Introduction to this section:

In the works and processes that I will analyze in this section, physicality and physical processes are the basis for performative sonic/musical, theatrical and visual work. Sometimes sound is completely integrated and sometimes it is imagined/elaborated from an internal sonic representative reaction; sometimes it is sourced directly from the movement. This new way (for me) of working has marked a turning point in my practice: while I am aware of the sonic aspects of a performance, I am paying increasing attention to the whole, how the elements fit together in order to serve the essential material, the story or the integral core of the piece. When I began to move away from theatre as a discipline and to work in a focused way on a contemporary vocal music practice, I felt pressure to discard my theatrical sensibilities and concerns in favour of creating the most polished sonic result possible. I became obsessed with technique and clean, precise execution. While these are undoubtedly valuable, I eventually became frustrated, and began to search for more before realizing through much reflection that the seeds and the way back to this kind of wholistic practice had already been planted early in my education and experience as a performer; all I had to do was integrate them with my new toolkit.

In the autumn of 2017, I undertook a fibre arts residency in Nova Scotia, Canada, which I consider to have been an internship crucial to the realization of my project. To truly work with a material or subject matter we need more than a superficial understanding of it; our personal relationship with a subject greatly shapes the way we treat it. In this residency, I worked specifically on preparing a raw fiber (in this case, wool) for spinning, and then spinning the fiber into yarn. Since I am already knowledgable about working with yarn (knitting, crochet, etc.), this allowed me to grasp further back into the process, and to feel the difference between making a work WITH elements, or making a work ABOUT elements or a theme. The deeper I got into an understanding of where the materials came from and how they worked together to create familiar things like yarn, the stronger and clearer my ideas got about how to work with these materials in the context of a performance project.

I will case study two major works in this section:
FutureMoves (solo), and Rokkur (collective). For each project, my line of inquiry started with an image – for FutureMoves, I began with the image and setting of a guided exercise class or social dance gathering, and specifically wanted to explore the relationship between a person delivering a realtime verbal/vocal and physical score for immediate participatory performance. Rokkur is an exploration of textile tools and the sonification and amplification of a normally quiet, albeit often social, process of working with textiles. Moving outward from the image or what I will come to call a technological practice, I then explored themes, questions, and approaches raised by each specific image using a mixture of sound/music, physical theatricality and artistic form, material and methodology related to that practice. NOTE: In this case technological practice is defined not necessarily as an integration of digital technology, but rather according to Dr. Ursula Franklin's definition, cited above, of a set of practices, a routine, a methodology.

At the beginning of my studies in the NAIP program, I was specifically interested in the embodiment of landscape through vocal music. The works I have created throughout the period of study wound up dealing with this question, albeit in a less direct way. Where FutureMoves interacts with landscape brings up questions about the nature of a landscape and what can constitute a “landscape”; if a landscape is a place were we spend time, working, socializing, interacting with our surroundings and each other, it can be argued that the internet has become as much a landscape as any physical location.
Rokkur incorporates this line of inquiry though less immediately; it does investigate specific geographical locations and local cultural traditions of working with wool in each place where it is performed. Traced far enough back, woolworking is effectively a way of embodying landscape – sheep eat the grass grown in the soil of a place (watered by rain and heated by sun) – sheep are sheared and the wool is turned into yarn which gets knit into a garment, which embodies the landscape, and then eventually a person wears the garment.

Finally, we exist as part of communities, none of us operates in a vacuum. The works I wanted to explore through this study of embodiment are also works which activate an audience or a population to contribute in some way, examining another level of embodiment as our interactions with other humans, other bodies. As Darren O'Donnell proposes in one interview,
“People want to do stuff, they don’t want to sit and watch stuff”(qtd. In Kaplan).