The White Space

White space vs open public space

Uniform wear vs freedom to dress however

At this point in my process it is important for me to seriously consider whether I need to revert back to using the white space or whether I continue using outside, open, public spaces.

During a discussion with my Territories of Practice group it was pointed out that in order to film movement of the highest clarity and sharpness, I need to carry this out in a white room. I can understand this viewpoint completely, as I do also agree that in order for the videos to be about the movement, and the movement ONLY a white space is the most appropriate backdrop for them. The white space facilities activity which for the viewer is the only thing to look at, to focus on. I can see why my group may consider the white space and the only, truly, neutral space.

However, over time, the white space has become such a point of contention and discussion that it is no longer “neutral” at all. It has to come to represent multiple things - it evokes the white gallery space, the white plinth, the general aesthetic expectations of contemporary art. It would be great if the white space did produce this neutrality, to allow a video piece to be void of anything but the actual activity occurring within it, however in my opinion this is no longer the case. So much work I have studied has used the white space as the default environment and whilst at one point this definitely was able to achieve a distinctness, an impartiality, I don’t think it can anymore (at least, not within the context that I would be using it).

I could experiment with using the white space but as friend pointed out to me recently, I have already experimented with this environment profusely. If using the white space is the only way that I may be able to achieve clarity, then surely there is a much more deep-rooted problem within the work. I need to find ways to achieve explicitness, cohesiveness outside of the white space : this is an important and considerable challenge for me.

The environments I have been using (the park, the garden) have been successful because of the atmosphere they produce. They also support the notion of ‘play’ that I am consistently eager to explore, because these are the places where we most frequently played when we were younger. This environment works for my exercises, also, for a number of other reasons. Firstly, the participants will not be intimidated by the silence, or the pressure of the situation of it being them there and them alone. I also don’t want to create a performative environment, I want to create an exploratory and investigative environment.

Within my group there was also quite a lengthy discussion, in reference to my work, about the use of uniform. The argument was made in a similar vain to the argument of the white space, that the only way the movements could be focussed on would be if there were no other talking points, like the clothing of the participants. My group believe that wearing uniform (all black, all white, all one people) eradicates any kind of conversation about the clothing. They said that if I didn’t want to clothing to be a talking point then I needed to use uniform - I believe in quite the opposite.

The uniform is definitely not neutral for me (as neutral as the white space), it feels very forced and decisive, an act against something. Using uniform for me represents a desperate attempt to remove any individuality - trying so hard to remove any sense of identity that it becomes a major part of the piece.

Personally I believe that the choice of clothing can only be neutral if I, as the choreographer, had very little to do with the decision. The only way that I can disregard this area is if I don’t plan it at all, if the participants just wear what they like, what they would wear on any average day. This is how I plan to achieve neutrality within the area of clothing.

The uniform feels severely wrong to me now. This is not a uniform process - it is flexible, and it depends on this flexibility.