to say is there are two wild cards in the pack – Graeme Miller has accused me of turning this into a game show so I apologise for that kind of reality television slant! The first wild card is that Adrian is allowed to interject at any point and interrupt anybody. The other is that I have ready some quotes from the past three years. If any of the artists say something which these quotes relate to, I reserve the right to say “that’s strange, two years ago you said…”. The artists can of course reply “that’s ok, I’ve transformed”!

I should add that it has been a great pleasure and honour for me to be involved in ResCen and it is wonderful to have a resource of three years of material. However ResCen is about the voice of the artist, so we shall have a logical progression down the line and start with Rosie talking about transformation.

 

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Rosemary Lee     Rosemary LeeMaybe I’ll start off with saying how I think transformation happens within the process. I don't I can talk about all those places in just five minutes, so I’ll just list them and then talk about one area. It occurs to me that transformation seems to be the process right from the word go. The first bit that is transformative to me, is how to transform my ideas. They might be quite unspecific, but have a clear feel to me in my notebook before I get to rehearsals. When I meet my dancers for the first time there are, I suppose, virtual ideas in the notebook, but then there is the actuality of having people – flesh and bones, emotions, cold studios, hard floors – and suddenly it is all kind of real. How do I get those fantasies I’ve had into these bodies and into these minds, and how do I then see those ideas? That seems to me a massive problem to solve, and if I solve it, a massive transformation.

Then there are such obvious places where transformation happens, like from studio to stage. I also hope it happens (which is probably why I’m still plugging away being a choreographer) in the audience. I’m trying to make it happen all the way through the process, but ultimately I’m trying to make it happen in the audience members themselves. I guess, in my wildest dreams, I hope people have moments of transformation when they are seeing the work. I suppose by that I mean some kind of change from when they walked in to when they walk out. That is the obvious one; some sort of change in their state whilst they are watching the work. I’m sure it doesn’t really happen very often, but I think it is what I’m aiming at.

When Errollyn and I were talking about this a few weeks ago, we talked about times when we had had transformative experiences ourselves as audience members. We tried to remember when the earliest moment was, when we experienced that sense of feeling altered by seeing or experiencing something. For me, my earliest memory was seeing a documentary about Tolstoy on the television, and all I can remember is that he seemed to live in a railway station! I don't know whether that is true or not, but somehow that seemed very important to me – that he was at this railway station with things passing. I feel that was a very transformative moment. I think I understood something about the passion he had as a writer, and maybe that is what fires me to make work; to repeat that process.

Rather than going into every bit of the process, which I’m sure we will do, I wanted to focus these five minutes on the best bit for me: when I am watching transformation in a dancer or participant. About three years ago, when we first started meeting together, Richard Povall (who doesn’t work with us now) was encouraging us to write. He asked us to write about transformation in our process. I happened to be working with some nine year olds in a school in Dagenham, off the A13, a very deprived area. I was working towards an installation project. I thought this would be a good opportunity to see whether some of the same things happen to me as a choreographer teaching and working with children, as when I'm in a professional studio with professional dancers. So I wrote a few things about what I saw there. I’m going to read about some of the children, who are now probably grown up (I hope it is ok with you to read you something):

“Yannie slowly moves his arms, standing straight and concentrated. He is on a mountain commanding the thunder and lightening, a Greek god, a Greek boy god next to the A13 at Marsh Green Primary School. I notice his shift into another world and praise him too noisily but it doesn’t shake his utter commitment to his imagining that I see in his entire body. He is transformed, I can see his experience outwardly, I can sense we know each other has recognised it. He from the inside and me seeing it from the outside. Some weeks later he tells me that his most memorable moment of the week was being a weather god.”

I’ve written about three children, they do happen to be three boys, which is quite interesting. I wish I had got one about a girl, but we’ll carry on:

"Jamie: ‘Miss, look at my arm, it’s growing, it’s growing!’ He shows me his arm and I see it stretching on and on. I call the class very excitedly and tell them to look at Jamie’s arm going up to the moon. I say, can they send their heads up to the sky like that? I’m excited, Jamie is excited, he has felt a transformation and I have seen it. ‘Miss, that’s the first time I’ve ever got something!’ Later he tells me his most memorable moment was his arm growing forever and ever."

“Dean, the quietest lad who works so hard, struggles at school. He has a beautiful containment in him and I am drawn to it. He tells of a silver fountain being his most memorable moment and as he talks I see the fountain and I tell the class that I can see it right there. He smiles and looks at me with a silent questioning.”

So that just reminds me of seeing children transformed, or being embodied by an imaginative task, and the same thing happens watching professional dancers as well. For me, seeing a state change, or seeing someone embodied by something, is the clearest moment of transformation in my process.

I just want to say one more thing, (I don’t know if I’m running out of time), but as a choreographer you’re looking for those moments that I’ve tried to describe. For me, it’s a yard stick of whether a piece is working or not. It’s when the piece goes from nuts and bolts to something whole, almost as if it’s something fluid. Some life force has gone through the nuts and bolts and suddenly become something other. I realised today, as I was preparing for tonight, that I’m only thinking of it going from nuts and bolts to something other but actually, if I’m honest, it can go the other way. You can see a piece get to this place and you think, "there, it’s ready to take off", and then the next day it’s back to it’s nuts and bolts and you can’t see it (and sometimes you never see it again). That’s the depressing side of it. But that is my yard stick for whether a piece is ready to let go of or not.

As a performer, if I’m in someone else’s work or my own, I realise that there is a very strong transformative moment when you feel that you no longer have to shape the piece, the piece shapes you. That feels very special and one hopes to get to that point, as a performer, where the piece has got a life and force of its own, and that you actually become subservient in a way.

That is all I’m going to say for the moment.

 

 
Richard Layzell     Richard LayzellI’m Richard. I’m a visual artist by training and I also perform. I’ve just been travelling and I’ve been writing a log which appeared on the ResCen website for thirty seven days. For the log, I answered four questions which were to do with my process and what was happening to me at that time. It’s quite complex to explain – one of the questions was about what was going on; another question was about intuition; another was about whatever I felt like writing about; the fourth was called Tania’s View. Tania was a younger artist who I invented as a result of asking myself these kinds of questions over a long period. She has become a very real person to me. Tania’s view of what was going on was occasionally very relevant: she’s fairly straight talking; she’s a visual artist; she doesn’t perform herself and she had a show coming up in Germany which she was keen for me to promote. We don’t have a relationship, but in a sense to have this other person in my life has been a transformative act.

Where was I going? I was going to Australia as a facilitator for a workshop called Time/Space/Place, which involved twenty artists from all over Australia. There were artists from all different disciplines; dance, theatre, different visual art forms, and music. I was one of five facilitators.

As I was filling out this log, day after day, I thought “what is happening to me? I’m a facilitator; what am I doing? What is my process as a facilitator? Is it the same as when I’m an artist, when I’m thinking or making?”. It wasn’t quite the same. During the time I was away, I was also working on a performance that I would perform in Perth after about three weeks. One early morning when I was still jetlagged, I had this one flash (I don’t know if you get these ) and I thought “I want to make two pieces with two of the artists, which I might use in Perth for the performance” I had this flash and then I was in a different mode; I was in the mode of a maker. Also it was an intuitive flash. I had these two pictures: one was about making a video sequence on a bridge in Wagga Wagga, which was where we were, (it is really a place), and another was that I wanted to work with one of the audio artists called Rosie Denis, who did vocal improvisations. I would do a vocal improvisation with her and maybe I’d record it and use it.

I did both of these things, and then I moved to Perth – I was also running workshops in Perth. One of these workshops happened immediately and it dealt with this business of relating to people. I wondered “what happens to people when I’m the sole facilitator instead of one of five? What happens to a group of people if I feel I’m working well (if I feel I’m being as good a facilitator as I can be)?” What happened is that they transformed over the three days of the workshop. They were different after three days. We had a very profound experience together and I feel they made some very interesting work.

Then I had to switch back to being the maker again because I went back to working on my piece, which I wasn’t very happy with (but I stuck with it in the end). It’s called Eleanor’s Falcon. I was deliberately putting myself under pressure not to decide what it was going to be until quite late on in this time period. What was happening to me now? Was it different? Was I a different person?

I think I was a different person actually. One of the connections was that the woman who I did the improvisation with, Rosie Denis, was able to come out to Perth, because I wasn’t very happy with the recording. She was able to get funding to come out to join me and she performed with me live in Perth, just a five minute sequence.

So at this point I go back to keeping the log. Meanwhile I get a sense that there is something about Rosie that reminds me of Tania. Something about the way I relate to her, something about the way she is (although she is Australian and Tania is British). They were similar, so I thought maybe I’d ask Rosie to be Tania in the performance. I mentioned it in an email, but I thought I’d wait until we were face to face to talk about it properly. However, Tania gets wind of this and we end up, (Richard and Tania), having a bit of a ding-dong on the log: “How are you going to get Rosie to be me Richard? What’s this about, she can’t be me really”. That was very interesting, having an argument with someone I’d invented, especially since she had a point. One of her points was that she didn’t want to come out of this badly and that the only way she would agree to Rosie being Tania was if I publicised her exhibition in Düsseldorf in the flyer programme – which I did. So what was going on here?

 

 
Adrian Rifkin     Can I just ask you, before you answer that: Tania’s not a facilitator?

 

 
  Richard Layzell     No, she’s not a facilitator, no.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     And she doesn’t get transformed?

 

 
  Richard Layzell     She does age actually, she gets older. Somebody asked me how old she was and I realised I invented her over a year ago and she must now be twenty eight. One of the conversations I had with her was “well how old is Rosie and is she attractive?” I had to say “I think she’s a bit older than you, and I think you would get on”. It turned out Rosie was twenty nine and I was quite right.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     I just wanted to hear a bit more about Tania because I think she might play a different role later on. I’m just guessing she might be something we have in common even if she’s your private affair, so to speak!

 

 
  Richard Layzell     OK. You’re probably wondering what happened in the performance itself. I think because I was still doing the log, (I know I’m going a bit over time but we’re getting there), the log was making me really conscious of how different it was to be making and thinking and designing, as opposed to facilitating, and to performing as well. What happened at that transition point between designing this piece (which I was going to perform solo with Rosie), and what this film sequence ended up saying in it? And how did all these decisions end up happening on the last day? Why did I make a lot of changes on that very last day, during the build up to performing? Why did I do that, and why did I want that to happen? Why did I include a final video sequence at the end, which I hadn’t thought of using until that point? There is this really condensed pressure that happens. Then you perform it, and it is just so different. I make the work and I perform it, what’s that about? It’s weird, it’s so tense and then it’s done and people give you feedback you’re not ready for. Can’t you get the feedback the next day?

I could not hear Rosie during the interaction! I was on a mic and I couldn’t hear her and I felt I’d really failed. Then somebody told me, three days later, that they thought it was the most beautiful moment in the performance. What’s that about, your response to the audience response? That’s a very charged area too.

Maybe that’s enough to say at the minute, except that for me there were questions about “what happened, and what do I do with this; how did it work; what comes next”? It all happened remarkably quickly, and within two days I was working on the next piece using elements from that piece. I’m aware of it because it’s a long journey and I was away for all this time, and I was in these different roles and lots of things happened, and then I come back to England. It feels like a whole series of shifts I suppose.

OK, thank you.

 

 
back to top Errollyn Wallen     Errollyn WallenFor this I think you can feel free to butt in, as you know so much more about music than I do (to AR). I’d say the work of a composer always involves transformation. It’s the very business of composing: literally you start with an idea and you are constantly reworking notes. I happen to work with traditional musical notation. But Rosie’s comments earlier were also very relevant when I’m working – I’m writing music but the performers aren’t there in the room yet. I have to imagine them and I have to imagine the situation they’ll be playing in. In working out my musical composition, transformation is everything.

I see transformation as a sort of visualisation, in a way, but also at the heart of composing for me is the idea of making a moment exist in time. All my pieces arrive in a flash, so often I’ll get a vision or picture. There is a piece that I wrote for a brass band where all I could see, (and it made no sense to me), was a huge car moving across a film screen. Another piece was just about the sensation of being very cold. These things mean nothing to anyone else, but for me the stronger that feeling is, the more I feel I’ve got something to hang onto when I’m generating ideas: I feel that there is a strong thread. I believe anybody can put music together if they think about it: anybody can make a piece of music lasting five minutes or even half an hour. However, I’m interested in music that has to exist. It's about making ideas feel as if they have to exist. Take a piece like Les Noces by Stravinksy, where you listen to this music and you think “wow, it must have always existed”. I feel that the way he has achieved that is through a single gesture which he is trying to convey in sound. It sounds sort of crass to talk about, but for me, writing music is all about one particular feeling.

I remember a programme where Howard Hodgkin was talking about what are considered his abstract works, but I was very struck by how he described, in all his paintings, trying to convey one single feeling. In a way writing music for me is crystallising something, and then making it exist in a time frame, so it’s like unpacking something and exploding. I have this thing, but it’s got to work, maybe in five minutes, or in an hour, or half an hour.

In composing you are also literally transforming time. I’ve just finished a twenty minute opera, which is really short, but I’ve made it sound like a really long short piece! In twenty minutes I want us to feel as though we’re living in two hours. In other pieces time should stop. I’m consciously thinking about all these techniques, as well as extending ideas. I’m drawing experiences into my own domain, which is the domain of time, and making time work in different ways depending what I’m trying to say. It sounds a bit abstract but it’s that simple, and I realise it’s been that simple for me since being a child. If you can really know what it is you’re saying, even if it’s something you can’t put into words, or see, or feel, that’s always the beginning.

Then the process of composing from that state to the performance is a whole other thing. This is this piece [holding up the score] I’ve just written, and it always makes me laugh, to see that it is like proper music! Actually the notation has got nothing to do with the reasons for writing, and nothing to do with the piece. This is just simply a map so people can find their way through. I depend so much on notation because I’m managing time in a particular way; I’m timing events. For example, there is a sequence which I want to sound very improvised, but I have to write out that improvisation. I literally have to write it so that every time it’s the same, but it feels spontaneous. Rosie touched on this: the essence, the feeling, the initial impulse for creating will still be in the work. It might be transformed but somehow it’s got to be this central core that survives through all the stuff.

Composing is so slow I can’t tell you – it’s like watching paint dry. I have this feeling, but then it can take months to finish a work depending on what the instrumentation is for. In that process I’m entirely alone and solitary; nobody can help me in a way. I invent the rules and then I have to follow them, but then towards the end I have to consider the practical nature of performing. For instance, in this opera, there are a lot of percussion parts. I have to think about really practical things like "will the percussionist have enough time to put his sticks down from the base drum to go over to the rattle?". The practicalities in a way become part of the whole creative process, so you are always working on these very different levels. You are always in another world but always in a very practical world, and notation is highly practical. Whatever you write down has to be as clear as possible because in rehearsal there is so little time. All this stuff can get in the way of your initial idea and of what you want to be a totally transformative experience at the end.

The reason I like going to rehearsals so much is that you see a piece totally reduced. For example, by the time I’ve finished writing this opera I know everything about it: the shape, the atmosphere, all the characters. Then in rehearsal it gets reduced to nothing. I sit and watch the singers learning, and the musicians getting things wrong, and it’s very humbling in a way because people are stumbling through notes. At that stage, you can glimpse most clearly whether the piece will work, in that ‘mistakey’ phase. If, in that first run through, however badly played, you can still feel the shape you envisaged at the beginning, then you know it is going to work.

After rehearsals (which involves working with lots of different people including the conductor), gradually the piece moves further away from me, and that is how it should be. I find it very difficult to hand in the score sometimes. That is partly because I get very attached to the sound world that I’m in, but that’s a crucial part of music making if you’re a composer. I talked about the single impressional feeling; that is all very well, but for a piece to live, return to the air from where it came, it has to move far away from you. When you watch performers starting to make your music their own, there is a point where they actually start suggesting corrections you could make, in order that your vision maybe more accurately conveyed. That is always fascinating, and something that is not talked about very much in composing; the importance of that performer/composer relationship. It's a totally transforming experience, beginning to see the piece you have written and lived with for so long in a totally new light. It is removed and it becomes a totally different thing. By the time it is performed I feel as if I don’t know this world anymore, as if it has nothing to do with me. You start the process not knowing, then you go through this whole period of being a total expert and very much dealing in details, and then when it’s performed the truth is that you don’t know anything about that world anymore. That is how is should be.

 

 
back to top Graeme Miller     I’m following straight on from that. I’m someone who sort of stumbled into music and I’m not a proper composer like this [indicating score]

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     Oh you are, stop it, it’s just different.

 

 
  Graeme Miller     Graeme MillerTo some extent I felt an incredible liberation at a certain point in my process whereby I found I could write music. If I started to apply the same processes whereby I could write music, which is largely by hypnotising myself into this other state, the word ‘state’ becomes really important. A state which would only last a certain amount of time in which I could compose things and then emerge at the other end as a kind of listener. I would turn around and find that I’d done something that was reasonably convincing as music, so then I wanted to go back into that world again and see if I could conjure up more of those things. It liberated me, particularly working in theatre and performance. It was a way of working whereby thematic interests, moral development, plot, character, could all subsume themselves to a logic that was rhythmic, and above all to do with time. I was interested that you said being a composer might involve a very strong sense of visualising; that a visual acuity might be one of the skills involved. I think that the wider sense of the word ‘composition’, of being a composer, is still a kind of job title I can give myself. It might not be music that I produce, it might be something that is entirely to do with movement. It might be entirely visual, but it will almost certainly involve the manipulation of time. This role of being a composer of things, that might also include music, takes place for me in a world view. You can’t detach your process and your aim from a world view: your view is influenced by your accumulation of knowledge and how you acquire it (how the wind blows for you).

Using the same idea, I became very interested in the idea of weather. We live under weather and we live under real time. In particular, for a period of my life I would often make performance pieces that would involve a two year incubation period; a two month run up; a two month process. This would lead to something that would finally telescope down to ninety minutes. A whole chunk of my life was lived in this kind of time-scale, and this compacting process became a calendar.

One of my observations was that the work tended to become almost a scrapbook of the process: the structure of the work itself reflected the process of putting it together. There were the first ideas, then the discovery of a dynamic, then a conflict of two things. At the beginning it’s more one thing, and by the end it’s more another. I have some sort of sense of where it can go. To pick up on what Errollyn and Rosie were saying, there are very specific states which you can smell and recognise with absolutely accuracy. I'm interested in this business about holding onto things that later in the process will be recognisable, hopefully, in the moment. There is this unifying force in time, of the moment whereby performers' time, director's time and especially audience time are absolutely synchronised. They are indivisible moments, if they are communicating: my observation was that they were strange, reflecting microcosms. If a piece of work is a sort of temporal scrapbook of the time it took to arrive there, paradoxically it is also happening in time.

In particular for me, there is a very poignant moment at the end of any performance, because performances happen in time and they are ritual, unrepeatable events. This is true even of The Mousetrap, in its fortieth year at the moment of the curtain call. I don’t know if it’s still going? The moment that show stopped, or did the last show for the last time, the moment you say “it’s over”, is poignant. In particular we’re looking at processes in the performing arts, and I think that last moment immediately starts to take on life in time. There is a sort of synchronised moment at the end of the last moment of performance, maybe at the end of the tour, where something will never be enacted again. Somehow you are enacting time itself, you are enacting the recognition of the passing of time.

I want to go back to the idea, or model, of weather as a dynamic system. Weather is slightly predicable; it’s part of an earth system that is dynamic. I became involved in a kind of theory for myself, a private theory actually, not one that I wanted to expound, that I put together work in the way that after organic farming the next thing is bio-dynamic farming. You are planting things in certain seasons and you’re putting things into the same timeframe as the decisions you make about producing food.

Transformation became the goal, the theme, of a lot of things I do. The very natural idea that one thing can shift into another, or move from one state to another, and the ability for you to follow with some kind of mental state, seems to be a goal in itself. This notion of natural law is not very post-modern really, but it does embrace ideas that are current in science about chaos and transformation, and about things being in a necessary sequence of states.

Just relating it back to whether you’re an artist or facilitator, I’ve almost entirely gone across to being a maker or a facilitator.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     Then you facilitate a moment when forms of time can come across together and recognise each other?

 

 
  Graeme Miller     Yes. For instance, the way that I work with performers is to develop an ability to recognise those particular states, and to be able to run with something until it transforms. I often use rules rather than instructions. Everything is happening in time. For instance, one of the natures of ritual (for example the act of getting married or a funeral, committing someone to the earth) is done in order to remind everybody present that life happens through a one way valve. It is time’s arrow flowing, and this is absolutely unrepeatable; you’re living through a sequence of unrepeatable moments. It’s the nature of ritual that, rather than reminding the people who are getting married, it’s the people who are getting married who are reminding all their friends, that this moment is absolutely unrepeatable.

I’ll just say a little bit about alchemy, which was something I stumbled into through looking at images. A lot of the codes of medieval alchemy happens in symbolic form. It’s encoded partly through sequences of secrecy, but it’s also symbolic because it’s seems to exist in it’s most eloquent form as a symbolic medium. It involves processes which are about corruption, distillation and evaporation, refinement, crystallisation, sublimation, separation, and conjunction. Also, there is a sort of sexual or animal quality to transformation.

One of the qualities that alchemy has, is that it always happens in a contained space. That space could be a chunk in time or literally contained in space, like a theatre or a stage. These processes tend to happen in a particular order, and are facilitated by the application of heat. Heat is the key ingredient and as a facilitator you’ve got to be ready somehow to turn up the gas. There’s something important about the level of energy with transformation. Just as the sun is key to the earth's dynamic system of weather (it won’t happen without the sun), so energy is what creates the sequence of transformation.

 

 
back to top Adrian Rifkin     I’d like to open it up now. Chris?

 

 
  Christopher Bannerman     Questions, comments, polemics, interventions? Let me just say that we’re going to let this bit of the evening absolutely flow and will feel a general sense of when it is time to end. Somebody will also pop in at some point to let us know when the wine is ready downstairs. There will be an opportunity to let it flow on afterwards. The Globe staff are flexible about time; we told them we were in a process of transformation and therefore couldn’t predict! So let it flow please: questions, comments? [indicates a guest]

 

 
  Guest     Thanks very much for that. There was something I observed as you were all speaking: there was a moment when Errollyn was speaking and everyone was looking at you and it reminded me of that moment in the film MASH when all of a sudden they’re in the form of the last supper.

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     We’ve got the right table!

 

 
  Guest     At one moment by chance, you weren’t aware of this but it was quite transformative to me, you were all in the poses of the Last Supper. It was a lovely moment.

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     Does that make me Jesus?

 

 
  Guest     Well exactly. Anyway, what really interested me was going back to Rosemary’s reference to the children you were working with. It interested me because I work in education. You experienced the transformative through a particular child, and it reminded me of something I will come to in a moment, but it also linked to Errollyn’s ‘long short’ piece. I was recently working with a primary school in East London, and the children were making one minute sculptures of themselves, which was to do with an understanding of what time is. These one minute sculptures were filmed. It was fascinating to see these children work out a routine, a performative, choreographed routine for themselves, which in some cases was just trying to spin round for one minute. How their expressions changed as they realised it was not what they thought was one minute. It was an absolutely transformative experience when they looked back at these pieces of film to see what they were doing: sometimes going out of frame completely and coming back in during one minute. I think that often happens in education but sadly the constraints work against the transformative or regenerative experience. For example, with children working with a cardboard box you can see the transformative taking place; you won’t with manufactured toys, it’s quite different. So I was just interested in the link between your and my work.
[Another guest invited to speak]

 

 
  Guest     Sorry, education again, in Hackney! It was very interesting to hear what Graeme was saying about heat: it was exactly what I was saying to the children. I was saying you have the power to transform yourselves and the audience with the energy you put in. I gave them the option of trying “no gas or lots of gas”. It is so interesting, the way you were saying it transforms the audience and performers and the actual process of the workshop as well. It just runs through everything.

 

 
  Graeme Miller     Yes, it was interesting when Errollyn was talking about the absolutely necessary process of handing over a piece to musicians: that it goes back to the nuts and bolts for a while, and then gets a chance to live in a new way. Of course part of the composition is also decomposition. There is also a process that goes on the other end, about the echo of that excitement. How does it dissipate, how does it go back?

 

 
  Rosemary Lee     I think there is also a danger in thinking one has to turn up the heat. Sometimes one has to wait. It is about knowing when to turn up the heat and when to wait and go through an uncomfortable period where you think you should be turning up the heat and getting people to do things. Actually they’re having cups of tea and you’re wondering what will happen next. Then something will happen so turning up the heat is really relevant. In fact, putting yourself in an uncomfortable position - maybe that is turning up the heat? Having taught children for a long time now, I’m aware that by trying to energise and turn up the heat too much you leave behind the children who have something very quiet to say. I’m very aware of that at the moment. Turning up the heat can be a very different thing for different people, so don’t always equate energy with everything being hot. Some things are tiny and small.

 

 
back to top Adrian Rifkin     Adrian RifkinThat’s interesting, because coming back to one of the alchemical words (which is of course also a psychoanalytic word), if you turn up the heat you’re going to get some sublimation alchemically. Sublimation maybe exactly the opposite of what you want psychically. You could end up with everything put somewhere else, or with an anodyne artwork, sublimating those energies through them being stoked up. I’m interested in what you said about waiting; in my own work I’ve became very interested in waiting. Sometimes I attribute it to my own idleness; I can never finish something I’m writing until I’ve waited too long (the last minute of the last minute). At the same time, the cultivation of waiting is something in historical culture which seems to allow for transformation to take place.

That brings one back, uncomfortably, to the very religious assumptions underlying what we are talking about, which are also psychometric assumptions. They also constantly interfere with very practical assumptions: for instance, how you get this woman over to Perth and then can't hear her, so you end up not knowing what you’ve done. In a sense you’re waiting for something, which you won’t know has happened until you’re waiting for something else to happen! Or for someone to tell you that something has happened, even if it wasn’t what you were waiting for. Sorry to get very complicated and wrapped up like that, but I want to come back to this question of watching being very complicated. I wonder if you could say a little more about it, any of you?

 

 
  Richard Layzell     I agree with you, I think as a facilitator I’m better when I do less. It has taken a long time to learn that: doing what seems like nothing means I'm being powerful because I feel confident enough to do nothing. It’s kind of waiting and allowing, letting go, if that’s not too corny a thing to say. It’s like the opposite of action, which applies to my work as an artist as well. It doesn’t all have to be full-on.

 

 
  Rosemary Lee     I think the letting go is quite crucial as well, because it seems to me I’m constantly walking on a knife edge of when to control and when to wait; when to interfere and when to stand back; when to be active and when to be passive. With performing, both with professional dancers and with children, you can smell that moment of transformation. Therefore you are constantly trying to make the room, the space, the people; all the elements of your alchemy into the state where it will transform. That state might take three hours of waiting or it might involve going for it right then. I guess that what you’re trying to do, each time you go into each venture which seems so unknown, is to tune the knowledge you have of what it needs to transform. I don’t know if I’m being very clear here? Sometimes you defeat yourself because you don’t trust that waiting might be ok, because it feels so horrible. You’ve got people in front of you waiting, and you’re letting yourself down, and sometimes nothing happens anyway!

I remember working with Graeme; we always had to have a period of waiting and sleeping. The last five minutes of rehearsal would always be when the heat got turned on, but you couldn’t turn the heat on early [to Graeme], you had to have a sleep and then I decided I had to have a sleep too. We’d both have a sleep and in the end I trusted it. He was directing and I was performing. At first I thought I’d better work on something while Graeme was sleeping, and then I thought "sod it, I’ll go for a sleep as well"! Then we were both in the same sort of state, and it would only be for five minutes but that would be when something would happen. It’s taken years to learn not to beat myself up about going to a studio, paying for it, and going to sleep in a corner.

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     I think as well as waiting, I strongly believe in knocking away. You know when you were doing exams at school and the teacher would say if you get stuck on one question go onto the next one? I never knew what they meant but actually that’s what you have to do when you’re working. You can then do something else: going for a walk and sleeping are very important, because that thing of looking away slightly is important.

 

 
  Richard Layzell    I’m struck that we’re talking about magic here. Here we are in a room talking about this stuff, and it’s a great privilege to be able to talk about things that are magical. When it works, it’s just bloody amazing and that is sort of what we’re talking about. In all of us, occasionally it really works. There is stress and awareness and all the things we put ourselves through to make us. As facilitators the payoff is enormous. You can’t really put it into words completely, so it is alchemy.

 

 
  Graeme Miller     It strikes me that this magic-religious language that we tend to use is emerging. I was just thinking about transformation as it is used in visual arts language; about transforming objects by shifting their context, and the transformation of the object by its presentation. I was trying to reconcile that before we came here: how does that fit into this view? At its most powerful, when it works, it seems to take something and shift it before your very eyes, the rug is pulled from under your feet. You catch the echo of what that object was before; or the projection of what it might be in future; or the complete transformation of its meaning by a shift of the frame for instance. Is it because we work a lot in time that we talk about this incredible, complex manipulation and time?

 

 
  Guest     I wrote down a word at the start, which was ‘trans’ ‘formation’ in two words. I was thinking about that later and something that has not been mentioned is how that trans formation occurs at different times when the heat is turned on. For example: performers (perhaps musicians in particular) practice forever and then transformation occurs when they play effortlessly. It’s actually a change which occurs for them at quite a different time and they really put their effort into their art.

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     Yes, and another thing happens when you’re performing: you do all the practice and then you go on stage and into a state of knowing nothing. Then you hopefully play in a totally different way to the way you have practised.

 

 
  Graeme Miller    That wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t practised.

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     No, of course it wouldn’t.

 

 
back to top Adrian Rifkin     Then isn’t there a political desirability of showing how that works? Stopping it from working by forcing the audience to find a critical satisfaction in what we’re given? I was thinking of a musician like Glenn Gould who wants to get rid of that moment of magical performance by transparently assembling that magic in front of the listeners’ ears. You know it has been fabricated: it’s not an epiphanic moment when he comes in and by the moved expression on his face he plays like he’s never played before. It is put together splice by splice. Isn’t that a kind of duty too? Or maybe it’s some kind of political duty to disperse the magic?

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     I would say someone like Glenn Gould, in a way, can’t eradicate the magic because from phrase to phrase, note to note, he has a particular sound which he can’t change. However much he chops up his recording, there is still the performative aspect there, which is part of him. Is that the answer?

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     Yes, I think it is an answer but something, which is in my old fashioned, lurking, destructive leftism, makes me think that on the one hand I want to see these moments of magic utterly revealed, and on the other hand I know they can’t be. I want to find some other way of describing them in terms of ‘faction’ and ‘unsatisfaction’. What sometimes happens with those moments of magic is that it passes you by and you have no experience of it at all, you just know afterwards that it has taken place.

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     It’s very much a communion between the performer and the audience, and depends on the audience being in a particular state.

 

 
  Graeme Miller    Looking at the design of an adventure ride, like a Big Dipper, the particularly thrilling moments have been bolted together. On the ride, the next thing that happens is about what has just happened before. It is a lot about designing sequence. If Glenn Gould is editing those things, he is actually kind of building a Big Dipper ride in editing, in the same way as a film editor does. For a lot of people who construct anything that runs in time from A to Z, there is a kind of architecture. I think maybe architecture reflects a revitalising of this temporal process. It’s just simply a slow bit and then a surprise fast bit, however crass that might be, and obviously that can involve incredibly subtle detail. It’s only when time's arrow runs through it that a piece has either earnt, or deserved, an inevitable and cataclysmic consequence of all the things that have gone before. Or the tragic outcome of the things that have gone before. You start to get into narrative questions as well, but it’s to do with consequence. There is a chain of consequence occurring.

 

 
  Guest    I’m just wondering: is it actually transformation we’re talking about, if it’s in terms of a moment? I think of transformation in my personal life as something permanent, bringing you to a place of self-realisation where there is no going back. When you’re talking about transformation in terms of art and performance, it’s a place you keep going back to. Can you keep going back? I’m not really sure whether that is transformation in a deep spiritual sense or whether there should be some other word for it?

 

 
  Richard Layzell     I don’t know about other people’s experience of this, but for some reason when I perform I am different. I’m a bit different now, but I get more different when I perform. I remember some people saying “what drugs do you take and can I have some?” and they meant it. So what happens? There is a real change and I don’t know whether I’m ever going to get it back again, but it seems to happen. I’m not doing it to get it back; it’s a by-product.

 

 
  Guest     But you can’t go back to that place that you’ve gone to, you can’t go back.

 

 
  Guest     I’m not sure whether ‘transformation’ and ‘progress’ have to be connected? Personally I can’t see those two things running parallel. They come together sometimes for sure, but I don’t think they necessitate each other.

 

 
  Rosemary Lee     Yes, if we use the word in the sense of a “transformed person”, we think of them being transformed for good, but that’s applying the word to personal growth. I think we’re applying the word in a slightly different way. I did look it up the dictionary and it is: “change of form, constitution, substance, metamorphosis, transmutation”, and then it talked about a transformed person. I really feel we are talking about transformation because from the notebook to the stage is a massive transformation. You can’t go back: the notebook is still there, but the piece can’t go back to it. Do you see what I mean? You can’t go back to the uncooked state, or you can’t un-fry an egg (as Graeme always says).

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     We talked about how we need to keep going through the process again and again. Bert Russell talks about writing the same piece of music again and again. He needs to keep going through that same process, for whatever reason, because actually one does get transformed but it goes to nothing again, and you have to rediscover it. Say you were a religious person; people go to church every week or pray everyday. You have to keep going back and recommitting in a way. I think that is part of being human. I don’t think anybody is transformed in any aspect of life by just one event, it’s a continual revisiting of a process.

 

 
  Guest    What Adrian said earlier was quite interesting, testing transformation by the challenge of making it run backwards.

 

 
back to top Adrian Rifkin     What I was thinking of was not so much of it running backwards, as the way in which transformation becomes a series of singular traumas. I don’t want to use the word too dramatically. But our own language, and the whole of western culture and its’ pre-Christian form, is haunted with things like Echo and Narcissus. We don’t get through a week in any kind of public space without thinking about how we hear ourselves; the concept of Echo. This concept is based on the transformation of an ancient Greek myth into pure voice; Narcissus got turned into a flower.

Those transformations are things which are one off, but whose memory then haunts and articulates endless occult annunciation; endless things we say and think for thousands of years afterwards. We are part of those transformations, which if you read the Ovid takes place in a few lines, there’s not much to them. It’s similar with St Paul; he falls off the horse on the journey to Damascus and then he goes back to doing what we were saying: tinkering around. You go back to the nuts and bolts: building a church. You suffer; you build a bit more of the church. You suffer a bit more. But the world if full of these paintings of him falling off the horse and having the miracle, the conversion.

It’s these overlapping series of moments, which we memorise and then enable us to articulate our own. In the Raphael’s Stanze in the Vatican, there are these battles, and horny old soldiers lying around dying. Then you look at Raphael’s drawing and see horny young soldiers lying around in voluptuous positions. Somehow he’s given them big white beards and shields. You can see why that transformation has taken place: if you don’t do it the Pope’s going to say “God, we’ve got another fag decorating those rooms”, so you put all the beards on and all the classical references and everything else. That’s the kind of transformation I would love to be turned back; for Raphael to have done the rooms as he fantasised them. But he’s haunted too by these figures from the past, what a soldier is…

There is that moment in all your work of being very practical. But is that causing the transformation to gain something or lose something? If it wasn’t losing something would it be worth doing? Would you just be gluttons, that is what I want to ask; would we just be fat and useless people if we actually gained something from it and it wasn’t lost?

 

 
  Graeme Miller    I was wondering about that in terms of alchemic processes to do with the attainment of goals: the transformation of base states into the higher state. There have been times when I’ve felt that it’s been a desirable and necessary process. This relates to this idea of whether something is repeatable, whether you can just simply reverse it. My experience tells me you can’t reverse it. Decomposition isn’t the reverse of composition, it’s like decay and is a different process. I’m just thinking about work that I’ve made that has gone from base metal to gold processes, and another piece that kind of went from gold to base metal and took a different journey. It was transformative and I think it left the audience really depressed, but none the less it was sort of about decomposition; it’s theme and structure dealt with decomposition. It was a bit like the Thatcherite idea of having constant spring and summer in an economy, without autumn and winter. Of course eventually that will corrupt and clog up, it’s impossible to have that. Possibly we frame different moments of a forward moving transformation; to me time's arrow is not going to stop for us to ponce about.

Once at my school, at a science demonstration, a man came along with a flask of liquid nitrogen and he poured it into a frying pan, cracked an egg into the frying pan and it fried. Then as it warmed up it un-fried. This idea that you can’t un-fry an egg was proven to be untrue. But he couldn’t get it back into its original shell.

 

 
  Rosemary Lee     You’ve never told us that.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     I was just wondering, could Tania decompose? I think it’s a crucial question for everyone.

 

 
  Richard Layzell     Well I thought that she might. She was one of four artists I invented, and she is the one that stayed. She’s been around for quite a while now. Going back to your classical theme, a friend who didn’t know the story looked at the web-site and said “so is she like your muse Richard?” I hadn’t thought like that, but it’s a very old reference. I was disappointed because I’d thought Tania was a fairly original idea, but actually it goes back to Greek Mythology. Then I thought “that is a great link, perhaps she is a muse”. That is another way of looking at it. I don’t know whether she’d decompose.

 

 
  Guest     I want to talk about two things, but they contradict each other. It feels like there is something fairly stubborn about the muse and the echo. Maybe what determines all these processes is a resistance to transformation. A willingness to stick with something and not give in to a constant process of change. After all, to caricature our society, it is a place of constant change. To put a positive spin on that, there’s a rhetoric, a liberation…[tape ends]
Guest cont.: …Being transformed as you tell the story, different processes. That’s it really. I just feel there is something about the fireworks as well. That amazing instance of alchemical transformation.

 

 
back to top Christopher Bannerman     More questions? Comments?

 

 
  Guest     I’m trying to think back to the last seminar about ‘intuition’. It seems to me that there was some directive that came from that, which allowed (or enabled) some of the speakers to get to this point of talking about transformation. I wonder if the third step may be to build a ResCen time machine and maybe put Tania in the driver’s seat…

It is something to resist, but there also seems to be this application of transformation within this alchemical process which is an organic means to an end. The resistance surely has to be beyond looking at loss, beyond looking at where transformation is mapped out, into a series of role models (like the soldiers). Transformation doesn’t end at those points. There is a question for me about what Graeme said: that in visual arts you take an object, and through its transformation or putting that object into a different perspective, there is an immediate shift or streamline, so you are forced to look at that object in a different way. I’m wondering about some of the language that you are enabled to use as a choreographer; as someone engaged in the performing arts in that transformation process. It is also streamlining, which is to do with a colouring or shading of events; the kind of perspective that you engage in. You speak through the colour of that performance.

I suppose my question is: what is it about that colouring that produces one piece? Is it a shade that increases in the next piece, or is it a completely different colour? Because it seems that Tania would have a very particular colour. Is she creating a colour for the next project that happens? That seems sort of contractual. Maybe a muse is the wrong word…

 

 
  Richard Layzell    Well, she’s not an easy person. She’s not particularly nice to me. But just to give you an example. In Perth, I was doing the performance as part of the National Review of Live Art (I was one of twelve European artists there). I was also there last year. This time, on the last day I was there, when I was going to do the performance in the evening, I noticed something on the wall of this derelict railway shed where we were working (an extraordinary building). There was some text that Tania had written last year, still on the wall a year later. It was one word in lettering which was part of her studio last year (I had mentioned her last year). And I felt I had to refer to that site. So, I changed the performance again, and the audience began over in the corner looking at the text. I pointed out this was her text from last year, and said that they would be meeting her later.

So I don’t think that the colour thing… I don’t know what to say. I think it is different for everybody, but maybe we do all make the same piece of work in a way. Maybe we don’t. Maybe adopting a different persona, who is me and is not me, has affected me profoundly. I don’t really know. I think the comment about risk is absolutely right. Maybe we are stubborn as well as risk-takers. I think we probably have to be in order to do anything creative, because it’s scary actually. You need a bit of structure and then you want to knock it down again. So I think it’s all true in a way.

 

 
  Rosemary Lee    I’m trying to respond to this question about stubbornness, about not letting something change, and I haven’t quite figured out my response yet. Unless… No I haven’t yet, but it’s got me really thinking. It’s going around in my head.

Maybe it is to do with letting something be: when to try to force something beyond itself, and when to leave it to be what it is. Maybe it also relates to perception, and how you perceive what you’re making, or how you hope that someone might perceive your work. I talked earlier about the process, how it is nuts and bolts, and then it transforms and you think you’ve done it. When I say transforms, it hasn’t changed exactly, but suddenly I’m seeing it flowing and it feels whole. Then the next day it doesn’t. What is happening? Is it me, or is it the piece, or is it how I see it, or is it because I refuse to see the flow because I’m having some problem with self-doubt? Or is it that I’m kidding myself when I see that flow: am I so desperate to see it transformed that I’ll go “Yes!” and try to believe it? Then I don’t let myself believe it anymore, so I’ll keep testing it by saying “hang on, it doesn’t look like that…”.

It gets very complicated, but in terms of stubbornness I think I get confused with whether I’m imagining the transformation or whether it is really there, coming from the people. That is why I keep making work I suppose, because I keep wanting to test whether it’s just me or whether it is in the piece itself.

 

 
  Guest     Is it that there is something stubborn about the transformative instance? Even though the transformative instance transforms, you keep having to revisit that point of transformation. Which is why so many paintings are of the same transformative moments. Maybe it is outside of time, in so far as it is a moment… Like a firework!

 

 
  Rosemary Lee    You got your connection!

 

 
  Guest     And then it draws you back, and once it’s happened there is something set about it.

 

 
  Rosemary Lee    It’s something to do with knowing when something is finished. It is that point when you can let go of it. So the stubbornness is very related to those questions about “when can you cut the string? When is it ready to live on it’s own?”. I don’t know if that even goes towards answering it, but to me it relates to that.

 

 
  Guest     I don’t know if this is a question or a comment! It seems to me that a key element within transformation is trust. Whether you’re trusting yourself as a facilitator or an actor or a choreographer or whatever it is. Or whether you need to use a different hat; be a facilitator instead of the artist.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     Is it both?

 

 
  Guest     Yes. I work as a director and facilitator of theatre based work, and for me stubbornness is insisting on waiting, and not minding how long. It settles everything. Often people you are encouraging to wait with you are going to be creatively unsettled by that in very unexpected ways. And you are too. You simply have to be very stubborn about keeping your process, but use a process that is open enough to embrace change. So there is a funny thing about not changing that process, but keeping it open enough to find whatever it is you're…

 

 
back to top Adrian Rifkin     Yes, one of the things you’ve both said is that there is something quite different between transformation and finding something, or discovery in transformation. They may coincide.

I worry that having done this whole evening on transformation, it might be a red herring actually! Maybe the important thing is what happens when you find something. There is a lovely phrase French Philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau: “What happens when you’re given to see something?” And the “given to see” is not the same as transformation, although it may drive you mad, or turn you into a good or bad person. But that moment, where there is no loss nor gain, but where there is a new ‘given’, seems to me something that you have all been talking about. It comes out with what you are both saying: it is to do with waiting and being given something.

 

 
  Guest     I absolutely agree with that point because it almost seems like you’re talking about revelation to some extent: that there is something revelatory about it.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     Something less than revelation: it stops short of…

 

 
  Guest     I keep coming back to these religious connotations, but I was thinking about the point made earlier: that one person’s risk is another person’s orthodoxy. It really depends on what we’re making of anything for ourselves, or for a viewer, spectator, performer, composer, or whatever. Of course what worries me is that with terms like ‘transformation’ when a government gets hold of it, as they did with the term ‘creativity’, they institutionalise it. They turn it into something that’s completely anodyne, which kind of pulls the rug from a lot of things we’re talking about, so let’s hope they don’t get hold of transformation!

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     Do you want to respond? To say more?

 

 
  Rosemary Lee     We seem to have stopped there!

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     This thing, “being given to see”; in a way that is what you do with us. You give us something to see. And within the institutional frameworks (from which we expect something), the transformation is going to lie in a completely random way in the end. It is going to depend on a random decision about whether we are a particular person who will be given a particular thing. That is one of the things that is so dreary about the cultural industries. I was watching a video of a Wagner performance at the Met the other day, and I was thinking how loathsome it is when they applaud there. More than anywhere else in the world, it’s loathsome when they applaud at the Met! Yet at the same time, if people do applaud it’s because they had been given to see something. It is almost in the recognition that you don’t recognise something, that you want to applaud. In the more complex way you’ve talked about your work, you’ve talked about how you put us in the position as viewers having to recognise that we’ve seen something. Maybe that’s where transformation starts?

 

 
  Graeme Miller    Time always seems to keep nudging me. All those moments where you talk about “given to see” or “revelation”; that “revelation” or “given to see” has to happen in time. Something leads up to that or something succeeds it. It seems that there is this run-up, this test as to whether it can be seen. To some extent we don’t see things, we see the reflection of things that are actually very hard to grasp. I think that the work involved is about creating a run-up to a moment, whereby something is revealed. You can’t excise that moment from the flow of time that runs up to it. So that moment of the penny dropping; the veil parting; the curtain opening and closing is a kind of transformative event that may be intimately the means of seeing.

 

 
  Guest     Are you talking of time as linear then? With these things leading up to the moment, and the conclusion of it?

 

 
  Graeme Miller    Yes, I think there are ideas of time cycle and time’s arrow. This gentleman over here was talking about transformation and the idea of repetition. Certainly anyone involved in music is immediately involved in a rhythmic activity. This is a technique of religious entrancement; it's about repetitive music, repetitive structures. But it is very hard to avoid a sense of repetition in the building of structures and the making of time based work. Time and again, I keep coming back to this trading of moments. The creator’s view, the performers’ view, the performers’ journey and the audiences’ journey are occasionally given to resolve themselves completely in time, and the trading post is the moment: the moment and the resolution. There seem to be moments of synthesis in those sorts of looping processes. The performers have boiled something, taken it apart, re-boiled it, practised a piece of music or rehearsed a piece of performance or somehow psychically built up to a moment. That moment is where an audience is being put through a series of things, or a creator has been dreaming something up for years, and there is this synthesis.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     Yes and no, because I think that when you reach that point of recognition, what you say is “yes, that is what it was”. I don’t think you ever say “yes, that is what it is”. And in that sense I want to say that if time has an arrow, it’s always going backwards.

 

 
  Graeme Miller    It’s just gone. Alright. We just missed it.

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     But you have missed it going backwards. There is another point of debate there.

 

 
  Guest     I just wanted to say that I think transformation is a kind of disguise of the fact that what is actually going on is a process of reawakening. And the problem is that when we give somebody something they are already awake to see it. You need to be asleep to be awakened. And I think that is a really crucial part of this thing called transformation. It is a reawakening of instincts which have been suppressed, in fact it is a waking up to something. Which is why…

 

 
  Adrian Rifkin     But that is why one can say “that is what it was”; because you have been dreaming and then you recognise it. That is always my feeling: it always was something.

 

 
  Errollyn Wallen     Well certainly in music transformation depends on the idea being inherent in the very beginning, the very first bar: the thing I’m going to reveal is already there in the first moments.

 

 
  Christopher Bannerman     My friends, I think we’re coming close to the end, unless there are any last burning questions or comments. But as I said earlier this can all flow on as we flow downstairs and transform ourselves with a bit of ancient Greek libation, i.e. a glass of wine. Before we do that I need to say thank you to everyone for speaking, and thank you very much for being here and participating. Also thanks to people who haven’t spoken tonight who are very much part of the ResCen team: Natalie, Jessica, Dominique, (who is videoing me as I speak). And indeed perhaps most of all thank you to the fireworks for punctuating our evening! Thank you very much to our funders; we get support from Middlesex University, but very importantly, support from NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts). This is part of a two to three year project called Navigating the Unknown in the Creative Process. Thank you very much for being with us this evening and I hope to see you downstairs.  
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