Hand Map Narrative

From here to there, from there to here

Directions 1Directions 2

A verbal map taken as dictation over the phone is full of visual cues from this place to that and is no less fascinating than a tangible map or one on a mobile phone that charts a territory with scale miles, highways, secondary roads.

A verbal map charts the brain, a brain that doesn’t know East from West, a brain that forms an “L’ out of thumb and forefinger to tell left from right, that can’t calculate distance, that panics when disoriented. Ultimately, it’s a map of how we perceive orientation and geography. Or how we don’t.

We came up with just this kind of map when Ann D’Antonio sought help from Dylan Hoey to plan a trip from Wassenaar, The Netherlands, to Leidschenveen, about 20 kilometers away. Help came in a phone call at the eleventh hour, when D’Antonio realized she had no idea how to get there the next morning. She couldn’t afford a wrong turn. She had to be on time for an early audition. Her accompanist would be driving there with her.

Thanks to Hoey’s verbal directions and visual cues— left at the Shell station, right at the McDonald’s— she made the audition on time. Being a woman she needed them like a life buoy. Study after study shows that the preponderance of women get around best with a picture narrative in their brains. Navigating by the heavens, a paper map, a globe, or 1s and 0s seems to suit y chromosome holders better. Hoey, a man who has no trouble looking at the sun to determine exactly where he is day or night, understood that D’Antonio’s brain is geographically damaged.

Reversing directions in The Netherlands, however, is seldom the way home. Something about secondary roads not leading directly to the highway and roundabouts having confusing markers conspired to make D’Antonio miss her turn on a road she has traveled for 14 years. The U-Turn sign in the far distance, though merciful, wasn’t salvation enough. The 6-kilometer detour it called for meant that her accompanist, who woke up extra-early that morning, arrived 15 minutes late to his own rehearsal.

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The Little Blue Petticoat

How Glass Skirts Kept Us Warm

We are currently exploring ideas for a public sculpture that will feature discarded glass insulators as shown in the two pictures below.

The city of Montreal, with Hydro-Québec, is currently involved in moving its electrical grid below ground. One of the leftover products of this process are the insulators made all over North America from the early 1800s on.

http://www.hydroquebec.com/learning/distribution/images/i_mtl_1920.jpg

1920s Montreal utility poles

These important pieces of Québec history will be either thrown out or recycled in some way.

Electrical wires once ribboned the landscape of urban and rural North America. Like the trans-continental railroads in Canada and the United States, the wires-and the glass blue insulators that capped them– shaped the nations, economies and citizens. Not only did they bring electricity to the vast expanses of both countries but eventually the telegraph and telephone too, uniting the coasts and the citizens in between.


The blue glass caps, little domes with flared petticoats/skirts, some the color of sea glass (see photo above), topped the telephone poles that stood every hundred feet or so apart. This image hardly needs description except for those readers too young to remember. In cities the poles and wires were a tangle overhead that marred the visual landscape. On the plains they might have been the only thing to look at.

In Québec the lines began to go underground in 2000. Currently 9% are buried. The project, an initiative of Hydro-Québec, continues today. The reason:  Harsh weather, safety, aesthetics plus technology. In the words of Hydro-Québec, “People prefer trees to telephone poles” (http://www.hydroquebec.com/quartiersansfil/reseau_souterrain.html
).

As a result, the gorgeous little pieces of blue are collectibles, having been manufactured as early as 1830 and produced no longer. But to us they are a source of fascination as sculptural components.

Hemingray glass insulators 

The role of Hydro-Québec in the Quiet Revolution in Québec

Hydro-Québec’s role in the Quiet Revolution in Québec will be an important factor in the sculpture. The link between the glass insulators we plan to use and Québec’s national energy company is clear. When Hydro-Québec was nationalised in 1963, Québec was already on its path toward stating its independence and promoting its distinct culture within Canada. Hydro-Québec could provide abundant electricity to to all parts of Québec at a uniform rate. Québec became master of its own electricity requirements. Hydro-Québec encouraged use of local engineering and  helped develop Québec’s international reputation. It became a symbol of  “La Révolution Tranquille.” The image below shows some of the important developments during the twenty-year period between 1960 and 1980 that involves Hydro-Québec and the politics of the time. Click on image to enlarge.

Sources:

http://www.hydroquebec.com/learning/distribution/images/i_mtl_1920.jpg

http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/edu/ViewLoitDa.do?method=preview〈=EN&id=926

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Sounds and Time Keeping

“My friends here have stories to tell and they do so freely if anyone would listen. The stories pressure them to be released and when they reach the air sound like poems read backward, scrambled in syntax, terribly rich in imagination. No one in his right mind could make this stuff up. Their stories have no beginning, middle, or end. This pleases me greatly. Mine don’t either. My friends are young and old as are their stories, and as they repeat their gestures over and over— washing hands, wiping door handles, reading the signs in the hall full voice, chin jutted in air— nobody minds. Nobody bats an eye. The nearby church bell is tolling now and I am sad. It is the weekend and some of my friends have been forgotten by family. It is All Soul’s Day; they are lost.” —The Nuthouse Diaries ©2010
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The ambient sounds from the corridors and from outside the clinic, such as the church bells, were a guide for the writer as to time of day, the day of the week.

    1. Shoes through the corridors. The nature of each sound indicated which kind of shoe was being worn and who was wearing it. Nurses wore clogs. Patients mostly slippers. Doctors (mostly women) wore boots.

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    1. Some sounds were attached to certain of the other patients. Mina knocked 5 times on each door before going out on her imaginary dates.

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    1. The nurses locked and checked each door twice before lights out at night.

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    1. From within the writer’s room, the sound of doors opening and shutting was a constant.

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    1. The sound the table being set for meals marked time very accurately as breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at the same time each day.

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    1. The sounds of the television was constant as well. It stayed on all day until lights out.

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    1. The walls were thin between each apartment. Toilets flushing, taps running, showers taken were clearly heard between rooms.

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Who You Callin’ Crazy?

“Stop acting crazy.” “Can you just act normal?” These expressions are embedded in our culture.”Who You Callin’ Crazy?” is the working title of a short film we’re putting together. It is based on “Nuthouse I and II,” a set of diaries written while the author was hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic in The Netherlands in October 2010. The history of cinema is filled with the portrayal of madness as the distortion of normalcy. We question whether normalcy itself is distortion. The sands between these states are shifting, and herein lies our fascination with the diaries.

Diaries for "Who You Callin' Crazy".

We are are thinking about how best to recreate the  fluidity and relativity of time represented in the original story. Like mood and state of mind, atmosphere is intangible but palpable, making it ticklish to re-create. What follows is a set of colored storyboards detailing some skeletal elements:

  • The characters (both patients and non-patients), represented in the color blue;
  • The sounds, represented in orange;
  • The locations within the hospital, represented in red;
  • The repeated gestures, represented in green;
  • The marking of time, represented in black;
  • The element of the patient’s storytelling, mostly fantastic and surreal, represented by purple.

Skeletal storyboard for "Who You Callin' Crazy?"

The author twisted the diaries into a story of distortion— of the mind, of time, of narrative. The story presents the surreal as well as the tragic aspects of being hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic . The characters are real.

The film will be produced without using actors. We are interested in using narrative, sounds/music, and light as the basis for this production.

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All updates on this project will be placed in the category “Short Film”/”Who You Callin’ Crazy.”

 

 

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Century of Dialogue

“Let this be the century of dialogue.”  —Dalai Lama

Art makes sense of all that surrounds me. Without it there is no understanding.
It is the universal language.

Scrap metal heap surrounding Delft, The Netherlands, 52° North Latitude, awaiting the dialogue of art.

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