MIRRORS AND MEASURES

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Magazine text: ‘Mirrors and Measures’

Animated pencil lines, a circle, light-reflections, two cropped figures mirror each other by the edge of the frame. Sentences, which originate in ‘Manual’ (1): ‘…the disabling proportion of the Zonean information […]. An independent distribution system.’

Paper folds refolded and rescanned move across the image frame. The figures by the edge are motionless and inhabited by parts of a building. On the other side of the folded paper is the same page, but the opposite side.

The sound of an electric guitar fades out and the audience starts cheering.

A group of people appears, seemingly leaning on something.

Cut to close-ups of an orange flight life vest. An early punk version of Nina Hagen puts it on over her head.

She pulls the air inflators in front of a backdrop with a view over an urban landscape and a grey sky.

The interview starts:

N.H.: I identify mit many persons, like Valeska Gert und Edith Piaf und Patti Smith und Ariana Foster und Rosa Luxemburg… 

… I think she was a freedom fighter. She was singing love songs and, eh, true life reports.

… yeah, I would like to see a UFO, now, I would like to go away for a couple of days.

A dark spot appears over the buildings in the background. (Probably damage on the film material)

… I sing about the future and about ehmm, and about the end of the world and the year nineteenhundredandninetyeight…

A couple of feet in the sand. The cropped figures by the edge of the image frame reappear.

Maya Deren on the beach, – accompanied by herself when a double exposure enters from the left and aligns with her.

N.H. continues in the background: …and I sing about the black holes, I sing about Einstein, and…

Cut. An animated insert: circles, folds, reflections, lines.

N.H.-screams, a guitar riff and drums.

Stranger reappears from ‘Manual’.
The scene changes to a reflection of her face as the screams fade out.

Stranger: SSSSSssss.
Short silence. Stranger looks up and into the mirror.

S: You are a Cosmogirl.
Cosmogirl: Yes.
S: You will invent yourself out of it. 

N.H. invents herself ‘out of it’, out of the preconditioned and into a female rebel of the early punk movement. Voices and screams not heard before backed up by reflections in her forerunners.

Zoom out to include Cosmogirl’s face, the mirror behind them and their reflections. C and S times two, doubled.
The mixed character Double, Heroine and Jaguarundi from ‘Manual’ redefines herself as Cosmogirl.

The animated pencil lines reappear in the mirror.

C: I am Nico. (‘I’ll be your mirror, reflect what you are, in case you don’t know, I’ll be the wind, the rain and the sunset, the light on your door, to show that you’re home…’)

C: What about artificial insemination, the future?
S: You said there was no future.
C: Convention passes itself off as the future.

Bits and pieces of sound originating in the N.H. set.

S and C, reflection in the mirror, overlapping animation.
Artificial insemination, the future, the SCUM Manifesto and its predicting inventions.

S: One generation of mice is like the other… only…
C and S together: … the experiments are different.
S: Struggles are constant.
C: Constant to reinvent themselves.
S: And then constant to be kept alive… [Short silence]. … so we can find each other.
C: … so we can find each other.
S: Repeat to be kept alive.
C: … to be kept alive.
S: So we can find each other.
C: So we can find each other.

Video with double exposed Kate Bush on top of the dialogue.

Animation comes back, – more folds and reflections.
Keyboard, drums, vocals, N.H.: Yes! Die Sprache der Astronauten ist INTERnationaaaal… !

Overlapping:
C: threethousandandnine..
S: threethousandandnine!
C: A room of ones own.
S: A room of ones own!
C: But, I am Cosmogirl!
S [shouting]: I am Cosmogirl!
C: I know I can [S joins in] have my world only by creating it!

N.H., K.B., M.D., V.W., V.S., S and C know they can have their world only by creating it.

‘A room of one’s own’ (Virginia Woolf) is an essay about sabotaged heroine-ic actions and generations of lost contributions. (V.W.: ‘Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all […] heroic actions.’) It is a record of the historical reasons to scream to be heard. The story includes Judith, Shakespeare’s equally gifted sister, who lies buried at some crossroad where the busses now stop outside Elephant and Castle. Short of mirrors and measures. A foot (ft) refers to the size of a man. Mirrors reflect in order to see, invent and (re)define.
Anyway, Kate Bush makes the first number one hit in the UK both written and performed by a woman. She imagined her composer-self as a man. Default set mirrors. Non-existing forerunners can’t reflect.
Soundtrack; N.H. ‘a aaaaa aa’, final drums, guitar fading out.

Dreams of ‘ninehundredandninetyeight’ leave the stage, dreams of creating one’s own world and a room of one’s own. Not passing on the legacy: one generation of mice makes another. Decades of new development built on emptied out addresses. Reconstruction to narrow the emergency exits, to remove the life vests.
At the centre of the newly developed glass and steel capsule sit the employees who reduce the Earth to dust because it is employable to do so.
C [thinking]: ‘To share and to borrow instead of to buand to rent and the time-trap capsule is broken, – disabled in a chaos of return.’

Missing frames make the playback jump.
Maybe material from a surveillance camera.
Frames are reclaimed by reanimation. Tedious attempts to reconstruct lost moments and real-time.

However, on the other side of the folded paper is the same page but the opposite side. Here struggles reinvent themselves, constantly until achieved and then constantly to be kept alive. Continuous movements against brain washing, forgetfulness, and so on. But, first of all: to find each other. One is alienation or conformity, two is coupledom and threeis a movement. (Add the mirrors and we are countless)
The paper is oversaturated with pencil lines by the end of the animation. It is impossible to rub away the graphite to regain the highlights, – shades go from blurry grey to black. A new sheet of paper is needed. Art is (about) what it does, not what it is about.

Thank you mirrors, in the order of appearance; N.H., K.B., M.D.,V.S.,V.W.

As Cosmogirl: Billy Kenrick. As Stranger: Sara Berntsson

Valerie Solanas: In actual fact, the female function is to explore, discover, invent, solve problems, crack jokes, make music – all with love. In other words, create a magic world.

(1) ‘Manual’, artist’s book, Eline McGeorge, 2009