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
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.
Rommie L. Stalnaker & Susan Wiesner
The value system, format, constraints, language, interests and focus of my other discipline that is not theirs.
Sarah Fdili Alaoui
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?
I’m struggling to toe the line between familiar terrain and new discovery. Discovery has always beckoned, like the tide receding from the shore, calling me to catch it. Why would I want to remain on the sand, beaten down into momentary solidarity by the push and pull of fleeting water which it waits to welcome, rush after rush?
They tell me that I will never achieve mastery, chasing the tide. “They” – the embodiment of tradition and convention, everything that I was raised to think are right. The average Seven Year Itch somehow halved itself for me, like liquid tears meant to lubricate my vision drying up with a premature puff of desert air.
We confine ourselves to what we have learned before, through happenstance and encounter, afraid to venture into new territory where we cannot call ourselves “Master.” There is always more to learn. Yet we silo ourselves into predetermined boxes of thinking and knowing, cliquish Echo Chambers who try to immortalize ourselves through text.
But the static words, voiced or unvoiced, will never match the power of the tide. It adheres to a natural rhythm set in motion by countless forces, invulnerable to take-backs or rewrites. It carries memories that reverberate until their force is spent.
I keep skirting the tide, letting it beat itself against my ankles and steal the sand from beneath my feet. If I dive into it, will I become a non-entity to you, no longer rooted upright, battling movement?
Lauren Mark, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University