In 2011, I began to create Ghost lines, exploring the body as a conduit for transformation. Inspired by ghost towns, silent era clown films, and Samuel Beckett’s Ghost Trio, the masked characters in Ghost lines conjure remnants from a lost world, as if rising from the dust storms of the Great Depression. I was interested in the metaphoric idea of a ghost town as a parallel to our failing cultural economy: a completely abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, or war. In 2007 my father died in the high deserts of Apple Valley, California and I began to wonder about my family connection to a ghost town in Nevada called Olinghouse. I was immediately moved by images, stories, fantasies and feelings of this imaginary space. I found this posting from someone visiting Olinghouse “Even in 1970 there was nothing much left of the [Olinghouse] town other than the remains of fallen down buildings and what appears to be the skeleton of an old wagon.” This past year, I’ve been creating a freestyle movement language where I conjure a series of imagined spaces, forms, and languages in a continuous line drawing. The Ghost line was a way to remember, imagine, and invent – and transform these spaces of decay and loss.
Photo taken by my Aunt Rose Tyson in her recent trip to the Olinghouse ghost town
In August, at The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, I developed a duet version with shadowshaper, Eva Schmidt. My interest has been to create a sustainable art practice where Ghost lines can be reconstituted in a variety of ways – through film, live art happenings, live performance, as photos, drawings, and an ongoing freestyle solo practice. We are currently creating a shadowshaper series to appear through New York City, in a series of free and unannounced live art happenings – keep your eyes out for us if you’d like some clues on how to catch a sneek peek!
Photo by Andy Jordan, Ghost lines in Prospect Park
Ghost lines was first performed at The Yard, a contemporary artist residency, dance and performance center, as part of the Bessie Schonberg Choreographers’ and Dancers’ Residency on September 3, 2011.
Shona Masarin and I met this past fall while working on a film restoration project for Elaine Summers film of Trisha Brown’s 1971 Walking on the Wall at The Whitney. I have been working in the archives for the Trisha Brown Dance Company since 2009 and Shona as Elaine Summers film assistant since 2011. Cataloguing video since 2002 and not being able to touch, see or come in contact to the material inside the cassette jacket, I was amazed to experience a tactile and sensory connection to 8mm and 16mm film. The physical and ephemeral nature of film connects to my ongoing interest in vaudeville, silent clown, and eccentric dance – forms that are fading in our contemporary art culture today.
Shona brings a wide-range of techniques into play, including hand painting and tinting film, hand-processing, bleach experiments, frame-by-frame animation, collage and drawing, and contact printing on home-made emulsion. Her work is often the result of in-process discovery as she intuitively explores the possibilities of the medium. This process is related to that of the surrealists with their automatic poetry and exquisite corpses. Her exploration is largely tactile and haptic, oriented by touch.
With Shona, we began to see the possibility to forge a new visual language, re-imagining the aesthetics from Vaudeville and early Dada and Surrealist films through experimental film techniques and tactics. In the film, we see images moving between materialist/formal abstractions and dreamlike narrative forms. We are not interested in following a linear narrative. Instead, we are interested in using the bits and pieces of a narrative as triggers to explore memory, history, dreams, myth, and the collective unconscious. In ghosting these languages that are seen as historical, archival, and antiquated, there is a possibility to forge a new seeing of the ephemeral.
Stay tuned as our Ghost line film unfolds! We urge you to check out our Kickstarter page to find out more our project! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/139958170/ghost-line