Tuesday, March 24, 2009

backblog - Rehearsin' w. Katsura.

One of the mailing lists that I'm on mentioned that today is Ada Lovelace Day! And there is a website where you can sign a pledge to blog about women in technology today. I was trying to think of someone to write about when it dawned on me that this was a good excuse to finally blog about this wonderful experience I had right before I left London in January.

This post is a reflection on a studio session I had with dancer, Katsura Isobe. We had been talking for many months about our interests in interdisciplinary performance and had been trying to get together to try some things out. This post is also pretty stream of consciousness and not heavily edited.

And now, here is the video from my newly created Vimeo channel under "Lena Optic". Trying it out, open to feedback about other video programs on the Web.

Experimenting with two. from Lena Optic on Vimeo.

We kept things simple for this rehearsal due to time and technology constraints, and since by January I was feeling quite strongly that the program I had created in Isadora for my final MA performance was truly a prototype for things to come. We used it simply to mix layers of sound. Katsura and I share a couple of things in common that I think make working with her interesting:

1) We are both exploring sound more and more in our work. How we can use our primary mediums (video and movement) as the starting point for sound. How our understanding of space through our video and movement work inspires certain sounds to come out.

2) We are both interested in generating a performance from the space and moment we are in at the time of the performance. Simply punctuating and drawing from what we have at hand, and through this exploration, transforming the space and our relationship to it. I think this inspired a very raw, unfiltered quality to the work. At the moment, it also means the performances are very minimalist, however I have a sense that this might be because we were working in a very sparse dance studio. It will be interesting to see how this changes in different spaces and how much of it is a fundamental quality of our work.

Watching the video again, I was struck at how the performance space is transformed again through the lens. The size of the room constrained where I could place the camera. However, we were performing in a much broader space than the camera is recording. The cropping of the video frame adds an interesting level of composition that is completely accidental, but at times really lovely.

I also love how it's often unclear where the sounds are coming from. Are they recorded? Was that intentional? Is that a sample? Where are we exactly?

Other things I learned about working with another performer:
- I really need to develop simple triggers for other artists to be able to control which pieces of their live performance are recorded and to allow them to play off their recorded and live presence themselves without me dictating some of this because I'm the only one who knows how to press all the right buttons.

- My first time viewing this footage, I was struck by some passages where Katsura and I are being really playful. Not in a silly way, but not overly serious. We almost look like a silent film with these awkward movements, etc. I immediately knew that it would be amazing to work with her in a non-traditional performance space. Somewhere that we could just play in, maybe in different parts of a building. Sometimes meeting, sometimes in totally different spaces. This continues with my interest in soft/gentle/subtle sounds and wanting to try gentle performances that people just happen upon. This also comes from a shared interest in working in non-theatre space. I think it would be really rewarding to do this and hope at some point that we circle back around to this idea and try it out for a festival or something like this.

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Blogger katsurabbit said...

Thank you for this, Lena. It has been a while since we did this, but now I can recall it clearly. How you summerised your findings are so clear and it helps me a lot. Also how you edited the video is marvelous. It is another good work on its own- probably better than actual improvisation...no it's just different.
As you say, I do hope to develop the work with you in the future for a fastival or something. Let's see.

April 9, 2009 10:11 AM  

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