I've been working a lot on the concept of "sampling" as a method in contemporary dance practice. Sampling, functions pragmatically to enable space to consider many diverse dance practices – both my own and others, and to assemble the ideas and issues arising from within them. The development of “Case Studies” through which to create experiments with different external-frameworks, processes of ex-quiry, also arose from the concept of sampling. The use of sampling, as a ways and means to practice and understand contemporary dance can be viewed in relation to Paul Miller’s (DJ Spooky) ideas regarding the culture of sampling and the nature of the “cut” within it.
The word cut makes me think about roads and highways cutting across the landscape. Flying over major urban areas you see the countryside, and then slowly it becomes more geometric, with roads carved into the land. By the time you get to Manhattan or another center, you see all these geometric stratifications, layers of cuts. The urban planner Robert Moses levelled much of the Bronx to build highway systems. He sliced through what were then different layers of class. Ghetto communities were much more affected by this road-building project than others were. That influenced how people viewed the community, which affected hip-hop music. That’s one kind of cut. Another kind of cut is the film cut. For the early filmmakers, such as Georges Melies and the Lumiere brothers, editing and being able to splice film was part of how to put scenes together. Related to this was the collages culture of Pablo Picasso and the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire, who were juxtaposing phrases and pulling random elements together to make language poems. Then there is jazz’s layering and its radical juxtaposition of totally nonsequential riffs. Film cuts, literary cuts, sound cuts – each one reflected the culture itself.
In America, everybody had to collage together their identities – white, blacks, and, after a certain point Indians because they got moved around so much and their tribes were broken up. This is the land of the blank slate, so it’s a cut-and-paste culture. Now you can jump from website to website, paste together essays and sound fragments – it’s sampling. These issues have migrated almost fully intact to the digital age. [i]
[i] Becker, C, & Crawford, R 2002, 'An interview with Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky--That Subliminal Kid', Art Journal, 1, p. 83, General OneFile, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 May 2015