Monday, August 18, 2008

I dreamed I saw a silver spaceship flying in the yellow haze of the sun...

Right now I'm halfway through Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled. It's hard. It's complete stream-of-consciousness dream logic - the main character will be in one place, bump into someone he knew from his childhood, get sidetracked by that person into driving fifty billion miles into the country to some remote place where he'll meet six other people he knew from past experiences, have a conversation with them completely unrelated to whatever he was just doing, then walk through a door in a building and be back in the same room he started in. It's exhausting to read, honestly, because after 250+ pages of this kind of storytelling it hasn't let up and hasn't offered any sort of explanation for why it's doing whatever it's doing. It's one thing to read 50 or 100 pages of a story told that way - it's another to get halfway through a book that's over 500 pages long and feel like the next half is going to be exactly the same. Sigh.

As it turns out the HEB near our apartment is doing some kind of 17-month-long renovation-from-hell thing. And so grocery shopping? Is exactly like being stuck in The Unconsoled. The shelves are rearranged on a daily basis adhering only to someone's twisted "dream logic" of how things should be. The aisles are crammed full of shoppers in a daze, frantically trying to figure out what they're looking for, where they are, who they are, and what day it is. It's total chaos. And of course it doesn't matter if you go in one day and figure out where the tea and coffee are - the next day, they will have moved to another section entirely. And this is exactly why I left the grocery store on Saturday without tea or coffee: I do my grocery shopping by going up and down each aisle and grabbing things I need as I go. I keep a list, but there's always something (like tea or coffee) that inadvertently gets left off, so driving my cart down the aisle will usually remind me that I need to get whatever it is. Except when they freaking move the aisle. I left without tea or coffee because I never went past the tea or coffee. So a second trip to HEB was necessary, and this time I just walked right up to someone and asked for help. Turns out the coffee had been split into two aisles, one where the makeup used to be and one in the middle of the store, and the tea had been moved to where the old photo booth used to be (say that with a Maine accent). Because that's where tea lives in MY dream logic.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lines that I don't recognize

Last night I met Ddyte Darkstone in Second Life for an introduction to "building things." This generally for me consists of me making a cube and trying to make it NOT disappear right away or wear it on my head. He has a dance club he runs in SL and is allowing me to use its rooftop to experiment with building things. We didn't really do much - ran through creating objects ("prims") and adding textures to them, linking two prims together to make a more complex object, and a little bit of playing with lights - but it was honestly a lot more intuitive than I had thought it would be and I'm excited to start getting ideas of what this world will look like so that I can begin trying to make it a virtual reality.

I geeked out over the lighting part. He showed me how to create an object and make it into a light source, and I got to play with changing the color and intensity of that light. Once I could see the reflection of that light on my avatar as she walked through it, I was giddy. It reminds me a lot of playing Riven in 1998, and I was so drawn to the way certain scenes from the game were lit by small lights along a path or within a cave - I could get a similar effect here and really create an environment in the same way lighting on stage creates the environment for a play. Which is, you know, the point. It was cool.

So I think my next step is to work toward creating a framework for the performance, and I'm still thinking along Eurydice lines. Once I have a more solid idea of what that framework looks like I can begin researching and sketching how I want the two worlds to look (both real and virtual) and then see what I can make happen in Second Life.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I know a country, wild canyons and seas, red roots wave in the fissures so wild the space between my love and me

Five things:

1. Trash Anthems: postponed. Sad for me, but happy for the director, who has an upcoming Broadway gig he's going to focus on. I think I'm still going to manage to make it to Ft. Worth in October anyway, just for a day, so hopefully I'll still get to the museums.

1.5 Mary Todd: also postponed. The energy, creative team and resources that were going into this are now being funneled into Ophelia.

2. Ophelia: I'm designing this for Tutto Theatre Company, directed by Dustin Wills, to be produced in November. It's going to be gorgeous. Lisa Laratta, a colleague and friend of mine from grad school, is designing the set and I honestly am so excited to see what she comes up with. The entire stage is going to be a huge palette for me to paint on. And I think this marks the first time I'm honestly excited at the thought of lighting a white set.

3. The Eurydice Variations: This is a long term project I've been tossing around for awhile now. I want to experiment with using Second Life / virtual worlds in live performance - not as something pre-recorded but as something that is being streamed live, so that the performance happens in two different worlds simultaneously, and the performers can interact across that divide. I met with Dr. Leslie Jarmon this past week and her enthusiasm for virtual worlds and what artists can do with them is infectious. I'm starting to assemble collaborators for this and the title is VERY tentative (up until now it's just been sort of code named "Ypsilanti," but I am really drawn to the idea of telling the Orpheus and Eurydice myth in this way). With Trash Anthems being postponed I now have a big hole in my schedule for the fall, so my intention is to really push forward with this idea now. I think we're probably about a year out from actually producing and performing this, but that gives us plenty of time to really get it right, and figure out what the hell we're doing anyway. During our meeting Leslie pointed out that no one really knows how to use this technology, and it's something that sort of evolves as artists try to use it. I imagine that as I get into SL more and more, I'll see what I can and can't do with it and most likely the end result will look absolutely nothing like what I described just now

4. The opening ceremonies in Beijing were STUNNING. I can't find photos that really do it justice, but one of my favorite parts involved about 5000+ drummers playing on drums that lit up from the inside as they were struck.



Later in the ceremony Peter Gabriel wanted his ideas back:



I remember when I was younger making fun of the really performance-artsy aspect to the opening ceremonies - I honestly don't think that any Olympic event in the next two weeks can top that for me now. It's funny to me that I used to think the artistry of the opening ceremonies was silly, and now I scour the internet for photos to use as future research and inspiration.

5. Very possible next trip: Glacier National Park.