An investigation of the ‘dorsal’ through moving, drawing, writing and collaborative dialogues with artist-writer Emma Cocker, choreographer-dancer Bakani PickUp and sound-film-artist Rob Gawthrop.
In these last 2 days, I return to solo drawing – through short detailed studies and experiments. Zooming in to get a better recording (note, video, image, physical trace) of the strategies and devices I am using and that keep intriguing me – from which I could compose, install, arrange – with which I could work with other dancers.
So, I am also zooming out, stepping back, filtering sensations, doubts, intrigues and reflecting on how to take a next step into choreographing a performance and Artist Publication – and in collaboration with others.
In some ways I have come to a kind of pause, I am slightly repeating myself, it needs a stepping away, a shift of space and ground, time to gather everything that has happened in these 2 weeks – materials and conversations – loose threads to.
1. slowing down a process of tilting the body in relation to the wall, away, towards, aslant. the wall as static surface, solid stable vertical structure. slowing down how parts of the body tilt in relation to other parts as joints allowing continually planes and angles to exist between upper, lower arm, hands, back etc. slowing this down more. Extending pauses, suspensions, wavering, lingering. not drawing.
and slowing down whether there is contact or not, touch or not, trace or no trace, and how slight is the difference between touching, not touching, leaning, not leaning, almost still but still moving. attention closes in on the moments just before touch, just as graphite leaves the paper, just when body leans in.
2.facing wall, close, singular gesture, drawing an area of the back through a combination of sensation and the image of shape. I draw the voluminous shaping of the shoulder blade as it moves – and as it draws its own image-sensation, the body constantly moves.
3. I remove everything from the wall, roll papers up, tidy, put the studio space back to how I remember it was 14 days ago. It takes quite a while and I seem to go slower the closer I get to finishing. I want to finish, I am tired but I also enjoy the removing and packing up of my things, the replacing of curtains, table, chairs, camera, tripod, yoga mat, cable to where they were, the turning off of switches and PA system, the final locking up – all taking time.
I try not to leave a trace, a trace, a trace
Artist Rob Gawthrop and I worked together in the Dance4 studio for a day to experiment with bringing Rob’s sound ideas and my drawing activities backward behind into the same space of performance.
Rob working with ideas of back, inverted echo, suspended interval.
We talked about time, memory in the sense of recollection,
After an initial time of getting mike stands and me watching and documenting a little, we settled into an interesting length of time with Rob setting up three sound mechanisms while I moved, drew and wrote within the sound that was gradually taking shape in the space. Rob tweaking timers, mikes and objects to get the three ‘stations’ sonically operating together in the way that he wanted.
The afternoon progressed organically, tweaking, tweaking, talking a little and testing by simply doing. With only one day this organic mode of collaborating in the studio-doing was super rich. We were not starting from scratch. We both had our materials – and things kind of worked. As a first studio encounter, very exciting.
and the sound was …. you need to hear it ..needed to be here in the time and space and architecture of its making – with us.
Our exploration continued and opened up to spectators in a Dance4 Sneak Peek sharing. A first sense of what it is like to have an audience witness this still very exploratory stage of development. I sense the need now to compose and to organise the drawing and moving, which in this sharing was an improvisation. To pull out elements and let them be ….come ….
Audiences change the space – the weight, shape and perception of space and time.
How to introduce a work. I had invited them to sit, stand, lie and this needed time, but as performer I was slightly thrown by their decision to sit scattered throughout the space. This work – and my sense of the performance event I am working towards – needs duration.
scale relative to body, to paper, to wall, to space
documenting details, zooming in, coming close to the surface, bringing you upclose by talking a still-image, but then as photographic image this detail loses its context, the space around it, the other traces, the distance from the floor, right, left, up, down lose sense.
but in the live space of making, a spectator can come close or keep distance, understand scale, relation, orientation of body, surface, force and make sense.
how to invite a spectator to come closer?
Bakani and I played with the image of a blind spot, projecting out of the back of the body, the central spinal line. This spot could vary in height between waist and back of head and in distance from the body.
Turning around, to behind, turning back to both catch and to move that spot that lies outside of the body. A game that activates immediately. Turns the body round, direct, fast, or one can suspend, slow the turning and lean back into this invisible force that becomes a sensation.
a body imagines something outside of it.it is of the body, a prosthesis of the body. And it becomes real. We both said it is real.
blind spot like an invisible connecting force, that twists, turns the body around its axis – a play with gravity and blind spot image.
and vision is affected, the eyes are either drawn around to the right or to the left as the body turns or are drawn back, into the back, they allow the back to lead, to be seeing.
Drawing as a way of knowing, but also as a way of forgetting, even erasing. Memories – and remembering – are unstable
Knowledge is unstable, on shifting ground.
Returning to yesterday. Paul (Dance4) watching the drawing process wondered to what extent memory played a role in drawing and in coming away and moving back into drawing. Some things he noticed through the drawing traces were returning. A ‘feathering’ motif particularly and I knew exactly what he was referring to. He is right, this ‘thing’ does keep coming back. I like that he noticed. I like doing this ‘feathering’, which is a light, very detailed improvisational dance of the fingers with the graphite. I like, I enjoy, I am convinced in these moments of re-finding or implementing this ‘feathering thing’. BECAUSE. The fingers are moving independently on a small area of paper and although I cannot see, I know, I see-know through all the joints of my body.
The fingers moving independently but in relation to the whole body configuration that I have suspended, anchored, am holding-in-shape with very small adjustments and tilts of spine, shoulder, elbow, wrist, while fingers are very busy.
Gesturing and figuring is more to do with curiosity and thinking and not about expressing emotion. Although nostalgia surfaces at times.
Bakani reflecting on the nostalgic sensations that seemed to come up and belong to drawing, particularly when moving away from drawing, from surface, from wall.
Turning around and looking at the drawing traces produced behind the back or with the eyes closed, looking at the traces as that which you were previously part of. Nostalgic. And the drawing does not stay on the wall for the body retains traces too. Patterns stay active in the body, body remembers.