As always, I like responding to a creative brief. I’m lucky that those opportunities happen more often than not. Friends John Sackett & Roy Hanney put on various art performances under guises such as The Front Room, and one000plateaus and at these events planning for themes and stimuli takes weeks of preparation – I like that. From memory the theme for that night, “This is not Boring!”, was to explore boarders:
b/order crossings; unreal boundaries that refuse to melt in the heat of (de)territorialisation, a line of escape from an institutionalized apparatus of capture.
How this was interpreted was down to each artist or performer, and for me, always a good opportunity to improvise/throw a spanner in the works! The billing was varied as always, and I was was lucky enough to perform twice on the evening, again with my artist buddy, and bandmate in The Vulture is a Patient Bird, Los Dave – billed as Fear as Entertainment on the night in question. Dave had a concept to merge live landscape painting with an improvised soundtrack based on loops and largely hand built instruments (see Dave’s ‘Bikesichord’ below). We added some words to the performance and developed a theme that fed back between sound and paint.
artists’ potlatch: a night of creative gift giving, artistic improvisation and sharing.
forms: audio visual performance, electronica, spoken word, installations, psycho-geographers, interstitial architects, kinetic sculptors, live artists and theatre makers.
With the brief defined, I set out mulling over some possiblities for a second performance. I remember thinking about the visual element of these performances over the years, and how those with visual narratives had better impact on the audiences. Esoteric noise and electronic bleeps are difficult to swallow without some kind of performance. I wasn’t the most confident of film makers, but I knew a chap that was. Close friend, drinking pal, drummer for Friday Night Weird Dreams, and all round David Duchovny look-a-like, Silly Little Man.
We have a collective love of the film “The Warriors”, from soundtrack, to location, how it has dated, and storyline – a true iconic film for Coney Island and NYC. The main premise (without too many spoilers) is for a gang called The Warriors to head home to Coney Island, from a gang meeting in The Bronx. Clearly shit goes down, and it’s not that straight forward…
We discussed the nature of gang turf and boarders with NYC, and slowly we started to shape the piece. The Warriors would return back to the Bronx, a reverse of the film timeline.
The next piece of the puzzle was an audio score to go with this, and I wanted to pay tribute to the wide range of music to come from the 5 burroughs of New York. I saw a fantastic piece of art by Adam Hayes, a geographic, yet typographical analysis of New York musicians. Drink in the full piece here.
This then led us to linking the notion of The Warriors going back to The Bronx, with a series of clips of music from artists that were from the areas on the route of the film. We could check this using a cool Google Maps image that shows the venues for filming.
We wanted a live feel to the performance, and although Silly Little Man spent hours pre-editing the visuals, I wanted the audio to be live (as much as possible):
- Played from vinyl sources
- Performed live and manipulated with live effects on the night
- Open to mistakes and improvisation (within the timings of the footage)
What I never imagined was to be approached by a dance troop, minutes after our soundcheck, and to be asked if they could freestyle as we performed the piece! In true improvising style that happened.
Below is the final practice/run through, the last before the performance. We couldn’t share it fully at the time due to YouTube’s issues with copywrite etc, but finally you can watch it here in it’s full glory, just short of 40 minutes: