february process

Building, training and weaving, these have been full days. The 6000 feet of rope is becoming a net. Connecting each strand to the two adjacent, the splices weave together the linear material to form a fabric, a planar material. The pile of net on the floor is impressive and becoming quite heavy. It now has become larger than the floor of the room. I realized this as I spread it out this morning to take a couple of pictures for the blog. I have been weaving in the evening for a couple of hours almost everyday. I have been listening to This American Life, and thinking that what I am doing is no less crazy than the stories I hear on the show. Man people are so nuts! I have also been listening to On Being, which has got me thinking about Bardos, more on that in a moment.

I am making two truss towers which will support a wire 10 meters in the air. They break down into 11 foot lengths and I am almost done welding the truss sections themselves. Now I must make the connections between them, the top anchorages for the wire and guys, and a robust tabernacle to transfer the loads down to the ground. After they are painted it will be time to erect them in a meadow near my house. The net will be suspended about 18’ feet below the wire and will protect me if I fall, at least that’s the theory. During a lesson today with my yoga teacher I explained what I was doing. He spoke to me solemnly that it is now time to start training seriously. He said, “you need to be really strong and limber for what you planning to do, I mean you are going to be on a wire 30 feet in the air! It is time to start spending long period standing on your head doing variations to make your central column strong and nimble. You are now ready for this work and are going to need this power and muscle control to protect you from serious injury.” He has given me rigorous neck strengthening exercises and difficult shoulder and core work. These new exercises add to my training regime. I have been spending several hours on the wire almost everyday which I feel is really important to unlock my potential as a funambulist. Sometimes the weather is pretty shitty, gusts of blowing snow knock me about as I fight to balance on the wire bundled in a down jacket, thinking how ridiculous this must look. But ridiculous or not my practice rewards me with the distillation of my movements. Thus I am introducing more difficult movements into my repertoire. On a low wire I have been practicing leaping and running, although a full 360 spin in the air still evades me most of the time. Although on a rare and amazing occasion I jump from plié, spin like a dancer and land on the wire. More often my attempt is rewarded by being flung violently off to one side or missing the wire with one or both feet. A couple of these falls have been scary. These acrobatics are leaving the realm of static control. I stand on the wire waiting for my body to become totally erect in a moment of stillness. Then I push down on the wire and as it rebounds I jump hard stealing the energy from the wire to gain more upward momentum. At the same time I spin fast in the belief that if I have timed everything right and jumped exactly straight up I will turn around to face the same direction in which I started and land in balance. This is a difficult trick, you rarely see it performed by wire dancers. Perhaps the next progression after mastering this would be a backwards somersault, and then the pinnacle of technical achievement for the wire acrobat a forward somersault, which seems infinitely far away for me. Some of the basic poses I am close to mastering. Lying down I no longer fall and I am confident doing lunges and knee balances. It is fascinating to remember what some of these poses felt like a year ago when just to achieve them on occasion was a reward. Now to fall doing one of these poses has me thinking poorly. It is success which can become a tyranny when you judge the present moment by times of past success.

The thought hanging in my mind is that I am going to do a public performance sometime this spring on this apparatus, either rigged in a public park in Santa Fe, on BLM land, or in the meadow near my home. The wire is uncertain and with the pressure of an audience I hope I am able to perform and give a beautiful show rather than becoming a thrutching mess. I suppose it is this thought that has me working hard and to get the net and the trusses done soon so I have time to acclimate working on such a high rig, and potentially falling into the net.

I am also thinking about the whole rig as a sculpture. Transforming it into an installation which allows it to travel beyond apparatus to become something mysterious, something in-between functions and poetics. Which brings me back to the fore-mentioned idea of Bardo. Bardo is a Buddhist term for the existence between. This is essentially every lived moment, but can also include times between physical embodiment. These times challenge our mental constructs asking us to become more expansive in our vision or causing us to recoil into our shells and weather the psychic storm by clinging to the familiar. Being on the wire has many metaphor and parallels to Bardo. In my upcoming research I want to look at Bardos and allegories of nets and ropes seeing if I can “weave” a connection between the two and the work I am doing in my funambulism and building. It is still vague, but I think it is a rich area of study which relates directly to the material and physical acts which I work with. Thats the news with my work. I hope everyone’s projects are going well and the beginning of 2013 is being enjoyed.