[dance-tech] Re: March-April Discussion forum on dance/performance and participation

  • From: Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 5 Apr 2015 21:05:14 +0000

....... (continued)
and I asked here before, what myth underlies the idea of the "participatory",
and how could it not be cooercive, or manipulative?

And yet, many of us have tried involving audiences, and Sandra's description of
her experience of Pavel Zustiak's The Painted Bird - was very encouraging, as
there was learning/observation but no "colonel Abramovic" dictating
the "constrainte" (a serbian friend just wrote this to me, probably
remembering Marina Abramovic's 512 Hours, last summer at the Serpentine Gallery
in London, which of course was a neo-religious experience).

We entered a room, could stand anywhere. Performers, projections, light, all
drew attention, stimulated movement, and the viewers 'learned' how to
interact as a group with the work, while making personal choices of how to
see, what and where. I was touched, stimulated, was both a part of the work
and an observer simultaneously. And realized in process the power of both the
individual and the group in making change, having an impact. There was clear
intention, definitely audience manipulation, but also a willingness to let go
of the work to a degree, the experience of the audience, shaped by the
audience. >>

But I also think we can discuss ideas (evoked by Yacov) of "participatory" in
another sense, when choreography and sonics alter the parameters of an entire
atmosphere of reception... here is an excerpt from Alan Sondheim;'s
description of a recent performance in a Cave:

....mobile and fluid sonic architecture, one
that, for me, defined or modified the fixity of the Cave itself;
room resonances and speaker interactions, beat frequencies,
etc., all came into play. The sound was a hollowed organic body
tied to, yet not tied to, the Cave pieces and the ongoing
transformations visible in the projected images. I imaged a
sonic bubble, almost a galactic bubble, in which there were
occurrences both alien and domestic; texts would appear and
disappear in the space, always grounded by the Cave pieces which
were purely textual. Most of my time in the Cave was used for
either working within the virtual worlds, or "tuning" the space
itself - and the latter began to fascinate me.....The sounds and
images resonated with each other; the four sound streams had
their own internal resonances; the darkness or brightness in the
room affected the texture mapping and readability of the
in-world texts, and so forth. Conditions were constantly
changing. The room itself was always on the edge of feedback...

as to content, here is what Alan says about his avatar projections:

These are techniques I've used close to a decade, in order to
create avatar distortions that represent avant-dance, wounding,
death throes, hysteria, desire, pain, and political issues

...The virtual world imagery was always, always complex and
difficult to navigate in-world; for the spectator, it was also
difficult to disentangle. This was deliberate; the result, and
one of the main contents of the imagery, was the representation
of extreme states of mind, which related to the ongoing crises
of violence in the U.S., Africa, the Mid-East, and so on. The
primary source for me, for all of this, was the special topic
Johannes Birringer and I co-moderated for the empyre email list
in November, 2014, "ISIS, Absolute Terror, Performance" - a
topic which considered issues of torture, beheading, violence,
anguish, and fear, for the month. The distorted avatars I work
with - distorted because of the distorted movement - go all the
way back to 2011, a 2nd topic for the same, this time with Sandy
Baldwin, on "Pain, Desire, and Death," in the real and virtual

I know Alan's work well and it is not easy to write about it, and sometimes (i
fear) we tend to be the best
explaining the underlying processes and meanings of our work. Mind you, that is
a question of course in itself -
who c r i t i q u e s our work, and how can we disseminate our ideas?
Yacov, Jeannette, John, Bud, Sarah Jane
and several other colleagues here have now shared their ideas,

so how do we pick them up?

Johannes Birringer

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