Artwork #1: Score

Pranav Gopan Score #1 – Shared Fire / Shared Passion

Score:

Two people, one piece of canvas paper, one lighter

One person holds the canvas paper at a 45-degree angle.

The other person takes the lighter and makes a mark on the paper using the flame.

Switch roles after each mark is formed.

The game is over if the paper catches on fire.

The game is won if an image can be made.

 

Intimacy is like a dance. One person makes a move and the other mirrors with their own style. Repetition of this creates a flow between two people. The flow can be smooth and beautiful. A mutual understanding can build into something memorable and worthwhile. At the same time, a single mistake can break the rhythm. Once a delicate image can turn into something unrecognizable. And soon the flow between two people is gone altogether.

The idea behind this project is to reflect the nature of relationships. Two people have to work together in order to create a beautiful picture. I chose fire as the main element because of its relentless and unpredictable nature. To leave an elegant mark, one must hold the flame just at the right distance from the paper and just for the right amount of time. All while, the other person must steadily hold the paper. Relationships require care, attention, and trust. When done right, beautiful memories are formed. But a single mistake can make those memories disappear. Just like in this score, a single mistake can lead to the whole paper catching on fire and destruction of past marks.

I knew I wanted to work with fire after seeing Wolfgang Paalen’s work, Fumage, in class. I spent the past summer working on various fire paintings myself, so it was exciting to start another project. Since I couldn’t find a friend who was brave enough to work with fire, I’ve attached a video of me playing both roles, along with a few of my own pieces.

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Score – Amaël de Betak

Polaroid Painting

 

Take a picture using a polaroid camera.

Carefully remove the plastic film covering the picture using a blade of some kind.

Take a paintbrush and use the ink to paint the picture on the back of the polaroid frame.

 

 

The three main themes behind this score are rebirth, repurposing and time.

 

The theme of rebirth comes from the action of taking the picture and ‘killing’ it by cutting through it and removing its life, which can be thought of as the blood representing the blood of the picture. Then, the image is given a new life through the action of remaking it through a different technique and somewhat preserving the medium.

 

The theme of repurposing comes from this idea of taking something we are given and making something else out of it. One of the ways in which I view this score is somehow fulfilling a desire. When you take a picture, you are not exactly sure as to how it is going to come out, especially on a polaroid camera where there is no display and you simply have to rely on the image which one can see in the viewfinder. Therefore, when the picture comes out there is a chance that we are not satisfied with the outcome. This score allows you to take that polaroid and make something you want out of it by repainting the image with the memory of how you wanted it to be and not necessarily how it came out.

 

The final theme is time, which is obtained through the process of using a new-ish medium, as polaroid cameras have now been long surpassed by digital cameras, in order to give birth to an ancient medium, in this case, painting which has been present since at least 39,000 BCE with the first painting of a disc found in El Castillo.

 

The idea behind this score came from an art project which I had worked on where I was exploring the theme of emptiness and unfulfillment and decided to explore the medium of the polaroid. I had created a tryptic with one overexposed polaroid which was completely white, one polaroid which was taken in the total darkness of our school’s darkroom and one which was simply the frame of the polaroid painted using the ink from a picture.

Wanderlust Score

Wanderlust
On the third Friday of the month,
Take a bus to a place you have never heard of.

Disembark;
Walk until you cannot.

Await further instructions.

 

I had two intentions when I created this score: first, I wanted to share a sense of adventure (perhaps a sensation of feeling lost). This is an important element missing from day to day life–some of my fondest memories growing up are times spent in the Adirondack mountains upstate in New York. Wandering, exploring, getting carelessly lost, and occasionally hitchhiking back to my uncles’ farm are among the realest experiences I’ve had; perhaps these are the times in my life I’ve lived most attuned to Fluxus values.

My goal was to combine that feeling with my second intention: an intervention of instructions using humor (“that deadliest of weapons against all that is pompous, staid, and holy” Zhuangzi). Scores, essentially lists of instructions, always seemed to me a weird vehicle for Fluxus to employ. It’s strange that they would employ such an explicit means–although maybe that’s part of it? Details such as “the third Friday of the month” and the pseudo-poetic structure of the stanzas are meant to imply some ornate level of significance, when there is in fact none. It is part of a trap laid for the reader: a lure with the promise of adventure only to discover a dead end, a punishment for following instructions blindly without question.

Or at least that was my original, somewhat callous intention for the score. Later when shared in class numerous other interpretations opened my eyes to alternate possibilities. My favorite of these (in keeping with the theme of wanderlust) involved changing the line “walk until your legs give out” to “walk until you cannot”: a far more open-ended prompt. Subsequently, the final line “Await further instructions” becomes similarly open to interpretation–the instructions can come from anywhere, you’ll know them when they come.

It’s always cool when other perspectives can show me new ways to riff off of something I created. I’m starting to truly value the potency of collaboration.

Washing Cycle Score

Washing Cycle

1) Pick up a dirty laundry
2) Wash it until it’s clean
3) Throw it at any surface that would make it dirty and do one of the following
a)Pick up the laundry and repeat step 1-3
b)Leave the laundry

Development and Inspiration

The first iteration of my score is a simple three step instruction. The first step is to “pick up a dirty clothes”. The second step is to simply “wash it clean”. And the third and final step is “throw it in a dirty puddle”. My inspiration for this score came from the scores in Grapefruit. In Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit there is a lot of seemingly pointless and absurd scores and instructions. Scores that stand out to me are Water piece which just simply stated “water”. Another one is where it tells you to hide until everyone forgets about you and die. I wanted to make a score that seem pointless like washing a dirty clothes just to throw it away and make it dirty. During the class discussion people brought up a lot of good points and observation about my score. Such as the score could represent a cycle or breaking of it. And that there is no further instructions after the last step, where it’s up to the person. So I took in those ideas and made the final version of my score. I wanted to give a clear option to the person performing this score. One option will create a cycle and another with break it. I also changed some of the wording to give more freedom to the performer. I changed dirty clothes to dirty laundry so that they can use other things such as socks, pants or even backpack. I changed the dirty puddle part to any surface that would dirtied the laundry. The reason for this change is because during the discussion someone brought up the point of what if the performer couldn’t find a dirty puddle. All these changes would let the performer use any laundry and at anywhere.

Idea
My idea behind the score is the idea of redundancy and cycle. Everybody is technically already doing the first three steps in their everyday life. They got dirty laundry and they would wash it. Eventually the clothes gets dirty by touching multiple surfaces and then the cycle repeats again. This is why I made the score vague in terms of time. I did not tell the performer to do the step right after the other. I left out the words such as “then” and “finally” so that each step can be done at any time. Everyone is repeating the 3 step until they chose to leave the laundry. The option at the end is a representation of the option everyone has: an option to stop. But ending a cycle is difficult. For example a bad habit, people can tell you stop but it’s difficult. You’re not gonna stop unless you want it to. Like the dirty laundry why would you throw it away just because a score gave you an option to. Only reason you would want to is you choose it yourself.

Self-Portrait Score

Original: Self-Portrait

Place a mirror in front of you. Using a clean sheet of paper and a new pencil, draw what you see, sharpening as needed. Stop when your pencil disappears. Leave the drawing but remember to take everything else.

 

Final: Self-Portrait

Place a mirror in front of you so that you are looking at yourself without distraction. Using a clean sheet of paper and a new pencil, draw what you want without erasing. Sharpen as needed, stopping only when your pencil disappears. Leave the drawing but remember to take everything else.

 

This score was inspired by a lot of work stemming from East Asian Taoist and Buddhist art. The actual voice for the score was inspired by East Asian poetry. I wanted a piece that was very simple in concept, but difficult in execution. I wanted it to be a challenge for the performer, as well as a lesson of sorts. My main ideas were of introspection, self-concept, and self-healing. When I thought of this score, I intended for it to be repeatable, and meditative, and designed it as a form of meditation. In its first iteration, the main idea was that the performance should get more difficult as you draw as there is less you see to draw, and at this point you would need to search harder for what to draw. In the second iteration, after I attempted the performance myself, I realized that I wanted to make it a bit more intense of an experience, so I added the rule that you can’t erase, so everything you draw is permanent. During class, some comments were that the score was vague, which I intended, but I tightened it up a bit, adding the lines that the space should be free of distractions. Some people realized that by the way I worded it, that the performer didn’t need to draw themselves necessarily, so I took with that and changed it so they draw whatever they want and I also added that they need to see themselves in the mirror. After performing the score, I saw some additional themes of just the experience of life. Thinking about Dada and how they made equivalent both art and life, I thought about how the score was really about the experience of making art rather than the actual drawing itself, in the same way that perhaps life is more about the experience than about the actual content.

 

Final Drawing

 

Rishi

Don’t Panic (please)

Be muted. Say things you don’t mean.
Don’t worry about it though.
Be deafened. Hear things that aren’t always there.
You really shouldn’t be so hysterical.
Be blinded. See nothing you want to, and everything you don’t.
But don’t, like, panic or anything.

After reading many scores by Yoko Ono and others, I noticed a sort of poeticism to the words and phrases used, as well as the concepts themselves. For instance, the quiet romanticism of Yoko Ono’s Tape Piece III resonated quite strongly with me. I ended up approaching the writing of my score more like a freeform poem than a game or a performance like many people, probably because I am more comfortable in the realm of poetry than I am in performance art. I ended up being very focused on the flow of the language and the look of the words on the page, perhaps overly so.  In the process of designing my score, I ended up making several drafts with slight variations and comparing them to each other in terms of visual clarity and meaningfulness.

The message of my score evolved as I wrote it. My first intentions were to portray some kind of anxiety-ridden way of life, which is what the majority of people I showed it to read into it as well. As I rote, though, I was reminded or the old saying “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” and how that kind of behavior can often lead to evil taking power in a society. While I did enjoy the double meaning of my original score, I knew that, at least for my own purposes, I would have to choose one to lean into, mostly because of the how unrelated the two subjects were. Another, more tempting, solution would be to shift one or the other in some direction to relate them more closely to each other, either by drawing a parallel or juxtaposing something about them. After a lot of deliberation, I decided that taking the more personal angle would be much more impactful.

The path I chose was somewhat paradoxical: the instructions are at once demanding and condescending. The player is told to do things that remove control of their own lives from their hands, and then in the next breath they have their concerns dismissed as “worrying” and “hysteria.” This is meant to evoke the feeling of struggling with a total loss of control as someone with the responsibility, or at least the ability, to help fails to do so. The condescension toes the line of gaslighting at points, casually brushing off any reasons to panic or even worry, completely juxtaposed with the opposite lines’ instructions to give up all trust in your senses.

Recommended Daily Health Tips

Drink 8.4 ounces of water to start your day. Drink another 58.8 ounces throughout the day. Do not drink any more or any less. If you do, force yourself to regurgitate, measure its volume, and replenish only the correct amount. 

Ingest exactly 2000 calories. Ingest only fatty fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and eggs. If you fail to comply, pump your stomach and start over.

Vigorously exercise for 60 minutes. Do not take breaks. Do not stop. If your weak body passes out, get help, catch your breath, and then finish the remaining minutes of exercise. 

Sleep exactly 9 hours. If you are having trouble falling asleep it is acceptable to use a tranquilizer. If you are having trouble waking up, sleep on an off-balance chair and create a complex rig to tip you over at the right time. 

Repeat the following day. 

Artist Statement

My score was inspired by the modern idea of a perfect “healthy” lifestyle. I sought to subvert the idea of not only an exact, unmoving, empirically proven standard for “health” by rigidly sticking to commonly accepted, ideal recommendations to the point that it’s obviously ridiculous. Obviously, nobody measures their water intake in ounces and calorie labels are inherently unspecific and variable– by focusing on complete precision it’s obvious that one would have to go to extreme ends to even fulfill the score. For many people it would even be reactively dangerous to attempt it: people with nut allergies, diabetes, or low blood pressure, for example.

Moreover, I think a lot of these recommendations also fail to acknowledge ethnic and cultural differences. They’re often researched by, on, and commanded forward by white people; framing these as universal matrixes uphold a euro-centric white supremacist worldview. Additionally, a lot of these health recommendations both not cisgendered and differently abled people– the idea of an average “healthy” weight, BMI, height, etc. (especially when divided by sex) marginalizes a lot of people for it would simply be impossible to maintain said standards.

In the language of the writing itself I chose an authoritarian, overbearing tone– I find that the social pressure to maintain these healthy lifestyle is often presented in a way that shames and attacks people that can’t or don’t want to follow it. Following authoritarian tactics, the score barks orders and then disproportionately punishes the failure to follow them. My own experiences with authoritarianism has also taught me that incredibly often totalitarian governments will also maintain ironically inefficient, nationalist or sectionalist policies– I tried to mimic this with the chair rig suggestion.

 

Score Artwork 1

Keyboard Piece

(For one or more keyboards)


Begin in silence

Turn off your computer 

Type what you’d never say aloud

Type your secrets

Type your hatred and type your love

Turn your computer on

 

This idea came from something that I actually do as an outlet. I wasn’t sure how exactly I wanted to turn it into a score because when I do it I don’t always turn my computer off, sometimes I’ll type onto an imaginary keyboard on a desk or an unplugged keyboard, or just a keyboard with no typing application open. I find it thought-provoking as an idea that physically manifests your secrets while knowing that no one will really ever know what it was that you typed. I initially had the idea of typing it into a keyboard that you would then destroy but I wanted to tone it down into something that was easier to do for a classroom setting. I also didn’t find that much significance in the destruction of the keyboard, since what you typed was in no way represented by the physical keyboard itself. I thought it would make an interesting score since it would hopefully be cathartic for people. When we discussed it in class we talked about how the score itself provokes most of the thought that will probably come about when performing it. However, since then I turned it into a score that can also be performed by multiple people at once. Unfortunately, since making this decision I won’t have been able to try it out before class, but I expect that it will add another layer of depth to the score. As everyone stays silent, and all at the same time are typing out their worst secrets, crushes, things or people they hate, there will be a special energy in the room. And as people finish typing what they wanted to, their computers will turn on one-by-one or maybe a couple at the same time. It is similar to many of the scores that we looked at in and outside of class in that while it is a set of directions, it leaves a lot up to the performer. Each performance will likely be different, and no two people will have the same experience from it. 

Elena Kosowski’s Score: Path of Unnamed Faces

Score:

Walk along a path

  1. a) Walk for 1 minute
  2. b) Walk for 3 minutes
  3. c) Walk for a year

Observe and stare at the people you pass by

When you reach the end, sketch the people you saw with as much detail as you can

No video or camera allowed

Do it with a friend; compare and discuss your sketches

Erase everything

 

 

 

Artist Statement:

I came up with the basis of my score while walking across the Ruggles train station. I noticed that while I walked, I passed so many unique and diverse people. A couple minutes after that walk, however, I would completely forget all of them. This short experience made me wonder exactly how many people I’ve passed by and immediately forgotten in my life. These people I’ve passed may have meant so little to me, but they mean so much to others. To someone else, I was one of these insignificant people.

I wanted my score to repeat this experience. People will walk along a path and must pay attention to the people who pass them. They are encouraged to observe as much detail about this person as they can. After the walk, they must sketch what they remember. I wanted to make it clear in the score that use of video and cameras during this activity were prohibited. You aren’t supposed to know how accurate your memory is at the end. You may feel like you’ve forgotten to draw a particular person, and this uncertainty is part of the experience. The duration of the activity I think is an interesting addition. It is much easier to remember all the people you’ve met only a minute ago than three minute ago. A year is considered impossible. Lastly, the act of erasing all the sketches at the end symbolize erasing them from your memory altogether.

When I performed this score in order to test it, I did it with my friend Ariana. I think the best part of the experience afterwards was comparing our sketches. Ariana would notice and remember people I couldn’t recall in the slightest. The details we remembered were different too. While I would remember people based on their shirt colors or hair, Ariana would remember them based on race or the accessories they had. At one point we passed someone that I recognized from my English class, but to Ariana they were a complete stranger.  During this activity it was very sunny, and I wore sunglasses while Ariana did not. Ariana commented that she felt like she made people uncomfortable because she was noticeably staring at them. I had not experienced this issue.

One Minute Activity: Elena’s (first) and Ariana’s (second)

Three Minute Activity: Elena’s (first) and Ariana’s (second)

 

Appropriation Project – Score

My score was inspired by the disjointed and wandering progression of Yoko Ono’s scores in her book Grapefruit, the similarly disjointed and wandering of my own mind. The score is supposed to emulate the way my ADD causes my mind to regularly repeat, fail, and stall as I try to complete both simple and complex tasks. Yoko Ono’s scores reminded me of that process because of its often abrupt changes in direction and tone, as well as its occasional repetition and abstract directions.

Another component that inspired me was how Ono’s scores didn’t always have conclusions, and when they did, they were  either abstract or ambiguous. Those vague endings related to the cyclical concept I wanted to put into my score, so I decided to end my score in such a way that the ending was open-ended and also ambiguous enough that the score could just be read over and over (almost) seamlessly.

I was also in part inspired by Jeanann Verlee’s poem “Good Girl”, specifically the portion that reads:

Every morning I sit at the kitchen table over a tall glass of water swallowing pills. […] (So I remember the laundry.) (So I remember to call.) (So I remember the name of each pill.) (So I remember the name of each sickness.)

It is a very good representation of the uses of medication and by extension a representation of the simple things that can be lost or forgotten through illness.

Sit down

Take out a piece of paper

Look up at the ceiling

Take out another piece of paper

Stare at the paper

Stand up and walk back and forth

Think about the paper

Cry

Throw away both papers

Sit down

Think about crying

Take out another piece of paper

Throw away the paper

Sit down