Thursday, May 6, 2010

transitstation post syndrome: the ashes continue

18 April 2010 18:28:16 GMT+02:00

Tivoli at the Meadows, amidst the Ash Clouds

By Ian Stephen

It’s more than a little strange. I usually try to go surface. It was ferry, bus, sleeper, Eurostar, TGV to Brest and I’ve been typing away often recently as someone else is driving the train, London to Thurso. Recent travel has even been under sail from Stromness, home to Stornoway in a fight against winds, which just did not shift as forecast.

So there I was tidying up the aftermath of a cold 42 hours by sea and looking forward to the whine of propellers on the Edinburgh flight. The postie commented on the unusual level of outdoor activity and asked where I was going.

“Denmark”, I said

“No you ain’t.” he said, “Not unless you’re sailing.”

Well hell if I’d left the boat in Orkney I might have tried to reach transitstation Copenhagen, that way. This is a 3 day festival of live art, run with pace and verve and continuing into the night. Events overlap and risk is encouraged. Performances cross many media but poetry and music can occur beside or with contemporary dance and video projection.

I had intended to work with Peter Urpeth, the pianist who now insists on improvisation and hates air travel. We were on the point of booking a ferry, some weeks ago but it was all getting very expensive, getting a team to Denmark, that way. So I sent a digital version of Urpeth’s silent movie type piano response to an action by Alex Patience (representing Portskerra and Melvich) which in return was a response to language you don’t see or hear directly any more. The intention was then to combine live action with the recorded work.

Just as well that DVD went off in the post in good time. I did a rapid fire sort-out and hopped on the ferry. Buses were fully booked and there was some question of whether an extra one would be laid on but I met a friend driving to Edinburgh. When I say the airport was quieter than a mortuary, I’m qualified to say that because I used to be a hospital porter. At a glance there would be no flights for some days.

So I accepted the offer of a bed at Cramond, in the home of Maxwell Macleod, the journalist. We talked till late and he left me with a set of instructions on how the house was run and another set on how it wasn’t.

That’s how the transitstation (Scotland) event was generated. Alex was also stranded in Aberdeen and Aaron McCloskey was in Edinburgh, traveled down from Dundee. A series of e mails from stranded northern Scots became a transitstation work. They were being distributed around the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art today (18th April and day 2 of the event).

Once Aaron and myself faced up to the fact that neither planes nor ferries were going to get us across the North Sea in time, we settled to taking part by remote link.

Aaron (HTTP://AARONMCCLOSKEY.COM) had prepared a video work based on taking his camera deep into the social reality of life for the Quechuan miners – the ones with a life expectancy of 37 years. It’s a collaboration with music by Dan Gorman. He had also planed a live action to work with a projection. The transitstation formula works around a simple scaffolding system which can represent just about anything and provide staging or a suggestion of a descent down into the depths.

Very appropriate, to show the dust still under the ground when Icelandic dust is now well distributed above it. So Aaron went into instant editing mode and responded to being stranded, by developing a variation on the work. He then downloaded it on to a web storage system. It can then be collected, at the venue and projected straight from the computer.

He then got the bus to Cramond. Down from the bridge, the River Leven enters the Forth where there is a clear route across. If you could see all the way, there would be Denmark. So it seemed completely appropriate to make a film of the beginning, the middle and the end of my telling of a Danish story. I was given the links to versions by Karen Bek-Pedersen, a Danish Academic lecturing at Aberdeen University.

So the Cramond recordings were dispatched, in sections. Tomorrow they will be projected at the Academy, in sections so there is space for response from the participants, working in whatever medium they choose. The work will return the Danish story close to home but will also generate contemporary versions of a timeless story. Strangely, the method of sharing the story has become a metaphor for the way stories travel sea-routes and generations.

And then there was a Skype link-up with Aberdeen, or rather an unusually peaceful Dyce. Alex Patience was to have premiered her Crabwoman piece with a projection happening on her own form. But she also compressed files and sent them by relay. In transitstation Leith, she developed a rapport with an artist who will also be in Copenhagen. So there is real hope that the show will go on, with roles delegated from a distance.

There’s an encouraging email from time to time from Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith, curator and artistic director of this dynamic event. They have a real sense of the feed of ideas and electronic pulses coming from Scotland. She says how it is all being projected and disseminated through the pace of the events.

I think I can imagine the actions weaving in and out of the scaffolding arrangements but I’m longing to see some images. The three of us have had a real feeling of taking part, something more than a compensation. But tonight, for me, it’s a stroll through the Meadows rather than Tivoli.

17 April 2010 22:15:38 GMT+02:00

The Virtual Storytelling Workshop by Ian Stephen

we now have material for the Eduaction Day 18 April 2010

workshop based on

returning the Limfjorden story to Denmark

realise you will not access this till you have time for a breather but....

Aaron will send you 3 files in a similar format to the video files he sent relating to his own video

1. opening of the Danish story - about 5 mins video with sound, widescreen format

a queen needs help to have a child

she has to eat a red rose for a boy and a white for a girl but she eats both

she gives birth to a serpent and to a fine healthy son

the serpent disappears but years later

it's time for the son to be married

his horse is stopped by a serpent -

"I am the eldest brother. i should be married first."

space and time for participants to imagine the next part of the story - in any medium

2. middle section of the story - albout 6 mins

the king hears the full story and a princess is found for the eldest brother

she carries out the ceremony because it's too late to turn back

in the morning there is nothing but the serpent and blood

this happens again

so the king makes a final match for the serpent - a shepherd's daughter

she is advised to take several things into her marriage chamber

(space and time to imagine the next part , in any medium)

3. ending - just over 2 mins

the shepherd's daughter brings 7 shirts, branches, lye (caustic soda) and milk into that room

things happen

in he morning she is in bed with a prince, at least as fine a man as his younger brother

so dear Dagmar know you have so much to deal with - but think the workshop will work very well with video being played then space for responses -

better still if a good performer can introduce each section

Aaron's done a fantastic job - and we've had a lot of fun - sipped some wine and eaten between takes -

love from transitstation Scotland (a little up the river from Leith)

note: transitstation Edinburgh took place in Leith 2006

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