Monday, January 27, 2014

MARKINGS: a leaderless workshop

As these six weeks come to an end,… it’s been like there’s a chalk circle, a spider web… a dream that we’ve had access to.
This “teaching from the middle” that I’m been experimenting with has its echo in what it’s like to “learn from the middle.  Assume that this “course” was
just a remembered dream:
List those parts you can remember: Travel, Health, Music, people, ideas, activities, animals, birds, stuck songs...Try to recall coincidences, accidents, items from the margins of your regular life.

This "course" was an attempt to see what the powers of minimal attention are. No Full Frontal Attention.   Maybe Treat this like its now one of Kim's Dream Groups: If that were my dream… use these collected elements.

Here’s my collection in words and images: (I'll keep adding)
This started when I was on the Olympic Peninsula meeting a first granddaughter, Ava.  So there's that Life Transitional thing going on:  
What!?? Grandfather!  No, No, he's that old man who visits on Sundays

Look Below for what I described as hypnopompic and hypnagogic...
That's dream stuff.  The Celts call it the Fifth Province, the Land of No Land.

I happened on a 1989 Bob Dylan Album: Oh, Mercy.  Songs from it are still stuck in my head
Far away where the soft winds blow
Far away from it all
There is a place you go
Where teardrops fall

Far away in the stormy night
Far away and over the wall
You are there in the flickering light
Where teardrops fall

We bang the drum slowly and play the fife lowly
You know the song in my heart
In the turning of twilight in the shadows of moonlight
You can show me a new place to start
YouTube Bootleg from Dublin

That SNOW!  I liked Randall's Colored Icicles and Joanna's Shadows
I like Kim's Sky Views and Land Veins


I continued working with Kindergarteners on Faery Houses

Crows were around a lot. But one day,
two Turkey Vultures visited and set the crows a cawing:

1.25. 14
Hello travellers,   Congratulations! I heard from nobody for the last week, only an updated email address for Kim:   As you see, this engagement for these six weeks, is as much an experiment in form as content.   We can use email and/or I can put our exchanges on this Wayward Blog… or you can do it here as “comments.”   It’s a chance to alter our more comfortable forms of  in and out.  This experiment is tipped towards being more alone, but with the vague consolation that there are six others trying the same thing.
OK,  the start was just having the “intention” to be tied in time and digital space to these other six people…. And keep the expression of the Cards available to see what happened, what presented. I headed off to the lush, outrageously beautiful Olympic peninsula for the last six days.
I held the intention that I was part of a temporary web with others (that’s you).  I was waiting and trusting that something(s) would emerge from the common, the expected,  to share with this momentary group (that’s you). 
A few things presented during this week:
1. I realize that I am focused on the issue, the details of ADJUSTING: how things are changing, what my options, limitations are. It’s not totally “aging” issues, but transitions.  They can be provoked by many things.  So most everything else was done against that atmosphere. 
Did you have theme or atmosphere of the week?
2. Before even seeing my new granddaughter, I stopped at my favorite beach, Eagle Creek, and bored myself by looking for what I always look for on that beach. Yawn.  Of course, I found it: Driftwood Horns.  I was happy/greedy and also self-sedated by my obsessive agenda: “Always Stop at Eagle Creek for Driftwood Horns“ (image enclosed)
3. I got a bit guilty a day later that those Cards weren’t really working for me.  So I pulled one out from a few years ago and added a feather to it.  OMG! If I hadn’t already bored myself enough!  So after little artistic self-loathing, I put it away.   More knee-jerk defaulting to a already tried (and worn-out) self expression?
Later, I helped load a truck of junk for the dump and then notice the low tide edge of the Hamma Hamma River. 
Hey, what’s that white stuff?  OMG Teeth!  
Salmon Jaws. Oh, how they stink! 
Oh, there are so many of them.

4. Finally on the plane yesterday, I pulled out two sheets of card stock (5”x7” four cards worth) And started to put a few things on them… nice dark black corners. I had the idea that we could all work on the same cards, Exquisite Corpse style,  Maybe I’ll mail these to  Katherine and she mails them to… OR, this morning,  I thought of just scanning my two 5x7s and sending them to you to print out that way and allow for more interactivity.
And You??

One core interest in this Markings is how influence (and power) flow around in a creative environment.... How much direction, of what nature,  when, why...  is appropriate.  Time to experiment!          My interest is leading from the middle.  
I have good hunches on what to do, how get get us all going.... without telling you exactly what to do.
I want to use the Card format. So let’s start carrying a few of those cards as flypapers for what cross our dream-world paths... during the day
Take it out at a lull in the day, to blot that spilled drop of coffee, to doodle.   
OR NOT    (the “or not” is as important as doing it!!)
Assume the card is  a Petrie dish and your helping/watching something grow... Your big job is to Be Present and Wait and Hold the Space.  It’s a liminal, numinous---elusive activity, illusive?   nonetheless real.
A few words that have stuck with me as I’ve been preparing to do this with you:
nightsun      the moon
hypnagogic    those shoreline thoughts as you are falling asleep
hypnopompic   those shoreline thoughts as you are waking up
I’ll start doing the Cards as I’m traveling for the next five days...  Here’s a email description of cardmaking I sent yesterday to a guy (remember Everett?) working with a Vets group and is considering the Cards as a tool:
the “cards” are ways to respond—largely non-verbally—to some experience, theme, direction. They can start with words or use words... what ever the person gets comfortable with. They are small, trading card size and can be done easily in multiples to take the precious “art” spin off the whole exercise. They allow a person using them to develop several nuanced responses to the theme. So no one response is more correct. they allow for a review of the progression of the responses both within each person’s work and when viewed by the group as a whole. If they are done in a few short episodes 20 minute chunks, then reviewed, there’s a lot of collateral learning and sensitizing that goes on. It’s a great, easy. low-tech way to build and demonstrate a “community” of response  Finally, they allow for trading. Take a few of your cards, put them in a pile and let others take them...  
Here are 4-5 pages of information: how anyone can just start doing them. 
So let's see what happens for these five days and agree to share images/scans of the Cards next weekend  and/or tales of whatever happens This is a field experiment in being quiet(er), in watching (more), waiting, receiving...

For the next few months, I'm going to explore some different ways of working with what's been called the "creative unconscious".  I invite others to join in. I'm calling it MARKINGS
It's what artists often work with, self-consciously, some of the time;
It's what everybody does some of the time;
Children have an easier time getting to it than most adults do;
It crashes in on people in transitions--grief, illness, retirement, rehab, reentry, unemployment,-- circumstances that ask for some kind of re-invention of who we are or who we think we are. We are all "vets" of something.

So for a six-week period, a small group of us will roam this territory.  The key feature of this activity is its interactive, or perhaps unpredictable, nature.  One goal of this endeavor is to become more comfortable with the indistinct, the ambiguous, the unpredictable.  There is NOT a plan or Way to do this.  It's a process. And a process you have to be an active part of

So I'll be BOTH the kindly guide, the beadle, the cicerone, the shepherd AND the trickster, the mis-director and the scallywag helping you to stumble and find YOUR OWN ways.  (Remember, it's all about You!  It's not about following my directions)

And for this, you'll pay me $25 for each week you can stand it or enjoy it.
Nope, never happened. No $$ involved . Too elusive an experience to commodify

We'll use Alchemy to inform all this.  Alchemy is the practice of encountering the world with The Heart, The Head and The Hand.  Most of us can do all three; some better than others. Markings is an opportunity to tune up and tone up those areas  that might need it.  Right-Brain/Left-Brain thinking is another form of this.

Let me emphasize the importance of the interactivity of this. This is not a book, a course, a program.
This is a time-bound encounter that will change; It's really all about getting comfortable and fluent with change...

So, I'll lay out a menu of suggested activities: (starters, entrees, sides, desserts??)  You's get to decide what you're hungry for and what would be a good place to start.    Yes, you can start with dessert!

You can and must decide on the rhythm and pace of involvement.  Perhaps you need some daily contact; perhaps not. There are always small, manageable decisions --forkings-- presenting themselves.  When you look back on the series of these you've made, you'll be surprised and delighted at what you see.

There'll be an emphasis on Distraction and its buddies Chance and Accident. (Actually, it's called Synchronicity, and it's not "random") I'm looking for ways that both honor and dissemble the routine ways we naturally have come to live.   I just found this video that speaks to a kind of letting go.  It's what the Surrealists did with the Exquisite Corpse exercises.

Specifically, I'll suggest making Cards, Imaginal Tools, Carving stones, random anonymous art moments...   We may even use the US Postal Service! 

We'll probably start a private Blog to show and share work... and I'm liking tumblr.  But no-cost lurking is possible and encouraged. 

Finally, thanks to Katherine Wilson for provoking this.  As a new mother, she understands transition, distraction, chance and accident.  As an architect, she understands the phases of making and re-making things. Katherine, and a few more of you, were involved with a 2007 version of this.
We'll start when about eight people fall for this.

I thought it was fun last time to gather local materials--sending them to you and redistributing and then making something with them? Maybe creating something around a theme. Katherine

Count me in. Is there a phone conf. type meet up? or one-on-one with you over phone with pics and emails and the such?     Laurie

1 comment:

  1. Ah dear much silence here it's deafening. I showed a couple of our 'name tag' cards from last summer's WG to another burgeoning artist and she was enthralled. I've been crazy busy with school and sculpting down at The Modern Art Foundry every Friday plus, I've been painting on Sundays. Trying to make a practice of it. Perhaps I need more WG energy around me and that's why I've popped over to visit the blog. Love the salmon jaws...thinking...thinking...