Map : A spatial representation of reality
Spatial : Consisting of at least two dimensions and usually referring to geographic space
Representation : Something that stands for something else
Reality : The totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence
Body : A concrete, material, animate organisation of flesh, organs, nerves, muscles, and skeletal structure. A body is defined, delimited, and articulated by what writes it, it is the surface and raw material of an integrated organisation of physical and social inscription. The body is organically/biologically/naturally “incomplete”; it is indeterminate, amorphous. A series of uncoordinated potentialities which require social triggering, ordering, and long-term “administration,” regulated in each culture and epoch by what Foucault has called “the micro- technologies of power.” The body, a human body, a body which coincides with the “shape” and space of a psyche, a body whose epidermal surface bounds a psychical unity, a body which thereby defines the limits of experience and subjectivity, in rule-governed social order. (Bodies-Cities, Grosz)
My current research is based on a performance work, A Map of Scars, Bruises and Broken Bones, which I created as part of the Discipline the City exhibition at Substation in 2017. I was working with the idea of mapping as an external spatial and visual exercise. Performers of different ages and sizes go through a cycle of placing themselves in the space, lining themselves up against each other before performing a collective and individual repetitive action and sound. Based on codes of formalised movement language such as a sport or a dance form and its mechanic reproduction, a step-by-step sequence of a physical regime loops into a series of gestures forming phases that repeat themselves cyclically. The movement was composed from daily postures set in linear patterns and collective repetitive actions to comment on the discipline and control of bodies operating in a fixed regime of space and time.
For the residency at Dance Nucleus, my research was about designing a movement practice and developing means of embodying the idea of mapping. I wanted to put the focus on the performer and started to look at creating a process that will bringing the ideas into physical experience. In the mentorship program with Arco Renz, I connected with his use of breath as an expressive medium, a physical pump which can connect between forms. I began to engage with my breath and use it as a mode to measure the internal sense of my body. That brought the inquiry into the body and the research gradually evolved from external languages to internal ones.
I was interested to measure and represent the body as a kinetic energetic terrain. How do I measure and transmit internal sensations? I experimented with measuring its sense of depth and intensity of the body through modes of measurement using joints, breath and muscles. I looked into the body as phenomenon as I go through a process of sensing and representing internal spaces by going through a process of breathing, tensing and jerking.
I devised the movement score below as a frame.
Walk along a diagonal line across the space
Sit, squat, stand, lie down along the line
Test the length and reach of head, legs and arms
Breathe in and out through the nose
Where in the body do you send the breath to?
Work into the extremities of volume, physical expansion and compression
Increase the speed of breath
Tracing paths like marking coordinate of a map
Isolated muscles contraction
Inspired by Arco Renz’s abstract approach to dramaturgy, I did not design shapes or gestures that I feel will represent the concept of the work. I focused on tactility and corporeal senses as the means to measure and test the body’s limit. I used the sensations of numbness, tightness and soreness at different points of my body as markers of borders and boundaries. This became about me experiencing my body and negotiating the process within the structure. I presented the movement score at two different moments of studio presentation, during which someone commented that they felt the intensity of the performance and was physically affected by it. Most felt their breathing changed and appreciated seeing the body in danger of hyper ventilating. Some even became concerned for my safety and questioned the intention of the mapping. I was intrigued by their responses, which demonstrated that the physicality of the performer was able to stir emotions and trigger physiological effects.
In the further development of my movement practice into a creative work, I see myself as performer-cartographer charting a kinesthetics terrain. I will continue to explore the embodiment of measurements as a means to performance making. By taking a corporeal approach to performance, this project expands the lens through which to view, discuss and make performance. As a performance maker, I would like the audience to view the body as a living event, a monument of breath, muscularity and energy.
Video link to the work in progress:
Notes from the mentoring sessions