Its going to be a long long time

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.

Spring

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.

The Point

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJJqDoPHT_c

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,

Peep

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.

First introduction

Presentation

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.

Feedback

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.

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First moon walk

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Transcript

This is a transcription of a lunar mission downloaded from Nasa. This is a transcription of our last conversation. Mole talks about scores. And how he might use the music of ‘I was strolling through the park one day’ and use notes as a movement choreography. Like footsteps on the moon. He has marked out the footsteps of an astronaut across the page and they look like musical notes. He says: When you are looking at it you find connections. There are three astronauts and there are three of us. One going around the moon and two on the moon. One outside and two inside. Those relationships of that action and what we’re doing. Reminds Mole a lot of what we were doing with Schrodinger actually. It’s finding these parallels. We video everything and they filmed everything. I like the idea of filming everything of marking the cross hair onto the stage of filming everything but filming everything badly. There was a clip of astronauts fixing a rover with gaffer tape. Lisa says you can look at the stars and you look at the moon and you can look historically and see the flag on the moon. We look at the sea of tranquility on Google Sky. There are icons of astronauts holding digital flags. They have shadows. They look like musical notes too. Like a score on the surface of the moon. You can see where they left landing craft, rubbish, debris. Mole says Apollo 14 was the one where they played golf. He says Apollo 15 was the one with the car. It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. It is all here. http://www.google.com/moon

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Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

  • Tap shoes
  1. Step 1

    Learn the count to the soft shoe break, which is “1&a2&a3&a4a&a5a6a7&8.” The soft shoe break is a rather complicated combination.

  2. Step 2

    Recognize that the count alone might not make a lot of sense to you, especially if you’re new to dancing. Slowly learn to combine the count with the steps.

  3. Step 3

    Start memorizing the order of the steps in the soft shoe break: Step-brush-ball-change-shuffle-hop-shuffle-step-shuffle-hop-step-flap-flap-stamp-stamp.

  4. Step 4

    Step to the left on your left foot and brush ball (right) change (left) in front of your left foot to the count of “1&a2.”

  5. Step 5

    Shuffle hop on your right foot and then shuffle step on your right foot, stepping back. The count is “&a3&a4.”

  6. Step 6

    Shuffle hop step on your left foot, stepping behind the right foot, and doing so on the count of “a&a5.”

  7. Step 7

    Flap your right foot followed by a flap (brush step) with your left foot, doing this combination on the count of “a6a7.”

  8. Step 8

    Stamp your right foot on the count of “&.”

  9. Step 9

    Stamp your left foot on the count of “8.”

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Soft shoe break

Sometimes I see my job here as to catch asides – moments when people say something that might get lost if I don’t write them down. Mole mentioned that he might look at the song ‘I was strolling through the park one day’ that one of the astronauts sings in a video clip we found the other day. He might use it as a movement score. When looking at the lyrics I see the line soft-shoe break in brackets in the chorus. I look this up and find that it means a soft shoe dance that was originally executed while wearing soft shoes and sometimes done on sand. This seems to connect with Lisa’s ideas about creating a movement sequence to represent Neil Armstrong’s left foot and Mole’s empty shoes onstage. And moon dust. And moon rock. And the way footprints on the moon will stay there forever. A break occurs in a dance when a noticeable change in the music occurs or even stops. I think of the idea of moon bounce and delay and how we might use a dance as some kind of interlude, some kind of break in transmission, waiting for the signal to arrive 5.4 seconds after it was sent. Maybe we could make footprints in the sand after performing a soft shoe break to ‘I was strolling through the park one day’. Maybe a dance based on delay and waiting. A dance of questions and answers. A dance of call and response between someone on the moon and someone on earth. A dance to the beep Lisa found that was recorded in 1969 during the moon landing. I think of the line in the song: A smile was all she gave to me. And how Mole’s text said that Leen would be smiling and laughing. Something connects to the song, something’s drawing us into its orbit.

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I was strolling through the park one day

I was strolling through the park one day
In the merry merry month of May
I was taken by surprise
By a pair of roguish eyes
In a moment my poor heart was stole away

A smile was all she gave to me
[soft-shoe break]
Of course we were as happy as can be
[soft-shoe break]

I immediately raised my hat
And finally she remarked
I never shall forget
That lovely afternoon
I met her at the fountain in the park

I was strolling through the park one day
In the merry merry month of May
I was taken by surprise
By a pair of roguish eyes
In the merry merry month of May

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Are you ready for this?

This is somewhere between a warm up and potential movement material and has the awkwardness of astronauts sending messages back from space. Delayed by satellite signals and not used to standing in front of cameras. Maybe recording a message for a loved one in case something goes wrong on the mission. Like in sci-fi films like Sunshine. There are also moments where it reminds me of astronauts playing on the moon. Kicking rocks. Throwing objects to see how far they go. There are other moments where I imagine the spinning bone from 2001: Space Odyssey turning into the spacecraft. Some of the text in the video is from a transcription of astronauts on the moon. Mole finds transcriptions of space missions from NASA which he will look at as a text next week. He also wants to listen to the planets by Holst. He says his mum used to play them really loudly ‘to scare off the birds’. I remember listening to them in assembly at school and each time we were shown a model of the planet we were listening to. Today we talked about using fruit to recreate the solar system. A watermelon for Jupiter. A plum for pluto. A pumpkin as the sun. Mole says he wants to consider the objects in the space as planets. The globe. The broom. The vacuum cleaner. He likes the fact that the vacuum cleaner is literally a vacuum in space. There is a logic to it.

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