Third Friday Performance@Durham Arts Council   July 21st  7:15pm                          

Jan Ru Wan and Megan Bostic collaborated on the current DAG show entitled Reconstructing Existence: I Create Therefore I am which will run through August 12th at the Durham Arts Council. This coming Friday, July 21st, Jody Cassell will present a movement piece in response to their work. Jody will be accompanied by dejacusse’ new soundscape The Drone of Aggrievement along with improvisations by vocalist Shana Adams and Morgan Fleming on violin. The performance will run from 7:15 to 8ish.

The art that you will experience that evening arises from a deep grief that enveloped the artists following the loss of a parent. Jan Ru, Megan and Jody have discovered mediums, forms, textures, patterns and relationships through found and intermingled objects and movement to allow their grief a public expression. Each person’s journey with grief is a singularity that we can witness and resonate with. The graceful power of these expressions of grief invite the audience members to reflect on their own grieving.

This is the third collaboration for Jan Ru, Jody and I; and our second with Megan. The first was in 2013 in the Seimans Gallery at Durham Arts Council. Resolving the Disquiet was the raw stage of grief where the memories of the parent’s presence and the shock of their loss was felt. Then last October at VAE in Raleigh, Jan Ru Wan created Separation and in-between an installation that was about reflection and connections across time and space. Jody and I improvised movement and sound offerings for both of these exhibits. Here is a link to more about the VAE show:  http://wp.me/p5yJTY-fd

The DAC show focuses on a renewed existence through creativity. The grief remains but brings energy and muse in relation to “what is.” The show is beautifully curated and very sculptural.

For this exhibit, I was inspired to create a drone in a carnatic scale that begins on Bb. Bb is the tonal center of much of the natural world. Cricket and frog calls, cicada songs and other more drone-like nature sounds tend to resonate in B or Bb. The drone is made up of long tones from this scale in large interval relationships. The 11th Harmonic is worked in to help disrupt any stuck energy.  I chose voices that pull at the heart (woodwinds and strings) and created audio effect racks to destabilize and texturize the sound. Wind is a featured sound texture along with snipping scissors, keystrokes, and Jody’s voice reading bits of her performance piece  Walking to Nairobi.  Shana and Morgan will improvise along with and independently of the soundscape – all as accompaniment to Jody Cassell’s dance piece.

Please join us this Friday, July 21, at the Durham Arts Council DAG Gallery at 7:15 pm.

The Gift of Nature’s Chord 

Nature’s Chord is an organizational framework for all frequencies, AND any periodic reoccurrence can be converted to frequencies and studied as this patterned relationship. In his book The Cosmic Octave, Hans Cousto, the maverick mathematician and scientist, demonstrates the formula for converting any periodic function to an audible frequency. He explains that “The period of oscillation and its frequency stand in a relation of inverse proportionality, thus period = 1/frequency and frequency = 1/period. The reciprocal value of a period of time represents its frequency…” You find the reciprocal value of a given period by dividing the number into one. This value is then multiplied by 2 until the number reaches the audible frequency range. Then you can find the tonal correspondence to the periodic function that you just converted.

For example, the speed of light is 186,000 miles per 1 second. “Miles per second” is a dead giveaway that this measurement is a periodic function. (Actually almost any measurement would qualify.) 1/186000 = 0.000005376344086 x 2 to the 25th power = 180.4 hz which is F#/185 hz (-3.6 discrepancy). So the tone for the speed of light is F#. Cousto converts time periods (days, years, etc), planetary orbits, distances between the stars into frequencies. The mathematics point to a potential resonant frequency for any periodic function.

In a recent blog post on The Law of the Octave, I pointed out that our Universe is held together and moved along by vibrations. Even a cursory reading of contemporary quantum physics supports this idea. Nature’s Chord allows access to and influence upon the vibrational Universe. As a painter of sound, a lover of diversity, and a harmonic healer, this is one exciting discovery. This is a way to sonify and present information, bring the resonant frequencies of relationships into harmony, and generally engage with the overall vibration of any situation.

So, I am looking around for periodic data to sonify using the Law of the Octave and Nature’s Chord/Scale. In 11th Harmonic, I used the reveletory research that Dr. Anthony Holland presented in his TED talk on the use of the 11th harmonic in “disrupting ” the cellular structure of tumors. Of course, the frequencies he is dealing with are super high electrical frequencies. When we apply the Law of The Octave, the electrical frequencies can be converted into audible frequencies. Then through the template of Nature’s Chord, we discover that the 11th harmonic is the fifth above the Fundamental Frequency in the fourth harmonic octave. So the 11th Harmonic soundscape begins with those long spacious intervals. I chose four whole tone tetrachords and then paired them with the fifth in the fourth octave. Within the first four octaves of Nature’s Chord lies two more fifths and the third and flatted seventh. When you start swinging these intervals around, more tetrachordal relationships emerge. It is a firework of harmonics when moving quickly, then a luxurious web of sound swaying in the breeze at slower paces. Here is a little excerpt of 11th Harmonic as played on April 4th to reset the time fractal and disrupt the stuck energy behind war and violence.

And, sure enough, Trump bombed Syria. (And the butterfly flaps its wings.) The 11th Harmonic disrupts and moves the energy without any particular outcome except dislodging and moving the energy. (Which is why Dr. Holland does not say the 11th harmonic “cures” cancer. It disrupts the integrity of the cancer cells.) And, at the same time, Nature’s Chord and the Acoustic Scale express beautiful, harmonious sonic relationships, within which the change is happening. That is the vibe! As these magical relationships are expressed with open-hearted loving intentions, entrainment happens and the vibration rises up. And, it happens in mysterious ways. Entrainment is alot like God, like Love.

While I was writing this post, Trudie asked, “Did you know that the Hindu creation myth says that the world was created through sound?” No, I did not! Research revealed several Hindu creation myths – hooray for multiple potential beginnings without needing one to be right!  Here is one of the creation stories from Hindu mythology.

Before this time began, there was no heaven, no earth and no space between. A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of the night. A giant cobra floated on the waters. Asleep within its endless coils lay the Lord Vishnu. He was watched over by the mighty serpent.

Everything was so peaceful and silent that Vishnu slept undisturbed by dreams or motion. From the depths a humming sound began to tremble, Aum. It grew and spread, filling the emptiness and throbbing with energy.

Aum, or Om

The night had ended, Vishnu awoke.

History is, in part, the periodic oscillation of humanity falling asleep into the larger, darker dream and then awakening into the light of self-awareness. We are riding the wave of an awakening time right now. Pay attention to what and to whom you give your attention. Our moment -to -moment awareness is our most valuable currency.  Do not squander it on guilt and sacrifice. Do not squander it on exploiting and manipulating others. DO, yes, DO give your attention to all that is in your present moment. Give it to the joy, beauty, harmony, pain, suffering and dissonance that is within each moment of our existence. Breathe. Wait for instructions. Remember vibration. Dance and sing, move and vocalize however you are able. (In the head works, too)

Allow the awakening to unfold!

Separation and in-between – Jan-Ru Wan @ Visual Arts Exchange

Photo by Jan-Ru Wan

Several years ago, Jody Cassell and I performed a sound and movement work at the opening of Jan-Ru Wan’s collaborative installation entitled Resolving the Disquiet at the Durham Arts Council. Jody and Jan-Ru had connected over their mutual grieving around the deaths of their respective fathers. Grief was the focus of the exhibit that featured visual and performance work by two other artists, as well. In a recent email exchange Jan-Ru said that what motivated her to focus on grief in her art was the way Western culture encourages hidden grieving. Both Jody and Jan-Ru have connected with a public that is crying out to come together in a shared grieving process.

This weekend at Raleigh’s First Friday event, we will once again collaborate in a new exhibit Separation and in-between, which approaches grief from another point of view. In the time since the DAC exhibit, my youngest brother died and Jody has accompanied her Mother through many changes of aging. Both Jody and Jan-Ru continue to carry their fathers as well. Time and reflection change the shape, texture and weight of grief.

Jan-Ru’s Artist Statement inspired Jody’s movement and my soundscape:

For over two years Jan-Ru Wan gathered discarded hair from salons around the world (Arnhem, Netherlands; Taipei, Taiwan; Cary, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina) to create this installation, which speaks to global migration and culture.

Our hair is highly personal and yet universal. Hair is a marker of our identity—of our current self and of our desired self in that it can easily be altered in color and style. Hair is part of our body and yet we purposefully dispose of it, leaving behind pieces and strands in public places like barbershops and salons.

Here, DNA from countless hair samples from strangers across the globe have been combined by chance and stitched into printed silk pouches. Within each pouch, one person’s DNA intermixes with others, blending numerous identities into one piece to represent this global and confusing world.

Separation can refer to the hair physically separated from our body or to the emotional separation from our love ones. It can also refer to the separation from our past cultural identity that occurs when we are immersed in the global melting pot.

As Jan-Ru gathered hair, I gathered sound samples from my last visit to Trendsetters, where I have my hair cut. These samples have been layered in and slightly distorted so that the act of cutting away part of one’s self is suggested as well as represented. The tones and intervals of the soundscape are in the form of the pentatonic scale created when only the accidentals (the black keys on the piano) are played. This scale lies outside the more familiar Western intervals of the Aeolian/Solfege scale of the white keys. For the first part of the soundscape, these two worlds are separate.

Jan-Ru ends her Artist Statement with this wonderful image:

For my late father: The moment you left me our identities and destinies changed. We now have infinite space in between us, a constant that pushes us apart and yet draws close our hearts. The moment you separated from my body you took on a new adventure and a new identity, but here I am without you, my old memories combining with fresh ones.

The last section of the soundscape is made up of three tonic tones (BDE) with their natural harmonics articulated. So, for example, B is presented with A (its fifth) articulated in the second octave, and F# (its third) in the third octave. Usually triads are presented as chords in the same octave, in this case I have spread them out over several octaves representing infinite space and separation. As this plays out in long, slow waves, I improvise with just the three tonic tones as a drawing close of the hearts.

Jody’s movements interweave and juxtapose both the physical installation and the soundscape. Her use of angles, gestures and the overall space are an evocative exploration and expansion of the themes of Jan-Ru Wan’s work.

The opening is tonight, October 7, from 6 to 9 at VAE located at 309 W. Martin Street in Raleigh. Our first performance is at 6:45 pm, and we plan to present at several other points during the evening. We would love to see you there.

Some Thoughts on Grief (on Paul’s 52nd Birthday)

_MAR0242

Today February 25th, is my brother Paul’s 52nd birthday. While he did not live to see and celebrate it, he has people who are still here remembering him. His laughter, his sense of irony, his insecurity, his wit, his breadth of knowledge, his creativity, his emotional turmoil, his love, his righteousness and doubt all are imprinted on this moment. Contemporary quantum physics points consistently toward the truth that each individual conciousness has an impact on the world. If energetic matter can neither be created or destroyed, then this impact goes on forever. Even as I know this, I also know that when a beloved being leaves their physical form, a great deep grief rises up and takes hold in the world.

One of my life’s intentions is to be light, loving joy in the world. Much of the time this is easy for me as I am buoyed by the spirit that brought me here and always guides me. My life is simple with manageable stress and I have gifts to share and a cadre of friends to share them with. Then when an event outside my well-cultivated illusion of control happens, I resist , I wail and holler, saying to myself, “I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way.” This is where I was for periods during the last year and a half as I allowed the reality of Paul’s death to bring waves of sadness, anger and anxiety to the forefront of my lived experience.

I know that resistance is a root cause of disease, so a less familiar path needed to be taken. Not numbing myself till it goes away, not holding it in, not crying in the bathroom and then putting on a good face in front of others- instead I did things that felt more vulnerable to me. I asked for help, shared my feelings in the moment and kept an eye out for any sense of victimhood and blaming of myself or others. I used all the tools in my pack – EFT, meditation, deep breathing, supportive nutrition and hydration, exercise – to stay grounded and present.

I am sad that Paul did not let me know what was truly going on in his life. Angry that he left out a huge piece of the puzzle of what happened between himself and his wife, his children and his wife’s family, and our family. Why did he have to work so hard to save face, put on a front, be so unaware of what he was doing and how it was impacting his life? I study pictures from his childhood looking for signs of angst, unhappiness, fear. He just looks happy, loving and excited by life.

He was the youngest child. As the oldest, it is hard to imagine what it is like to have, not only parents, but multiple older siblings telling you what is right and what is wrong from all our unique perspectives. All I can do is accept what has happened and honor him, his life, and his choices. From a place of unconditional love, there is no shame about the path he chose. He is a role model of surrender. He let himself go, he got himself out of a difficult situation the best way he knew how. There was a fearlessness in his giving over to his path. When I think of him with love and respect, I can only say, “well done, my brother!” I see you in your next life succeeding with love and assurance. I see you bobbing over the crest of a wave, laughing with joy.  The lessons you taught while you were here have not yet been fully realized. I feel heartened to know that the real gift of your life is yet to be received.

So while I have entertained grief in my home for a time I am clear that this is just a visit. And, as in past visits, it will come to a natural end. My home is filled with joy, love, and creative energy. While anxiety, fear, sadness and grief do build up in the nooks and crannies at times, a good cry, a loving talk, a breathing meditation, a smoke or tea of kind herbs, EFT, a belly laugh can cleanse those energies from my home. I feel a tremendous responsibility to give loving attention to this work – the work of cultivating creative joy in the world.

I do keep a picture of grief around, just as a friendly reminder of a pain that comes and goes and comes again, but for now- its time in my presence is up!

Lamentation (for Paul)

Our youngest brother, Paul, died on November 8, 2014 from the effects of excessive consumption of wine. There is so much more to his story than we will ever know. I keep trying to fill in the blanks, but all I can find are my own projections and the limitations I place on love.

I sense that Paul died of a broken heart and a broken spirit. He was a kind man who could not seem to deal with conflict. He had many skills as a teacher, artist, friend and lover of life, but could not manifest his skills in the world. He seemed to need the approval of others to a debilitating degree. When we give our power and sense of worth to other people, we wither away – and he did just that.

Our parents raised us to be kind and gentle, and not to make too much of ourselves. It was very important that we get along with others at all cost…at all cost! While these guidelines are admirable, one must always be discerning whether a guideline is serving you in particular situations. In this world where “success” often relies on a certain amount of bullying behavior (especially for men), sticking to these guidelines can be our downfall rather than our salvation.

In the end, Paul may have been killed by his own defensiveness. Every “tough love” moment from his wife, brother, and friend was met with “Don’t tell me what to do! You are not my Dad! You are crazy! I am out of here!” He determinedly walked his path carried by the anger and pain that he could not abide and did not know how to heal. I want to honor the path he chose, but I am not quite there yet.

While I use many tools to work through and release my emotions, a primary one is creating sound paintings. I spent many hours in my studio with Paul’s ashes at my feet working out the sadness that was in my heart. This short piece was the result. I appreciate that I had the opportunity to share this with my family at Paul’s remembering last Sunday. Special thanks to Luke Christie for hooking me up with the amplification necessary to share this painting. And thanks to all who honor me and Paul by listening.