Moonlight Dancing

This is a unique poem. It was written by MissyPoem and me using Twitter. We wrote it as an improvisation exchanging lines through tweets using a hashtag #mmpoem. We chose to write it on the public timeline quite deliberately after deliberating because we felt our friends would enjoy seeing the poem emerge through our exchanges. We had no set shape or direction – just two themes – dancing and love. The writing became a dance between us. Our poem  is performance art.

In the Moonlight

Her sad eyes shone
only in the moonlight,
she danced beneath
the silver canopy of rain kissed leaves.
Her sadness turned to joy
when she started to dance,
the earth turned to dark green velvet
at the touch of her sweet feet,
no storm could stop her dancing
her desire was endless…

Her nostrils flared greedy for his scent,
she sensed it in the air,
She knew him and knew his pace,
felt him from distances.

The warm air caressed life
into every pore of her skin,
every drop of rain
reminded her of the past tears,
of long melancholy nights
spent walking in the woods
searching, wishing on the moon,
walking on the path of emotions
at the end of dreams
in the moonlight.

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The Abyss

Scroll III

On the brink
of the abyss
vertigo’s
white noise
tugs at me

invisible forces
dark matter holds
all in balance
while supernovas spit
gold and platinum

Further into the abyss
back through time
galaxies collide
to birth more stars
sweet inscriptions of Shiva

Quasar
deep in the abyss
swirling  cauldron of light
surrounding a heart of darkness
slowly devouring all in the visible universe

Solstice Night

Dotted on the surface  people watch
orbital ellipses eclipse in love
while holly and ivy,
green promises of the turning Earth
decorate the hearth
on Solstice night.

Ancestral souls in close orbit
sing celestial madrigals,
raise candles high
to celebrate
surrender to the universe
on Solstice night.
Raise your cup
to find redemption
as harmony
in celestial spheres
promises  love and light
on Solstice night.

Drifting in floating streets

I am going to pick up from where I left off in the last post. Once again thanks to your generosity I have had much to ponder. I really enjoyed Remittance Girl’s post about her experience of taking virtual crowds on guided tours. This brought to mind conversations I had with many people when I was leading the team that created the Poetry4u project. I wanted to use the invisible electromagnetic signals to be a conduit of enhancing our sense of place rather than a distraction.Let me digress a little to explain how this project came about.

The use of mobile phones in public spaces arouses feelings of disgust in many people if we are to believe tabloid media such as talk back radio. About eight years I started observing people and their mobiles on trains.  I observed that people engaged in place making activities with their phones almost as a tactic to claim their place in was is essentially a heterotopic non-place. I also observed that people seemed to be present in a bodily sense but were somehow absent because their attention was somewhere else. Even their eyes seemed to be looking at something I could not see. This later turned into an academic study and published papers.

So the genesis of an idea came to me out of this work. Can we use these wonderful multifunctional devices to draw peoples attention to the physical place they were in?  Can we use them for art? I began to explore these questions through observation, experience and seeking out what others thought and did. I am now in the happy position to be able to say with complete confidence yes and yes! My passion for drifting was now justified and the app is in its final testing phases.  And now we have the capability to drift in the geographic and digital floating worlds almost simultaneously.

We still tend to think in terms of producers and consumers though, even with art making. We speak about artists and viewers, writers and readers, filmmakers and audience and so on. Yet if we read RG’s account closely, she is not talking of herself as separate from her interlocutors.  She talks about a transformational performance process. I have also experienced what she describes and I am sure many of you have as well.

I suggest that this is a shift in communication and the ability to share photographs at the push of a couple of virtual button is an important factor in this shift. Furthermore, I propose that this ability to share and converse while engaged in the act of passing through places, may indeed, encourage us to look at things we had overlooked or taken for granted or even never noticed. The images we take, as Modernistdream  points out in his post called Mobile Photography: not drowning waving lie in between writing and photography:

“But in a sea of online voices and avatars, these digital photos are like hands breaking the waves, they are reminders of the physical world and our need to talk about human experience. Such photos are the evidence of our endeavours and adventures.”

The streets are now  floating worlds which we can drift through in a doubled way literally: under, over, through, between geographic places, geo-coordinates and radio signals to create new social spaces.  And the humble camera phone with its supposed inferior resolution is our paper and pencil as well as a photography apparatus.

Drifting with a camera phone: Place or Time

In recent posts, I have been describing my process and experience of walking with a camera phone. I have just read over these posts and your wonderful comments. I am a self-confessed flaneur and people watcher. I find myself embodying the photographer described by Susan Sontag:

The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world ‘picturesque.” (On Photography, Susan Sontag, 1977,  pg. 55)

The camera phone, for me, is a wonderful way of capturing what I see and what I don’t see. Armed with my camera, I do cruise city landscapes and experience a wide range of feelings including joy, disgust and empathy. In an earlier post I spoke about a series of images I had put together from my drifting around the Old Quarter in Hanoi. In it I spoke about the ability of a video camera to capture what is not directly in the field of vision. However, even though I may not be looking at what the camera is seeing, I am still there at the time of capture. The flaneur and place and time are inextricably linked. Urbanscapes have points of similarity to rivers in that you will never experience it in the same way twice nor will you video or photograph them in exactly the same way twice. There are numerous projects where people capture the same landscape from the same geo-coordinates each day to testify to this. I share their fascination for the mundane and slight shifts in nuances, be it light, people or other patinas of place that transpire over time.

In another post I spoke about my creative  practice. This drew some fascinating musings from unremarkable_m (M_blanc). These passages struck me as I was rereading the post and comments:

“The speed at which this perceptive and physical transition is occurring, leaves much open by way of assessing the nature of ‘artistic process’. This is because of the fundamental shift in how a tool is no longer just a tool, but an experiential catalyser of time and relevance.” and “Photography used to be a process that was as much about time as about the experience of the image and the resonance it brought to the viewer of the personality of the artistic eye behind the lens. Time as process is no longer relevant, rather the immediacy and ease of access that offers the aspirational potential of the art form to millions of users, who, in turn, can access a world wide audience within seconds, cultivates within and of itself in intrinsic an implicit negative attribution of irrelevance.”

I felt the post was a commentary on the smart phone with its internet capabilities and participation in a context defined by postmodernity that had a tangential relation to creative practice. Postmodernity privileges the spatial ever the temporal according to Jameson. The response was about the temporal and seemed to be telling me something about my practice of drifting with a camera phone.

To unpack this further, I thought about the ways in which Modernistdream and I had conceptualised our practice, for our work is conceptual as well as thematic. In a post called the Slow Aesthetic he unpacks some of the techniques we have used for after all, the camera is a tool for us. What struck upon reflection is that our process is very much time based.  Photography remains as a process that is about time. This has not changed thus time is just as relevant now.  Our work is as much about moving through places as it is about the places themselves. Motion and movement  presuppose time. Video is a time based media.

And the smart phone is perhaps, “an experiential catalyser of time and relevance” as well as a tool because affords the possibility of disseminating  _content_ to potentially huge audiences should a particular work strike a chord of relevance. Although her response seems to be not so much about the camera’s ubiquity or aesthetics for creative practice as  the politics of immediacy and consumerism, it is relevant because camera phones add extra dimensions to drifting including publishing material on the fly which in turn is dependent on time.

I have noticed this phenomenon on Twitter that uses photographs and drifting: the practice of taking followers on guided tours through urban landscapes. I do not feel that immediacy necessarily detracts from aesthetics.  For example, Remittancegirl, on her recent visit to London did just that. She would use geo-location and post photos with descriptive captions to show us her experience of London – sort of like instant mass postcards on the move.

So to return to Sontag’s quote, I feel that the camera phone definitely adds to the joys of drifting through the urban landscapes, well for me anyway.