[dance-tech] Sensordance / choreography / instrument + posthuman

  • From: "Jaime del Val" <jaimedelval@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 00:42:44 +0200

Hi there,

I answer now the last post of Johannes on this thread.


Well, I guess in that practice there tends to be quite a bit of
choreography, and if we take the term in a broader definition, as an
écríture, as the shiftng repetition of forms... then I wonder how far our
bodies can think in ways totally removed from choreography. Firstly within
the dance circles, at least within all those traditions, western or not,
that have a background in choreography, secondly within digital culture at
large I believe there is a cult for choregraphy as one more important
element of the globalised market: Why is it after all that people in the
discos tend to dance in pretty much the same ways in New York, Hong Kong,
Madrid or Sydney(and I often love to dance in the discos)...? There is of
course a music-video industry that deals with choreograpy, and even when
based upon traditions of improvisation, the fixed repetition of the videos
become choreography... rather fixed and repetitive actually, but its
implicit reproduction hides behind the façade of "free movement", it is
actually a logo of the insdustry, so to speak, strenghtened by the fixed
musical architechture that contaminates every space, public or private......
and then there is publicity, and tv and video games (I still remember
someone's remark at the DCL in Nottingham last year about how kids salute
each other in the manner of video-game charachters)... of course we can say
that culture itself, and the articulate forms of identity and normative
subjectivity can be traced -throughout history- in terms of chreographed
bodies (Susan Foster points in that  direction in the article "Choregraphies
of Gender") but what is happening now at the level of the global standard
market is something new. Should we distingish between implicit and explicit
choreography for the sake of this discussion?


Yes i do extend the concept to all these elements or more... its is not
possible to trace a priori fixed limits to what can be an instrument, or
part of it.

BETWEEN PIANO PLAYER AND KEYBOARD (if you follow the musical association if
'instrument'). What exactly is an interface instrument, and can one
choreograph with it?

The specificty of an instrument develops in certain contexts of sedimented
use. And the sedimented use should also influence and feedback the shape and
limits of the instrument, make it more specific, define more precisely the
momentary organicity for that Body without Organs.

Regarding existing systems or parts (which may become eventual bits and
pieces of our more specific instrument) I guess most of them  can be seen as
media specific if studied under the light of the context for whith they were
developed, although this is not always easy to trace (I can't tell now the
genealogy of each sensor for example, but tracing this genealogy would help
us to understand something of its specifity or of the changing forms of
specificty it has aquired. however we needn't know this in order to give it
a specificty within an instrument we create. It is not possible to define
exact boundaries for a instrument, because anything can be one, any given
thing can suddenly be invested with the communicating forces, like lets say
when we start to make music with a fork... the complexity of the instrument
is qualitative and therefore has no limits.

We could attempt to say that an interface instrument is an intensive body
that has sedimented acquiring certain appearance of structure that is
however only the effect of the communicating forces, and therefore always
subject to change, the apparent material structure has no meaning in itself
whatsoever, it is an aftereffect of the forces just like the body itself is,
it sediments thorugh multiple improvisations, aquiring certain relative
communicative potentials that shift over time.

The specificity of the instrument is the specificity of the language.

The relation pianoplayer-pianokeyboard, as parts of an instrument can be
quite similar, if not identical to, that of a dancer and the videoprocessing
software... or it can be completely different. Like there are also very
many, infinite, forms of understanding, articulationg, thinking and
experiencing the relation pianoplayer-pianokeyboard. Yet there are
sedimented traditions of piano playing that set up a framework for our
understanding of the relation as something almost fixed and very specific.
There is no such background for the relation between dance and video... but
dance has a background and the moving image has a background... there is a
collision taking place between two distinct contexts or bodies of
communication... this can take place in inifinite ways and I find this
opennes wonderful... if explored in depth... it can lead to the articulation
of such an incredible diversity of instruments.... in this case the
instrument will be articulating a "language of interaction" (I will leave
the issue around interactivity, what it is etc... for another time, although
perhaps it is time to restart that one discussion), let's say a "language of
relations" between elements that were distinct to a certain extent, that had
developed under the framing of distinct traditions and disciplines and
anatomies, and yet even inspite of that distinct differentiation of the
disciplines our bodies are constantly breaking the rules, establishing new
frontiers of meanings and potential relations... to me developing such an
instrument is digging deeper into the oppennes of that associative
process... but this is only one approach; I am curious to know about
infinite others!...

So in my case I want to explore my own associations between movement and
sound and image, to start with, being both musician, visual artist,
dancer-performer... so I built an extremely open matrix of possible
relations between parameters, defining a vast amount of sound paramenters
and image parameters, and also of movement parameters (or video analysis
parameters). The more I work with it the more I articulate parts of its
structure, and the more the language of relation (as well as the musical,
visual, movement languages) evolve or sediment. This multilayer character is
fundamental as soon as you are working with relations of categories that you
have embodied as different... yet the more you work in between, in the
relation of the multiple layers, the more the frontier between categories
starts to shift.... and most interesting is it when you feel that you are
hanging totally in between... in a new kind of body... perhaps then, and
only then, you are starting to make, and to be a new instrument.

Can there be choreography with an instrument that involves a dancer, camera,
sensors, video and electroacoustics, for example?
 Of course there can... It is again a question of sedimentation... but also
of discretisation.
On the one hand I personally experience the need to start repeating, perhaps
choreographing, at a certain point in the process of developing the
language-instrument, it is part of the process, improvisation is not enough
all the time.... and after a while repeating these eventual syllables of
your new language you go back to improvisation, and so on... the more you
work with the instrument in specific direction the more you are likely to
generate the possibilities for a choreography (even if your intention is not
do make one).
Then there is the issue of how you discretisise movement, which is what
eventually makes a choreography possible: each dance tradition is interested
in different aspects of movement and ignores or codemnes the others, even in
modern traditions of "free movement", or conceptual or whatever: we are
always confined within a shifting territory of how we think the body and
experience being a body. So we can always define specific margins of error
and discreteness that will work to a certain extent within the framework of
the instrument. This needs a lot of tuning and practice, I haven't come to
that point yet.... If only we try to think how many centuries have gone by
for the articulation of musical acoustic instruments, their languages and
techniques... and now we want to articulate, build, tune, and learn to play
just in some weeks... in such a period it is not possible to develop the
specificity, that's why so often we remain in a level of remix, or of
"technical demonstration". So I make a claim for the long term periods of
sedimentation! (whether we want to choreograph or not).

Interface-instrument... mmmh, I think the intrument in some ways tries to
surpass the idea of the interface. the musical instrument as i am proposing
to understand it has no explicit exterior, its meaning is only as an
intensive communicating body, and in such a state the frontier between the
body of the player and the body of the keyboard is irrelevant, even the
frontier with the body of the listener who is embodying the music.

This should take us onto a discussion on the genealogy of the concept of
interface, its relation to a materialist tradition, the ways in which
digital culture is relying and reproducing that tradition, and also a
discussion on the posthuman... but I leave that for another occasion. I will
answer the other transubstation post later.

Just a question for provocation (I will answer it myself later):

Is dance-tech instrinsically posthuman? ----((and, how do we define
posthuman, etc...?))


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