[dance-tech] Re: Sensordance, etc........The language of technology - the technology of dance

  • From: "Matt Gough" <mpgough@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: jaimedelval@xxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 21:17:21 +0100

hello jamie and list,

thanks for your reply ... some more responses

Here go some responses (actually I think that much of the debate has to do
with different uses of language that eventually induce misunderstandings, I
hope not make things too obscure,  I guess they would  need much longer
explanantions about the use of each concept).

but that is a key problem, dance-tech is ripe for a sokal affair ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_Affair ) due to poor use of terminology. longer explanations (or at least references and simple terms) would go some way to clarify what is presented on the list (and some journals). i think this is something we would all benefit from doing and reading, especially as we all seem to agree that dance-tech is interdisciplinary.

i should first relate sign and signifier to saussure (

Morphogenesis (as I am using the term) is not a process of organisation, it
is the process of permanent emergence of form that never completely
sediments, it is also the awareness of the multiple processes and levels of
contingency through which the emergence and (temporary/uncertain)
sedimentation of forms happens.
In so far it has little to do with modernism since it does not go back into
the identification of any kind of gestalt or fixed structure, rather it
opens up a field of transformation of forms that goes well beyond the
postmodernist play around verbal language.

i'm assuming that you initially borrowed the term from biology. i would argue that basing your theory on scientific principles is a feature of modernism. i'll also assume you know that emergence is also a property of gestalt psychology. regardless, form and form-change are organisation (and if you will, re-organisation), sedimentation is organisation. emergence is organisation (the revealing of patterns). i made no claim that organisation means fixed, indeed science tell us few structures are fixed.

morphogenesis as you are using the term does seem to be postmodernist
verbal play ( as is your rejection of science and Truth).
'self-organising and adaptive' would be a simpler, clearer description
of what you advocate.

Simulation has nothing to do with the truth, nor does cognitive
neuroscience: it is rather the reproduction of an assumed framework of
representations that has become naturalised and therefore hegemonic.

the truth is that much of your embodied existence is simulation and synthesis. i'm sure that looking at this text you only see one copy; yet you have two eyes. there are many more examples but this is the simplest to demonstrate.

cognitive neuroscience supports embodiment. do you practice body mind
centering or similar practices? are they not assumed frameworks that
have become naturalised, are they not hegemonic (maintaining a
dominant position in dance praxis)?

You speak of language and dance as two opposed or distinct categories.

they are, or are you suggesting that dance is a universal, non-verbal language. or if 'universal' is problematic, that embodiment is our translation tool. dance is a different construct to language (verbal or non verbal), which is why linguistic analysis of dance is flawed. neither is dance explicitly communication, although it does engage in modes of representation.

Motion is a priori neither totally meaningless nor totally  meaningful.
Dance cannot be reduced to motion nor to the performance of a signifier.

if we look at communication, interpretation and representation then there is always a signifier. so if you consider your work to communicate something then its made up of signifiers, and arguably can be reduced to them. if you work from a score, or movement technique to create choreography you are performing signifiers.

if motion really is  a priori, then it must be free from inherent
meaning. if motion comes first it is a function / object without
context (other than a displacement its own reference frame). a single
dance can be read to have many different meanings, what remains
constant is the motion. dance can be reduced to motion, even if
dancing means more to the observer / performer than than pure

Form is not to be separated from what it communicates, since as effect of
sedimentation it contains the potentiality of the communicating forces and
contingencies that sedimented into it. But I propose to have as a focus the
specific transformation process that form is enduring (the forms music , of
dance, of the visual, how they hybridise and affect one another, being as
they are sedimented forms of long standing traditions).

form 'communicates' the structure of the object(s) and we can infer relationships with other objects, principles in forms we recognise. content is different from communication in terms of form. regarding the separation of form and content; the most effective analysis will look at the whole, and the constituent parts. how can we focus on transformations unless we undertake such a separation?

i am unclear what you mean by 'communicating forces'. perhaps you
could also explain the process of sedimentation; in some instances you
seem to imply something fixed, in others not.

The instrument/technology is the (dancer's)body and the hardware and the
software, and the way in which you "use" it, or its language.

instrument is object, manner of use is technique / form. language is a technology for communication.

Context sensitivity is often equally problematic since it assumes the
"truth" about the simulation of the context and of the body.

embodiment employs the same assumptions.

If we want to challenge the divides between science and art methodologies
perhaps we need to stop putting into the box of inspiration everything that
science cannot explain, and equally open our "inspirations" (should we call
them thinking forces, affective intensities?? - or is that equally obscure?)
to other areas of thinking and research.

its not what science can't explain, but what we choose not to. i was highlighting that in many sci art projects the choreography is inspired by the science, and in the process ignores its principles. if we could look to a better understanding of our own practice, and how it relates to the science we could contribute to science research.

in sci-art, art (as it has always done) uses science as an
inspiration, (there is nothing wrong with that), but in the process
becomes the 'public face' of science communication. it is easier for
scientists to contribute to the art than the other way round. i don't
think it should be that way.

I do think it would be interesting to develop tools from the perspective and
specificity of each body.

interesting, but how different is that from say, a custom made pointe shoe? our bodies have a common structure with unique organisational variations, many tools would be redundant replications, adaptive tools would be more useful.

thank you for your time



just a short note, i'm linking to wikipedia not as a definitive
explanation, but to be an accessible entry point for further research.


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