Phoenix Rising, Part 3: laub, me, and The Revolution (The Theory of Everything) A conversation with Emi Kuriyama, Jennifer Moon and laub
11/22/2015 3:22PM in Culver City
Emi Kuriyama: We can talk about whatever, but . . . hmm . . . how did you two meet? I heard you met at laub’s opening (click here). Who made the first move?
laub: I did!
Jennifer Moon: You did?!
l: because I was like, “I’m in The Revolution (click here)”
JM: Oh, yeah yeah, but you didn’t ask Young [Chung] to introduce us.
l: No no, what happened is the night before when I was installing, Young had this sit down with me and said, “You know, you’re part of the family now and that means you have to know the other artists that are here,” so that night I looked up everybody on the list of Commonwealth and Jennifer was the one I remembered. Jennifer. The Revolution. I had that in my head.
JM: The water thing.
l: Yeah. Jennifer was bartending and I went to get water, but then—
JM: We both reached for the glass at the same time.
l: Yeah yeah yeah.
EK: Wait, for real?
JM: Yeah yeah yeah.
JM: So that was funny, and I poured some water and smiled and—
l: And then I came back and we had that conversation.
JM: And Young was like, “Oh, you haven’t met yet. laub, Jennifer. Jennifer, laub,” and he ran away, and laub said he was into The Revolution.
EK: That’s a really good pick up line.
JM: Yeah yeah. I know, right! And then he messaged me the next day saying something short like, “Your life force and energy has impacted me. Would like more.” And then I wrote something about your eyes—
JM: Like really intense.
JM: The way you leaned in or something and you said like, “I too felt a connection.” All intense, and then he didn’t message me for three days. I remember telling David, “Oh, guess I was a little too intense for that one.” Then you messaged me.
l: And we hung out for like eight hours. It was fun.
JM: And then you moved in!
l: First, you were all like, “Come fix my fan.”
JM: No! I didn’t say it like that. [LAUGHTER] I did a studio visit with you and then you came and fixed my fan.
l: And I said I wanna make out with you.
JM: Yeah, while you were fixing the fan you said, “I am sexually attracted to you.”
JM: And that’s totally something that I would say to someone! We talked about it for a long time before we ever touched.
EK: Can you tell me about coupling and independence? I remember that was something you were both talking about a lot when you started seeing each other.
JM: We want to be free. We talk about freedom a lot.
l: Yeah. That’s important.
JM: You go. I’ve been talking too much. Talk talk talk talk.
l: Well, I like to smoke pot everyday, and I like to know that it’s okay with Jennifer. There’s a lot of freedom of self. Who you are and how you exist in the world. Who I am is okay in relation to Jennifer, and vice versa. Smoking pot is a minimal way to think about it. The freedom of coming together and being all whacked out. We can be so absorbed in whatever we’re doing. It becomes—It’s freeing.
l: We don’t have a concept of time. Nothing else is present. We’re just present with each other’s energy. We’re not even there. It’s something else.
JM: Yeah, that energy going through us. It feels like that sometimes. We play a lot. A lot of playing and being like children. I don’t even know what it is. I know for myself, I wanted to find someone who I can be comfortable with in the way that I’m comfortable by myself. It’s nice. I feel like I can do that with laub. I can be completely silly or stupid or whatever.
EK: You don’t have to censor yourself.
JM: Yeah. It’s very freeing to be able to see the other person. I mean this sounds like a typical relationship. When you start talking about it, I feel like when you put words to it, it starts sounding like—
l: any other love story.
EK: Yeah. Well, I wonder how much of that, how much of love feels the same. Like that’s what’s great and powerful about it. You know? That we use those words because even the most conventional relationship has what you two are talking about. Even if it is totally corralled by capitalist values, there’s still that closeness that is love.
JM: Yeah. So the love thing is the unchanging thing.
JM: Yeah, I wonder about that. That there’s this thing that’s the purity of love.
EK: Yeah, like I have two rabbits that are partnered. Sometimes I see them flopping into each other, and I think, “Oh yeah, that’s love.” If one get’s upset, the other one will—I don’t know.
JM: Take care of the other one?
EK: Yeah! Or they protect each other when they feel like they’re in danger. They’re these small fluffy tiny-brained animals that know love.
JM: Yeah! I’m more inclined to believe in some kind of omnipresent love, but laub is more—
EK: What do you think?
JM: Yeah, laub what do you think?
l: About loooove?
JM: Yeah, what do you think? Tell us.
l: Oh man.
EK: I mean part of the thing about my rabbits is they’re animals with a complex social structure. Like rabbits build dens in warrens and connect their homes to their friends’ homes. I wonder how much of persistent living with someone else is about survival. I mean, love feels out of this world but maybe it’s deep down dirt and earth of this world.
l: Yeah. I ride the trains a lot and it’s people, people, people. My idea is that we all could collectively be free together which I think is this love thing. We could all be completely comfortable with everybody, but that’s not real. I could be comfortable with that guy right now [GESTURING TOWARDS ANOTHER TABLE].
JM: You could.
EK: We should try right now.
JM: That’s what The Revolution is about.
l: But where is the love in that? You know? I guess the love gets away from the coupling. I’m more into a collective being.
JM: What are you afraid of in coupling? I don’t have strong anti-coupling feelings.
l: I think you do. You mentioned it in the video when you mention the capitalist system that segregates people into groups and makes you afraid of the other groups in a way that keeps you absorbed—
JM: I guess maybe I don’t see what’s going on here as coupling. Even though from the outside, people could say, “They’re a couple.” I would hope it facilitates a wanting to connect with people on a similar level, maybe not all sexual, but a similar kind of honesty.
EK: There’s something about that acceptance. In a community where everyone can be close and open with each other, you give space and room for everyone to do what they do.
EK: Accepting that and not going in on somebody’s life and policing them sounds beautiful.
l: Yeah. That seems like love.
JM: You talk about full acceptance as love.
l: Yeah, total acceptance. Total acceptance of where you are right now, in that moment. I love you there. And I love you there. And maybe I won’t love you here, but right now I fully accept you. I guess that could shift through time. Shift through people.
JM: That acceptance can be for everyone.
l: That would be ideal.
JM: It’s funny, because reading laub’s writing from before we met. We were thinking about very similar things. You talked about revolution a lot, about acceptance—
l: and expansion.
JM: Yeah, you used similar words. We were both connected to the 3CE in a different way. Wait, what were we talking about?
JM: Oh yeah! Definition of Abundance is about acceptance and what you’re talking about and love is, that dude over there, love is to accept him. That is possible, but it has to start with me or you or you.
l: Yeah! To not be fearful. I feel that a lot in certain spaces, like work for example. I’m not as sure of myself. I fear myself in that space. It’s a fear of self, so you shut that up. Or I fear myself around that person, so you close up, but then you can’t accept the other person, because you’re not you.
JM: So then a relationship—
l: It’s trust.
JM: A relationship we’re trying to build or are building, it facilitates that kind of trust. That’s why it’s not necessary to be a closed system, because the whole idea of it is to build courage so that you can go out—
l: and be yourself—
JM: with everyone. The merging part—
l: the merging!
JM: The channeling of each other’s energy, you said it allowed you to be present.
JM: Or exchanging gut fairies in the science display. That merging allows us to give love to people outside. Something like that.
l: Yeah yeah, just like that [LAUGHTER]. Also, when I was making all of that glass there was a merging. I felt a merging where I didn’t know if I was going to get it done and then I said, “Jennifer, just faith it!” and it came together.
JM: There was also that one day when you were like, “Jennifer is trying to co-opt me. Why am I fucking trying to do this glass?!”
l: Yeah, there was that. One day I’m merged with Jennifer and one day Jennifer is stealing my soul. And it happens on the regular. It is very real.
l: The Revolution does invoke certain feelings in me where I feel like I’m being co-opted by a system.
JM: Yeah. It’s cool. And I was like, “Okay, it’s cool.” It’s cool.
l: And you were like, “Okay, I’ll talk to you in a few hours.”
JM: Yeah. It’s funny. You make me feel free, you know.
l: Yeah, I feel the same way about you. I feel present. It’s nice.
EK: Wow, beautiful.
JM: Yeah, it’s ok to say it.
JM: There’s some resistance to that. There’s the sterility of the word “relationship.” And there’s some of that in science.
EK: Yeah, I was wondering about the science metaphors in your show at Commonwealth, and the materials you used. You mentioned child’s play and the joy in that kind of play. The materials you used are so easy to interact with and brought up these memories of childhood play and wonder and joy. Like, you built something out of—
JM: Popsicle sticks.
EK: Yeah! You can build anything out of popsicle sticks.
l: Google that shit. The images that come up—people have made some epic amazing stuff out of popsicle sticks for sure.
EK: You guys made a hadron collider.
JM: laub made it. laub made the whole thing. I was working on the video.
JM: And the text for the science fair displays, which I copied from Wikipedia.
l: Jennifer is a facilitator.
JM: It’s an 8th grade science fair, and that’s what 8th graders would do.
EK: Totally. I still go through Wikipedia for research sometimes.
JM: Yeah, me too. I do that too.
EK: Well, Wikipedia fits in to the whole community-based-knowledge-building thing you’re working on.
JM: Yeah. It was funny how the science stuff fit so perfectly with the whole Theory of Everything and then the two forms of love. Eros and Quantum Mechanics seems similar.
EK: How did that come into the work?
l: In Wyoming.
JM: I went to that residency, Ucross in Wyoming. I was talking to the other residents. This guy, Tom—Well, it started with laub talking about dark matter. I didn’t know anything about dark matter, and he was saying that 96% of the universe is dark matter. And then one night when we were about to have sex and you said you don’t believe in love, but you said you believe in faith. Then, I was like, “Oh, maybe the faith is the dark matter.” It was also in relation to this student at CCA who talked about the faith particle and different dimensions, and all that came into the dark matter. When I was in Wyoming, I talked to Tom, a composer who is also into science, over dinner about love and science and he had an issue of Scientific America. This other resident Kelly was telling me about Quantum Mechanics. She’s a writer, but she was saying if she wasn’t a writer she’d be a physicist. I didn’t know anything about Quantum Mechanics. I didn’t even know how gravity worked. I learned about all of that there, and then I came back and, in a month, made the thing!
l: The science talk is all you. I would never write like that.
JM: But you told me about—
l: Yeah, but I would never make a whole science-document-whatever.
JM: Yeah, because to you that’s the cult part of it.
JM: Putting it into a cohesive series.
JM: I wonder if people know that laub made that stuff when they look at the show, because it’s not presented as a “Jennifer Moon and laub” collaboration. It’s presented as “Jennifer Moon,” which was a conscious decision on laub’s part.
l: It was an ownership of idea. It’s Jennifer’s idea. It’s a sequel to Phoenix Rising, a continuation of an idea.
EK: You’re in the title of the show.
l: There is an introduction of me, but I like to think of myself as a character within the show, not owning the show.
JM: Even though you made all of the stuff and made all of those decisions. If I made a particle accelerator, it would not look like that.
l: I had creative freedom. Jennifer said make a large haldron collider. You did suggest K’NEX, but—
JM: It was so expensive.
l: And it wouldn’t have been as—it would have been alright.
EK: The hamster tunnels worked really well.
l: Yeah! Doesn’t that look so good? I started working with it, and it was so perfect the way it worked out. Also, it was supposed to be a perfect circle, but thank god it wasn’t. It looks so much better open and weird.
EK: Yeah, and now it’s an open system.
l: Yeah, it’s gotta be open.
JM: laub had very specific ideas about how he wanted to make stuff.
l: I was very adamant about being able to do what I wanted to do.
JM: At the beginning, I wanted to make sure we were equals. Even at the beginning of this relationship.
l: You wanted me to have equal participation in the show, and I told you that’s not a reality. It’s not how the show was set up. I think now as we venture into working together in the future, it can be more collaborative. It was upsetting me to think of it as an equal collaboration. It was a block. I am with you, but it’s not my ideas. I’m not generating this show from myself. I felt invested, but it wasn’t the way I’m invested in my own work.
JM: You’re also interested in this idea of being in service.
l: I like the idea of being a muse in a way. Also, I didn’t have to deal with all the shit. I didn’t have to deal with anything. I asked you to buy popsicle sticks. I didn’t have to deal with any of the logistics. Even the worry of the deadline wasn’t as heavy for me. It was nice way to work. It was a free way to work. It was almost like being in school where you’re given a rough assignment and you work under those guidelines.
JM: Oh, okay. I like that.
l: A guided meditation of sorts.
JM: Oh yeah, guided meditation. Are you gonna take us on that guided meditation?
EK: The school assignment-like feeling and being in service seem connected by what you’ve been saying about trust and faith.
EK: Like you trust where this other idea is going, so you can work under it easily.
l: Yes. There was a lot of trust in, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” Everything worked out so well even though we were pressed for time. It happened and it got done. It was a breeze. There was no forcing. It just flowed out of us in a nice way. I wonder how that’s going to come into building this class together. I wonder if we can work in and under other sorts of dynamics when you’re not the leader anymore.
EK: Yeah, tell me about your class.
JM: I don’t want to be the leader. Can you be the leader?
EK: Instead of a leader or teacher, you could call yourself a facilitator.
JM: Yeah, I like facilitator. That’s what they call ropes course people—ropes course facilitators.
EK: You should take your class to the ropes course!
JM: I know! I want to so bad—
l: but we can’t spend any money.
JM: Yeah, Michael [Ned Holte] said our budget is little to zero dollars. I do want to do a six-foot trust fall.
l: The class is called Feelings for Artists.
JM: It’s about acknowledging one’s feelings, being aware of them, being able to sit with them in a way that leads you to the belief that created the feeling in the first place and taking that belief and seeing if it’s in line with The Revolution. Then there’s an exorcism of beliefs, so you can connect on a gut level. I first envisioned it as being very much like a process group, but I think it depends on the level of vulnerability of the people in the class. Now, we’re thinking more about incorporating things like improv and ropes course stuff. Initiative game things. We went to see taisha’s [paggett] dance class at LACE, contact improv. You partner with someone and one is the base and the other person uses their body to move around. You’re supposed to give as much surface as possible. It’s all about trust and what it feels like to allow someone to support you and what it feels like to support someone else. That could be helpful in bringing out feelings and processing them.
l: I like the idea of being the vessel of vulnerability where we, as us, can open up a nice environment for people to share. We can be the accepting bubble. People can jump in with us.
JM: Yeah yeah yeah, so we become an example. I’m trying to figure out how to take how we are with each other and bring that into a group dynamic. We’re still not super comfortable bringing that energy out in public.
l: It might come off as a little self-absorbed, between us.
JM: That’s true.
l: We might totally exclude you.
JM: You’d be this observer.
l: It’s fun to do that on a train when you don’t know anybody, but it’s another thing when you’re trying to engage with other people directly.
JM: Yeah, we’re figuring out how to bring out that energy in a way that includes others.
Installation shots by Ruben Diaz, Video still images are pulled from 3CE: A Relational Love Odyssey, 2015