Working with camera

Early in the residency we spent some time in the beginning investigations of the relationship between dancer and videographer. This is an area we are interested in exploring further and in more depth. For the moment here are two Quicktime video clips in MPEG-4 format. The first video is some static camera footage we captured of Dianne filming us. This was a performance for camera and we were allowing the dance of the camera to influence our own choreography. Click on the image to load the Quicktime in a new window.

video still from camera

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During the week Dianne documented much of our work - including the three showings we had on Tues, Weds and Thurs night. This following clip is a short edit of footage from these showings that Dianne put together. We projected this footage in the foyer on the final Monday night performance. Click on the image to load the quicktime in a new window.

video still from edit

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6 Responses to “Working with camera”

  1. Simon Says:

    This site is my only experience of Excavate. I didn’t see the work in Canberra or Melbourne, but between about the 18th of August and now (8 Sept) I have been digging around the site - looking, reading, thinking. So I thought I’d write a brief response to what I have experienced, not what I have seen of you both in the past (and our various shared histories - in different contexts: sound artist, contact partner, dancing partner, class mate, video artist, friends), nor what I imagine the live performance was like. I have been wondering about this idea a lot - of resisting the temptation to ask questions of what isn’t (or wasn’t) there, and respond simply to what I see/hear/read.

    So - this is about the video. And oddly enough, given what I have just written, I am struck by the absence of sound. It seems to somehow “objectify” what I am seeing (amplified further by the “out of nowhere” edits), as if plucking you away from the sounds of the performance arena, and compressing you into Quick(normal)Time makes what I see MORE real, and gives me the space/time to see and notice … whilst I sit here in a bad Ikea chair, dog next to my feet, having just eaten a ruby red grapefruit (grilled).

    I also witness the vernacular of contact improvisation (e.g. 15 seconds in, and 24 seconds in) - and it always, in a performance context, leaves me questioning the idea of improvisation … it seems a paradox to have an improvised vernacular; a paradox placed even further into the foreground by your physical/emotional ease with each other (did I see this, or do I know this from the past?). I am drawn to moments of surprise - 42 seconds in, and 56 seconds in (especially). I imagined Jacob that you left David on the wall for about 7:23 minutes whilst you busted a whole lot of moves - solo man.

    I see elsewhere that you call it “spontaneous choreography” - and it made me think (whilst walking aforementioned dog in park with swings, woodchips, and a tall skinny man drinking water in the community garden) that this is somehow different from improvisation … but isn’t all choreography, at some point, spontaneous? Or maybe the work I make is “Contrived choreography” (not that this is about me me me). Which reminds me that in 5th form art (or School Certificate Art as it was called in NZ in 1984 when “The Reflex” by Duran Duran was doing very nicely) that my teacher (a strange man, who coincidentally, or “ironically” as the Americans would say, was a former ballet dancer) accused a sketch I did of an old house on Oriental Parade as being “contrived” (well, he accused me, not the drawing). He even made me step close to him so he could whisper it in my ear, as if that made it more important.

    You both look scruffy - as if kids whose parents don’t look after them properly, or at least don’t mend their clothes.

    In the smaller video, seeing Ms Reid in there, I got interested in who was behind the second (seeing) camera. Nobody I imagine. But Dianne’s presence reminded me that I am seeing through a lens of sorts.

    I think I’ll stop there.

    As Lloyd Cole sings:
    Read Norman Mailer
    Or get a new tailor
    Are you ready to be heartbroken?
    Are you ready to bleed?
    What would it take
    What would it take to wipe that smile off of your face?

    See you both soon.

  2. Simon Says:

    Put your hands on your head.

  3. Dianne Reid Says:

    crikey…i’ve been called all sorts but never a lens of sorts.
    Ms. Reid

  4. Simon Says:

    Well - you know I wasn’t calling YOU a lens of sorts - it was more like you made me more aware of the recording camera (ie the one I was “looking through” - not the one you were looking through). But then, if you don’t mind “a lens of sorts”, I am happy to call you that from this day forward. Crikey is a word people don’t use often enough. As in, “Crikey, there goes A Lens Of Sorts”.
    Cheers, Procrastinator in Windsor.

  5. dc Says:

    lovely to have you both commenting. i am really pleased that the documentation of our work is gathering voices and thoughts (hmmm i might make a new post about this) and also that, for me, i have a sense of our community being involved in and influencing the work.

    on reading the above comments i was interested in the ‘venacular of contact’ and what you (simon) were considering a paradox.

    firstly, i think the idea of conversation as an analogy for a contact improvisation duet is a useful one in many circumstances - possibly the most useful being when teaching. to illustrate the balance between responding and initiating in a contact improvisation duet we can use the analogy of a ‘good’ conversation where one is able to listen and respond to the other person, allowing the conversation to take a particular direction. as opposed to, say, a conversation where one person just won’t stop talking (had any of those dances?). as with any analogy this will break down and i think that where it breaks down links into this idea of a venacular or common language of contact.

    while there is no doubt that there are movement patterns or even ‘moves’ that exist in this form i feel less sure about there being a defined language or venacular. i partly think this because the contact dance i’m having is founded on primarily physical principles (of course there is a lot more going on, particularly in a performance context). when i am applying these principals in my dance i find that i am not always moving in the same pathways. and further, when i am applying the pracitse of ‘not knowing’ and a rigorous listening/awareness i find that even within the known pathways there is much varience and individuation in the moment. so in that respect i wonder about the possibility of defining a vernacular. and perhaps this is in fact the paradox you (simon) were referring to.

    more thoughts soon


  6. Simon Says:

    Place your hand on your chin.

    David - briefly - I have no doubt whatsoever that you are are “not always moving in the same pathways”, and that there is enormous variation etc. This is clearly a strength of the way you and Jacob approach CI (from what I have seen of you around the traps when I wasn’t cracking ribs). But, what I was thinking about was what I was VIEWING in the video material - in recognising aspects of a CI vernacular (however different they may have FELT to you). Just as when one listens to another language (from afar) much of the nuance is lost in the listening …?
    And just to play devil’s advocate a little more (not that he needs advocacy), the problem* with a form that has aspects that are now known by name (flying, surfing as simple examples) strongly implies a “defined language or vernacular”. Perhaps the naming of these actions “causes” the movement to possess a vernacular, and is an inevitable part of the development of CI — I seem to remember Nancy S-S saying something about this — but perhaps my memory is a touch shifty.

    * It isn’t really a problem as such, just something that perhaps can be embraced without necessarily undermining the complexity, and foundations of the movement “form”??

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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