Got up at 8 am, to make it in time to CQT – Jenny and I are going to the press-interview, together with Carolyn – somewhere at the Campus. Lonce is already there.
Two students show up for the PR-meeting, two journalists from an English and a Chinese newspaper and two photographers. Ken Hoong arrived later. I was surprised by the two journalists. In Germany I have mainly experienced older men, being very ‘experienced’ and barely interested (only news-paper-people, not Radio – this is different!). Especially local-newspaper-photographers have nearly no time and just rush by, making silly photos. Much different here: two young ladies – very focused, concentrated and friendly. Lonce presents the whole residency-series and introduces briefly all projects – he passes over to me. I decribe, why I applied, what experiences I already have, what I am interested in and what I think will happen. They ask, if I had have a show in Asia – I deny, also I haven’t been in Asia before.
Now the students describe their interests, expectations and experiences. One of them says, he wants to know how artists work and think. He sees parallels in art and science – creativity for instance. Engineers want answers and solutions. Scientists ask questions, if they got an answer, the ask the next question. This is actually the best motivation to engage – being curious. Despite, that both had not much to do with art before, their answers were bright and clever. Also Jenny and Lonce think so. Photo-shooting afterwards at the university park, nearby. Since I have no work to offer, yet – I offer myself as artwork, wearing a labour-blue lab-coat with some invented logotype on it. The younger photographer shoots me in different poses at a small hill with University in the back, the second one Lonce and me, the park in the back. While shooting photos, I chat with Lonce, that whatever a photographer says – I will never ever make silly gestures, faces or anything the like, that I do not want in front of a camera again. No chance.
Afterwards Lonce shows me around. We visit Serene to fix all the financial stuff. I paid many expenses in advance, so I really hope, it doesn’t take as long, as at the University of Dresden (TUD) to get it back. This would mean months. When I hold lectures for the TUD, from April-July – I will get all the money around middle of September – I have to work ‘in advance’. The art-school in Dresden (HfBK) wasn’t better, at the time, when I worked there as graduate assistant, by 2007. People hired by contract have the worst position, they are not protected through any labour-laws. Anyway, I guess it will not happen at NUS, since Serene came back to us, some minutes later, she figured out a way to pay my expenses within next weeks, from what I understood.
I saw the Keio-NUS Cute Center at the Interactive and Digital Media Institute. Roshan, responible for the AmbiKraf, introduced me to various examples of the project. Only, we didn’t had much time – I had to prepare my board-meeting and Lonce had some lunch-appointment.
The packet with books, that I sent didn’t arrive yet. Damn, since I selected various examples of science-art-works, ‘cabinets of curiosities’ and other related to topic to show it at the board meeting. I really hope it will be here before monday, when the student-workshop takes place.
Board-meeting to prepare … Jenny helps me with the set-up. At 3:45 pm some students are already there. I already knew them from the press conference this morning. Phyo arrives – he takes photos, Keng Hoong and Phyllis asked him, he is a student, too. One after another people join – at 4:03 pm, seven people are present. Vo Nhat, Luo Yuan, Shazed, Daniel, Johannes, Lu Yin, Debashis and me. Jenny and Julian joining later. I miss Isabelle, I am wondering what kept her away, since she seemed really interested in the project. Welcoming the board and asking them to introduce themselves – what are they interested in and if there is anything, that should happen or especially not happen.
I have the impression, that my way of communication is strange to them, since I am not valuing statements in general. Sometimes commenting, but rarely – and if so not as false or true, but just as agree and disagree. So, I explain my role, that I would like the board to be really ‘democratic’ (I asked Jenny in advance, if there would be any term to decribe the German ‘basisdemokratisch’, but she can’t think of any other than ‘flat hierarchies’). I am rather moderating the discussion, then entertaining ideas, that will have to deal with. As I suggested in the concept – the board should be head, arms and heart of the project. I know, that this is the point where the culture of communication is set-up. What is becoming ‘basic’ now, won’t be easy to change in future.
Frankly, I felt a bit stressed, by the lack of response. I know this situation of ‘beginning’ from student-workshops, also the Geräusch-Chor and projects with IDEE in Prohlis. Often it feels a bit lonely in front of a crowd of people – at least in the beginning, when people don’t know me and each other, it takes a while until a bunch of people become ‘a group’. My first own seminar ( now four years ago) was a called ‘Hoersaal’, it be about sound for students studying architecture. It was quite exotic within this department. Most seminars and workshops had a very practical approach and the idea of dealing with sound, seemed rather unnecessary for architects. Surprisingly, to me. So half of the students reacted slidly irriated, when I played fieldrecordings of bats at the first lesson. They did either laugh or be up-set, only one or two were not surprised. Half of them stayed interested – in the end, we had a very nice and well-recognized exhibition. But it was a far and stony way till there – at least for me.
This reminds me that I saw a video on youtube – ‘Water Walk‘ by John Cage. People would also laugh – behaving, like he is showing comedy. I guess, thats a typical reaction when people don’t understand. When they can not see any ‘sense’ in what is happening. Probably dealing with non-sense is something, that you learn when you study an art-form. John Cage again: “People expect listening more than listening, they speak about the meaning of sound (…) . When I talk about music, it finally came to peoples minds, that I am talking about sound, that doesn’t mean anything. And they say, these people who understand that finally, they say “you mean, just sound?” Thinking, for something just being a sound is – useless. For thus, that I love sounds, just as they are.” John Cage probably got used to these sort of reactions – obviously. Also it looks like he targeted them – not because of provocation, but because of his artistic approach.
After the first lecture of my sound-seminar (that’s how people called it), I thought, I might give up, quit an never try anything like that. It felt horrible. Slowly, because quitting the seminar wasn’t really possible, I found a way of dealing with it, but still I often feel exhausted after these kind of “teachings”, although, that I am used to it now. I observed other people in this situation – spoke with them about their feelings and strategies. In comparison, I offer a lot of space and freedom to participants, I guess. Many people get nervous about that (especially organisers and curators). It is comparable with being silent with a talk. Jenny says, that this is a common interview-technique, to make someone talking, more then he/she wants – to fill the ‘gap’. My silence is not meant to be manipulative – I am just curious and waiting for new input. It is my authentic, artistic strategy. I suffer, if this balance becomes disturbed, by an internal hierachy. Which is absolutly NOT the case at CQT – I am glad!
Only one thing challenges me – the English language! I guess, my English isn’t too bad (despite, that I won’t win the Nobel-Prize for Literature for English Language – as I friend said) but in German language, I am someone, that is very precise in words and meaning, I like to play around with subtext e.g.. My understanding is based on language. I estimate, that I can express three times more in German, than in English. But I don’t complain – it is just, that I feel insecure concerning this part. Different accents, that I have to get used to – people here, seem not aware of that. They speak as it would be the only way to speak English. Often times I have a delay in understanding and therefore in my reaction, since my brain needs time to interpret the differents sounds to words.
After 5 pm people want to leave. We finish by 5:15 pm. Jenny helps me to tidy the room and bring back the stuff to level 3 – in our office. Phyo joins us – he wants to portrait me. Jenny says I must feel like a model, today. Only, that I am very exhausted. I pose in the Quantum Cafe and in front of the office with the CQT sign behind. Meeting Kuldip, while shooting photos. I look tired, can’t do much about it. My limit is reached. Some photos are fine. Coping them on the computer. Thanking Phyo.
Evon comes in – we try again to get a ‘Dictionary of Philosopy’ altough after the first meeting, I don’t know if we will need it. When I mentioned nano-philosophy, laughter occurs. A vivid discussion breaks out. I asked them to leave it until next time. Also Jenny haven’t heard of it before – only nano-ethics. I wonder about this, since philosophy is the basis of understanding – to me.
Meeting Vlatko, boss of Libby and Agata. He tells me about a project by Ian Spooner, he was involved with. Jenny says, he has a gift in explaination.. Asking her about the first board-meeting, she found, that is was a good starting point, although we would need more artists at the board. I am glad to hear – but I have to leave, to give my brain a break – it hurts (reminding me always on Monty Python: ‘Doctor, my braaaiiiin huuuuurrtzzzzz‘ My brain is in superposition it feels empty and brimfull at the same time. I have to be careful, not to cause traffic accidents, since cars contineusliy are driving ión the wrong side of the road.
At home I chat with Konrad, edit photos, writing emails. Having meal, discovered now, hwo to order Vegetarian dishes. Went to bed, glad to sleep longer, then today. Didn’t drink coffee at all!