Monday, June 24, 2013

Dublin Part Two

I've been "on residence" in Dublin for about three weeks now, in fact exactly three weeks! Just over a week to go and my time will be up here. I feel like I've been quite productive. But have also seen a lot and have tried to relax too (in my own way, which is more like being crafty or noodling around doing random tasks).

I've made a sound sculpture! I hope to document it shortly through video. It was quite the experiment as I'd done nothing like it before. I hooked up a Wii Remote to a computer running the software program Max, and embedded the remote in a giant 'crystal'-shaped sculpture that I made out of foam, fabric, and pin studs.  It has a weird leather-jacket look to it, which I quite like. Photos will come soon, once I get a nice white wall to photograph it uponz.

When you move the sculpture, different sounds of my voice, breath, and body are triggered by the position of the sculpture in space. I think it's a pretty good first attempt for something that was so out of my comfort zone. Much of the thanks though go to Rachel Quinn, the sound artist and electronic music expert in Dublin who helped me with the technological side. And a big thanks goes to an electric knife, which carved up that foam for the sculpture like turkey on Thanksgiving.

I've also read over two big books, one for teaching next year and one just for fun. I'm on to two more and think I can finish them by the end of my trip. I have a big bus ride to Galway tomorrow for a long weekend to see a friend, so I will definitely do some reading there.

There have been a lot of surprise sights along the way. One of the highlights thus far has been the Long Room of the Trinity Library. I didn't bring my camera--in fact, I wasn't expecting to be allowed to take pictures at all, as you cannot take photos in the room below the library, which houses the famous Book of Kells. The library feels like something out of Harry Potter. I was shocked to see more people just rushing through it as an afterthought from their Book of Kells trip, and not being the other way around. But then again I've very mesmerized in libraries in general- I just like looking at books on shelves, I guess. The older the better.

Another surprise has been the Botanical Gardens. It's quite beautiful this time of year, and lots of plants bloom there in the sheltered terrain that come from all over the world. A refreshing change of pace to Denver's more arid climate.

Today was Ireland's National Music Day, and there were short performances throughout the country, especially in Dublin and Cork. Though I only got to catch one fifteen-minute gig, I did get to hear the National Chamber Choir sing in the Post Office (of all places)! The singers were up on a second-story balcony and the space resonated quite nicely. I knew one of their songs from a CD I've listened to since I was a teenager; hearing it live brought me close to tears. Or maybe buying stamps is just a really emotional experience for me...either way. They've got a book of choral music that I might buy as a music souvenir, and get some friends to help me with the S, A, and T of SATB so we can all sing it together. 

Times ain't all 110% rosy, though. I'm still a foreigner and I probably look it too. I have to work sometimes to get things done- lots of favors called, a bit of pleading, a bit of waiting, asking seemingly inane questions. Sometimes things are not difficult to do or find but it's done in a different way that might not seem very obvious. A random example: I went to four grocery stores to find small white beans, which are basically in every grocery store in America. Nutrition bars are virtually nonexistent here. You can't print documents very easily without going to an internet cafe. But you can get amazing curries.

It's difficult to be beholden to people that I know here, waiting for them to help me with wayfinding or referrals and contacts.  I don't know how other proper visual artists do it. Going on a residency, you're basically plopped in a strange land, without the materials you're normally used to working with, no friends around, and you're told to make something beautiful. Sometimes there are assistants to help you, or budgets to help guide you. You make friends along the way of course. And I'm so thankful I have colleagues here who are amazing in so many ways.

One week of work and wrapping up to go, with a small 'gig' organizing a vocal performance piece at the very end. Should be exciting! 

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