Regarding Performance Design in an Interdisciplinary Creation Process

Published on March 11th 2016 by Ana Campusano
“…neither space nor possibility, did I know precisely what it was and I did not feel the need to think about it; they were words invented to define things that existed or did not exist in the face of the pressing urgency of a need: the need to abolish the idea, the idea and its myth, and to enthrone in its place the thundering manifestation of this explosive necessity: to dilate the body of my internal night, the internal nothingness of my self which is night, nothingness, thoughtlessness, but which is explosive affirmation that there is something to make room for: my body.” A. Artaud.

The following article has the purpose of commenting on relevant aspects of the work developed throughout the execution of the project Emovere in terms of Performance Design, all of this considering that one of the initial premises of this process sought to change the practical execution of the interdisciplinary concept in the creation of a sound/choreographic piece.

Questions:

1. How can we articulate an interdisciplinary process that links an important amount of artistic disciplines in a laboratory setting that proposes specific production conditions?

Binding Concepts: production, interdisciplinary, simulation.

The definition of interdisciplinary presupposes the gathering of multiple disciplines, artistic or not, around the production of a creation/research process that is developed live. The purpose is to configure a piece, a language or an experience that enables a perception exercise within the spectator, challenging the determining factors with which they are predisposed to receive a live work of art.

Understanding the above as one of the relevant axes of the project Emovere, it implied a relevant place to comprehend the concept of an interdisciplinary creation between dance and sound. The particularities and the permanent feedback between these two disciplines allowed for a deep observation regarding the value of the creation in the present of an experience that undoubtedly had the spectator as the main recipient.

The existence of a new sensitive working framework, activated in the present in a piece that in this case is choreographic, must necessarily consider the real possibility of displaying the materials gathered for the creation in equal magnitude during the exercise of continuous and permanent creation. It is also understood that this work methodology does not establish previous productive hierarchies or determining factors, as the creation in the present would be the discriminating agent regarding the composition of this new framework.

The development of this creation process in the interdisciplinary procedure was partially constructed around the summoned disciplines. A certain shift of the materials considered for the visual realization of this choreographic piece was generated to a less present field. In order to tend to the interdisciplinary aspect in the creation, it is necessary to consider from the planning stage that this is an experience that demands a number of human and technical resources that grant the spectacular experience the possibility to exist. In this case, the space arranged for this purpose, as well as the technical and technological equipment necessary for the visuality and the feedback between dance and sound to have equal quality were limited. There was only a projection through examples and table meetings.

Despite this, it was possible to observe and comprehend this procedure as a new creation exercise that involved technological and scientific aspects that were outside my own stage experience and that can be seldom experienced in an artistic media like ours. It was precisely this new/other moment, the one devoted to creation, what allowed us to articulate a new/other language, which indeed required answering the questions that arose as the creation itself unfolded.


2. How can we compose a space and time in the scene that considers relieving the impulse of the emotion that the performer choreographically activates and that is captured in a sound sequence that the spectator perceives in a synesthetic manner?

Binding Concepts: body, space and present.

From my work as a performance designer, the work process was based on a slow and meticulous observation of the creation space, that is, the relationship between body and sound. The initial confusion and surprise regarding this acknowledgement led me to recognize the body of the performer as a sound machine, magical and at the same time blind, mute. Magical because it articulated impulses – measurable, quantifiable and recordable – that weren’t evident for understanding how the intimacy of the body could be organized, discovering the difficulty of knowing how to read what those bodies contained and what could generate flashes of emotion, sound and also inhibition; and at the same time so real, concrete and vital that they remained outside the rational and controlled experience, so necessary for an orderly, measurable and controlled visual creation process.

As I made progress in this surprise/discovery, I recognized the sound as the only articulation agent for the words of this secret and intimate dimension that the body so delicately unveiled.

But more than helping me recognize full sentences of intact, complete and clear content for reading the meaning of the piece, this only led me to wonder about the reason behind the sound. Why this type of device and what for? What was that bodily impulse trying to say through each movement, sequence and/or repetition? The answer started to form visually: on the stage, the body must be exposed from its crudeness, from its volume, color and mass, from its weight and balance, from its kinesics. The harshness of the sound/body material required this clear intention of exposing, of presenting the spectator with a visual experience whose resources did not mediate the content of the new sensitive framework that resulted from the choreographic/sound work. Once again, it was necessary to think about discriminating in favor of the most relevant elements in this new language articulated by the body.

But even considering the above, insisting on searching for an answer regarding why the main axis of this exercise had the technological resource as the only mediating agent for this bodily impulse became more evident and ultimately obtained an answer.

Apparently, it is no longer possible to recognize the intimacy of the body because it escapes us the very moment we think we have recognized it. We don’t have the necessary speed or analogous assertiveness in order to recognize the mechanisms by which our body decides to speak. Then, a language of the body would exist that is articulated in a brief and fleeting present, which we can only capture and relieve through the devices that allow us to perceive it. There is a layer of us that can only be observed with the help of others. It is as if the technological/sound resource was calling for an attempt to identify the constant present of ourselves. It is about the fact that things happen in my body that I cannot hear, see or feel, and technical mediation is the only one capable of revealing them. It is as if the sound was performing a permanent surgery on the body. It is as if the body was operating as photography; just like light reveals an image, sound reveals an emotion.

There is a need to capture, capture, capture.

The visual design sought to collaborate in order to underline this constant presented by the body/sound relationship, to pursue the exhibition of this stage present, allowing the spectator to identify something, activate their memory and enter a different sensitive regime, maybe even recognize themselves. And it is here where I find the word experience once again, but not from the place of the performer but from the place of the spectator.

Finally and as a conclusion, the answers around managing time and silence in the scene, whether it is choreographic or theatrical, must be addressed from a production practice that is interdisciplinary. The possibilities of experimenting between creation/research are only possible if there is a productive system that provides them an existence. Emovere has made progress in this sense, which I think must be replicated and strengthened. Maybe we should think about an institutional framework that allows generating and promoting creation under these conditions from now on.

Ana Luisa Campusano
Performance Designer, Project Emovere, Body, Sound, Movement
Professor, Faculty of Arts, Universidad de Chile