Dabbling with the contents embraced by my new left top wisdom tooth, I
purse my lips and look outside the thirteenth floor of the Michigan
Building of The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. This is a new part
of my life; digesting and congesting media, text, and the physical
effects of performance on my own body. The thunder and lightning
outside in the vast fog does not pierce me through the window, but it
still feels as if it is knocking. I can feel it reminding me of itself
as it diddles its electrically charged fingers on the tops of
skyscrapers. The occasional clap of light is felt on my throat, where
my prominent adams apple rises and falls with each swallow of saliva.
This is my new presence. This is my new language in Chicago. This is my
immediate academic appraisal that mends the circumference of social
enjoyment and networking. I am finding people. I am finding spaces and
places to perform. I am finding conversations about performance
bruises. The Noosphere is concentrated in Chicago. It circulates heavily inside the Chicago loop and pours up and out when the sewers get full.
The ghost of Alred Jarry, the founder of ‘Pataphysics
follows me around here. He sneaks facial expressions into my mirrors,
and drives my performances away from the metaphysical. Some people see
me perform or hear me speak and begin to lose their own consciousness.
The ‘pataphysical cognition puts a blanket over us all. The blanket
connects us, sharing fibers as virtual spaces for thinking. We think
about our bodies as performance artists and how we are communicating. I
consider the separation we have; you and I. You reading these pixels
and looking at photographs of my virtual identity, and piecing together
what my height and haircolor might be. I wonder in return what you do
at night, and if I am looking at you more than looking at me.
Performance art, and being a performance artist is like this; not
totally understanding what someone is saying, but deciding to interpret
freely. Some people will choose to digest and possibly respond. Some
people will not know anything is happening, or discard this traverse
delivery as trash. Some people will experience this as trash. I will
not be experiencing this as trash.
To be simple, I can summarize my presence. I am deeply interested. I am
deeply interested in meeting new people. I am deeply interested in
spending time and collaborative energy with my boyfriend, and the
nebulous community of artists I am immersed in. I am going deeper. I am
deeply interested in people finding me interesting, and sharing
experiences inside reality, the Internet, and other levels of
consciousness inside the Noosphere.
I invite you to share space with me. I invite myself into your space,
and invite you to intrude upon mine. I am looking to experiment on
every level with you. I am looking for your activity, my activity, and
Performance art is arguably the hardest art form to capture. It happens in pure immediacy, exists inside heavy mortality, and dies continuously as each gesture, object, and relation change. It is safe to say that a fair majority of performance art pieces have been lost forever. Besides memory and the ability to alter bodies, documentation exists as the representational savior of performance. Dance as a performance can be almost anything by my beliefs. It could be you, reading this.
And screendance could be a choreographed video being taken of you reading this.
Screendance has not received the attention it deserves, and Daniele Wilmouth is out to show it. Screendance is often misinterpreted, represented in juxtaposition to other video art or film pieces that do not stand within the description of screendance. Frequently, these films are used to lighten up or alter a collection of other films, but rarely are they presented as the forefront of a festival. Lucky enough; Daniele Wilmouth, a faculty member at SAIC presented a collection of screendance films.
What is a screendance? Why does it need its own genre title? Who makes screen dances? Have you ever seen a screendance film that was presented to you as a screendance or filmdance?
Screendance, by the words of Daniele Wilmouth, is when dance is specifically created to be recorded and presented on film, rather than in live presence. The results of working inside film with dance and movement is extensively liberating to both the world of dance and the world of film. It deserves to be recognized as its own genre of work because it truly locates and contextualizes dance and film together in a way that can not be created inside another medium. The opportunities of focus, perspective, camera work, composition, and choreography are all altered inside the relation between a camera and a moving (or not moving) body.
The first film in the festival, “YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU” (Miranda Pennell & John Smith, UK, 2005) was the most powerful in it’s immediacy and simplicity. A video camera and tripod was placed on a dolly, and the frame of the camera caught the faces and shoulders of a class of dance students. They gaze into the camera with entrapment, seeking the returning passion from the other side; the audience. As the camera attempted to move left and right on the dolly (controlled by the filmographers) the students struggled to stay directly in the periphery of the lens. At any moment, the students grasped the lens with their eyes as if it were the most important thing they had ever done. As the camera caught different faces, familiar faces, and rare moments of the empty wall behind them, the screendance became immediately successful in its composition.
This piece, “YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU” tampered with my emotional and mental capacities as three and a half minutes went by. The simple notion of gaze to a camera, the sound of dance students running back and forth, the swell and decay of blurry hair, facial features, and the three faces that almost always occupy the screen: these all created a beautiful performance that can only be documented through video.
Spectrum of sound, music, color, texture, film type, subject content, cultural context can all be explored inside screendance. Another piece in the festival explored all of these and transformed over the course of its presentation.
ELEMENT (Amy Greenfield, USA, 1973) penetrated the several variances of roles the body can take when interacting with environment. Amy Greenfield trudged through and became intimately aggressive with a marsh or deep mud. The film was captured on 8mm, which forced the body of the performer to exist inside a whole new realm of physicality. Her body was an absolute body. Her body was the ground. Her hair became another limb, and then it became a piece of the earth. Her limbs were animalistic tools of emotion, then suddenly they were only arms and legs. Mud engulfed the entire body of Amy as she flopped, fell, ran, tripped, and rolled in her element. Between the camerawork of close-ups, angle, perspective, and duration, the performance was equally narrated by the work of the camera and the performer. The performance of the camera woman and the choices of the performer became married in their significance.
I could continue on talking about so many of these other films. One piece, ELEGY (Douglas Wright & Chris Graves, New Zealand, 1993) was the complicated but simple dance about losing his other gay friends to aids. It was a dance piece, but the breif focuses on his back, his hand, his hair… all made the piece so much deeper in its presentation.
Seeing screendance films change a lot for myself as a performer. It is as if there is almost a completely different genre of performance art that has as many infinite possibilities as performance art has. The camera can be an extension of the body, or completely deny the body in the way it works. My inspiration from this festival was so deep that my first decision upon arriving home was to create a screendance. I set up my digital camera on the ledge above my bathtub to frame the back and neck, and invited my sister to create a dance under these simple rules:
1. You must never look at the camera
2. Bend one leg to move your neck and torso, always remaining inside the camera frame
3. Make four sounds throughout the recording
4. The dance is finished when we have both made four sounds
While it was deeply improvisational, it came out looking and feeling amazing. It was simple, but the camera and our bodies collaborated to make my first screendance.
Exceprts From Fake Dialogues: between ghost pressures, effected by radical blood flow, beginning to talk about the myth of individualism in the art world, especially in art classes.
Mable: I may carry out critically for the space, does not use it in there. The existence compared to having the physical matter is only more. In fact, true existence something is usually not you have your body. In its position, may be discovers your me about the spatial abstract. When regard existence, is most important, you must understand your your language. Specially, when you are when other people, you do not have are you understood that is real you are.
Brad: This possibly crosswise sounds, therefore your anything possibly must present music, and reads, because your not clear situation your existence. Is you are short in this moment in two feet goes to and the semblance. Your bodily charge d’affaires occupies the shield, when the language survival passes. We may with speak the artistic class in mine artistic class in the movement motion to adopt our motion name list.
Yeti: Sometimes we become, and talks, does not use our energy and its isn’t Something poem for example was our teaches. Obtains in its position approximately, does not need physical verschijning. That is true any disturbs everybody in the Art academy. They knew that the people do not give the attention, therefore the language knew loses their concept time and the space become, does not have the stimulation in the spatial idea, and spatial stomache and the spatial brain distinction distinguishes is.
Aaron: Waiting…. What? You were something others have made attempt redundant? This prose or something? Its stabbing pain anything does not retain truly, and makes the artistic community. In fact, the desire I you stopped already interrupting me and your fierce world idea. You must to make your thuiswerk return in its position, and any expenditure time comments your way performance, and looked. You must only then become from itself, good?
Colin: Now flies the culture …..Ha …..Ha. My true can’ t believed that this conversation space now is. If you…Only it has…Correct public? Perhaps this public must adopt your anything which looks at and hears to rebel should other people. This is an only parents viewpoint.
Herlocher: The culture not very good is true ….., I don’ t say perhaps you understood that which you do speak with, or the way transports your you to report. But this is only I… I am redundant here only dramatization. Thinks about in the chemical response and in the classroom discussion’s context the depth perception. I may start it in mine stomache to feel truly.
inversion happens natural, as a length of hair and time i want to talk about
in a bruise or molar i want to talk about
lasting wisdom teeth, impending on the back of tongues talk about
still for flesh, it is allowed to stand without preparation. the church of conversation chopping up hand gesture about me
you must never wait, intrude him stand him wet take his corner and grind
grind bone teeth presses to lip, it only
they only will arrive once through the back of your mouth as words or world would if they were participatory.
single time impression to feel about feel him on me like a fight
where is my muscle wisdom? where is the saunter in my wordspeak? no tooth posterior to it in permanent teeth; they usually appear
when will it be coming out? will it have to be removed or related?
back to in his hand a wait, simple tissue to tissue to tissue to issue to thought about it,
its still him steal him
waiting and trying and hoping, intend no sight no reading a specific description of a third molar will not hold true in all cases, steal him still him
stay, he will only come in once
we only continue physical diminishing, girl fighting igniting knighting sight seer seersucker the seam of my gums
is he secretly fuck up my mouth does he break skin what teeth are happening once i thought to him, steal him still
he is only happening once, wisdom tooth only one time
the seam of my gums felt by my tongue, our digression
may as well break skin and tongue what bones grind bone teeth presses to lip breath may as well be may as well
i am willing blindness, willing injury for laughing, worth willing
digress willing and laughing
The simplicity of mental clarity as relief is a truly beautiful thing. In my realm of performance art, complication frequently arises from the impervious strive to create work with context or subtext before the performance has been created. I often assume performance is a meditative practice that arrives from critical analysis of my experiences or reflections of external influence. Since there is always so much going on inside of me as well as outside of me, it can frequently feel frustrating when I try to pin-point a centre of interest, or point of initiation for performance work.
Last night, Lucy Cash, a filmographer and performance artist elated the intagibility of a busy mind, and presented eloquently how non-mental performance can be created. Her work resonates the significance of silence and stillness in juxtaposition to sound and movement in performance. In her films, she uses instruction in a diverse way. Sometimes a person will wait to respond to their instruction, building tension in time. Other moments follow strict reaction time, testing the masculinity and femininity of “behaving” or “doing what is told”.
Her performance workshop began with the class in a circle. A gesture was created, and all of us repeated it. The second person created a second gesture to follow the first. Eventually we had five simple movements that together built a choreography. As the entire class performed these movements in a circle, an immensely powerful performance had been created… from almost nothing.
For the second portion of the workshop, we wrote a brief narrative of movement instruction. We performed the piece, and then swapped instructions with another individual. As a finishing point, the original choreographer and the interpreter would perform at the same time, inevitably reaching points of simultaneous movement and moments of complete opposition.
Both watching and performing this exercise was exceedingly powerful. The sounds and movements of two beings in relation to one another created portraits of each duo; how they worked together, how they interpreted text, and how two become one in the process.
The result was refreshing to say the least. To experience the instantaneous success of performance art mere minutes after its production was liberating. In my current preparation for a ceremony/ritual based public performance, I will definitely be using these simple tactics for creation.
In order to truly learn something big, an individual must arrive and accept a place of “not knowing.” Whether it be a whole-hearted conscious decision, or be the inevitable outcome of risky circumstance, it is the best place to take lessons from. The further you are inside of “not knowing,” the better and faster you will learn. This theory has been repeatedly proven to me in a variety of forms. Friends of mine have had the ground fall out beneath them and been left to reconsider their whole life. Family members have visualized the mental tantrum of boredom, and began a practice of doing something they know nothing about.
Frightening as it may be, this form of learning is very rewarding. In a performance studio class, I have been given very loosely directed assignments. Students pick their brains under the stunning responsibility of free-interpretation, nervous with the ambiguity of freedom. One after another study the brief details of their educational circumstances, seeking the baron of mental space, and run themselves into the ground trying to seek what is correct and incorrect.
It is our responsibility, especially those of us who are thinking in abstract form, to make the decisions of what is correct and incorrect. It is the one way we can secretly infultrate the consciousness of our counter-culture and educate the masses about the significance of their own intellectual curiosity.
I care very strongly about making this mental practice a habit for myself and my surrounding community of artists and thinkers. Even if somebody else is thinking in a very similar way, I love seeing people take ideas out on limbs, make mistakes, learn, deconstruct, and then reconstruct themselves. It is impressive to see, hear, and feel, and shines light on the freedom we have as individuals, yet forget about so frequently
With brief preparation, (approximately two weeks) I uprooted myself from my sleepy cell in Portland, Oregon. I packed my belongings, and arrived in Chicago, Illinois to attend SAIC. I didn’t like living in Portland anymore. I knew the city too well and what I was doing with myself there.
WHAT I KNEW:
+ I want to be creating rapidly, critically performing, testing myself
+ Chicago is big, holding many microcosms of artists
+ SAIC is innovative, interesting, and allows great networks to collide
WHAT I DIDNT KNOW:
+ Who or what would be in Chicago to work with///The student body
+ How I would pay for school///living expenses
+ If SAIC would be a good fit for me
Sometimes, arriving at a place of “not knowing” can be a bad idea. You can get hurt, hurt someone else, or risk losing track of your basic needs as a human being, or not have the mental/physical support you need. Personally, I like taking this risk and taking my chances. The dangerousness of not knowing arouses my brain, and throws endorphins into my bloodstream. I don’t know where I am heading on my life train, but I am having such a good time that it would be worth it if I eventually derail, crash, and burn. The freedom of not knowing, and getting to make it up as I go along is a mental fix I will always love.
I love finding others who are interested in experiencing lifr with a bit of blindness. It is a very attractive part of finding a being in a community, and I think I have already found some great people “not knowing” what they’re doing, but who are very good at it. You know who you are.