Last week Laura and I got together for our inaugural chat about using the user’s manual for (Wo)Man With Mirror. Laura’s participation has been a long time coming, started in 2014 with an unsuccessful TLC grant application. That project proposed putting the user’s manual to work with a group of artists in different cities and regions. As preparation for this current work with Laura has unfolded, that idea with multiple artists and locations was ambitious! The work for one artist alone is ample!
So what’s the plan for this work with Laura? Below is the logistics email sent out this week, some changes of course.
So to get back to Laura and I getting together last Tues … our purpose was to measure her up for a mirror, to fill her in about my PhD which hovers unsubtlely behind her using the user’s manual (her re-enacting our re-enactment is excellent data for my tending the archive project) and for me to learn more about what she’s up to on her PhotoAccess residency.
I discovered a lot in our hour. Critically, Laura is considerably smaller than I am – her wing span measures 142 cm.
Fortunately I had a small spare mirror made for my mum in c. 2010. On Wednesday, I took this to the glass shop in Tuggeranong and got it cut down. It looks tiny but seeing it in Laura’s grip today, we think it’s right.
To return to Tuesday’s get together, I understood better how repetition and its slippage are themes in her work so I see why she is intrigued by using the User’s Manual. Anyway, after about an hour, we reigned in our conversation, agreeing to hold off on the musings until we are underway with the whole contingent (Lucas, Diana the anthropologist and a little later, Peter the cinematographer). At this point I tasked Laura not to prepare, thinking that Lucas and I would effectively ‘teach’ Laura the piece. We discussed our thoughts that there was little point in us all being together if she (Laura) was just to work from the user’s manual – she could do this on her own in London. We wound up our chat in favour of food and Austin Buckett in concert.
Louise and Laura consult the user’s manual in Laura’s studio at Gorman House.
Of course since our meeting, life has intervened and we will have a slightly tighter schedule than originally planned. So yesterday I called Laura and asked her to take the reigns and get herself prepared enough to be ready to film on Sat (20 March). She sounded quite relieved on the phone to have the opportunity to study Guy’s version and look closely at what we have online. I took her mirror over to her this morning. It was very wet which put me off adding a fresh coat of white to the back – Laura has enthusiastically taken care of this.
So now it looks like Laura will work predominantly from the user’s manual. I’m imagining the role for Lucas and I becomes one of ‘coach’ or just the pragmatic passing on of information, as Guy did with us. What we have done so far is to set up the infrastructure for the work (maybe hospitality is a better word) – the mirror, the stock, the camera and cinematographer (our friend Pete Humble) and I suppose a conducive environment by us all making the effort to come together – quite major as Laura had to re-book her ticket, Lucas and Pete are travelling from interstate, there is a coterie of child minding arrangements behind freeing up three adults this weekend.
Some other notes from Laura and Louise meeting 10 March
Laura’s PhotoAccess work so far includes beautifully processed Tri-x in pos – greatly exciting for me and my super 8 enthusiasms (Tri-x is the standard Kodak B&W positive product offering which I cross-process to neg). She talked me through her contact printing experiments, involving swinging a large format enlarger onto the floor onto 16mm strips laid out down there. You get the gist, physical film adventures par excellence …
And my PhD, well that’s about things that are prone to disappearance and how keeping them alive calls for a kind of ‘tending’. It uses TLC works as case studies. Tending applied to this setting came up in work Lucas and I did on our Performance Matters article on Horror Film 1. My recent angles of inquiry have been into Indigenous knowledge management and ecosystems post climate change – novel ecosystems and the end of pristine wilderness and all that. Behind this lies my hunch that keeping stuff is a chancy business at best and there’s some adaptation in our thinking away from the binary of access and preservation that can help us through this and it’s a lot to do with linking knowledge to its source and keeping that connection alive. This work of Laura’s will hopefully contribute to my dataset as will Diana’s study of us at work.
Here’s the email about logistics from earlier this week:
On Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 9:29 PM, L Curham <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Just confirming we’re all go this weekend. Please chime in if I’ve overlooked something.
I’ve organised the Urambi community centre as our work space. I used it on Monday for another project and it is just fantastic for this kind of work … great having the kitchen and plenty of room, extra tables etc. We had a fabulous sit-down pizza lunch on Monday. I’ll make you one on Sat.
So here’s a 25 words or less on what we’re up to:
Our task this weekend is to shoot Laura’s footage using the User’s Manual as our guide. In the first week of April, Lucas, Laura and I will then get together to work on the performance side of things.
Here’s a schedule:
1-7 March – Laura and Louise get together briefly. Laura receives (Wo)Man With Mirror users’ manual. Louise measures Laura’s ‘wingspan’ and organises mirror.
Fri 18 March – Lucas arrives, intro afternoon, dinner together
Sat 19 March – studio day, drive around location options, rehearse ‘choreography’
Sun 20 March – Pete Humble joins us as cameraman. We shoot Laura’s footage.
Weather contingency – if forecast is terrible, we may have to be ready to shoot on Sat. Current forecast is mostly sunny Sat and Sun, tops of 22 and 23 degrees, 20% chance of rain on Sunday. I’d say we’ll be fine to plan to shoot on Sunday.
Over this Fri, Sat, Sun ethnographer Diana Glazebrook also joins us intermittently to do a small ‘ethnography’ of our work. Di is a good friend of mine and an anthropologist who specialises in displaced people in Papua. She is intrigued to make a study of us at work.
Mon 21 Mar – film goes off to Nanolab, returns later that week.
Fri 25 Mar – LC reviews footage (with Laura if you want to do that)
Tues 5 April – Wed 6 April – studio days. Task is to put the work together with projectors and the film.
Cover days if needed: Mon 4 April – if first lot of film is NG (no good), we need this day to re-shoot. Soonest we could get footage back would be Thurs 7 April, so studio days are then Thurs 7 April and Fri 8 April.
And here’s an equipment list
S8 camera – Pete is bringing
Manfrotto stills tripod – LC
Super 8 colour pos – LC (have 3+ rolls)
Mirror – I have ordered as Laura’s wingspan smaller than the mirrors I have
Projectors, tripods, film, mirrors of TLC version LC (if needed).
Documentation devices – LC