The process of creating parts of the piece and showing them has been stimulating. At the showing in San Francisco, there were comments on things that surprised me. At one point I finish drinking a glass of wine and someone remarked on the how my exhalation into the glass fogged it up and thought that was quite beautiful.
Another thing I do in the piece is change costume on stage while I talk. Many seemed to like this, but one person at the Los Angeles showing complained that this was something that had already been done. That strikes me as a strange criticism – I think there are few elements one could use that haven’t been done before. After more than a decade in America, it still bewilders me that so many sophisticated people prefer something that they think is new or is new to them, but is not particularly done well to something that they’ve seen before but is done well. I have wondered is this why so many students or even professional artists are not very interested in learning technique, but just want to come up with what they think are wild and creative ideas. Wild and creative ideas are great, but unless there’s a way to execute them (i.e., technique), it is difficult to make art.
Not that my changing costumes while talking is really a classical element of any sort, but someone did point out to me that for 32 years on the children’s TV show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, the show began with Mr. Rogers coming in the door and changing into sneakers and a cardigan sweater while he sang directly to the audience.
On another element of the piece, I have been reminded that creating art is both a matter of hard work and happy accident, or in this case unhappy accident. Unable to get help from a videographer for the piece before the showing, I had tried to put together a mix of slides and video clips that I had into a certain (not to be named) piece of Apple software. The plan was to have this projected while I performed on stage. I put the file together, but then it kept cutting the video clips short. I spent hours trying to fix it 2 days before the showing. No luck. Then a friend who doesn’t know Macs, doesn’t know the particular software, and doesn’t know anything about presentations or video spent a good part of the day before the showing trying to figure it out, and finally made a suggestion that I was able to implement, and it worked. Fantastic! I would be able use the slides/video presentation for the showing. Then, at about 5 PM the day before the showing, the external hard drive that had the slide/video file stopped talking to my Mac. Arggh! The external hard drive also had most of the source material I was using on it (had been copied from dozens of other media). Back to square one. I didn’t sleep much that night, but was able to put together a few slides I could use. Exhausted, I went to bed for a few hours sleep and got up in time to turn the slides into a Quicktime Movie and then burn it to DVD. I’ve done this dozens of times, but this time, in a rush to make call time, it won’t work. After trying many things, running late, and frustrated and depressed that I wouldn’t have anything to show on the multi-media part of my work, I left Mac in hand and enjoyed 40 minutes of cursing Apple and the not-to-be-named software as I drove down the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10 for those of you who don’t know LA). Fortunately, Andrew knew how to hook my Mac up to the projector at Highways and at least what I was able to throw together at the night before was projected. Thanks Andrew.