James King is the origin of the Cumulator series.
This time he emailed me the following text, to which I added Jordan Hutchings’s photography:
Cumulator 7 notes. July 7 th. 7.30pm – 2.30pm.
McCormick’s Point, Groomsport, Bangor, Co. Down.
This location is managed by The National Trust.
Participants: Siobhan Mullen Wolf, Keike Twisslemann, Christoff Gillen, Brian Patterson, James King, Colm Clarke, Rainer Pagel. Accompanist: Beatrice Didier, Brussels,12.00am- 7.00am.
The location was stunning.
Small grass and craggy rock islets enclosed a small bay like the perimeter of a lagoon. Wet muddy sand separated the islets from the shore, when the tide was out, as it was for our first five hours!
Then the sea came in with a rush.
- With pink pavement chalk drew lines upon the natural fissures of several large rocks, and also ornamented two of the rocks with found , “man-made”, rusted metal objects.
- Placed on each rock one or two small toy cars.
- Responded to bird noises and distant barking with woofs and tweets.
Rainer was sitting at a table, carefully painting seven stones in gold leaf.
- In slow motion ritually and ceremoniously carried , one at a time small cars towards him and placed the cars nearby on a patch of sand .
- Found a few tiny flakes of gold leaf amongst the seaweed. Returned some to Rainer and held others to the air, letting them fly away in the sunlight.
- Read aloud extracts from a poem by Geoffrey Hill, written in stanzas of seven lines : “To Lucien Richard:On Suffering.” Repeating appropriate phrases. Eg. “The fine machinery of instinctual natures is well adjusted to the environment.” “Perfect your chagrin- charged resignation, mute expressive glare:” “which of you is the angel? And which angel? I did not think there were angels.”
“The sea light was visionary, as it sometimes is to susceptible people.”
- Approached Siobhan seated on rocks by a bucket of coal, which she had partially emptied. She was now using a potato peeler to methodically scrape individual lumps. She gave a small lump to the writer which he chalked white and returned. He gave her a small flake of gold leaf, which had fluttered from Rainer’s table.
- Wearing the orange tarpaulin like a cloak, walked in a wide circle on a large patch of sand surrounded by rocks, leaving a trail behind . Beginning at the perimeter , gradually moved inwards making slightly smaller circles .
- Engaged with Keike ,she with blue pigment on hands, then hands to her face. She was dressed in a swimming costume with underwear on top, and short stockings on her legs. Told her a mysterious story in gibberish.
- Walked around the vast muddy stretch of sand between the islet and the shore, enveloped in the orange tarpaulin. Feet sunk above the ankles, making squelchy slurp sounds and leaving behind temporary foot holes. Sat on a rock and improvised abstract sounds with the recorder.
Laid out some cars on dry sand.
Played recorder to a rock upon which I had earlier chalked and ornamented with a toy car and and a found rusted metal square thing.
Crossed the torrent
Recited in gibberish and extracted words; wrote these on stones laid on the sand.
Thus. “My lie vast she suss keep it the beast fish tan oh da ticket vast tomato”. Later having written them on the inside lid of a small suitcase (used for carrying the toy cars mentioned above), repeated the words in a variety of rhythmical arrangements accompanied by Colm banging two large nails together, and Brian on Cellotape base : we were like a skiffle group.
Numerous rearrangements of the words are possible. Eg
Vast fish tan/ ticket beast tomato/ oh-da lie my she suss/ keep it ticket tan/. Oh-da tomato vast /. The tan my lie /. Fish keep tomato ticket
I have listened to only short example of his gibberish – James came to me shook my hand and started – I asked whether he was afraid that some of his words may have a rude meaning in some other language – he responded by showing me the chalk and intoning his “gibberish” so that I understood something like:” well Colm was able to write some down… “. On departing he pointed to the safer path for me to walk on, the layer of seaweed, safer in comparison with the treachery of the tide making mud turn into a sauce to drown my feet. All in his gibberish – fully understandable – because of the shared immediate observable contexts. The hearing still sent signals to the brain – but the meaning was passed on to a gesture and movement and direction of the sight.
Certainly not minimalist art – not just conceptual either – reminiscent of medieval passion plays – without shared script. Grounded in intrinsic motivation it offered the enjoyment of creating something out of what I perceived. Whatever outcome. If so, then the outcome has not mattered – it was the creative process as an emotionally interesting choice of what I made meaningful. James King performed and did not look for the feedback, applause or understanding. Rather it was about play, playful openness, virtuoso control of the brain to avoid recognisable meaningful words, while presenting it as a meaningful speech.
There were darker thoughts – associations with stories of people choosing to live on their own in the wilderness… hermits and Diogenes echoed quite near. King allowed the associations with a constant grit of soft humour, pretence of assurance that it is not just a rehearsed Dada. Rather, a virtuoso withdrawal to a dreamy level layered by one man acting the whole play written for voice and orange trampoline – and a book, allowed to be held even upside down…
He commands a mastery of his craft in the full sight of the powerfully competing nature.
Images courtesy Jordan Hutchings.