Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day Two - uses and needs, uses and needs

So what's the logical next step to solve these problems?

Almost two years ago, i began to accumulate some ideas under the general heading of "hypermedia" and proposed and exploration of these ideas as a senior thesis to the powers that be at Sarah Lawrence. Having been a student in Tony Schultz's dance technology class for one semester my junior year, and then returning to it for the entirety of my senior year (you can check out our class blog from this year - Dance Machines - here) i was extremly impressed by the new way of thinking that Tony presented us with.

Rather than using programs that already existed to express artistic ideas and projects (for example: using Final Cut Express to edit a dancefilm or using a time lapse program to capture footage over the span of a few days), we were suddenly being asked to think about the intended final project first, and then design our perfect machine that would help us create and capture it.

To me, this seemed like a drastic shift in my thought and creative process; it was like someone had suddenly made me a very small god. As a creative artist, my understanding of my "job description" has always been somewhere along the lines of creating the "best" piece of art that i can (whatever that means) within (and sometimes breaking with, but always in relation to) the "rules" of a stage or film setting. Suddenly i was no longer asking myself how to create the "best" piece i could for stage or film, but how i could create and engineer a completely new system that would best support and showcase the work that i was making. Do you see how exciting this is? It's reinventing the wheel so that your Chevy Impala (that for some reason truly is unique, has immense unknown value, and is vastly Important to you) runs like a charm. It's reinventing the wheel so much so that (by the time you're done) people will look at your car, and declare it's value somewhere near to that of a jaguar becuase you've engineered it to be that valuable.

Anyways, the question becomes: what do you include to make the perfect dance showing machine? Well, what is it's purpose - what is is being used for? As stated before, this machine addresses multiple problems and therefore has multiple uses. Here are a few possible uses:
  • as a teaching tool for potential/current audiences (teach: ways to look at dance, analytical vocabulary, the foundations of the craft that we choreographers use such as time and space, the way the specific piece fits into the larger dance cannon, the way this piece relates to other contemporary pieces, etc. etc.)
  • as a teaching tool for teaching choreographers and dancers (teach: specific creative processes, a comparison between choreographers, "background" information in the study of specific dances, etc.)
  • as a marketing tool (grab the attention of potential audience members by giving them a "sneak preview" of the piece they' can buy tickets for, educate them on the piece's creation so that they might further enjoy seeing the final product in performance, impress donors with an inside look into the creative process, reach out to people who wouldn't usually want to see a dance performance etc.)
  • as a revenue source (sell the final product to interested audience members/company supporters at performances or online)
  • present a representation of the dance (as identified yesterday as so so so much more than just the performance) that is more holistic, encompassing, and truthful than presenting pieces that are solely performative might feel to certain choreographers (read: me.)
  • as a historical artifact of the dance that was created and performed
  • etc. etc. etc. etc. The possibilities are endless.
So what, then are the specific aspects of the dance (according to me) that the hypermedia would need to capture and represent? Of course, this is a small and incomplete list, but it's a start:
  • ALL rehearsals, showings, performances, studio times, etc. - anything that shows the physical time spent in the making of the piece
  • the performance(s)
  • references and usage of other works of art within the piece
  • references to other dances, both from the choreographer and other artists
  • the context (both artistic and cultural) that the piece was made in
  • the dancer's experience of being a part of the process, understanding of the piece, etc.
  • the choreographer's experience of making the piece
  • comments from dancers and choreographer at different times throughout the process
  • comments and questions from audience members
  • the work of any and all collaborators on the piece
  • interpretations of the piece from the choreographer, dancer(s), collaborator(s), and audience members
Tomorrow: Hypermedia Revealed! I'll let you know (and show examples of) everything that they hypermedia is made of. How excited are you??!?! Very.
Stay tunned!


Vivi said...

From L and V
Dear small god,
You're eating me alive. And please stop killing yourself. Did you say you wanted to tell the audience that there is no wrong way to interpret a piece? Wait... contradictions?
Small god, please clarify for you have answers that we near mortals cannot begin to fathom in our pea-sized brains.
I am a dance fanatic/zealot/enthusiast yet I am naive. Do tell.

Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...
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Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...

Dear L and V,
to me it was becoming the smallest of gods, relevant only to me and my own work. I promise. I did not mean to offend.

Walt Whitman muses prolific: "do i contradict myself? very well, i contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes."

I do not think that i contradict myself when i say that there is no wrong way to see dance. By offering to teach the audience MANY different ways of looking at dance, we are only giving them multiple and diverse options. However, it's always true that i'm not as wise as Whitman to notice and acknowledge my contradictions.

What about this system specifically points to having one "right way" to view dance?

Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...

Maybe a better analogy for my hypermedia discovery is Neo bending the spoon?

Vivi said...

From Laurel:
I dare you to remove yourself from respectable, historic persons within our time (20th century i.e, Joyce, Brown, and Whitman). Without such reputable sources for you to potentially misquote, how can you defend/explain your work with your own words?

What I'm really trying to say is I dare you to give me the bare bones of your reasons behind existing as a creative being. I dare you to not pontificate.

Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...

the bare bones of my reasons being existing as a creative being?

1.) i can't otherwise.
2.) i won't otherwise.
3.) i'm trying to figure out how to make/show/give best these things that i have to make/show/give
4.) for some reason, i deeply deeply care about the future of this thing we do, which we may be calling "dance"

I could go on and on and on and on, but we all just agreed in the previous post that the future of dance wasn't in writing.

Short answer: I DON'T KNOW. But the act of wanting to find out is what makes me an artist.

Pontification is different from provocation, and is different from intertextuality (or inter-media). I don't intend for my reflections in my struggle towards this hypermedia thing to be anything but honest.

Jeremy said...

I was also curious about how this opens an audience up to looking at work, as opposed to narrowing the way a dance is seen. I don't know about the rest of the world (and your generalizations about other work and how people see their work has annoyed me), but personally I feel no need to help the audience understand my work. Probably conversations about the work would be interesting for both myself and the person who viewed my dance, but conversations are real things where two people give their input. Not one person explaining things to a camera.
Further, and I feel I am repeating myself, my favorite thing about dance is that it can explain how a choreographer thinks in a way that is verbally abstract. But do not be confused sarah. It does not mean that it is not totally understandable to an audience. The audience, no matter what, sees my aesthetic beliefs, mY ideas about what is beautiful. No, they do not get exactly who each character in my dance is. But perhaps we should change the title of the work you do to abstract theatre or abstract storytelling. That makes a little more sense to me. I'm sure I have left out some of what I want to say, but I will post more, so hopefully everthing will come out in time.

Jeremy said...

Ah, I know what else I wanted to say. And I remembered it reading your next post. I just wanted to say that we have many tools to work with and help explain the dance or help focus the audience's attention. The question once again arrises as to why a person is interested in watching a dance that in itself has no desire to communicate coherently (once again, it may be communicating something verbally abstract, but in the forum of movement and space, very concrete). We have many many tools sarah. The tools are the dance! If performance based dance is about communicating, which it generally is, then all the movement and composition are tools for expression and communication. Which the hypermedia is supposed to be as well. Only it is not neccessary in that sense. It is very well suited for abstract storytelling or abstract theatre, where verbally concrete things about the abstract story or abstract play have to be communicated. Hence, why it has already been created for film, but not for dance. Maybe you really need to reconsider how you define the work you make. I think this may decrease the resistance you get (even though we all know you like the resistance).

Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...

Hey Jeremy,
thanks for joining the discussion!

I think that you're making two very valid points. One (which has been pointed out to me a lot this year) that maybe my work (both the dancing/movement work and the hypermedia) isn't really "dance" or "choreography" in that it doesn't seem to share some of the base concerns as most of the dance world. Like you say, i seem to have the desire to verbalize and give narrative to things that, in reality are somewhat if not entirely verbally abstract. I think this is true and i'm not sure what to do with it. Something propells me to fight for this as dance, and i am not yet able to say exactly what, although i think it's more than my stubborness (although, yes, that clearly is a part of it). All i can say in response is that i DO employ and revere that dance can express the verbally inexpressable and show with cutting percision these huge messy unnamable things. I would never want (on stage) for the entire audience to collectively say, "oh, x means y, this headstand means sadness" becuase it's clearly more complicated than that. However, i think there's something abut other voices (including mine) in the hypermedia putting words to these images and visceral impulses that (in my mind) doesn't overpower the piece itself. It's not a direct representation of the piece, it's an artistic historicization, if you will. It agrees that you can't put words to dancing and have it be the same thing. BUT it still finds historization, dialouge, and context important, so it works with what it has. Does that make sense? I'm not sure that i'm actually anwsering your question, but i'm trying.
Also, you wrote that "The question once again arrises as to why a person is interested in watching a dance that in itself has no desire to communicate coherently"; i think my desire is to communicate something quite coherent, but in abstract terms. And then historicize/enrich it with hypermedia.

Point two: in terms of opening/narrowing the work:
The goal would be to have so many different voices, so many different interpretations, that it would be less saying "x means y" and more showing all the range of images, ideas, emtotions etc, that THESE SPECIFIC PEOPLE were taking from their veiwing, pushing the idea that others would have entirely different veiws and perceptions. This, for me, makes sense in the argument that i'm not streamlining one veiw of the piece, but presenting a smattering of lots of different veiws. I seem to get a lot of contension to that point though, and i'm not sure I entirely understand it, although it's a reasonable concern. It's kind of like a Sarah Lawrence education - the important thing isn't my attempt to teach a specific meaning or idea for the piece, but the broader skill of using multiple lenses and vantage points to internalize, watch, discuss, and ultimately experience/enjoy dance.

One last note too: there has never been a person of who i am more sure that Hypermedia would be a horrible fit for (okay, maybe Laurel too). It's NOT for everyone, and i think the discussions we've had have really shown that to me. So yeah, you're right. But i still want to use it for mine (or, explore the option, which is what i'm doing now) and i think others might want it for theirs as well. If not, no harm done, right?

Jeremy said...

"Also, you wrote that "The question once again arrises as to why a person is interested in watching a dance that in itself has no desire to communicate coherently"; i think my desire is to communicate something quite coherent, but in abstract terms. And then historicize/enrich it with hypermedia."
You mean communicate love or haunting through dance? Is that something coherent in abstract terms?

As for narrowing the perspective seen, will you not have yourself talking about the piece on the hypermedia? Maybe a bunch of people discussing a piece will make the watcher think about some of the things the other people said. Personally, although I love previews, i never want to see a preview if I know I'm going to see the movie. I don't like the way it makes me have expectations and judgements. Clearly you're fine with that, but it just seems like you want people going into an audience and thinking "hmm....I'm curious to see if what this person said is really true." I would suppose it could prevent a person from watching it with a simpler curiosity, without all the prejudgements already made.

Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...

i think if it were up to me (which, clearly, it's not) the perfered cycle would be: maybe see a trailer online, interested so see a performance of the piece, interested so THEN see the hypermedia, study, want to see piece again, repeat the last two until satisfied. Whie part of me feels conflicted about setting up too many expectations, like you mentioned, part of me keeps realizing what an effective tool it is for involving the audeince in their spectatorship. I am reminded of Belinda's group piece this semester, where we were given the oppurtunity to look at the "rehearsal" of the piece inside the piece and our focus was directed to different things ("laurel, wait for me so we link up when i do this", "How does this hand go here?" etc) so that the next time we saw the movement, we had specific handholds to help us view what she was presenting. Did it discract from viewing the movement just for its visceral/spatial/time-based qualities? For me, yes. But it also enriched my understanding of what she was doing as a choreographer. I think it's a trade off.