Yesterday I actually completed two interviews for the dance histories project. My second was with David McIntosh, co-artistic director (with Lee Su-Feh) of battery opera performance. It was a bit different from pervious interviews (both group and solo) for a couple of reasons. First, it took place on the deck of David's condo on Quebec Street, near Science World, and due to the way the seating was arranged I couldn't easily position the computer video to capture both David and I in the frame. Second, David is such a natural raconteur that it seemed egregious to interrupt him with our usual who/what/where/when questions. Essentially, I just let David talk.
And here, in no particular order, is what I learned:
- That David, though his parents were from Vancouver, was born in Kentucky.
- That, skipping high school one day, David wandered into the original VideoIn space on Powell Street and discovered Paul Wong flipping switches at an editing console and drinking green Chartreuse. David thought that he might like to do something like that one day.
- That David got kicked out of art school at Emily Carr for assaulting one of his teachers.
- That David is interested in what he calls the "gift of physicality" and what that allows a performer to get away with in the performer-spectator contract.
- That, having made a glitch-filled video about his days as a cab driver in Vancouver, David went to Hollywood to peddle it because he was told he looked like Steve McQueen and he was bound to find work there. Someone from MGM called him back saying he couldn't understand what the heck was going on in the video.
- That the work of battery opera, whether made by David or Su-Feh or together, is rooted in a common physical aesthetic that is derived in part from martial arts as a form.
- That for David technique is not the same thing as resonance.
- That David is not interested in working within the system to support the system.
- That David is deeply invested in Vancouver, not least in terms of its history as a (relatively recent) colonized space, and that no matter what (and whether he likes it or not) this place will always be his content.
Interview over, David then turned his camera on me and had me read (or, in truth, repeat after him) some lines from one of Clarice Lispector's novels. It seemed a fitting way to end the evening.