[-empyre-] "(E)MOTION FREQUENCY deceleration"

M.Kaylan at brighton.ac.uk M.Kaylan at brighton.ac.uk
Fri Oct 21 11:48:06 EST 2011

Dear All,

It is pleasure to read the dialogues and a privilege to participate in this forum. Thank you Johannes for making it happen and inviting me.

My apologies for my late contribution...unfortunately in my case not" for something exquisite or rare to emerge"(!) though I very much enjoyed your Deleuze quote, Sergio Basbaum. Neither did I fall from a balcony, though over the last few days I have relocated (as I do regularly), from urban S.E. England to rural S. Turkey i.e. changing cultural time zones , where I now write to you, from a mountain top village.  This particular time shift, I am familiar with, also because it involves the pace of caring for and being with elderly parents in their last place of home on the globe- certainly for my half Lebanese, Damascus born, Istanbul educated, US citizen father who died a few months ago and is buried here. He decelerated to the end of his time and I was learning much about life’s deceleration from him.

I am not sure however if I am taking the same [term] ‘deceleration ‘ by the tail as perhaps some of you who more closely investigate digital interactive technology in your work. My investigations of ‘interaction’ are more about (so called)  live ‘embodied’ exchange. Hopefully, by moving 'left field' into the conversation with you, I can make sense i.e. the lack of reference to interactive technology should not be attributed to the John Berger like, 'slow' seeming, rural context I write from! Certainly the speed of social exchange in this village beats the Central Line (London underground) and emailing on a bad wifi day.

Last time I saw Johannes, I was making a presentation that I had entitled, 'the time it takes to true', and dear Johannes who had the job of introducing me, said to me, "but it is not even a sentence, Mine .....is it?". He was right. I am committed to slow paced incompleteness more and more ... especially (as a daily strategy) in my work. I strive for undocumentable open endedness in most things. I do this also to deflect the pressure I experience that I need do its opposite with " propositions which are absolutely devoid of interest" (Deleuze tr. Sergio) to me, and the seeming threat: or else I do not exist.

My roots are in Performance Art and 'context based' visual theatre, mostly as a maker and as performer. A few years ago, I met and collaborated with  fine artists Ella Gibbs and Anna Best whose approach to their otherwise called 'socially engaged' practice, had a profound affect on me. I was not/am not new to 'art in context', 'art in community' etc. practices. What impressed me was their disciplined approach to freewheel in 'real time', always in relation to context and the 'other/s'. This was a reminder of the training of 'quality of attention'  in my education at Dartington College of Arts (Devon, UK) in the late 1970s. (This college was set up in the 1930s inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s ideas on education and the Bauhaus model, and was closed down in 2010)

I am interested in education as a (slow) force for change, as much as I am in making art/performance. I work full time in higher education in UK, in what has become (US style?) fast buck, fast 'delivery', fast package, unit costed education. I tend to treat my academic job of work also as a context for creative action. I work hard at being 'present' and 'contact dancing' in situations the institution offers up, especially when they tend towards fixity e.g. some of the mad bureaucratic subjugations that as aspiring intellectual innovators we nod sleepily to.

A few years ago my dean wrote (on email) these actual words to me: "you do not exist in this faculty". She meant (I think!) that there was no documented evidence of my work in their 'records'. (I had been course leader and teaching there full time for 15 years)

As I get older, I am so grateful for the precious education I had and I know that I cannot pass it on as effectively...not least that unlike the demands on evidencing 'teaching/learning' in UK universities, today,  my own educational experience did not aim to and could not provide, material evidence of its 'delivery' (that is the term we use instead of 'teaching' now.) My learning worked on me slowly over the years, and it is still live, working through me. I learnt to make images in my mind's eye and turn them into actions with Colette King. Oh so hard and so slow. I learnt ‘contact improvisation’ and to listen to the ‘small dance’ with Steve Paxton. I still know and practice (though not always physically), how to give and take weight and turn myself, or the other, on their head, supported and safe.

It was in such a moment of purposeful improvisational dis-location of my mind’s eye that I decided to create an alternative educational model that was collaborative, cross cultural, open ended process and research based. It became the Leleg Institute Project, and most of its activities focused in the rural setting where I am in South Turkey now. I can say more on that  project if it interests.

Meanwhile, I am always interested in poetic moments of experience when time cannot be counted; real time moments of poetry when there is an explosion of  metaphors, or so I describe them; powerful experiences that are (again) a force for change and where the creative fall out goes on for years. And of course, the question always: how to create it in ones art/performance work and in pedagogic exchange?

Oh the foolishness of imagining that education is anything but as a slow fuse over a life time: to deny the time it takes is nothing if not political. So what is being measured in such a short term as successful 'delivery', exactly?

I will mention a couple of Performance examples of such transformative experience that has burnt as a slow fuse over time, for me:

1. British, performance artist, Ian Hinchcliffe (recently deceased), in the Oval House Theatre Upstairs, 1970s, standing alone in the empty small low beamed stage addressing the small cramped audience. He is fires up the a blow torch he is holding and aims it at the wood beams, saying only "it's all real, it is all real" repeatedly, until the beams are catching alight slowly and there is much smoke, ..until we, the audience, coughing and spluttering, have to leave from the smoke in the theatre. (I was so cross at the time!) A couple of years ago, I suddenly uttered out loud to myself, “oh yes, I see” even when I did not know I was thinking of the piece..it was working on me all that time. Not sure what exactly I did ‘see’, but clearly something that took all that time.

2. As a student, I saw Steve Paxton performing his work 'Flat' -it consists of simple ‘ordinary’ actions, undressing and a chair: it had a long, slow and powerful  impact on me, so big for such an apparently simple piece. I did not think it as significant at the time I saw it. It still works within me, especially that moment of pause as he is taking his sock off.

It is late and forgive if I seem to be dancing on the outskirts of the subject at hand. It is probably the place I can intellectually move around in better.   I welcome your thoughts and connections.

I will leave my two penny's worth just there for now. Thank you for your good attention. I appreciate it.

Mine (Kaylan)


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