[dance-tech] "taking instructions" from the environment and Human Being V's Human Doing

  • From: Sarah Jane Pell <sarahjanepell@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx, dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 10:01:50 +1000 (EST)

Just a few quick notes now and I will expand on them over night...
  A very clear and literal example of "taking instruction" from the environment 
is evidence in extreme environment performance for instance in wind tunnels, 
(effective) Zero-gravity flights etc. In my case, I "take instruction" from the 
underwater world. In fact, I consider the aquatic environment an instrumental 
co-collaborator in achiveing an aqueous state-of-being fundamental to my 
practice. I champion a type of performance that centres on being in, and of, a 
body of water... see http://www.sarahjanepell.com/Research.htm  
  One less extreme but similarly recognisable level, TaiChi practioners learn 
to "take instruction" from the Chi around them by responding to the minute 
shifts in hairs folicals which can sway and stand on end by the (effective) 
static electricity of the Chi which the body "swims in" all the time.
  On a biological level, most humanoid performers have otoliths, skin, eyes etc 
to "take instructions" from any environment - real or illusory. 
  On Human Being V's Human Doing in dance?
  (Following older threads here too...)
  If the notion of the body is described as the 'en-fleshed machine', it would 
imply that the system/interface/architecture of the dancer and technology are 
one of bio-tech fusion i.e. the merging of lighter elements into an operable 
union of heavier mass, producing vast amounts of energy? Perhaps this is the 
case ex vivo ? and for an audience/end user but arguably has limited currency 
for the performer. 
  [Curiously, in intelligence usage, fusion is the process of examining all 
sources of intelligence and information to derive a complete assessment of 
activity (U.S. Military Dictionary, Oxford University Press). The audience is 
also the en-fleshed machine by these terms of biotech fusion.] 
  On the other hand, to speak of the ?en-fleshed machine? 
system/interface/architecture via bio-tech fission would imply that when 
combined, the two components: body and technology would begin to vibrate, 
shudder, and then rupture their previously stable forms to split and become new 
autonomous agencies, producing enormous new energies. 
  In vivo, are the multiple ?performing selves? performing within the flesh 
body and the body of the machine or system? 
  In Aquabatics, I reply on bio-tech fission for all aspects of performance ? 
aesthetic and utilitarian.  Underwater, the artist/aquanaut is a kind of 
?en-fleshed machine? that is simultaneously in vivo and ex vivo: 
audience/witness and performer/performance. 
  I grapple with the choreography of Human Being V?s Human Doing. In fact, my 
aqueous ?dance? practice attempts to critique one through the immediate 
embodiment of the other. 
  What ever the case, the choreography of body/system/architecture of 
dancer/performer/maker ? ?en-fleshed machine? or otherwise ?seems trumped by 
concepts of agency and action determined by the environment in some way.
  The aesthetics of care, operation, emergency and survival for instance are 
also incorporated into my practice like the nodal points of an inhalation, 
constantly reminding me to breathe, exhale and continue my role in the bio-tech 
fission and its performance within the choreography as a whole.  [Obviously the 
body cannot perform or survive for very long underwater without the aide of 
technology. Similarly, that the respirator does not breathe for the body, and 
cannot function autonomously of the biological body.] 
  More importantly, is the environment for which the ?en-fleshed machine? 
operates. It is time and place specific. Indeed, the performance is cogent on 
it. The choreography is cogent on it. The aqueous or underwater realm in my 
instance is the third party to my concept of body. This makes it interesting. 
This allows the performer to explore the connections ? emotive and otherwise ? 
that intersects with the changing and evolving context and environment for the 
work to exist it. It enables the audience and the performer (perhaps one in the 
same) to consider what is it that is shaping the performance of the performer 
and the system? Perhaps this is what Jamie refers to as the "Metaformative 
  The code, rules, the choreography ? or the art of interpretation and 
operation ? and the impact of the decisions that we make as performers is 
powerful. It is not just the resources we bring to the performance but our 
resourcefulness as performers. 

Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
  hi all,

yes indeed, a wonderful conversation about movement and "taking instructions" 
from the environment and re-organizing/self-reorganizing though sensual 

It would be interesting to review this interview in light also of what Jaime 

This complex feedback, reflexivity, interrelation of forces is what I call a
metaformative process. It dosen't exclude performativity, it rather includes
it, but it exceeds it as well. It is a process in which the very structures
thorugh which we "articulate" and "understand" emerge together with the
realities we attempt to apprehend: it is the movement of thought itself, the
self, that emerges in the process.

Now we can understand this in the context of such theories of mirror
neurons, enactive cognition and proprioception, perhaps, since everytime I
see a movement of yours, I mirror it and embody it, and then it has become
something else, If I attempt to reproduce it I cannot but generate
something different, in the specificity of this body, your gesture is
transduced to my field of forces, my register of associations, my open
coordinates of interaction. The mirrorings that constitute embodiment have
always fragmentary and deforming effects in the forces that are reflected.

On the issue of the generative, and the evolving, i want to mention the 
premiere of ENTITY by Random Dance Co, at Sadlers' Wells last weekend (in 
London), and before the Friday show Wayne McGregor and Scott deLahunta invited 
interested folks to a research meeting with the team that has worked on ENTITY. 
I think it would interest all of you, to draw a bit on their dicussion of the 
post-choreographic and choreographic, and I'm not sure whether Scott wouldn't 
want to do that himself at some point, right now I should perhaps give you the 
link to the website brief on the seminar:


"The specific aims of the ENTITY research project are: to develop adaptive 
software agents that can generate unique solutions to choreographic problems; 
and to continue to work towards establishing principles of choreographic and 
physical thinking (distributed and embodied). The seminar comprises a series of 
short presentations from members of the research team including Phil Barnard 
(MRC Cognition and Brain Studies Unit, Cambridge), Scott deLahunta (R-Research 
Coordinator), Nick Rothwell (independent composer and software programmer) and 
Anil Seth (Informatics, University of Sussex). These will focus on background 
and current developments of the project and be followed by a short discussion."

What I found fascinating was the discussion on the vision not only of these 
metaformative processes that Jaime addresses, but also their autonomous 
software partners (adaptive agents that learn and evolve) -- and one should not 
forget the environment and what Lisa Nelson refers to in her interview (the 
sensed world and the sensing of the world, the information the environment 
sends to us at all times to affect us) The discussion last weekend seemed to 
pair evolutionary biology (selection) with creativity (physical creativity), 
and then we heard about , AI (the modeling), emergence and complexity /systems 
theory in rather interesting, sometimes also frustrating ways (many the visual 
examples were drawn from robotics and auto-locomotion, interestingly).

the adaptive agents or the evolved articulations of the digital (in the wired 
/projected environment) is a level of the (post)choreographic that we have not 
fully addressed either, as presumably, at least in regard to dance, the aura of 
the choregrapher (experienced at Sadlers Wells for sure, last week) is still 
alive and well and the notion of the choreographic refers to problems that 
humans solve? I think the cybernetic and AI discussion, however, also points to 
other co-evolutions and wild arrays of real and virtual formations, mutations, 
and gestations.

"Environmental Sensualities undergird all discussions of wired sustainability" 
someone wrote today on the Empyre discussion list. 

Jaime, do you see dance as primarily a form of "non-verbal communication" ? but 
surely in interactive and emergent virtual scenarios how do you separate the 
dancer from the dance, and what is the "choreographic" in the extended sense of 
sensorial flows and projected flows we sought to imagine? 

is the "choreographic" not the kind of "object" you deconstructed, Jaime? (the 
"work" is that very process which is also your "self" and becoming, there is no 
exteriority to the process or to the work, but an interdependence of forces in 
the relation of which both the self and the work emerge, but never sedimenting 
into something complete and fixed), a non object, a non structure, an 
already-reproducible mutation.

Finally, a comment on earlier references to Artaud and the "body without 

I like what Zizek wrote about the melancholia of the choreographers. We are not 
too sure about the virtualization of reality, and Zizek says it's ?crucial to 
maintain open the radical ambiguity of how cyberspace will affect our lives: 
this does not depend on technology as such but on the mode of its social 
inscription. Immersion into cyberspace can intensify our bodily experience (new 
sensuality, new body with more organs, new sexes ?), but it also opens up the 
possibility for the one who manipulates the machinery which runs the cyberspace 
literally to steal our own (virtual) body, depriving us of the control over it, 
so that one no longer relates to one?s body as to ?one?s own.? What one 
encounters here is the constitutive ambiguity of the notion of mediatization.? 
The theft of the body may present a very likely trauma to contemporary dance. 

Johannes Birringer

Thanks for this video. we need more of these - with artists talking so 
eloquently of their work and process. i really enjoyed the added dance 
workshop footage this time. it fleshed out the ideas put forward and made 
our discussions online more concrete than abstract - straight from the 
horses mouth, so to speak...a perceptible change of my organisation in 
connection with this technological gaze was most enlightening.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: Marlon Barrios-Solano
To: jaimedelval@xxxxxxxxxxx ; dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 6:06 PM
Subject: [dance-tech] interview with Lisa Nelson at dance-tech.net

hello list,
An interview with dance improvisation artist, lecturer and researcher on 
improvisation and perception (Tunning Scores) as one of the "Embodied 
Techne Series". She takes us across her experiences with dance, movement 
studies, psychology of perception and her experience with video. Her 
perspective might add to current and recent discussions on real-time 
composition and embodiment.
In dance-tech.net
In blip.TV
Thank you and comments welcome,
PS: editing courtesy of Ashley A. Friend
(please let me know if you want to collaborate with dance-tech.net podcasts. 
I have very cool raw material...)

Marlon Barrios Solano
social media projects
New York City

A dance and technology social network that aggregates and facilitates the 
flow of information and the distributed intelligence among movement, new 
media artist and theorists working in the confluence of embodied performance 
practices and new media.

Dance New Amsterdam
New Media Specialist

cell phone in USA:614-4462175
Skype name: unstablelandscape
IChat name unstablelandscap
Second Life: mars barragar 

Dr. Sarah Jane Pell
  Director/Founder, Aquabatics Australia
    Cell +61 (0)415 711 717

  A.Q. Atlantica 2009


Get the name you always wanted with the new y7mail email address.

Other related posts:

  • » [dance-tech] "taking instructions" from the environment and Human Being V's Human Doing