Improvisational relations: Interactive screen practices, refiguring subjectivities

Jan 2013
While many dance improvisation practices focus upon qualities of presence and the importance of being ‘in the moment’, a review of these same practices reveals a lexicon that is full of terms suggestive of territories, journeys, flows, connectivities, metamorphosis and transformations.  Conceived in nomadic terms as established by Rosie Braidotti, many improvisation practices evoke ‘the kind of subject who has relinquished all idea, desire, or nostalgia for fixity’. ‘This figuration’, she continues, ‘expresses the desire for an identity made of transitions, and coordinated changes’ (1994: 22).

Like nomads, improvisers are comfortable with transitions and change, they do not cling to illusions of permanence and stability in their dance. Instead they enact a kind of embodiment that celebrates processes to emphasize emergence and becoming. I argue therefore, that improvisation enables our understanding of knowledge and subjectivity to be unfixed and deterritorialized, whilst being grounded and located in the materiality of the body and the places in which we dance.

Through interactive technologies it becomes possible, I propose, to extend the notion of nomadism, and the ethical relations between dancers evident within improvisation practices, to an audience. This stage of the project will elaborate upon a range of interactive practices and share the development of my own performance work in this field - a large scale, multi-screen installation using senor technologies to enable audiences to establish an improvised relational practice to the images on screen. 

While not intending to use particularly new or innovative technologies, the installation will seek through the triggering of organically dislocated, yet mapped movement to evoke particularized connectivities between audience, image and space, creating structures which give substance to a nomadic ethics in practice.

Feb 2013
I have bought in Nic Sandiland ( ) to work with me on this project. 
Nic and I have begun to think through the potential of  low cost senor technologies for this project. The utilization of commercially available interactive systems such as wii fit and xbox 360 seem likely options that, with some reprogramming, can work with Isadora Software, to enable the audiences body to interact with the video screen.

I a particularly interested in how the sensors help bring the viewers attention to the interiors of their bodies - through balance for instance - such that the smallest of shifts in the viewer (and on screen) can form a sensory feedback loop and generate a connection through a digital interface.

Some thoughts that seem important in terms of relational features and heightened subjectivities through this work:

the body as (shifting ) home.....
'The flesh, bones and memories of the body as formed with/in shifting geographies and histories are home and this home is return to again and again. Yet, whilst carrying this home with us, it is not static, it is ever changing in and through time. As our cells die and are replaced, our muscles work, rest, ache, as we age and change, and our memories reconfigure as every revisiting to form a new layer, a new body map is created.'

re-experiencing the body.... 
'From representations in photographs to a repositioning of these as imagined locations in the (my) body, and from here to a material embodied encounter as physical and emotional sensation. It is in these shifts of encounter and the sensate, that the possibilities of the dancing body as a reimagined, re-experienced ‘home’, are strong, pulling me deeply into their fold, such that whilst many others dance around me I am engulfed within the embodied experience of moving.'
the not-i with myself...
 'Actualizing dancing as otherness, and the alterity of the not-I within the ‘I’, as well as with the Other that is within me, the improviser as polyglot enables home be formed not in the nostalgia of the known – but in a figuration that is complex and that encompasses changing, shifting landscapes of the unknown.'

 (From Midgelow, Vida (2013) ‘The Braidottian Nomad in/as Improvised Movement Practices’, Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation).

Indicative Bibliography
Braidotti, Rosi (2006) Transpositions: On Nomadic Ethics. Cambridge: Polity Press.
___            (2006) ‘Posthuman, all too human: towards a new process ontology’, Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 23.
___            (2002) Metamorphoses: towards a materialist theory of becoming, Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press.
___            (1994) Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press.

Broadhurst, Susan and Machon, Jo (eds) (2009 and 2012) Sensualities/Textualities and Technology: Writings of the Body in 21st Century Performance, Basingstoke & NY: Palgrave Macmillan
___            (2012)  Identity, Performance and Technology: Practices of empowerment, embodiment and technicity, Basingstoke & NY: Palgrave Macmillan

Fischlin, Daniel (2009) Improvisation and the Unnameable: On Being Instrumental’,  Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation, Vol 5, No 1, (2009). Web.    

Dolphinjn, Rick and van der Tuin, Iris (2012) New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies, Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press.

Kozel, Susan (2007) Closer: Performance, Technologies, Phenomenology, Massachusetts and London: MIT Press.

Midgelow, Vida (2013) ‘The Braidottian Nomad in/as Improvised Movement Practices’, Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation. Web.

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