splines in space

theorising through (dance) practice


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One day when I was across the hall visiting Sonya Sekula, I noticed thatshe was painting left-handed. I said, “Sonya, aren’t you right-handed?” She said,“Yes, but I might lose the use of my right hand, and so I’m practicing using my left.”I laughed and said, “What if you lose the use of both hands?” She was busy paintingand didn’t bother to reply. Next day when I visited her, she was sitting on the floor,painting with difficulty, for she was holding the brush between two toes of her leftfoot.[Cage]

how adaptive is our practice, do we make provision for eventualities that may affect the manner in which we work, are we mindful of the future? is it more suitable to transfer our existing methodology to new techniques or should we re-explore the entire working process. whilst painting with the feet may be a change of manipulator, the tools and creative process remain (generally) the same. as 'new' techniques are designed to replicate 'unavailable' techniques most foot (and mouth) panting is no different from works created by hand [mpfa]. even paintings created by mechanical manipulators are analogous to 'hand crafted' works due to human creation of the generative algorithms [Verostko].

with mechanical / technological systems the problem of 'similarity' can also be found in their predictable function, more than unique instructions or algorithms, 'glitches' of varying severity can skew the process and production in unexpected, and innovative ways [Scott]. it is these post-conceptual interventions that both replicate the chance discovery (that can be developed into a new technique) and help to retain 'aura' in the age of mechanical reproduction [Benjamin].

however, the glitch is not the answer, just a single solution. there must also be a shift from aesthetic conformity when evaluating 'new' forms. even if there is 'nothing new under the sun' [Ecclesiastes 1:9-11] concepts of intertextuality [litencyc] and intertwingularity make the notion of radical shifts redundant.

Intertwingularity is not generally acknowledged, people keep pretendingthey can make things deeply hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can't.Everything is deeply intertwingled. [Nelson]

if the skill is in perceiving subtle conceptual (and practical) shifts and revealing (some) of the interplay within the larger 'everything' then a generalist stance is the most obvious, and suitable approach. as a mode of specialisation, generalism is one way to re-unite the arts and sciences.

After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science andart tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists arealways artists as well [Einstein]

dance needs a new generation of artist-scholars who are capable of developing new research (practical & theoretical) that is valid across multiple research domains. there are too few dance & science collaborations in which the dance practitioners have imparted significant knowledge of dance (to science), developed new constructs (in either field) or expanded existing knowledge. indeed, sometimes even the creative aspects of these sci-art collaborations is questionable. i particularly have deep misgivings about the motione project [ASU] in terms of cost, creativity and theory. A reading of the projects publications reveals elementary flaws in their understanding of dance praxis and minimal critical engagement with dance theory. i also question why a live version of How long ... [Brown] failed to make it to the uk (a video was shown instead).

yet (current) sci-art praxis should not have to bear any fruit, sometimes the act of engagement itself is important. nor should overly concern ourselves with theoretical flaws if the creative product is engaging (i.e. Constant Speed [Baldwin]), but we must identify any such flaws in our scholarly publications. dance theory is still seen as an overly subjective disapline that extensively borrows from other fields in order to validate itself. we can only defeat this notation by demonstrating the value of movement praxis by engaging with and effecting change in multiple disciplines. there is some great sci-art research that has clearly achieved this, but in general such collaborations need to acknowledge that dance more than a vehicle for demonstrating or validating concepts.

It is not the wind that moves, it is not the flag that moves; it is yourmind that moves. [Hui-neng]

we must be adaptive in our perspectives both practical and conceptual. the false oppositions of science vs. art, theory vs. practice, embodied vs. virtual must be thrown away. all practices are intertwingled yet can still remain 'pure'. adapting to new approaches of perceiving, producing, performing and participating in dance can only strengthen dance praxis. exploring the multiple intersects of dance and wider contexts will further reveal the integral role movement plays in our lives.

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