Posts Tagged: Independent Projects

Process report from the independent project (II): Katharina

tripping on words to make movement – second session

In the second session, we started by making some poetry ourselves, thinking about placement of the words in space and the rhythms implied by that. We also considered the process of extracting/highlighting/choosing information, in making blackout poems. 

I handed out word cards, newspapers, black markers, and scissors, and these were some of the results – 

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(Stephanie)

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(Maisie)

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(Katharina)
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(Maisie)

and a dreamy video of the blacking out that Fran and Bethany were doing –

We found especially interesting Maisie’s approach, moving into the 3 dimensional, and Fran’s idea that a piece of text, divided into sections, could be understood in different ways according to the arrangement of the sections on the page.

We then took our cues from the reading+listening experiment we had done in the first session, and chose to try the following:

One of us would read a piece of text – we chose to use another one of Caroline Bergvall’s, and the reader ended up being myself – and the others would be assigned a semi-often occurring word each (in this example, the words were ‘point’, ‘close’ and ‘face’)  and a corresponding gesture. Whenever that word was heard, the gesture would be acted out. By doing this, we were trying to make visible the act of listening, and of processing information.

Here is an extract of the video documentation.

To perform this task was more difficult than expected, but we decided to go a step further:

The gestures would stay the same, but instead of a word, the performers would listen out for sounds – we chose

‘th’

‘r’ (we noticed that would be relatively easy to pick up on because I pronounce it a bit differently than the others, in American English)

and ‘p’.

We also used a different text: A page from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, a novel well known for its close- to-complete incomprehensibility.

James Joyce, in Finnegans Wake as well as in Ulysses, plays around magnificently and irreverently with sounds, words, meanings, associations, insider jokes, and notions of counts as  intelligible and what doesn’t.

The fact that this was such an exhausting thing for listeners to act out was the crucial bit for me – I am really interested in that heightened state of paying attention and how the immersion and the struggle is made visible by embodying the process via gestures. I also consider this a live act of translation.

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Process report from the independent project: Katharina

tripping on language to make movement – starting point(s)

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This was the mind map Stephanie and I ‘started’ with – having discussed, filtered, connected a lot of material before we even started the first session with Fran, Maisie, and Bethany.

We were trying to find out how our interests in gesture and body/text relations, respectively, could merge and play off each other – it was a process of figuring out how to name/ describe these inherent connections that we instinctively felt were there.

First session

Caroline Bergvall in her book of poems Fig: Goan Atom 2  plays beautifully with fragmentation, sounds, multilingualism, especially in her piece 16 Flowers.

Bergvall’s book was one of the first things the dancers became transfixed by in the examples of poetry I had brought to show them. We did a few experiments reading this piece of hers [extract]

vagrant rOse paths compressed
hover matin l’aRose in- Mers
a-glimp th ornful umineuse darKorolla
faint Fur st special irrésistible
Lansoft -goRous elovelash petals absorbed
smallred Vibrant lovegash pétales embedded
White throated flatfanned dressLash lovétale
PINkdraw -inGirls lovcrest pétalent Bedded

I was fascinated with the different ways each of us interpreted the ‘rules’ of this piece, and with the effort apparent in the reading of it. It felt to me like people were performing the task of poetry right in front of me.

I tried to further the relationship between the body and the process of comprehension in the listeners by asking the performers to tap a pen on a surface, making a sound, every time they thought they had heard and understood a word. (Bear in mind that it is harder to do when you don’t have the text in front of you.)

This required immense concentration on behalf of the listeners, and produced unexpectedly divergent results – people’s habits of understanding were not in sync at all.

The last part of this endeavor was to try and translate the text into gesture as we were listening – at which point, interestingly, performers sometimes made the same movements upon hearing a certain sound without having paid attention to what each other were doing. It looked like they were faking speaking sign language.

This is the edited recording of the readings and our reflections.

After this first session, Charlotte gave me her observations and, the points I found most useful to take on were:

To be more clear when giving instructions  – have clear in your own mind what the structure and plan is, and where there is space for deviation.
How do I make the relationship between body and text ‘readable’ (haa) to an audience?
In general, what is the audience experience? So communicating framework and context and thinking about relatability.
Since my project is so process-based, my role should be in guiding that process – so I should do more watching and responding to the performers responses – also keeping an eye out on who responds how to the exercises I propose.
Take the luxury to concentrate on one thing and investigate it deeply, rather than trying to do as much as possible in as little time as possible.

Especially for the audience related questions, the Young Artists Feedback Forum will be very useful – and the other points, about guiding a process, I think I will be still learning about for longer,  as I go and keep making work beyond this project.

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