The world is a noisy, unstable, anxious place, parrying questions about artifice and reality, the absurd and the comic, good and evil, the knowable and the unknowable, truth and falsehood. My work reckons with this atmosphere is it breaks up chronological linearity, acknowledges the fragmentary, and embraces disjunction and contradiction. In short, it is a site for many registers and tones. It creates a landscape that engages in a conversation with the simultaneity of disparate events, finding it at once confusing and exhilarating.
Our daily existence is characterized by complete immersion in the ways of the world. The world fascinates us. Our lives are caught up in its rhythms and activities. The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, referred to this condition as Dasein or being-in-the-world, and wondered how it could be revealed. How can we be in the world as such and yet discover a way to step back from it to understand it as a place comprised of us and yet distinct from us. Heidegger concluded that being-in-the-world as a whole was disclosed in anxiety and was then defined as care.
As a poet living in a chaotic, treacherous world, I am acutely aware of Dasein. My concerns are grounded in Dasein. I feel I must express those concerns in the clearest, most authentic ways at my disposal. There is no better place to do that than in the realm of performance. It is there that I believe a multiplicity of expressive gestures can thrive. Limitless perspectives can be the regular order, or even the “regular” disorder. We can experience the expressiveness of music, of lighting, movement, costume, cinematic and acting techniques. All the arts participate in a community of communication.
My goal is to aim an unsparing light on the iconography of human existence. I want to lift poetry off the page so that it can take its place with any and all genres as they interact in a range of settings. Therein lies my hope to ignite recognition of our human predicament and the anxiety it generates. Therein lies my hope to bring a state of true “care” into focus.
Language provides the most powerful manifestation of human consciousness, but, unfortunately, it can be employed as a sinister tool. I wish to combat the degraded language of the present. It has become a weapon to obscure, indeed obliterate, our moral compass.
John Cage has said: “Art is a sort of experimental station in which one tries out living.” There is no better way to “try out” our existence, than to perform it with a community of genres in the midst of a community of spectators. Poetry serves as the mouthpiece of the action. As linguistic sounder of alert, its mission is urgent.
I focus on new and experimental uses of video and sculpted spaces in performance. As a visual storyteller, I strive to integrate design and action and thrive on intense collaboration. Scenery needs to be more than just a backdrop setting time and place, and video in performance has so much potential to activate the theatrical reality in a completely new way. I tend to make my first moves into a design through tactile points of entry by finding textures and materials that have emotional resonance, then carving out volume and finding metaphor.
Video in performance has widened the door for exploration of psychological arcs and character in addition to being able to manipulate our perceptions of time and space. The possibilities for video to defy expectations and radically alter point of view are exciting and still very new. I am interested in exploring video as character, as a physical being in the room, in active dialogue with the set, costumes, lights and especially the performers. Exploring alternative projection surfaces or emissive sources. Opening up the live environment with the toolkit of expressive cinematic techniques. How does a digital image live in the space; what relationship does it have to the characters; how is it a character itself?
I don’t think twice about the validity of creating a performance at the bottom of a well or on a freeway overpass or in a mountain stream. Performance can happen anywhere. The important thing is to create work, tell stories and respect the truth of what objects communicate while existing in the space activated in front of you.
I make live art because it forges community. I believe community can be formed when people experience live art with each other in the same space at the same time. Within this shared community, we can examine and challenge our joint assumptions and find new meaning. This is vital in a culture where many feel isolated and at the same time over-stimulated. To engage with the complexity and intensity of today’s streaming culture, I seek to create immediate, substantive work like Words, which viscerally engages contemporary audiences.
I love leading a process of exploration among a group of diverse and open-minded generative artists. Working as a team from early in our process means our work grows differently. My experiences with the resident artists at HERE, which I co-founded, has helped me recognize the integral role that multiplicity of perspectives add towards the growth of complex work and how to dramaturg an inclusive yet cohesive process.
I feel real urgency to create in the face of the struggles which daily impact real people and Words provides that potent opportunity. For me, art provides the tools we need as a community to move forward.
I tell stories with music. Sometimes these are literal stories, as in my spoken word Future Fables; sometimes these are musical theater and opera pieces, as with my operas The Little Death: Vol. 1 and Mata Hari, and my musical The House of Von Macramé; and often these are stories told without words, as I’ve done with my many instrumental and electronic pieces. The core element in all of my work is a single message, sent intimately from one mind to another. A memory, a fear, a nightmare, a secret, I love to send these ideas and emotions into the air with sculpted sound, and I love the act of connecting with another person through what I have created.
Anna Rabinowitz’s poems connected with me in a very similar way. I read them without expectation, and found myself carried along with the strange, beautiful journey of her imagination. I almost immediately began hearing the music I could create with her words. Working with her, Kristin, and Liane has been gradual act of opening the sonic, dramatic, and visual possibilities of Anna’s poems to be shared with our eventual audiences