In the summer of 2009 Reckless Sleepers spent 2 weeks with a snowman, we’d made something inanimate move.
In the winter of 2010 it snowed and it snowed and it snowed and the whole country was at a standstill, the whole country was painted white.
In the winter of 2010 I wanted to do some writing, I wanted to take that work that we had done with a snowman further, but I needed the snow to stop, I needed that I’d forgotten what snow was and what snow meant, but it was impossible to do this surrounded by the stuff.
For a brief moment the snowman existed as a performer, he stood along side us, but he got in the way.
In the early spring of 2010 I spent a couple of days in the peak district to look over what we had produced, to think about how to take this further, and it started snowing again.
I’d had enough.
And I drew a picture of a snowman becoming a spaceman.
I’d gone through all the video documentation; I’d seen the same material with the snowman and the material where the snowman was replaced by a VAC cleaner.
I preferred the material with the VAC; I’d had enough at looking at snow it was time to move on.
Stuck out in the cold peaks with a load of food left over from our board away weekend, looking at the amount of waste that it was possible to produce in a few days, thinking about how we don’t know where things come from any more.
Like electricity that comes from a machine a long long way away, we no longer know where our food is from.
It’s about things being far away, but very close. Like electricity but then the thing that makes it is far away, it’s like the man on the moon.
I’d noticed that I walked like a spaceman as a technician changing a cable, I’d noticed that the sound that Leen was making hearing here breath was like the sound made from inside a spacesuit, and then I noticed that the only music that we played was Rocket Man (I think its gonna be a long long time) by Elton John.
That we talk about being up and falling from 54,000 ft we could either crash or land.
Our programme had taken a fall, we’d proposed something that failed, and we needed to look again.
I’d been looking forward to the equinox, I’d been looking forward to the clocks changing, the boat race and the Grand National, so I knew that spring was officially here.
It had been such a cold winter and with no heating in the place that I would normally work I’d resorted to manual labour to keep warm, 10 kilos has gone had melted away and I hadn’t once visited the gym.
Everyone said how trim I looked, no one knew that for the best part of 2 months I had been covering myself with a layer of dust, or white paint.
Armed with this new enthusiasm and new look we started work at the point in Eastleigh, we’d arrived in a strange place almost clinical, it wasn’t very homely the space was white, the walls were white we had single beds, it looked like we were here to wok and that was all that we were going to do.
On the first working day I said that I wanted to find some movements that related to spacemen, I was looking for filmic moments like in 2001 a space Odyssey.
The first thing I found was this
Called astronaut acting retarded. We couldn’t look back.
For the next two weeks we downloaded as much material that we could find, made our own versions of the lunar walks, made a moon dance with a globe that we found in the store room next door, swept Leen underneath the dance floor to become a moon rock, placed radio microphones close to our mouths so that you could hear us breath. Restaged events that took place 40 years ago, found the transcripts from the 5 lunar landings…
We’d thought about the rehearsals that the astronauts would have made, rehearsing the landing understanding how to move within a different gravitational pull. Fall over in a slow motion style – it was much more fun, much more like what we needed to do.
In the summer of 2009 40 years and a few days after the first ever moon landing we were in a much darker place, by the spring of 2010 we’d found something new.
On the last day of our residency at the Point The American president announced the plan to send a manned space flight to mars, the sky above us was quiet, flights from the UK had been cancelled by a volcano 1000 miles away.
Everything started to make more sense.
It’s going to be a long long time
Rocket man ( I think it’s going to be a long long time) Elton John 1972
She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight
And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone
Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don’t understand
It’s just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man
And I think it’s gonna be a long long time…
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, cant hear this bit.
Were going to travel a little further than we did with the Pilots, there’s going to be 3 of us,
The snowman had become a spaceman, I got home and I picked up a book that was given to me years ago, In search of the Men who fell to Earth MOON DUST by Andrew Smith, in the first few pages because that’s as far as I have got, I’d already started to make notes.
I learnt that on the second moon mission Pete Conrad had taken a cassette player with him, so that they could dance to The Girl from Ipenema, and The Archies ‘Sugar Sugar’. On another page Smith describes the astronauts as wearing abominable snowman suits in only a few pages I knew that the materials were starting to accumulate that we had found something that fascinated us, kept us up till the early hours of the morning, looking at another bit of footage, reading another transcript. This was going to be a very different project, it was going to be a long long time.
On the 15th April 2010 we presented our first work in progress, to a group of 10 people, who’d arrived 10 minutes late, our countdown clock read 50 instead of 60 we started it on the hour and we were waiting.
Introduction (including countdown) – Leen teaches Lisa how to move – Leen is swept under the carpet (Dance Floor) Lisa and Mole learn one small step routine – dance to beep twinkle twinkle little star – Sound check – Play its going to be a long long time – Kick the moon rock (Leen) Stop the music – Moon dance.
We’d purposefully not rehearsed, that was the point, we’d been working for 10 days and we’d found something new, I’d resisted putting things together because I knew that this wasn’t the time or the place, we’d constructed 3 pieces of material from things that we could remember, the things that we could remember editing out those that we had forgot.
After 20 minutes of something very rough, something very unfinished we stopped.
We moon danced off stage and conventionally walked back on again.
I’d missed out a whole sequence, but that didn’t seem to matter, too much, we were nervous, and a bit worried, and we’d made something mad and it was time to share it.
The 3 of us sat there like at a press conference (in our own minds looking like Armstrong Aldridge and Collins) we’d made that presumption all week Leen and myself were Neil and Buzz, I’m convinced that I am more Buzz than Neil, and Lisa was Michael Collins circling above us to pick us up and take us home.
The next day we all went home Leen was the first, I went second and left Lisa behind as far as I know she’s still there.
The planes were still not running the air was quiet and the airports were closed.