Christopher Kelly–who is a sculptor and visual artist with a background in fashion and prop design based in Buckinghamshire, the UK–is currently working on a project entitled “interwoven: ADHD and the Creative Mind.” Diagnosed with ADHD just shy of his 40th birthday, Christopher wrote this project in the attempt to create an opportunity for his private and professional selves to integrate their new diagnosis into their lives with the aid of their creative practice.
I was invited to support that stage of Christopher’s research that concerns, for lack of a better term, the making of a dance. The way I explained it to myself, Christopher wanted the making of this dance to serve two purposes: at the introspect end of the spectrum, he wanted to study his ADHD experientially; at the “extrospect” end of the spectrum, he wanted to develop strategies with which to physically relate to the crocheted objects made in the first chapter of his research and explore the performative poetic potential of that physical relation.
Between August 16 and 21, 2022, I hosted a workshop in which I introduced Christopher and collaborator Anais Miah to “dance science.” On the introspect end of the spectrum, I referred to my study of Body-Mind Centering TM in conducting the experiential discussion of perception, proprioception, and interception. On the “extrospect” end of the spectrum, I referred to my reading of performativity and study of dance history in conducting the experiential discussion of performing, the performative, self-consciosuness, consciousness of self, and communication. We conducted many an informal discussion regarding our shared experience of being diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood.
On the basis of the experiments conducted and the material collected during the research phase of interwoven, Christopher will be applying for further funding to be invested towards the development of an ADHD and the Creative Mind performative practice.
from notes, 2022-08-16
The Process of Materialisation of Fiction brought up the question of experiencing (the experience of) the central nervous system, cerebrospinal fluid relative to the spinal cord and the brain. I remember thinking about the relationship between the peripheral and the central nervous system, and the relationship between cellular life and the peripheral nervous system. I remember thinking of the relationship between cellular life and the world and electromagnetism, of the field that separates and so binds cellular life to the world. And how all these relationships condition the emergent formation of me, the formation of the “I”.
Something to explore before get to “performing.”
“Rather than thinking in terms of linear narrative, we might do better to imagine a pile of separate and uneven strata, geological layers, irregular laminates, each one like an encyclopaedic relief map, tactile as braille: each novel is a unlike conjuncture of these, momentarily co-ordinated as with a tacking nail, and just as easily disjoined into a scattered pile of themes waiting for the conjuncture of a new event, a new novel.”
–– Fredric Jameson
from notes, 2022-08-17
we observed the distinction between the sensation and manipulability of skin, superficial fascia, deep fascia, and muscle fibre. we observed the distinction between the sensation of muscular contraction (concentric and eccentric; action) and connective tissue integration (suspension, lightness; orientation/form).
in the afternoon, christopher initiated the two rounds of “leading by example” (inref. manon santkin + together alone). following the suggestion that we’re conducting dance science, we observed as each spent 5 minutes relating to “masks.”
christopher > anais > pav > christopher > anais > pav
from KNN application, 2022-08-27
what is dance science?
What I like to call “dance science” is a principle-based approach to dancing that explores the capacity of the medium to extrapolate at the scale of (human body in) motion what otherwise occurs or operates at the scale of cellular interaction. In the context of “dance science” the superficial is only as interesting as it is capable of evidencing that an activity under-the-surface has indeed taken place. The further purpose of “dance science” then emerges in the asking of the question: what under-the-surface activity does the motion registered at the scale of surface evidence and how?
- granularity - everything has a limit
- indeterminacy - limit frames an event
- interaction - events relate, form relationships, relationships form contexts
- if i don't know what to do, i don't have to do anything;
- never is there nothing in not having to do anything; what does it feel like, taste like, smell like, sound like, look like?
- if i don't know what to do: i might know too much, i might not know enough. either way, i keep at it;
- remember 1;
- follow your weird.
from notes, 2022-08-21
(i am writing the following three days later. it is surprisingly challenging to remember what we did and in which order)
i remember reading she unnames them by ursula k le guin, the story in which eve gives back the names of all critters back to adam who handed the names out in the first place. (story attached) after giving her name back along with the others’, the unnamed experiences a sense of sensual familiarity with all unnamed. a sense of recognition, perhaps?
what changes when relating isn’t enacted (first) via the alienating capacity of a name but is enacted sensorially? the point here is not to construct an either or narrative but to suggest that the order in which interaction occurs matters. imagine a scenario in which you look at somebody’s face and perceive so much of it that you temporarily cannot remember their name. imagine a scenario in which you look at somebody’s face and know exactly who they are and what their name is, so much so you can afford not to really see them at all. your gaze moves on, as do your thoughts.
possible question: is art (best case scenario) where one gets to choose which of the orders to prioritise and for which reason then take as much time in practice as is necessary to make the continued making of the choice not just possible but probable? and is life where one gets to conform to the choice-making standard when and if one is able to, at the risk of being or not being perceived as a functioning citizen?
When he first got in touch with me following a recommendation offered by Alice MacKenzie, Christopher told me he was looking for a choreographer to help him make a dance that was going to address one’s coming to terms with one’s ADHD diagnosis. He reflected on the experiences he’d had interviewing choreographers and shared with me examples of scores some of the choreographers he interviewed proposed be applied as methods for movement-making and collecting to be later written into reproducible choreographic structures.
My intuitive response was to insist on contextualising my offering as dancerly rather than choreographic in the attempt to focus his research on experimenting rather than reporting, at least for the time being. I say “reporting” to highlight the common feature of suggested methodologies, which is to concern themselves with organising the superficial–literally, the surface–without questioning how the superficial is organised relative to what is beneath the surface.
When organising the superficial before organising the superficial relative to what is beneath the surface, one is forced to assume that what is beneath the surface is already organised. This is exemplified by scores that require of dancers to express their feelings, for example, without ever asking what feelings the dancers have and why. Now, although I do not think it wrong to assume that what is beneath the surface is already organised, I think it irresponsible not to ask how. This both in the context of knowledge production (research) and art making (politics).
To give an example. Whenever a choreographer tells a dancer to express, without creating an opportunity for “expression” itself to be studied, the dancer in question is forced to assume that both the choreographer and the dancer know what “expressing” means and (!) how it is done. Imagine a scenario in which the dancer succeeds in expressing and so pleases the choreographer; following the dancer’s success, neither the choreographer nor the dancer can account for the dancer’s success. The choreographer might resort to evaluating the dancer as talented, the dancer might resort to admiring the choreographer for whatever reason. Now imagine the scenario in which the dancer does not succeed in expressing and so displeases the choregrapher. Since neither the choreographer nor the dancer can account for the dancer’s lack of success, both are at a loss. The choreographer will likely disqualify the dancer and turn their focus elsewhere, the dancer will likely turn against themselves.
These scenarios are stereotypical, deducted from observations I’ve made over the years. Know that they are also uncommonly dramatic. Both describe power in its capacity to serve as a compensatory mechanism. Power, in this case, emerges as the operative standard in response to a lack: a lack of knowledge (experience) and a lack of methodology (practice). The dancer who knows what it took for them to express what they were required to express in a given context does does not require to be called talented because they don’t need their work compensated for by their superior. The choreographer who knows that the dancer they are working with understand what it takes to satisfy the requirements placed before them by their superiors does not need to call the dancer talented because they don’t need to compensate for their success.
To say that neither has to compensate for the dancer’s labour is an understatement. In most cases where dancers know what it takes, the time is consumed by the study of what it takes: dialogue is developed, documenting practices. These knowledge-affirmative relationships consume the time, and so render power-moves unnecessary, i.e. inoperative.
Christopher, Anais, and myself–who were participating in the workshop–were all diagnosed with ADHD recently and in adulthood. Neither one of us is certain how to relate to the fact that all those experiences we’ve had in life, many of which provoked negative responses, are now classified as evidence of our symptoms instead of being classified, as they always were, as evidence of our non-confirming personalities.
Christopher decided to highlight “masking” when making the crocheted structures. “Masking” is (another) compensatory principle, which neurodiverse individuals engage intuitively–especially in childhood–in the attempt to lessen the intensity of the negative reaction to our person we’re likely to encounter on a daily basis. An example of “masking” is me investing energy towards not fiddling in my chair and staring out the window, lest my boss come to think I’m not paying attention. An example of “masking” is an example of understanding the domeneering importance of superficial values. Professionalism is often more readily communicated via one’s attire rather than one’s competence.
Having made these observations, I decided to focus the workshop week on sharing methods with Christopher and Anais–neither of whom are experienced dance scientists–with which to begin organising the superficial relative to what is going on beneath the surface. These are the skills needed, is how I explained it to myself, to being targetting the question of certainty: how do we learn to relate to those sensations that informed all of our behaviours, if–having received the diagnosis–the names of the behaviours themselves changed? If we spent the majority of our lives masking our behaviours, how to we learn to recognise the mask and become able to see the behaviour in its own right? What do we need to know to be able to do that, to make those distinctions? Sensorially? Emotionally? Intellectually? What will our behaviours looks like, if ever they get to “look like” independently from the masks they necessitated being covered with? And finally, what will we learn about ADHD, if we get to behave ADHD without masking? How does ADHD behave: how does it move? How does it dance?