• Ess Beck

"Your Action Is Required": Post#2: Conditions for flow

Caution: this is flow-writing: Not edited!

An important aspect of my residency is to self-examine how I work. I am using myself as a lab rat, to understand what goes on my head when entering the flow process, dealing with creating abstract streams of sound, with no plans ahead of me, other than to produce as much as I possibly can.

Yesterday I started to make a graphic and textual representation of what my mind and body is going through on the way to IAC.

I had to drive to get to IAC, starting really early in the morning in my home town of Aarhus. This journey has been in my mind for a long time, ever since I had gotten accepted to do the residency. From previous experiences, I know that a lot of aspects come into play -for better or worse -when readying for the creative process. For this reason I have decided to be as conscious about my body and mind and how this symbiosis responds to its environment.

Already knowing that I am going to work with sound, my ear-mind (let's call it that) is looking for a way to understand what inputs I am getting, and how I deliberately or in-deliberately is applying my "outside of process" experiences into the process that is ahead of me.

For this reason I decided not to fully separate "the residency" into one time-space context, because it IS connected to the process - a trajectory of actions - that are directed towards this said time-space context that is manifested at IAC. Well, at the same time the residency is its own process.

I made this drawing last night to make this clear to myself and my perceived audience. Oh!: Let's talk about the perceived audience.

Via the blog, I am already doing a communication to someone. An imagined recipient. It is very much so toward myself I am directing this; so it's also a conventional log that I am sure will come in handy later on.

Back to the "recipent" - or the audience/spectator, as this entity may be called.

In terms of communication, I have had quite a lot of recipients in communication about this residency. This is what I wrote down earlier today:

"I realize that my communication about this, before going, distorts my perception of what I am doing, because my story, my narrative changes depending on who is asking, and who I am telling"

Then I wrote: AND MEDIUM

The line of though was probably that I feel that at the point of getting here, I have already explained to parents, peers, musicians, my airbnb host, the press department at IAC, myself, my boyfriend, my friends etc, in various ways what I am here in Malmö to do. But this explanation is done based on trying to establish understanding and meaning to them, much more so than to me. And each recipient is different, which shifts the narrative, constantly.

Especially problematic is it when asked what I am going to do, when telling that I don't have A specific plan, other than to let thoughts collide in the process of action with sound.

I think of it similar as to asking someone why they are dancing. Of course, this is a strange comparison as the act of dancing is (for the producing human) quite different. However, in terms of our common understanding of what it may lead to, dancing is easier to explain: In the process of dancing you learn how to balance your body, place your feet in various positions, you may even build up muscle -it's good exercise.

When it comes to sound - and especially the abstract field between sound and music, it seems terrifying to the one who does not produce. She may think of noise and immediately understand it as difficult, or as something you will exhaust very early.

The general public's experience with sound/noise is not positive because it's subjective and the subjective memory - I believe - in this matter, catalogues sound/noise in the "bad" compartment. Dancing, painting etc. the primarily visual-physical creative acts, don't interfere with people. It's seen as something everyone can do, and some can be good at it. Even with music we tend to engage with music as a performance, as something to please us and make us feel good for a limited period of time.

Here I am going to because the cue was time:

Everyone has danced for hours, everyone has sat and made a drawing - perhaps over several days and done this for hours. But, people rarely do sound for hours.

Sound and music is commonly confined to spaces and time, and often locked away where it does not disturb. Yet, in everyday we accept so many noises and inputs that are audible. Clearly sound is something we understand as a potential stress factor - especially if we are not making the sounds ourselves. In my opinion this is a matter of property; A matter of believing that what we can hear to a certain volume is potentially a threat to our personal space.

When at Sisters Academy (oct) someone asked me what I think may be the reason why she got so infuriated with her neighbours' noises. My answer was that it was because she didn't accept it as a a part of her environment, but as a threat to, perhaps, her well being, and perhaps even more so to her free time. The "problem" with noise is not that it is there, but when it is there.

Let me just zoom back: the understanding of the value/purpose of noise/sounds is contextual. And even more so in today's society. Your neighbours party is problematic when it poses threat to your biology; When you are relaxing, watching TV, going to sleep. It destroys your capacity to reset and become a productive human being the next day. So: Sound/noise is able to deprive you of time, subjectively.

When I engage with producing sound with myself, for myself I.... Wait there is a noise coming from somewhere. It's like a slow alarm. Why am I conscious of it's presence and why is it annoying me? I have to finish this blog post because I have to do finish up for today and get home.... It's keeping me from concentrating.....

Now it stopped, back on track: So, when I produce sound like I will do here at IAC, the sound is the purpose. The only way I can feel "bad" or unhappy with it, is if I apply a thought that: "I must do so and so, it must be good, it must be extremely brilliant and artistic" and so on.... Thereby my action is not based on the act of art, but it's an economical action:

I have spend this time, money and so on, ergo: I must come away with something ingenious.

If I had applied this thinking early on in my coming here, I would quite early have made some choices about my arrangement of equipment and spent my time going over and over ideas, make drafts. That would be a product focus, not a process focus.

Now, this is not to say that there is anything wrong with having a plan. My plan is just to have no plan. My plan is chaos. My plan is to create chaos - especially for myself. And it is not a private chaos. It is very public, hence very suspended chaos.

I want so observe how I act, going in to chaos, inside chaos, and after chaos. I know from experience that the mind can administer and treat chaos in a very specific manner. The abstractness of chaos becomes a concrete condition and a concrete experience in itself. This means that chaos, to me, is simultaneously a process of reduction.

Back to the headline of this post: Conditions for Flow:

When I did 24-hour woman the conditions very quite different: I was in a familiar environment, I had people bring me pizza and wine and I had the confidence that it would work out. I was a bit scared that I would run our of ideas, nevertheless I found myself welcoming repetition.

One motif that appeared during one point, surfaced later on and took on another shape. This was quite soothing and it felt like I almost started to have a relation to each sound coming out of the speaker; familiar friends coming back. In reality, it was probably just the audio-equivalent to my own mirror image.

Now, this is what I really found interesting and what I want to experience again and try to observe in process; this dialogue, this self-reflection through the process of hearing yourself make sound.

It's another way of understanding what is deep down in the cognitive layers of your understanding of yourself; What do I sound like if I "crack" open my skull and pull out sound, noise, music etc.?

It is definitely possible to connect with some deeper parts of your understanding of your being in time. Especially, when conditions, like the one I have set up for myself, are established to let this understanding unfold. It's not an understanding like: Oh I get it now, but more an establishment of your body's capabilities outside the body.

I should add here that a very important part of my praxis with this work hour long impro that I am doing is my loop pedals. Without them, none of this would happen. the loop enables me to capture my action and re-shape - or renegotiate - what I had just put out sonically.

That leads my back to the question of time, and what this means to the process: When working with loop pedals I free myself from historical time, and I free myself from tempo, rhythm - in the conventional sense. I do fall in to certain rhythms, but I don't have to. They main thing here is that it happens naturally. And that is where the biological body takes over and establishes time for me. It establishes a time-space framework, be suggesting how much I can produce in the room before it saturates my own sensory experience or my cognitive experience. At the same time I am also very surprised to find how much noise this builds up to. When I did 24-hour woman I tried to be conscious of where that point of saturation is, that point where I need my sound scape to shift and become quiet. But there didn't seem to be any specific tendency.

It was more a question of feelings - the feelings i mentioned earlier, that I felt I established towards the sounds I produce. It was a feeling of "letting go" of a sound scape -or an image once I was done looking at it.

Before it gets all new age and psychedelic: Yes it was quite weird. It was really like browsing in your own brain, finding beautiful things, and then flipping the page slowly to see what was on next page.

This action of "flipping" the pages is really what I feel plays out when creating improvised sound. It's a controlled movement, as if you know you have a specific time to enjoy a space, and by knowing this, you move slower and more alert through the space to enjoy/experience it as much as possible within the time you have.

This had lead me to think about whether or not I should practise my performance each day given certain hours, but then I woke up with a flue this morning, and I decided not to let historical time decide what I can produce, but let my body decide what my mind can do.

This way of thinking has brought me back to the way I initially desired to work: I want to observe the point where I approach and take on the action of producing sound. I want to understand what that point is down to atoms!

Yet, I also know it is fruitful to have that dialogue with yourself, where you are suggesting to yourself. Inner voice: : "Hey, should we not get up and try to start work at 10.?"

So tomorrow, I will start at 10 and work when I work.

Have a look at the drawing. It speaks a thousand words. Or at least what I cannot fit in here.