Exercise no.5

Exercise 5 - sound sequence

First sequence - series of tones of varying lengths, pitches, modulations and frequencies

Second sequence - series of generic sound effects : birdsong, printer scanning, waves crashing

Both sequences were just over 2 minutes long. After each sound there was a 5 second silence, so the participant could respond whilst the sound was playing but they also had time to complete and consolidate this movement in the short period after it had finished.

This activity, again, involved just two participants. I thought that using two individuals instead of three, like in my previous workshops, may encourage and reveal much more direct responses to the ‘other.’ Both participants performed their own routine individually, neither were allowed to watch the routine of the other because I didn’t want them either of them to receive any kind of inspiration from their partner. Once they had performed individually, they came together - performing alongside one another without discussion beforehand. In this section of the exercise I was hoping that the pair would not copy each other, but influence each other and perhaps end up interacting with each other at some point. I knew that the amount of interaction, lack of interaction, amount of influence on each other, would depend entirely on the combination of individuals I had chosen.

The task was simply to respond to the sound with a movement, to translate the series of sounds into a series of movements. I wanted to try out something being completely responsive with little rehearsal: in my previous work the individuals had been able to discuss, rehearse, and to stabilise the collaboration before the filming began. I facilitated this purely reactive activity just because I was curious to find out what kind of outcome I could get, more specifically, how easy it would be for these individuals to respond to the sounds without planning.

I thought that the participants would find it easier to respond to the sound effects than to the tones - this was not the case. I thought these would act as more intense, more provoking stimuli because they are more closely related to physical things that could be acted out or described with the shapes of the body. However, what is evident in the footage is that the individuals are no more provoked by the second sequence than they are by the first - the amount of movement, the speed of the movement, the intensity of the movement does not increase (or at least, not significantly).

So with the first sound sequence consisting of just tones, I allowed the participants to listen beforehand, and with the second sequence of sound effects, I didn’t. This in turn means that the second is more responsive

With both of these tasks it is important to note the difficulty both of the individuals experienced in responding to the material provided to them. I think there are a number of reasons why this may have been the case. The first is a self consciousness - we were working in a large open space (Regent’s Park) with lots of people passing by and lots of people, interested, stopping for a short while to observe. Although I have always been an advocate of this kind of environment for its power to evoke participation and team-work, if it also consistently evokes this stifling self-awareness then the location needs to be reconsidered.

Probably the most obvious reason is the pairs’ lack of familiarity with the stimuli. They had not heard the sound sequences before and I didn’t provide them with the time period needed for them to become familiar with it - so they didn’t really stand a chance in this sense. They couldn’t really have connected entirely with the material, even if they had really, really wanted to.

The stimuli in itself was not readily translatable. The translation of sound (monotonous, levelled sound, no way near to verging on melodic) into movement. The individuals had no pulse, no beat, no division of time to respond to, which is perhaps the easiest tool to use whilst reacting to sound with movement (in in dance). This means that an invention of some sorts is having to occur, a process has to occur in the mind before the sound is performed. In other words - THIS IS NOT HAPPENING NATURALLY. Maybe the allowance of a rehearsal period would not eradicate, but this self-consciousness would be reduced.

The participants were influenced not only by the movements of the other but the presence of the other - confidence and conviction of both performers definitely increased when joined by a partner. They both took comfort in the presence of the other. This was not only because they had a source to take inspiration from, but because they were able to react to each other and acknowledge the funniness of it all. Whilst performing alone, at points the individuals seemed unsure as to whether they were able to laugh, unsure as to how serious their performance had to be.

As in the previous exercises (with Jessy and Cath) some of the most interesting moments occurred when participant number 1 moved behind partner - meaning that participant number 2 could not see what their partner was doing, but participant number one could respond continually to the movements of their partner.

The pair did not copy each other, but the movements changed significantly when they joined together. There were moments of brief interaction. Either eye-contact was made or similar or the same movements were made. It was in these moments that the two individual routines converged, became connected, a completely new routine emerged. As the pair relaxed into the routine, relaxed into performing with one another, they began to almost circulate each other, producing a rhythm and a continuous motion of following one another around the space.

The routines were definitely more animated the second time round and I don’t believe that this was mainly because of the change in material. I believe it was because they had been ‘warmed up’, so to speak, they had become aware and at home in the space, they were beginning to become aware of not anywhere near what their bodies were capable of, but what their bodies were comfortable executing.

The pair overall did not connect entirely with the sound - this was to be expected, and can be explained justly by the issues of unfamiliarity, rehearsal, location. However, this lack of connection will not deter me from trying this activity again - this is a result which may have been completely dependent on audience. If I am going to attempt this activity, I will definitely need to make adjustments to the elements which seemed to negatively affect the materialisation of this one.