For my first year Project “There But Not There” I’ve begun compiling excerpts from George Eliot’s novel Daniel Deronda, as well as excerpts of internet poems that deal with the subject of depersonalization. These texts may or may not all be included in my presentation; at the very least they are informing and inspiring me in connection with my theme.

I’ve also shot video footage and have begun to play with projections as layered masks to be combined with live performance. Along with texts and materials, I will show and demonstrate some of this unedited video footage on March 10 for our crit class.

Also, here is a preliminary experiment of video projection masking white paper menus, from my DIAP BYOB installation titled “Plateau”. To view please click on Plateau #1 at

1) Excerpts from George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda – these sections point to dissociative episodes, and also hints at and indicates the depth of depersonalization experienced by the character Gwendolyn.

Chapter 17 p. 189 Interesting image: when Mirah prepares to drown herself she dips her cloak into the water to saturate it and then starts to wrap it around herself as a “drowning shroud”

Chapter 21 p. 227

It is a common sentence that Knowledge is power; but who hath duly
Considered or set forth the power of Ignorance? Knowledge slowly
builds up what Ignorance in an hour pulls down. Knowledge, through
patient and frugal centuries, enlarges discovery and makes record of
it; Ignorance, wanting its day’s dinner, lights a fire with the
record, and gives a flavor to its one roast with the burned souls of
many generations. Knowledge, instructing the sense, refining and
multiplying needs, transforms itself into skill and makes life various
with a new six days’ work; comes Ignorance drunk on the seventh, with
a firkin of oil and a match and an easy “Let there not be,” and the
many-colored creation is shriveled up in blackness. Of a truth,
Knowledge is power, but it is a power reined by scruple, having a
conscience of what must be and what may be; whereas Ignorance is a
blind giant who, let him but wax unbound, would make it a sport to
seize the pillars that hold up the long-wrought fabric of human good,
and turn all the places of joy dark as a buried Babylon. And looking
at life parcel-wise, in the growth of a single lot, who having a
practiced vision may not see that ignorance of the true bond between
events, and false conceit of means whereby sequences may be compelled
–like that falsity of eyesight which overlooks the gradations of
distance, seeing that which is afar off as if it were within a step or
a grasp–precipitates the mistaken soul on destruction?

Chapter 45 p. 556

Behold my lady’s carriage stop the way,

With powdered lacquey and with champing bay;

She sweeps the matting, treads the crimson stair,

Her arduous function solely ‘to be there,’

Like Sirius rising o’er the silent sea,

She hides her heart in lustre loftily.

Chapter 48 p. 589

All this went on in her with the rapidity of a sick dream; and her start into resistance was very much like a waking. Suddenly from out the gray sombre morning there came a stream of sunshine, wrapping her in warmth and light where she sat in stony stillness. She moved gently and looked round her–there was a world outside this bad dream, and the dream proved nothing; she rose, stretching her arms upward and clasping her hands with her habitual attitude when she was seeking relief from oppressive feeling, and walked about the room in this flood of sunbeams.

p. 590 then she went down, and walked about the large drawing-room like an imprisoned dumb creature, not recognizing herself in the glass panels, not noting any object around her in the painted gilded prison.

p. 594 he thought that he perceived in her an intensifying of her superficial hardness and resolute display, which made her abrupt betrayals of agitation the more marked and disturbing to him.

Chapter 54 p. 668

“The unwilling brain

Feigns often what it would not; and we trust

Imagination with such phantasies

As the tongue dares not fashion into words;

Which have no words, their horror makes them dim

To the mind’s eye.” —SHELLEY

2) Excerpts from internet poems on depersonalization – I am currently attempting to obtain permission to use these excerpts from the various authors on this site:

excerpt #1 (beautifulentropy)

losing face

a year or five
the person
looking at you
in the
bathroom mirror
is someone
you haven’t
in a long time

excerpt #2 (Coraline)

When I Ate The World

I think when reality shivered
my skin was left behind.

Though I do get tired of crying
for my dead baby,
and I find that eating butter doesn’t help,
but the tree is moving closer to my window
and the leaves are very pretty.

The Author Notes: I have chronic depersonalization/derealization. It’s a dissociation from yourself (depersonalization) and your external environment (derealization) that leads to a different way of seeing and experiencing things. The change was stress induced. Initially, it was quite the dramatic change and I had trouble adjusting. I was in a state of shock, and my mind was on edge. Everything in this, I’ve experienced or thought, although some events are combined and I try to put it in a way that I can laugh at myself.

excerpt #3 (Nicolas Selig)

the skin is nothing but
a shroud— dressing the skeleton
it covers the framework and holds

the host

excerpt #4 (nunchie)

I have become a walking dead girl running in a labyrinth of death

excerpt #5 (lizard)


It’s hard to see the truth stranded behind glass,
this window is practically a grave.

I see my reflection in the black;
like my dreams in lifeless plaque,
the shadows mock the light I lack.
They stay still – they should,
And fade away, day by day,
I already knew they would.



Based on the broad range of course readings, group discussions and critical observations in Professor Weintraub’s Working Critique 1 class, I feel I’ve made important leaps and bounds as an artist this semester.

Though I am accustomed to making large-scale multimedia works for performance venues, Professor Weintraub’s class has helped me to gain a fresh perspective with regards to my own creative process and practice. I feel I am now better able to separate the strands of my interdisciplinary interests, in order to assess them on their own merits, as well as in relationship to each other. This will be a valuable tool as I further develop my interests and goals in performance and installation art.

I’ve also gained a keen and appreciative awareness of my DIAP colleagues and their varied creative approaches, which in turn have enriched and sharpened my aesthetic sensibility.

I hope to revisit and savor many of our course readings in the near future; I feel I’ve only scratched the surface with regards to many of these valuable assigned readings.

In terms of my new works-in-progress for this course, I’m especially excited by the “Words Fail Me” project, and can imagine developing this work as an evening length performance. I am also energized by the fun I had imagining and designing a “sky’s the limit” installation plan for my Allure of the Seas project. This self-motivating exercise, imagining a gallery installation where I could do exactly as I pleased, expanded my creative imagination in wonderful new ways. I look forward to seeing how our Critique 1 course work informs my spring semester at DIAP.

As a final element for Project #2 I have created three draft sketches that illustrate a basic stage design for Words Fail Me. My DIAP colleague Krisia Ayala generously offered to edit and isolate the three jpg sculptures in photoshop, which greatly enhanced the quality of my pdf work samples.

Figures #1-3 suggest configurations for the 3 hanging paper and mixed-media sculptures by Jacqueline Shatz, including video portals and myself as solo performer.

Lighting and soundtrack cues will direct and track transitions between the live flarf-type songs and the movement of the sculptures, as they ascend and descend subtly and slowly throughout the performance.

Please see pdf: Words Fail Me – Three Stage Designs

I envision video sections occurring in a portal of each sculpture as the soundtrack links to it; during these periods I will “disappear” inside the sculpture. What will I do there? How would my presence affect the video? I can imagine myself merging somehow with the moving video image. I would work with my facilitating director to find the intention and possible staging or movement possibilities during these periods.

As a video section ends, the sculpture will slowly begin its ascent as the next sculpture descends. During this transition I will be revealed, and will perform another flarf-type song with soundtrack and/or viola as I travel to the next sculpture. Here again, I would work with my facilitating director to find the blocking and physical direction to bring me to this next location.

I have not yet accounted for the physical presence of solo violist Stephanie Griffin. Along with the facilitating director, I imagine collaboratively creating a series of locations for Stephanie to perform in, including moments when we might physically travel together from one place to the next.

Throughout, the lighting design will play a huge role in how these sections and transitions unfold.

Words Fail Me – A performance installation by Lisa Karrer, for voice, sound track and video; with large-scale paper and mixed media set pieces by Jacqueline Shatz; lighting design by Carol Mullins; and violist Stephanie Griffin

This work-in-progress is a fictional study of the writer Virginia Woolf, and her relationship to words and language. The finished work will include a live performance by Lisa Karrer, with digital soundtrack, score for live violist, video sectionals and three large-scale 3-dimensional folded paper and mixed media set pieces.

The score-in-progress is currently 10 minutes long; I envision the finished project as an evening length work. The soundtrack thus far contains excerpts from Virginia Woolf’s 1937 BBC Interview; to construct this recording I studied Woolf’s vocal patterns, and recorded my voice in a matched and musicalized duet with her. The vocal score also contains sections of original choral music and extended vocal tracks.

The current soundtrack: To date, the individual stereo tracks have been volume balanced and panned left and right in Pro Tools; I have also manipulated pitches in separate tracks, added effects, and time-stretched (or shortened) choral sections. I will play and sing through this draft score, in its entirety, for Professor Weintraub’s class on December 3.

Here is an mp3 of the completed soundtrack for Words Fail Me (please note if you have difficulty accessing this link, cut and paste into the address bar):

I envision this performance in a space that can incorporate three large paper/collage set pieces. The dimension of each set piece will be a minimum of 7’high x 12’wide x 10’deep (please see model work samples below).

Jacqueline Shatz set piece #1Jacqueline Shatz set piece #1

Jacqueline Shatz set piece #2

Jacqueline Shatz set piece #2

Jacqueline Shatz set piece #3

Jacqueline Shatz set piece #3

During each of the three “flarf” songs, I will inhabit and move through set piece #1, set piece #2, and set piece #3. As I navigate through each sculpture the lighting environment will change, and a new video sectional will appear, projected onto a textural surface, or through a window or an opening in the sculpture.

Lighting transitions and focus will be crucial to the performance, directing the audience (and the performer) from set piece to set piece. These atmospheric transitions and subtle shifts will occur during the BBC duet excerpts.

Adding to this environment, violist Stephanie Griffin will perform live with me and with the soundtrack; I will compose a solo score for viola. The facilitating director will help to determine blocking and placement for myself and Ms. Griffin throughout.

In order to complete and realize this work I would need to pursue both private and non-profit funding to support project development, performing artist fees and rehearsal costs, commissioning fees and materials for sculptor Jacqueline Shatz, and lighting design fee for Carol Mullins. I would also need to confirm a presenting space and performance dates, and put together a production team, including a publicist, facilitating director, production intern, master electrician, sound engineer and stage manager.

Estimated Budget:
Lisa Karrer, project creator/composer/sound design/performer $20,000
Jacqueline Shatz, sculptor $7,000 commission + $2,000 materials = $9,000
Carol Mullins, lighting design $3,000
Facilitating Director $2,500 including development, rehearsals and 2 performances
Stephanie Griffin, violist $1000 for 5 performances + $500 rehearsal fee = $1500
Performing space (5 nights) with master electrician and sound technician $10,000
Stage Manager $1500 including rehearsals and 5 performances
Publicist $3,000
TOTAL Estimated Project Budget: $50,500

This week I completed a great deal of preparatory work on the score.

1. I recorded and edited matched vocals for 30 separate sections of Woolf’s BBC interview to  create a matched duet, mixing my own vocalisms, sprecht stimme and simple melodic lines based on the dynamics and cadence of Woolf’s voice.

2. I began to construct the “slow” version of the single-note chorus, which consists of 5 tracks of single note utterances, each with its own dedicated pitch. This section will ride underneath the matched vocals. I stacked separate single-note recordings vertically in the timeline, skewing them so that their pulses produce shifting sonic washes. I then began to insert the matched duet excerpts along this timeline.

3. I experimented with speeding up the single-note chorus, producing a sound that is in no way reminiscent of the human voice, with good results. I will develop this section further in the next week.

4. I recorded master tracks of the tri-harmonic vocal melodies, and placed them into the single note timeline to see how they might fit. Once these were situated I improvised singing flarf poem #2, which begins “They went walloping”; and it works nicely. This will be the first of three live vocal sections in the score.

I will demonstrate the work I have completed so far in class tomorrow.

Now that I have worked out my basic formula and approach, I will continue to develop and construct the rest of the score.

Briefly – The Score order SO FAR, with notes of edits and track work still to do:
1. Single note chorus – PAN all tracks
2. LK/VW duet section #1 parts 1-5 PAN left and right
3. Then Flarf #2 “They went walloping” with choral harmonies matched to tracks of single notes – Lisa will re-mix these tracks live onto Zoom in real time before mastering for live vocal

THEN PROCEED WITH next LK/VW duet section and so on…

This week I recorded new background “single note” draft vocals to develop for the background score, created a third “flarf” poem, and extracted sections of V Woolf’s BBC interview on Pro Tools software.

BBC excerpts: VW BBC excerpts

Due to the limitations of time, I will confine the libretto to three “flarf” poems, interwoven with sections from V Wooolf’s 1937 BBC interview, which can be heard in its entirety here:

Also here are links to flarf sites, with definitions and the history of flarf:

Creating this week’s “flarf” from pp. 10-11 of Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse”, I was struck and a little bit shocked to find how dramatically the meanings of the words changed when they were re-grouped.

Extracting 2-3 word phrases from the opening pages of her novel, describing preparations for a summer sail to a lighthouse and the encroaching storm that postpones it, I found the words gathering themselves into dark verses of suggestive domestic violence involving a husband, his wife and children. It has been many years since I’ve read this novel, and I opened the book at random to create this third poem.

After the poem was finished I re-read the section and saw that the subtext of this chapter does carry a deep vein of domestic unrest; the fictional parents were based on Woolf’s. And eerily (prophetically), in further researching the chapter I was reminded that the trip to the lighthouse happened “ten years later, after the deaths of Mrs. Ramsay and two of the Ramsays’ children”(!)

In making this poem was I responding to my buried memory of this book, or to my awareness of Woolf’s suicide, or was I being guided by Woolf’s words in some energetic way? Once again I had the feeling of an Ouija board, resting my thoughts on a surface of inscription and following the “pull” of the medium.

Woolf flarf #3: Woolf flarf 3

Because I have separated my original video footage from this sound project, I am much more aware of the distinctions between word and image. In “Sculpting Time” Tarkovsky writes about the necessity of separating cinema and literature. He describes how in his point of view images must occur sequentially:
tark p. 70bTarkovsky takes great care to separate literature from cinema, to clarify these art forms, define their differences and discuss now they how are linked:
tark p.60bIn a literary context, re-grouping Woolf’s words (or any words) gives them entirely new meanings; in a new context these “re-purposed” words can be as deserving as the original setting.

Why don’t we ever tire of words? We use them over and over, the same words are repeated again and again, and remain just what they are; we use them to create pictures in lieu of an image. In this way the fluidity of words are truly magical. Woolf speaks about this phenomenon:

“It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most un-teachable of all things. All we can say about them is that they seem to like people to think before they use them, and to feel before they use them. They are highly sensitive, easily made self-conscious. They do not like to have their purity or their impurity discussed. They hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change. Perhaps that is their most striking peculiarity – their need of change…”

th-1The three musicalized poems will serve as counterpoint to the civilized dryness of Woolf’s BBC lecture, which I hope to vocally “twin” with a clarifying vocal recording (the original BBC recording is of inferior quality).

In terms of technical software, I am using Garageband for scratch draft vocals, a Zoom H4n digital recorder for vocal masters, and Pro Tools recording/editing software for mixing, mastering and final bounce to a .wav file. I may also use audacity for audio-edit touch-ups. Rather than uploading my sound files to this blog (there is unstable access in the DIAP studio) I will play and demonstrate audio directly from my computer.

PT grab VW BBCQT grab single notes

This week for project #2 I have been constructing and composing a series of “flarf” inspired poems from the selected works of Virginia Woolf. Eventually I will record the completed poems as vocal compositions.

At this writing, my rules for generating these poems include: excising lists of 2-3 word phrases from Woolf’s books; organizing these phrases into verses and sections, creating one poem per book; and composing a sound world for each poem (these poems will eventually be linked in transition).

I have included two .pdf examples of these “flarf” poems, constructed from Woolf’s novels “The Waves” and “The Years”.

Woolf flarf #1 The Waves

The WavesWoolf flarf #2 The Years

The YearsI have also attached an audio link to an mp3 sketch draft of vocal phrases (duration 2:15) to use as a base for poem #1, and notes on a second musical idea, perhaps to use for poem #2.

GB docu.


I will compose, record and master a vocal soundtrack, “Words Fail Me”, based on fictionalized moments in the life of Virginia Woolf. Because the Woolf estate routinely forbids permission for the use of her writings to artists or individuals, I will construct a “free association” flarf-inspired libretto using a linked series of short phrases gleaned from Woolf’s books, essays and letters, as an homage to her “nonlinear, free form prose style” (bio., online). I will record, edit and master this soundtrack collage on Pro Tools software.

Words Fail Me

“Words Fail Me” is a sonic and visual study of language and its evolving literary genres and traditions, seen and heard through the literature and imagistic prism of Virginia Woolf, “one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century” (wikipedia, online). For this project I will construct a nonlinear vocal score in the spirit of Woolf’s avant-garde literary approach, using short phrases from her selected writings, to be linked with a visual imagery. The finished soundtrack will be an audio collage of literary phrases and concepts, an experimental narrative contained within Woolf’s innovative approach to language and the shifting concepts of time. This soundtrack will eventually be linked to the visual narrative.

As a finished work, observers will hear and see Virginia Woolf as an audio and physical apparition. The soundtrack will also incorporate excerpts from Woolf’s 1937 BBC radio interview, the only known recording of her speaking voice. In this interview Woolf comments upon the evolving state of words, their births and deaths, and the intriguing twists of fate inherent in the history of the English language. In parallel, the filmed sections focus on charged elements of nature and fictionalized aspects of Woolf’s mental state, leading to her final breakdown and suicide in 1941, at the age of 59.

In the sonic treatment of this project language and words are treated as living things; attracting or repelling each other, courting, marrying and divorcing, appearing and suddenly disappearing, capable of creating and dismantling entire worlds. Words are born; they become animated, have robust lives, then perish without a trace. Popular words surface and succeed brilliantly, then mysteriously fail as culture, mores and social patterns dictate shifting modes of expression and behavior.

“What is written about a person or an event is frankly an interpretation, as are handmade visual statements” (Sontag, online). The video narrative, with conceptualized images of Woolf’s journey towards suicide, is a fictional interpretation of the past. Through the archive of her letters and her body of written work we know a great deal about Virginia Woolf; her life and loves, her exalted position in the literary world, her breakdowns and her struggle with sanity. Through Leonard Woolf’s tender description we know the story of her last day. We can read the loving and pain-filled letter Woolf wrote to Leonard, before she left the house and made her way down to the river. And yet we know nothing about Virginia Woolf; there is no door we can open that will truly reveal this woman to us. We can only conjecture.

Sontag writes that “the camera record justifies. A photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened” (Sontag, online). With a click of the trackpad we can access photographs of Woolf that give us visual entry into her static physicality; images that strongly suggest both her ferocious intelligence and her fragility. I am interested in examining how a fictionalized sonic and visual narrative is received by the viewer, given that Virginia Woolf (the real subject) and her life story are historically well-known.

The art critic Jan Estep writes “the lure is of thinking about the first people to witness the photograph’s incredible illusionism” (Estep, online). For Project #2 I propose to create a nonlinear audio/digital story, combining photographs of Woolf with moving images of her doppelgänger: ghostlike or solid, animated or frozen, drained of color or suddenly saturated, inundated by water or burdened by fistfuls of stones; sonically coupled with the actual voice of the subject (as if summoned back from the dead), while surrounded by ephemeral wraith-like vocal couplings of her own literary design.

flyer still collage edit


“Virginia Woolf.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <>

“Virginia Woolf Biography Author, Journalist (1882–1941).” A&E Networks Television. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <>

“Biography of Virginia Woolf.” The Literature Network. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <>

Sontag, Susan. “Susan Sontag.” Susan Sontag. Estate of Susan Sontag, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <

Estep, Jan. “Frieze Magazine | Archive | Archive | The Last Picture Show.” Frieze Magazine RSS Issue 81. 1 Jan. 2004. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <>

Production Schedule Project #2 “Words Fail Me”

Week 8 – Begin to create the libretto based on selected works of Virginia Woolf. This process will entail choosing and archiving lists of phrases (2-3 words each) from Woolf’s texts, creating a master list, and organizing these phrases into a formal libretto.

Week 9 – Finish constructing the libretto, begin to rehearse and plot out the structure of the recording. Import Woolf’s BBC interview into Pro Tools timeline.

Week 10 – Begin recording libretto on Pro-tools, using video as visual and timing guide. Make decisions re: incorporating and playing with Woolf’s BBC interview.

Week 11– Continue recording; begin to add effects and plug-ins, consolidate all timelines in Pro Tools.

Week 12 – Present first draft of sound-track with video.

Week 13 – Present second draft of sound-track with video.

Week 14 – Present finished sound-track with video.

As a final mental exercise for Project #1, I set out to create an installation sketch for the Allure of the Sea, incorporating multiple videos that would play simultaneously in an environmentally constructed space. I decided to act as if money, gallery space and technical support were all a given; that I could do exactly as I imagined, or dreamed of, at this stage of the project.

Several weeks ago Sarah mentioned that the upper space of the DIAP gallery reminded her of a ship. Utilizing this observation, I sketched out the architecture of a conceptual ship inside of a large rectangular room (please click on attached draft below).

Cruise Install sketchWhen visitors enter, they face a large-scale projection of looped water footage, directly in front of them on the far wall. There is a bench installed for seated viewing. Visitors also hear a soundtrack arranged in surround-sound, that will loop approximately every 10 minutes.

Along the left wall are three slot machines, of the standard type found in casinos. Visitors can pull the lever of a slot machine, and a timed excerpt of casino footage plays. Each time they pull the lever, a different excerpt is displayed. Each slot machine has its own varied selection and order of casino excerpts.

On the right, a secure staircase leads to a recessed room approximately ten feet up the wall. Visitors climb the staircase and arrive in this room, approximately twelve feet by sixteen feet. The elevator and glass dress footage plays on the wall facing the gallery entrance; visitors watching this footage have their backs to the water projection. This recessed room has comfortable padded benches and back rests along two walls, and cushions and pillows on the floor to lounge on.

Visitors can easily spend 10-15 minutes in this installation, experiencing three linked but separate environments with an immersive, ambient soundtrack. Each station offers a specific focus, including choice and variety, interactivity, opportunities for meditation, thoughfulness and receptivity, adventure and physical challenge, climbing, discovery, exploring, resting, and the elements of surprise.

Still to consider in this dream: how lighting would work in the totality of this large room, and how separate environments (including the slot machines, the stairway and the recessed room) would be lit or featured. Also the possibility of expanding the sound-world; for example creating separate soundtracks for the casino footage, where visitors can wear headphones and “zone out” as they try their luck at the slots.

Based on last week’s critique/comments/observations, I have edited my draft footage, tightened up the elevator and glass dress sections, and removed sequences that seem too literal or suggestive of narrative. I have also created two new short exterior sequences (see sample images below). The length of the video timeline is now 5:52 rather than 7:46.

My approach to video is very similar to my approach when composing music; there is rhythm and a feel for phrasing that I begin to “hear” with the visual material. As I discover a score-like feel for the overall shape of the imagery, I spend a lot of time orchestrating tempo, dynamics and internal beats of the footage. Because of the economics of time, this final project draft lacks (for me) a refined sense of rhythm, and a crafted sense of transitional phrasing in the timeline.

If I developed this project for gallery installation, I would retain my original idea of using multiple (three) screens, scrims or projection points in the space: projection #1 would loop elevator and glass dress footage; projection #2 looped casino footage; projection #3 looped water footage. These projections would appear in a kind of circular panorama, approximately 5 feet up from the gallery floor for clear sight-lines. I would also compose a single soundtrack for the three films, installed in surround-sound configuration. Observers would occupy the central area between the projections, in a neutral or negative space This vantage point would allow visitors to focus their visual attention where and when it may, while experiencing the total installation as an immersive environment.

I would of course further develop and refine all sections. I have also discovered methods that I would like to continue to experiment with; these include reshaping footage geometrically to create new forms and perspectives, and combining them in various configurations and layers. I have included one example in this iteration of the project (see sample image below).

*Please note that David Simons shot raw casino footage.

norman under 13-angle water 2