Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sonosopher Update - November 19th


After one year of filming in Utah, New York City, and Italy, we are hard at work editing The Sonosopher. Filming in so many locations has provided us with a wealth of footage covering Alex's life, performances, and methods. We are getting anxious to share it with all of you and expect to hold our first screenings by this May. We will soon be launching our website to host trailers, updates, clips, and press that our film receives. We'd like to thank everybody for your continued support, and to remind you to continue to visit our blog for weekly updates at:

Until later,
The Sonsopher crew

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quick Update

It has been some time since we last updated.
We have been doing a lot lately, despite our absence on this blog.

This is what we've been doing over the past few weeks:
-Capturing all of our footage onto our hard drives (which has to be done in 15 minute intervals, in real-time), so that has been eating away at our time. That means we are still in the initial phases of the long, long process of editing...mostly capturing footage, cutting things that we don't like and/or know won't work in the film, and conceptualizing how the film is going to be composed from what we have, and then determining what we can and should still get on film.
-Filming the last few performances, interviews (etc.) with Alex...we'll wrap up all the filming by September/early-October (hopefully).
-Continuing to film a long list of interviews with Alex's family, friends, enemies, fellow poets, and colleagues.
-Working on preserving/digitizing many of Alex's written and visual works, both for general archival, and for use in our film.
-Being very picky, slow to make decisions, and anal about the design of The Sonosopher Website ...which is why it hasn't been updated to how it is really going to look yet. Let's all thank Eleanor for being patient and helping us out so much.

Very soon we will have some clips to show, as well as an 'official trailer' for the film, so keep checking back.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Here is a link to the very, very beginnings (it is pretty much still empty right now) of a website we are working on: 
Keep an eye on it. This website will host Alex's main site. It will also be the official website for our film, and will be an integral part of our ongoing effort to archive Alex's work.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

keep checking for our updates from the nyc/italy/sicily trip...we didn't have enough time (and then we were too lazy) to post them all over here too... ;)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

internet hassles

just thought we would check in
internet connections are very spotty
and right now we are online at the hotel paying too much to use it
things are going very well and we are safe and sound
in florence today
heading to assisi tomorrow
driving south toward sicily the next day, staying in naples
driving to sicily the day after that...
we have been keeping up with daily postcards, and will post them ASAP
the laptop cant get wireless access at this hotel, so we cannot upload them right now
will upload them next time we can get wireless...
we hope all is well back home...

Friday, May 9, 2008

new updates

sorry we haven't update for a few days, we haven't been able to get much access the internet. however, we have been doing these postcards everyday, so keep checking back. here's a bunch of updates.

5/8 - heading to italy

First things first, we want to say THANK YOU to the Gibbs family (Linda, Michael, Graham, and Chelsea), for letting stay in their basement all week long, letting us use their vehicles, and driving us to and from the trains everyday. We appreciate it so much... It was great spending time with you throughout the week and we hope to stay in touch with you!

5/7 - day trip to Philly

click image to enlarge.

5/6 - the MET and an interview

click image to enlarge.

5/5 - performance @ nightingale lounge

click image to enlarge

5/4 - filming in manhattan/performance @ bowery club

click image to enlarge it.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

2nd day in NYC, feels like 2nd week! (lots to do, lots of walking)

Click image to enlarge it. We filmed some awesome performatives (poems/performances) at the school with Alex (both digital with the DVX and 8MM film!). Richard Kostelanetz is a great, long-time scholar of Avant-Garde art/artists and has written on Alex's performance and written poetry. Specifically, Richard included Alex in his incredibly ambitious document "A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes", and his anthology on sound poetry "Text-Sound Texts". Follow the links above to learn more about Richard (whom we interviewed today for the documentary!), the dictionary that Alex is included in, and the anthology that Alex is included in.

Monday, April 21, 2008

my scattered response to a recent inquiry

1.) "What, in your studied opinion, is the philosophy behind sonosophy?"

-To answer this I can try to quote Alex (from memory) :
"Sonosophy is to sound what Philosophy is to ideas..."
So, I guess there is no philosophy behind Sonosophy, as Sonosophy is a different project/discipline altogether. Sonosophy investigates sound as a primary way of understanding our emotions, our surroundings, our history, our selves, and so on. Sonosophy investigates that which Philosophy investigates, but in a different, more physical manner. The explanation of Sonosophy is rather elusive, it can't be explained nearly as much as it can be felt or experienced. Sonosophy is about experiencing sound in and through our bodies (voices, ears, chest, bones, flesh) in various localities, those localities being in nature or in man-made environments. Sound and word is regarded as the primary/essential creative action/medium/process to engage in. Soundwaves, vibrations, oscillations, tones are what hold things in our world together, on a very basic and fundamental level. This is the best I can do right now in this explanation. This project is a total collaboration, so please get an answer from Torben and/or Alex for more description and clarity...and feel free to ask me a more detailed question.

2.) "Why did you start up this project?"

We originally started up this project because Torben and I perceived a general lack of outside documentation of Alex's work. After being exposed to many of Alex's performances, classes (taught at UVSC), and written poetry/visual works, we had both developed a deep respect and love for Alex's creative work. Alex is a very influential teacher/mentor to us, and as we work with him we continue to develope a close friendship. In our view, such a unique, vital, and active artist calls for more attention and documentation. At first, our main goal was to begin documenting Alex's poetry, performance, and visual art. As we began to do that, the documentation project basically morphed into various projects of various sizes, this documentary film being the major project. The documentary film idea incited a lot of creative energy within us, and it simultaneously received a lot of immediate support, and so we are going through to the end with it. Also, in working with Alex and getting accustomed to Alex's working processes and methodologies, several ideas for projects continue to be planted, some of which will be connected and will work their way into our documentary film, others will be separate and may even go beyond the film itself. Other projects include a website: (which will be the main site for the documentary film), but will also continue to meticulously document and archive Alex's written and visual works. Other ideas that have been planted include future collaborations on performances that include filming as an element within the performance, as well as documentation of performance. Alex is very organized and works very diligently on a high volume of diverse things. We hope to help Alex develop some of those things to their potential and bring them out into the sun. Working with Alex is an extremely fluid and fertile experience where the process of creation is paramount. The primary purpose is to engage in creative activity/process; curious investigation into the mysterious, the unknown, and to bring from those realms manifestations (finished products/artworks) that somehow illustrate the experiences. I hope that makes sense, I'm not sure I understand the whole project. If it is just the film you are thinking about, then it is generally about documenting the life, current and existing works, and creative processes that Alex is engaged in. Again, please also talk to Torben and Alex...and feel free to ask more detailed questions.

Monday, April 14, 2008


We want to thank everyone that helped us out with the benefits at UVSC and Ken Sanders Rare Books, both of which were very successful. As of today all of our expenses are covered for our trip to NYC and Italy/Sicily...which is a MASSIVE relief. We've had our plane tickets for quite some time now and it has been kind of up in the air whether or not we were going to have all the funds that we had budgeted the travel costs, transportation, food, film, equipment, etc. Now, with that taken care of, we can now fully focus on getting the best possible footage while we are away. We are right on time with our original schedule for shooting, editing, and promoting the film. The School of General Academics at UVSC has been especially helpful in the past few weeks, thanks especially to Bonnie Henrie and Michelle Kearns. Also, we want to note that the Integrated Studies Department has constantly helped us from the very beginning...we wouldn't have ever been able to get this project off the ground without the sustained support we've received from Don LaVange and Scott Abbott. 
We also want to thank all of the various private donors, the many UVSC schools/departments/programs, and all those who helped us along the way in getting this far, there are way too many at this point to name comprehensively in a single blog post. We still have a lot of work to do on the film, but we feel confident that we can do it, and do it well...especially with such incredible support.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

loose concept for film?

How do you construct a profile of someone's life? Certainly presenting a life through a falsely linear and chronological order is insufficient. In fact, any attempt to present an all-encompassing portrait will prove inadequate. However, the best method i currently can conceive of is a conscious attempt to capture the fragmentary nature of life moments --- the complex web of connected impressions, emotions, and experiences --- dispersed throughout one's 'past' and 'present'. Symbols (a childhood toy, your home, a high school notebook) become containers which act as worm holes to transfer us fluidly through these temporal fragments. The emphasis is placed on motion. Once in a while we place our finger down and stop the spinning coin to reveal an image. This new structure allows us to manipulate past conventions and enter a realm in which the need for many past documentary techniques can be re-envisioned. For example, establishing shots no longer simply establish place and time, they distort place and time, becoming a river, carrying one 'paused' moment to the next. Today in aesthetics we were reading Dewey. This passage popped out to me in light of this stream of thought: "Experience like breathing is a rhythm of intakings and outgivings . Their succession is punctuated and made a rhythm by the existence of intervals, periods in which one phase is ceasing and the other is inchoate and preparing" (Nature of Art 148). Essentially, the film is trying to get at the rhythm of Alex's life (using symbols, experiences, performances, interviews, etc.), to punctuate revealing and perceived meaningful intervals. After class Nancy mentioned that the term "holiday" derives from the meaning "hole in time." These punctuated moments are basically personal holes in time, significant holidays or plot points of one's formated identity. Of course, this is not to say that each point moves to the next point causally, but rather, relationally. In other words, it's not a + b = c. It's a series of seemingly scattered impressions connected relationally. When I was on my mission in Thailand, I went into a bathroom of some other elders. In the bathroom I saw a bottle of Cool Water cologne. Having worn this cologne most of my time in high school, I picked it up and smelled it. A flood of memories carried me through high school and fractured memories. I didn't only smell Cool Water, I smelled Cool Water covering up the marijuana smoke on my clothes. It made me think of visine. It made me think of my girlfriend. It transported me. This is what I'm talking about. This is the loose concept for the structure of the documentary --- a passage through moments, symbols, and abstractions, transporting the audience through the motion of dream-like manifestations of life at its most earnest and open form. This is just the beginning of questioning. Within questioning, there seems to be implicit motion, less concrete, but more substantial than answers. My mind is blown.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

it rains even on who's already wet

Please join us at 7:00 p.m. on April 12th at Ken Sanders Rare Books (268 South 300 East, SLC). Alex Caldiero will be performing several of his new works. Admission is free. This is a benefit for the documentary project "The Sonosopher". Donations will be accepted and there will be a silent auction on rare books and artwork, as well as select baked goods/food items. Click on the image above to enlarge it and to view more details about the event. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Italian Poets, Past and Present

Please join us April 4th at UVSC in room SC206a from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Alex Caldiero will be performing/reciting the poetry of many Italian poets, both past and present. Admission is free. This is a benefit for the current documentary project "The Sonosopher". Donations will be accepted and there will be a silent auction on rare books and artwork, as well as select baked goods/food items. Click on image to enlarge it and to view more details about the event. Hope to see you there.

Quick Update

Wow. It's been a long time since we updated this site. We have been working like crazy on the film. We've been doing a lot of shooting, fund raising, and getting prepared to go to New York City and Italy/Sicily. Thing are going very well for us. We got our plane tickets for both of our trips, we leave in about 5 weeks. We are working really hard on fund raising, not only for our trip, but for all of the post production cost that are going to come up after we get back. We'll be back soon with more updates. Life is crazy right now with this, school, work, and life in general.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

a thought...

If this film is going to be true to Alex, it needs to be surprising in every sense of the word.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Text Journal Entry #5 (Travis)

Entry from 12.29.07 - Saturday

Just a real quick update here. I watched the footage from Alex’s performance on 12.13.07 at Gallery 110 in Provo. The footage looks incredible. Torben was shooting with the DVX100A and I was shooting just with a cheaper 3ccd camera, so Torben’s footage looks a little bit better. However, both sets of footage look quite good. Cade’s audio should sound great, so when we sync it up to the video we should have a great document of the performance. Ashley also caught some really good still shots. I’m sure we’ll be able to use quite a bit of the footage.

Torben captured a great shot at the very beginning of the performance...Alex is humming/droning with his voice and Torben has a great shot of him, while behind Alex, in a reflection on a window you can see the audience reacting to him in several different ways. This shot may even be a great way to start our documentary...starting right out with how Alex begins performances, and at the same time, showing various reactions to him. Other great shots are when we (Torben and I) are really paying close attention to Alex’s movements. For instance, one that I capture is when Alex is really belting out some choppy phrases and my camera is capturing his words by jolting back and forth in sync with his rhythms, pretty interesting. Torben captured a great piece where Alex is breathing quite heavily and saying words in rhythm with his breath...Torben quickly begins tapping the zoom back and forth along with Alex’s rhythmic breathing. The effect is noticeable, but not overt. It ends up working very well...another thing we can potentially use. For our first filming of a performance, I feel it is a great success. As I said the lighting works perfectly in that space.

The only criticisms that I can muster at this point is that we capture each other in our frames quite often, which is actually not to big of a concern because we will only be using short clips from this event (if anything). Another criticism is that we didn’t get very good establishing shots of the outside of the venue, we got plenty of B-roll inside the venue, but nothing to speak of outside of it. Once again, no big deal, because we can go back anytime and get some solid establishing shots outside with no problems, probably under even better lighting...

I go back to a statement from an earlier entry...if the ratio of actual footage to usable footage really is 1 hour shot to 1 minute used, than we are way ahead! I’m feeling really good about this project. More entries soon. We are going to be working like crazy on our CEL grant very soon. We are applying for the CEL grant at UVSC for $10,000. This money, if we get awarded, will cover many costs including: an Apple MacBook Pro laptop for editing, tapes, external hard drives, and money to get to shooting locations in New York and Sicily. This will really be a huge help and relief if we get it, and I think we have a good chance. More on this later.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


We have a working ending for the film. i'll never divulge.

Disturbing thought...

Is the hunger i feel to make documentaries about certain people and themes any different than going to the store and feeling the hunger to purchase goods? Aren't i fetishizing Alex? Aren't i also making him an object of desire for others?

In Gratitude...

Wow, things are really coming together for us! We wanted to formally express our appreciation to everyone that has helped us along the way. Thanks to Jack Christianson, Stasha Wright, and the Center for Engaged Learning at UVSC (as well as those on the Community of Engaged Learners grant committee(s)) for awarding the CEL grant to our project, this will really help make our project materialize! Thanks to Dean Bonnie Henrie and the School of General Academics at UVSC for supporting our project and approving our application for the CEL grant. Thanks to Scott Abbott, Don LaVange, and the Integrated Studies Department at UVSC for their constant support, and for their generous donation. Thanks to Eleanor Cleverly-Takahashi and Jack Waters and everyone at The College Times (independent newspaper at UVSC) for the amazing article on our project, and for their continued support. Additionally, thanks to the long list of people (that have not yet been named) who signed on to our CEL grant application, that give us advice, encourage us, support us, and help us in this massive process: Jans Wager, David Knowlton, Laurie Whitt, Larry Harper, Alan Clarke, Scott Carrier, Nancy Rushforth, Michaela Giesenkirchen-Sawyer, Phil Gordon, Errin Julkunen-Pedersen, Vegor Pedersen, Erin Donahoe-Rankin, Ben Rankin, Jason Grotegut, Ashley Thalman, Cade Thalman, Andrew James, Marissa Bernhard, Joey Mayes, and (of course) Alex Caldiero. We must be forgetting a few people...if so, we apologize. We certainly wouldn't have ever been able to (or even imagined that we could have) accomplish so much in so little time without so much help.

-Torben Bernhard and Travis Low-

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Camera Boom Donation

Saturday, my wife (who is also a producer on this project) and I had the chance to go up to sugar house in Salt Lake City to Verabel's house. A long time friend of Alex, Verabel kindly offered to donate her camera boom (also known as camera jib) to our project. She is also lending us a very nice tripod to use during the film shoot. We had a nice chat with her and thanked her repeatedly for being so good to us. The project continues to yield results like this. So many people are offering their services to help this project materialize. Thanks Verabel...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Documentary Awarded CEL Grant!

This past Friday we received notification that we have been awarded the Communities of Engaged Learners Grant! This grant will enable us to purchase necessary equipment and assist us in our plans to travel to shooting locations in New York City and Sicily. You can scroll through previous posts to see some of the preparation we put into applying for the grant. Hopefully other artists and filmmakers will be able to utilize this information in applying for their respective projects. That's what this site's about --- documenting our process and hopefully providing others insight into the thrilling, and many times, challenging work of getting a creative project off the ground. We have many more audio files documenting our grant preparation process that we'll post soon. Thanks for stopping by.

My Lunch With El and The College Times

About a month ago I had a lunch appointment with Eleanor Cleverly-Takahashi to discuss grad school options (we just happen to be interested in similar fields). Eleanor was kind enough to meet with me and fill me in on some of the grad schools she's been looking at and let me know about the process involved in applying to numerous grad schools. One school, in particular, that sounds interesting to me is The New School. Could this documentary be the catalyst to land me in a good documentary program? All I care about recently is this documentary. I used to be a perfectionist with my grades, but I find myself increasingly interested in creative possibilities and resting temporarily from the demands of academia. I'm completely absorbed in this project.

Anyhow, during our lunch I mentioned to Eleanor that we are working on this documentary and she offered to publish a piece in the UVU newspaper, The College Times (Eleanor is the Editor-in-Chief). She has a genuine interest in our project and wanted to help publicize some of our efforts surrounding the documentary. She asked managing editor Jack Waters to help with the piece and he did a fantastic job. You can check out the article by clicking on the image below. I'll post a link to their website as soon as they publish the most recent issue online.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Text Journal Entry #4 (Travis)

Entry from 12.26.07 - Wednesday

So, the other night I watched the footage from our interviews of 12.19.07 with Alex. I haven’t watched the footage of the performances yet...perhaps I will do that tonight....

Anyway, Torben was right about the lighting. However, there are some really incredible moments in the footage. If the rule of thumb for making a documentary really is to extract 1 minute of 'usable' footage from every hour we shoot...then we are way way way ahead of the game.

About the lighting...the very first minute, when Alex was sitting over by his painting stuff...there is a PERFECT SHOT!!!...the natural light is coming in from the window and it looks SOOOOOOOOOOO good, which makes the rest of the lighting seem really poor throughout the rest of the conversation. :( We only hang out in that spot for like 45 seconds and then we go into the other room where there is a slight orange tint/hue that just gets really annoying. And then we went back into the other room and hung out right by the door where there is a pretty annoying pink/red tint that is really bad after awhile...then we look at the paintings and stuff and the lighting is from OK to bad...and then we make our way back into the smaller room which seems relieving to the pink/red...but still isn't all that great.

But...(I'm putting my optimistic hat now)...I don't think that we will be using that many extended clips from our conversations (at most maybe a minute...or two...???) and I think that the content/conversation is so good that the visual annoyance won't matter as much as we think, especially in short segments. We also might be able to treat it with color correction in Final Cut (and even switch it to B&W??? if that is possible and/or appropriate).

Having said that...we do need to make every effort to make the lighting down in Alex’s basement workshop as good as we possibly can from now on. We will just have to set aside some time to play around until we get something we are happy with...and then leave the lighting set up that way in each room every time we film. For starters...I am thinking to open the blinds on the windows as much as we can. In the smaller room I think if we shoot during the day/morning, open the blinds and turn off the overhead light the problem might be solved. In the larger room we should open the blinds all the way, and then figure out a way to make the rest of the room light up better...those overheard bulbs suck for filming... We will figure it out.

Like I said, the content is AMAZING, which in my mind is the most important thing, especially in a documentary. The audio sounds great! There are a few moments when I think the mic is a bit to close to Alex, so when he gets really excited and loud there is a slight scratchy sound at the peaks. This is very rare, something we just need to be conscious of. Keeping 3-6 foot distance seems about right. That, and if we are closer to him we can just turn down those levels on the camera a touch. But yeah...the audio is great.

So the point is, I think we are in good shape. We have to figure something out with the lighting down there. Whatever we have to do, even if it means going over there for an hour or two to shoot B-roll stuff and experiment with different possibilities of lighting. And then hopefully Alex will be OK with us leaving that set-up there until we are done shooting down there. The problem is that there is no down time with Alex (which is at the same time a great thing for the documentary)...the minute we get there we are in a fascinating conversation, and to monkey around with equipment feels awkward. But we will have to demand the time it takes to get the lighting right because if we fix the lighting we are in perfect shape.

Oh yes, one last thing, I have a really bad habit of saying 'mmmhhmmm' after everything everybody says. Well, of course not everything, but after every time I view a complete thought/section/paragraph, I will say 'mmhhmm', which is totally inappropriate in the filming. We have to be silent/invisible characters in the film. UNLESS, there is a really good and direct response to one of our thoughts questions, one that needs the context of the question in order to make sense.

I won't let my 'mmmhhmm' habit happen again. It is a habit I have from normal conversation, on that sort of makes me listen while letting people know that I'm listening. But it has to stop when we are filming! Also, there are 2 or 3 times when I try to finish Alex's sentence...another awful habit that I have while conversing...and that bugs the hell out of me!!! Not only for conversation does it seem kind of rude, but it cannot happen in the film!!! Torben did a great job of letting Alex talk and coming in at appropriate moments to enrich and further the conversation. I need to take a lesson from Scott Carrier and learn how to let the person being interviewed/filmed/talked-to know that I'm listening...while being quiet, and just popping in at appropriate moments to ask a question or make a comment to keep 'the subject' talking...or to take them onto a new path...

The conversation was so great. We talked a lot about Alex’s concept of the ‘bio-text’, its purposes, its processes, what it looks like in Alex’s poetry and writing, a little bit about how it applies to our film, and how it really applies to everything! It is is the processes of all of nature. As John Cage said, which is how a portion of the bio-text concept was inspired by/derived from...(something like) ‘the purpose is to mimic nature NOT in its manifestations, but in its processes!’ We are nature, we are created by nature and we are creators in nature...we’ve gotta learn our place in nature because it will move on with out us...creating/doing art is a way of approaching that. If we are rigid in our approach we will break. We must be willing to change and to move into a direction that is accommodating to us and our place in nature. I just realized that I already talked a lot about our conversation above in the previous entry. So I’ll end here...the point is that we are all still trying to figure it all out. It is constantly changing. This bio-text concept is really at the very heart of our project.

To end the entry I must say that this is not bad for the first round. I think I've said too much. Is that possible in a journal? I think this is a decent criticism of our filming...and constructive too. I’m going to go watch the performance footage and I’ll make a journal entry about that soon. I can’t wait to do another interview session with Alex...with better conversations...and perhaps filming his creative processes while figuring out our own process for the film and how the concepts can be applied to everything else.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Text Journal Entry #3 (Travis)

Entry from 12.20.07 - Thursday

Yesterday we went to Alex’s house, into his basement, his workshop. Wow. His life’s work is down there. It is beyond description. There is stuff down there that he has been working on for decades...and he is still working on most of it. Everything he works on is a constant process. There are more books than you could read in 20 years if you stayed down there and read every day...and almost everything is interesting to me. The whole basement is packed full of interesting stuff. All organized in a very chaotic way that I don’t understand, but Alex does in one way or another. Everything has a story and everything is interrelated somehow. I could literally spend years down there discovering new things.

Torben, Alex and I had an amazing conversation and got most of it on tape. I feel like we are documenting really important ideas. When Alex speaks and tells stories I feel like he is retrieving knowledge from a very ancient source. He has an ability to relate every issue, principle, thought, problem, or dilemma to what seems like timeless myths, legends, stories, etc. I suspect that comes from knowing the old Sicilian language, all the other languages he knows, the books he has read, the experiences he has had. The conversation was a constant process of discovery and rediscovery. We are exploring his idea about what he calls “biotexts”; a method he came up with for writing/doing poetry. Nothing he writes is wasted, everything is recorded, archived and explored. His edits become interesting visual pieces, show one step in the process of creating a poem, and take on a life of their own. This idea was inspired by many things...writing himself...seeing other writer’s and poet’s working process...we looked at published edits of Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake” and Alex says that there are endless possibilities of endless versions of other Finnegan’s Wake’s. We looked at Coleridge’s poetry (or maybe it was Wordsworth...can’t remember) with similar edits...showing a process in the poet’s mind, based on certain choices, possibilities for different poems. Alex says that these editorial choices are completely based on taste and preference, which is completely arbitrary, what is a good choice one day may be a horrible choice the next day. He is interested in preserving that process rather than merely showing the very fruit of the laborious process. In that laborious process is something that transcends preference and taste. One specific influence on this idea is John Cage’s idea that doing art and engaging in creative processes needed to focus on and mimic nature NOT in it’s manifestations...but in it’s processes. Alex says (roughly) ‘look at a tree...a leaf falls of and becomes something else...seeds sprout new trees...when a tree dies it returns to the earth and becomes other plants...eaten by other animals...etc.’ Alex is not interested in capturing or completely focusing on a frozen image in time of that tree, but all of the processes that the tree goes through.

Alex brought up the very first portion of Nietzsche’s essay “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense” (also translated as “On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense”), where Nietzsche helps us realize that:

“In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of "world history"—yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.

One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it. But if we could communicate with the mosquito, then we would learn that he floats through the air with the same self-importance, feeling within itself the flying center of the world. There is nothing in nature so despicable or insignificant that it cannot immediately be blown up like a bag by a slight breath of this power of knowledge; and just as every porter wants an admirer, the proudest human being, the philosopher, thinks that he sees on the eyes of the universe telescopically focused from all sides on his actions and thoughts.”

Reading this is a humbling experience to say the least, and this is only the first two paragraphs of a nearly 20 page amazing essay. In light of this Alex talked about how nature will move on without, nature will be fine without us, it has been for billions upon billions of years, so we had better learn how to live in harmony with nature...because it will prevail.

The ‘bio-text’ concept is an attempt to work in a harmonious way with the nature of things. So, in his ‘biotexts’, every iteration and every edit still shows, they can be ‘independant’ or ‘co-dependant’ of the larger body of the work. All of the work on one poem becomes several other poems, or several possibilities of other, different poems. They can take on lives of their own, they can map out the process of creating, they can show the thought process of the poet deciding among many words, forms, etc. Each little iteration in the process can stand alone as a single work, or work in conjunction with any number of the other iterations in the process to show and become something else. Everything has a process and everything is a work in progress. Every once in awhile something will come out and won’t be worked on or edited again...but in time the poem changes and is always changing and growing by itself. This ‘biotexts’ concept can be applied to life and all other art forms. We are attempting creating a biotext while making this film...maybe a The project is to document Alex’s work, so the actual film documentary we create is only a portion of the whole bio-project. Everything Alex has created is part of it. These notes are part of it. All of my thoughts are part of it. The blogs are a part of it. Alex’s Wikipedia page is part of it, and it is all a work in progress. How can we organize it all?

At some point I asked Alex why he thought this way of doing things has been sort of abandoned or not explored before. Was it because artists are to self-conscious about the process they engage in, the dead ends we come to, the possibility of failure or rejection? Alex’s response was interesting...he said this approach was part of a new attempt at understanding a more holistic worldview, as opposed to a specific/specialized world-view. The specialized worldview is not worthless and to be put down, it has its advantages and use, but we are now at a time where it is not useful anymore...we are in need of a more holistic way of viewing and engaging with the world. This movement towards a more holistic world-view is a breath in our time and space within a breath within a breath within a breath within a breath within a breath of the vast breath of all of nature that Nietzsche is talking in the quote above. I’m not doing the idea of “biotexts” any justice... Above and beyond this, the concept of the‘biotext’ is an attempt or a way of documenting processes and movements of both specialization and holistic-ism...maybe. It is huge.

I’m going to be looking at the footage that we captured on 12.13.07 of Alex’s performance at Gallery 110 in Provo and on 12.19.07 of our footage of our conversation with him at his house/workshop sometime this weekend. I’ve already seen portions of the footage that we captured at the Gallery 110 performance and it looks great. I think we are capturing Alex’s performance in an interesting way...we’ve talked with him, and amongst ourselves about ways to do this. Gallery 110 was our first attempt at it and so far I think we succeeded in some ways. Now, we’ve got to hone in on what works and try to get rid of what isn’t working when filming performances. We’ll see how our filming session of yesterday’s conversation went. I feel like we did a great job filming and mic-ing Alex actively while carrying an intense conversation.

Torben was a bit concerned about the lighting, but I feel like it is going to be just fine. We’ll see, and we’ll also work on better lighting next time we go down there. We are going to get some flood lights for the dark corners to create a lighter environment that will really bring the rich visual qualities and colors out of his workspace. Well they are already there...the camera was just having a hard time capturing that yesterday because of the minimal lighting from just single conventional overhead light bulb. Or maybe I should say that we were having a hard time getting the camera to capture that, while talking with Alex. I still feel like it was great as it was, but we can always improve. We are learning! I hope the audio is as good as it sounded on the headphones that we had. I only listened for one second and the levels seemed great. We were using a standard shotgun mic plugged straight into the camera by way of the XLR connection...which recorded audio straight onto the digital video cassette tape in the camera. I can’t wait to see how it turned out.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Text Journal Entry #2 (Travis)

Entry from 12.16.07 - Sunday

On Wednesday we are going into Alex’s workspace. A place I really want to see and am kind of scared to go to. I’ve thought of this place now and again since Alex spoke of it to me. I’ve probably thought it up to be something that it is not and surely I am doing it no justice. We will be entering a space much closer to Alex than I’ve been to before. What will I see? What will we capture? We’ve got to be receptive enough and careful enough to capture what is there. I think we are going to film a conversation with him. Maybe get into filming his process of creating, whatever/however it is. This will be one part of many ongoing discussions...filmed like ‘interviews’. We will also be interviewing many people Alex has known over the years. It’s weird this whole project is sort of completely conceptualized in my brain, but nothing really ‘exists’ of it yet, besides about 2 hours of filming a performance and a million notes and ideas and discussions about it. It is an experience. I’m content with the experience that this project will give to me, it will be amazing. Something that nobody else will experience, has ever experienced, completely unique. Taking a shape, that with no effort could be copied because of all the factors that make it up...time, place, space, complexion, etc.

I also feel like we have another mission, aside from the experience, a mission of documenting/archiving Alex’s works, ideas, processes, etc. Also, a mission of creating a piece of work called a documentary. What is that like? What will it look like in the end? Hopefully we don’t get buried in the millions of possibilities. How will we swim in the ocean, and how far will we have to sink before we can swim? I want this thing to surface. I want to pass it on for people to see and know. Even though most will see it only as the very tip of the iceberg that made it. We will show selections we see appropriate to make a cohesive, acceptable, digestible film ‘documentary’. I suppose the greater project is to archive and make some kind of a historical reference to Alex’s wide range of ideas and work. We need money to do certain things. Where are we going to get it? We will do it anyway, money or no money. Money will make it less painful and laborious. Less taxing our minds and bodies. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe we should do it the harder/hardest way. We have to go to Sicily. I really hope we can go to New York. Those experiences will be invaluable and treasured forever...and for the doc, it will inform it and build it in a way that will make it even better than I can imagine. Wow, we are stepping into the waters...I’m not used to the temperature...I’ve felt water before, but it’s never felt like this. What am I getting into? We’ll see! I’m trying to look at a bunch of other films and documentaries to learn how these things are made and built. I like them. I respect them. I'm taking down some notes about them...while watching and observing, I might also share some of those. But they are so far away and so different than what I imagine our film being/becoming. We just have to make it, we have to do it. There is no other way. These other films can help spark ideas and can give advice and guidelines...which is very valuable...but in the end we have to do it! We are doing it, even if it has just started. How are we doing I wonder...?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Claymation and Animation

I really want to find someone who can do claymation to do a little clay version of Alex. Also, I hope we can find an animator to help us out as well. That would be amazing. I like the idea of fluidly passing through a series of different mediums throughout the film, blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction.

Audio Journal #1 - 12.27.07

Video Journal #1 - 01.02.08

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

First Night of Filming - Gallery 110 (12.13.07)

Travis and I filming Alex at Gallery 110 in Provo (courtesy of Ashley Thalman). Check out more information here and more pictures here.

Text Journal Entry #1 (Travis)

This is the first entry of a journal that I have been keeping of our general process of documenting Alex's work and also for a project that many of us are working on; a documentary about Alex, his history, his art and poetry, and his process, concepts and ideas. I will frequently add successive journal entries (I have several already) in due time. I feel like some of these definitely need to be shared and need to be a part of this blog. I hope that they add to the overall project while sparking ideas/discussions.
Entry from 12.13.2007 - Thursday

First day shooting for the doc on Alex. We filmed his performance at Gallery 110 in Provo, UT. An awesome place. An old seminary building turned into an art gallery/performance space/venue... I shot with a cheap 3 ccd camera. Torben used the Comm. Dept.’s DVX100A. Cade [Thalman] was separately recording audio on his laptop computer with some sort of mic. He assured us that it sounded great...I believe him. We will sync it to the video later on, which is a pretty simple and straight forward process. Editing this thing is going to be so much to do.

It was our first dive into filming, really trying to explore filming his performances. A trial so to speak. We might end up using something from this trial. Either way it is on the road to the destination. Having a camera in my hand makes me feel different. Vulnerable. Not vulnerable as a person, that is to say...not self-conscious, but it makes me feel like I’ve got to be careful. I’m responsible for capturing certain moments that will never happen again. Did I do that? Holding a camera is such a new thing for me. A video camera. Shooting stills is different. You have all the time in the world with one of those. I’m not saying I’m necessarily good at shooting stills. I’m just saying you have more time to make choices. With a video camera you’ve always got to be on the edge. Every second you are capturing things. Every millisecond. Everything you film is there and will be there. You’ve got to notice everything and react to it and capture it. Is the camera really just an extension of the eye and the memory? I think it kind of is...but it is definitely something else too. It is not a part of my body. I don’t feel like deleting or recording over anything. If there is anything valuable or usable in there it came into being along with and because of the stuff that we won’t use in the end. It is all part of this process of creating a documentary about the process of creating, focusing on Alex’s creations.

My friend Joey told me that focusing on what he calls ‘the creative process’ is plain boring, but what else is there? Doesn’t it all inform, isn’t it all the process of creating things? I think so. The ‘process’ is usually viewed as...‘ok, here we are, painting/drawing...whatever’, but I think that the process extends into every single thought and every single moment. I will make errors. I will make more errors than I will make successes...??? Those errors are what interest me. What differentiates an error from not an error? How will we put all of these errors together? What is the process of making errors going to look like? What are we going to come up with in the end? A better question might be “how are we going to document our process?”.