My process for the last month has been a continuation of what it was the previous month. I have been continuing to build and design the various parts of the high wire. I am working on my epic net building. I am collaborating with the non profit art organization Axle Contemporary to try to put together an installation/performance in a park in Santa Fe. I am practicing to develope expressive movements on the wire, moving towards being able to execute them with certainty and grace.
As far as progress, much of the truss/mast structure is complete. I have some last adjustments to make in the connections between the individual sections so that when they are assembled they form a mast which is true and straight. Yesterday after drafting some templates, I plasma cut the plates which will form the top anchorages of the masts/columns.
After several false starts I am content with my design, having worked out all of the angles and clearances so the shackles and wire rope thimbles do not bind or cross load against any of the structure. Then I will prime and paint the steel. I am still not sure how to paint the structure. I am torn between several ideas. One is to make it vivid and colorful not only in the circus tradition but in an investigation of chromatic metaphor, especially pertaining to states of consciousness. The other end of the spectrum is to try to make the colors more subtle and less dominate to the eye. I like the idea of these pieces of steel being as understated as possible so that one’s attention is not overwhelmed by a brightly painted geometric truss. The other thing I consider is the structure will be outside under the deep blue of the New Mexico high altitude sky. If I paint the structure the right shade of blue it might merge with the sky. I like this ideas, but in practice often ideas like this appear as a vain attempt at camouflage. I like the structure becoming more a part of nature than a separation from it, so my first instinct is towards deeper, more subtle colors like marine blues and deep earth reds. However, bright colors are part of nature. Not only are the color in our terrestrial minerals, fauna, and flora, and in the incredible saturated colors of the cosmos, but also in the bright colors of consciousness itself. The Tibetan Book of the Dead speaks of the vivid and chromatically complex landscapes of our self though which our consciousness travels in the process of death and rebirth. These colors themselves have significance, for instance on the fifth day after death the world is bathed in the green light of “envy.” Blue is the color of space and spirit. I am going to do a careful reading of The Tibetan Book of the Dead looking for mentions of colors and their significances, and then see how that affects my decisions for painting. The good news is one can always paint over a color with a new color. The bad news is this project is big, so changing a little thing is a lot of work.
After the painting or at least the initial paint job, I can begin erection, which I am very excited about after the grueling work of welding/building. The net is also close to completion. I have but one strand to add and then about 60 ends to weave in to reach the corners. It seems about 12% remains which works out to something like 1000 splices to go. I figure it should be complete in the next week or soon after. Once the weaving is done, I must figure out how to move it. It must weight close to 200 lbs and is very bulky. I must take it somewhere where it may be spread out, something I have not seen since its conception! Once spread out, I will be able to add the edge rope. This rope will be of much larger diameter (5/8”) and provide support for the net to be stretched taught. Additional ropes will then be attached to the edge rope. These ropes will converge to the heads of the columns which will elevate the net above the earth. This spider web like rigging will hopefully allow an impact of falling into the net to be a predictable and safe endeavor. During all of this construction I have come up with two plans which will mitigate danger. First, in the beginning I will set the wire on two sections of truss not three as ultimately intended. The reason for this is to decrease the distance between the wire and the net which will allow me to more safely accustom myself with the acrobatics required to fall into the net. Thus the fall from the wire to net will initially be only 8 or 10 feet, not the 20 feet it would be if the third section of truss was atop the other two. The other plan already in action is that I am working with a gymnastics coach in Santa Fe to learn some tumbling. I have realized that I need to be able to deal with a fall from the wire which sends me spinning and tumbling by spotting a landing. This way I will lessen the risk of injuring myself by landing badly. Plus I would love to learn to do saltos on the wire. However at the moment I have only managed a salto using a tumble track and landing on a super soft gymnastic pad. I have nowhere near the courage to attempt one on hard ground. Hopefully with more practice some of my fear will be translated into certainty and skill allowing me to safely commit to explosively hurling myself heals over head in order to again land on my feet. After so many year taking big falls onto climbing ropes during which I do everything I can to stay stable and upright while hurtling through the air awaiting the rope’s catch, I now must overcome these reflexes in order to flip and tumble purposefully spinning upside down. I find the Saltos make me dizzy and my heart race. After practicing them for half and hour last week my hands were trembling from adrenaline. Running down the tumble track and flipping onto a big cushy pad is more frightening for me than walking on a high wire where I could die if I fall. So interesting how we can be brave and control our mind to a great extent in some practices and then be cowardly and mentally spastic in others which are unfamiliar.
The other news of note is that I actually made more than just truss and net this month, I am making a sculpture called Bardo. I was invited to participate in a group show of addressing a contemporary vision of Modernism in New Mexico. I have assembled a kit of parts which I will take to the gallery this Friday and make an installation which is to be a spacial / geometric meditation on my understanding of Bardos. I took some animation of some of my experiments with pre-assembly of Bardo in the studio and put together the short clips below. It should give you a sense of the constituent parts and the some possible forms.
I am building the piece from its elemental parts in a new iteration in the gallery. As soon as it is done, I will take some photos and attach them to this process update. Best to all of you and your projects.