9.27.19

Progression ( 4_J_1)
5 minute review of camera tools/composition/perspectives (4_J_2)
5 minute run remembering:
“Search for Beauty”, “Personality”, “Relaying Emotion” and “Visible Time” (4_J_3)

Trying New Sequences:

Telling a Story
-How do you tell a story with and without the camera? Do you feel like the subject? What’s the story?

Preserving a Moment
-are you endeavoring to preserve a moment in your vision frame too? or just with the camera? is everyone preserving a moment? What does this bring up for you bodily?

Personality
Personality of the camera? or how does the camera contribute to your personality? What does personality DO bodily? What does it do “bodily” to the camera? Is personality being shown only in relationship to the camera, or is it happening in your bodies, between you, in each others’ frames as well? Are you “having a personality”? Are you putting on a personality? In what way is this becoming performative?

Visible Time
How and why do the cameras start to take precedent?

These are all things cameras do, or reasons cameras are used. what happens if we attempt to do these things ourselves, without cameras?

What are the people who are holding cameras doing while they are holding cameras? What does THAT mean?

What kind of moves are you doing?

Should we do many events?

What happens if one or more goes suspiciously dark? What do we do?

9.13.19

warmup, work, watch

cyborg duets
detailed score with specific actions
physicality heightens the moment, heightens the person
rapid transfer of frames
what kind of space do you feel like you’re in, or would you want to be in?

dynamic, investigation, curiosity, searching for things- the camera, looking, seeing, composing, frame, perspective, dancers’ experiences, dancers’ perspectives, always changing, can’t be duplicated, something about change, improvisation makes space for discovery and play, can be focused on the process,

stairs, something that could hide you without you leaving the space, sources of light, shadows, mirrors…

9.18.19

Progression:
Attention, Space, Geometry, Frame, Multiple Frames, Sequencing, Adding Frames
[I’m thinking about this as adding in tools, as opposed to a progression that happens in sequence, one after another. This builds.]

-clearly ignoring the cameras not for the sake of ignoring them but for the sake of being very interested in a different frame at that moment

-what kinds of camera movements are you using as this happens? when do you think to be creative with the way the camera moves?

-when is the camera an extension of my body and when am I composing for its frame?

____________
a story:
4 people in their own spaces are listening and also sharing space- one person and two cameras look on but are they participating or listening or… what? the sound of the room is like a perpetual outbreath- it goes and goes, like wind it doesn’t take, it just moves on- and maybe this is why it feels this way.

[an aside: taisha paggett’s work asks this too- is based in a sensorial exploration and reaction to seeing and being seen and existing in a particular place and describing those sensations and that architecture through movement, texture, shape, quality…]

[an aside: Re: Atlas and Cunningham: perfectly crafter geometrically for a specific frame/point of view- we are doing this with our framing but not just for one frame, for the frames of everyone in the room. It is improvisaion- Sgorbati- because of the crucial element of consent in being seen as well as describing exactly your sensations in a moment, which will always be changing, listening to how you feel and describing that with movement is a perfect way of listening to/trusting ourselves, and our wants and needs.]

_________________

Camera flip moves!
How is stillness showing up in your bodies too?
Use camera composition tools for the camera and for ourselves

 

8.30.19

Progression:
Attention, Space, Geometry, Frame, Multiple Frames, Sequencing, Adding Frames

What does it mean to frame something? Physically? Psychologically? Intentionally? Can you unintentionally frame? How? Bias?

What happens to our bodies when we purposefully avoid the frame?
The word capture was resonating
put myself there, take charge of this frame
My eyes stayed in my body (I did not cyborg, connnecting my vision with the camera’s)

What are things that cameras do? From The Camera by the Life Library of Photography*
-preserve something
-people’s stories
-prioritize
-create a sense, sensation, a feeling
-create illusion
-translation
-portray emotion, relay emotion
-tell stories
-just aesthetics
-a search for beauty
-composition (place in space)
-personality, character
-abstraction
-extension of vision
-visible time, crystallized motion, traces
-proximity, zoom

4_E_1: Search for Beauty:
looking for the camera, looking for the viewfinder reflections? what was beautiful? what were you searching for?

4_E_2: Personality:
Were you showing personality? were you searching for others’ personalities? how did your personality come out? how did you see others’ personalities come out?

4_E_3: Relaying Emotion:
What happened with texture? what happened with effort? how were you making shapes? how were you distinguishing and translating to body your own emotions? were they ‘clear’?

4_E_4: Visible Time/Traces
repetition? quality? shape? camera movement? swoopy

who is the capturer?

How did you find yourself seeing and being seen in each of these scenarios?
-movement personalities? does that feel like a clear and personal thing to you? does exhaustion play in? how?
-how were you making decisions about HOW to hold the camera and WHERE to point it?
-can we start to do this stuff not just for the camera but for our own vision frame and the vision frames of everyone else in the room?
-what kinds of body things were you doing to make these things visible?
-interaction of camera? when does this happen? (i feel like save it for a very special moment in time)
-if you are attempting to record your vision, what you see, does it need to be ‘smooth’?

How does your movement vocabulary translate to the camera? what is the vocabulary of camera movement?

Maybe this is an attempt at creating our own gaze. Camera gaze? Multiple Gaze?

Camera Movement Vocabulary:
Camera slides across the floor
Flipping the perspective
Stillness- setting it down
Bird’s eye view
Rotating
Leaving the space
Shakiness
Smooth Movement
Camera tracing dancing motion
Level Change
Speed (variety of speeds)
Rocking
Proximity

Camera Compositions:
-cameras facing each other
-cameras recording other camera’s viewfinder
-cameras turned to face self (selfie)
-revealing yourself as the camera person

What is the body language of the camera person?
What is the quality of the camera movement?
When are you foregrounding the body and when are you foregrounding the camera work- can it be both? Do you have to choose?

 

*The Camera. Amsterdam: Time-Life Books, 1984.

The Maya Project is an improvisational dance filmmaking project that attempts to equate the ephemeral experience of dance improvisation with the permanence of video. This project endeavors to demystify the existence of the camera frame in the room, potentially revealing it as just another compositional tool/stipulation. We employ a democratic process of both space and composition: we are all potential “framers” at every moment: picking up the camera is a choice available to all, and all of the space in whatever room we are in is valued, not just the space being framed by the camera.

Between January and April 2008, we experienced 10 iterations of this project, evolving deeply each time. “Maya’s A-J”.

By the fifth iteration, Maya E, we started to develop a technique and codify a score, which we continue to specify.

Every day we entered the space (eventually without speaking) and started with a meditation, connecting to our breath, harnessing our awareness to the four main points of focus for this piece:

ATTENTION (breathing, meditation, consciousness, presence, awareness)

SPACE (proximity, connecting to distance, understanding how much room we take up, relationship to the air)

GEOMETRY (personal and interpersonal body shape, spatial and body arrangement, angles, moving and static)

FRAME (our eyes as frames, the camera as a frame, the shapes in our bodies and in the room as frames)

After some active practice in evolving these concepts and finding deep understanding of them in our bodies, we would start working with our developing improvisation score.

This included stipulations such as movement vocabulary developed over time as influenced by the body language necessary to hold a camera, when to pick up or put down the camera, and designated spatial relationships to work toward making happen at certain times.

It is also important to note that we were only performing in the sense that we are fulfilling a determined score with our actions and choices. We are really ourselves, really in this room, really making shape and space and time choices in our immediate composing. This idea is not exhibiting or abstracting ideas through movement, or any suspension of disbelief, but rather the opposite: focused, attentive, immediate movement composition with tools of camera, motion, shape, proximity, etc…

Some Key Points that have guided our investigation:
-breaking down the paradigms of “in” (in front) and “out” (behind) the camera

-Approaching the space that is the world inside of the camera as just another “stage”

-Incorporating body language required to hold the camera steady or focus on the image there into our composition as just a part of movement quality designated by the score.

-The concept of “Reveal” (certainly as influenced by Maya Deren’s work) and how it is available in a different way when working with cameras

-Creating a distinct sense of the life in the space outside of the frame (the camera’s “backspace”)
To do this, we incorporated such tools as reflections in the floor and the mirror,
experimenting with and being very comfortable with bodies not being on screen for long periods of time, or camera shake when bodies are moving but not seen.

My collaborators and I consider that there is an inherent power structure and politic imbued in the camera frame, its exclusivity in its pointedness at an “object”, and its potential permanence in comparison with many dance experiences. It is an often singular and often male eye discerning what belongs in the frame and what doesn’t. As a group, we are investigating how these structures can shift inside of a process in which cameras are a part of the exploration just as much as our other tools of improvisation. We wonder about the possibilities of subverting the power of the frame by using the thing in a different way.

Much of the value in this work, I think, requires sitting with it for a period of time. I’m comfortable with that. I’m interested in how it develops as you watch it. In many ways I think it is actually about the development of each iteration in time. 

This is deeply influenced by the work of Maya Deren, early collaborations between Merce Cunningham and Charles Atlas, and may be in conversation with concepts being explored by Margaret Westby in “technofeminism” and also the “humane technology” movement.

Rehearsal 5_2.28.18

Meditation (ATTENTION)

Sitting/Seeing (SPACE)

Walking/Proximity/Movement (GEOMETRY)

Cameras in Play (FRAME)

We are working on addressing the issue of “in” and”out” and starting to break it down. The idea is to queer the space between being behind the camera and in front of the camera and making the entire happening a movement event worth seeing: the cameras represent a frame within a frame.

(I am also interested in queering the space of performance between us and an “audience” but that investigation comes later. Though Ariadne Mikou’s article on “Intermedial Encounters on the Screen” is beginning to inform this line of questioning for me already.)

Some ideas that are investigating which are helping us to soften the space between “in” and “out” for us are:

-What happens to bodies while holding the camera in a way that makes the shots useful for a film “product” and how do we incorporate these specific body needs into our composition instead of ignoring them? What is interesting about making these body needs a part of our score? Is it interesting? What kind of fluctuation of form, speed, and effort is needed in the room? Are the stipulations of the movement required by holding the camera inherently “out”-making? What would be required of us mentally or physically to make this designation less liminal?

-Interaction with the person holding the camera is key: not just interacting with them in reference to the camera frame, but interacting with their entire body: taking ATTENTION, SPACE, and GEOMETRY cues from them in the same way you would if they weren’t holding the camera.

-Claire brought up the concept of ‘cyborg-ing’ when holding the camera. We worked with this concept in mind which helped us to feel more connected to the camera, and helped those who were not holding the camera to sense the camera-holding-person’s body as still a part of the composition.

-Bringing back this idea of our vision as camera frames feels necessary right now. Thinking about composing GEOMETRICALLY and SPATIALLY for this many FRAMES reduces any nervousness or over-consciousness of the actual camera, as well as helps in creating this heightened state of awareness that I am hoping  to cultivate and portray.

Thinking about dancing is limiting.

The more we do this, the more I realize how important the approach to movement creation is for this project: there is a degree of cohesion that needs advancing. The word GEOMETRY is one way in, as well as the word SHAPE. Ideas brought up were thinking about grids and lanes, focusing on mirroring and complementing body angles we see with much of the creative element living within our sense of timing. 

Now that we’re getting a better idea of what this process requires, it’s time to start building a score. I think focusing on our consciousness of the “tech-y-ness” of the space is helpful, offers fodder: the connection to the cellular structure of our selves and the space creates a kind of a grid in and of itself and really affected our movement choices in an unusual way when we worked with it before.

 

 

 

Maya_pic_10.pngMaya_pic_9.pngMaya_pic_8.png

Rehearsal 4_2.21.18

We are back to opening with meditation. We realized last time around that going right into moving without meditation doesn’t create in us the same kind of attention, and attention is one of the things we are most working to build.

The ritual we are building is taking our time to meditate and cultivate a sense of awareness in the space. Then we open our awareness to concentrate on the space, in coordination with thinking about the self as space. How does this change the way we feel and the way we find ourselves in the room and in relationship to one another?

Without speaking, we transfer into walking or moving, still focusing on space and self-as-space. We investigate proximity, distance, and general spatial relationship.

From here, with one camera running, we transitioned into an improvisation considering our vision, not as cameras as we did in week 2, but as films. The real distinguishing factor here is the difference in direction of information. If your vision is the camera, then your eyes are doing the grabbing, it’s an action of reaching out, of seeking. If your vision is a film, then something is being played for you: anything you see already exists, it is headed your direction.

This difference does two things for me. First, it is simply exhausting to be grabbing information actively with your eyeballs for a long duration, which doesn’t leave as much room in our brains for making other choices: having the information come to us is more passive, giving us more space.  Second, I’m really interested in the way thinking about our vision as film changes the way I think about composition- I’m doing less seeking and more noticing. 

While part of this project is the attempt to create space where we are making purposeful decisions with the camera frame about composition and capturing, I am also very interested in feminist creative process and democratizing space, both of which seem to lean more toward noticing. These are complex and sometimes opposing ideas that I’m attempting to have exist in this process all at once, but the push and pull is good fodder.

We talked more about tech in the space and our approaches toward working with it philosophically and compositionally.

In our final few improvisations, we set up cameras A-Rod, Beatrice, and (introduced) Cecilia. A and C were on tripods, first on the edges of the space and then within it. B was available for handheld experimentation.

A big question that came up for me, for working with next time was:

What are the physical limitations that come along with maneuvering the camera?

Is there a way that we can consider these physical limitations as we would consider any other physical limitation?

Is there a way that we can consider these physical limitations as we would any other purposeful limitation of an improvisation score?

How do we maintain the identity of composer and performer at the same time? How can we break down the walls of these identities so that they are not mutually exclusive? Are there steps for this?

How do we avoid the paradox of “in” and “out”?

How can you hold a camera and be composing and still be part of the composition? Is part of this answer in the way the other participants view the person who is holding the camera?

Our main focuses are geometry, space, shape, time, and frame.

We are directors. We are DPs. We are dancers.

In Rehearsal Reflections

-How can you remain “in” while holding the camera? (KNL)

-Can we focus on these qualities of motion when we are not holding the camera? (KNL)

-This is a virtual space in a way because of how technology is involved- it is capturing the final product and we are composing for the frame of the camera so in a way, this space is already tech-fied. (KNL)

-I felt sometimes like the person holding a camera was an outsider. I would forget that they are someone to improvise with and not just for. (BRJ)

-The awkwardness of being watched didn’t seem to be there. (BRJ)

-Geometry within these relationships feels more primary than space as a whole. Maybe that has to do with proximity… (BRJ)

-Seeing was softer today, allowing focus to shift, slowing down. (CM)

-Didn’t know what to do when I had the ceiling and was actually holding Bea. What that looks like to me and what I capture on camera aren’t the same. (CM)

-The pockets and frames that come from our limbs at unexpected moments satisfy me. (CM)

-New sense of contact and touch related to the geometry (CM)

-A way of looking that is empathetic but not in an expected way (CM)

 

 

Rehearsal 2_1.24.18

We set up two cameras to record from the beginning. We repeat what may be a ritual of sitting, breathing, finding ourselves in the space, slowly evolving into walking, and then into improvisation.

We focus our attention again, and more avidly, on space, distance, and pathway.

I think that enhancing our understanding of ourselves in space, how much we take up, and our distances, is one key to understanding this idea of the frame of the camera and its specific digital space.

We measure ourselves in space walking, moving, standing still.

We reflect on the cameras, on our improvisations, on our actual feelings currently in this space and time.

I think that this is also key to the process: as my interest is in removing the feeling of necessity of pretend that can be inherent in filmmaking: we pretend that we didn’t do this take 50 times in a row in order to get this shot the way we wanted it. This is a wonderful, purposeful way of filmmaking, of course, but I am interested in trying something else for this project. I am interested in the investigation of immediate craftsmanship, of momentary problem solving, and in how we can make those kinds of choices with a camera. Within this framework, it is not actually useful to do any pretending.

The camera is there. We do not pretend it isn’t. How does that feel different?

We are choreographing for the camera frame. We do not pretend that we aren’t. How does that feel different?

What possibilities are available to us when we are making ourselves available to what is actually in the room? What possibilities are not available to us for the same reasons?

We spent time considering our own vision as a frame. What are its limits? What can you see and what can’t you? We improvised, all considering our own visual frames as camera frames. We improvised with only two of us considering our visual frames as camera frames. We reflected on the differences.

Some reflections from this rehearsal process from all of us:

-Seeing with ‘camera vision’ does something distinctly different to my body. I started to make interesting choices about frame and movement and reveal. How and when did I want something to appear or disappear? How fast? At what angle? (KNL)
-With only 2 people as cameras, there was a disparity created between the group which was palpable. (KNL)
-Squares and lines (KM)
– the squareness of space?
-kinesphere
-square frame
-Is inspiration coming from inside or from visual field (KM)
-When I am being a camera, I lose sight of all other cameras (KM)
-I think using vision in this way might slow time and action. Something about the speed of processing… (KM)
-Having the two non-human cameras in the space was important as a mover. It made me feel like I was making important decisions even though the human camera didn’t catch them. (BRJ)
-I’m interested in why this switch from being a camera to being a non-camera was less satisfying. Was it because my task was missing a piece that was added? Was it the desire to be interesting? (BRJ)
-I went from all these internal shifts of memory and emotion to very concetrated present moment sight oriented awareness. (CM)
-Touch changed, it was easy but not as sensitive. (CM)
-The practice got easier and then harder. My limbs became ways of adjusting scale or perspective. (CM)

For the first few weeks, we are throwing out all of the footage. I think this will contribute to a slow accumulation of ease with the feeling of the camera. Eventually we will begin to review footage in rehearsal time to discuss what we are seeing, what seems to be ‘working’ for us, whatever that means.

 

I dub this project ‘Maya’, hoping for the influences of Mayas Angelou, Deren, and Lin, in honor of poetry, frame, and landscape.

Maya is an investigation of improvisational filmmaking and the demystification of the making of dance films and the camera lens by incorporating the concept of the camera frame into the creative process from the very beginning. We ask questions about the philosophical nature of having the camera in the room. What does it feel like for something you’re doing to be recorded? Can we learn to use the camera frame as only a choreographic tool, demystifying any psychology we personally have attached to it, turning it into a frame, an opportunity, and not a matter of pretend? Can we train to compose within this frame immediately, the same way that we compose immediately through improvisation on a stage? Can we come to know this digital frame so well that it is just another form of space? What is it to bring forth our knowledge (make immediate choices from our embodied histories) through movement in the moment in the interest of the future (the film)? Can we consider all of this time in our bodies at once? What happens if we try?

This concept is becoming. We are developing it each minute and many of these ideas are wrong or bad or won’t work. I’m looking very much forward to the neurons we’ll gain by the failures we’ll experience.

“Indeed- you might ask yourself what it is that makes good improvisation.”
“Eschewing “product-hood” and resisting commodifications, improvisation emphasized presence and change.” (Vida Midgelow)

We calculate distances as if they referred to our own bodies”
“Any tool and its precise manipulation presupposes the space of the body.” (José Gil)

“The direction we take excludes things for us before we even get there.”
“Lines are both created by being followed and followed by being created.” (Sara Ahmed)

“When you see what you want, you’ll recognize it, but it won’t be entirely yours. It will belong to the material you’ve trusted.”
“Try breaking the rules on a ‘need to break the rules’ basis.”
“Nothing is ever wasted.”
“Choose people and trust them implicitly.” (Jonathan Burrows)

Rehearsal 1_ 1.17.18

Cameras are in the space from the start. We bring awareness to them. One only is running.

We name the cameras ‘Aye’ and ‘Bea’.

We four dancers take time to re-discuss the concept, hopes, and goals of this project. We sit in our bodies, breathe and notice ourselves in space. We open our eyes and consider how much room we take up. We walk and consider our relationship to space, our size, the distance between us and the walls, floor, ceiling, other bodies. This develops into a movement improvisation. We reflect on our improvisation, the feel of the camera frame on us: the yucks and the yums of this opening.

We do several more timed improvisations, relating to one another, considering the frame of the camera. We move the cameras to different parts of the space. We reflect on the difference between the feel of one camera and many and what it feels like when they are in different parts of the space.

What happens when we have the agency to move the cameras?

What happens when a camera is moved to focus on what we are doing?

From whence comes the instinct to make the decision to change the camera frame?

How much do you consider what you’re doing and how much do you consider what you are seeing?

Is the camera “downstage?”

What can we do that the camera can’t?

What can the camera do that we can’t?

What can we all do?