Rehearsal 7_ 3.28.18

We’re really onto something here.

We rehearsed with a box this time to see if it would help give us options for setting the camera down. I don’t know that it made a huge difference, but we will try again. It’s hard to pay attention to new players when we’ve been building this so deeply.

Light is consuming my thoughts.

Moving forward, improvising with lighting is going to need to be a part of our training too.

We have one more rehearsal before our shoot. We have a ritual set up now, entering the space and getting right to work. This will be how we have our next rehearsal and will be how we proceed on shoot day.

I’m feeling unattached to making decisions about costume – I think because the choices we’ve made so far have ended up being interesting each time.

We still have questions about what would be the optimal space, but that is one reason that I’ll be taking the section we get from this piece into a feedback session. Hopefully this will give me information about how to proceed with this project.

The score is settled, from here we just work to get it deeper into our bodies.

Rehearsal 6_3.7.18

It’s Working!

Our process is streamlining. We are beginning with the cameras earlier and with greater dexterity.

The foundation of this work is strong now: our sense of motion, proximity, shape, spatial relationship within the concept of frame is really solidifying. It is becoming quite clear in the video relics of these rehearsals that our aesthetic is taking shape and our choices are becoming purposeful.

This rehearsal we started to work with improvisation rules:

  • when someone touches a wall, the person holding the camera puts it down
  • whenever someone is holding the camera, someone must be actively “duet-ing” with them: whatever that means (this could include proximity, body shape, quality, timing, or any other number of things that could be considered active duet relationship)
  • each individual had a series of camera manipulations to fulfill

We worked with many different rules which was helpful for structure and for heightening the sense of ATTENTION in the room.

There are at least two qualities that are now occurring in the film relics that I am watching of our rehearsals that excite me greatly:

  1. The distinct sense of the space outside of the frame as being alive (viewer recognition of the camera’s backspace)
  2. The prominence of the concept of reveal

The next step is working on an improvisational movement score which even further helps to underscore that which we are trying to do: democratize the space, create a state of heightened awareness, enhance the potential for a viewer’s sense of the space outside of the frame, amplify our listening and purposeful crafting for the frames of the camera(s) and the other people in space.

This week we are off. We meet again on Wednesday, March 31. Our shoot date is Wednesday, April 11.

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.

 

 

 

2.27.18

Leading a Maya experiment:

Short Maya Description I wrote as a reminder for leading this short workshop in the techniques we are investigating in the Maya project:

Maya is an improvisational dance filmmaking project which attempts to demystify the existence of the camera frame in the room, potentially revealing it as just another compositional tool/stipulation.

We recognize that in some ways it is considered that there is an inherent power structure and politic imbued in the camera frame, its potential permanence in comparison with many dance experiences, oft ephemeral. We wonder what these things mean or how they change in a process in which we consider the frame only as a compositional tool, in a process where the cameras are a part of the exploration just as much as our other tools of improvisation: motion, time, shape, space, etc…

What happens when we approach the space that is the world created by real world images inside the camera, as just another stage?

We began this investigation with this explanation followed by a short meditation, breathing and garnering our attention.
As we honed our attention, I led us to begin thinking about the space in our bodies, the space around our bodies, and the space in the room.
We moved out into space, only walking at first, and began investigating proximity and geometry.
While this was happening, people individually walked over to investigate the way the room looked through the camera frame.
We stopped for a moment and I brought to our attention the four qualities that we are focusing on:

ATTENTION

SPACE

GEOMETRY

FRAME

With this information, we picked up moving again, starting to consider our vision as a camera frame.
Continuing this, I brought Camera A, followed by Camera B, into play for passing around and making purposeful framing choices.
We took time at the end of this to reflect on our experiences.

 

My own notes:
In our weekly Maya rehearsals, we are investigating with four people. In this experience, we were working with eight people. Composing with more people was very interesting: it gave us the opportunity to make way more spatial relationships, so each individual person could do so much less and still have a lot happening. Shape and space relationships with people holding the camera are easier because there can be so much stillness and so much motion at the same time with so many people. There is just inevitably greater variety of space and shape and speed.

Considering eyes as cameras the entire time makes the whole room feel more in play: makes it feel less like the only thing “happening” is what is happening in front of the camera: composing for your framem and other peoples’ frames and the camera frame.

maya_pic_6_SP18.png

Rehearsal 3_2.7.18

Two weeks of thinking and review went into this rehearsal, as we did not hold rehearsal last week due to conflicts.

The same will be true of the coming week. I will be filthy rich and boiling over with ideas by the time our next rehearsal comes round.

We began today walking through the room, again concentrating on space: the shape of space, the shape of ourselves in space, proximity to each other, the walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the like.

I brought into the room the image of google maps in Virtual Reality. This brought up discussion about
-points in space,
-sensors in space and on our bodies,
-backspace: what we see and what we sense,
-the concept of “tech-ify-ing” the space with our minds
THIS idea about tech and our minds brought more conversation about our relationship with technology and what it does to our bodies, which is much of what is curious to me about this process with the cameras. How interesting for it to show up from another angle!

We moved into some deep and physical improvisations focusing on this image of the room as a Virtual Reality space, and it brought really different kinds of movement out of our bodies. Initiations were coming from parts of the body and taking on qualities that were unusual and exciting.

Moving on from this idea, but keeping the knowledge of it in the space, we moved into duets with the cameras: both people moving but one person in charge of holding the camera: switching back and forth between who was holding the camera.

After a few rounds of this, we moved into this same exercise, improvising as a quartet. This started to happen anyway pretty quickly.

We started just improvising with the cameras on, not worried too much about considering the frame of the camera.
Then we tried making more conscious choices with the frame of the camera.

Some reflections from this rehearsal:
-Who is in charge and what do they see? (KL)
-Is this a sextet or a quartet? (KL)
-How much space do cameras take up? see? (KL)
-Heightened awareness- activating the space. We started to make some distinct choices about composition toward the end. (KL)
-I was a bit taken by being a moving frame and wanted to see it right away. (CM)
-What happens to a face when it meets a camera or looks past a camera to someone else’s face (CM)
-When there was a clear or mutually known relationship between subject and camera it was exciting to find that in moments of doing without prior planning. (CM)
-There is a specific intimacy to filming one person (CM)
-Surprised at how this version makes me think more about how I’m seen than camera in place even though both are specific and not human sight. (CM)
-reaching out and in at the same time (KM)
-Alive (KM)
-Split attention to outer and inner (KM)
-Red light beaming (KM)
-How can we connect beyond making moving lines in space? (KM)
-Something happens in a human’s body and while the actual thing wasn’t caught on camera, the movement of it was. I could be holding the camera and see someone else with my eyes, the catching of that shake in my body makes the footage shake. (BRJ)
-It’s a long game of telephone. (BRJ)
-I felt very aware of Beatrice because of her light (BRJ) (Regarding Camera B)
-I thought for a moment that all my cells were cameras, and the camera was another cell. (BRJ)

It is hard, HARD, right now to hold the camera and move. It’s too early yet in this process for us to know exactly how to compose and be moving at the same time. I am not interested at the moment as much in what kind of accidental footage we get while we are moving. I am more interested in how we can be constant fluctuating partitioners in this process of seeing what is happening in the space. I am interested in how our ideas of framing the space can be improvisational with our movement, without thinking of ourselves as “in” or “out” for moments. Can this all be a cohesive, ambiguous space of viewing and doing?

I am editing together a tiny clip from this rehearsal to be posted upon completion.

Onward.

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?