Find the Fountain, audio explorations

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To talk about these tracks separately might have helped the curious see the explorations that I have achieved through Adobe Premiere Pro and the simple interface and mechanics of nesting and layering. Alas, I don’t take great notes and tend to get excited and improvise and impulsively copy and paste, making the process obscured by randomness.

With these videos, I’m doing visual and audio explorations. Techniques with visual: turbulence, distort, tint, contrast and brightness, magnify, and blending modes. In most of them, I repeat a one minute video.

Audio explorations: I use field recordings (using a binaural microphone mostly, but there’s a hydrophone–mono that I also use). I worked with performers: David Samas, Dani Robison, Cory Harrison to get some sounds from real instruments in less controlled environments (there’s a bird or two in the tracks). I also play a few. In this playlist, there is a calimba, glass harp, double bass, clarinet, xylophone, and piano. There are tracks with rain, water, and rattle sounds. There’s one track with soft-spoken gibberish and another with singing gibberish.

For the distortion of the tracks. Some sounds are slowed down (never sped up). Some when I slow them down I maintain the pitch. Some of the clips are clipped down to a single note (or phoneme) and others I let go and you hear more of the improvisation of the performers.

Planning, I generally have an idea of what I want to find out. No, sometimes, I just like surprising myself. I recently had a composing lesson that covered cypher notation using numbers (used in gamelan, but other things too, I imagine). It makes sense for me because I’m really unconcerned with pitch at this point and just want to create intervals. Also it’s way easier to read, write, and translate than dots on lines. In some of the tracks, one can hear the four bars of four counts. With three others doing half notes and then whole notes (or whatever, just the idea of different paces).

I found that: it feels more coherent when I use fewer instruments and when I map out how the track will go on paper before opening the app, I’m more ready to decide something is done than slapping on other stuff. I think the star of this playlist is the glass harp. The notes are sustained in such a way that create a limitlessness to it. Unlike percussion that is hit, or wind instruments, the glass harp (with two hands and some water) can be sustained for longer with a same volume. There’s a beating that I find irresistible and organic.

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Two Volumes of Coloring

I was at the The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse and found a sketchbook that is the exact right size for zine pages. I created over 40 drawings for two volumes of a coloring book. I divided them into two books, one titled “This Bequest of Wings” and the other, “The Grass Divides as with a Comb”. Lately I’ve been enjoying making the titles of things from Emily Dickinson poems. They are so lyrical and feel very contemporary still.

For sale (or was) at Dog Eared Books. They are an interesting bookstore because they buy their zines outright, and they only took one of each, so if they are still there, what a treat!

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Making Your Plants Meditate, a Workshop

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How this came about: I was walking around in Oakland and I read a sandwich board sign with a bunch of workshop titles. I thought it said Making Your Plant Meditate. I thought that would be cool and funny. It was Making Your Plant Medicine, but I decided to see if there was interest for the Plant Meditation workshop anyway.

When I went to drop off the zine with the event outline in it, Justin Carder of E.M. WOLFMAN asked me if I wanted to host a workshop and I was like yeah, ok, makes sense. Surrogate Plants Provided By Oakland.Secret

I had this idea that I would invite some people to perform in between exercises pieces 10-15 minutes long. This was my first event like that and I’m grateful for the people who worked with me on this and to Ben Unger for sound engineering the event.

 

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above is a still from the only visual documentation from the event @movementstudy on Instagram: “performed some movement to accompany some sounds at plant meditation workshop hosted by @katcountiss 2day 🌱”

~~event description~~

 

E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore

410 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612

Saturday, March 18th, 2:30-4:30pm

Suggested Donation $5-$10 (proceeds to artists)

Commemorative workbook for sale

 

We are thrilled to host the first Making Your Plants Meditate workshop, featuring live performances by Plant Meditators

 

~~~

 

NEW TO PLANT MEDITATION?

Do plants meditate? Do they want to meditate? Do they want? Plant meditation is a highly speculative field and we will begin to explore through mindfulness and experimentation.

 

~~~

 

OUTLINE OF THE WORKSHOP

A condensed version of the 6-week course, this workshop aims to begin the process of creating a practice between human attendees and plants that expands definitions and liberates paradigms– with a focus on sound and language.

 

Bring your plant. Surrogate plants will also be available.

We start on time, so please arrive 10-15 minutes early.

 

Below is the copy from the zine that can be used for future workshops and you can try it at home!

Relax your:

roots shoots stems leaves stamen anthers ovules fruits flowers seeds nodes stomatas veins buds axils pedicels bracts bracteoles sepals petals perianths tepals corollas hypanthiums nectaries androceiums gynoeciums filaments pistils stigmas pollens styles alates bark branches bulbs cladodes corms cuticles lenticels prickles rhizomes scandents piths stolons tendrils thorns tubers petioles and stipules

 

Draw your companion plant

Draw an imaginary plant

 

Group Exercise: Calming – Focus: thought and disassociation

Goals: Through language ~ creating new thoughts ~ repetition leading to clarity

Action:

  1. List seven words/phrases on the tear-offs.
  2. Tear them off and take one of them and pass the rest to your left
  3. Pick one from the pile you receive and pass to the left
  4. Repeat until you have seven word/phrases
  5. Say them out loud or silently, repeat through a specified time duration (ex. 1 min, 5 min, 10 min).
  6. Mix them up and find the order that resonates with you.
  7. Share

 

Exercise: Listening and Consent – Focus: friendship

Goals: By practicing patience, gentleness and consent, we become better companions. By listening through different devices, our perceptions shift, creating room for new paradigms.

Action:

  1. Focus on the plant. Feel its presence. Can you receive? Does it want to be engaged with you? Let’s practice “no”s. Pretend you received a “no” biev. That’s fine. Look down, bow, and back away slowly.
  2. Focus on the plant. Feel its presence? Proceed to attach a contact microphone (or some other device you would like to use). Observe its textures and sounds.

 

Exercise: B. e .  a . t  . – Focus: Rhythm and Energy

Goals: Using time intervals, we create boundaries like play pens. We are able to explore a kind of controlled carefreeity in this newfound space.

Action:

  1. Listen to some tracks with beats, or no beats.
  2. Feel time passing in these measured intervals.
  3. Imagine using these set times again and again. What would you do?
  4. Write out some times, perhaps use the minutes and seconds that you’ll do something on piece(s) of paper.
  5. Write out something that you’ll do. Shout, whisper, speak, read, play, dance, feel.

 

Exercise: Scales and Scores- Focus: Map to Ritual

Goals: With materials and elements listed, we may dream how they fit together on a page using fresh notation systems/ text/ graphic/ etc.

Action:

  1. Brainstorm some elements: mood, time, spectrum (scale, what do you want to use to create a variety of a thing?), materials, spatial exploration
  2. Create a time duration and consider using a time grid or another way to notate time.
  3. Plot out what you want to happen when.
  4. Try it out. Feel free to write parts for other people in the workshop.

 

Exercise: Observation -Focus: memory

Goals: We experince the world every day. Taking notes allows what we perceive through are senses to marinate as we experience other things. Writing is a way of seasoning how we move through memory.

Action:

  1. What have you been thinking about lately? Take this ten minutes to write it out. Let yourself observe yourself without editing (you can do that later).
  2. (Later) Review what you’ve written and lightlyte what seems worth thinking about some more.

 

Exercise: Create Your Own Experiments – Focus: Process

Goals: Scientists use experiments to develop their understanding of change over time. Allow yourself to wonder about what if. By approaching experiments in a minimalist mindset (aka doing something boring) you might find ideas come to you in that calmness.

Action:

  1. List out contexts for your practice. Consider: materials, action, proof of concept, variables, duration, theme, role models, allies, and a deadline.

 

Video

zinemypm <- read this for the bios of the musicians for the March 18th workshop and thanks again to  E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore in Oakland, CA. The audio has been unedited. The creaking you’ll hear is from the rustic floorboards. Featuring: Dani Robison, c a a s i l k, Dan Gottwald, Cassidy Barnes, and Elana Chavez.

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Making Your Plants Meditate and Other Selected Works Zine

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Bad photo alert

I made a 8-pieces of paper folded in half zine. That’s 32 pages if you include the cover. I was inspired by my coworker at the chocolate factory. She’s a zine-maker.

I handwrote poems and recent performance works and a description for a workshop that I am going to run called “Making Your Plants Meditate.”I also included collages I made using an old Life Magazine (classic weird stuff in those, always).

It was a new process working with the photocopiers at FedEx. I liked the feeling tho. Considering that I have two years of formal graphic design training, it was great not using any of those computer programs to create the zine.

It was liberating when I decided that my new zine should just be called “Selected Works.” I am working on a variety of things and couldn’t figure out how to consolidate a theme. Some stuff in there: John Cage’s Ten Rules, A collage that says “A Demon Dog Made You Do It”, poem called “Moon Valentine” and more!

 

It’s for sale at EM Wolfman for $5.

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Dance Therapy Notes and Performance

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A page from my notebook, feedback from the Field on Dance Therapy

Dance Therapy (this particular exercise) is highly dancer dependent. I really appreciated the feedback. That day I was feeling a bit under the weather, didn’t get enough sleep and so I just went through the motions on some of the prompts and it showed. It was a good thing to get these notes before the performance.

The performance went well. Afterwards a teacher came up to me and said she was inspired to do a version of Dance Therapy for her students in elementary school. One person said I totally “hammed it up.” There was a prompt where the good thing of the week was “sliding through the mud at Strawberry Canyon” and the corresponding movement was me on the floor, joyously pretending to breast stroke, and paddle and make mud angels.

I split my pants on stage. They were just my street pants and I was enthusiastically going down to a prayer pose for a movement based off of a good moment sharing a difficult time and getting support. I’m gonna get some nice dance pants soon. Still, I regret no photos of me dancing were taken during the sessions. I’m planning on doing this exercise and documenting the movements.

Some of the Field were asking about how I came up with the movements. In the process of getting the prompts, I occasionally ask questions to get a clear idea in my notes that I then scatter about the stage. A lot of it feels like charades, where you find something to communicate, something part of the scene unfolding visually in my head and just go for it and make changes, improv.

Some memorable moments from my point of view over the 6 times Dance Therapy has been performed

  • prompt: conversation with son about college tuition | movement: gesturing the movement of the tassel on the mortarboard hat becoming heavy and drug around like a ball and chain
  • prompt: being sick | movement: lying down on the stage for a long satisfying while without moving.
  • prompt: finding a parking spot at the women’s march | movement: miming being in a car and walking around the stage in perpendicular directions (like streets)

 

 

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Dance Therapy #3

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This week’s Dance Therapy (last Sunday)

I asked everyone (small session, only 5 people) the best parts and worst parts of their weeks, jotting a few words for each on a receipt roll and then ripped it up and scattered the moments, folded on the floor, announcing each as I picked up the scraps and read them, putting some in my pocket and throwing others back on the floor and doing a little movement for each until all were in my pocket. For those familiar with improv, this idea was inspired by the game Blind Line, where the audience suggests lines and then they are strewn about the stage and randomly interjected.

Feedback, the audience remarked on the unpredictability, would it be a good or bad one? and the phrasing, some movements were literal, abstract, etc.

After the session, one of the field members suggested to me that I try a summarizing sequence where I put all the moves (I can remember) into a dance at the end. I think I’ll try that.

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Moon Valentine

Moon Valentine is a performance piece I developed based on my own experiences with what some would call bipolar (read manic episode). It has sound art (live and pre-recorded), projection art, prop work, improv (I used a wireless mic for the first time), and audience participation.

 

Process

I signed up for another quarter of the RAW (Resident Artist Workshop) with SAFEhouse for the Arts in San Francisco. I created Moon Valentine inspired by my desire to process my psychotic break I had two years ago into art. It was also in January that I went to the Emergency Room and then the Psych Ward to begin treatment of a slow building shift from reality. In Moon Valentine, I portray this in 4 parts.

Moon Valentine

projection

The piece starts off with a poem I wrote based off of drawings that I made (in the projection art). Numbers are prominent in this poem. It talks about being 5 together or when I was 3 and you were 6. I like that it might imply age, but for me at the time of my mind going, I had come out to my friends as a plural being. Later on in the piece, I was going to talk about the 9 god-children that came out of my mental processes at the time, but I didn’t get there. I think it deserves more time and thought for mapping that out. I went to Ocean Beach to film the waves, particularly the sea foam left by the waves receding. I’ve been into using receipt tape rolls to write poetry on. They give a sense of length that remind me of journeys and how art is a map to a mental journey.

Spaceship

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I commissioned Cassidy to do an audio piece about my spaceship cruising and crashing. I made these forking lines on notebook sheets and laid them out on the floor. I also handed out small cups of rice and soft card protectors as sound props for the audience. I enjoyed the sounds of the people making noise around me while I was quiet.

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basking in the sounds

Jungle

plantingIn my story to connect the different scenes, the spaceship lands on a planet where I plant seeds (Styrofoam balls) in my home-world’s soil (scraps of ribbon I took home from work– I do ribbon tying at work and we trim the ends and these things usually go in the trash). My seed carrying case was a silver shower cap. There’s a part where I sing a wordless song. That’s a nod to when I went mental. I was inspired to sing a lot. I felt like it filled the air with meaning and beauty. The way I asked to go to the hospital was through song. This section is also about how I moved from Seattle to the Bay Area a little while after and I had to leave a lot of my things and friends at a time when I was very vulnerable and not all there.

I read a poem that’s mostly gibberish but also has little snippets like “theory one” and “they are” and “must not”– hinting at a dire line of thinking, trying to communicate– navigate– in a world where people tell you you’re not making sense and when you try to explain they just look at you with sad eyes.

The Institution

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In this section, I recruited two audience members (scientists), suited them with lab coats, and briefly demonstrated how to “diagnose” people. They cuffed (using a stapler) audience members with receipt tape with hand-written words like “becoming” and “gift present” and “beauty sail”. The previous night I had diagnoses that were positive and negative. I talked to the diagnosing scientist afterwards and said that he did not give out the negative ones like “broken.”

Special Thanks

This was a “one-woman” show but by no means was I the only one on the team. Dmitriy helped with prop sourcing, Cassidy was the projector operator, mic dresser, hair dresser and make up artist and composer of a section of the prerecorded audio. Ben encouraged me to use the wireless mics to create some live audio (and helped me procure them). Cory was costume consultant. James worked the tech booth and a great thanks for SAFEhouse for the Arts, giving me an opportunity to create and perform.

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