As I am pregnant and just went on maternity leave I find myself in a unique situation where I have more than a year before I will submit my final thesis in May 2021 of a dance-based practice MFA at the Danish National School of Performing Arts. So I have time to reflect, read find a direction, research and write (the other 5 artists in my program will submit already this May 2020!). I don't want to get lost in time as I'm also becoming a mom of two and life has its way of filling up. So in order to keep a thread of thought alive in this curvy thesis process I'm venturing on, I've decided to start this blog diary page. Here I will share the process as it's coming along when it's coming along and anything else that turns up relevant. I hope that the transparent blog format will be helpful and engaging also for others, and am welcoming reflections and comments from anyone that would like to engage.
I'm posting here a video 'sum up' of an artistic research project I did this past December (2019) Which is the first stab in finding a direction towards how to share alternate gravity and how to explore its experience and values.
More explanations and thoughts below the video...:-) thanks for visiting this blog!
Leading up to...
My interests continuously gravitate towards pretty big and abstract concepts such as perspectives on reality and its perception, gravity and it’s ‘alternate options’ and using vertical dance to explore concepts of the body relating to the space it exists in. Huge terms always need further definitions in order to be explored and communicated, So I needed to zoom in on a specific topic in order to begin. For this research, I have been focusing on the idea of sharing the experience of being in an alternate gravity state. Instead of performing for others as I normally do I constructed a one-on-one mini-lab and invited persons of various backgrounds to have a taste of how it is to work in an aerial dance system that can play and alter the sensation of gravitational forces on the body. This exploration is a way to come out of the intimate but also a limited shell of the performer/choreographer role that I have often where the experience is quite deep but also only within, and to explore what are other peoples experiences? How do they explore and play? Do we share similar reactions? or do people respond completely differently both in the negative and the positive?
Why the moon…?
During the planning stages of the experiment, while I was trying to figure the HOW of the sharing, my thesis supervisor Camille Buttingsrud dropped me a note to check out the book A neurophenomenology of Awe and Wonder by Shaun Gallagher et al. This book explores the concepts of Awe and Wonder from the perspective of astronauts orbiting around the earth. The astronaut’s interviews include vivid descriptions of the view on earth and of the overview effect that has the potential to be life-changing and spiritually/emotionally impactful. Shaun and his team recreated an astronaut’s experience in order to explore further the overwhelming feeling one can have when placed in front of such a unique viewpoint as your home planet. Two things drew my attention, the first was the observation of how well do we humans know about what it’s like to be in space even though most of us have never even come close. The familiarity with space is due to popular culture, films, photos, media reports and so on. The second thing was that in Gallagher and his colleague’s research when they decided to make a recreation of the astronaut’s experience in orbit, they chose to focus primarily on the visual sense, that they deemed as most relevant and recreated the same view that one would see from space. They did not make any attempt to include the sensation of microgravity which would be the ‘air’ the body’s of the astronauts would be immersed in.
This made me think, maybe I could do that part of the research. Like a little sister from afar, without permission, I could follow similar steps and questions the Awe and Wonder team followed, only I would focus on the microgravity. The advantage this would provide would be a clear idea of ‘where we are’ when it came to alternate gravity, instead of trying to come up with the right instructions, concepts to describe this alternate gravity in the aerial dance system, I could simply adjust it to be familiar. We will go to the moon. Now an image comes to mind and it could be much easier to invite participants to enter the experiment.
So I built the experiment around the idea of an image and imagination rather than a technical construction. This choice gave both me and the participants a clear frame, as well as the freedom to enter and explore.
Going forward I have to figure out if I’d like to stick with the moon and go even deeper, explore other types of spaces or venture towards other types of experiments altogether. It all depends on that chore question which should lead the research, a question I still can’t figure out what is!! As I have become only more curious in much more than one direction...