The invisible aspect of my practice/research is my critique of the Laban systems of movement notation and analysis even as I use them as research tools. I am critical of these systems because of their kinesthetic residue from their progenitors’ historical actions related to Nazism; the ways practitioners uncritically employed them during the past century as ways to capture dances from outside their cultural context; the aesthetic gatekeeping they engender; and the ways that applying them uncritically as analytical frames inflicts violence onto dance-objects of analysis. Once I recognized that my extensive training in them so disciplined how I analyze movement that I could not extricate myself from them, I had to reconcile the ways they have colonized my analytical seeing techniques and figure out how to harness those skills for good. In many ways the elements of these systems I find most useful are the ones that become invisible because of the kind of critical approach I engage to use them. When employing the usable parts of these systems and recognizing their biases, they can be efficient and nuanced tools for harnessing kinesthetic ways of knowing. This critical distance has been most generative for how I consider ways of analyzing movement within analog, digital, and computing modalities. My provocation is: How do the ways we critique our tools affect our work in parallel or divergent ways from the manner(s) in which we use them?
is it not a bad time to raise questions about the invisible people or invisible and immaterial labor? Perhaps, out of order out of sight, it’s a good time after all, and necessarily so intently looking at gender gaps and bodies of color (the “black performances on the outskirts” that Malik Gaines has written about), or at what’s missing in our blind spots and our assumptions of diversity/inclusion and uninclusion (whom do we invite to work with us)(who invites us?), at the less mentioned and the overlooked in the machinery of pre-production, rehearsal, organizational logistics, public exhibition, post-production, documentation, write up.
is now also often entangled with or equated with research), an odd subject to bring up asit promises little joy and aesthetic excitement. In my experience, organizing is the mushroom part, the matsutake part, especially in times of austerity and when you work outside the main streams.
i here speak of forest knowledge and what you learn foraging in the wilder woods, searching for weeds in disturbed environments, whether this is your practice (say, multimedia art or digital performance or bio-tech or AI/robotics, etc) or whether it is what Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing in her ethnography of commodity chains in the final era of capitalist destruction has examined so beautifully for us, providing allegories, in a section on “latent commons” – in the middle of things – addressing them as life lines and as dancing on such lines: searching has a rhythm and one follows scent and an understanding of fungal growth, textures, migratory shifting cultivation.
so then, one locates the needed or searched-for process to co-create, books rehearsal rooms and scrapes together money for the commutes, the train fares, the fabrics and materials, looking to bring the most interesting and eccentric people together, juggling schedules and impossibilities, childcare and babysitter issues always looming, traffic problems and delays, illnesses also an invisible entanglement, anger and resentment always a possibility, thus wanting to understand the mix and the quarrels that might arise, pre-emptying them (not possible), condoning our fallibilities, taking into account the gender and age gaps, the unspoken hierarchies and the mistranslations – speaking across cultural habits as well as areas of expertise, say, in dance and fashion, music and robotics, engineering and architecture, of course always finding fascinating misunderstandings, and therefore, invisibly, (repressed?) energies can push forward or thrive, at least in my experience. The girls return from the hacking/coding workshop and are hot to take on more roles, our sonic artist is transitioning and wants to be addressed by their new name, our amazing Chinese dancer has his appendix removed and cannot dance on stilts (as planned) for 6 weeks, our sponsors are invisible, salary pays for design expenses and dinners, former students volunteer to run lights and help backstage, I enjoy moving more to the background as a facilitator, but still need to climb up ladders and focus lights.
thus the lesser commons is not my primary worry; I do believe everyone feels neglected at times and overlooked, their ideas valued not equally, although we do base our dance work on collaboration. twelve or fifteen of us have to feel that all they do is significant and will be known. We don’t ask where the energies come from and how they are commons may not be good for everyone, there will be infections, inattentions and poachings, and we need to keep arguing. Entanglement indeed, thus everything is coming out. Forget the shame, or the mythology of the invisible work and humiliation of the rehearsals, it’s not that interesting. I always found rehearsals to be most revealing and exposing, thus refreshing.
When I collaborate with artificial agents to explore ways of interacting with sound through body movement, I deliberately curate the set of body motion features that are “visible” to them. I hide what I believe is not useful for my purposes, and design their perception of their environment to my own liking. However, some deep learning algorithms are notoriously “black boxes”: it is possible to observe incoming data and outgoing data, but their internal operations are often difficult to explain in ways that are easily understandable by humans. Something is visible, yet something is concealed, or incomprehensible. This lack of (mutual?) “understanding” can be at times fun or frustrating, a source of anxiety as well as of inspiration.
Expertise and track-record vs. boundary expansion and new types of knowledge
The tensions between disciplines and the need to fulfil or answer reviewer’s expectations are always part of a cross-disciplinary writing project.
Presenting a synthesising perspective and speaking from an experience straddling value systems is a vulnerable position, one that doesn’t confer the advantages of perfect expertise and a pristine track-record.
So what does it mean to have to put a disclaimer about which disciplines are not addressed into a published article?
From my co-authored article with Anne Dubos at MoCo this year:
It is important to situate the experiences, implementations, and reflections presented in this article. Although we draw on scientific elements to argue our case, what we present is an arts-based research project, in which we explore relationships between motion and computing through the scope of practice-based research methods. Even if anthropological knowledge feeds the developments and flow of our installations, this is not an anthropological essay. Neither is our intent to fit into disciplines such as media archaeology, art history, or HCI and design theory by adopting their methodology. Ultimately, we aspire to demonstrate that by straddling disciplines, the synthesis of elements and processes, methods and experiences can provide valid insights and understanding of a different nature. (Dubos and Schacher 2019)
Jan Schacher, Zurich University of the Arts
Dubos, Anne and Jan Schacher (2019) “The Calder Effect –
Embodied Knowledge Through Moving Images”. Proceedings of the Conference on
Movement and Computing 2019. Tempe, Arizona, October 10-12, 2019.
I am afraid of the data scientists who actively abandon their humanity. An algorithm that blindly optimizes for one objective can discriminate minorities for mortgages rates, spread inflammatory stories, or accidentally reveal information you kept private. Real problems are rarely solved by tackling a single objective, so why do we trust algorithms designed to be narrowly focused? Somewhere we lost the imagination for consequences and being empathetic for others.
I am afraid of data scientists who forget the basics. In the pursuit for fancier and more complex models like deep learning, people have forgot to ask how the data was collected, forgot to articulate their scientific hypothesis before looking at the data, and forgot to relate their analyses to an actionable problem.
I am equally afraid of dance dying as an art form.
Dancers are being priced out of San Francisco despite sharing rooms well into their 30s. At dance performances, a good fraction of the audience members seem to be other philanthropic dancers. In the pursuit of art, did we somehow forget the audience or did we lose to the two dimensional screens that erase our three dimensional sense?
I want to discuss how dance and data science can come together. Dance embraces the infinite possibilities in space yet also how the most mundane gestures can become dance. Data science is constantly looking for potential in different types of data. Can these two worlds come together?
Wayne Tai Lee, Columbia University Department of Statistics
Olivier Razac said that ‘the perfection of a tool of power is not measured so much by its technical refinement as by its economic adaptation. The instruments which serve authority best are those which expend the smallest amount of energy possible to produce the effects of control or domination’.
The disciplinary effect of the air freshener in this airline left me cold: I reject the control of my body odour in order to spot the intrinsic capitalist meaning of stench self-limitation.
Irene Fernandez Ramos
Painting: ‘Boy in a Turban Holding a Nosegay’ by Michiel Sweerts. (1658 – 1661) Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
“Heterotopia in the Lavatory” is a photo-performance project that started in a flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv in April 2014. Inspired by the armenian-american artist Nina Katchadourian, I went to the toilet in order to recreate the infamous portrait ‘Nobleman with his man in his chest’ by El Greco. After spending a good deal of time making ruffs and moustaches with toilet paper, I was invaded by a pervasive feeling of freedom. Ignoring some passengers’ angry faces, I realized the potential of airplane toilets as spaces of contestation and deconstruction of the modern view of passengers as ‘docile bodies’. This docility can be subverted in that space that remains outside of the control of the airhostess and the rest of the passengers. The idea of defining airplane toilets as heterotopias grew up from that moment of discovery, drawing upon Michel Foucault’s essay ‘Of Other Spaces‘ presented in 1967. Heterotopias, as described by Foucault, are real spaces that at the same time exist outside of reality as ‘other spaces’. He describes the different characteristics that distinguish a heterotopia; for instance, it must have a particular social function and a system of opening and closing. In her work about public school toilets, Jennifer C. Ingrey defined them as ‘spaces that are legitimated, but contain the contradiction of also being places of illegitimacy; they contain actions that cohere and support cultural norms while simultaneously resisting them’.
Collaborative Practices between Architecture and Movement
As a collaborative duo, we will be writing this article from the ‘first stage’ perspective. Our practices are design (architectural spaces) and choreography (movement of negative space and positive space). The roots of our collaborative work lie in the interactive art form of communicating emotions. We insist that the harmony of our collaboration is because of our non-ego based approach of progressive growth towards our creative process. Our approach to any challenge is to put it on the table, discuss it openly, and speak only in alignment to the solution. Some may argue that this is not a realistic and practical approach however, our experience informs us differently. Furthermore, our collaborative work is based on bridging the experience of our expertise to conceptualize new work. An important question we asked from the beginning and will continue to revisit throughout the process is how the collaboration is necessary. Overall, this collaboration has elevated both our practices in achieving the visions we have in future projects both together and individually. We continue to inform one another through our individual practices to enhance our collaborative works. Twyla Tharp once said,
“Don’t sing on for more problems than you must. Resist the temptation to involve yourself in other people’s zones of expertise and responsibility. Monitor troublesome situations if you want to, but don’t insert yourself unless you’re running out of time and a solution is nowhere in sight. In short, stifle your inner control freak.” (The collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together (2009).
Hello, welcome. I am The Hostess. Sorry to disturb you in this way, I am hosting many events, it is difficult to keep track of everything. I suppose the deadline is today… I have to use my note as well….yes, and here they are, call for provocations: What aspects of your practice/research are invisible to your collaborators – send out by Teoma Naccarato, John MacCallum, and Jessica Rajko. These three acknowledged artists and scholars have been chosen to host a panel at MOCO – International conference on movement computing.…well…I do not compute…the movement does happen sometimes…I do not collaborate…but I am invisible!!
2. THE FAILING ARTIST
probably wonder who I am. Of course, you do!
am an artist.
am failing as an artist.
comes to my performances.
is engaged in what I am doing.
There are too many artists.
am not worthwhile. I am a disappointment, incapable, inadequate, incompetent,
is a self-protective stratagem of indefinite procrastination.
wish to reframe my failure.
Instead of trying to launch my career as a performance artist, I will engage with not my audience – You.
The whole project is called BarnacleArt. You have to look it up. It wishes to borrow audiences, from established institutions, other artists, even from commercial venues.
My short happenings will hence be an example of commensalism, where I as an artist will be in a relation in which I will benefit from the other without either harming or benefiting the latter. Respectfully, never disturbing the work that already is there, only interacting with not my audience.
In that way I maybe will “fail upward” as the term was called. To do exactly that, you have to help me. You will do that by sharing my video (or this statement). And off course link to it:
It is difficult to barnacle art that is not exhibited yet, instead I think this presentation answers the call in a very specific way – it is a provocation based upon your inquiry, true to the concept of BarnacleArt. In the provocations contributors were asked to draw on their own experiences to address several questions. Questions of exclusion, visibility, expertise and collaboration.
How do we identify moments when the interactive dialogue between movement and sound in our work is innovative for both of us, and for both of our disciplines? How does “time” unfold for each collaborator at moments when the modes of production are separated within the same collaborative process? What are the new words that have emerged during our processes of collaboration? How are the body gestures that appear when we need to explain to the other something that is very characteristic of each person’s discipline? What are the words that come up the most? Do you think that you have ever used metaphor as a device of encounter between movement, sound, and technology?
As a dancer turned Communication researcher, the practice and process of working from flow often goes untranslated with my Communication colleagues. They might ask how I planned a written performance piece, with the assumption that I methodically placed disparate pieces together, matching them up like a perfectly planned mosaic to arrive at answers from my hypotheses. Some may know the definition of flow, and if they do, they will certainly be able to cite scholars who theorize it. They might even study individuals who work directly within it. But with the exception of a few individuals, I have not yet had the chance work to work with many individuals who also operate from a place of flow as a legitimate, instinctual place of generation. Where they also like to stay in the messy place of generation, spending more time on the probing and mutual discovering than in the forming and smoothing. I have learned to follow my own rhythms if I want to work in this way,
waiting for inspiration to strike
for the pieces to fall into relation through the gravity of inspiration
where the process of starting from nothing can be taken as comfort
for inspire excitement
far from a fear that drives a person to fill that tabula rasa with something… anything recognizable… as soon as possible.
Lauren Mark, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University
Many aspects to software may be invisible in a performance. Here are a few that came to mind:
– Lost history: Time spent can be rendered invisible (either to the audience, or for the artist themselves) in the process of maintaining a codebase on a project – versions offer unique and useful aspects to the work, but might be entirely absent for the audience. Because this history is hidden (whether that be meeting notes, themes in revisions, design challenges/failures, etc.), an opportunity could be lost for this discourse to engage with the art.
– Expectations: Initially assigned roles involving interdisciplinary collaborations can limit participants’ ability to increase quality in art or technology. For example, the way programmers solve problems may be invisible in an artistic “deliverable”. Similarly, the way performers move or process ideas might not affect the design choices of a programmer as a piece develops. If it were more commonplace for participants with diverse backgrounds to collaborate on unified aspects of art practice, I think technology could evolve with the pieces it serves.
– Software usability: When general purpose software (operating systems, device drivers, etc.) works well to a point of usability standards, users might not notice an elegance in the code. On the other hand, programs written for a particular creative work can get a team through a premiere and remain unusable outside of the situation of that art practice.
We have had some aspects of our process rendered different by the rest of our collaborators. All our team members must tap into both sides of our brains, and bodies, as we acknowledge our creative practices within a research framework. We all interpret verbal instructions and visualizations on some level through visuals, sound, and physical movement. Although we have worked with composers and accompanists, it is often recorded music that drives the choreography. Meaning is made through the motivation and intent for a piece. The music nor the animation is intended to be subservient to the choreographed movement. Instead, we intended to create a Whole, where all voices and art forms share equal value with the supporting technologies, without privileging any one element. To accomplish this, we must negotiate within one another’s spaces: Digital Humanities AND the Arts. However, the need/desire to include the computer overshadows our personal love of the ephemerality of our art form. This provides a tension between our collaborators and us as they work strictly from a computer and we approach our art from as analog (i.e. ‘real’ bodies in space and time). Through all of our work/research with our collaborators we always strive to be respectful of each other’s artistic practices, yet sometimes one art form does need to be subsumed by, or prioritized, over another. We are currently working on a computationally tractable notation system that cuts across all art forms, and hope for a universal way to utilize the computer, making the differences in our art forms disappear.
Increasing emphasis among feminist psychoanalysts on the maternal subjectivity, a non- and in some cases prior to phallic capacity/aspect (or, I argue, identity) of subjectivity, can be read in certain contexts as the grounding of a primary passivity of psychic life: an archaic witness, or orphan-psyche, that is continuously unseen and unaddressed by society through the ever reproduced veneer of the insurable liberal humanist subject. Yet, while unseen and unaddressed in any majoritarian context, this orphaned witness remains a laboring subject and, as such, is the host (always) of its own sophisticated programmatics: of thought for itself. As the subject/identity proper to (at least) philosophical and artistic creativity, it is this psychic life of witnessing/thinking that is unseen by the digital society, industry, and its actors within the lab, the office, the classroom, and their surrounding and intermediary ramps and ramparts. In many industry-specific cases, the healthy vociferation of creative thought for itself can even cluster as a triggering material for those techno-capitalist actors who still find meaning in tilling the field of social reproduction. In contradistinction to some theorists’ blithe equation of the social normalization of the child to the cultural passing down of artefacts of thought, I argue that it is via the notion of the identitypolitik that the labor and sophistication proper to the orphan-psyche can seek its own field of reproduction.
What is perpetually unseen by my collaborators, then, is that I see myself. It is via our emotional acknowledging of the other’s witnessing of itself, that a new realpolitik may situate our praxis in the early Anthropocene.
Will Hallett, New Centre for Research and Practice
The EU-funded research project CultureMoves (https://culturemoves.eu) is a user-oriented project that explores the intersections between dance, education, tourism, cultural heritage and digital technologies. The project aims to develop a series of digital tools to enable new forms of touristic engagement and dance educational resources by leveraging re-use of Europeana (www.europeana.eu) content. The project stands on three pillars: technology for content re-use, adaptation and sharing, real-life use cases for tourism and education, and dance as intangible cultural heritage. The digital tools include the MovesScrapbook, a web-based tool for digital storytelling through the creation of digital Scrapbooks combining Europeana content and personal material, and the MotionNotes a web-based tool to annotate dance video, featuring multiple annotation track timelines. We invite the user to think about the ways in which annotation and digital scrapbooking might allow for exploring where and how implicit and explicit shared languages might exist (or not) between dance and digital technology. Who, and what, is implicated in the transmission of choreographic, embodied knowledge through the use of such digital tools? How might digital technologies help ‘uncover’ hidden, or otherwise excluded, interests shared by dancers, dance learners and the cultural heritage sector?