Following on from my previous post, I have now harnessed the Go Pro camera to my chest. This as I anticipated, offers quite a different perspective and quality to wearing the camera on a helmet atop my head.
So what am I noticing so far?
It reminds me of a project I began in Finland last year – Bear Lady, and earlier than that, Naissance.
(Bear Lady, video still, 2015)
Bear Lady began when in the costume storage of the dance school in Outokumpu, I found a beautiful black fur coat. It was particularly appealing to me as Finland experienced a much colder than usual summer last year and the main project I was there for was based in the old copper mine up the road from the dance school. We had some time to work on our own projects and so I donned the coat and found myself a curious concrete hide out with a severely slanted floor. It is unclear what this small shed-like building would have been for in the mine especially given that the floor was so slanted it was almost impossible to stand upon. Wearing the black coat, I found myself laying on the slant, clinging to its edges and just breathing. At times I rested my camera on my belly and just filmed the rise and fall of the fur. There was time on one day to visit the museum display at the mine, and here I was confronted by just how many men were lost during the mine’s history and how many wives and children they left behind. Breathing while lying in the fur coat in the small slanted-floor building seemed somehow fitting. An intimate view.
(Naissance, video still, 2007)
Naissance was created across a number of locations, mostly the house of a friend’s grandmother in Sunbury, Melbourne. At this house I spent hours filming – in the back yard, the dark hallways and the bathroom. Most memorable are the moments that were spent perched over the bathtub – it full of water with my friend laying in it wearing a petticoat. Like Bear Lady, much time was spent capturing breathing and subtle shifts, as close as possible to the perspective and experience of the performer.
The camera on my chest is close to having a self-witness as different to an audience or video camera witness, and yet it is different to my usual self-witness. It has made me aware of my typical positioning of my self-witness – far away and above me, mostly. I have never imagined my self-witness as being in the driver’s seat and seeing things through my eyes. The camera view from my chest comes pretty close. This makes me aware that mostly I have worked on a model that I am the dancer, my witness is the choreographer/overseer and together we are attending to the score/unfolding dance.
Wearing the camera harnessed to my chest more of my attention is on other parts of my body – I am aware of moving and softening my chest area in order that I capture – my belly, my breath, the top of my foot, the tips of my fingers, the top of my shoulder…
“Dance involves a bodily expressivity that attributes to the body what is usually given to the face: expression, intensity, feeling.”
(Brannigan, E. “Micro-Choreographies: The Close-up in Dancefilm.” International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media 5, no. 2&3 (2009): 124.)
The practice of wearing the camera on my chest is helping me to find and connect with those other ‘bits’ of the body, the dead patches. This experience reminds me of the way I have felt doing Trisha Brown’s Locus score and engaging with Deborah Hay’s open practice. There is a lovely jumble in the hierarchy of body parts and a refreshing in the mind with the discovery of ‘new’ parts and patterns.
“…even more important than muscular habits are your neurological habits, because all the nerve pathways and all the inter-connections whereby energy flows from one nerve centre to another are largely habitual. The energy flows along habitual lines. It’s like water running in an irrigation system in fields. It runs along habitual lines because those lines have become so familiar. That is how energy flows.”
(Carrington, Walter. The Act of Living: Talks on the Alexander Technique. edited by Jerry Sontag United)
My energy can have the chance to flow in new ways.
Earlier this year I was introduced to a practice of articulating the ‘news from the body’ in an intensive with Ros Crisp. Using this practice and aware of the babble that speaks, the news is that I still need to breath as I dance. If I hold my breath the camera on my chest hardly moves at all or gets to see the rest of my body and the surrounding world. If I breath, the view is so much more interesting and more important than that, my experience of the dance is enormously enriched. Time to review The Art of Breathing.