BACHELOR MACHINE

by
Andrew Hugill

Commissioned by Matthew Griffiths with funds made available by East Midlands Arts and Leicester City Council

World premiere given at Phoenix Arts, Leicester, May 1992


Programme Note
The piece is loosely based upon two sources: Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass - "La Mariee Mise a Nu par ses Celibataires, meme" (The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even), which comprises two glass panels with mechanomorphic "male" and "female" figures, and Michel Carrouges' book - "Les Machines Celibataires" (Bachelor Machines), which takes Duchamp's work as its starting point and examines related machinery, such as the love-machine in Alfred Jarry's "The Supermale", the torture- machine in Kafka's "From a Penal Colony", the pleasure-machine into which Jane Fonda is put in the film "Barbarella", etc. These devices all have an erotic aspect, and frequently portray a failed sexual endeavour.

Bachelor Machine follows the broad conceptual "narrative" of the Large Glass and mimics its "pointless, frustrated activity". The overall shape of the piece represents a bringing-down-to-earth, but it is divided into several discrete sections:


Splash
(table, bowl, water, amplification)

Delay in Glass
begun (on tape: brandy glass, vase, jug)

The Bride
(25 instruments: 10 metal, 5 skin, 5 wood, 5 glass)

Delay in Glass
continued

One-Man Gamelan
(gas cylinders, whole and severed)

Delay in Glass

completed

The Bachelor
(3 drums, rowing-machine, bottle of Benedictine (empty!) + text: excerpt from "Adelphism and Nostalgia", part of Alfred Jarry's novel "Days and Nights", translated by John Harman)

Splash

The Delay in Glass accompanies slide-sequences commissioned from artist Mark Thomson, with funds made available by East Midlands Arts. He writes: "The projections avoid synthesis with the music as far as possible. They occur only in the gaps between the movements. They do not reflect the composition's themes, neither do they comment. They do not interpret and they run backwards. Apart from the titles, they come from tape/slide presentation boxes in Leicester Polytechnic's slide library. The subjects are selected from the following: The nature of beauty and ugliness; Building a house; Understanding the art of the film; Concrete architecture in Sweden; Textile fibres; Shop window displays."

Lighting, technical and props


1) Splash (c.2 mins)
Table (preferably glass topped, metal legs) in centre stage, supporting large glass bowl full of water. From blackout, bright white spotlight up quickly on performer, who immediately dips hands into water and raises cupped hands, which he then opens creating a splash. With very loud amplification and reverb/delay, the sound of this splash should fill the auditorium and take a long time to die away (as long as 2 or 3 minutes). Lights fade to black after the initial splash.

2) Delay in Glass (c. 3 mins.)
Tape playback (not too loud). This should start once the splash has died down a little (after 10 seconds or so?) and Slide Sequence 1 should begin simultaneously. Stage in blackout throughout. Once slide sequence 1 has finished, tape should fade out and lights come up on The Bride.

2a) Slide Sequence 1
Projected on cyclorama (needs to be taped off square) with as large an image as possible. 60 slides, two projectors, cross-fading rapidly from one to another (once every 2 seconds or so).

3) The Bride (10 mins.)
Rig (25 objects, frame, stands) mounted on podium at back of stage right. Possibly muslin drape suspended in front of rig? Lights: blue & pink, not too bright. Lights up at beginning of movement, blackout at end.

4) Delay in Glass/ Slide Sequence 2 (c. 3 mins)
As 2). Tape should fade in at point reached, and out at end of slide sequence.

5) One-Man Gamelan (10 mins.)
Performer seated on floor, front of stage right, facing audience. Nine sawn-off cylinders and two whole cylinders surround him. Lights: yellow, red, bright. Up and down with movement start and finish.

6) Delay in Glass/ Slide Sequence 3 (c. 3 mins)
As 4).

7) The Bachelor (10 mins.)
Performer seated on rowing-machine, front stage left, sideways on to audience (facing left). 3 drums and bottle of Benedictine mounted at forward end of run. Performer pumps back and orth, speaks text (no amplification) and bangs drums/bottle. Lights: yellow, red, purple? Up and down at start and end of movement. At end, no slide sequence, instead lights up on:

8) Splash (1 min.)
Middle stage left: timpani filled with water (the water invisible to audience), suspended above this a large silver sphere. To one side, a step ladder. Lights: bright white. Performer clambers out of rowing-machine, runs to step ladder, finds pair of shears, climbs ladder, holds shears (in open position) aloft for a moment to allow audience to absorb the image, then cuts twine. Ball falls into timpani, creating splash. Immediate, abrupt and total blackout.