spill think-tank

Following on from Carolyn’s ‘heads up’ re SPILL festival, here’s a link:


The writing is here: http://spillfestival.com/spill-writing/

The thinking is here (but on twitter): http://spillfestival.com/spill-thinking/

The archive is here: http://spillfestival.com/spill-archive/

Many many materials there.

statements from today and thinking about the original

These were the statements regarding the question of documentation from today’s session:

  • performance’s life is in the present. Its ontology (nature) – and perhaps strength – is expressed through disappearance (Phelan 1993).
  • ways of knowing and experiences are deeply embodied in the liveness of the performance events themselves
  • we are responsible for communication and preservation (Rye, 2003)
  • the unrecorded has no value (objects of knowledge, economies of reproduction) (McQuire, 1998)
  • there is no such thing as pure “live” performance, and liveness is only a *thing* because recording technologies came into being (Auslander, 1999)

thinking about the original

  • the term documentation can assume simplistic relationship to the original
  • that live performance is real, original or true, and documentation is a poor cousin
  • what if the temporal relationship between performance and documentation is not as simple or obvious as you might imagine?
  • what if documentation’s primary role is no longer preservation?

some key things to consider (or takeaway?)

  • if the terms of documenting practice (or performance) are open, then how does writing fit into the picture?
  • basic project would have three key surfaces: artwork, traces of this artwork, written component
  • this potentially falls into (not the worst) trap of everything serving the artwork
  • single project with many surfaces
  • the nature of the relationship(s) between these surfaces to reveal your understanding in relation to the work of others
  • juggling the poetic with the discursive
  • skeptical attitude towards reflection (it’s critical)
  • consider our practices as comprising materials and traces (and indeed how these overlap or may even be synonymous)
  • what is the nature of our materials-traces?

questions for personal reflection

  • what are the materials-traces of your practice(s)?
  • what kinds of relationships exist between them?
  • what ideas might they be serving other than your practice?
  • what kinds of writing might make sense with these materials-traces?
  • how might they change or help evolve your practice?
  • what is missing?
  • what are others doing that you might steal?
  • what is un/necessary?
  • what is most/least clear?
  • who else has handled or developed similar materials-traces?
  • what becomes available to you?
  • how do these *other* materials-traces function? What if they are not other? How is a singular proposition, work or iteration emerging from my practice?
  • how might we understand *loss* and *gain* in relation to traces, documentation, liveness and originality?

hypothetical practice as performance

Jenny has asked the following of me and this blog:

is this a performance that you’re doing here for us? And is it practice as research? If so, could it be useful for us if you answered some of your own questions in relation to your practice of posting on this blog?


Before I begin, yes, I think it is performative. My decision to make the space public has many functions, but the performative component of this is strong. I wouldn’t have thought it is practice-as-research but I’m happy to think of it in this way.

What have you been doing (as practice)?

It’s irregular but for the most part I have been collecting ideas that I think might stimulate others to expand their own work, thinking and practices. I have then been posting these to this blog. At the same time, this collecting – and how you have been responding (or not) – informs my own understanding of the possibilities, limitations and structures of both practice-as-research and pedagogy.

Who else has done similar kinds of practices?

I’m going to delimit this to the ‘practice of blogging’ (and not so much the pedagogical and practice-as-research angles). Two people come to mind.

What texts seem influential or relevant to this practice?

I would start with Lucas and Michel above. But, it would also depend on which ‘line of flight’ I take. I would tend towards Foucault as I like how he thinks through the nature of friendship in relation to power. And yes, part of my understanding of this ‘practice’ of blogging in a learning and teaching environment is to attempt to destabilise my position as the knower. My worry in responding to these questions (questions I initially asked of you guys) is that I am asserting my ‘understanding’ of practice-as-research. Ugh.

What outcome are you working towards? How will you do it.

I am not [working towards outcomes] but if I were I’d try a couple of tests. The first would be to print out these posts on large format paper and tape them to the floor of the Mi.131. They would become a kind of paper carpet that people would walk (and dance) all over. The second would be to project the posts onto the entire space of Mi.131 and then have the letters slowly degrade over time.

Why is it important? (How might it matter? So what?)

It’s important because blogging is the most striking change in how ideas are communicated, and indeed who has the power to ‘broadcast’. It’s important because blogging affords alternative kinds of voices (no, my voice is not that alternative). It’s important because I understand my role as a teacher to somehow find a way to get out of the way of the curiosity, commitment and generosity of the students I am working for.

What plans have you made for documenting or producing ‘additional materials’ for the project?

The project is documenting itself as it is developed. However, I’d look to find other ways of playing with the texts. This would involve selecting aspects (key components?) and making them physical objects (life beyond the screen). This denaturing of the materials would allow me to mess with them, to understand them in different ways. I’d probably try and build some kind of flickbook out of the texts (at least to start with). At the front of my mind is how this practice (and its outcomes) might be remembered and communicated beyond its own form, and whether indeed this is necessary and/or appropriate.

the copulation of practice and theory

Following on from a comment during Monday’s session when one of you expressed some anxiety about theory in relation to your practices, I thought you might enjoy this (it was recommended to me by Bob Whalley):


You’ll be able to download the full article via the library.

One other thing to consider is that working with (and indeed against) theory can be a type of practice. Don’t limit yourselves to understanding practice as being something that happens within the boundaries of a studio.

being curious

These are Emilyn’s notes and questions from today.

Phenomenological Enquiry. Or – Being Curious:

  • What do you notice when you do that?
  • What happens when you do that?
  • Is there a history that comes with that?
  • What is the memory you have with that?
  • What happens next?
  • What happens if you do the opposite?
  • Can you exaggerate that?
  • What happens now?
  • Can you describe what is happening?
  • As you talk about it, what else is happening?
  • What is not moving?
  • How do you do that?
  • Teach me how you do that?

Lines of flight

Multiplicities are defined by the outside: by the abstract line, the line of flight or deterritorialization according to which they change in nature and connect with other multiplicities.

Deleuze & Guatarri 1980 A Thousands Plateaus p. 9


  • What meaning do you make of this?
  • What wider contextual ideas emerge?
  • What do you take from this?
  • What is no longer useful to you in your practice?
  • How does this change my practice?

translation and mapping: notes from Alys’ class

These are Alys’s notes from Monday.

Choreographic Research Class Roehampton, 5 October 2015

  1. Introduction

Think of a question related to your research that is currently interesting you. So introduce with your name and your question.

  1. Context
  1. What is research? (group 1 minute brainstorm) Freewriting mind map on a piece of paper of anything that comes into your head.
  2. Is there difference between a research practice and a choreographic practice? (group 1 minute brainstorm)
  3. What are your most important tools in developing a dance making/research practice? – List these on your paper: your list can be as whimsical/serious/ diffuse as you like, try to include obvious and less obvious things – Rate your list with 1 being most essential
  1. Methods: Translation and Mapping

For me, after 10 years of artistic research in universities, the fold between different modes of practice takes on a heightened importance in an academic research setting.

What might you consider the fold between different kinds of practice, or different vocabularies, or different ways of thinking in your own work?

  • Forms of notating what I’m doing
  • Attending to questions that drive my work, but also clarify relationships between this specific inquiry and others in my field and related fields (setting limits, narrowing possibilities)
  • Understanding process and communicating the conceptual development of work in multiple vocabularies– the vocabulary of my studio practice, the vocabulary of a journal, academic language, the vocabulary of funding applications, the vocabulary of publicity statements, poetic writing, narrative writing – all of these are necessary for me in different ways in generating work that moves between different contexts.

So today I’d like to work with two different methods or fields of practice that I am currently finding very useful in my research- translation and mapping.


What ideas/processes/ concepts does the term translation evoke?

What ideas/processes/ concepts does the term mapping evoke?

Moving Task

  • Provide a range of different drawing implements – watercolour brushes, pencils, crayons, ink and fountain pen
  • Everyone choose a implement for drawing/ writing

Steve Paxton’s small dance

  • Translate the sensorium of this movement to the page – allowing the drawing medium you’ve chosen to be active in this embodied investigation at the site of the page
  • Consider this a kind of duet with the media – think of degrees of weight, texture, fluidity, grittiness or softness, density of line. Listen carefully to the possibilities of the media. Feel the movement in your body and translate it through this medium, to the page.

return to small dance

  • Map the sensorium of this movement to the page – again allowing the drawing medium you’ve chosen to be active in this embodied investigation at the site of the page
  • Place your map and translation on the ground – everyone pick up one page produced by someone else.
  • Make a little cell of movement from your page

2 minute tasks

  • Now write a list of the first things that come to your mind after moving through your phrase
  • Change writing implement
  • Now describe specific pathways or actions with as much detail as possible – you can return to the movement whenever you like
  • Change writing implement
  • Write or draw tangentially – keep the experience, the sensorium of the movement in your body, and write anything that comes into your head no matter how unrelated it may seem, the point is to be indirect and bring in the unexpected.
  • Change writing implement
  • Write a poem out of the sensorium of movement – that is allow the cadence, sound, melody of words and their space on the page to articulate the movement.

Collective composition task

So one person will place one of their drawings down on the floor and then another person will choose one of their drawings to place down in relationship to it, and we keep composing our papers on the floor until all our papers are added. The form that emerges is created through the task.

Time to look through the collective assemblage of writing/drawing

To imagine that a meaning might be the same despite a change of words is something like imagining that I’d still be me in a new body.

Charles Bernstein ”Close Listening: Poetry and Performed Word” Oxford University Press, 1998, p.17


  • Might the instruments through which we document or reflect on or map or translate our practices effect the way that we understand what we do?
  • Conversely, are there forms of documenting or reflecting on or writing about practice that prevent us from understanding elements of it?
  • Thinking about the relationship between sense/experience and style.
  • How important is style in choreographic research?
  • How important is design?

References On Translation:

Choreographic Research Aotearoa http://dra.ac.nz/DRA/article/view/8/7

On Mapping: Hyperrhiz http://hyperrhiz.io/hyperrhiz12/meta-mapping/1-longley-fluid-pixels.html