What is invisible to your collaborator? The first time I considered this question, last year, I found it so difficult to verbalise that I simply sent an image of myself, blurred out. This was a reference to the idea that we might not see each other very clearly, but sometimes that blurriness can be quite compelling.
This year I wanted to try to verbalise my response. What is invisible to my collaborator? First I thought – frankly, not much. This is because one of my primary collaborators is also my life partner. We work together, often in the same room, for hours on end, we see every stage of each other’s process. What could possibly be invisible? Then I thought, what if there were things that were invisible because I wanted them to be, and how thorny it would be to say, out loud, in public, the things that might be invisible, and whether that would be taken as a sign of unsolved problems. Surely the best way to talk about those things would be in private to my collaborator, rather than in public, online. But again, that’s assuming that ‘invisibility’ is bad by its very nature, whereas a degree of blurriness, or mystery, or boundaries, or some aloneness, might actually be a good thing.
Setting those thoughts aside for awhile, I then thought about many other collaborations I have had and continue to have. In order to answer this question ‘what is invisible to your collaborator?’ one would have to be very specific about which collaborator one was talking about, because every collaboration is different. And when we come to invisibility in a bad sense, you would have to give them a pseudonyms because you might be saying things about them that were not complimentary. What is invisible to my collaborator? Why – my brilliance, of course! Why can’t they see what a great idea / piece of music / image this is? My brilliance was clearly invisible to collaborator X who expunged my work from the show without telling me (and I only found out when I attended the premiere) (with my friends) (and my mother), and collaborator Y who literally crossed out sections of my score with a pen, and collaborator Z who never admitted that they didn’t want an equal collaboration, they just wanted someone else to fit in with and amplify their own vision. Though regarding Z, there’s a sneaking suspicion that they may think The Same Thing about me, and maybe I too am actually a terrible collaborator and just want everything to go my way.
And then I thought really to find out what is invisible to my collaborator you would need to ask my collaborator, because how could I possibly know what they see or do not see? But that would be even more absurd because if it’s invisible they can’t see it, so how would they know what it is? So seems to me that the real answer to this question ‘what is invisible to your collaborator?’ is simply unknown. Unless you’re going to get the collaborators in a room and have each one say what they think is invisible to the other and have the other one say “no, I see that, and always have”, or, “oh really? I never saw that, how amazing!” And now the penny drops, of course, one could have a conversation about it all, which of course is what Slo-Mo-Co is trying to get us to do.
Maybe what we can usefully do in response to this provocation, is to make some lists, perhaps like this:
1. A list of things which we hope are invisible to our collaborators:
- my list: rage; insecurity; hurt; despair that I will never make anything good; how how stupid I feel when I can’t understand technical explanations; how tired I am (as I write this I wonder: do I need to hide all these things?)
2. A list of the things which we would like to know about our collaborators:
- How do you do that amazing thing?
- What makes you tick?
- What are your core ideas?
- What do you think about my creative work, why do you want to work with me?
3. A list of things, the knowing of which helps collaborators to collaborate with each other:
- How much time do you need to do things well?
- What are your best working conditions?
- Do you like to talk about the process a lot, or is it more intuitive/non-verbal?
- How much of each other’s work do we need to see?
- What are the rules around who gets to decide what is in and out of the final ‘product’?
- Is there a hierarchy here? (Not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it’s clear).
- More generally – what are your expectations around decision making?
Yesterday we were lying in bed, entangled, and my belly gurgled. Or, actually, maybe it was your belly that gurgled. We really couldn’t tell whose belly had gurgled, and this made us laugh. It was a strange feeling not being able to locate this gurgle, either beneath or beyond my skin. As I rolled out of bed, away from you, it was not the gurgle but our laughter that stayed with me.
Teoma Naccarato & John MacCallum
Dear R and S,
I’m reaching out to see if you would be open to helping me with something (quick). I really appreciate the personal nature of the material I’m asking you to consider sharing with me. It’s pretty humble but I do hope that I am trying to make something that opens up a bit of a space for solidarity, and if this feels right to you, I would credit you and T. Of course it’s fine to be anonymous too. I also really don’t want to ask you to spend more than 5 minutes gathering and emailing me some bits that resonate with what we’ve talked about and that you feel comfortable to share. For example, I made the drawings of V in 1-2 minutes, took snaps of W’s artwork, and spent about 1-2 minutes scrolling through photos of X in Y on my phone. See video above.
I’d like to propose thinking about an intervention for invisibility that gets in the way of collaboration. Perhaps there is a way to start a new tradition, a practice of sitting down together *over tea* with the specific goal of understanding interpersonal context and sharing acknowledgements before beginning a project together. Full transparency is not desirable or possible and I value opacity (Eduard Glissant!) that allows us to remain mysterious full of potential and have leeway to change and surprise others (and ourselves!) but there are some things that can be made known about ourselves to the group without the danger of being reductive or limiting. This new practice can have prompts and be structured, even choreographed like a tea ceremony so that everyone gets a chance to say their piece regardless of the individual’s personality. Makes it easier for those who normally wouldn’t speak up to speak up and also allows space for reflection and open communication.
This is a collaborative work-in-progress on a mixed-reality performance titled InVISIBLE. Through experiential play with the technology and a focused research on movement we aim to materialize the hierarchical structure between the individuals who design our digital world and those who live in it.
The work is a duet between an ‘ARCHITECT’ and a ‘USER’ who traverse along the edges of two different realities. The User is immersed in VR (virtual reality) using an Oculus Quest headset. The Architect, who is immersed in the physical reality, holds the remote controllers of the VR headset. While moving the remotes the Architect controls the User’s perceived environment, sketching inside the three dimensional field and designing the virtual world. The User is captive of the Architect’s imagination, directed by the virtual world drawn before their eyes, while exposed to the additional stimulus of their shared physical reality. The Architect is incapable of understanding the influence of their creation, never receiving access to visit the world they create for the User. Both the Architect and the User are driven to hack the system, developing a desire to cross the boundary between their realities.
InVISIBLE examines the collective responsibility shared throughout the diverse roles required for building and inhabiting our cyber mixed reality world. The work interrogates the possibility of VR as a step towards techno-libertarianism, questioning the centralization of technological power and the limited access to become a contributor to the digital architecture of our future.
Avital Meshi and Treyden Chiaravalloti
As a dance maker, I am striving to practice my aesthetic concept of the bodies in Virtual Reality. The performance of my avatar in different software made collaborators (technicians, other virtual dancers) could constantly interpret my mocap practice. This situation was specifically located in the AR post-production workflow. My artistic choices may be hidden in the data structure, there are not only technical glitches but also the bias of analysis are implicated in the movements. To confront the challenge, I assume collaborators need new awareness to create better interactions.
Creating a new form of sense may meet the challenge. First, I initiated experiments about virtual bodies. Second, I applied technology and somatic principles to further explore my research interest: What happens when the physical bodies are transforming into digital space and time? Third, the choreographic tasks helped me to make an impact in a data application.
I am curious if invisible work is relatively personal content, how can a group of researchers explore their senses?
Zelia ZZ TAN
It’s the before moments.
The moments we experience individually whilst together in our practices before sharing artwork. The personal rituals. The preparations to anticipate the moment of sharing.
Working collaboratively, we are aware of these before moments whilst inhabiting a shared physical space. We work through our own rituals at the same time, in the same location. Aware of their external readings, but the internal intentions and processes remain hidden to each other.
Work the body intensely to ground in that space, feel the body and gain control… focus.
Find light and air in a different space, outside this space.
Ready to re-enter.
Digitalising collaboration gave us a realisation of the individual and invisible nature of these moments. The distanced collaboration across new digital platforms offered different processes to connect and develop.
In a digital space, the independent before moments felt isolated and alone. Lacking an external felt presence. The internal intentions are always invisible to each other, but digitally this was more profound.
What about the before moments of collaborators who contribute at earlier stages of the process?
Shelley Owen & Josh Slater
Given that any artwork is in fact research-based the one thing that is often invisible to my performance collaborators in choreographic works is personal inspiration. Where does inspiration come from and how does it invade the work?
Inspiration is personal. It is a unique way of moving with, for and through the artwork.
Inspiration is the cherry on top of the cake or on the side or inside it.
Inspiration comes from a vague place. Inspiration does not come from a specific place. It comes from a place of uncertainty and from an uncertain place.
Inspiration is instant. It happens in the moment. It does not come from memory or from the future but rather from the exact moment it happens.
Inspiration cannot be shared logically but it calls for an absolute necessity of realization.
Inspiration happens you don’t do it.
In my experience, digital performance environments require an acute awareness and knowledge of working methods within such infrastructural atmospheres, regardless of how controlled or how open they are. Yet developing strategies based on experience, or imagining the slow evolution of interactional growth (compost) over time, in collaborative work, often remains invisible to all involved.
This is good, as one cannot predict the composting. Kinetic atmospheres are not controllable either.
Any participants in a production of multimedia digital work need to know the kinds of operations set in motion: how they might behave in a digital performance space, how they act upon objects or steer a feedback mechanism and how they negotiate a capturing dispositif that follows their actions and “translates” them. But who follows whom? Furthermore, how do choreographer, designer, dancer and system negotiate the presence of camera sensing apparatus or the invisible communication between smart devices and algorithmic computation? If most of the processes inherent to the algorithmic are micro-performative, taking place outside of the phenomenal field of human perception, is then not all intermedial composition autonomous, acting according to its own logic (or daimon)?
Outside of dance, in other artistic contexts, many aspects of my practice as a musician and technologist in dance contexts, would be considered as invisible, yes, however, 21st century dance, in the early stages of a symbiosis encompassing its inherent multidisciplinary identity, based on its rigorous 20th century collaborative investigations rooted in movement vocabulary and somatics, expects it. Here, the details of my tools and processes, in music and technology/computation are mostly irrelevant, but my scope of abilities, possibilities and investigations, with said tools and processes, in 21st century dance contexts, are expected in all facets of dance… beyond situational collaborations to a seamless symbiosis…to the ritual of a singularity……from the ancient to the new……..the gaia…
Design of Technology/computation environment for Choreographer Vaness Voskuil’s “SHIFT” 2012. – https://www.vanessavoskuil.com/shift
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
1. visible invisibles
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.
Johannes Birringer, DAP-Lab, London
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.
My collaborators are blind to my fears.
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).
Giselle Liu and Mansi Patel
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
You probably wonder who I am. Of course, you do!
I am an artist.
I am failing as an artist.
Nobody comes to my performances.
Nobody is engaged in what I am doing.
There are too many artists.
I am not worthwhile. I am a disappointment, incapable, inadequate, incompetent, inferior.
This is a self-protective stratagem of indefinite procrastination.
(According to PsychologyToday.com)
I 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.
I am both
within, a part of, excluded, consists of
the representations of time
interaction and gestures
mine and not mine.
I do not exist.
I do not own or claim any knowledge.
I do not collaborate.
I simply Barnacle your art.
Would you like me to Barnacle your Art?
The Hostess, BarnacleArt
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?
Francisca Morand and Javier Jaimovich