Entries Tagged as '2007 The Oldest Song We…'

Greece: Building the Installation (4)

August 8th, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece


Here’s the installation 40% finished. The installation, at Qbox Gallery in Athens, shares the space with our projected video so one of its design restraints is to functionally block the light from the screen. Of course it won’t block it 100% so we’re trying to find a sensitive balance between darkness (for the video) and lightness (for the installation).

Greece: Building the Installation (3)

August 6th, 2007 · 2 Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece


It’s about 25% done in this image. The foam we’re using plays with the light well. The stencil we’re using to cut the foam is a trash can lid–which makes us laugh.

Greece: Moving the City Through the City

August 5th, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece


This morning we hand-carried the city on the Athens Metro to the city’s center.

Greece: Building the Installation (2)

August 5th, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece



A tidal wave is slowly coming through the main window at Qbox.

Greece: Building the Installation (1)

August 4th, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece




We are back in Athens, at Qbox Gallery, working on the installation for our solo exhibition, which opens the second week of September. There will be three large photos, the video and an installation. We’re working on the installation now, which plays on the same theme of a city sinking under the sea.

Our materials are simple: light green thin foam, that same corrugated plastic we used to build the model, and photos of buildings.

Greece: What Failure Brings

August 2nd, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece


Despite a dedicated and talented crew, our video shoot on Saturday was a total flop. Poor planning and fatal weather. However, the shoot on Sunday was ideal: there’s nothing stronger than complete failure to inspire success. Here’s the story.

The disaster started Friday afternoon when we tested the city and realized that the “difficult element that might work or might not” didn’t work. We’ve found that whenever we “hope it just works out,” it never works out. These kind of problems frequently takes so much energy to solve that they can become central components in the art, not just technical details. It’s important for art to have problems that the artist fights through. Boring art happens when problems are avoided.

So there we were, with several elements that didn’t work, at 4:00pm with performers coming on the 9:00pm boat for the shoot the next day.

Trying not to panic, we got back to the studio and threw ideas back and forth. The winning solution seemed like it might just work, as long as the weather was with us. Why wouldn’t it be? — the weather had been perfect for two weeks in a row. We spent the rest of the evening frantically creating a large U-shaped contraption that stylistically matched our city [chief element] while taking care of the technical problem [which had to do with holding the city in place, with something underneath it, while the city was being pulled into the ocean].

The next day the waves came. Huge powerful rollers that had no patience for quickly assembled U-shaped contraptions hanging on the rocks. We couldn’t even stabilize the system for a photo shoot. The whole morning we spent hanging oddly-strewn guide wires from the rocks to the structure. The waves were so brutal, two people had to hold the structure at all times to keep it from getting pulverized. To make matters worse, the waves were kicking up sea debris everywhere. Tzia normally has crystal clear water–it was now muddy brown and filled with floating particles (think Long Beach, California, or even Galveston, Texas).

The water was bad, but our chief mistake was throwing an untested structural element into the game too late. All the wires needed to stabilize the U-structure were too much. We were trying to do more than what we were able to do. Even with a great sea conditions, this would not have been good art. I wonder if I would have realized the mistake had the sea been good?

Megan and I woke up early the next day and re-scouted locations. We found another beach with perfect conditions and, after considering everything that happened the day before, reformed the choreography: drastically simplifying it. We cut about 70% of what we had previously planned and cut another 50% of the crafted elements we had built and were planning on using (including a found lamp and 30 arrows we made). We’ve been in conversation with several people about economy (DT and JH) whose helpful critiques contributed to our streamlining.

We came back to the studio, mapped the new plan for the performers, hit the beach and captured 14 decent takes with much improved choreography and perfect water conditions. One take, the final one, is particularly good.

Cheers to failure.

Greece: Testing the City

July 30th, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece


Here’s an image from Friday’s test before our shoot this last weekend–which we’re extremely pleased with [long story in route: I’m at an internet cafe and only have time for a quick update]. Today was the photo shoot, same for tomorrow. We leave the island of Tzia after the shoot tomorrow and head to Athens to install at Qbox Gallery.

BTW, we canned the old lamp shown above for the final shoot. It was just one element too many: although glorious underwater under the city (Dana, we were thinking of what you said and thanks).

Building the City (3)

July 26th, 2007 · 2 Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece



Heat wave is in full effect here, but the sea is a wonderful respite. We’re glad that we’re doing the video shoot on Saturday in the water rather than, say, on some baking marble shade-less ruin that’s an hour-long hike up in the mountains. I think our performers will be glad too.

Further testing yesterday gave us the dimensions of the city and information about its movement in the water and the need for weights.

Never before have we attempted a project this technically complex with this many variables. To name a few, just for the photo and video-making process: using an underwater housing for both cameras, plus using a floating aquarium for the still camera, wind, the height of the tide at the location, performers whose first language is Greek and possibly Turkish (although everyone speaks English fluently), constructed moving elements, tracking underwater shots with no track, the unpredictability of casting a net and throwing weighted objects in the water at even intervals, shooting on a potentially crowded beach on a Saturday during a heat wave. And that’s before we even get to the finessed editing and installation process.

We’re trouble-shooting as much as possible in the meantime and blocking out what each of us will be doing during the shoot. Murray, camera work, me, directing. With as much attention as we’re getting on the beaches here (everyone wants to know what we’re doing with our floating aquarium and camera equipment), it should — at the very least — be a very entertaining afternoon for the locals at the beach Xila here on the island.

Building the City (2)

July 25th, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece

B1 B2

The top image is about a quarter finished. We’re headed out to the beach to do some test shots with this portion of the city.

On a side note: the Balkans are experiencing a freakish heat wave. It’s supposed to hit 113 F in Athens today. The island is much cooler, but even so, we’re looking forward to spending the better part of the mid-day in the delicious icy sea. It’s for work. Strictly professional, you know.

Building the City

July 24th, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece

Citysketch_3 Cityscape_2

The city that we’ll be sinking in the video shoot on Saturday is an amalgamation of every American metropolis. The sketch above shows the base of the model, which will sit on the rocky shoreline before it slides down and sinks underwater. Today we’re finding images of buildings, printing them out, gluing them down on the coroplast and jigsawing them out individually. Hopefully, we’ll finish in time to get them placed on the base tonight.

In the process, I’m finding out about buildings I’d never seen before: like the Air Force Chapel in Colorado Springs. That’s the one that looks like a conglomeration of fighter jets taking off.