This essay is an extension of the performance registration structure/system CYCLE initial version.
Performing arts are understood as being one of the art forms (if not the only art form) that until today struggles to find its way of being registered. The lack of medium, allowing to archive performing arts creations is approached as weakening its potential and putting its development into a sort of lottery where one needs to be almost lucky to be born during the thriving period of the art form to be able to merge oneself into a rich context and therefore create in a way that moves forward. It seems as if different from other art forms, for example, music or painting, performing arts do not have a movements/tendencies/theories-based linear moving forward in time where all that happened previously is known, and therefore, bits and pieces of the information influences, oversteps one another or merge and continues evolving into something new. It seems as if performing arts are rather closer to the cycle of a generation or couple of generations and the life span of a new one starts with little knowledge of previous ones. This thought is aimed to be approached without radicalizing it. Of course, there is an influence and of course, there is information that a person at the beginning of his/her work in the field will be able to merge oneself into. The question, however, remains isn’t it that performing arts did more than from what he/she could step up/start, what we have collected and can present this person with? If we compare it with music, we as well do not have the experience of listening to music live later on. It is an incredibly significant part of the art form and a great loss, however, what we do have are recordings dating to the beginning of the technology that allowed to do so, sheets as well as theories and concepts that could be thought of and written down because of access to the whole history of music, a collective memory, an archive. An incredible vast of information. If we compare a music student with a performing arts’ one, the accessible fountains to drink from are quite of a different depth and scale.
Various controversial thoughts arise from here. Firstly, music is part of performing arts, therefore, the depths of music are the depths of performing arts. Music along with other elements, for example, light, scenography, a live creature (supposedly human). Other questions arise from here: what is light? Scenography? Human? Music? From where this essay leads to, they are elements, tools, circumstances. Performing arts are all of the elements that the form consists of trapped in time, a real-time coexistence of them. In a way, a piece of performing arts is nothing, it is just the passing of time. Nothing or chaos of everything, the passing of time under an innumerable number of clashes of influences and overlapping. However, there is nothing unique of performing arts in this, music as well is nothing else than a clash of time, sound, rhythm, harmony. Colour? Light? Movement? Is choreography performed by a human body very different from a played piece of music? It is believed that since a piece of performing arts is a clash of proportionally significant and influential elements, treating them as separate and registering each through the medium that best reveals its essence would adapt the nature of performing arts and guide to the way of registering pieces that would allow the least possible loss of information. The interconnection of elements of different art forms could lead to, for example, light being registered through colour and the emotional sense of performers through a poem or a piece of recording of a rhythm, a certain sound.
The approach, however, does not aim to devalue or weaken momentariness, the deeply appreciated characteristic of performing arts that is often named as the driving point or the essence (especially by the artists themselves). Live art especially that involves live creatures because of empathetic processes is considered as carrying in itself a great potential and precisely because of this potential, creations leading one another towards it is searched for. The aim of this essay is to focus on the non-verbal, movement-based theatre creation registration. An initial version of the work registration structure/system is presented together with the essay. It serves as an attempt, a potential structure that could collect works of the author, became a sort of archive that would be accessible and offering itself to be used and reused over and over again.
REPETITION, DIFFERENCE, CONTINUITY
Creation process could be called a delicate topic in the realm of arts because of a romanticised idea of an artist. One could characterize the profession as being highly mystified, and therefore, seductive for an ego of an individual, stimulating narcissism. Perhaps one of the reasons could simply be the change of word’s create common use meaning. A shift from Latin creat- ‘produced’, to create as if from out of nothing. Word genius associated with an exceptional ability might also find its place here because of its underestimation. If in some rare cases because of biological, self-construction (or both) related circumstances a single human does leave the rest with life-long awe and speechless because of his/her exceptional abilities, these cases are as rare as they can be. A decent number of abilities that most of the humans are born with and gain are responsible for the majority of production. We might weaken or strengthen biology in us with certain habits, merge ourselves into certain contexts to cause a chemical reaction (reference to dependence) and the appearance of something new, therefore allowing us to get better and better, however, even this process could be understood as a creation process (from a narcissistic point of view). Narcissism might just as well hide in the individuality and delicate the creation process because of its proximity to the questions of authenticity and, therefore, the vulnerability of ego. Byung-Chul Han (2020) talks about the compulsion of authenticity, our today’s work-and-individuality-driven society:
The compulsion of authenticity (…) makes everything subjective, thereby intensifying narcissistic tendencies. Today, narcissistic disorders are on the rise because we are increasingly losing the ability to conduct social interactions outside the boundaries of the self. The narcissistic homo psychologicus is captivated by itself, caught in an intricate inwardness. (p.23)
There are no doubts that because today we can share with all the world our work, our personal life details and receive an appreciation, the horizon of new possibilities expands every day. However, one could also claim that the driving element of work/production/productivity-based society, after all, is not the growth for the sake of growth but growth for the sake of successful appearance, for full self-representation/appreciation since “under the neoliberal regime, a person is not only exploited during working hours; rather, the whole person is exploited” (2020, p.12). Byung-Chul Han (2020) also writes:
The neoliberal regime encourages communication without community by isolating everyone as the producer of him- or herself. (…) The compulsion of production brings with it the compulsion to perform well. Performance differs from labour in libido-economical terms. In the case of labour, the ego need not take centre stage. In the case of performance, however, the ego relates specifically to itself. It not only produces an object; it produces itself. (p. 13-14)
When applying Byung-Chul Han’s thoughts to the realm of arts, a process of communal art forms becoming individual or smaller scale is noticeable with a naked eye. Dancers become choreographers and directors, performers carry solo performances and theatre troupes tend to consist of around four, five people since that way it is easier to fit the requirements of the market, for example, residencies. The production system dictates the rules: small funds requiring creations receive financial support, gets produced, and therefore, the construct that supports individuality atomizes the creation process, distorts the perception of it and boosts narcissism.
Another way to understand authenticity better and how delusionally it gives a way to narcissism is to take a step back and try to untangle the creation process. Firstly, it is believed that skills or abilities never belong to a single unit, an individual. One might carry even exceptional abilities, however, even from a biological point of view, a new-born has nothing to do with his/her genetics, since it is a piece of pure luck. It would be simply ridiculous if, for example, a tree appearing into existence as an oak, therefore, strong and tall would brag about its abilities. Even more, what a tree has to do with it blooming, giving fruits or a new branch growing out of it? These are understood as results of circumstances that a tree accepts and functions according to them. This is a beautiful process, however, a shared process. There would be no tree or a would be a tree without fruits if not for the circumstances. The creation process is approached in a slightly similar way. We, of course, cannot deny that a human is a creature with a, let’s call it, more complex intelligence, therefore, can choose and construct the conditions that in relation with himself/herself can assure giving fruits or even more complex fruits. However, we still do need to choose/work on these conditions, depend on them. An individual figure in the creative process simply does not exist, we are creatures with an enormous number of sensitive extensions functioning in an advanced complexity. We are segments of a collective memory network and would bear no fruits without the information around us. The aspects of continuity and contextuality following the statement are being discussed further on.
Deleuze in one of his lectures “What Is the Act of Creation?” (1987) states a significant approach towards creation process that brings us back to the perception of creation as production. He claims that different professions share the essence of creation. “It is very simple: philosophy is a discipline that is just as creative and inventive as any other discipline, and it entails creating or even inventing concepts.” (Kaufman, E., et all, 1998, p. 15)
Agamben (2017) when talking about the act of creation emphasises the capacity for the development of “philosophical element contained by a work – be it an artistic, scientific, or theoretical” (p. 34). When explaining interest in the topic he writes:
Why does this search for the element liable to be developed fascinate me? Because if we follow this methodological principle all the way, we inevitably end up at a point where it is not possible to distinguish between what is ours and what belongs to the author we are reading. Reaching this impersonal zone of indifference, in which every proper name, every copyright, and every claim to originality fades away, fills me with joy. (p. 34)
With this in one’s mind, the creation process can be approached as a step further, adding detail or collecting details to withdraw a new one from the result. We, however, are inevitably re-writing. With a change, advancement, destruction but re-writing, re-thinking, re-constructing. We dive into the pool of thoughts, concepts and meanings and pull something through us (to be discussed when talking about contextuality) but out of it, not out of us.
The Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus with his thought “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man” (quoted by Seneca in Epistulae; VI, 58, 23) gets right to the point of the creation process that is based on the same river, same action, however never same outcomes. Repetition is understood as a significant aspect of any creation process and Deleuze introduces us with a detailed study of difference and repetition. Žukauskaite (2008) writes that repetition in nature and ethics usually cause a principle, law or a rule. However, the repetition that Deleuze (and Nietzsche) speaks about means a repetition that every time causes something different, unique, separate. (p. 121) Deleuze writes:
“If repetition exists, it expresses at once a singularity opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular, a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, an instantaneity opposed to variation and an eternity opposed to permanence. In every respect, repetition is a transgression. It puts law into question, it denounces its nominal or general character in favour of a more profound and more artistic reality.” (p. 13)
For Žukauskaite (2008) he is “talking about the world of differences, where differences implicate one another, complicate one another – create a chaotic world without identity” (p. 122). To apply this notion when approaching the identity of an idea it is important to emphasise the understanding of identity as a concept. Deleuze (2004) writes that “nature of a Copernican revolution opens up the possibility of difference having its own concept, rather than being maintained under the domination of a concept in general already understood as identical” (p. 44). He also references Nietzsche’s eternal returning and claims that it “cannot mean the return of the Identical because it presupposes a world (that of the will to power) in which all previous identities have been abolished and dissolved. Returning is being, but only the being of becoming” (2004, p. 45). Deleuze introduces us with Peguy’s examples of the fall of the Bastille or Monet’s first water lily and how it is not that Federation Day commemorates or represents the fall of the Bastille but how the initial act celebrates and repeats in advance all the Federation Days, how the first lily of Monet repeats all the others (2004, p. 13). Deleuze writes that festivals “repeat an 'unrepeatable'. They do not add a second and a third time to the first but carry the first time to the 'nth' power. With respect to this power, repetition interiorizes and thereby reverses itself” (2004, p. 12). Repetition gains a positive aspect. With repeating, and therefore, differing we state a rebirth, we empower the initial act and this, one could claim, could be approached as the essence of development. However, development in a sense of thoughtful repetition. Before talking about the aspect of contextuality, there is a need to head back for a moment to Deleuze’s approach to creation process with a thought of development in mind. He writes:
Concepts do not exist ready-made in the sky waiting for a philosopher to seize them. Concepts must be made. To be sure, they are not made just like that. (…) There must be a necessity, as much in philosophy as elsewhere, for if not there is nothing at all. A creator is not a being who works for pleasure. The fact remains that this necessity ‐ which, if it exists, is a very complex thing ‑ makes a philosopher (…) propose to invent, to create, concepts and not to concern himself or herself with reflecting. (p.15)
There is a temptation to bring this notion also to the realm of arts and having in mind previously discussed tendency of narcissism in creation, confront the pleasure of work specifics with moving further/development and state the overproduction (explained by simplified productions) being closer to reflection than to creation.
A fundamental aspect of a change is context. Umberto Eco (1989) when writing about Luigi Pareyson’s aesthetics claims that for him “form is act of invention. (…) Form is a structured object uniting thought, feeling, and matter in an activity that aims at the harmonious coordination of all three and proceeds according to the laws postulated and manifested by the work itself as it is being made. (p. 158-159). Here a supporting thought of Deleuze is wished to be presented. Deleuze claims that:
A scientist is someone who invents or creates functions. And the scientist is the only one. A scientist as such has nothing to do with concepts. On the one hand, it is precisely ‐ and fortunately ‐ for this that there is philosophy. (…) The fundamental notion of science (…) is the notion of the whole. A whole has nothing to do with a concept. As soon as you put wholes into fixed correlation, you obtain functions and can say, “I do science. (p. 15)
With this notion, great attention is brought to the specifics of one’s work that requires a certain ability to be able to follow the process and be an enriching part of it. As Eco writes when explaining Pareyson’s thoughts, “the artist is present in the work as the concrete and extremely personalized trace of an action” (1989, p.16), therefore the impact, for example, a dancer gives to performed movement is significant. This causes a generally delicate relation between artist and artwork. Eco writes:
The content of a work is its creator, who at the same time is also its form since the artist gives his creation its style—this being at once the way the artist forms himself in his work and the way the work manifests itself as such. Thus, the very subject of a work is none other than one of the elements in which the artist has expressed himself by giving himself form.(p. 160)
We could also look at this process in a slightly different way. Since performing is a collective form of art and many artists are participating in the process. In this case, we could associate choreographer with painter and dancer with colour. A choreographer can suggest something to a dancer knowing his or her characteristics and a dancer would personalize this suggestion by giving birth to movement. Choreographer then would personalize these movements and paint. We could go further, a director then could personalize the painting with other elements: story, light, sound, etc. and would give birth to something even more complex.
Byung-Chul Han’s (2020) thoughts of rituals are wished to be brought to this context to provide a certain perspective of how creating a piece that involves many people could be approached. He writes:
Rituals are processes of embodiment and bodily performances. (…) A ritual community is a communal body [Körperschaft], and there is a bodily dimension inherent to community. (...) Ritual acts also include feelings, but the bearer of these feelings is not the isolated individual. (…) Collective feelings have nothing to do with individual psychology. In a ritual of mourning, the community is the actual subject that mourns. (p. 11)
Even more, Byung-Chul Han (2020) provides us with a beautiful example of a Japanese tea ceremony where an actor dedicates oneself to his function, and therefore, does not need to shout out a meaning, for attention or empathy since the act itself is responsible for the relation between what is happening and the observer. He writes:
The proper movements of the hands and body have a graphic clarity, and there is no uncertainty about them deriving from the influence of the mind or soul. The actors immerse themselves in ritual gestures, and these gestures create an absence, a forgetfulness of self. In a tea ceremony, there is no communication. Nothing is communicated. There is ritual silence [Schweigen]. Ritual gesture takes the place of communication. The soul falls silent. In the stillness, participants exchange gestures that generate an intense being-with. (…) The ceremony brings forth a community without communication. (p. 64-65)
Byung-Chul Han seems to be fascinated with art pieces carrying no meaning at all, where the silence of ritual opposes “today’s communicative noise, today’s communication without community” (2020, p. 65) or where instead of work and production we play: “In poetry, language plays. (…) The poetic principle returns pleasure to language through a radical break with the economy of the production of meaning.” (2020, p. 60). It is tempting to think that perhaps a well-constructed ritual (for example a piece of choreography) might be able to both: lullaby with its playfulness or splendour and all at once because of its silence and unity, carry a meaningful affect that remains unseen, untouched, unheard.
Since any creation process is understood as communal, the creation of a piece of performing arts it is understood as carrying even greater complexity because of the number of elements a piece consists/can consist of. We could name sound/music (bringing the collective memory of this realm), we could (in a simplified way) associate scenography with painting, sculpture, (therefore, adding what these fields bring with them), space – implementing, for example, architecture, light – photography, and the element of time could be associated with cinema, (therefore, adding all the collective memory of it). We could grasp the existence of natural, social sciences, applied philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and the understanding of the art form keeps expanding in the most intriguing way. However, we could claim that psychology exists in all the other art forms mentioned previously as well as sound, space, time exists in paining and all the other ways around. This just proves the point that all the elements that a piece of performing arts consists of are deeply interconnected. Kandinsky (2009) writes:
The eye is strongly attracted by light, clear colours, and still more strongly attracted by those colours which are warm as well as clear; vermilion has the charm of flame, which has always attracted human beings. Keen lemon-yellow hurts the eye in time as a prolonged and shrill trumpet note the ear, and the gazer turns away to seek relief in blue or green. (p. 58-59)
To process an attempt to register pieces of dance/physical theatre (the field of performing arts is narrowed because of personal interest), it is believed that a medium that can transmit the complexity of the art form is needed to be found. This search is offered while tracing back the steps of the creation process. If a piece as a whole is a merge of various elements, the registration of it could follow the same principles. A single piece should be approached as requiring its own medium (since can be based on a differing combination of elements coexisting in a certain way (appendix. Part “example of a graphic and an equation...”)).
Every piece should follow its own rules and search for its own medium, or rather, a set of media that could be able to transmit its essence. It is suggested to open up for any seemingly appropriate way: from counting steps actor takes, measuring the angle of the light to representing the sound of a piece as a single colour, emotional setting as a rhythm, or space where the action takes place as a word. Kandinsky (2009) writes that “colour cannot stand alone; it cannot dispense with boundaries of some kind. A never-ending extent of red can only be seen in the mind; when the word red is heard, the colour is evoked without definite boundaries. If such are necessary, they have deliberately to be imagined” (p. 64). Let’s imagine that we have created a piece of choreography that just feels/tastes/smells like red. If when registering the movement of choreography, I simply add a single word “red”, maybe a person immersing oneself into the register of this piece 10 years later would go through all the details, would read “red” and “the colour is evoked without definite boundaries” (Kandinsky, 2009, p. 64), the essence or a single significant aspect of choreography reveals itself to him/her. It suddenly becomes clear what was it all about. Or not. We would never know, and we should never care since we can succeed in repeating but only in Deleuzian meaning of repeating, only in the same-but-different way and since an archive in this case should serve as a stimulus. For further creation, depth of thought, concept or simply (?) pleasure.
As Eco (1989) transmits Pareyson’s thoughts, “since the fact of being form opens it up to an infinity of different perspectives, the process which actualizes itself as form also realizes itself in the continuous possibility of interpretation. The comprehension and interpretation of a form can be achieved only by retracing its formative process, by repossessing the form in movement and not in static contemplation (p. 163). It is important to also bear in mind that sign often does not have a universal meaning. Kress, Gunther, and Theo Van Leeuwen (2002) writes:
In northern parts of Portugal, and perhaps elsewhere in Europe as well, brides wear black gowns for their wedding day. In China and other parts of East Asia white is the colour of mourning; in most of Europe it is the colour of purity, worn by the bride at her wedding. Contrasts like these shake our confidence in the security of meaning of colour and colour terms. (p. 343)
However, it is believed that elements represented in conjunction (as a set) and while revealing their dependence, might transmit close-to-the-essence information and feeling of a piece. Kandinsky (2009) guides us to a better understanding of what is it in mind when talking about the essence:
Each period of culture produces an art of its own that can never be repeated. (…) It is impossible for us to live and feel, as did the ancient Greeks. In the same way those who strive to follow the Greek methods in sculpture achieve only a similarity of form, the work remaining soulless for all time. (…) There is, however, in art another kind of external similarity which is founded on a fundamental truth. When there is a similarity of inner tendency in the whole moral and spiritual atmosphere, a similarity of ideals, at first closely pursued but later lost to sight, a similarity in the inner feeling of any one period to that of another, the logical result will be a revival of the external forms which served to express those inner feelings in an earlier age. (p. 22-23)
There are intriguing studies carried that could help a single element of a piece to find its medium. Shinohara, Kazuko, et al. (2016) writes that “a growing body of experimental and corpus-based studies show that there is at least a stochastic tendency—or bias—for particular sounds to be associated with particular meanings—the association which is often referred to as “sound symbolism” or “sound symbolic associations” (p. 2). Similar tendencies are identified among languages and a reference is given to Sapir’s work showing that “English speakers tend to associate /a/ with big images and /i/ with small images; (…) generally, back and low vowels—those with low second formant—are associated with big images, whereas front and high vowels—those with high second formant—are associated with small images” (p. 2). A significant study by Wolfgang Köhler brings us closer to the sound-meaning understanding:
Given two nonce words, maluma and takete, round shapes are more likely to be associated with the former, whereas angular shapes are associated with the latter (Fig. 1). (…) These studies show that sounds have associations not only with linguistic meanings but also with static visual shapes. (…) Other studies have shown that particular sounds can be associated with the images of personalities, (…) even shapes themselves can be associated with linguistic meanings or particular personalities (even without being mediated by sounds). (Shinohara, Kazuko, et al. (2016), p. 2)
FIGURE 1. Wolfgang Köhler’s figures maluma and takete. (1929, p. 243)
Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen (2002) analyse the grammar of colour and when studying communicative functions uses Halliday’s metafunctional theory according to which “language simultaneously fulfils three functions: the ideational function, (…) the interpersonal function, (…) the textual function (p. 346). In their previous work Kress, Gunther and Theo Van Leeuwen were able to apply this model to various resources of visual communication ‘composition, the gaze, angle, size of frame’, and others. That way these recourses were reconstructed as ‘grammatical systems’ (p. 346).
These grammatical systems are being introduced in this work as an initial stage of an algorithm construction (further study is planned) that would be used to depict relations between the elements so a piece of creation could be registered and represented in its complexity (appendix. Part “example of a graphic and an equation...”).
The ideational function is “representing one participant as the actor of action and another as one to whom or which the action is done. (…) ‘He married her’ is a transitive clause – and also a construction of marriage in which the man is seen as the actor of the action and the woman as the one to whom this action is done. ‘They married’ is an intransitive clause” (2020, p. 346). The interpersonal function “is mood, which offers a choice between different basic speech acts such as stating, questioning and commanding” (2020 p. 347) and textual function “has resources (articles and pronouns) allowing speakers to signal what they have already mentioned and what they are newly introducing, and this helps create flow and cohesion in texts and communicative events (e.g. There was once a house ... it stood on a hill ..., etc.)” (2020 p. 347).
With finding a medium for a certain element of a piece, constructing a sign out of it and presenting the interconnection and relation signs share among themselves, it is believed that one step further in providing performance with a potential of rebirth is taken. However, it is believed that a key element of any creative process is play. When talking about our today’s ‘compulsion of work’ Byung-Chul Han (2020) uses language as an example and claims that “we only rarely make playful use of language; we only put it to work” (p. 60). Deleuze (2004) writes that “cycles and equalities are their respective symbols. But in any case, generality expresses a point of view according to which one term may be exchanged or substituted for another” (p. 12). These principles form the core and reason for this attempt to register creations in this manner. Therefore, when presenting elements in a visual way, playfulness is wished to be stimulated. Rather a toy than a mark is wished to make sure is remaining.
While the momentariness of performing arts might be one of the most (if not the most) fascinating aspect of the art form allowing to experience the fragility of live events and creatures themselves, the context they depend upon, it is also approached as a great obstacle for a smooth evolution (or rather enriching and intriguing transformation) of the art form. It is believed that not having a medium that allows registering and archiving pieces of creation causes a constant loss. Having in mind that a certain amount of loss of any art form is inevitable, the performing arts situation is understood as quite unbalanced, or rather, problematic from the artist’s point of view. It is believed that not being able to access the history of creation (not from a historical but (more or less) direct contact with the creation point of view), tangles, straitens the potential of an artist, makes him/her feel the gaps of collective memory. By contemplating authenticity, repetition, difference, continuity, context and interconnection, creation is addressed as a collective and complex process. A piece of performing arts itself is approached in the same way (consisting of various interconnected elements), suggesting a similar approach towards the registration process. This essay serves as an extension, theoretical background of the initial version of performance registration structure/system CYCLE.
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