Following on from last week.
Sometimes when you sleep on an idea for a few days you realise that its tangential and difficult conception, and the overwrought justifications you contrived to support it, has obscured the fact that the idea was in fact going nowhere.
Maybe that’s a bit extreme. I’ll tone that statement back.
In trying to align the logic of speech to contemporary dance vocabulary I have simplified the issue in order to try to prove a point about how collage-like contemporary dance vocabulary is. In several live improvisations, we tried to transition seamlessly between sounding, singing and conversational speaking all relating to clear points in space. No point was proved and the exercise ‘Human
Radio’ was very difficult to do.
There are a couple of points of interest in the failure, though.
• Making sustained sound seems to hijack the body’s ability to move freely. We turn into reverent opera zombies wandering through space at an intermediate tempo.
• Transitioning from sounding or singing to speaking conversationally is painfully awkward. The paradigm shift between the two ways of thinking and doing seems to trip the brain up, leading to hesitancy and/or waffling. We wonder if the only way to do it effectively is to script it.
We decide we have gone too far too fast. We back to the basic sounding and simplify the score.
• We remind ourselves that it is the points of resonance that is of interest.
• We allow ourselves to respond to other sounds.
• We include a listener who provides a fixed point in space so that our voices are either closer or further away.
This works a lot better and locates the voice in space clearly. The listener's experience is influenced not just by the volume, the harmonics, and the tone but also proximity. Voices merge and separate and can be heard to be approaching, retreating ascending and descending. Unfortunately, the overall effect is quite familiar and again tends to sound overly reverent. More on that next week.
There is some difficulty in addressing an area which is actually being utilized all the time anyway. Think of the way you address your mother compared to the way to address a telemarketer ( an extreme example ) There will be some element of code switching within any presentation I make as some people will be familiar to me and what I'm talking about and some will not. The trick will be to deal with it in a way that doesn’t ruin its’ impact by making it simplistic, crass or so subtle that no one knows that it happened. Keep your ears and eyes open as I think this idea will be one to try live rather than rehearse.
Thinking about how to move the voice from one point to the other (as opposed to an instrument which makes its own sound), I have built an amplifier which I call the vocal prosthesis. The first thing that comes to mind when moving the voice between two points is the telephone which may be explored next week, however the vocal prosthesis is tactile and can actually move within the space. You speak into one end of it and the voice comes out the other. Simple!
Finishing on my theme of things that are interesting but that I barely understand but have a hunch are important to where I want to go with all this… lets touch in lightly on Hermeneutics, perception and experience.
Originally associated with the interpretation of biblical and literary texts, FERARIS (1996) defines hermeneutics as “ the art of interpretation as transformation” and contrasts it with a view of theory as "contemplation of eternal essences unalterable by their observer “.
Philosopher Alva Noë, who writes about perception, speaks to this idea in the recording ‘Dance as a way of knowing’ which you can find on youtube. Noë says “ the world comes into focus as a dynamic of trying of trying to make sense of it”
In other words, there is a kind of chicken and egg scenario where as we attempt to understand something, perhaps a dance, its qualities are revealed to us as our consciousness of it expands, which in turn reveals new ways of seeing, and so on.
What this suggests to me is that analysing dance by the semiotic value of its vocabularies is problematic if we do not consider that the primarily important element of the dance is, in fact, the observable act of experiencing by the dancer.
“Dance is an enactment, a remodeling of this fundamental fact about our relationship with the world around us” Alva Noë
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