Life and infrastructure, here in Kyoto

A reflection of what I need to do my work and what we all need, really.

More and more over the years I understand the crucial importance of infrastructure in creative work.

Infrastructure first encompasses the artist’s workspace, her office or studio that allows her to just sit down and start creating.

This is as opposed to having to unpack her belongings from her bag every time and re-set-up her workflow. This can even be embodied by minutiae such as an extra power cable plugged into her office at all times; having to always duck under her desk to reconnect is a minor annoyance that, when enfolded with other barriers, forestalls the flow she needs to make great art.

Infrastructure secondly encompasses the artist’s worklife, how her commute, schedule, and the norms of her apartment make getting down to her work easier or more difficult.

I for example am currently in a wonderful one-bedroom studio apartment on the west side of Kyoto city. The space has surprisingly high ceilings and laminate floors; however, for all the beauty the space brings with it, I am not allowed, by contract, to practice music—something crucial to my work as a composer. At the same time however, I chose this space because it is not even twenty feet away from my campus, where (only) from the hours of 6am to 9pm, I can practice and access the Internet. My apartment doesn’t have internet access because it would require a two-year contract, something I do not want to sign given my intention to move.

The third sphere of infrastructure, which is crucial to creative life, is the field of one’s community and one’s state. It is very difficult and I think even unhealthy to always be your own advocate. To constantly invite folks who do not quite care to events you have put your soul into is tiring work; to not have a community that supports your endeavors is to be pulled be gravity into normativity, to be grayed by the ennui of one’s people. Moreover, to have one’s state or town provide limited or difficult access to performance, community, and presentation spaces is to confront a real, and even aggressive, opposition to the very possibility of art. Art takes investment in material funds, in public infrastructure, in outdoor spaces and affordable venues.

I have been thinking about this all myself due to the many barriers I am confronting here in Kyoto. It’s personal. Below is something of a self-help list, reminding me of that which I still need to face in order to flow with my art.

I need:

  • more light in my studio.
  • ready access the internet more readily.
  • a keyboard for my workspace and a place to put that keyboard
  • an apartment where I can:
    • a) play music
    • b) hang up paintings
    • c) is close to school.
  • I need to tell my professors—directly—that I need them to support me more than they currently are.
  • I need to connect with more performers more readily. To do that I need to set up a listening group and pay performers to record pieces for me.
  • I need to create a facebook page for larpers in Kansai and host meet-up events.
  • I need to create a podcast called Kansai Creatives that interview the works of creators of all stripes here in the local area.

Kyoto is backwater in a many ways, but it does have a strong art scene, hidden behind the teary concrete walls of the city. And, given real access to the internet, I could actually be connected to the greater community in what I sometimes feel like is the “real world”, that is – for me – New York, Chicago, Boston, and Berlin. Right now, however, I have the chronic sensation that I’m swimming in a fluid fractured bit of reality, artistically ungrounded by the infrastructure I really need to do my work.

 

A piece about listening to friends.

 

Koe no Nagare - Flow of Voice

Duo for Shakuhachi and Shodo.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qJTvKy9H8xaJSHsOQ9EMortIkmXQVLUz


声 の 流 れ

前 置 き 上 演 美 学 友情についての断⽚で 書道と尺⼋の友情のためのものです。

京都私⽴芸術⼤学で書きました。

Ben Bisogno 2019.

Edited and Dedicated to Ren Takaya.


パフォーマンスが完全にアコースティックである場合、つまり ⾳を増幅がない場合、聴衆は筆の⾳を聞くのに⼗分近くにいる はずです。

それ以外の場合は、オーディエンスを囲むように設定されたマ ルチチャンネルとコンタクトマイクを介して作品の⾳を増幅します。

これは⼩さな⾳についての⼀⽚です:ページ上の筆の⾳、ピッ チのない尺⼋の⾳⾊。この作品は、濡れた、インクがページに ⼊り込み、2⼈の友情を永遠につなぐ恵みの糸になる瞬間を体 現しています。 特にこの作品は、友達の声にどのように⽿を傾けるのか、私た ちが⾔われていないことに⽿を傾ける⽅法、どのようかの明確 な⽅法についていますか。

作曲家として、私はこの作品の参加者との間での狭い空間に興 味があります。⾳の形や、そして⾔葉のと沈黙がどのように関 係しているのかを体現しているからです。

ベン • ビソノ 2019


 

 

いつ演奏しませんか。

• 筆がページに触れているときは、再⽣しないでください。

• 筆が紙から離れたら、吹いてください。

演奏する⽅法?

次のように即興演奏してください。

尺⼋奏者は、筆のダイナミックでリズムのある、そして⾵通しのよい⾳のよ うな表現を真似るべきです。ささやき声とさわりが鍵です。可能であればピ ッチを避けてください。筆のように柔らかく、紙の線の意図のように強弱を 流れます。

パフォーマンスで筆跡の⾳⾊を表現します。書道芸術家が希望を持ってつけ ている場合は、これの⾳で表現してください。書道芸術家が「猛烈」な⾳⾊で終 わっている場合は、これもサウンドで表現してください。どの⾳⾊を探りた いか事前に話し合ってください。

⾳⾊1:

⾳⾊2:

書道の芸術家が書き終わってから、尺⼋の演奏家は:cadenzaを作ってくだ さい。この cadenza はやく40秒の返事です。

エンディング:

その作品は、書道のアーティストがサインオフし⼿から、尺⼋奏者が演奏し た後に、終わります。作品の終わりを⽰すために、尺⼋奏者と書道のアーテ ィストはそれぞれの道具 – 筆と尺⼋ – を地⾯に置き、そして⼀緒に息を吐き 出します。


 

オプション。

 

書道の芸術家が五⾏を書く間に、下の⽅法で呼吸してください。

1線⽬)アーティストが書いている間に静かに息を吸い込む。

筆が20秒間持ち上がる間に即興してください。響くのように。

2線⽬)⿐から吸い込みます。

筆が10秒間持ち上がる間に即興してください。響くのように。

3線⽬)⾏の終わりまでに、薄い唇から聞こえるように息を吐き出 してください。

筆が5秒間持ち上がる間に即興してください。響くのように。

4線⽬)⾏頭に、薄い唇を通してヒスします。

筆が3秒間持ち上がる間に即興してください。響くのように。

5線⽬)アーティストが書いているように静かに息を吐き出しま す。

筆が6秒間持ち上がる間に即興してください。響くのように。

6線⽬)可祝を書いている間にサイレントにしてください。

筆が40秒間持ち上がっている間に最後のソロを演奏してください。返事の ように。

この作品は、書道の書き⼿が書き終わったれ、尺⼋奏者が演奏した後 に、終わります。作品の終わりを⽰すために、尺⼋奏者と書道の書き⼿ は、それぞれの道具 – 筆と尺⼋ – を地⾯に置き、そして⼀緒に息を吐き 出します。


 

 

どうやってするのか。スタイル ー

紙にインクを⼊れるときは、 下のリストから2つの⾳⾊を選択してください。

書くにつれて、 ⼀つの選ばれた⾳⾊から他の⾳⾊へと進みます。

どの⾳⾊を演奏したいかについて、尺⼋奏者と話し合ってください。

 

「楽観」

「五⾥霧中」

「猛烈」

「不安」

「怒涛」

「強硬」

⾳⾊1:

⾳⾊2:


何をするのか?順番:

同僚、家族、または友⼈に礼状を書きます。 この⽂字は、B3以上の紙のサイズが必要です。 5線のテキストを書き込み、各⾏は下の質問に連続して答えます。

1)最近の天気はどうですか、そしてそれは精神状態とどのように関連しています か。

• 書き終わったら、筆を20秒間持ち上げます。

2)個⼈的なことを説明してください。

• 書き終わったら、筆を10秒間持ち上げます。

3)少し恥ずかしいことは現在ありますか。

• 書き終わったら、筆を5秒間持ち上げます。

4)書いている⼈の何に感謝しているのですか?其れはなぜですか

• 書き込み後、筆を3秒間持ち上げます。

5)来年の約束を作ってください。どのように物事は良くなりますか?

• 書き終わったら、筆を6秒間持ち上げます。

6)可祝を書いてください。

• 書き終わったら、筆を40秒間持ち上げます。

この作品は、書道の書き⼿が書き終わったれ、尺⼋奏者が演奏した後 に、終わります。作品の終わりを⽰すために、尺⼋奏者と書道の書き⼿は それぞれの道具 – 筆と尺⼋ – を地⾯に置き、そして⼀緒に息を吐き出します。

Two games about cookies and absence.

I have had a number of experiences near death or with the dying in my life in the past few years and have never learned really how to grieve or to express my condolences. I think that many people are in this position. Death is just so sudden and unfamiliar and in our post-religious world that we are not armed with  rituals to help us through. We need new technologies, that is to say, practices, that will put us on a path toward a conversation with this very odd aspect of life.

These two games are expressions of my problems with mourning and absence – my grappling with the idea of creating new ways of grieving. Although not helpful, both games  are both very very delicious. 

 

Dark Chocolate – a game of grief and how we do not know how to pay respect.

 

For the dying:

  • Make a freezer’s worth of cookie dough and leave it for your family to bake and eat after you pass.

For the family:

  • Eat this cookie dough bit by bit, as prolonged as possible, before it goes bad.

 

If the cookie dough lasts for at least a year after the passing, you succeed!

If not, my condolences.


 

(This idea was taken from a neighbour who past away a few years ago and did this with her family.)

 


Sweet Desserts – a foodie larp about mars, cookies, and memories.

 

Preparations

 

Needs: 3 players, 24 cookies, 1 kitchen, 12 post cards, colored pencils, rubber bands, a table, and pillows.

Make 12 cookies. Wrap each with a note card attached with a rubber band, written with a theme:

Top of the mountain|Blue birds attacking the squirrels|mail-carrier throwing a newspaper and knocking you unconscious|pink socks, an unwelcome gift|an embarrassing story at a playground|hot chocolate|winter blues and tiny shoes|watching television all day till we got headaches|getting our nails done and bonding with the gentleman assisting us all day|pulling over and throwing up|trying and failing to climb a tree|adventure to an unknown part of town.

Story

A friend took a one way trip to mars last week and we don’t know how to express our feelings about her absence. We come together to have dinner and avoid talking about the situation – a situation that breaks down at dessert.

 

Play

If you take a cookie, write a one-sentence very tiny memory on the designated note card, inspired by the given theme. Leave it on the table. Do not discuss the notecards. However, folks can responded on the cards with small notes if they feel inclined to.

 

Prep dinner. Kitchen.

Take at least two cookies from the jar. Steal at least five cookies during prep. Stage one emotional confrontation. Slice onions and cry.

In this game we steal cookies without anyone watching. It is about hiding feelings, from others and ourselves.

If you see someone steal a cookie: ask the person with the cookie something along the effect of “are you okay?”

Ask for comfort. Talk in whispers or leave the room, taking a cookie with you, so as to not make a fuss in the kitchen. Together share the cookie. Talk about the memory associated with it.

If you see someone writing a notecard: look away, avoiding gaze.

Eat dinner. Table.

Eat silently. If possible take a cookie from the jar, but keep watch. If you see someone eating a cookie, make disgruntled sounds, sucking in breath. Do not ask for or give comfort.

 

Have Desert. Pillows.

Eat all the cookies in one sitting, as fast as possible. Talk about the memory associated with each cookie. Laugh together. Make a mess.

 

Debrief.

Talk about the experience. Talk about Mars. Talk about heavy subjects involving sudden absences. Make more cookies for other people in your lives.

Afterwards, give those cookies away.

Embers – Story about love in old Japan.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JR4GsiACnBeTMqoDW9xcFpZkrOW1PRBuiiV3r8zvVCI/edit?usp=sharing

This here is the current version. I am so thankful to my play testers (Gabrielle, Anastasia, Alex) and look forward to running it again. This is intended for the 200 word rpg challenge.

In the end, I hope to publish this via the 200 word rpg challenge – a free non-for-profit online publication.

Stretch goals I have in mind are 1) art by a japanese artist/friend, and 2) a small non-core guide of settings and inspirational suggestions – tools that can help point an interested participant to the vibrant cultural world that informs this game, namely:

    • Amatarasu, the sun goddess, and Japan’s creation myth.
    • Lady Murasaki Shikibu’s, Genji Monogatari
    • Samurai Champloo
    • Ghibli’s Mononoke Hime and Spirited Away
    • Tale of the Heike

 

Love burns us in this story game, set in preindustrial Japan.

The stones remember.

Embers

What do we need?

  • A handful of stones.

 

What themes weigh on us?

  • How heavy are they?
  • What should not be touched?

 

Remember. Ask yourselves:

  • Traveler – What do you carry? Which worlds do you tread?
  • Changed One – Who needs you? How do you need them?
  • Lost Spirit – Where are you welcomed?

 

Play through each moment, informed by a related question —

  1. How does darkness taste?
  2. Whom do we turn to for help?
  3. When do we find a comfortable silence?
  4. Where do we sniff out the truth?
  5. The Trial: what burns us?

 

Go around.

  • Pull a stone from the center to recall aloud:
    • An action.
    • A small detail.
    • How our hearts led us astray.
  • Place a stone back center to express:
    • A wish.
    • A secret.
    • A promise.
  • The moment fades to black when no stones are center.

 

Please, steer the narrative with clarifying questions.

If you feel uncomfortable and need to speak, raise a stone into the air for quiet.

 

Embers – Reminisce.

Where do we dream the story ends? How can we leave, unburdened?

 

Cat Food is for Everyone

Cat Food is for Everyone – a dangerous game for cat people.

 

If you live in a place with wildlife—crows, pigeons, squirrels, fox, raccoons—put cat food in a small bowl outside your window, on your porch, or on your stoop. The cat food should be dry and should be within view of a window.

 

Leave the bowl out until it is empty. Replace the food.

 

Do this repeatedly until you see with your own eyes who is taking your food.

 

When family, friends, or neighbors come over and see who is taking your food, say that it is your new cat, regardless what species that animal is.

 

Take pictures. #catfoodeveryone #cats

 

This is a piece inspired by my life in upstate New York.

 

Ben Bisogno 2018

A Good New Year, and blessings to the bitter

Last night was adventure, in many respects.
I experienced a wonderful morning with relative’s friend, her two highly successful daughters and Japanese friends of theirs. We ate great food (I had fried oysters and the best rice I’ve had in a while—which is saying something in Kyoto), traveled around, and purchase the necessities: mochi and chocolate covered almonds!

 

From their I separated, printed copies of my game Bucking the Stars: the Cafe Game of Cosmic Deer and went to a local Starbucks. The game is a semi-live pervasive larp.

 

I bought a matcha tea latte at the Starbucks and began eating a bit of mochi, when all of a sudden this wonderfully bitter obaasan (a distinctive type of old lady) called me out for my manners (or lack thereof). She was insulted me for my rudeness and told me how she “hated westerners for how unthinking and disruptive we are”.

 

I mean, she’s totally right; I was in the wrong for eating strawberry mochi in Starbucks. However, I think she was just as rude for spreading across two chairs and a table with her stuff, where she looked like she was encamping for the day. But this isn’t really to look down at her. Power to her for speaking her truth and living unmoored and so straightforwardly in a society that is so restrictive of women’s voices. The elderly and children in Japan get away with murder, and I really think more people should embrace this encumbered of decorum. I moved a few spaces over after saying I was sorry she felt that way and wishing her a “Happy New Year” 良いお年を過ごしください. I thanked her for her kind and informative notice.
It did hurt though to have her really hand it to me so bitingly. It hurt especially so, as I subsequently confirmed all her worst prejudices of westerners by building a spaceship out of cups, pates, napkins, and donuts 20 feet away—play testing my game with friends, role-playing antlered cosmonauts.

 

From there, my friends and I went to karaoke, to the Heian Jingu, and to an incredible Temple on a high hill where I got to ring a massive bell! It’s sound was deep as bone marrow and a slow as the pulse of the year.
I stayed the night over at Chelanna’s place and made my way home at five in the morning.

 

A good new years, in short. Thanks everyone. Blessings to the lady at Starbucks; I hope good things change her mind. Bitterness always has a source exterior to us and usually by changing our environment we can change our state of mind.