Reflection on my practice - Trim Three
Where does design and dance collide?
I have been working with graphic design and dance parallel to each others; and I started wondering how to intersect them both.
I have previously studied graphic design, and I am now exploring different media formats as well as extending my research strands towards a more phemenological approach. For this, I am taking my knowledge on dance practice and use it as means to reflect in it and towards a broader sense and create upon.
Here are some keywords / brainstorming of ideas I've been through in the beginning of the academic year: body language - performance - articulation - movement - sequences - patterns - choreography - structures - diagrams - grids - systems - codes - algorithm - hypertext - gramathology - visual statements - construction of narratives - communication - visualization of information - experience - perception - . speech and body.
Relation to previous practice
At first, in the design field, I was mainly facing the “blank“ paper paradigma; Then, came the “blank“ screen. Both spaces for information display highly interest me. Most recently, a 3rd dimension to space integrated my practice. 'Blank' space should not be considered merely empty space, it is though an important element of design which enables the objects in it to exist; information display crosses multiple interfaces. At the moment I am most driven by the interaction between spatiality and movement of the body. My current research relies on movement as an agent for communication, a sensory motor for understanding the world around us, bringing consciousness in focus. Communication in its definition relies on movement, as the instance/act of transmitting information to people by using different means.
Following my background in dance and performance, I am willing to investigate further on sense experience and how knowledge is achieved by the interrelation between
brain - body - world.
Relation to a larger context
As part of my theoretical research I have been investigating on different philosophical strands that focus on experience, such as empiricism, a fundamental philosophical position that claims all knowledge arrives directly from sense experience; and most lately phenomenology the study of our experience — how we experience.
As for the study of how different disciplines deal with experience, I have been looking at the fluxus group and the "instructions" avant gard movement, happenings, conceptual art, minimalism, video and installation art from the 70's until now, as well as performance art, and choreography in dance. It is of my interest how in these practices the role of the body in human experience and perception is emphasized, the techniques and technologies applied.
As for understanding the topics above, some of my main sources have been motionbank.org and sarma.be; As for a more historical approach I often visit http://www.ubu.com/dance/index.html , as well as MoMa website for looking at artist and artworks and most recently http://www.walkerart.org/collections/publications/performativity/ has also been relevant for the same purpose.
Also I have been looking at some digital archival initiatives specific from dance companies, and what has been made within the motion capture and choreographic dance methodologies, for both "storing" body information and as means of compositional techniques. I mention William Forsythe and his studies on choreographics objets; and another on going project of great importance is Thinking with the body: Mind and Movement by Wayne McGregor (Random Dance: http://wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/thinking-with-the-body/?video=4)
In my readings, on one hand I have been focusing on choreography and dance related practices. An example is the book MOVING WITHOUT a BODY by Stamatia Portanova, who presented an overall approach of dance towards technology, the friction between virtual and physical, both reflecting on virtual bodies, within a cyborg perspective, as well as intermedia techniques in the performance realm.
Also studying the dance-technology Isabel Maria de Cavadas Valverde in INTERFACES DANCE-TECHNOLOGY: a theoretical framework for performance in the digital domain, points out the integration of virtual into the physical and vice versa, naming artists designing practices as fluid and dynamic, instead of separate organic and mechanical entities.
On the other hand, I have also been reading texts related to language and representation system's. Deleuze and Guatari, Umberto Eco, Guy de Cointet, to name a few. As well as computation and software studies related authors, to reflect on media usage.
I also visited If I CAN'T DANCE archives, which gave me a good idea of how contemporary art practice is dealing with the concepts of performance and performativity. Some recent and relevant field trips, may include the performance/exhibition from Anne Theresa at Wiels, the video art exhibition "Dancing Light / Let it move you" at Huis Marseille and a "Art and Language" exhibition at MacBa. Besides assisting a few performances, a workshop with Simone Forti's team was very useful as to better support my recent projects and deepen my knowledge on my exisitng interest towards choreographic methods and its further pratical use under performance. On a weekly basis I attend ballet and modern/improvisation dance classes at Dansateliers in Rotterdam.
1. on EXPERIENCE / MOVEMENT /
Movement (of the body) is one of the central concepts in my research, as being something that defines how human beings relate and perceive the world, how they access information, and process it. If communication stands for the transmission of knowledge, indicated as “the transition from one point to the next”, that is as one “directional destination” to the next (at wikipedia), than the concept of movement is intrinsically connected. The question is which role do we play in this constant movement? How oneself is made conscious of the different aspects we are surrounded by.
In regards to movement of the body, one of my main references is Alva Noë, one of the theorists that inspired the EEC programme - Embodied Embedded Cognition. Noë investigates the structures of experience and consciousness (phenomenology); Presenting experience as the "basis of accessibility", allowing humans into "achieving access to the environment".
In an interview with Marlon Barrios Solano, part of the Embodied Techne Series (2012), Noë discusses "Dance As A Way Of Knowing". He explores the idea that human consciousness is something we enact or achieve, in motion, as a way of being part of a larger process. Motion as "sensory motor understanding is what brings the world into focus for consciousness." Noë highlights the fact that motion relies on a "temporally extended involvement", which enhances sensorial perception and consequently produces sensorial change: "transformations that happens in you while you go across the process; what is that transformation? Is understanding, is seeing connections, is knowing your way around." Presenting dance as a way to enact experience, thinking in motion - "dance in a sense of performance is an enactment or modeling of this fundamental fact about the world around us, which we dynamically interact with.".
In dance, along with similar kinesthetic experiences, the human body reaches an intense sensorial perceptual experience, composed of information from many places in the body, finding the need to have an understanding of/control over of sensory consequences of their own movement. It can be seen either as personal, depending on the case- collective, confrontation - creating great awareness.
The question concerning corporeity connects also with Merleau-Ponty's reflections on space (l'espace) and the primacy of the dimension of depth (la profondeur) as implied in the notion of being in the world (être au monde; to echo Heidegger's In-der-Welt-sein) and of one's own body (le corps propre).
Another reference on sense experience and human perception is Brian Massumi's reflection on Feeling, Emotion and Affect on his book Parables of the Virtual, Movement, Affect, Sensation. “For Massumi, affect is precisely a matter of how intensities come together, move each other, and transform and translate under and beyond meaning, semantics and fixed systems/cognitions. Part of the assumption here is that, even in the most reactionay circumstances, nothing happens if affective intensity has not already paid us a visit. This refines our understanding of why territory - spatial and temporal - is always “existential territory“. It has as much a territorry that enables movement as something that keeps everything in its place, it is movement itself.” Reading / Feeling - If I Can’t Dance Archives.
In my works developed throughout the trimester, such as the photobook project, I have been positioning the viewer/spectator as the performer, proposing a tighter relation between communication artifact/interface and perceiver. The piece built for this project also acknkowledged a reflection on accessibility and wayfinding experiences through built environments. This "human-environment interaction" creates a parallel towards how people behave, react to spacial elements and structures, either in regards to analogue or digital medias. In this case, the process of "wayfinding", getting acquainted with the piece by means of following very concrete physical attributes, aims to point to the same patterns in the realm of publishing.
Following similar premisses, in the third trimester another work will regard the idea of SPACE (and the tension between what is considered a general space for knowledge and its constrains/categorizations/limitations).
Some other prototyping experiments taken throughout this year, reflect on the virtual and physical space, space between the body and technology, as Susan Kozel focuses on the chiasm or "space between" bodies and the screen. I developed a series of webpages in which a reflection on the time (duration) and space (web interface) is raised.
My focus on spatial procedures and the architecture of movement happens both in physical spaces so well onto computer algorithms and virtual spaces.
2. on COMPOSITION /
A great number of researchers uses motion capture technologies and programming tools for both studying movement and generating new dance compostions. I believe that, for the moment, my interest does not rely so much in those already made specific graphic interfaces.
Instead, I have been following my research on choreographic scores, a communication system, that stands for "writing movement". Choreographic language as structure, as a tool that enables composition and triggers action. There are multiple forms of representing it, being graphic, linguistic, geometrical; relying on imagery, sound, and so on. Either ways, meaning is created. I am interested in choreographic scores as existing in themselves as notation systems, and also in its performative state.
Within the various choreographic notation systems, most lately I have been focussing on words (phrases) sequences and geometrical representations.
"By moving from a point to a line to a plane to a volume, I was able to visualize a geometric space composed of points that were vastly interconnected. " - William Forsythe
For the third trimester project, I want to experiment diverse techniques of generating choreographic scores and the way people may be able to interpret it and perform it. Looking at different references and by establishing different methods, to test the potentiality of choreographic language and consequently the body response in space.
3. on DOCUMENTATION / DATABASE /
Performance and its documentation are connected, one feeds the other. Performances are re-visited, re-configured, re-created. In fact, each time a performance happens it becomes something new. For me it is hard to separate this two moments. They coexist.
In the near future I would like to better understand how to structure databases in different ways and explore compositional innovations that could come along with it. Looking at the past and future in the present moment. A dialogue between both the avant-garde and the deeply traditional outcomes. I believe that not only imagery, but other forms of content, such as sound and written text could enhance and generate a better understanding of this kind of experiments. As in different choreography databases, in which different language systems are integrated in scores.
To add to the previous references on dance web databases, a relevant media theorist is Lev Manovich, Database as a Symbolic Form.
What is the role of physicality and design in the information society?
My research strands are now focussing on the concepts of space and motion, the structures of experience and consciousness as the basis of accessibility, allowing humans into achieving access to the environment. The movement (of the body), performance & performativity and the role of physicality in the era of information society. Hybridization of the body and technologies in a both real and speculative approach. I enjoy the freedom to perceive (choreographic) objects as something physical or not, that triggers action, and a that interplays with what the roles of the subjects and objects can be. A choreographic score still lives independently of the dance. You may also write something that never happened, and go through a more speculative, imaginary approach. And to take dance/choreography as a possible approach as for accomplishing my thoughts, although I am also open to other possible forms of body expression.
In addition I would be willing to explore this matters under diverse social and cultural perspectives as well as its universal character. (Hybridity // Differences - cultural, racial, and ethnic. | Tools fo communication // Factors of social harmonization and cohesion.)
I am willing to engage in an empirical method and find a balance between practical experiments and theoretical work. Parallel to this I would also like to contact experts and practicioners on areas - as such as multimedia performance, human space perception, computational creativity and software studies, so as to organize interviews/lectures for further comprehension and better research outcomes.
I also want to think of the processes, that might or not depend on the media being used, and deal with composition/database issue. Experiment and understand the bridges that can be established.
"Mental processing of environmental stimuli is strongly based on visual perception theories and cognitive representation. In the 1950's, American psychologist James J. Gibson pointed out that the human (and animal) system of perception is evolutionary organized in a manner that enables it to recognize environmental attributes, such as spatial depth or movement, directly from invariants in the visual input. Gibson coined the term "affordance" in his book published in 1979, The Ecological Approach to visual perception. This describes the attributes of an object or a complex constellation of stimuli that suggest certain courses of action (…) The concept of affordance was popularized largely by the american cognitive scientist Donald Norman for the fields of ergonomics and user-friendly designs of computer systems. As previously mentioned, the concept can be applied to the geometric aspects of architectural spaces, such as spatial shapes, as well as to ground plan configurations, lighting, and signage or orientation systems" by Andrea Gleiniger and Georg Vrachliotis.