Process Blog 3: November 15, 2014

Exiting, Re-Existing

Going into the dark with eyes open. Forging spaces for roaming: other ways of inhabiting the body and experiencing the imagination. Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Field Guide to Getting Lost’ is instigating…

The work is sitting in the experience of it: in action, in doing, in thinking about doing. The work is alive through the senses and their imagined capacities. Its state is one of ‘noticing yourself noticing’. The work produces the imaginary, and the audio scores offer little containers, hooks, or anchors, to rest on, or leap off from.

It’s important to me to share the work’s hypnotic capacity. It is a landscape that delivers the present through lost-ness: movement as sail, body as ship, wind as chance, improvisation, and invitation.

The relationship between perception and projection is still on my mind. Is there a way of initiating the audience, to let them experience perception, and/or notice projection before watching a performance of this work?

Some details:

My attempts at writing scores became too ‘of’ language/ instructional, as if separate from the movement they were meant to inspire. I found that in order to stay connected to the movement (so that it’s all dancing really) I needed to start by capturing audio recordings from within the process, from how I would guide the process in real time, and then allow written scores to emerge from there.

The recordings are made alone in the studio, with a microphone, and an implicit audience and implicit collaborators. I let myself sink into the activity – I think you can hear it in my voice – there’s a shift after the first few awkward minutes. A combination of self-talk, utterances, sounds from body movement, and guiding words for collaborators come out. These meditations are becoming the fabric of the work, both informing its inner landscape and overarching construction.

I re-made the Exiting/Re-Existing meditation, allowing myself to respond to characteristics of the room, and letting nonsensical stuff, thoughts, or stories come out. There are also specific references to times/dates/locations of the recording.

Here’s the full version:

For two consecutive days after making it, I had two groups of artists come in and try them out. The artists were generous, and stayed with the 90-minute meditation fully. Some things that came out:

1)   Discrepancies between details heard and actions experienced (ex/ when the audio references a leaf on the floor, one might be looking at an electrical socket instead). The slipperiness of language and identifiers was exciting to experience.

2)   The picture the audio guide animates within the space is lively to watch, even in the absence of a performing body. I think this is because there is enough detail presented aurally to follow the ‘ghost’ performer throughout the space, and imagine her path as she might have made the sounds contained in the audio. This kind of listening, leading to projected images, is interesting regarding how the senses operate collaboratively.

3)   It’s fun to wonder how the movement sounds were made. The suggestion of virtuosity is as potent, if not more, than live action. How can I push this? The suggestion of virtuosity…

4)   We, in the dance, are all doing the same thing, but HOW we chose to do it becomes fascinating to watch. Having access to the dancer’s instructions (via the audio material) makes this possible.

What if the audio scores are a way to demarcate the performance space, or qualify it as ‘site specific’? For example, a day or two before a performance occurs, I’d produce an audio meditation recording in situ. There could be references to characteristics of the space, its history, its previous function, its architecture, etc. included. It could be a past documentation of ‘noticing and interacting with characteristics of a space’ that is used to accompany a present performance about ‘noticing and interacting with characteristics of the mind’. Pixelated moments of noticing details that brings our constantly changing methods for noticing to our attention. Bringing strangeness to the familiar, or perhaps ‘initiating’ the audience to also notice what they’re noticing.

The scores function to activate the imagination, and project it onto the present time, space, or other people for strange encounters. What is unresolved for me is how far to take this projection. Does it imply a paranoid ‘otherness’ in how we (myself, the collaborators, the audience) look at each other, and does this gaze beget the production of more difference, or distance? But then again, can we ever really see or know another person, or does this work challenge the assumption that we can? I don’t want the work to create MORE difference between people, but maybe we can produce difference of another KIND – extreme difference as animated by the fictional – in order to bring us closer together: closer through a deepened understanding of how we are complicit in the PRODUCTION of difference.

The next few weeks are dedicated to churning out a trio, and a method for approaching this juicy problem. So far there’s lots of body snatching and swapping perceptive roles (between people, and within our own senses). Making strange mirrors, or the line of disappearance. I think the disappearance of identity is located here: in not knowing whether you’re in your own body, or you’re in the body inside the strange mirror.

There is an overarching score coming together, and I’ll use it to construct the bones of the trio. I put together a video (below) linking the improvised movement sections with the audio score. The score functions to explain the dancer’s internal monologue, but also maintains instructions for collaborators, and tips into the public realm (on a walk with my imaginary creature while holding a shared meditative activity).

I have a public showing coming up on November 22nd, and I’m considering how the performance environment and sequences of events might serve to initiate, invite, suggest, or guide the viewer towards these liminal territories. I’ll ask them. (I once saw a piece where the performer recited a poem about his divorce in the venue hallway, then handed out chocolates, and walked the audience across the stage before finding their seats – ‘Crotch’ by Keith Hennessey). I think there should be some kind of initiating activity like this. Perhaps the Peripheral Conversations score?

Next steps:

1) BETTER sound, MORE sound! My binaural mics haven’t arrived in the mail yet, so I’ll redo relevant audio recordings when I get them. I’m inviting a composer to help me out as well.

2) Think about how the video might serve the performance, and how the performance might serve the video. It think they need to be together, to enhance each other. To make visible an imagination that IS PRODUCING; to use the video to capture the view FROM the imaginary, as if my imagined counter-self could hold the camera. My projection is the Videographer. The video content follows the logic of this strange Videographer. Blurred subjectivity, blurred authorship.

3) Do the dance with others, make different interpretations visible, and make my experience less central. Also, I might ask collaborators to participate in leading the meditation, or record their own self-talk.

4) Think about extended applications outside the dance/performance, but still generated from the dance/performance. So far: Scores for Nightmares, and Peripheral Conversations (will be attempted November 22).

Here are a few more audio scores: