Wednesday, 17 October 2012

messages in the pulse

'To be empty, free. Doing nothing. Yet not quite. Little blessings arrive which they collect. 

For the most part these blessings are memories yet it is misleading to say this, for, at the same time, they are promises. They collect the remembered pleasures of promises which cannot apply to the future which they have gladly vacated, but somehow do apply to the brief, empty present. 

The promises are wordless and physical. Some can be seen, some can be touched, some can be heard, some can be tasted. Some are no more than messages in the pulse. The taste of chocolate. The width of her hips. The splashing of water. The length of the daughter’s drenched hair. The way he laughed early this morning. The gulls above the boat. The crow’s feet by the corners of her eyes. The tattoo he made such a row about. The dog with its tongue hanging out in the heat. 

The promises in such things operate as passwords: passwords towards a previous expectancy about life. And the holidaymakers on the lakeside collect these passwords, finger them, whisper them, and are wordlessly reminded of that expectancy, which they live again surreptitiously'.

Extract from a text by John Berger, read by him at the Serpentine Gallery's Memory Marathon, London, 20 October 2012

Friday, 12 October 2012

song & dance

"Gary Winters and Gregg Whelan say the idea for The Boat Project first emerged during a cycle of performances called The Days Of The Sledgehammer Have Gone (1999-2005), in which they had explored the human body’s connections with water, and its intimate imbrication in weather systems and the hydrological cycle. In material, poetic and comic ways, these performances activated the body’s own meteorology of sweat and tears and playfully merged them in circulatory exchange with the circuits and flows of river, sea, cloud and rain. In related ways, a boat casts the body into a dynamic relational matrix of materially active elements, energies and rhythms and invites it to improvise: wave, tide, current, wind, wood, salt, sound, weather, sky". (From the introduction to David Williams (ed.), The Lone Twin Boat Project, Chiquita Books, 2012)

In the wake of a sail on Lone Twin's Collective Spirit yesterday, with Olympic yachtsman Mark Covell at the helm,
today my body still hums with sensations. In seas off Hayling Island, with the wind gusting to 20 knots, we passed through intermittent bursts of rain and sun. At speed, riding the surf, the boat itself 'sings' a particular tone, an audible vibratory hum of its own. 

On water the gravitied mass of the boat flies, it becomes all lightness and movement. Its weight is translated.

I was intrigued by how sensitively Mark reads with his peripheral vision what's at play, in particular the wind, deciphering its imminent arrival and implications on the sea's surface, its energetic trajectories. Also his reading of waves, the impact of patches of sunlight on wind ('puff'), the lightness of touch on the tiller.

Sailing, one feels part of something much bigger than oneself. Dynamically transforming systems, processes, agencies, unpredictabilities. To sail is a dance of relations, response-ability and im/balance, a choreography in which one's body is all eyes and ears. 

Despite my clumsiness at trying to tie a reef knot (some lingering memory about a tree, a bunny and a hole - but no idea how to tell that story with a rope), it's a while since I felt so awake.