This is a blog entry for the Investigating Cross Borders Collaborative Works dance lab at Bundanon Artists Center in New South Wales, Australia from November 14-24, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The proposal: Each participant holds a roll of the same kind of red string. The first to go ties the end to an object on the landscape, then stretches the string out to an another point on the landscape and attaches it there and so on, until their string comes to its end. The next person ties their string to the end of the previous line and continues along as they see fit. As all the rolls of string is consumed, the group returns to the Dorothy Potter studio to discuss their thoughts on the activity.
Doris thanks everyone for participating and shares how very interesting it was to watch the variety of shapes and dimensions the activity provided, very informative.
Cat says she observed how the string interestingly changed function, particularly how it had changed for Latai, from the function it served all that came before her.
Latai shares that the act of observing was equally important to the person being observed, “The way they were doing it and the sites they were applying it to. There were many ways you could read it.” Initially, she says, they were just lines and boundaries between people depending where you were, then transforming into a “subtle or covert violence in where the strings were being placed.” There were “Really rich moments, and multiple readings of the action.”
Vicki says she felt violent when she wrapped the string around grass, and she wanted to let the string go where it wanted to. She couldn’t go through with that, however, as it “felt a little bit out of control. Funny how you can have an attachment to how you feel about it.”
Latai also notes that the way you applied the string depended on how the one who went before you did it.
“And interesting how we chose to be next,” Vicki adds.
Doris adds that how the knots connected also informed the exercise in both process and practice.
Simon shares that what he found interesting was the relationship of the people with the strings. “When it ran out, was it relief? Or sadness that the string was gone? And how they got rid of it (the thing that held the string when it was rolled up, what do you call that? – Joelle) or kept it in your pocket.”
Latai mentions how she appreciated Rhiannon and Leigh’s handover, how it was a “very delicate, precious thing.”
“Like an offering,” Simon agrees.
“As with the handover from Doris to, ” Vicki adds, “Like handing over a secret.”
“There was also the ownership of the string,” Simon raises, “Having this object and seeing what you’re gonna do with it, and working with another dimension. Seeing how people reacted, when it’s your turn, you’re just, ‘Take it in your hands and run!’ But also the aspect of time, Do I do this really quickly or slowly, is this gonna end or not? It really tested my patience. Then, when it ran out, shit!
Latai she likes how the string worked well with the architecture of the Bundanon Artist’s Centre, and Jerome liked how it worked in the open space. “In an open space, you have to ask where to connect? The environment forces you to find strategies to connect to the next, and what’s available for you.”
Cat says they should go out again and document where the string goes and where they connect to, “Kind of a mind map.”
Rhiannon finds interesting the differences between the long and short distances, “where the string went into the curvy things.”
Ly Ly says she observed that it was like drawing on paper, and wonders what could have happened if they created the idea for the string first. Vicki tells her that her bit of string “looks like it was flying, like it came from nowhere,” animating “that whole space.”
From a videographer’s perspective, Vicki shared that from a certain distance, you couldn’t see the line, describing the bearer of the string as a “this charismatic being that everyone was following you and you couldn’t see why.” Vicki was first trying to see the string, then, failing that, decided to see the people, and therefore saw, “The decision and the space, the handover, the intimacy. Later it became how to frame you.” She says it was “Satisfying as a movement premise.”
Ly Ly adds that it was as much what happened to the string as what they were doing to it. When Margie started to cover the string, the string was still there but underground, transforming somehow.”
Rhiannon agrees how external tools came into play, how the soil became the object you were working with.
Margie likes the “Visibility and non-visibility of it, the sense of focus as to whether it’s there or not there.”
Ly Ly also comments on Vicki’s movement, how she paralleled the movement of the string while taking the video.
Leigh asks the group if this provoked an idea or a tier of an idea they would like to explore, and to drive this forward, maybe something will spring from the exercise. He suggests to go beyond the string to see what might be there to explore.
Jerome discusses the relationship of the people with the string, how people follow the line, jump over it, how the line dissected the space, etc. Rhiannon adds where the people would stand, and “how they would stand in that area near the holder of the string.”
Cat talks about her own relationship to the string, of the “marginal events in that space. Now when I pass that area, I think of what happened there.
It’s just a focusing of the space.”
“Of activating it,” Vicki nods.
“When the trajectory first started, it was very straight and linear, a kind of insecurity, where can we attack and occupy,” Fu Kuen comments. “When walked into the field, it became a materiality of the string. It became something else, became decoration. The whole string property changed.
Intimate and very subjective because of the way the string was used to make another reality rather than be subjected to the architecture. When you started to wrap nature, it became like a ritual and really took on a different subjectivity.
“By the time you reached Margie, you began to deny it, cast it out of bounds. In a way, it was a dissolved dissolution. I didn’t expect that when we went into the fields, that it would take this character.”
Jerome asks the group if anyone wanted another roll.
Simon says he did, and wanted to go back to the tractor. “String had another impact on the area,” he observes. “We chose this space, but there was another area that you could discover.”
Jerome then poses, what if the string was not red, what if it was clear? How would this affect how it was used? Doris replies that she chose red because she wanted it to be visible. “So it’s interesting what Vicki said that it disappears.”
Margie talks of the term of “the red line,” how things are not defined and delineated. She also spent time taking different shots with different thicknesses, playing with a different sharpness, and planned to condense this sharpness, and experiment on reframing and rescaling.
Rhiannon comments on how the joining of the string was an actual frame, “the distance it captures.”
Fitri suggests that they start to do the whole process again but in the fields where there aren’t any fixed objects. What happened was they began with a place full of fixed solid objects so there were lots of choices, very different from going into the fields. It would also be interesting, she says, to attach the string to oneself and attach the string to everyone, and find slackness and tautness, and a whole different set of intimacy. They could also try to now retrace the line that’s there and just walk that path and see how it feels and see he responses to it now that everything is in place.
Vicki responds that she “would like to do that in my time, might generate some movement.” She’s thinking of imposing objects into the space and how they belong in the space, speaking of “How we have a relationship to the things that are no longer there.”
“The string is an alien force,” Vicki observes, “I didn’t differentiate the trees from the houses, they are here but just different.” Simon jokes about the difference being the spider welcoming you to the country. Vicki laughs then says, “The birds don’t differentiate between the house and the trees.”
Simon then talks about, in his country, walking into a new environment, he talks to the place and makes sure that it’s okay to move into the enviroment.
Vicki talks of the juxtaposition of the unnatural and the natural in this environment, but more that she has lost a movement focus. I’m creating images but don’t know how to get it to resonate in my body, there’s no physical response. The images have some line or something I can follow, but needs to have a purpose, have a physical response. I don’t want to just respond to the line.
Leigh assures her that not knowing how is important. “You can’t know if you wish to go somewhere, if you want to discover something. Maybe it’s a process you go through, people are lending to us this particular pathway. There may be a physical response for someone else to transform. It’s not a line in space, not from the body, but maybe a process within this particular grouping of people, maybe that moment will arrive.”
“The purpose is communication that may inspire that thing you speak,” Leigh continues. “It may not be immediate, it may in time or in distant time trigger something. But for now, you collected something, and some time later it makes sense. The purpose may come much later.”
Please refer to this initial entry as a backgrounder on the lab. You can see the original blog at http://crossborderscollaborative.wordpress.com