Here we go.
This was my contribution to Low Lives: Occupy! on March 3, 2012. Alan Greenspan admitted the flaws in his philosophy. So I apologize for demonizing him.
Just as Marina Abramovic had her superfan, so Sanseviera Trafasciata had one, as well. The gentleman visited 3 times over two days, often sitting at length and talking to the plant. We could venture a guess as to which notes in the comment book were his, but there was a distinct handwriting that praised the plant’s “conversational” quality. For other fascinating notes and stories, read on, as the task of transcribing the mammoth amount of written feedback continues. There’s even more– and a VIDEO of the superfan– after the jump.
“La Suegra, We meet again! Mom gave me a piece of you when Eugenie & I moved in together. Said I would need it. Boy did I! You out grew my herbs & even adapted around the weeds. Your sharp & a bitch of a fighter! That’s what mom meant when she said I’d need you. I’m glad you wear the black gown. With all the negativity in your life & yet you thrive. Like my suegra. Like me. I look forward to having you in my garden again. This time you’ll have a permanent place in the sun, but you just have to wait a few more years! Thanks for everything, la suegra. — Geanna M.H.”
The second day of “The Plant is Present” was a bit slower, and the plant spent some time alone. But more than 50 people still found time to sit and have a moment with The Plant. Again, here’s a link to a flickr album of everyone who sat on the second day. There were several people, 6 or 7 at my count, that chose to talk to the plant. At least two people over the course of two days had sat with both The Plant and Marina Abramovic, of “The Artist is Present” fame. One sitter described the prolific documentation as part of the intensity of sitting with Marina. The other, I’m fairly certain, is responsible for this comment in the plant’s book: “Marina was exactly as interesting.” No one cried sitting in front of the plant, but plenty looked intrigued, bored, amused and joyful. So does a plant have the same presence as an artist? Read on for sitter’s first-hand accounts of the experience. Continues after the jump, for a long time.
“I have never sat with a dressed plant before. It was very nice. I had a good time.”
“The lights were distracting, the plant beautiful”
“She is SEXY and REAL”
“The plant was present. The weather intensifies the energy received from the plant.”
We knew rain was a risk, and that it wouldn’t be a problem for our starring artist. But just in case, we brought an umbrella and a blanket for potential guests. We had all electrical connections taped, and the vulnerable areas wrapped in plastic bags. Still, there reached a point in the evening when we were forced to turn on the ambient outdoor light and break down our lighting setup. The public continued to sit with the plant. After it cleared up we put one lone light back up. As a result, the portraits of guests vary as the weather varies. Some are shot in performer lighting; some are shot in blaring fluorescent outdoor lighting; some are dramatically lit from one lone light; and at least one portrait was taken in complete darkness.
Look for a later post containing a full transcription of the lovely comment book. In the meantime, here’s a flickr stream of everyone who sat with the plant on the first evening: November 19th, 2011. Some selected portraits and a video below, after the jump.
Sansevieria Trifasciata, an epic houseplant, performed its work “The Plant is Present” at the School of the Art Institute’s New Blood Performance Festival, November 19th and 20th, 2011. The plant sat silently while a total of 138 visitors took turns sitting in a chair opposite it, staying in its presence for as long as they liked. All guests were photographed, and asked to record their experience in a comment book. Responses ranged from “I felt a connection to the plant and was able to live in the moment” to “It was awkward” to “So good! I loved every second of it!” to “Marina was exactly as interesting.” Check back later for more documentation, a full transcription of the comment book and photos of all 138 visitors to the plant.
Sansevieria trifasciata is an epic houseplant. Often referred to as “the plant that won’t die,” it is famous for thriving on neglect. Commonly called Mother in Law’s Tongue for its sharp leaves, or Snake Plant for its winding tendrils, S. trifasciata is one of the top 50 plants that clean the air, converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at night, and has historically been used to create bowstring hemp. In short, its creative career is one of tenacity and self-sacrifice. I will be giving a lecture on the phenomenal artistic accomplishments of this plant at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Nov. 14th, 4:30pm, 2M space, MacLean Bldg) before the plant performs a solo work called “The Plant is Present” at this year’s New Blood Performance festival.
So, after the epic adventure designing my brother’s wedding at ZSpace, a San Francisco theater, I was enlisted to go at it again. The ceremony featured a split laser: the reception involved a tea ceremony and lavender cupcakes. The happy couple had specific color themes: beyond that, I was inspired to mix ZSpace’s amazing rep plot to create certain layered looks. It was especially fun making a gobo top wash for the tables, and a series of crazy chase sequences for the dance party. I also assisted the couple in some planning and staffing.
Photos by the amazing Michelle Damas.
Every four years theater artists of all kinds gather in the Czech Republic for the Prague Quadrennial. Countries set up pavilions to display the best of their professional and graduate-level stage design. The city is swarmed with performances, lectures, panels and demonstrations. When I first went in 2003, site-specific performance was highlighted as a fascinating trend in scenography. Since then, the Quadrennial has expanded from a stage-design conference to a dialogue on all things performance and space. Site-specific projects are more the rule, less the exception. I’m here until June 27th, nerding out with the folks from the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts. We’ll be participating in a Roundtable Discussion– Considering Sustainable Design– on June 21st. Check sustainablepractice.org for further updates. Until then, I’m loving me some cobblestones.
p.s. : the Latvian pavilions are kicking butt, as usual.
The design concept of this show was points of light. Like little star-drops, like the stuff your pupils eat when you’re on drugs. The show, created by the David Herrera Performance Company, was intended to follow the story of a family through struggle and time. It opened with a solo piece by Shae Colette, pictured here. I enlisted a few genius electrician friends to help me build many dangling sculpted LED practicals, which hung above the stage like stars caught in hairballs. If you look closely, you can also see the little lights we attached to dancers’ fingertips. This was so much fun. Media design by Olivia Ting. Assistant Directed by Jean Johnstone.
Want an adventure sometime? Design an event for two people who are producing the most important event of their lives. That was my brother’s wedding to Emily Smith, now Beitiks. It involved gobos, wall stickers, walkie-talkies, a slow buffet line, the colors blue and white, rosemary, and a very hard-working wedding party.
These photos are long overdue: the wedding was last year, in 2010. This was in Z Space in San Francisco, using a lot of their plot and some trees from Friends of the Urban Forest. I’ve finally digested all my production-managing and lighting-designing well enough to edit the photos.
That’s me instructing the uncle of the bride in one pic, by the way. I was tempted to include a few pics of me hugging my new sister-in-law or marching around with a radio looking serious. I resisted.
And yes, Mike + Emily are now Happily Ever After.
Photos: Kim Komenich
Photos from SFSketchfest are up on the online gallery! Check them out and drink in all of my mic-setting/light-focusing/production managing mania for all of December and January. And part of February.
DHPCo is an SF-based dance theater group. I’ve been their resident designer since 2005. This is a photo from last season’s show, “Origins.” This year the show is called “American Layercake,” and we’re working with LED props, some of which I am building. Ulp! Right now in rehearsal the dancers are running around with points of light on their fingertips. We go into tech next week. Show opens at Dance Mission Theatre on March 11th. Should be fun.
This is my third year as Technical Production Manager for SF Sketchfest. This beast of a festival usually involves 8-11 venues, 100 + performances, and a lot of stress-dissolving laughter. This year we’re coordinating a Viva Variety Reunion and bringing together some SNL Originals with Inside Joke. At least: the producers are bringing it together. I’m wrangling the mics, furniture, tech staff and funny hats. The first year I worked this gig I designed the lights for the first live all-member reunion of The State in 11 years. I nearly peed my pants. I’m hoping that at this point my bowel control has advanced considerably.
This is my second year as Lighting Technician for the Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. It’s a great gig, for a number of reasons: the scenery, the free food, the fact that the TD actually listens to my design suggestions (two new specials this year!). In between shifts in the scissor lift, I’m finishing up my COP16 coverage and preparing for SFSketchfest. I’ve also been watching the videos from Green Stage Scratch Night. It looks like it was a great production, with a lot of work done in very limited time. Unfortunately their camerawoman got caught in a subway strike and it had to be filmed on an iphone. Took me ten minutes for me to get the courage to watch it. Definitely a learning experience, made some necessary edits clear. In the meantime, I’m waving hello to the deer.
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