Mick Douglas (Australia)
RMIT University, Melbourne

This contribution to Deep Anatomy is part of a series of performance works entitled ‘Circulations’ that are linked through an exploration of salt: as matter, as substance of social and economic exchange, as a material invested with symbolic and ritual significances in different cultures, and as an element in the hydrological cycle that is essential to life.

The work will occur as a live performance research and presentation process over the 14 days of Deep Anatomy: dialoguing with, and responding to, the three-act structure of the Vertical Blue competition. This will be done along three lines of performance practice enquiry: sampling, salting, and sounding. The work will focus on investigative modes on competition days, and will use public modes of encounter/experience on the ‘incursion’ days (DAY 4, 8, and 13). This cyclical approach seeks to build an accumulative performance work over three iterations, in three parts, guided by a dramaturgy of cycles.

All Long Island residents, Vertical Blue participants, and Deep Anatomy contributors are invited to participate in this work here: Circulation Invite

dpaMICKCirculation #1, Zooming Fluid States Festival, Rijeka, Croatia, 2013.

Mick Douglas is an artist and initiator of projects across art, performance, and design. His work has been presented in Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, throughout Europe and North America. Socially engaged large-scale public projects include W-11 Tram: an art of journeys commissioned by the cultural festival of the 2006 Commonwealth games in Melbourne, and the ongoing Tramjatra: imagining Melbourne and Kolkataby tramways. His solo durational projects Container Walk, Carriage, and Return have been presented in The Performance Arcade 2013-2015. Recent collective process-driven projects include Shuttle through the North American deserts, and PPPPP practice in Melbourne. Mick is director of the Fluid States cluster in Melbourne Australia, Performing Mobilities.

A part of the programme for Deep Anatomy – a regional cluster for Performance Studies International #21 globally dispersed conference on Long Island, The Bahamas, April 26-May10, 2015.

29/4/2015Sampling.Salting.Sounding – an invitation – An ‘Intersections’ Talk by Mick Douglas, inviting the Vertical Blue/Deep Anatomy/Long Island public to view and participate in his work. [view]


In response to Mick Douglas’ invitation ‘to sample salt and sound’ at Apartment #3, Petty’s Settlement, Long Island, The Bahamas
By Sam Trubridge

In colder places we protect our bodies from the touch of the air, from the wind, and from the rain. On this hot island, a body opens its senses to the sun, the warm air, and the wet sticky sweat. It feels the relief that a breath of wind brings, even longs for rain, and feels the silky weightlessness of warm water. Bare feet find sand, hot asphalt, prickly grass, loose stones, and slides sticky over tiled floors, catching the inevitable grit, the ubiquitous sand. We are ushered in to Apartment #3 one by one, after waiting on furniture arranged in car park. Inside, we are invited to walk along a thread, following its path through the sticky afternoon air. Recorded, repeating sounds haunt the space with a looped fragment from some low-tech source: too short to be musical, too vague for any recognition, a child asks if it is a ghost. Breezes shift over the skin as fans whir overhead and an open doorway yawns its warmer air as we pass it. With eyes closed we follow the thread, like the blind free-diver waiting for their freefall to finish. This small room goes on forever, like the slow three or so minutes that it takes to cast off and return from the depths. We wait, slowly groping the floor with our toes, reaching for the line, waiting for it to suddenly end. But it goes on, weaving us on an impossibly long path, until it finally fails – and our toes swipe at nothing but the greasy tiles. And we open our eyes – to find ourselves surrounded by a spiral jetty of assorted plastics that slowly fade from blue to green – the limpid colours of these shallow waters, this shallow sea: Baha Mar. Through which slowly closes the impossibly fragile line of our passage – this blue thread that we have walked upon – a tightrope – as thin as breath. The sounds echo from megaphones laid on the floor, on the kitchen table, by the door. I have been instructed to carry a bleached white conch shell in with me, held as if an offering. As I retrace my path back it weighs heavier in my hands, for it has not yet released the burden of its significance upon me. It brings me to a pause, almost on the edge, almost upon exiting, and its unresolved weight compels my hand to bring it up to my ear, to listen for the sea. But instead of that familiar sound, the clamouring of the megaphones is channelled, condensed to create a ringing pulse– somewhere between a siren and the slow plaintive call of a submarine’s sonar. I sink in that sound, created by the spiral of the shell’s cavity that has transformed it into this call. I am in the deep again, at the bottom of the abyss, yet turning on the edge of this hot room, as Orpheus did, looking back before turning to the door and the breath outside.



In response to Mick Douglas’ sampling.salting.sounding part2 at Apartment #3, Petty’s Settlement, Long Island, The Bahamas
By Sam Trubridge

2R7A1598_crop_LresThe rain falls all day. Water tanks and swimming pools brim over. Clouds of mosquitos gather at doorways and cars plow through puddles of chalky white water. Others who choose to walk leave puddles in the hall and make the sofas soggy with their repose. Mick is mopping – pushing more water around on the tiles, chatting as he does – mopping – wiping water – water wiping – swiping – smearing – cleaning – clearing. We taste salty Caribbean plums, banana bread, and bush tea. He begins, cataloguing the flotsam that he has arranged in a cascade across the Cataloguing fragments of blue and green plastic, each smoothed and rounded by the action of sand and surf. And five piles of salt. Cataloguing depths, measurements, soundings. Never quite fathomable, this rhythmic verse gathers, collects, and samples from the experiences of Vertical Blue, Deep Anatomy, and Long Island. When he passes me a shell, a green motor oil canister, or a bag of salt from Croatia – can I quite fathom the intention? Inside the bottle is a secret underwater space – a green blue grotto and the muffled sounds from outside. The cracked plastic admits a shaft of light and Mick’s words come to me as I peer into this hidden depth. We peer also into that hidden, sudden depth of the microscope – handed around – to witness salt crystals glistening in a circle of light. We peer into a drawing of a blue circle, water coloured, a blue hole in the paper – and seek to fathom the rhythm of the waves, the haunting call of the megaphones, the cataloguing. We are asked to define the objects ourselves, to speak our definitions into these devices so they may echo our utterances. What is this? – this bucket, this flattened bottle. It is a lung at 70 metres. This bottle top is a blue hole. Perhaps we float, on this sodden day of endless downpour in this room of sudden depth – this grotto, this lens. Perhaps we float and listen to the deep – to the echoing sonar and the call of the foghorn – waiting for that sudden intake of breath, and the silence after.


In response to Mick Douglas’ sampling.salting.sounding part3 at Diamond Crystal Salt Farm, Long Island, The Bahamas
By Sam Trubridge


Turn left at Hard Bargain. Past the closed buildings that hum with the ingress of insects. A abandoned kitchen alive with bees. The varicose veins of termite tracks. Rake and Scrape bands played here. Tradesmen were trained. Back in the days of the salt farm.

  1. Crystallisation is a chemical process of solid–liquid separation , in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid crystalline phase occurs (Wikipedia).

The road rides a network of crumbling causeways, crossing culverts and sluice-gates through the broad salt pans. Here the super-heated sea water was spread thin after its long journey through the canals and salt ponds, on a path carved by Diamond Crystal salt farms all the way from the ocean at Deadman’s Cay. 35 kilometres of shallow sea water, slowly heating in the tropical sun, on its way to the sky.

Down by the stand of casuarina on the sea’s edge there are broken down factory buildings, there is a harbour full of sand. One tugboat remains, half-way up a slow rise of sand as if it were riding this slow-moving tide, or frozen in some heroic crossing of some great ocean. Mick has a left a trail of his blue plastic along the track that leads to the sea – a kind of tidal mark left by his passage, to mark the path he wants us to take. Past the tugboat and its parched harbour, where a haunting sound drifts from its open doors and portholes – a plaintive beckoning, a ‘karanga’, or the fog-horn of a ship lost at sea.

      2.    “The magnamity of the sea, which permits no record” (Herman Melville, ‘Moby Dick’)

THIS IS… A sandal dried by sun sand and salt. THIS IS… the branch of a casuarina tree, whispering in the wind. THIS IS… a plastic bottle. THIS IS… a stone. THIS IS… an empty lobster shell. THIS IS… a small campfire bv the sea. THIS IS… random objects demarked by a small tags and and an endless intonation. THIS IS… a megaphone’s empty classification with no subject or noun, just an endless THIS IS… We measure. We measure with pronouns and meters and metres, holding these rules, these rulers  up against the world to know it – THIS deep hole is 203 metres, THIS storm reached wind speeds of 125km/hr, THIS fragile line we hold up to the tempest, or lower into the abyss, to scale and give scale to its unbelievable scale, this is 10 metres, this is 20 metres, this is 30 metres, this is 40 metres, this is 50 metres, this is 60 metres, this is 70 metres, this is 80 metres, this is 90 metres, this is 100 metres, this is 110 metres, this is 120 metres, turn, and return, this is 110 metres, this is 100 metres, this is 100 metres, this 90 metres, this is 80 metres, this is 70 metres, this is 60 metres, this is 50 metres, this is 40 metres, this is 30 metres, this 20 metres, this is 10 metres…

      3. Diamond Crystal®: It’s more than just salt—it is a solution that transforms something in your home to make it better. It provides your family with better tasting food; with soft water for your skin, dishes and pipes; with safety when you walk in winter, and a refreshing experience when you swim in summer. Diamond Crystal®Salts are a brilliant way for you to take care of your family and home, in a way that is generally unseen, but certainly missed if absent. Diamond Crystal®: A Brilliant Choice® Since 1886 (

THIS IS… a microscope. A lens. An inward eye on the inner world of inner scale. A miniature theatre where tiny little specks of salt sit in lamplight, silently revealing their shape, their crystalline surfaces, their tiny secrets. A looking glass for “this is, what’s that, what’s in there, what’s it like, let me see, look inside, look closer, look deeper, go deeper”. Here on a plate of glass a single grain of salt. There the rolling gatorade-blue salty sea, sighing onto the sugary sand. And another calling from the ghostly megaphones, hanging in the whistful trees. The tread of their fine needles under our feet, we pass along the sea’s edge to where a man floats, where a man breaks the surface, where a man bounces joyfully to the dry edge of the sand, where a man lets his face fall and returns again to the ocean, striding out past his depth to float again, face down, in the electric blue swell. And again. And again. The megaphone drones the shortest sampling from a popular song, indistinct for the technology, oceanic in its repetition, for the swelling rise and fall of its broken meter, and for the sounds of the trees and surf. “yesterday was a ––– nother day when I ––– saw you ––– ; yesterday was a ––– nother day when I ––– saw you ––– ; yesterday was a ––– nother day when I ––– saw you ––– ;” (Mazzy Star, “She’s My Baby”). He turns and returns from the sand to surf, from standing to floating, coming and going, coalescing and sublimating, back and forth, saturating and crystallising in this sparkling, shimmering panorama of Bahamian blue.



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