From Hyperchoreography to Kinaesthediting (2)
fig.2 - interface of 'the truth:the truth' on www.hyperchoreography.org
Each of these works is self-contained but attempts to look at the general principal of being able to explore components of a collection of video dance clips to create a customized version of the work. The reason for the encapsulation is that we faced several significant hurdles in 2001 and 2003 and by enclosing our Hyperchoreography projects within strict boundaries both solved the fears of the artists involved about the integrity and copyright of the work, and overcame the technical limitations as they were at the time. We have also tried to make Hyperchoreographic interfaces that some how reflected the structure of the concept in the work.
Critically, early on in our thinking about Hyperchoreography we saw that Ted Nelson proposed that networked hypermedia goes beyond a just being a technical system, it has more radical implications:
populism: it is available to authors at low cost
pluralism :it supports many points of view
unorthodoxy : it encourages controversial and experimental subjects
universalism : it spreads ideas outside of geographical or other bounds. (Nelson 1974 cited in Hannemyr 1999)
These are the core aspects of working this way that excite us. As with our other work, these pieces are inspired by the post-modern dance tradition and Nelsons 'radical implications' are recognisable in many of the ideas of the Post-modern dance-makers. McPherson and I create screendance work that is non literal, non narrative and non representational. In this new context of Hyperchoreography we can add non-linear to that list. This style of choreographic work lends itself to interactive non-linear structures as it can be argued that meaning largely resides in the viewer and is not constrained by traditional narrative structures in the way interactive non-linear story telling is. Post-Moderns such as Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs and Yvonne Rainer sought to free themselves of the expectations of creative approaches laid down by choreographers before. Brown and Childs preferred to draw on mathematical structures and scores to structure their choreography, and thereby shifted the focus of the work onto the presentation of human motion for the sake of itself and its physicality in time and space. Rainer laid out what is known as the No Manifesto for a minimalist aesthetic.
'No to spectacle no to virtuosity no to transformations and magic and make believe no to glamour and transcendency of the star image no to the heroic no to the anti-heroic no to trash imagery no to involvement of performer or spectator no to style no to camp no to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer no to eccentricity no to moving or being moved.' (Cited in Banes 1987: 43).
Sally Banes, in her definitive text on Post-Modern Dance, "Terpsichore in Sneakers" makes the comparison between Yvonne Rainer and the writer and literary theorist Robbe-Grillet: 'Like Alain Robbe-Grillet calling for a new novel without character, story or commitment, Rainer proposed a new dance that would recognise the objective presence of things, including movements and the human body'. She goes on to write that 'Rainer opted for neutrality, refusing to project a persona or make a narrative.' (Banes 1987: 43).
With these approaches a work could start from anywhere and end anywhere. The results are always changing depending on the individual 'reader' and always open-ended.
The idea of a work being based on an 'indeterminate' re-writing and/or being accessible from many starting points was explored by the choreographer Merce Cunningham in his use of chance systems like the flip of a coin or - most famously 'The Book of I-Ching' -to determine the structures of his dances. In 'Torse' in 1975 Cunningham devised 64 movement phrases and used the I Ching hexagrams to determine the structure of the work at a particular moment. (Lesschaeve 1999: 20 - 21) Behind this approach was the belief that the audience should not be struggling to understand some meaning inherent in a creator-determined juxtaposition, or in the structures and shapes of the work, but rather should be free to select, interpret and enjoy the work from their own perspective. Thus, we might say audiences construe meaning and create their own intertexts.
Moreover, Roger Copeland (1983:321) notes that throughout Cunningham's career he 'has made a practice of excerpting fragments from different works in his standard repertory and splicing them together in a form he calls events. Copeland explains that he uses the word splicing as appropriate to someone who uses raw material as a film editor would' and this way of working reflects Cunningham's 'determination to avoid completion or wholeness'. (Copeland 1983:321)
Copeland goes on to note that in the essay S/Z, Roland Barthes' description of open texts could be an equally valid description of Cunningham's work. 'The goal of literary work (of literature as work) is to make the reader no longer a consumer, but a producer of the text'. (Copeland 1983: 321)
The outline of Ted Nelson's vision of interconnected content and indeterminable structures was sketched out with some foresight in the writings of several post-structuralist theorists like Barthes. Michel Foucault in 'The Archeology of Knowledge', Jacques Derrida in 'Structure, sign and play' along with Roland Barthes, all described a form of hypertext before it was actually realised. Barthes comments in S/Z.
'...the networks are many and interact without any one of them being able to surpass the rest: this...is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilises extend as far as the eye can reach, they are indeterminable...'
(Barthes 1991: 5-6)