Sunday, 30 September 2007

Intro to 'the bridge'

A 'bridge of words' to describe movement principles is coming out of this research that will form the basis of choreographic exploration and workshopping. These terms are forming the backbone of my 'sociokinetic framework', which is being shaped as I go along. The concepts are coming from two sources of data that I am investigating - everyday movement in social settings, and theoretical material from literature. The 'bridge' will cross the divide between everyday movement and dance. Words that are being added to 'the bridge' are being adopted if they meet the following criteria:
  • i/ they have emerged as a response to what I am observing

  • ii/ they are new or different to the way I habitually talk about, hear, or read about movement and dance
I have no idea how long this bridge will be. At this point in time it contains 6 building blocks:

- avoidance & detours

- making space

- sanctified touch (violation &/or approval)

- equilibrium

- ratios of control (self vs environment)

- space-against


reflection - 200907

thoughts emerging from Renaud Barbaras’s Desire and Distance and his discussion of Bergson’s critique of the metaphysics of nothingness (related ideas from Yves-Alain Bois and Rosalind Kraus in their book Formless and their examination of works of art that explore the theme of ‘formlessness’ also have a floating influence)

o as Barbaras states, paraphrasing Bergson, objects don’t come out of ‘nothing’ because ‘nothing’ as a reality is an impossibility, so objects come out of the objective ‘all’ – an existence that is full of ‘not empty’
o there is only ‘substance’, which has not appeared out of nothing, but is background, source, and outcome all at once
o this is a flattening to an irremovable one-ness that merges all effects into primary causes that loop or double back onto themselves at an essential level – i.e. matter is self generating
o this removes ‘nothing’ from the role of reality’s ‘other’
o it removes materiality from the idea of an ultimate genesis and makes it an un-made constant (there was no ‘big bang’, no ultimate beginning to everything – such concepts are an impossibility on the level of experiential or known reality)
o materiality is the un-made maker of all that is made and un-made
o materiality is a permanent, ontological ‘static’ ceaselessly fluctuating with activity of one sort or another (nothing is free of it, there is always movement somewhere within a thing or place)
o materiality actualises non-nothingness as indestructible in a continuum that is self-given
o “from dust to dust” means there is only dust (Duchamp grew dust piles, he called it ‘dust breeding’, and deliberately incorporated it as a ‘painting’ layer in his work – Bois, Y. & Krauss, R. Formless, a user's guide. New York: Zone Books, 1997. p.226, & note 2, p.284)
o framed in this way, movement in the everyday takes on a different shade – things are forever bubbling and brewing in the present – a present that never goes away – the changes are in a location’s self-changing processes – this takes action that is normally thought of and perceived as linear and directional in a spatio-temporal sense, its ‘passing-through’ quality, and fixes or cements it in place so that it can’t move in or out of the static ever-present moment – all it is doing is self-altering itself while remaining glued against the ongoing surrounding moment
o as perpetual fluctuations in and of the constancy of the moment-location, movement becomes part of locations that change partially in an illusory way, or more accurately perhaps, in a partial way, in that materiality never goes away and neither does the moment and neither does ‘location’ – this reveals a conceptual split – because moving bodies move into new locations, backgrounds and locations change around them and are continually replaced, but the phenomena of ‘background’ or ‘location’ never goes away, body’s not only ‘pass through’ these, they also ‘carry’ locations around them as a physical constant which they can never shed – so on one level movement can be seen as the kaleidoscopic changing of a fixed reality – and in this sense, people are always attached to location and are of it as embedded aspects - no matter where they are, people are always embedded in environments because they can’t be anywhere else at the same time
o conventional understandings of space and movement are based on the experience of being able to move from one location to another – this understanding acknowledges a separateness between figure and ground that allows the moving bit to relocate itself in space – this ‘separating’ ability is the basis of object-hood, which imbues a thing with existential independence – but this independence gets over-inflated and bestowed as a condition of material reality itself, i.e. material reality has an independence that separates it from the backdrop of space conceived as a blank emptiness, as ‘nothing’ – but when ‘nothingness’ is removed, material reality, or object-ness, immediately gets swallowed into a background of its own kind, therefore losing total independence as it merges back into a sea of materiality and becomes part of sticky existential textures and patterns that are responsible for forming and sustaining it
o in this way it seems to me that ‘separateness’ has the same illusory quality as ‘nothingness’ – separateness is a slither that surrounds a thing and allows mobility within environments – like some kind of invisible lubricant surrounding every distinct thing, contributing to movement in the world – of course a sliver of invisible lubricant between things doesn’t exist, but either way objects are bestowed with an existential power to break boundaries in space, which is an ability to exert freedom from space – but the independence of objects to break boundaries within locations is always within the context that they can’t break out of the backdrop and frame of materiality which in this sense becomes a sea which not only immerses every single THING but is completely self-immersing and pinpointed in the unchanging constancy of ‘now-time’ – which is another slither with an illusory slipperiness
o there is no frame surrounding BIG reality on the outside of which is empty space – there is no elsewhere outside of reality, only somewhere else boundlessly within it – there are no boundaries and divides separating things within reality, these are all infinitesimally intricate parts of its organisational immediacy and its reality as a dynamic, systemic ‘organism’ (dangerously close here to hylozoism!)
o movement is now no longer about the ‘space-between’ (which, as a non-existent slither, has thinned away to join the non-existence of nothing-ness) and is now about the ‘space-against’
o movement is now both changing, sequential, linear, evaporational, conditional, temporary, transitional, transitory, temporal, procedural, etc as well as permanent, present, non-destructive, fixed, unconditional, immoveable, substantive, etc
o the distinction between presence and process is removed by expanding a way of viewing that sees each of these as the other
o this seems to locate and spiral the mechanics of what I am observing more into a location rather than simply across its surface – it’s a burrowing device that peels back a surface never to find ‘nothing’ underneath, but instead finds structural-organic pulsations and integrated patterns of activity and interaction whose idiosyncrasies belie completeness – the productive exchange between the universal particle (the speck of dust) and the idiosyncratic particular

Thursday, 27 September 2007

reflection - 270907

theme of control

"People typically feel in control in their normal surroundings and less in control in strange places."
(Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the flesh. New York: Basic Books. 1999. p. 276)

there is a relationship between self control and environmental familiarity - also between controlling one's actions and controlling oneself

control = self-control / ease / comfort / security / well being / assuredness / etc

What do environments do to help people maximise self-control (and not), whilst also controlling them? (Banks, for instance, may be more controlling, while malls less so in respect to directing movement and allowing/disallowing activities)

Self-control vs environmental control - when and why do people willingly give control over to environments? - when they want something - and when they have no choice, i.e. when they are forced

Being in one's normal places of residing compared to new locations - in normal places of residing, the space is an extension of body and self - not so in new and unfamiliar places (until, that is, these become familiar) - the feeling is of being 'inside' own space, and an 'outsider' in unfamiliar space (paralleled to being inside and outside of one's own body - i.e. varying states of self control - e.g. the 'stoner' is 'out of it' or 'off their face')

key themes - inside and outside (insider and outsider) / ratios and relationships of control between self and environment (when and how do these align and when are they misaligned?) - these are all about movements adjusting to and being adjusted by spatial factors that generate states of being willingly or unwillingly a part of the environment, where self control and identity/independence is facilitated (enhanced, encouraged, modified, influenced, maximised) or thwarted

how movement is helping my reflective processes

~ when I am typing I often give myself a structure where I do 5 minutes at the keyboard broken up by 5 minutes improvised movement in the small space of my room – I am religious with it, I watch the clock for both activities, and alternate between them – my rationale for doing this is because I want to access contributions that my moving body can make to my investigation – because the theme is ‘embodied meaning’, I want total body movement to make an equal contribution and have equal status to my concentrated thought processes and typing hands – I also want to make sure that everything I am writing can be tested, explored, understood, and applied to movement, particularly as I’m working on choreographic outcomes further down the track – so when I get up to improvise, sometimes what I am writing about directs the movement and gives it intention and meaningful-ness – by making it meaningful I am looking for more meaning – which is a demand I am making on my moving self, a demand that at times gets a bit demanding in forcing movement to provide or supply its hidden gems – surprisingly however, the pressures of expectation (the pressures of pressure – the oppressions of pressure – the demands of pressure – the pressures of demand), don’t interfere and movement often (seemingly nonchalantly and in its own unhurried self-contained way) delivers, even if inside itself it may find the methodical regularity of the demands unspontaneous, forced, and tiresome – this is about a relationship of control where the mind is placing prescriptive demands on the body for it to deliver some appropriately insightful response – sometimes it pre-attaches value to movement, by specifying its focus, and restricts or conditions movement’s discovery of its own response values to a question – it’s an area where the body’s wisdom is doubted somewhat – however if moving is its own kind of thought, then it doesn’t need the accompaniment, rationale, guidance (like a blind person being led), or direction (or doubts) from the mind, ALL THE TIME – the difference, in me, between moving from a thought-centred way and in a non-thought centred way mostly affects my spine and pelvis – vertical spinal equilibrium, which is a natural state, comes into play when I don’t think – if I want my spine to move more I have to activate thought and remember to use it – this is about equilibrium’s connection to thought-led movement vs un-thought-led movement (movement thinking itself) – this also applies to the way my pelvis anchors itself spatially and has to be ‘remembered’ and freed of its habitual functionality and stillness in respect to balance and as the base point or ground of spinal verticality – thought-produced off-centred movement and un-thinking equilibrial movement have completely different energy/effort states, the first is more extreme than the second I find –– of course ‘thinking’ movement in order to free it is often only an initial stage, the process is like taking a toboggan up a hill and then giving it a push, after that the effort is taken over by the sled’s own momentum and minimised to responding to the contours of the slope – the same with movement, after the initial push, it freely transgresses its own confines of its own accord – un-restricted by prescriptive conditions, non-directed movement responding to its own preferential mechanisms, is at times minimal and to my mind initially uninteresting and banal, but this lack of interest disappears when unexpected insights are invariably elicited and produced – an example is the young ‘flapping arms’ man from my Chichester street footage – I was doing non-directed movement after I had been writing earlier in the day about Lakoff and Johnson’s statement that controlling one’s actions equates with self-control in its widest sense, and about environmental familiarity and unfamiliarity producing ‘insider/outsider’ feelings, and my movement was very banal and simplistic – I was just in a low energy vertical state flapping my arms and kicking my feet when the image of the ‘flapping boy’ floated into my mind and my body instantly showed me how to understand his action in respect to the location and the discussion about control (which I’ve now added to my analytical sociokinetic data), and how prescribed activity in this particular public environment is flexible in what it allows, but is monitored carefully – so thank you moving-self – the organic eyes of onlookers become environmental eyes that insert themselves into the masonry (and quite literally too with the growing numbers of inconspicuous surveillance cameras) – embodying architecture by giving it sight

Saturday, 22 September 2007

reflection - 220907

more thoughts on care

" order to protect oneself from what one fears — this is the strategic achievement of anxiety, which arms the subject, in advance, against the onslaught of trauma, the blow that takes one by surprise."

(Rosalind Kraus, in Formless: a user's guide. New York: Zone Books, 1997. p. 196)

o what are accidents? they disrupt action – in big and small ways
o but what are they? and why are they hard to fit into the scheme of things?
o they obviously have causes – so one aspect is very apparent – but they’re not planned – so the cause sits both outside of and within a chosen, undertaken piece of action – they show up a moment of flaw in the deliberation and consciousness of the doing of an act by revealing that awareness levels had been thresholded too low – to a point where attentiveness had been minimalised to a blur and an element of blindness and inattention allowed to emerge and cause harm
o the automatic doing of habitual acts still require an amount of attention, so attention levels are an adjustable factor, they are lifted or lowered, but most of the time they are lowered to levels that push the edge of what we can get away with
o lowering attention levels conserves energy – this is an energy efficiency mechanism – allowing energy to be directed at new or specific areas of the moment
o habitual tasks, like chores that are repeated frequently, may be done semi-automatically because they have lost interest or new-ness value, so learnt behaviour takes over to which the least amount of monitoring attention is given – however too much daydreaming when driving the car can produce a level of attention deficit with catastrophic consequences – or stubbing a toe going into the bathroom through distractedly and hurriedly misjudging the distance between your foot and the door is the consequence of a lower attentiveness level with irritating results
o all of this is about accidents that are the direct outcome of misjudged attention threshold levels
o what is significant is the relationship between attention and habit in everyday movement and the existence of attention levels that are monitored and that are continually changing and adjusting
o attention is a radar that needs monitoring – go off for a quick coffee and you might miss the enemy boat, the UFO, or the distress signal
o further to this – attention IS monitoring – not just something that is monitored (otherwise all you have is ‘monitoring the monitor’ and ‘aware of awareness’)
o awareness of ‘attention as a monitor’ changes its tactility and reveals/amplifies the physicality of consciousness
o what does monitoring do?
o it scans – it measures – it alerts – it evaluates – it judges – it’s a gatekeeper – it assesses – it sums up – it orientates – it signals – it scouts – it informs – it’s wary – it’s suspicious – it questions – it’s cautious – it’s exact – it’s selective – it tests – it stabilises (hmmm… instinctive self-care attached to attentiveness sounds very paranoid! - self-care is deeply connected to the 'structure of anxiety' Krauss talks about in the quote above)

Friday, 21 September 2007

reflection - 210907

random thoughts

o care is about ‘not-to-destroy’ things – it is about preservation – preserving the security of a thing – care is the basis of all movement – and it has come from coordinating skills – and learning how to become coordinated
o with my in-built attitude of care, I have respect for objects in the world and in my immediate environments (although I might heirarchicise these using preference criteria and importance) – generally speaking, I want to keep the world intact and leave objects alone so that they can peacefully go about their duty servicing my and others’ needs – everything sits in a state of readiness and availability – waiting to be used according to melodies and patterns of movement that choose or determine where physicalities alight (Gins and Arakawa’s ‘landing sites’)
o nature provides examples of things we can learn to duplicate - built environments duplicate ourselves
o dance movement is about rearranging body parts in different configurations and relations to each other - they're about manipulating self materiality for the sake of it
o I’m so surrounded by where I can’t go, I get used to it and instead focus on and accept the ‘where I can go’s’, most of the time I completely ignore and forget all the ‘where I can’t go’s’
o big wild movement is an aggression (perhaps all movement has the seeds of aggression) – it is a war against barriers – in open space it intimidates barriers and dares them to come near – in enclosed or narrow space, it is unhappy that it is forced towards stillness – it hates being dominated – movement is a dominator
o the difference between small and big space is the difference between the dark oppression of defeat and the open sunny light of victory
o open space smiles on abandonment
o the mechanical repetition of walking is built around straight lines and right angles which are established in the body locomotive as natural and primary – this is a stiffness and ploddy-plod digitisation that creates flow, evenness, and continuity through the disrupting effect of punctuated repetition – dance breaks and falls through walking’s barriers to catch itself in flow as a departure from the confined mechanistics of walking – flow brings in circularity that right angles and straight lines in the natural walk, postural, and sitting states of the body deny
o when dance is in empty space (like a studio), it has itself to explore, i.e. raw movement, or the architectural planes, designs, and surfaces of other dancers – the ground is a constant that is used maximally to compensate for the lack of other fixed objects
o when environmental factors/structures are introduced and impede open space – these alter and affect movement and immediately invite/attract/enforce interaction
o why straight lines and right angles are more natural for the body and movement is because they dominate the structural mechanics of the body itself – this is the basis for their predominance in built environments – the dominant angularity of built environments not only furnish movement economically, they mirror the body and are customised to its mechanistic form and dynamic (like sculptural moulds) – squares, rectangles, straight lines, etc are not un-organic when it comes to the human body – they are reflections of its dominant construction principles and features
o the body may have curved surfaces that themselves are identified as organic, but the breaks at the joints render it angular
o in movement, the body traces circles more freely than it can make them – the body is predominantly angular in its breaks and construction – the major exception is the spine, which can curve, twist, and become rounded – we can also curve the feet (with good arches) and rotate the forearm – the tongue is very good at circular shapes – but the joint-angled being that we are has no difficulty tracing curves and circles in many different movement ways in the immediate space surrounding the body – this allows us to experience circularity in ways that extend beyond the body’s physical capacity – we vacuum these traced curves back into ourselves as though they were of us and not of the air around us – this is a kind of kinaesthetic reversal – proprioceptive appropriation – we are insect-limbed with snaky torsos – we are climbers more than slitherers

Monday, 17 September 2007


AMELIA – la la la human steps [ on dvd ]

~ torah torah torah
~ attack attack attack
~ the thrill of speed
~ erotique
~ the body is a turbine
~ moving camera – swimming perspectives
~ film me film me film me
~ I am filming you, the camera replies
~ tight taut female bodies
~ straining to erupt from their musculature
~ the female as killing leg
~ behind in front in front behind
~ partnering that has only 2 sides
~ shadow support
~ hold hold hold
~ flick release
~ woman is the front of man
~ she faces him or is his face
~ a body face
~ his erotique body face made of her
~ put a woman in a man and a man in a woman and you get a smiling man and a serious woman
~ in every other respect their suited selves are the same
~ skin swapping
~ sharp edged
~ support given support taken
~ object object object
~ staged lives
~ dramatique erotique
~ puncture puncture puncture
~ grasping grabbing razored spinning
~ desolate con(front)ations
~ touched distance kept at arms’ reach
~ insatiable demand
~ pointe-shoe’d women powering over bent-knee’d men
~ there is work to do in this state-of-the-art arena
~ the human parts don’t fit
~ they super-charge it fractally
~ converging walls and 2 supports
~ the arms of man and the legs of woman
~ all meeting at revolving hips
~ manipulated on a spin point
~ strobe dancing

~ if the woman’s hips are the spinning earth, if earth is read as the womb and nourisher of life, then this dance still makes masculine hands control its spin, i.e. God hands – but the hands are obsessed with their task and the men’s eyes never divert their focus from their intense concentration on the hips at hand – are they trying to get at something they can never know? - the secret of life’s source inside a womb not in their own bodies? – this interpretation of woman’s hips as spinning earth is viable given the setting – a concave world made of sloping walls – a bowl – the hollow of the pelvic bowl with a female dancer at the centre being spun from the hips – and, as per historical feminist literature showing that wo-man has no identity of her own, this dance has eroticised woman (naked legs and see-through tops) or elsewhere she is further fetishised in a man’s suit – woman made in the image of man’s choosing with no-where else in that sterile world of polished wood to be anything else – the only way out is up – but only the floating (and trespassing) Spirit-eye of the camera, like some invasive mechanical viewing implement being manipulated by a curator/collector of species, comes and goes from there to examine what’s been trapped and caught for its curiosity and fascination – a swimming zoom-presence that penetrates and rotates its own viewing in the way the choreography rotates the dancers, and their bodies and hips, or goes up high as the eye from above (the eye in the sky), or peers very closely into the woman’s eye but sees nothing except compliance – a woman’s eye, like the hips, unlike itself – a woman’s eye, a collected thing, that cannot pry in the way the prying camera eye, self permits – the object of fascination can only be handled this way and that, turned round, inspected, its quality appraised – serialised and categorised by the connoisseur – human liqueur for the cabinet – a matured product – expensive – there is no soil in this world, it doesn’t belong – and the men-servant-dancers can only do the eye-in-the-sky’s bidding, be its hands – making sure to duck under the woman’s blade-like arms and overly adamant gestures – or try to access her through competitive imitation that forms no bonds - parodic cross-signalling posed and turbo-charged as a mystique with a plaintive air


Sunday, 16 September 2007


improvisation [ on dvd ]

~ solo figure dialoguing the space gracefully and articulately
~ stillnesses punctuate erupting expansions of physicality-activity
~ much looking up and crossing an upstage diagonal area with his back to the live audience (and camera – which is positioned high up at the back of the seating)
~ slapping and grabbing gestures and motifs in the start as though he is internally recounting some kind of story or pursuing an inner train of thought
~ playful physical melodies circulating his freedom, that rest back into reaching extensions of arms, body, and legs and then into gazing up into space above his head
~ he has a distance focus that gets dissected and slashes his body in opposing directions
~ he begins talking and this produces laughter and amusement – his dialogue is entertaining – does the talking take over from the earlier movement interest?
~ he revels in the freedom that the space, his body, and the attention affords
~ when he stops talking the movement quietens the laughter – he is casually virtuousic (extended travelling handstands, diving cartwheels, hovering jetés, mercurial and intricate changes of direction, unexpected level shifts, feline technical assuredness), but uses a lot of idiosyncratic gestures and eccentricities that are sobering rather than laughter-provoking
~ the 2nd bout of talking reflects on personal correspondence with and to a third person, it throws up the 4th wall and excludes the audience – he then dissolves this tactic and engages with the audience once more, this time talking about the doing of 2 things at the same time – which is what he is doing by talking and dancing simultaneously
~ if he couldn’t melodise his body so intricately the point of his value would be lost
~ it is audience-directed as a reverie of uncontained performance slippages and insertions into self – he is swimming in the deeper freedoms and ramblings of the psyche – talking forever with his body
~ his physical talk is as natural as speech, peopled and shaped by an imagination partially externalised by his behavioural and spoken entertainments and mannerisms
~ he has filled an empty space with invisible things inside and of himself that he brings in and then reveals – he reveals an abundance of physical history and dexterity and a narrative that is running and unfolding internally and occasionally articulated in speech, emotion, and characterisation
~ he is a travelling shape-shifter with a sizeable bag of tricks surrounded by his highly controlled and feigned virtuousic madness
~ he circle stamps the space in a pacing heavy walk (earlier it was with loping stallion jetés), spirals to the front then retreats to the back with his back to the audience, turns downstage and walks energetically as though he is going to exit through them, stops very close and does some enigmatic parting gesture with his hands, he then surveys them close-up, and then speaks confessionally and explanatorily – he produces more laughter in respect to decisions made backstage about the order of the show and what he is going to call his piece – he retreats upstage diagonally to the edge of the space in the direction of the stage exit, turns, and sings diagonally into the space – he then walks into the direction of his song, gradually dancing with his singing and occupying the centre area of the stage - at the end of his song-dance he bows and exits
~ there are subtle lighting shifts throughout the piece that open the space, close it and make him more intimate, or spill up under him when he is downstage to make him eerie
~ what does the space allow?
~ a lit opening in a darkness in which to look down and focus attention on the trapped but willing (mutually desired) occupancy of a physical minstrel who in both hurried and unhurried improvisations, journeys and weaves his body and the space in the psychic landscape of a momented and shared self-absorption
~ the space allows him to circulate and to buffet himself across its dimension – the darkness cushions and velvets his containment like a padded cell