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?
Hannah Kosstrin, The Ohio State University
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.
Bring Me the Nothing
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
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.
Rommie L. Stalnaker
Susan Wiesner, The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities @ UMD
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