Thursday, 31 December 2009

Audio Visual demos

Back in Japan we recorded some sounds Katsura could make with the leaves. I started exploring the possibilites of transforming these to replace the not-so-great-sounds Katsura was activating through the touch sensor. This is just a start but I put together two short demos of how these might work.
The first one is fairly close to the original sounds. Imagine that these are activated by Katsura:

In this version the leaf sounds are transformed (becoming somewhat like thunders). I tried to place these as if they are triggered by Katsura. I also kept some of the original soundtrack for the sound the leaves make as she is walking through them. But you also hear the original triggered sounds try to ignore those.

These are just illustrations of two possibilities. If I have more time I will try to create more.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Reflection on improv. at Symposium on 9th Dec

Since we worked intensively in Tokyo, already almost a month has passed. My memory is becoming vague. Before the experience is washed out by other more recent experiences, I have to leave something here, hoping this would lead a thread that I can grab to recall what I was working on in the days when I was completely soaked in the creative process of Ukiyo.

In terms of my character making, the last improvisation I did there was at the symposium on 9th December.

The only and the most important thing I have to hold onto is LEAVES.
The sound of leaves.
The texture of leaves.
The smell of leaves.
..and what do I associate from them as personal experience?
(cf. My entry on 8th Dec)

In G-sec where we had the symposium, there were no leaves. Only the virtual leaves on screen, which we cannot touch, and which don't smell.

How can I transform the virtual leaves more sensorial by my performance so that the viewers can share my sensations I had experienced?

This was my big question. What can I do apart from relying on the virtual information on the screen?

A minute before performance, Oded, the sound expert, suggested to use a piece of paper to create similar sound that leaves would make.
This, totally makes sense to me.
This, kind of transformation is essential in art.
This, is even better than having actual leaves.
This, would add another layer of meaning and interpretation on top.

I also had an idea of tearing the paper into pieces during the performance, which, I imagined, would present pieces of leaves, many many of them.

These are enough idea. I was ready to perform. The focus is sensory experience of the viewers. My body movement is no more important than the sound I make or yellow leaves they see on the screen. The light must be off.
The paper must be hidden from the eyes of the viewers, so that they can connect the sound to more dominant visual information, leaves. I stand as near by the yellow leaves as possible, holding a piece of paper in front of me, showing the back to the viewers.

I step back gradually towards the viewers, start teaing the paper, and throwing smaller pieces of paper.

After finishing the paper, my tactile memory of leaves comes in. It tend to be on floor, as leaves tend to be on floor- but it is something I can challenge in future to change the dimension. Perhaps leaves could be not on floor, then how do I react and play with them?

Another thing, actually I was determined in advance was to use my voice. Thanks to Caroline's voice warm ups during the period, my body was more ready to utter some sound. In fact, just before this performance, I was more conscious about releasing tension around my jaw, neck and throat. Usually I would have same consciousness towards the spine, hips and feet.

From my observation, at the moment I have an assumption that the voice is effective when it brings something that I am not expressing with my movement. And unless I want to create top high energy, voice and movement do not need to happen together. They complement each other and they are like two lines of waves.

I used scream-like high pitch voice in this performance, which for me means the peak of emotion.

Photos by Anne-Laure Misme

I have no idea how the viewers perceived my performance, but for me there are some useful findings that probably I can keep and work on more towards more structured performance.

To finish up, I copy and paste some comments from email correspondence among us. Hope Johannes and Michele do not mind...

Katsura started her final demonstration with the (acoustic rustling sound) of leaves (paper), and perhaps the materials, once again, can push you to do more

So i am suggesting that Katsura continue to work with the character she has found, the Mutant Woman in Red, and then explore the transformation to LeavesWoman and the effects this has on her white runway. . And also keep in mind that the fragility of life, of the body, is here mirrored by the leaves. they will rot. The sleeve created by Michele with plastic matter/contours will brittle away, as Michele already implied, to dust. What does such transformation mean in your imagination, Katsura, trails of dust? sounds of dust? ephemerality and evanescence of Ukiyo-e?
Johannes 14/12/09


Katsura, I think I am quite in touch with in terms of leaf dance but wonder what we should design here and what is possible to design now our leaves begin to crumble. Of course I like the crumbling too and I like the partial states of garment for you.
Michele 15/12/09


And here is my response to them.

I would like to remember that the leaves idea came when we went for a walk. The purpose of the walk for me was to find similar qualities and textures of the red sleeves. Now the conversation sounds like that I have two separated characters- red mutant woman and leaves woman, but it is important for me to keep the link between them. Red sleeve transforms itself into leaves. And now I am looking into the possibility to transform the leaves into something else since leaves seem too obvious expression for me and also I see the difficulty to keep them in shape. In the final demonstration at G-sec Johannes mentioned, I did not have leaves and just a moment before the performance Oded suggested to use a piece of paper to make some leaves-like sound. The performance was 100% improvisation as my usual so perhaps I did not make use of all the potential the paper has, but I see this as very possible transformation from leaves. Here we still have to remember the progression from red sleeve - yellow leaves - a piece of paper that is torn into small pieces during performance. If we want we can keep the carpet of yellow leaves and I will keep the tactile sensation of leaves, but I think the garment does not need to be made with leaves.
Katsura 28/12/09


This is where we ended. I will remember to start from here in the next lab on 31st January.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Leaves Woman vs. Metal Woman

7th Dec

An improvisation between Anne-Laure and Katsura.

Without having talked beforehand, a brief narrative of battle has emerged.

Metal Woman invades and try to occupy the Leaves Land. Although once it seems that the attempt of Metal Woman is successful, she looses her power as being suffocated by the sleeve of Leaves Woman.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Touch sensor manipulates sound

8th Dec

A short footage to show Oded's sound manipulated by a touch sensor on Helenna's thumb.

Doros's Virtual Ukiyo

8th Dec
A clip of Doros's virtual Ukiyo.
The leaves going up is triggered by a touch sensor designed by Eng Tat.
The world rotates with a signal from a bend sensor although you cannot see it on this video.

Is that right?

Leaves Woman 1

7th December
A video footage from the improvisation exploring the leaves wearing a mock leave sleeve.
It was emerged that I can merge myself into the field of leaves.

playing with hand
texture of something fragile, which I can either destroy or cherish

I become a tree.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Leaves woman

Yesterday, Day2 at here KMD Keio University Hiyoshi Campus. We started a workshop.

My personal aim on this 10days residency is to create a convincing performance for myself. I want to be convinced with what I do as a performer in this work.

As I wrote on the previous post, the starting activity is to collect some images and sound that is associated from my clattering red sleeve that Michele made. So I went for a walk to take some pictures around the university campus with Michele and Anne-Laure.

Here are some pictures that have inspired my character.


pieces hanging

yellow pieces on green

yellow pieces vs. green pieces

layers of time


a piece in layers

patterns in layers

layers of time

pieces as whole

pieces of time

red pieces in green pieces

thicker pieces, layers

red pieces

placement, patterns

layers of time

pieces of time and force

contrast of nature and industry

I have also taken nice pictures of some indications of industry, which I believe Anne-Laure is representing although I won't put them here because there are too many pictures already. I will wait for someone's contribution for those. But I just want to mention that there is an idea of contrast between nature and industry emerged as well.

The walk was profound experience and has become vital inspiration for the character development.

During the walk, Michele asked me "Do you like nature?"

Yes I do.

And I like these things that I have collected as images above.

After we came back to the lab, Doros presented his magnificent image and system of Ukiyo that integrate real and virtual space. Yes, it is possible to integrate real and virtual space.

Paul asked if it was possible to manipulate only a character (or part) of the virtual world by the performers. Yes, it is possible.

Eng Tat showed us amazingly responsive sensors and suggested how I could interact with the virtual world by using leaves.

All these facts excites me. And I have decided to work on leaves.
What happens if I have a sleeve of leaves instead of the red clattering sleeve?

Michele and I managed to collect two bin liners of the yellow leaves of ginkgo.

We will work on this today.

Friday, 27 November 2009

My 2nd character

People may think that dance is a form of theatre or drama without words, but it is not true. Dance is broad and I am talking about contemporary dance. And still contemporary dance can be broad. Some works requires dancers to be certain characters if the work is based on a story. These days it is becoming more popular to use voice or language with dance performance, therefore, dance is becoming closer to theatre. And theatre may borrow some knowledge from dance, so theatre is becoming closer to dance too. There is no clear boundary.

Yet, I have been realising that the crucial element in dance would be its sensory experience. Talking from my own experience, dancers spend years and years for training, which at first seems to aim at gaining dance techniques with extraordinary control over the body movement. And if an experienced dancer keep exploring moving their own bodies, it reaches to the point where the body is integrated with the mind. One can think with one's body, but one's mind. The body thinking is based on one's experience through the life since one's born. The experience is the knowledge.

Creative process or any creative activities involves this kind of knowledge. It is like sediment in the body, and as we try to create something, we dig into the body and some of the sediment rises up on the surface. If the disclosed particles are distilled well enough, they would have power to communicate with others and the viewer.

This is my idea of body, movement and performance that come from somatic perspective.

Now, when I am asked to create a character, it is very difficult to me. I need some sensory information to form myself and my movement. Some may be able to create a character based on emotional information (which I think is more theatrical approach) but I am not familiar with the approach.

In Ukiyo, each performer is supposed to have two characters. In the lab last Sunday, Michele reminded me that ancient Japanese believed gods in any creatures and objects, and the spirit transforms a form of creature or object into something else.

From my limited knowledge on Butoh, I know transformation is one of the main issue they are dealing with in their performance. I am not particularly Butoh dancer but I find myself agreeing with their philosophy now and then. This time, I met Butoh again.

Something interesting to see in performance is not two different things; A and B, but the transition between A and B. And it is a real challenge for the performer because s/he needs to understand the transformation and its motivation fully and embody it.

I like this challenge and it is real worth exploring, as I believe powerful convincing performance as the result.

I wonder if there is any space for me to do this in the Ukiyo.

In lab on Sunday, Oded suggested us three performers to focus on the clattering sound of my red sleeve. The clearer focus made the performance more interesting and meaningful.

I even don't have words to describe my first character but the red sleeve is the only thing I am holding onto for the performance. All my performance there is inspired by the red sleeve.

In order to create my second character, I have to start from here. How does this red sleeve that makes clattering sound transform? To what?
I am going to collect visual and audio samples that relates to the red sleeve, and I will see where it goes.

I am happy to share this process with the team, especially Michele, Oded and Paul, so that we can work on other aspects of the work at the same time and they would have more interrelationships.

See you in Tokyo in a week time.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Japanese Traditional Music 3- Super Kabuki

And here you are. This is a contemporary version on Kabuki theatre. Everywhere in the world, there are attempts to create contemprary interpretation of something traditional. Super-Kabuki is established by a senior Kabuki actor, ISHIKAWA Ennoske III in 1986. They use a classical Japanese epics but not from the ones from traditional Kabuki. The performers are still well-trained Kabuki actors but the stage settings and techniques are more challanged.

Japanese Traditional Music 2- Ondekoza drummers

I put this video of Ondekoza, a Taiko drummers orchestra, so that you can see the musical instrument. This band belong to the same category as Kodo, more widely known taiko drummers who often performs abroad. But I like Ondekoza more since I feel more space and details in the music than Kodo.

Traditional Japanese Music- traditional Kabuki dance

Johannes asked me about traditional Japanese music in Kabuki theatre.

Kabuki is a kind of musical theatre that consists of dance, music (though dancers and singers roles are completely seperated) and acting to tell a story, often a love story. All the performers are male and traditionally a son follows the father's foot.

Here is a very classic traditional dance piece Sagi Musume (Heron Maiden) performed by my favorite admirable Kabuki actor, BANDO Tamasaburo.

It may seem slow at the beginning (at least for me). But I'd advise you to watch till the end becuase there is a surprise!

So this was just a tird of the piece. If you like, you can see the following part.

Then the last part.

How did you enjoy?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Rite of Spring

I suddenly remembered a production of Stravinski's ballet Rite of Spring which I saw more than 20 years ago. What was really interesting about that production was that it consisted of a sequence of short solos by different dancers (perhaps there were a few duos in there). I rememebr that is was very powerful with the choreography of each short section very impressive (I still remember the experience).
The reason I mention it here is that it is possible to have a powerful, dynamic performance based on dance solos. In the last meeting I observed (and I think some agreed) that the individual contributions are good but the interaction between the dancers is less strong. We didn't really consider the option of embracing the one-dancer-at-a-time option at all. Maybe it's not for us, maybe it's not for this piece. But, I think, we should give this option a thought.
I was hoping to find some documentation of the preformance I saw somewhere (and I might still trace it) but in the meantime I found this:

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Ukiyo other blogs

There are other two blogs started parallel to this blog.

By Michele Danjoux

By Doros Polydorou

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ukiyo - workspace

I think Katsura's initiative of creating a shared space were we can post our ideas (thoughts, images, music, video, ...) is very good. I hope to put some examples from the continuing work Caroline and I are doing next week.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Lab @ Brunel Univeristy, 25th October 2009

From a note by Johannes on Thursday 22 October, I like this bit:

"regarding UKIYO, one of the questions that I had was the transitory space (still/ movement) (real/ virtual) (first/ second), what happens is the relational space, the in between or, if you want, the "interval" (Erin Manning's term, from her book Relationscapes), when something, as with the clothes or the bandoneon and your bandoneon pleating, when something is folded and refolded."

I love it. I even feel ecstasy imagining the transitory space. I feel this is one of essences in art. A subtle time/ space between more defined two moments/ place creates profound nuance and meaning.

This applies to everything in space and time in performance. For example, thinking of UKIYO;
What is between Act 1 and Act 2?
What is between physical space and virtual space on screen?
What is between this performer and that performer?
What is between this sound and that sound?
What is between this movement and this sound?
What is between this performer with the garment and virtual space on screen?

It is like there is magnetic power between everything in space and time.
If you draw a line between each aspect, it looks like a web.

With this way of looking at performance, Ukiyo still need lots of lines to be drawn.


By the way, the idea of transitory reminds me a Japanese concept 間, ma. It has been said that Japanese people has a special sense of ma. Ma can be used for time and also space. If it is in time, it is sense of rhythm by wide definition. It is not something metric that you can count. It is something more organic and intuitive. But there is the right ma between two events in relation to the context. Ma in space is pretty much same too. Here it leads to Zen culture...

For those who got confused with my explanation, here is a link for more explanation just to confuse you more.

I am talking about this because of Japanese connection with the UKIYO project.
And I just like the concept so much. It is beautiful.


From the conversation we had in the lab, I have realised that the most unique thing in our work may be different perspective of sound and space.

Sound that come from
living body: breath, voice, body percussion, footsteps
costume and props
amplified sound from a speaker (and there are different possibilities of its place)
recorded sound from a speaker

Combined with each other, performer's movement, projected image and light, it can create fantastic effect.

What about space and body?
We have live physical performers in space and virtual performers and space on screen.
3D vs. 2D.
3D cannot exist in 2D (or may be can?)
2D can exist in 3D, though it is becoming a cliche to project on to a performer's body or costume, but it always depends on how you do it.
The screen may not need to be in fixed place.

My imagination expands. But it is probably becoming irrelevant from UKIYO, so I stop myself.


Definitely great to do some actual practical physical work in the lab. The above is enough blah blah blah.

Watch the video above.

So we were trying to make more voice as we move. By the way, this is my current interest on my performance generally.
Caroline lead us to warm up the body, voice and mentally very nicely so when we finished a session with her, I felt another warm space in my bronchus that I normally don't feel, and I found myself difficult to stop hissing, booing, woffing...whatever nonsense sound.

It is great fun!

And performing should be great fun, otherwise nothing good comes up.

For me, the mental and also probably physical barrier to get into this absurd state to start with is the most challenging thing. We have to keep practicing this again. And we will naturally find a way to bring ourselves to the absurd state.

Thanks to Olalla Perez-Hervada Lemus, for the video footage.
Performers are Ann-Laure, Katsura, Helenna, Caroline and Olu in the order of appearance.

I would appreciate any casual comment on the video, please!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

To begin with,

This blog is on the creative process of Ukiyo at DAP lab at Brunel University.

I am starting this blog from the frustration of not being able to meet with other members and to work intimately. I feel a lack of communication among us. The blog title Floating Worlds is in plural because at the moment everyone is in one's own bubble such as thoughts and imaginations. These need to communicate and interact if we want to create a work together.

So I first make myself a place where I can open up and express my thoughts and imaginations, which is this blog. I am hoping that other members join me and the blog becomes a place to exchange and share one's thoughts and imaginations. But if it does not happen since everyone is busy with their own agenda, I would still effuse mine here.

This is also my experiment in documentation. I am interested in documenting my subjective feeling and thoughts that comes with my exploration into my performance. In this multidisciplinary project, live performance is one of the disciplines that utilize our own living body. The living body does not reach at a conclusion all at once. It needs its own journey to receive information, to process, to interpret and to express. I will write, draw, take a picture etc on this process in order to be aware of itself and enrich my work by approaching from different dimensions after digesting the raw information in my body.

The idea of the relationship between performance and documentation has been inspired by some workshops I have participated at Independent Dance, with Simon Forti, Rosemary Butcher and Deborah Hay, and also a residency at London Metropolitan University facilitated by Thomas Kampe. I just want to mention that the idea did not come only over a night.
Here, you can read more about my starting point of this blog.