temperance – monster curves

When I was a student at VCA, I somehow blagged a copy of William Forsythe’s Improvisation Technologies which was largely responsible for the theoretical basis of the actual dancing in my work up until extermination when I was coerced into a satanic black metal cult. I was surprised to find I’d kept it not buried in some ready-for-the-garbage archive, but on a dvd that has travelled around with me for the last four years. The practical development of movement for temperance depends heavily on this stuff.

On its own, many of the approaches to analysing space and movement fall into fairly narrow Euclidean and Cartesian geometry. It gets interesting for me when momentum, residual motion and instability generate stochastic iterations that spread across a moving body in ways that can’t be predicted and are almost painfully complex to repeat.

I was talking about fractals and chaotic dynamics on Friday night, and how while both can be used as a somewhat facile metaphor for developing complexity in improvisation, there is a literal exactness, for example in which the flow of motion is sensitive to the initial conditions (the boundaries imposed by the very precise improvisation techniques). Unlike a mathematical or geological fractal though (eg the Mandelbrot set or the coastline of Australia) which are genuinely fractal at any scale, the fine structure on the scale of a body stops at the smallest joints.

As usual, everything currently refers back to Leibniz, and the idea of recursive self-similarity is as much in his scientific theories in topology as it is in his philosophical theories of optimism. So in this I think the current interest for me is how to define a system of improvising which is as clear in its understanding and quantifying of chaotic dynamics and fractal geometry as it is about Euclidean and Cartesian analysis of space.

Coming back to the practicalities of making temperance, we spent Friday night compressing all the techniques we’d been working with earlier in the week down onto our fingers, hands and upper body, then watching video of stuff from earlier in the week and beginning to learn it. There is a haunting, alien atmosphere that comes from watching these improvisations in the black box of the Temperance Hall under a de-saturating florescent light almost like Macbeth’s witches. It is something to do with the obvious thinking that goes on while the possessed bodies describe fiendishly intricate baroque designs.