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’ produced as the practices of drawing, choreography and writing enter into dialogue, overlap and collide. Through processes of exchange our research seeks to pressure choreography, drawing and writing beyond the conventions, protocols and domains of each discipline: for choreography, beyond the domain of the body and space of the theatre; for drawing, beyond the domain of the two-dimensional page; for writing, beyond the domain of language, the regime of signification. Choreo–graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line interrogates 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. The collaborative research quest is one of tracing and understanding these permeable frontiers, to challenge the assumptions of the clear-cut disciplinary line and produce new articulations of ‘expanded practice’ between the lines of drawing, choreography and writing.
Our research enquiry unfolds through two interconnected aims: firstly, we are interested in the nature of ‘thinking-feeling-knowing’ operative within artistic practice, and secondly, we seek to develop systems of notation for sharing and reflecting on this often hidden or undisclosed aspect of the creative process. In this sense, Choreo–graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line is a research project that specifically addresses the opening up and articulation of artistic process, seeking to shed new light on artistic process through its practice. Artistic research is practiced as the means through which to interrogate the process of its own enquiry; moreover, in adopting an interdisciplinary approach (between drawing, choreography and writing) the intent is to address the intangible and relational nature of artistic enquiry itself rather than focusing on the specificity of finished forms and products so often the concern of disciplinary research. We explore the performativity of notation, developing shared figures of thought, speech and movement (‘choreo–graphic figures’) for making tangible this unfolding enquiry.
Whilst our collaborative research project Choreo–graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line (funded by PEEK) officially began in Spring 2014, we have also staged two collaborative pilot projects or ‘labs’ prior to this (entitled Beyond the Line I, WUK, Vienna, December 2014 and Beyond the Line II, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, April 2015), which we conceived as a prologue, prelude or even a ‘warm up’ for the current project. Through this specific exposition, entitled Choreo–graphic Figures: Beginnings and Emergences, our intent is to share findings from the prologue phase and from the first year of our three-year research project Choreo–graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line. As such, this research is still speculative, still in process. As part of this exposition, we also present documentation of work in progress from this phase of the project (right) and further details about each specific phase can be found in the Chronology Section.
The first phase of our project has involved the initial sharing of processes and working methods from our respective disciplines and practices, with the aim that set disciplinary ways of operating might gradually become undisciplined, unlearnt, undone, reversed, upturned by experimenting ‘between the lines’ of drawing, choreography, and writing. However, the attempt to share process inevitably prompted us to reflect on and question our own respective ways of working, revealing that whilst we can identify and name some of what we do, a significant part of our working process was often practiced intuitively through ‘trusting the process’ or by drawing on embodied knowledge, that accumulation of habits and ways of working cultivated over a sustained period of time. Through our conversations, various comments emerged: “I am sure that I do things but I am not always sure what I do” … “I can see that you are doing things that are necessary for your practice. I can recognize that something is happening there, and it would be interesting to think what is happening there and how might that be shared” … but, “What is actually happening?”6 Our research question became more crystallized: How then, might we identify, share and notate those processes within artistic research that are not so easily identifiable, not so easily named?