One Hand Clapping
direct link: One Hand Clapping. Play in HD if you can.
"Often when he collaborated with John Cage, Cunningham would create a dance and Cage would compose the music — separately. Cunningham made no attempt to fit the dancers' movements to the music. Sometimes the performance was the first time they heard the music.
"Given a certain length of time, let’s say 10 minutes, I could make a dance which would take up 10 minutes and John Cage could make a piece of music that occupied the same amount of time, and we could put them together," Cage recalls.
"When Cage would play the piece, there would be moments when in the other way of working, I would have thought there should be a sound, but his sound would come perhaps just after what I had done. And it was like opening your mind again to another possibility. As John Cage said once, 'He does what he does, and I do what I do and for your convenience, we put it together.' I thought that was a remarkable way of thinking about it.""
from "Merce Cunningham: Dance at the Edge," an article by Renee Montagne on NPR.
Two autopoetic systems: my short film, Alphacore's music score, without any reference to each other as we separately created them. Each of our autopoetic systems closed from each other, selectively referring to their own environments.
Mine, abstracted footage of a tree at dusk when the light dims and the camera acts like the retinal cells, the rods, seeing essentially in black and white. Alphacore's a slow, simple, quiet, meditative piano solo with a dim voice in the background whose words we cannot quite hear - or is it yelping dogs or a bird call? To my ear the background chant sounds like 'help me.' The letters falling like rain in my film do, in the slow roll of credits, line up at the end as SOS. An accidental correlation in two separate creations brought together.
I titled our collaboration, without hearing the music, One Hand Clapping, since, I, in Toronto, and Alphacore, in Seattle, each creating our component to an agreed on time span, were like the clapping of one hand - the famous Zen koan meant to sent the logical mind into an impossible spin.
Our final product, the mix, matches in the way all aspects of the universe correlate, by accident. Only this is a designed accident.
And it doesn't match in the way each of us might have originally envisioned.
My video is uncharacteristic of my work thus far - it is abstract rather than figurative; a natural black and white rather than colour; the speed is slowed down to just above frame-by-frame and thus a little jerky while the letters fall so quickly as to be almost in fast-forward; and the letters in One Hand Clapping fall continuously carrying random meanings, unlike my usual work with whole poems or sections of poems.
Alphacore's music is usually the product of computer-generated transformations of text or images into sound - they are sonic landscapes of various sounds and instruments that form unusual experimental and avanteguard abstract soundscapes - in One Hand Clapping he plays the piano meditatively note by note, a scale ascending and partially descending, we hear the touch of fingers. He is more of an embodied musician than his more usual 'Deleuzian machine' music. Deleuze writes, in Anti-Oedipus, "A machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks," and this is how I might describe Alphacore's music on the whole. He creates tracks where there is no subject or object, where the sounds interact with each other in nodes, in a series of interruptions that create a syncopated flow in a minimalist rhythmic space, like the famous metaphor of rhizomes we associate with Deleuzian philosophy.
In the final product of our collaboration, One Hand Clapping, a film with music/music with a film, we have two self-referential autopoetic systems, visual and auditory, interacting. How the viewer perceives this deliberately accidental pairing will refer to yet another autopoetic system whereby the collaboration of two artists becomes one experience.
* A defnition of autopoesis: "The generic term denoting the organization characterizing autopoietic machines / systems. The term "... simply means processes interlaced in the specific form of a network of productions of components which realizing the network that produced them constitute it as a unity." (Maturana and Varela)