This project has been made possible by a grant from the Creative Arts Council of Brown University.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Re-articulating some fundamentals

In reflecting on what I am doing in this project, I could describe it as working with fragments of the building's past (documents, memories, images) to make an interesting piece of dance at an interesting site. While this is what is happening on the surface, I do not want to lost sight of some of the deeper motivations for my interest in place-based dance work. Ultimately, what I am doing is an alternative archaeological engagement with place; this work is exploring what it means to (re)present, recycle, and constantly re-mediate a place, where material place is tied up with people. My research activities in the archives, on-site, and with others has not involved collecting for the sake of collecting and accumulating information, but instead has undertaken the collecting because it is a process in which the material is re-processed, re-mediated, re-searched: a conversation becomes a digital (non-material?) sound file on a (material) voice recorder, it becomes a blog post, it becomes performed, choreographed and improvised movements that are translated and mediated through the body of a dancer at the site (as well as not at the site, for example, when we are working in studio space). Mediation is an important word here. To cite the definition of mediation that gets at the heart of what I am interested in doing:

[mediation] refers to articulating aspects of the material world-- something of the locality, multiplicity and materiality-- that are often sieved away by paper-based modes of documentation...mediation is a means of translating things that we talk about but cannot accurately sum up. It is a way of manifesting something of the ineffable 1

This work is about engaging and experimenting with the processes by which we interact with and experience places and things across time. Within this work, several mediations occur, but the ultimate focus is the body as a mediator of and communicator about material place; the body employs a visceral, kinetic knowledge that articulates the site beyond visual and linguistic ways of knowing.

1 Christopher L. Witmore, "Symmetrical Archaeology: Excerpts of a Manifesto", World Archaeology 39.4 (2007): 554. 

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