Choreo-graphic Figures: Beginnings + Emergences
Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line is an interdisciplinary research collaboration involving artist Nikolaus Gansterer, choreographer Mariella Greil, and writer-artist Emma Cocker, for investigating the nature of ‘thinking-in-action’ or ‘figures of thought’ produced as the practices of drawing, choreography and writing enter into dialogue, overlap and collide.
Central is an attempt to find ways of better understanding and making tangible the process of research ‘in-and-through practice’ — the unfolding decision-making, the thinking-in-action, the dynamic movements of ‘sense-making’, the durational ‘taking place’ of something happening live — and for asserting the epistemological significance of this habitually unseen or unshared aspect of the artist’s, choreographer’s or writer’s endeavour.
Our research enquiry unfolds through two interconnected aims: we are interested in the nature of ‘thinking-feeling-knowing’ operative within artistic practice, and seek to develop systems of notation (and exposition) for sharing and reflecting on this often hidden or undisclosed aspect of the creative process. Through this specific exposition — Beginnings and Emergences — our intent is to share findings from the prologue phase and year one of our three-year research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, during which we have explored how various processes of ‘beginning’ performed within live artistic activity might create the conditions for processes of emergence to arise. The intent is to share some of the ‘figures’ developed within this research project for articulating ‘beginning’ within a collaborative artistic process (e.g. Figure of Circulation, Figure of Shared Vibrations, Figure of Clearing, Ordering and Emptying Out, Figure of Touch and Reaching Towards the Other), alongside reflecting on and attending to the process of emergence within artistic labour itself – a process we have called ‘figuring’. Figuring – we use this term to describe those imperceptible or barely perceptible movements and transitions at the cusp of awareness within the process of “sense-making”: the moments of revelation, epiphany, synchronicity, of change in tack or direction or pace, the decision to stop, do something different, begin again. Figuring manifests within those threshold moments within the creative process that are often hard to discern but which ultimately shape and steer the direction of the evolving activity. Our research involves cultivating practices of attention (a perceptual heightening, hyper-sensitizing, sharpening of alertness) for noticing these emergent figurings within the process of creative activity, and devising systems of notation for identifying, marking and even tentatively naming these processes of emergence.
In developing this exposition, our intent has been to remain faithful to the process of investigation itself. Rather than being conclusive, our exposition reflects the process of its own production; itself a diagramming of the multiple and at times competing forces and energies operative within the process of artistic collaborative practice. We propose an exposition that unfolds less as the linear explication of a process, but rather — like artistic process itself — more as an assemblage of overlapping and concurrent components, where attention shifts between the textual and the visual, between what is sayable and what is shown.
This digital anarchive was developed in reference to my doctoral research undertaken at the University of Roehampton, London. This practice-as-research project explores the concept of bare bodies and how to encounter them in contemporary choreography. My thesis draws on philosophical, bio-political and ethical discourse relevant to my discussion of the emergence of bare bodies in choreographic work, and creates a critical framework for a self-reflexive movement. Narrations of bare bodies emerge in both the written component of a choreographed book, and in the creative component consisting of the live event of a lecture performance inhabiting an anarchive.
This anarchive operates as research repository created and accumulated in the course of my PhD project and documented here in digital form.
Throughout I argue for acknowledging acts of baring and concealing as culturally situated, anchoring my thesis in reflections on performative encounters, unearthing their methodological weight and nanopolitical significance. I explore non-subjective performativity, implying a fluid conception of identity. Furthermore, I introduce the ideations of an-archic responsibility and choreo-ethics for reassessing contact and relation as an ethico-aesthetic project of current choreographic performances. These propositions get probed alongside a shift from spectator to wit(h)ness.
I differentiate and untangle the tones and shades of the triplet naked, nude, and bare, each term referring differently to body and performativity. All in all, the choreographic is conceptualised as a complex field of revelatory experiences built on ecologies of aesthetic perception and realising ethico-political agency.
"CHOREO–GRAPHIC FIGURES. Deviations from the Line"
The interdisciplinary research project “CHOREO–GRAPHIC FIGURES. Deviations from the Line” (2014 - 2017), led by artist Nikolaus Gansterer (Austria/Vienna) in collaboration with choreographer-dancer Mariella Greil (Austria/Vienna) and artist-writer Emma Cocker (UK/Nottingham), in dialogue with a team of international critical interlocutors was approved funded by the FWF/ PEEK research grant of Austria.
With ‘arts-based research’ at its heart, this research project stages an inter-subjective encounter between drawing (Gansterer), choreography (Greil) and writing (Cocker) in order to
a) investigate those forms of ‘thinking-feeling-knowing’ produced through collaborative, interdisciplinary exchange, ‘between the lines’ of drawing, dance and writing,
b) explore the performativity of notation (figures of thought, speech and movement) for articulating and making tangible this enquiry,
c) contribute new knowledge and understanding to debates about the specificity of artistic enquiry and expanded practices of drawing, dance and writing.
The project explores the nature of ‘thinking-in-action’ or ‘figures of thought’ produced as the practices of drawing, choreography and writing enter into dialogue, overlap and collide. Through processes of reciprocal exchange, dialogue and negotiation between the key researchers, "CHOREO–GRAPHIC FIGURES. Deviations from the Line" will interrogate the interstitial processes, practices and knowledge(s) produced in the ‘deviation’ for example, from page to performance, from word to mark, from line to action, from modes of flat image making towards transformational embodied encounters.