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Blog - Deluge

3 countries, 3 timelines, 5 studios, 5 creatives, just exactly how are we creating Deluge?


When we embarked on our Deluge creation, we were all conscious that we were going on an exploratory vibrant journey together. I will admit that at times the process of this exploration is echoing the actual themes of the work we are attempting to create. Sometimes we are all caught up in the tsunami wave, where we are drowning in the overwhelming surge as our ideas flood together, there no doubt that we are being challenged artistically, and as a result, we are all reaching new creative heights that we have never encountered before.

painting containing several figures in black

Drawing from an animation being created for Deluge by Rachel Gadsden

2020 and particularly covid-19 has forced everyone to reconsider our lives, our practices, our work and often, for many of us who are disabled individuals, this has been particularly difficult with the added need of long term forced isolation etc. Thank goodness for digital technology and the opportunity to be able to join together through social network platforms including Zoom and Skype.

Being part of this new collective has been one of the very positive elements of 2020 for all of us, and maybe even more so, as we work across 3 continents, 3 timelines, 5 separate studios, and with 5 individual voices and practices screaming out in in Zoom to be heard. The process is thrilling, dynamic and ultimately very exhilarating. We all reckon it is going to be a long ride, as the bonds of our collective strengthen daily. Our tiny idea is developing by the day, and what we thought might be a small digital iteration, we now hope one day will be a substantial touring multi-disciplinary “live and digital” performance. But that is for the future when covid-19 is behind us and life, as we once knew it, emerges and flourishes again.

For now, we are having enormous fun building our Deluge creative language where each voice can fuse harmoniously together within a digital screen and performance. It is at times challenging as we get used to new technologies and working independently on a collective work in our individual spaces. But we are receiving enormous support from Winki and Cadence, our language interpreters and producing at ADAHK, and from Colin and Joe, our DAO producers, who are enabling us to communicate together, and who are also guiding us to find the most appropriate digital processes, to enable our work to survive this all-encompassing tsunami.

Sui-Fong Yeung & Rachel Gadsden – Artist/Performers

I was lucky to have the opportunity to artistically collaborate with Siu-Fong Yeung (Artist Performer) in Hong Kong last year. The artistic connection was instant, and it has been of immense joy to be working with Sui-Fong again for our Deluge work.

black and white photo of artists in a studio

Sui-Fong and Rachel creating together in Hong Kong in September 2019 at ADAHK

Sui-Fong has joined our collective with such energy and dynamism that we have all embraced her incredible artistic contributions with immense enthusiasm. Notions of exclusion, isolation, and segregation are part of Sui-Fong’s daily existence, philosophies that constant and are ever present and apparent in my artwork. Despite having multiple disabilities, my disabilities are all invisible, whereas Sui-Fong daily attracts the voyeurs gaze due to her disability. We feel a deep connection because of our life experience, and we are embracing these notions within the work, not as victims, but as individuals who have found innovative ways of creating, despite of, or because of our disabilities.

inversed black and white photo of performer

Sui-Fong Yeung experimenting as part of her performance for Deluge

The team have all contributed to this blog in their own way, to give just a small sense of how we really are creating Deluge

Jeremy Hawkes – Artist

photo of an artwork on paper on a drawing board

Jeremy Hawkes creating in his studio in Adelaide

Work has begun in earnest – or at least earnestly. Motivation has been somewhat of an issue over the past months; so much time, so much silence, so much freedom to create has caused a sort of lassitude, a tendency to daydream and drift into any space offering solace from the endless and awful new cycle.

We’ve been meeting regularly on Zoom. Rachel and I catch up via Skype and talk for hours about art, life, disability and possible futures. It is no longer strange that she has become a port in a storm – these watery metaphors abound…

Siu-Fong has sent us a recording of a performance done in isolation in Hong Kong. Freddie has provided a haunting and challenging soundscape. Both are astonishing in their emotive impact and I rethink my approach.

Animation is a technique I have utilised, but I know that Rachel uses it to great effect. She describes the process to me, and I’m intrigued enough to leave my cave and purchase some new technologies. I spend hours and hours isolating video footage into stills, ready to be re-drawn by hand, rescanned and animated.

“Rescanned and animated?” Sounds like a good life plan. I’ve set myself an enormous task. Up to 500 drawings to be done but I am eager to begin. In the meantime, my evenings are taken up with drawings in minutiae. Drawing pad, pens, some references and my dog at my side – hours fly by as I seek meaning in the minute. It all seems a bit disparate and unfocused but then so does everything… I have such trust in this project, such confidence in these new friends and collaborators that I am game to pursue these endeavours. My art practice has never been particularly digital, apart from the necessity of documentation. I am intrigued though and seem to have the necessary patience to follow this through.

This process, collaboration, conversation – however I define it – is incredibly important. It’s a first for me in so many ways…

Freddie Meyers – Composer

notes sheet with illegible text and diagram

Zoom meeting with Freddie, Jeremy, Rachel, composition, performance and animation notes.

Isolation in the world of social media is weird. There is such an immediacy of communication through the screen via zoom or skype etc., and yet when conveying multiple complex creative ideas, it can be a challenge to be on the same page together. Though this can be frustrating, it can also be a powerful limitation in the creation of new work.

During our making of Deluge, we are all forced to go away, and create separately. We’ve been sending fragments and ideas to each other, all of which play into our creation in a more subconscious way than if we’d been in the studio together. This divergence of ideas means that when Jeremy, Rachel, and Siu Fong finally produce their individual artistic contributions, they will ultimately be aesthetically different, even if they stem from the same idea. I see this as, perhaps, the most exciting part of the project. As the composer I find it really interesting to act as a kind of binding force with these ideas. I am able to use my music not as an accompaniment, but as a structure to fuse and coagulate the connections and divergences between the three artist’s creative contributions.

Musical notation is a bit like a recipe for a soufflé. The ingredient instructions might ask for 264ml or a “glug” (whatever Jamie Oliver means by a “glug” I’ll never know), but somehow, we accept the abbreviations on the ingredient list, because ultimately cooking it is not always an exact science. In music of course there are ways to be incredibly precise with the way you notate. Helmut Lachenmann’s approach, where for example the minutia of bow pressure is lovingly indicated, definitely elicits a certain type of response, but often its relation to the composer’s intention is equally distant as a piece of Bach which has no markings other than the pitches and rhythms.

Notions of distance are prevalent in my practice, so often, at the time of writing my compositions, I do not know who will ultimately preform the work. But when I am writing the music for Deluge I feel like I am a performer, Jeremy, Rachel, and Siu Fong’s artistic contributions become a type of notation which I am unravelling and will finally turn into a singular, homogeneous performance.

Emily Earl – Violin

photo of hands holding a bow across a violin

Emily Earl playing the violin

During lockdown I have been working with a pianist using recordings as a way of playing together. We would discuss ideas over a video call, in a similar way to a normal rehearsal, except we could play very little, and everything had to be dictated. This initially felt very unnatural, and small nuances became complicated when normally we would just be able to ‘feel it’ together without discussion. I was pleasantly surprised however, that when I received the recording, it did feel natural and intuitive, and it encouraged more focused listening. Unlike playing in person, where we would find our way through a piece intuitively and feel what each of us were doing, playing online we were forced to focus in on the way in which we play together. For example, when we play online, I have to work out exactly how a pause is paced or be aware of the specific dynamic of a section, rather than understanding it instinctively. This type of playing, which becomes incredibly sensitive and, for the most part, relies solely on listening, is ultimately how I most enjoy working.

For Deluge, I have had a similar feeling where my expectations were surprised. After our first creative team Zoom call, I went away with an idea of what the end product would look like, with Siu Fong sending a video of workshop material shortly after. When I watched her video, it was visually quite different from what I had envisaged, and I began hearing music and sounds with a much clearer sense of what I wanted to play. Had I been in the studio with Siu Fong, the experience would have been very different, and I would have played along with her movements and tried to develop a sound there and then with her. Though this would have created a performance that blended our two voices, this would have ultimately diluted some of Siu Fong’s strong identity with the piece. Though creating art together and apart both ultimately create a work that blends multiple voices, by pushing the collaboration further down the pipeline, the final piece manages to capture a greater essence of each artists personal identity. Although this process is challenging and presents a new way of working, it is so inspiring and rewarding, and opens doors to new ideas and approaches that we wouldn’t have under normal circumstances.

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