Sunday, September 28, 2008


Wouldn't call this "a video" so much as how one might talk in a quiet conversation with a friend. Therefore, a vlog (video blog). Sparked by a discussion of 'change' in my dance class, reminiscences on my years of journaling leading me to feel that we only become more of who we are...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

(1:45sec) "White," Butoh-inspired dance-in-progress

This blog is a place where I keep my work, along with the progress of pieces. Here's a little Butoh-inspired dance piece in the process of...

Last night I stayed up till 3am composing piano notes in GarageBand to go with it, but had trouble synchronizing, also the notes were too busy in the middle. My first go with GarageBand, and I'm not a musician, so allowing my clumsiness to guide me.

Then I'd also like to overlay images since I found something that struck me on National Geographic this morning, but don't seem to be able to do it in iMovie. Should I go for broke and invest in FinalCut Express? Hopefully I can copy my old Photoshop Elements onto this computer and might be able to change transparencies to overlay that way.

In the Japanese aesthetic, art is always embodied in images of nature. This is true of Haiku as well as Butoh. I may or may not add the photo, but I'd like to have the technical capability to try it and see if it works.

Anyway, the uncut video. I have no idea what sort of poem will arise; perhaps it'll just be a single image. Who knows. Creating it as I go.

My 3rd attempt at a VideoDancePoem.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

(4:16) On Butoh-based Dance: A Saturday morning amble...

Discussing Butoh-based dance having just completed a 4 day workshop with Denise Fujiwara in Toronto, Canada.

Ok, so. My first iMac video on Butoh-based dance with a poem in my white flannel nightgown this morning.

Even before coffee. I leave as is. Though I did add the poem later this evening and you might have to increase the volume since, though I re-recorded a number of times much closer to the computer's built-in microphone than the original clip, I wasn't able to arrive at the same volume levels.

In the emptiness of the dancer everything comes to be. I hope I imparted this in my little experimental video. Sharing a recent experience which I am in the process of understanding.

Strange and surreal as it appears, the intensity of the dancers, intimacy, exposure, vulnerability are the core of Butoh.

YouTube URL here

Butoh Dancers

do not express but expose embodied emotion

in the Noh tradition of restraint

line of red belts on the kimonos

the dancers move towards us

as slowly as the moon bleeds through the sky

they are intermittently earth, water, fire, air

gone are the wild rhythms of their bodies

they are empty silk shells on the stage

who reveal their intimate selves

what is most human
our contradictory states

our warring, our longing, our loving

without the effort of thought

we who do not watch
or even witness

a performance

rather we complete
their process

of us

© 2008, Brenda Clews

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Four Hard Drives in as many weeks and counting...

Today my 3 month old Dell Inspiron laptop arrived back from a Dell Depot. Installed in it is a fourth hard drive, the fourth since the first one failed about mid-August, followed by the failure of the second one 3 days after it was installed, followed by the failure of the 3rd hard drive one hour into the four-hour Vista installation process. I see they have replaced the hard drive and the motherboard this time. I wonder if the laptop will actually work smoothly for the rest of its natural life?

I purchased my iMac nearly 6 years ago and it has run like a dream - never crashed, never had a virus. The most stable computer I have ever owned.

I had the laptop upgraded and configured for my daughter and it was always my intention to give it to her when I was able to afford the MacBook I really wanted.

My short foray into the PC world, however, is enough for me.

This woman is an Apple woman. An Apple woman this woman is.

I'm going for the 24" iMac with a tax credit from some years back & trusting that I will have a job soon. I lost quite a bit of work when the first Dell hard drive failed and that's painful. My old iMac hasn't developed any ticks but I can't, for instance, print a PDF file from it anymore, and many of my bills are electronic now. Most of the keys on the keyboard have to be pressed multiple times when writing; the mouse died some time ago & my daughter and I share an old PC mouse. Replacing the OS on such an old computer and purchasing a new keyboard and mouse is hardly worth the money. I am afraid such an old machine will suddenly crash and I'll lose years of work and my daughter will lose her entire iTunes library. We'll grieve for years. I know I should buy a portable hard drive as backup but being out of work, money is tight. Yet there is enough for the purchase of a new computer, just. Through a simple wire we can transfer everything on the old iMac to the new iMac. Plus we get to keep the darling, dear old machine, it's one of the ones with a white half moon base, a pregnant feminine shape to me, for browsing. I wish I'd kept it under a dust cover all these years, I had no idea it was such a survivor. Who knows, it may run beautifully until it becomes a classy antique.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the air that I breathe out carries me with it,
the air that I breathe in
brings me back

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Red Balloon

Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon)
Albert Lamorisse, France, 1956 34 min

A red balloon with a life of its own follows a little boy around the streets of Paris. Winner of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, despite almost no dialog spoken in the film.

The Flight of the Red Balloon

Le Voyage Du Balloon Rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon)
Hou Hsiao-hsien, France, 2008 113 min

A little boy and his baby-sitter inhabit the same imaginary world: through their adventures they are followed by a strange red balloon. Directed by celebrated Taiwanese New Wave director Hou Hsiao-hsien who captures the magic of the mysterious balloon often through an elegant use of the reflection of mirrors and glass.

A more thorough synopsis of the film here.

May be spoilers, not sure. I sought to write something that would enhance your viewing if you saw these films. I explore the red balloon as poetic image. Not a film review; rather the way my thoughts of the movie hovered and swam in the air like the red balloon.

The Red Balloon, the 1956 nearly silent film by Albert Lamorisse is stark poetry. The balloon and the child. Both buoyant and fragile, moving into an expanding world and trusting. The film is the motion of the child through the streets of an older Paris; like the balloon, we rarely see him in interiors, and when we do it is looking out of windows to the light where the balloon hovers with him. Of course jealousy and envy arise and the boys who want the power of the red balloon that the chosen boy has, and ultimately the slow deflation of the balloon by catapult. When all the balloons in Paris rise and congregate like a flock with the grieving boy who has lost his red balloon, he flies over the city held by them, a Chagall painting.

Flight of the Red Balloon, the 2008 film by Hou Hsiao-hsien, in part a tribute, begins with a balloon that echoes the balloon from the original film. A poem within a poem. The balloon hovers around the boy in the new film, though no-one but the audience sees this.

The balloon has been called a symbol of the imagination yet for me it cannot be this.

It's a relationship. As if you rubbed the balloon on your sweater, it would stick to you. The balloon is loyal like a puppy. It follows, hovers, allows itself to be seen only by who should see it.

The balloon is like a vision, fragile, buoyant and red. Or an apple, the beginning of the alphabet and the wisdom the fall from the Garden of Eden initiates.

It is a piece of man-made rubber inflated with helium but loses that property.

The red sphere dances in the sky, being a balloon that becomes a stave in a musical score, an image in a poem, a rich round colour in a painter's palette. It is the spinning globe of red that is the life force.

The red balloon is the magic of what floats.

If we follow what floats we will understand the symbol of the red balloon in the film.

The red balloon is a sun in the sky.

It's happy.

It's locked out. The red balloon is untethered, free to fly in the wind, to fly up into space.

The red balloon is the boy's heart which it invisibly ties itself to. The red balloon comes to comfort the boy in his loneliness, his bravery in living the independent life expected of him. The boy travels from home to school and back again in Paris, alone, the red balloon following.

There is a poignancy, a tenderness to the comfort the large red balloon and the boy offer each other, the white string of the balloon like an umbilical chord to hope.

Whoever holds the red balloon in the film, or the wires attached to it is made invisible as the balloon hovers near the boy, only the pure relationship remains.

In Flight of the Red Balloon, the film-student nanny of the boy is filming a film of the red balloon but never sees the one following her care outside the window, as if she is a grown Wendy who cannot see Peter Pan's Neverland of eternal childhood dancing on the windowsill.

The red balloon rises and falls on the walls outside the boy's room like breath. Sometimes the red balloon slides glancing over a graffiti representation of a red balloon as life and art interweave, as they do everywhere in the film.

The matriarch of the film, of the house, which was her mother's before her, and the mother of the child is a puppeteer, or rather the powerful voice of the woman in the puppet show. Everywhere in the film we see puppets, snippets of a show of mythic proportions and great passion (based on the Yuan Dynasty story of Zhang Yu and his beloved, Qiong Lian.) Archetypal forces are at play under the weave of characters and narrative of the film, in the domestic dramas and interweaving of cultures, French and Taiwanese (the film by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien), the struggles of the artists represented in the film in all their variety, from the successful puppeteers (the mother, Suzanne (Juliette Binoche), who financially supports the household), to the film student of film, Song Fang (played by herself), who stays with the boy, Simon (Simon Iteaneau), after school, to the writer and his girlfriend who live on the second floor without paying rent, to Suzanne's boyfriend who is absent in Montreal writing a novel, to the teacher at the end teaching the children how to look at the painting of the child with the red balloon from an aerial perspective, from the balloon's perspective.

While Hou Hsiao-hsien provided the general scenarios of the film and the background story to the actors, they created the dialogue and the movement. The domestic scenes feel real and contrast with the poetry interweaving the film like the balloon floating about the windows and walls outside, held by desire yet subject to the rhythms of air, a moving notation.

The balloon always behind dusty old windows, in mirrors, at the edge of the pictorial frame, never graspable. So subtle as to be missed by all but the boy and the film director who guides the audience's vision to its close red roundness.

In the slightly nostalgic and poignant feeling of the film, the red balloon is held by the warmth of our hearts to us.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Painting Nook

In Painting Nook

woke this morning with a sense of joy as I cannot express, something that hasn't happened in a long time, such relief so welcomeIn the painting nook

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In the middle of August in the Summer of 2008

Perhaps there were different ways of understanding, parallel paths of interpretation and it was impossible to pick which was more real.
Or you could let your feelings emerge in meditation, the sadness, sorrow, rage, lust, tenderness, love.
First one, and then the other seemed likely.
But, no, it was more like a kaleidoscope of turbulent thoughts and chaotic feelings.
Perhaps they were lassos you were flinging from each hand, sometimes they swung wildly divergently, sometimes they entangled.
The problem was there was no strategy, or even a map of where we were.
Or probably you didn't swing anything and the parallel ways of understanding were the metaphor I was most comfortable with.

I couldn't decide, on the long walk grocery shopping that day which path more accurately represented your feelings, or mine, or what happened.
Or when I lay at the beach on the hot day imagining Ferris wheels of kaleidoscopes where everything impinged on everything else.

It was an embarrassing situation from which you fled. Discovery of the truth was the last thing you wanted.
Nothing made sense.
But what was the truth?
What is truth?
Parallel paths; I can't decide which.
Rather, multiple lines like tangled tackle.
One interpretation, the cavalier one, you'd prefer; the other a deeper more vulnerable one you'd prefer hidden.

I can't live in your heart to know definitively. I imagine you yourself don't fully know either. We're hanging somewhere between spiritual truth and illusion. The illusion you'd rather cast hides what?

Probably it was the more hidden truth and it held a power over you that disturbed you greatly because to follow that path would change your perception of freedom irrevocably.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

with all the fans off last night wake to the press of heat sun streaming through veils of leaves

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Me as an Audience Extra

The last year has been one of the most difficult years of my life. While I cannot share much of what has happened, the good news is that I am still going. Sometimes I'm not sure how.

At the end of May my last contract position ended and since then I have been officially unemployed, a disempowering experience to say the least.

Anyhow, for a new experience last Friday I was an 'audience extra' at Market Call Tonight on BNN. Here's a clip of me asking a question, something I make myself do whenever I attend a seminar. Okay, I don't know a lot about the stock market, but I realized that I know more than I thought I did.

By all means watch the whole show, Ross Healy's viewpoints are interesting. If you want to see yours truly, a little nervous (could have done with some of those beta blockers, laughs) go to 7:25 on this clip (after the ads) for about 2 minutes to hear his full answer.

Bridging Transformations

In the time of transformation, what bridges the gap between what is disappearing and what is coming to be?

What do we leave behind to cross?

Who are we to meet?

As we transform, what are we bridging in ourselves?

I found these questions scrawled in my notebook. Surely that day in late August I had something specific in mind. Perhaps I had just seen the video clips for the movie, Man on Wire, of Philippe Petit's dream to walk on a tightrope between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center, and who did it in 1974. Twenty-seven years before their destruction, his delicate dance of balance across the strung edge of death bridged his dream to its realization.

Or perhaps I was considering the Oracle of the Hunab Ku, number 36: Bridge.

What bridges the crossing for you?

What are you crossing from,
and where are you going?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Discus Thrower

Discus Thrower

Discus Thrower, ©Brenda Clews 2008, oil pastel on paper, 13" x 17", 33cm x 43cm (click on image for larger size)

Began by playing with some new oil pastels while watching a movie, abstract at first rubbing and painting the soluble colours but I'm a figurative artist and so overlaid them with a guy inspired by the famous Ancient Greek Discus Thrower, in turn obviously inspired by the Olympics that I watched obsessively for two weeks. It is amazing how our experiences come through in our art. As I outlined him, first putting in and then removing an arm to give him a paradoxical angle whereby he can appear to be facing the viewer or with his back to us, depending on the light -squint & you'll see him from behind, look and you'll see the barest representation of a face to incline you to think he is facing us- I thought, to me he represents a 'force of nature.'

In my recent paintings I have chosen to work slowly with an eye to detail; this, by contrast, was an explosion.

Archeology of Water

This began with an image of memory scrawled in a notebook in April 2019 that I knew I would work with, either in a poem, or perhaps video. ...