Over recent months I have been in the studio working with a new external framework - animation software 'Poser'. Well, new to my own practice but familiar and indeed antiquated to others such as Wayne McGregor, among others. 'Poser' proves to be an impossible task - one of my favourite things when considering a new process. And, the video files I create become the stimulus for solving physical problems.
I orginally chose 'Poser' after being introduced to it during Kim Vincs' project The Crack Up at Motion.Lab. What I liked about the files that Kim gave us was the ability to interpret movement that was physically impossible to replicate - the files were created with a humanoid form with no joint rotation limits, no sense of gravity, movement is intiated from the hips/centred from the hips, and there is no sense of frame and therefore it can move through the floor or fly off screen. Picking up the software myself as someone not particulalrly tech-savvy I was a little nervous but by following a simple idea of open up the program, set the number of frames to any arbitrary number you wish, manipulate the model using the tools provided and at randomly clicked upon frames throughout the length already set, and finally create a video file of the movement performance was simple enough.
Another appealing concept is the 30-day free trial available. When considering the application of an external framework within studio-based dance practice it seems relevant that ubiquitous technologies and open source software or systems, can provide a dancer with a means to experiment with possibilities of human movement through augmenting their own body practice with the aid of a freely available technological system.
In my consideration for constructing a new studio-based process, I decided that it was necessary to maintain my training-practice as a warm up. Training-practice has long been established as part of my ongoing dance practice and includes: running, ballet barre, stretch, tumbling, a core workout on the tissu, climbing the tissu, and drilling any new skills that seem appropriate or necessary for the project at hand. These trainings keep me fit, adaptable and open to take on any physical challenge. Following on from training-practice I have been working on the 'poser project'.
Constructing a studio-based process for the 'poser project' as with all studio-based processes is dynamic and intuitive. Below I seek to demonstrate some of the ideas I have been working with without being prescriptive, directorial, or sequential - they are offered as concepts I have been working with as a process of what I understand as 'ex-quiry', working with an external framework on studio-based dance practice. These concepts are interwoven and oscillate in loops within my practice. To date this has been a blue-sky project with the focus on studio-based process and practice and not on a performative outcome as such.
The software itself provides tools for defining methods for manipulating a figures movement. These I set as filters within improvisation experiments.
Finding that my experiments on the soles of my feet were limited. I decided to move towards the tissu or aerial silk as a mean to support my movement from other bases of support - neck, quad/hamstring, arm pits, front and side hips, lower back with legs hidden in tissu, and sitting in a kind of harness. These new bases of support provided alternatives and allowed me to move freely with the idea of moving from the hips as a centre of mass. However, while freeing-up my lower body, my upper body became less mobile as it took over as a means of support and facilitated my movement on the tissu in new ways. Concepts such as "finding the wildness" and "wild head and arms" at the same time as maintaining the freedom of the lower body became ideals of practice.
I continued all the while to include within my studio-based process the use of the software Poser as a means to re-calibrate and immerse and re-inspire my physical experiments. Generating video files that sampled my use of the software and offered a moving partner (on loop) where necessary to provide further movement stimulus.
Very early in the project (and in fact while working with Vincs) there was a recognition that attempts to maintain a closeness to the poser figures movement stagnates the process and practice. Chosing instead to work with its movement like a choreographer improvising in front of you and applying the task of - what did you notice? Take that noticing and investigate that. It operated as a line of flight.
The tissu proved to be a plausible solution to acessing movement from your hips. However, the points of contact or rather body parts that were the central weight bearing point posed much the same problem as standing on the soles of your feet - you're still not in flight nor freely mobile.
Chains of movement:
posers logic or making sense and sequence from the randomly created postures along the timeline are not physically possible for a human body
its' logic creates opportunities to disrupt my own patterns of movement - movement chains
looking for diversions and finding ways to initiate action in your body to change or alter the sequence at any point - this includes attempting to re-direct the flow of the tissu either spinning or swinging on the pendulum
still finding the balance between too much control and finding the wildness of the movement possibilities
bracing the body to generate support limits the wildness - arms and head particularly limited.
And, still in process I have returned to the soles of my feet. Thinking this time about the action of working with the software - clicking and shifting parts of the body, dragging, pulling, stretching, rotating, moving quickly searching for the next manipulation, applying it, moving again, unconcerned for the awkwardness of the movement and its sheer impossibility, pushing further...