Saturday, 2 May 2009

infusoria: the movie

I spent this afternoon at Svend Thomsen's place putting the titles on his film of the exhibition. It is the first time I'd seen it, and with real life getting in the way a bit the last few weeks, I'd pretty much forgotten he was working on it.

You know how often you come away from an exhibition and the catalogue, postcards, leaflets or whatever just don't hit the spot? They miss the magic? And you end up buying a postcard anyway as a reminder of something that isn't in the picture? Well this is a whole different thing. It's all there. Short of actually letting you mess around with the dice and music box and magnifying glass yourself, it has everything.

You will have a chance to see it soon, I promise: it is absolutely exquisite.

Jessica Smith, a.rawlings, Helen White

Jessica Smith: Veil

a.rawlings: rule of three

Claire took this amazing picture of the shadows cast by angela's poems

Helen White
I like giving away my pebbles to people. Dirk Vekemans swapped me a pebble for this lovely little Buddha, who spent the rest of the exhibition as part of my piece. He lives on my bedside table now (the Buddha, not Dirk).
These last two pictures are stills from Svend Thomsen's film.
I think this last one in particular comes closer to what I was trying to do than the piece itself - thanks Svend!

Thursday, 23 April 2009


A few of the visitors on the last day of the exhibition:
A man who came back three times (one of the neighbours who got an infusoria flyer through his door). His only comment was that the exhibition was strange, that I obviously liked strange things, but he kept coming back for more. A woman who said she had enjoyed the exhibition, to which I replied with my belief that if one person takes something away with them then the whole thing is worthwhile. A man from India who happened to be walking past about half an hour before the very end: he kept repeating that if he had walked the other way home, he would never have known. Many people walking by who look through the windows, sometimes for quite a while, but don't come in.

There are two particular things about infusoria that matter to me. One is providing a gathering place and an opportunity for communication between the participants. The other is offering visitors that butterfly-winged experience of seeing something beautiful when you are not really expecting it. I didn't think I'd be able to tell whether people "get anything" out of the exhibition or not: politeness and shyness can both get in the way. But with strangers I have found that I often can tell. Some clearly walk away unmoved, even irritated; others take the trouble to tell me they were glad they'd bothered to step off the footpath and come inside.

Sharon Harris, Moniek Darge, Ayşegül Tözeren

Sharon Harris

Sharon and Moniek

Moniek Darge

Ayşegül Tözeren

Monday, 20 April 2009

Two calls for work from House Press

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: derek beaulieu
Subject: concrete / visual

hey folks;
i'm making an occasional concrete / visual poetry "magazine" (read: multi-page leaflet / handout / ephemeral item) which will feature new visual poetry, with possible historical / rare examples ... do any of you have work you could perhaps email me which i could include?

im thinking previously unpublished (or if published, then infrequently seen...)... colour or B&W is fine, email or snail mail is also good.

id be honoured to include work from any of you (the deadline is open, i'll publish when i have enough feature-able work) ...
feel free to forward this call on to people who's work you think i should know of...


derek beaulieu
derek at housepress dot ca

And - separately, I think? - House Press is accepting submissions for Source Material 04 until 20th May. That's all the information I have, although there is a pdf of SM03 on the link above.

Silke Rath's exhibition in Germany, 3 - 17 May 2009

Michelle Detorie, Silke Rath, Alixandra Bamford

Michelle Detorie, Lunar Baedeker

No, really, "ecatstic." It's Claire's word for how cats feel when you stroke them till their bones go runny.

Michelle Detorie, Cleromancy

Every time I walked past 'Cleromancy,' the dice were in a different position. People couldn't leave them alone.

Silke Rath, Horizont and B

Silke Rath, Mallarmé

Alixandra Bamford, Tasseomancy

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Jennifer Scappettone's new book is out

From Dame Quickly can be ordered from SPD.

Although I wish SPD had a surface mail option for Europe. $18 for a $15 book is too much. Hmmm... maybe I can set up some kind of underground book-trafficking network with visiting poets... or graft wings onto bindings and implant a migratory instinct...

... or stop whingeing and just pay the Fedex bill. Yes, good plan, Helen.

angela's angles

So you can see things how someone else sees them...

(with thanks to angela for letting me plunder her facebook album)

Sharon Harris, Blues

Jessica Smith, Veil (as modelled by the lovely Xavier Roelens)

Maja Jantar


Moniek Darge

Jenny Sampirisi

Helen White

Alixandra Bamford

Angela Szcepaniak and Jennifer Scappettone

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Derya Vural and Maja Jantar

Derya Vural

So mindlessly

As Derya explained before, her calendar project is a record of visual poetry 'days.' So I figured if there was one day whose associations I might understand even though I have never met Derya in person, it would be November 4th 2008. I found a black circle and three white K's; my friend Magali found the stars and stripes. I like the green patches on there too...

Here are two other individual poems from the series:

the last rebellion against the grey

without 'where' and'why'

Maja Jantar

Maja exhibited different work this time. Since we weren't allowed to hammer nails into the walls of the Zilverhof, it would have been too difficult to hang the Marilyn series she exhibited in Brussels. This series is made of bamboo leaves in translucent rice paper, and is inspired by Chinese characters. I felt that it resonated in certain ways with Jessica Smith's veils on the other side of the room.

Monday, 13 April 2009

a.rawlings and Isabeella Beumer at Logos (2nd April)

It was a fantastic concert. I'm still not really up for reviewing - conversations with angela, Jelle, Maja, Claire make more sense to me - but here are some pictures etc.

angela's performance began with a short reading from Wide Slumber, which she dedicated to Claire. High up at the back, behind the camera, Claire's jaw dropped so far I thought I might have to crawl under the seats to retrieve it.

She followed it with her new Cochlea manuscript - with the line 'Robots in Ghent' there could be no better place to perform it - and an excerpt from Environment Canada. I want to hear them again, especially the permutating, perhaps spiralling, sound patterns in Cochlea.

I already posted a short clip of her improvisation with Maja a while ago, but here it is again to save you having to look for the older post:

Looking at it now, it is spooky how closely matched they were (that's angela on the left there and Maja on the right, for anyone getting confused). I hope the film gives an idea of how awesome it was. The performance was based on a tarot reading: a three-card spread (i.e. past, present, future) using only the major arcana. And they did shuffle the pack; it was a genuine improvisation. The film shows the first two cards, can you guess them? Go on. Maja told me the answers afterwards; I guessed the second one but not the first.

Isabeella Beumer's performance made an impressive contrast: the generation difference and a solo, virtuoso performance of relatively fixed pieces rather than a collaborative improvisation. Beumer reminded me of Meredith Monk in certain ways: her incredible range and virtuosity, and her fascination with voice techniques from other parts of the world. There were moments when she had me completely mesmerised, and predictably enough those were the parts where I lacked the wherewithal to press down the camera button. So the films aren't the best bits of the performance, but I have two excerpts from near the beginning:

... and a little piece of the encore. The entire performance was unaccompanied voice: there's no backing tape or instrumental accompaniment apart from the little percussion instrument you can see in the second clip.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

web archive of infusoria exhibition

Just to give you advance notice of my plans for the next few months:

It's still going to take me a while to get everything together, but I do have plans to create a permanent web archive of the exhibition. I'll be e-mailing round later to ask your permission to include photos or 'original' jpgs of your work.

I also hope to make a print-quality pdf catalogue of infusoria and put it on Krikri's website for free download. Since some of the work in the exhibition has been published elsewhere, there may be restrictions on what I can include, but hopefully there will be something pretty in pdf format by the end of the summer.

Several people have asked about a print catalogue, and we did look into using Lulu, but it works out too expensive from Europe because of the postage costs. Hopefully the pdf will be an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, objections etc., you know where to find me...

Jennifer Scappettone and Suzan Sari

Suzan Sari

red leopard

times up roman

without pressed by its name

Jennifer Scappettone
Text: "arrow humm--"
Text: "not brightsome but excess-"

Friday, 10 April 2009

Logos robot orchestra: Jokes

If you can't come to Belgium and see the Robot Orchestra for yourself, click here and scroll down to the little video of Godfried explaining how they work. No, seriously, click on this. If you don't watch any other internet films all month, watch this one. There's nothing like it anywhere else on the planet.

Besides infusoria, Krikri helped to organise two concerts at Logos during the Literaire Lente: the robot orchestra 'Jokes' concert on April 1st and performances by angela rawlings and Isabeella Beumer on April 2nd. I've been thinking all week about whether or not to review them for the blog; since most of you are outside Belgium and don't have any way of comparing my opinions with anything else, I've decided not to. But if anyone who was at the concerts wants to blog or comment about them on here, go for it, I'm all for multiple voices. Send me a mail and I'll publish it.

I still plan to tell you a bit about the concerts though, if for no other reason than Logos' eye- and ear-popping wierdness. There is an <M&M> or mens en machine - human and machine - concert every month in the Logos Tetraeder, with music composed by the in-house composers at Logos as well as outsiders and played by various combinations of humans and electronic/mechanical instruments. Claire and Svend were filming, so at some point I may be able to post snippets of video. In the meantime, you'll have to imagine Scott Joplin's Entertainer played first by one of Moniek Darge's music boxes and then by a boisterous full orchestra (arr. Sebastian Bradt):

Twenty-four well-tempered fire alarms dolefully wailing a Bach chorale (arr. Godfried-Willem Raes). Each set at a different pitch, they crooned and faltered their way through while angela and and I tried to bite back our guffaws...

A "hello angela" composition by Kristof Lauwers, based on recordings by bp nichol. (I never did get that photo of angela, Maja, Claire and myself standing together with our hair up. Roll over bp, Steve & co, we're the Four Ponytails ...)

This is Moniek's piece for electronic violin and robots...

And here is Godfried trying to trigger the robots' infrared sensors with popcorn. Normally he uses the sensors to react to human movement, which means that the robots produce sounds in response to dance, but here the popping corn is making the robots whistle and clatter...

After the interval (with fresh popcorn), French-Belgian poet Vincent Tholomé and Logos composer Yvan Vander Sanden premiered a voice/robot collaboration. Vincent had never worked with the robots before, but it was fantastic. His poems are usually anecdotes or inner monologues in prose, featuring all kinds of quirky characters and usually with a certain degree of improvisation.

Unusually for Logos, the piece also had a light show, with whirling lights on several of the robots accompanying Vincent's tantalizingly slow-paced, looping text and Yvan's spooky soundscape.

As far as I know, none of Vincent's work has been translated into English (time to start shaking your translator thing at it, Helen,) but he has two books in French out from Maelstrom - People and no entry - for anyone who needs an evening full of belly laughs at three euros apiece.