tripping on words to make movement – second session
In the second session, we started by making some poetry ourselves, thinking about placement of the words in space and the rhythms implied by that. We also considered the process of extracting/highlighting/choosing information, in making blackout poems.
I handed out word cards, newspapers, black markers, and scissors, and these were some of the results –
and a dreamy video of the blacking out that Fran and Bethany were doing –
We found especially interesting Maisie’s approach, moving into the 3 dimensional, and Fran’s idea that a piece of text, divided into sections, could be understood in different ways according to the arrangement of the sections on the page.
We then took our cues from the reading+listening experiment we had done in the first session, and chose to try the following:
One of us would read a piece of text – we chose to use another one of Caroline Bergvall’s, and the reader ended up being myself – and the others would be assigned a semi-often occurring word each (in this example, the words were ‘point’, ‘close’ and ‘face’) and a corresponding gesture. Whenever that word was heard, the gesture would be acted out. By doing this, we were trying to make visible the act of listening, and of processing information.
Here is an extract of the video documentation.
To perform this task was more difficult than expected, but we decided to go a step further:
The gestures would stay the same, but instead of a word, the performers would listen out for sounds – we chose
‘r’ (we noticed that would be relatively easy to pick up on because I pronounce it a bit differently than the others, in American English)
We also used a different text: A page from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, a novel well known for its close- to-complete incomprehensibility.
James Joyce, in Finnegans Wake as well as in Ulysses, plays around magnificently and irreverently with sounds, words, meanings, associations, insider jokes, and notions of counts as intelligible and what doesn’t.
The fact that this was such an exhausting thing for listeners to act out was the crucial bit for me – I am really interested in that heightened state of paying attention and how the immersion and the struggle is made visible by embodying the process via gestures. I also consider this a live act of translation.