iLand: Hope Mohr: Entry #1
iLAB Collaborative Residency
A question of method: Intentional versus unconscious physical responses to noise. Deconstructing the decision to move. The critical moment is the gap between receiving sensory information and reacting to it through movement. How will we work with that gap, inside it? Unconscious responses feel more authentic, more direct. But it seems impossible to avoid the will.
When we deconstruct the decision to move in response to sensory information, what language do we use? Specifically, is movement in response to sound “expression” or “translation”? This isn’t just semantics. I have been thinking of movement in response to sound as an act of “translation;” Michelle has been thinking of it in terms of “expression.” I think of “translation” as the third stage in a process. The first stage: “Pure” sensation, pure input from the environment (is this a fiction? is this moment even possible to capture?). Second stage: Perception, when we filter sensory input through our minds and bodies. Third stage: Physical reaction/movement. I think of this third stage as translation, conversion, alchemy.
Michelle prefers the word “expression.” She talked today about how, for her, “expression” connotes something more idiomatic than “translation.” (Michelle: “Expression’ connotes that you have put your skin, your imprint on the movement.”)
Perhaps expression comes after translation? Expression is seen. Translation may be invisible. Perhaps we translate the world, and then express ourselves?
Michelle responds to all this later: “I don’t know if I agree that dancing, in response to sensing and perceiving the environment, is equal to translating. To me, this presumes that one knows the “meaning” of whatever it is that is causing the sensation or the perception, and is simply conveying it, “verbatim”, into another “language”. Rather, I think we respond in movement to sensations and perceptions which make us feel a certain way. We express our own idea of that experience of sensing based on how it makes us feel. Maybe it’s a question of literal translation vs. person-specific idiomatic expression.”
Mapping the environment onto the body. The fanciful notion of the holograph. That every cell contains the whole universe (nod to Deborah Hay), that Delhi corresponds to the pancreas, the moons of Jupiter to freckles on the left arm.
Can awareness be mapped at all? Is awareness governed by any order? Or are we just picking at strands from an infinite web, something like the world’s largest ball of twine. What orders awareness? Habit? Will? Memory?
When we focus on somatic/sensory concerns, do we abandon aesthetics? How can we share listening-based forms in a visual culture?
“How can art remain politically significant without assuming a doctrinal standpoint or aspiring to become social activism?”—Francis Alys. Potential answer: The poetics of the work. Another potential answer: When it is grounded in somatic experience?
Is this research about finding a sense of place? I don’t even live in New York anymore. Can I have a sense of place based in my body? Is sense of place a skill that we can transplant, activate with the breath?
If science tells us a particular place is loud, but we go there every day and don’t particularly notice it as loud, is it really loud? How can we monitor our inner states in an objective way. How to weave science into creative exploration? Bouncing subjective experience off “fact.” Science has been used to protect the environment; science has been used to justify anti-environmental acts (Bush). Subjectivity of science.
No sound without movement. The molecules jostle in the air en route to the ear.