michael j. morris

Shows I ache to see
9 October, 2009, 8:53 am
Filed under: art | Tags: , , , , ,

I just read a review of William Forsythe’s “Decreation,” a piece choreographed in 2003 with connections to Anne Caron’s book by the same name. Anne Carson is my favorite author, unquestionable. Autobiography of Red, Eros: The Bittersweet, Plainwater, Glass, Irony, and God, etc. I love these books. This is not the first time that I have discovered connections between Forsythe and Carson. But I ache to witness this connection:

“The Forsythe Company performs through Saturday at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, at Ashland Place, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; (718) 636-4100, bam.org.”


I found a short video clip of the piece:

Later this month, Meredith Monk  will also be performing at BAM. October 21-25, she will be presenting Ascension Variations, another piece created in collaboration with Ann Hamilton. I don’t think there is any way that I will be able to see that show, but it feels destined that one day I will be able to see Monk’s work. She, along with Hamilton, is one of the most important artists to my work and I have yet to see her work live.

Again, I found a little video:

One day . . .

Integration of Art and Life


Balance. Integration.

Connection. Balance. Integration.

Art. Life. Love. Loving. Identity. Multi-media. Interdisciplinary. Integration.

These are the things that I am thinking about. I feel as if most of the time these things become areas of my life or parts of my life, competing and conflicting and challenging one another rather than a more fluid, connected, integrated flow of living.  I’m sure there is a rich field of precedents in the various arts of artists who have managed this sort of integration of life and art. We looked at many of them in my seminar course in Winter with Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil. But if I were to make a sweeping generalization, this integration mainly came about (the most effectively, in my opinion) when the definition of “art” was opened to a broad place, and the activities of living became the art. Political activism as art. Ecological activities and humanitarian aid as art. Service aesthetics, in which an activity normally associated with the service industries were appropriated as art practices. In an even broader generalization, the art became ways in which people interact. Social living became the art. And there’s something beautiful about that. That is part of what I see at work in the Love Art Lab with Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle. Their relationship with one another, their love, their activism in areas like same-sex equality, violence against sex workers, and anti-way politics, becomes their art in magical and creative ways. I am so inspired by this.

And yet when I’ve been aware of dance artists who have danced this line, they become separated from the “dance world,” from dance techniques, dance history, the evolution of this form. They become removed from concert dance, and “traditional” ways of making. And there’s a part of me that is not ready to lose those connections. As I delve deeper into graduate school, I am submerging myself in those areas of study and research. I am going deep into dance history and dance and aesthetic theories, investigations of the body, etc. But also away from things like “performativity.” I still care about sharing work, displaying work, but its the experience of the dancer, the person dancing the piece . . . I feel myself continuing to get farther away from concerns like fabricated expression and anything artificial. I think for a while now I have not been able to separate what I do on stage (or in a studio, or anywhere else) from “real life.” I am interested in it being a real experience that is in turn witnessed, and we as a community of people, of dancer and spectators, are some how benefited by the sharing of that experience. I’m not sure if this is making any sense, and it feels a bit tangential, but it’s where my mind is going with this speculation. When I performed “Red Monster” in May, it was not “pretend.” It was actually me standing in front of a room of people, without a shirt on, revealing my body, taking measure of it, tracing and touching the parts of my body that I am sometimes ashamed of, and in doing so in front of this room of people, actually engaging with that discomfort and shame. The piece involves a fantasy of an Other . . . maybe in a more vulnerable version of the piece I will not imagine an Other, but actually find someone in the audience who will fill that role. But the fantasy was real in that I was really envisioning that person, really generating those experiences of desire and shame, really fantasizing about having sex with that person as I unzipped my pants and moved as if masturbating [IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE PIECE, I apologize if this makes no sense. You can see a video of it on my youtube account here]. And the piece was about the distance between self and the Other . . . the Other is intended to be absent from that moment. So even though it does lapse into fantasy, the piece is about lapsing into fantasy. If that makes sense. And when the piece was over and I went and sat down in the audience, I had actually done those things in front of viewers.

This is beginning to lapse into my thoughts on the choreography of identity, or choreographing identity. The short, muddled version of that notion is that we know ourselves and our situation in the world first and foremost through our bodies and the movement of our bodies. Corporeal identity (what I am calling the way in which our identity is known and expressed through our bodies) becomes something of a loop, perceiving who we are through our bodies, then contributing to that identity by our conscious and subconscious decisions and directions for how we move, behave, and take physical action in the world. The way we move, the way in which we do things, both expresses and contributes to that corporeal identity. I am also interested in the somatic notion of the memory of the body. I haven’t gone very deep into this investigation, but somatic forms such as Rolfing and Feldenkrais (as well as others) posit that the body carries its history, its memory, in its structure and thus behavior. The way in which we do things, the condition of our bones and muscles and neuromuscular interfacing, represents that which has come before, the history that we carry in our bodies. I am interested in how this might relate to a dance practice. How does the experience of dancing “Red Monster” continue to “live” in my body as part of its history, and thus part of my identity? In very literal ways, I have scars from some dances that I performed (importantly, both my own choreography and the choreography of others); there are literally marks that reveal how my body (and thus my Self) has been changed by this practice. Because of my dance training, I exist in my body differently than someone without the same training. I am aware of my physical abilities and limitations in a different way. This has an effect on my perception of self, my self-identity. I am curious about more subtle ways, like how repetition in the rehearsal process might build strength or weakness, tension or release, in joints and muscles and tendons and ligaments, in the structure and thus behavior of my body. How does that choreography continue to “live” in my body? And in even more subtle ways, like style of movement, movement qualities, etc. I had an amazing experience this past quarter studying modern technique with CoCo Loupe, who was one of my first modern dance teachers when I was in high school. Close to ten years later, my body had an understanding, a memory, of her way of moving. I don’t perform it perfectly, but my body remembered it, because it was part of my early training. I don’t know how to quantify that observation as data, but experientially I was aware of how that way of moving had continued to live in my body, my identity.

Dancing, and choreography, then, takes on an almost sacred quality, because we are literally constructing and deconstructing our bodies/Selves in/through what it is we are doing as dance artists. When I take a class or dance my own work or the work of another choreographer, I am taking that experience, that real experience, into my body as part of its history. It becomes part of the way I exist, part of my corporeal identity, my Self.

And maybe that’s a clue to the kind of art/life integration that I began this post speculating. When talking to my brother yesterday, he mentioned the possibility of the solution being one of “ritual,” in which dancing and training and stylization and ways of moving take on an important role in living, in personal or social life. The dancing becomes more than theater, more than spectacle, more takes on a sacredness that reflects the work I observe being done in the individuals involved. And it alludes to taking on spiritual significance as well.  

That’s all I have time for at the moment. I hope to return to this speculation/contemplation/integration soon.

Constellations of Thought

I am so overwhelmed at the prospect of sitting down to write this post, and I can hardly even justify the time, knowing that it will be insufficient and incomplete (as are most things) for all that I am interested in exploring/expressing. And I have not even expanded on my “tag cloud reflection” in my last post. But I also feel that in three days of this new quarter, with new and important classes, as well as the density of inspiration coming from all of the Forsythe work in and around OSU/the Wexner, I am adrift amongst veritable constellations of thought. I am sure that I will only be able to address a few specific ideas, and even then, from light years away (as opposed to the microscopic examination I would prefer), but here we go. In no particular order.

Yesterday I attended a lecture by Alva Noë. His primary research concerns are philosophy and cognitive sciences, specifically exploring the nature of consciousness. He posits that consciousness in action, it is something we do, not some internal phenomenon that exists somewhere in our brains. He is questioning a somewhat established assumption that consciousness takes place specifically in the brain, and that thus on some level we are our brains. He asserts that the brain is only a part of the larger structure of consciousness.

And all of this is fascinating to me, especially in the context of dance.

But more of what I would like to address in these brief lines, in this brief time, is his comparison or art and philosophy. I commonly reference my choreography as being specifically concerned with the exploration of aspects of the human condition through the moving body. In a sense, it is an action of philosophy (and research). The piece I just premiered in March, “About,” was previously entitled, “Phenomena to Noumenon: This Simple Thing,” which is essentially a philosophical discourse concerning the nature of reality and perception, objectivity and subjectivity. Noë began by saying that art has been a problem for philosophy for a long time (in the same sense, philosophy is the central problem for my art), asking what is art, what is its value, can it produce knowledge, etc. He asserted three points:
1. Both philosophy and art either have neutral or no subject, or their subject is the whole or time and space, anything about which there can be thought, consciousness itself. Unlike other fields, they are not subject specific but more a way of approaching or addressing subject, which might be anything, and certainly arises out experience and thus consciousness.
2. Both philosophy and art find themselves problematic. Both raise the question for themselves, “How can a dialectic that does not need to produce results be a thing of value?” Both are in a constant state of reevaluating, recontextualizing, reenvisioning and questioning the nature of themselves, what they are and what they do. This relates to a subject Bill Forsythe has spoken on several times this week, that of doubt. We as artists/dancers/choreographers/philosophers are problems to ourselves because we have the ability to doubt or question what we know of ourselves, what has been previously established in our fields.
3. There is a blurring distinction between method and result, process and product. There is a sense in which the results of both philosophy and art only have value in the context of their methods/processes, and thus where on ends and the other begins because a difficult edge to find.

Noë also spoke about the nature of understanding, of understanding or recognition as the essential way in which the world reveals itself to us, and that this understanding is one of context. We recognize a thing in that way in which it fits within our frame of reference, our particular continuum of experience. A thing is unrecognizable, unseeable, when it completely unexpected, when you don’t even know what to look for. This is perhaps one of the values or interests of art, that it cultivates an ability to truly see, to recognize and understand, a microcosmic experience reflecting the macrocosm of all of life. All human experience is a process of bringing the world into focus through understanding and consciousness. Engaging with art gives us the opportunity to cultivate this process of understanding; it is the domain of investigating the process of perception and understanding.

And this is the work of “Synchronous Object for One Flat Thing, Reproduced” (NOW LIVE! CHECK IT OUT!). It is the process of cultivating the experience of understanding. If understanding is truly a phenomenon rooted in a context for perception, than understanding is the problem addressed by “Synchronous Objects.” It the exposition of choreographic work and information in the form of choreographic objects, or visual or pictorial expressions or representations. 

Today, in conjunction with the launch of “Synchronous Objects,” the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Department of Dance at OSU hosted the Choreographic Objects Symposium, bringing together a panel of collaborators and experts in the fields of dance, computer programming, animation, geography, architecture, philosophy and beyond to discuss the work of this project. I cannot possibly address all that was said by which I was inspired, but I will throw out a few key moments.

Maria Palazzi, the director for the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design, commented of the process of understanding through the process of making, the creative process as an act of recognition or understanding. This ties directly into the lecture Noë, and adds another layer, taking consciousness as action into an area in which context for understanding is constructed through the process of making. This was a consensus across the panel, many of whom had very little experience with dance previous to this project, that is doing this work, in creating about this choreography, the choreography became legible for them. The hope is that these points of entry that emerged during their creative work are then transmitted into the objects offered on the new site. It raises new ideas (or new to me) concerning the development of audience literacy in our field. Beyond the incredible work that has been done on this project, what is the potential for making dance legible through creative activities? An obvious application is that once people take dance classes, they understand dance further, but what are other creative (by which I mean generative, making) activities in which might audiences in order to make this art form more accessible? In order to establish a context in which understanding might thrive?

This relates to ideas that are coming up in my graduate teaching seminar with Susan Hadley about the relationship between content, the organization of material, and methods of communicating. What are the ways in which we transmit information?

Which connects to ideas I have been pondering surrounding the application of Labanotation to adjacent dance studies. I am finding my research profile situating itself somewhere between choreography/composition and history/theory; notation serves as a ready link between the two. In Labanotation, choreography becomes a written history, and a written history becomes choreography. I am becoming more and more interested in how this system might lend itself to embodying what is essential an embodied history. Far too often I find that we read, write, view and listen to our dancing history. It is transmitted textually, orally, and visually, but rarely corporeally. I am curious about the potential for notation to lend itself to the study of history, giving students the opportunity to embody seminal dance works that have previously only ever existed for them in disembodied translations. I am considering taking a Labanotation Teacher Certification Course this summer to these ends, to fuel this inquiry. 

Amidst much of this other thought there is the constellation of Somatics. I am taking a course this quarter with Abby Yager that surveys various somatic forms and methods. It may reveal itself to be one of the most significant (to my own interests and research) courses that I have taken thus far at OSU (and I have taken some incredible courses). Among its goals are:
-to cultivate deep listening
-to awaken awareness and clarify a sense of Self 

These are essentially my primary research interests in dance. I am fascinated by how awareness comes from movement of the body and how awareness then affects the way in which the body moves. Ever since I experienced the work of Pauline Oliveros (who has developed a musical/meditation technique described as “Deep Listening”) I have been interested in what a “listening body” might be, and more specifically, how it might move, and how choreography might arise out of that movement. I have felt a resonance of this idea in the somatic fields, but having it so explicitly stated in the syllabus excites me to know end (I am also in a course with Bebe Miller entitled “Creative Processes” exploring the process by which we make dances; I am interested to see how this research interest might be addressed in this composition course, supported by the work I am doing in Somatics with Yager).

My larger research interest has been evolving into something like “the choreography of identity,” the ways in which we come to recognize ourselves and others through the ways in which we move, and how we participate in the formation of who we are through these same processes. Clearly this relates to awareness. It also relates to issues of gender representation, queer theory, gaze theory, relational politics, social conditioning, etc. And it addresses another larger issue, that of the individuals connection to their body. I am interested in resisting the dualistic Cartesian model in which the body is merely the vehicle for the mind, the mind being the essence of the individual. The individual is composed of a mind-body, a body-mind, a cohesive, holistic, inseparable unit. A person is as much their body as they are their mind, and in honoring this fact, we discover that part of knowing ourselves and knowing one another is through an awareness and investigation of the body. This was illustrated in a piece that I designed in my seminar with Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil last quarter but have yet to enact entitled KNOW(TOUCH)ME(YOU)(MY/YOUR BODY) in which participants engage in a physical conversation with one another, directing one another in a dialogue of physically exploring one another’s bodies.

And perhaps here is where this post comes full orbit and finds its pause: beginning with cognition/consciousness as more than the brain and ending with the person as more than the mind. The essence is that it is through the body that we come to know. Through dancing, through making, through embodying history through a practice of Labanotation, through somatic study, etc. we come to know ourselves and the context that makes up that concept of Self.

Other subjects that deserve attention but must wait for some other time: seeing the performance of “Monster Partitur.” Twice. The process of continuing work of this new piece “Red Monster,” and how it relates to the subject of identity and a sense of Self. The potential for “Synchronous Objects” to inspire further investigations into the representation and exposition of dance and choreographic knowledge. Briefly, this relates to a conversation I had with a friend this evening after the symposium. He raised the question of how this work might be continued. Forsythe has expressed interest in developing a Motion Bank, a library of these sorts of investigations, and while he is currently pursuing funding for the next addition to this “library,” one wonders how else this continuum of information my evolve. Partly, I see it as present in endeavors such as this blog (in the most basic and fundamental of ways): by this blog serving as a public creative platform, I am contributing to the exposition of the internal information of my dancing/choreographing life. I think the more interesting potential evolution of this “library” is one that emerges from public culture, embedded in public culture, rather than continuing to develop out of the work of a single (admittedly remarkable) choreographer. That is yet one more potential development for “Synchronous Objects,” how it my inspire and provoke additional investigations of a similar nature . . . 

And finally an announcement for my readership:
For those of you at OSU or in Columbus:

This Sunday, 5 April, I am restaging “About.” The cast and I had a particular interest is re-contextualizing the work site-specifically. We were interested is how it might be experienced in a circular space, and also how its choreographic structures might be further revealed when seen from above. So this Sunday we are going to explore the piece in these contexts by performing it in both Sullivant Hall rotundas, first in the one next to Studio 6 (the entrance faces Mershon Auditorium) around 5pm, followed by the High Street rotunda (the entrance faces High Street, between Sullivant Library and the Music and Dance Library). The first rotunda offers a circular, domed space with seating in the round, the second has a full mezzanine, from which the piece can be viewed in the round and from above.

I am not particularly advertising this event; it is less about a public performance and more about exploring the nature of this choreography in a different space. It will be informal, and there is no pressure to be in attendance. I simply wanted you to know that this was happening in the event that you had an interest in experiencing the work in this context. 



So many things; so little

Tonight I saw the show Japan Dance Now at the Wexner Center for the Arts, featuring three contemporary Japanese dance companies: BABY-Q, Nibroll, and Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club. I am enraptured. All three were amazing performances, and although they had moments of stylistic intersection, overall were three profoundly different voices. It was a well curated show, and excellently performed. Oh, and there’s the part when I was moved to tears.

You can see a video with clips of these companies below (they appear in this order: Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club, BABY-Q, Nibroll):

The piece by BABY-Q brought me very much into my head it was a solo by Yoko Higashino accompanied by multimedia elements entitled E/G-Ego Geometria. It was for me a successful integration of dance and video (not all dance accompanied by video succeeds in successfully integrating the two, in my opinion). The meaning I brought to it had to do with the erasure of individual identity, the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown of the person, and all the factors that contribute to these dichotomies. Descriptions that come to mind are:
faceless legs in silver platform heels
the body lost in the barrage of visual media
small conversations between a person and a camera, projected on a twenty-foot tall wall
white. black. red.
In the incredible density of the video projected into the space, which also served as the primary lighting for the first half of the piece, the body of the soloist became transported into an almost virtual world. The media was so much and so encompassing that it almost served to remove the dancer’s presence. Gradually stage lighting was added, and in seeing the body lit from multiple angles, and the lighting of the videos faded by the additional light, the body became more present. And then was further uncovered. We were allowed to truly see the dancer, her face, “who” she was.

The second piece was entitled Coffee by Nibroll. It was even more of a battery of video images, loud music, fast movement, constantly shifting costumes and characters and interpersonal dynamics. The program notes described it as an exploration of the boundaries we cross in the course of our daily lives.

The true gem of the evening (for me) was The end of Water by Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club. It was full of subtlety, slow movement, articulate gestures, gradual lighting fades, stationary dances, and a gamut of humanity and emotion. They describe their company: “this butoh-based all female troupe seeks to uncover new, original physical expression with a pop sensibility. Their choreography is born out of carefully observing elements from the physical memory of modern life and bringing them into new light.”
From the first section as the lights came up to reveal four figures lying on the ground slowly and gently stirring, I started to cry. I can’t necessarily explain this emotional reaction, except to say that it had to do with recognition. This is a big word for me, and is central to the relevance I see in art as a whole. The most profound experiences I have had with art, be it music (such as Meredith Monk’s mercy or impermanence) or dance (such as Yoshito Ohno’s Emptiness (Kuu) or Moeno Wakamatsu’s Dryope from Project OVID or CoCo Loupe’s In the Clear), standing in front of a wall sized Lee Krasner painting or a piece by Ann Hamilton, or reading Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson or Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton, the common thread of these experiences is that I sensed or saw or felt something familiar, something being created by someone else that I recognized as connected to my own experience. This sort of interpersonal human connection is why I engage in art, in dance, reaching towards a sense of knowing and being known through the work.
I felt that tonight with Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club. I felt understood and represented and recognized. I felt their humanity, saturated with nuance and complexity, immediacy and history.

It was a truly rewarding show. It has two more nights here. For those of you in the area, I hope you have an opportunity to see it.

For those of you interested in a more in-depth review of the show itself, and not just my experience, I found this nice blog by a commentator who saw the show a couple of weeks ago. You should check it out.

continuing thoughts from Hamilton/Mercil seminar
14 January, 2009, 12:39 am
Filed under: art, cosmology, creative process | Tags: , ,

I again left my class with Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil with pages of thoughts. Tonight we witnessed a series of “responses” or “activities” or “demonstrations.” Each person (I think there are fifteen of us?) presented an activity-based piece. 

The over-arching thought I was left with has to do with selection and choice. It has long been a life value of mine that anything I do, any choice I make, especially in reference to time, is to the exclusion of all else. This becomes especially pronounced in the creative process in which you are ultimately displaying a series of choices that you have made concerning the materials with which you are working (in my case, movement of the human body, source material, sound accompaniment, etc. etc. etc.). In almost every piece tonight, there was some structure of participation, and some degree of decision making within that structure.

In one, the artist was under the table around which we were all sitting, and she selected individuals to read accusations that she handed to them from under the table.

In another four individuals were selected to read transcripts of their own words that had been translated into a foreign language.

In one, the artist selected two individuals to sort through a pile of stuff from his desk at home. They were not given any criteria by which to sort these materials.

In another, we received envelopes containing two images and the instructions to select one, and paste the other to someone else’s image (giving you the agency to choose the image, the criteria by which to make that decision, how it would be applied to someone else’s image, etc.).

In another, we drew slips of paper from a bowl designating us either “A” or “B”. A’s were instructed to find a B, ask for their cell phone number, and call them. The piece progressed further, but it began with selecting (at random) our own designation, then the role of A’s selecting which B they would approach.

My piece also involved selection. I will paste the instructions below:


“Activity About Shame

* All are invited to participate.

*Starting at the north end of the studio, walk slowly towards the south end, contemplating that about which you are most ashamed. Allow this to be something like a moving meditation.

*At any point during the piece, you may choose to stop walking, make your way to another participant, and look them in the eye while continuing your contemplation. If you are chosen by another participant to engage in an eye contact exchange, please engage with them in it.

*If you are participating in an eye contact exchange, either partner (the initiator or the one who was chosen) in the exchange may choose to whisper to their partner the object of their contemplation (i.e. that about which you are most ashamed). Your partner may choose to reciprocate or not to reciprocate. In either event, continue in the eye contact exchange after any verbal exchanges have been made.

*At the end of the piece there are several courses of action that you may have taken.

You might have walked in solitary contemplation from one end of the studio toward the other.

You might have engaged in an eye contact exchange, either by choosing to do so or being chosen to do so, and maintained that eye contact for the duration of the piece.

If you were involved in an eye contact exchange, you may have chosen to whisper the about which you were contemplating to your partner, or your partner may have chosen to do so, or both; either way, after any verbal exchange, you will have continued to maintain an eye contact exchange with your partner.”


I can’t say I was particularly pleased with how mine turned out. Or maybe I was just frustrated by time constraints. The entire piece had to take place in 4 minutes or less . . . which seemed to make the emphasis how fast these things could or would take place. How quickly do you walk, how soon do you choose to make contact with another person, how honest/vulnerable can you/will you be in four minutes? I think ideally I would want to attempt this piece in a different setting in which there was much more time, for the walking to truly become secondary to the thought process (a movement concerned with residing in a specific cognitive space), for the choices to be deliberate, and the time spent with another person to become . . . profound? I suppose I am not surprised that I just wanted everything to take more time.

Which addresses a current obsession of mine. Things/people/events moving slowly. The slower they move, the better. The more minimal the content, the more important that content becomes. It is elevated by its scarcity. The piece tonight felt dense in time, too much happening too quickly, without quality. Stretched over something like twenty minutes, each step can almost echo in time. Each choice becomes rare and perhaps profound simply because of the space between choices. The time spent face to face or walking next to or listening to another person has duration, time to go somewhere. I think that is where my disappointment/dissatisfaction lies.

But I was talking about selection.

In my piece, clearly there were the overt choices (to walk, to find a partner with whom to make eye contact, to speak or not to speak). But there were also the subtle choices: how quickly to walk, whether or not you were actually contemplating your shame. And whether or not you continued that contemplation while looking at another person. Or whether you were honest in what you spoke to another person. Who you chose to make contact with (visual or verbal). So many choices.

So the question that arises, whether it be in art or some other part of life, what are the criteria by which we are making our selections? I truly do not believe(at present) that there are correct or incorrect choices, in art or any part of life. There are simply choices with outcomes/consequences. And each choice is to the exclusion of every other choice. Some choices have relatively mild consequences (how quickly I walk home from school, etc.). Some have profound consequences (whether or not to act on anger or hate). Consequences can be constructive, destructive, or neutral. It seems as if all choices affect someone(everyone?) else to some degree. Constructively, destructively, neutrally. If nothing else, each choice affects us, me, myself, and I am a social being, thus that affect on me affects the way I am/who I am with others, to some degree . . .

This is turning into philosophy. I suppose all I am meaning to ask myself/you is what are the criteria by which you make choices? Or a specific choice? In your art, or some other part of your life. Do you derive that value system directly from a specific source (such as your interpretation of religious literature, etc.), or more indirectly (such as the culmination of a series of experiences, etc.)?

These are my thoughts tonight.



Ann Hamilton/Michael Mercil Seminar
6 January, 2009, 11:14 pm
Filed under: art, Grad School | Tags:

I am in a course this quarter being offered by Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil through the art department. It is an interdisciplinary seminar that meets for three hours once a week at their studio here in Columbus. Very exciting. Below I wanted to offer a smattering of ideas, words, thoughts, etc., that came up for me tonight during the class. I hope that at some point I will get around to fleshing these things out, but maybe I won’t. It is my hope that others (you?) do. If there’s something or several things that grab your attention, or which you have thoughts to offer, please do:

-doing and (versus) responding (action/awareness, speaking/listening)

-How does the kind of work you make structure social exchange?

-Does money control artists/art?

-If the marketplace cares more about what things are than what they mean (or for what they are intended), does that free the artist to make whatever they want (whether or not it is purchased)?

-Selling/marketplace exchange: in dance, unlike in the visual arts, there is less of (no?) dichotomy between action and object. Unless of course the object is the body (objectification of the body). In that case, what is being sold? The name of the artist? The body of the dancer(s)? The interpersonal experience(s) between dancer and audience, choreographer and audience, choreographer and dancer? How distant is this from prostitution, the exchange of money for either a body or an experience with another person?

-Boundaries of action: action of process/action of performance

-“Reproducibility”- is anything, let alone dance, truly reproducible? Where does art (or anything else) exist most, in the thing itself, or in the experience of the thing? Can experience be reproduced? What is the value differentiation between a thing that is perceived to be “one of a kind” and a thing that is perceived to be “one of a series”?

If we think of art not as a thing, but as an experience of/with a thing, to what degree do we as artists concern ourselves with shaping that experience?

-What do we mean by “universal”? Is the visual somehow more universal than the literary? Or the kinetic? Or the kinesthetic?

-What do we call a thing? How does calling it that shape the way in which we think about it?

-Who is your/my audience? What is IT for? And what is the IT? Is it an object, an experience, a movement, a narrative, a message, etc.?

-Is there such a thing as “perfectible action”?

-Violence in art versus the “responsibility” of the artist. Does the artist have a responsibility to society/culture/everyone else?

-Does interactive art seek to liberate of manipulate experience?

-Why are art and “real life” positioned as mutually exclusive? In what way is art any less “real” than any other aspect of life?


These thoughts came out mostly as questions. I do hope that you offer me your answers.

21 October, 2008, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Grad School | Tags: , , ,

This is my first official post on this new blog. Here, as part of my assignment for my Applied Technologies in Dance course I am going to compile a list of other blogs that I like, that relate to my work, or that inspire me. I will tell you why I like them:

This is the blog of CoCo Loupe, a friends and colleague of mine. I sometimes author posts of my own on her blog, but it has been a great inspiration to read her thoughts, and to have a forum to bring ideas related to dance and my own art into an arena for discussion/feedback/opinions/thoughts/etc. from others in the dance community.

This is a blog that has not been updated in quite some time, but that I am still inspired to explore. The author, Nancy Wozny, writes about art/dance/somatics experiences. I am inspired to read about areas of study that I have not yet explored, but even more so, to hear about a dance artist’s experiences in those fields of inquiry.

Includes a blog of Butoh based events. A great resource for keeping up with things happening in this specific area of dance in which I am interested.

I just found this blog. It belongs to a woman artist in the San Francisco area, and is simply elegant in its mundane musings. I am interested in reading more deeply and being inspired by this lady’s aesthetic observations.

Not a blog, but enjoy this video of a new collaborative project between Meredith Monk (favorite musician of mine) and Ann Hamilton (favorite artist of mine):
The second song featured in the video, “Core Chant,” is actually a Monk song to which I have choreographed. You can see the video of that dance (part of a larger work) on my youtube channel. The video is at: