EXISTENTIAL UNITS OF CONCENTRATION:
A 9 WEEK WORKSHOP
FOR THE STUDENTS OF THE LUNGA SCHOOL
In early 2016 I moved to the small fishing village of Seydisfjördur situated on the Eastern coast of Iceland to be an artist-in-residence at a visionary "folk" art school in the Danish tradition called LungA. During the 12 week program I conducted Existential Units of Concentration, a philosophically dense and materially poetic weekly workshop through which I invited the 16 students of the school to join me in exploring the peripheries of the known variables that comprise our human lives and artistic practices. The conversational strategy was motivated by a singular though elusive goal: to clarify the Known in order to orient towards the Unknowable and direct our energies towards inhabiting, sensing, and accounting for our experience as an a priori process and the processing of experience as such. Through incessant questioning of all mechanisms of potential truths and methodologies of reason - including my own voice as a 'legitimate professional artist,' workshop leader, and existential provocateur - the group collectively began to steer attention towards the inherent slippage between language and awareness (as such), effectively/affectively cleansing our culturally conditioned slates and instigating a collective existential 'crisis.' From this zero-point state (considering the glyph of the Zero as a line drawn around the Void, a circumference around Nothing, a scrim membrane surrounding an unnamable, unqualifiable, unquantifiable space outside of which lies everything else) we subtly constructed an intuitive understanding of our collective potential by amplifying individual assets, inverting negative theologies, and reconfiguring inhibitions towards the construction of an instrument of enchantment.
Gradually, the articulation of our biological experience coagulated into an inner-middle space that - once identified - we could inhabit during the creation of a language completely our own, in service to our group, without any singular ownership. The language was birthed through an improvised methodology of awareness: we began from questions to craft an instrument of translation, reaching out through a process(ing) of poetic objects sealed into allegorical cast-resin forms (subjective-affective sculptures positioned at the neural node, where the mind and the body become undifferentiated), distilling corporeal sensations into a rubric of idiosyncratic Glyph-Forms (the written word) which were shared through concrete sounds clicking across the palette of the bio-socio-logical musculature (the spoken word, verbal tradition, living mythology), and ultimately into an Existential Choir which performed on numerous occasions. The OOFKAUU was being slowly articulated by/through/alongside this workshop and so many of the scenarios are represented by a process of Reverse-Engineered Notation for orchestrating various states of awareness, presented through the OOFKAUU diagrams.
Following the EUOC workshop with the students of the LungA school, I invited four seasoned colleagues of diverse artistic/musical backgrounds (and nationalities) to join me in Seydisfjördur to collaborate in further articulating/embodying the ontological infrastructure which had been erected, with the task of instigating a performance scenario to disseminate the notation-research as an impromptu orchestra. During an intense two week period of living and working together this group was able to articulate a musical prologue for the opera - an Ontogenesis in progressive movements which describes/displays the creation of a primordial "something out of nothing." The process required careful attention to the physical context, creative resource limitations, potential/projected audience, and inner/outer oscillating social dynamic involved in order to culminate in a musical piece scored by an embodied present of the residual past (rather than anticipating or orchestrating a potential future in the mind of a would-be-composer for rhetorical musicians), which is to say that the performers determined the composition through applied awareness with a score serving as ex post facto document.
The exercise signified the beginning of a dynamic process of ontological orientation of the One in relation to Others on multiple simultaneous scales, forming a symbolic sacrifice of the linguistic lattice strapping the experience together and ultimately culminating in an immersive and explosive performance in the Seydisfjördur culture house followed by a four day tour to various venues around Iceland, and of course identifying numerous fresh would-be tangents for further experiential research in text, music, movement, video, scenography, and notation