This second blog about our Llif Flow ‘show’ on 3rd July is about the performance side of things; Pontio is performing arts and innovation centre, after all. Jonathan as scientist, and Lisa and I, as multi-media artists don’t really ‘do’ performance per se, so we had invited three experimental music performers – Rhys Trimble (poetry), Sioned Eleri Roberts (clarinet) and Katherine Betteridge (violin) AKA the Marmaladies – to work with David Hopewell to create and mix the sounds of performance along with that of marble runs and LlifFlowioffonau marble-instruments.
The idea of experimental music and poetry seemed to fit well with what we were trying to do with the project: This was a show based on experiment and observation: we liked the idea of the flow of language and music, exploring and complimenting the science of flow, the visual and auditory marble-flow, and the flow of people around the indoor and outdoor spaces at Pontio.
I’ve made a video that tries to capture the spirit of the afternoon, using video recordings made mostly by Jony Easterby, with additional clips by Pontio's Deputy Director, James Goodman. The sound is all from the day too, from recordings from the mixing desk (thanks to David Hopewell, and Dic Roberts and Iolo Gwilym at Pontio) and recordings made ‘live’ in the caban and on the slopes by Ed Straw. I had intended to do a lot more video recording, but there was something about the chaotic energy of the afternoon that scrambled my brain, and I completely forgot until nearly at the end. It was with some relief when I found out that others had done better. What I particularly like is that all of our snippets reflect the anarchic slightly random energy in the way they were recorded:
Some ponderings on the performance
I don't know what might be your take-aways from the video (or from the experience, if you came along), but here are mine:
1. The leading performance was that created by the participants who came to the event. In the video, and the photos, you can see people just watching the activity on the slopes or what was going on in the room, or playing the LlifFlowioffonau (marble instruments) rather than the ‘formal’ performers in some cases: This aspect of emergent participant-led performance really appeals to me, and is something we’d like to develop in the future.
2. A going-with-the-flow ‘performance’
We had originally envisaged that participants would stop playing with the LlifFlowioffonau instruments, and the performers would take over playing them at their allotted performance times (2.30 and 4.30), as we’d done in rehearsals.
But it was clear on the day, that, as Sioned observed, it would have interrupted the flow and broken the magic to have done that. Instead, Rhys, Sioned, Katherine and Dave just went with the flow, starting up amongst whatever was going on around them. Their approach meant that they seamlessly fitted in, drawing the energy even further towards the playful and edgy.
In the video, and these pictures, you can see people carrying on around them, occasionally taking a peek, inquiring, into what they were doing:
To give you an idea of what was going on in the poetry, and how it explored science/art/culture/language/flow, here is an extract from Rhys’ poems…
discrete vortices uh-huh
wall darling farthing glowering
congl hinter averaging
yes yes skey asymmetry line sunflower
horizontal sun velocity shear
In the second performance, Rhys did cut ups, using extracts from Jonathan’s research papers, including one just released 2 weeks ago together with extracts from Y Flodeugerdd o Gywyddau, Golygydd Donald Evans (Anthology of Poems Edited by Donald Evans). It went from quiet, gentle, carefully observed moments to outpourings of a fierce dynamic energy...
3. Encouraging subversion. There was something about the sound, the Marmaladies and Rhys that encouraged a spirt of playful subversion. I love the way that Rhys’ ash branch Pastwn, left by the slate in the middle of the courtyard (and banned from the PL2 instrument room due to it ruining the live screening of opera in the room below) was appropriated by various children during the show - even making it to the top of the hill at one point. I think it just shows how integrated the whole thing felt: Participants (audience?) felt they could play with just about anything...
The Marmaladies' skirts were scaled-down versions of our pipe vortices, so people were popping marbles into them throughout the day, again breaking down any potential 'barriers' between audience and performer.
4. Tiny details
Finally, a tiny detail: In a nod towards performance, Jonathan, Lisa and I did some cross-dressing: Lisa and I as scientists (in lab coats along with David and Rhys), and Jonathan as artist, complete with stripey t-shirt.
We were able to take a background role on the day, people checking in with us every now and then (I was given lost property of a penny - and no, the little girl didn't want to keep it - and an earring), doing bits of marble run mending, and some emergency dashes... Here's a picture of Lisa's giant striding to rescue the Vorticarium which was suffering from over-zealous 'flushing' of marbles.
And the support team, for we had 4 wonderful volunteer marblists on the day (Heather, Freya, Tom and Billy), were dressed in black, with lovely little warning labels made by Lisa, symbolising the need to watch out for treading on loose marbles... (I'm resisting the temptation to say something about losing our marbles, which of course we did, but it seems a bit obvious to go on about it)...
Next up: Something about the science behind it all, some of the subtler aspects of the show (possibly appreciated by the careful viewers/listeners!?), including top trumps, videos, interactive screens and thinking connecting the science of flow with the movement of marbles (based on thoughts by Dr Jonathan Malarkey).