Emovere: Analytical Perspective

Published on April 9th 2016 by Eleonora Coloma
On the webpage of the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy, RAE), the word “perspective” has, among several definitions, two that interest me: “to look through” and “to look closely at”. This is because the purpose of this article is to share my thoughts on the position of active spectator for the research process of the project Emovere and, in this sense, to analyze the role of the theorist in an artistic creation. Considering the above, as an active spectator in my role of “theorist”, I had to “look through” the creators in order to get to the aesthetic material of the piece. For me, this generated an analytic situation that was driven by the act of “looking closely at” the artistic object in the creation, especially because this object featured changes that were beyond expected due to the particular characteristics of the research. These changes were perceived not only in the usual variation provided by the exercise of a deeper observation (given that the point of view of the observer is subject to permanent change), but they were also strongly influenced by technical situations, unforeseeable for the authors of the piece, which continuously modified the direction of the creation process.
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In recent years, I think I have seen this new character (the theorist) appear with increasing frequency in stage research procedures. This means that this type of work is starting to require, in addition to the people fulfilling creative and performative roles, someone who can conceive the piece from the world of ideas, configuring a critical view that formulates arguments that allow reflecting with words on the subjective materials emerging from the artists. Although having this role is captivating, at the same time, the need to implement it is significant. It suggests an operation mode that is separated from the pure creative act and demands that the creator takes a stand regarding their own work based on theoretical aspects. This way, a particular emphasis is placed on the process through a rational reflective procedure, more than on the result as the product of a practical expressive need.

When I was invited to participate in the project Emovere as a “theorist”, I initially thought that my role was to observe the development of the creation in order to provide some reflections that, based on an analysis of its various phases and their results, could generate some conclusions regarding the particularity of the artistic material that would emerge as the project unfolded. That is, I imagined myself as an eye witness of the creation process, recording it in writing and applying certain aesthetic analysis tools that could account for the compositional route adopted in accordance with the final objective, i.e., creating a piece. However, once the scheduled work had begun and after attending the rehearsals from time to time – sometimes regularly and sometimes not so much, – I realized that, in addition to putting certain aesthetic conclusions about the developing stage substance into words, my role consisted in revealing an invisible materiality that emerged from the interaction between Javier, Francisca, Matías, Eduardo, Poly, Pablo, Esteban and Sergio1, which was expressed in a visual, sonic and choreographic way. In that sense, my efforts entailed externalizing a point of view which, apart from the contingency of what they were building together, could show them a worded photography of what was being projected on stage, outlining a synthesis of the resulting aesthetic material that synchronically integrated the visualization of what happens a little earlier. In other words, regarding the very moment in which the relationship between the performers and creators arises from sound and movement, a material that logically came diachronically in my spectator eyes and ears.

In order to understand this, it is important to reveal the particular situation of this creative process, in which the composition procedures are also conditioned by technical limitations that can only be detected in the stage practice. These limitations leave little room for innovation because their appearance (of the technical limitations) always depends on the action of the sound or choreographic counterparty that the creators and performers are producing. This means that the creative decisions that define the interaction between sound and movement in this process not only search for the most adequate “alchemy” in order to achieve the construction of a language that can express an aesthetic sense, but at the same time, they must adjust to the complexity entailed by the fact that the sound emerges thanks to the signals emitted by the body, which are continuously limited by unpredictable situations derived from particular body features of the performers, such as the amount of perspiration, how heart palpitations behave, the room temperature at each instant and even their state of mind. All these variables condition the receptive capacity of the sensor and how it captures (or not) the signals of the body so they can be transformed into sound according to previously established sound objects that do and do not adjust to these signals depending on the moment of the interaction. This way, Emovere resides between the artistic creation and the laboratory research because the freedom of the creator is profoundly regulated by a technical limitation that arises from the empirical practice of any creative proposal. Thus, the active spectator we have called “the theorist” in this piece must not only account for an analysis of the choreographic and sound language that emerges, but must also look closely at the contingency of the relationship between the performers and the creators at the very moment when they are putting into practice the creative assumptions that are tested in the time-span of the rehearsal, as these might be very well justified by the construction of this language, even if they don’t necessarily adapt to the performer and the moment of the execution.

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This characteristic situation of Emovere reveals the creative process as aesthetic materiality. In this sense, the previously developed sound and movement proposals do not constitute the musical and choreographic substance that is transformed into language on stage until they are tested in the complex interaction process proposed by this project’s research mode. It is at this moment when they finally manage to constitute themselves as creation material, a material that is in any case susceptible to changes as explained in the previous paragraph and is always presented as provisional solutions that could be modified in the next rehearsal. For this reason, the performer must not only train in the exercise of their discipline regarding the sound or movement mechanisms necessary for constructing the language of the piece. The performer must also adapt their individual identity, according to their abilities and limitations, to the language of the piece because the technical procedure in which the piece is executed requires them to do so. For example, in a typical performance piece, when a set of very physically challenging movements is performed, we can clearly see the strain of the person executing them. However, we will never be able to identify the heart rate that is individually displayed in this execution. The procedures of Emovere don’t allow us to appreciate the expression of the heart rate in an exact manner either, but it is possible that with the effort made by the performer, their heart rate never achieves the aesthetic result foreseen by the sound team before executing the interaction because their heart functions that way and not in a different way in that moment, even if it behaved differently in another time.
Considering the aforementioned, the following questions arise: how is it possible to choose the sound or choreographic material that is appropriate for the language of the piece if it is always changing? And as such, how is it possible to make decisions regarding the construction of its structure if the behaviors of the elements that compose it experience as much uncertainty as any living being in their daily life? We can plan to meet someone the next day, but on our way home we get sick and have to unexpectedly stay in bed. Emovere’s creation seems vulnerable to the same degree of chance that we face on a daily basis, which places the materiality of the piece in the body of the performer. This implies that not only aspects linked to the structure, the strength or the ability to solve problems related to movement must be considered, but also aspects directly linked to the reality of the emotions. Thus, the artistic resource is the performer in their complex corporal reality, in a way that demands showing the other side of their inner being, even regarding what they feel.

The final piece of Emovere that was performed at GAM allows us to “look through” the exposure of the performers to see part of the piece’s complex construction process. As spectators, we watch them move like in any dance performance, while also showing us part of their voice, their thoughts and how the expression of certain emotions is translated differently by each one. So as spectators, we are uncertain of whether we are really witnessing an outburst of laughter or the mere sound imitation of it with an aesthetic structural purpose. In this indecision, we must “look closely” because, being unaware of our own perspiration or a variation in the rhythm of our heart, we are intervened in a way that confuses our appreciation, altering our position and, in some way, turning us into performers in the shared corporal feeling of certain emotions.

AIn conclusion, we can define the role of the so-called “theorist” as fundamental for the construction of a sound choreography like this one, as long as he/she is incorporated as one additional character in this complex creative framework, submitting a perspective that allows understanding how the relationship between the creators, the performers and the piece unravels because it is precisely in the physiognomy of this encounter where the structural decisions, and therefore the particularity of the language, are defined.


1 Javier Jaimovich and Francisca Morand, the creators of the project; Poly Rodríguez, Eduardo Osorio and Pablo Zamorano, the movement performers; Matías Vilaplana, Esteban Gomez and Sergio Núñez as fundamental collaborators in the creation process of the sound results.