new live dance

In the 2010 edition of the annual World Question Center, the question for leading intellectuals around the world was “How has the internet changed the way you think?” In his response, the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist spoke for many when he expressed an increasing desire for non-mediated experience, or what he called the New Live.

People today want to get up from behind their screens and be a part of the world around them, in the same space as well as the same time. The virtual chases the real and avatars approach, but despite the spectacle people ultimately become wary, untrusting and judgmental.

If we were truly to wish for a non-mediated experience we would need to go back in time and gradually remove interfaces until we eventually arrived at a moment before words, directly aware and conscious, alone. A moment like a melody or a dance.

When a car alarm goes off we both hear. When the sun rises we both see. Turning towards each other to make love we touch, smell, hear, see: we share something together with nothing in between but a little space. We don’t have to say anything. No word, no image, no recording brings us together, but just a gesture, a movement.

I believe this is where dance began, in something primordial and unconditioned. A time where instances continuously fall away, where we sense an unexpected future without anticipating it. If we really want non-mediated experiences, we need to go back to this.

In a virtual world of tags and links which continually send people off on a chase for context and meaning, I’d like to propose returning to a non-verbal multi–interpretable form, a new live dance, where the perceptions we share are what bind us. No going anywhere else in search of something other than what is right there in front of us – make of it what we will.

In this form perceptual is primary; conceptual is secondary, just as it occurs in real time. We could be given the freedom to contemplate in an open and individual way what we see before us. There is the potential for mutual respect. The dancer is not telling us something; the audience is not just receiving something – we are sharing instead.

The task for those who participate in the performance event becomes one not of linking but of refreshing. This is done by removing the opportunities for interpretation, pulling audience and dancer closer to the unexpected event which is unfolding. No one needs to ‘get’ anything anymore.

The ever-increasing monumental connectivity of the internet represents a new paradigm in human communication – two billion souls peering into a cloud, busy sharing links and flattening the world and everything in it. But who needs these links anyway? Who needs flat? We need volume. We need to hit the refresh button instead – over and over. We don’t need yet another story, another link, another excuse to go somewhere else. We need the opportunity to create our own version of nowness, just by means of our own perceptions.

We need the new live dance.

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2 Responses to new live dance

  1. Giovanni says:

    Hi Rob! Thanks for your blog. We dancers need to think and reflect upon what we do everyday. I bookmarked it!
    I would say, on what you are writing, that what you would like to achieve is theoretically impossible. Do you think dance (or movement) can be ‘before’ language? Do you think there can be a cultural ‘thing’ which cannot be written? I would say, with Derrida, that written words came before spoken words. Can we consider dance, as a writing-with-the-body expression, one of the earliest forms of writing (therefore mediated experience)?
    Derrida used to send his friend this card:
    Plato (the writer) is dictating Socrates (the spoker). Funny, isn’t it?

    By the way, I saw a performance of yours some years ago in Amsterdam. That was great!

    I have just opened with some colleagues a videoblog on dance. It is mainly spoken in Italian, but we are working on some videos in english… Hope you can join us!

    • rob says:

      Thanks for you comments Giovanni, and good luck with your videoblog! In reply to what you said about writing-with-the-body expression, this is the subject of my research; only i am pursuing it by attempting to erase this writing in my process, and thereby collapse the distance between dancer and viewer, and the project of interpretation. To make illegible so to speak.
      In this process I have found basic codes which exist between audience and dancer – symmetry, simultaneity, rhetorical and demonstrative body, the beginnings and ends of gesture, etc. – which demonstrate the legible ‘written’ language you and Derrida speak about.
      As for going back in time, my project is closer to that described by Giorgio Agamben in his essay “What is the Contemporary”:

      “Historians of literature and art know there is a secret affinity between the archaic and the modern, not so much because the archaic forms seem to exercise a particular charm on the present, but rather because the key to the modern is hidden in the immemorial and the prehistoric. Thus, the ancient world in its decline turns to the primordial so as to rediscover itself. The avantgarde, which has lost itself over time, also pursues the primitive and the archaic. It is in this sense that one can say that the entry point to the present necessarily takes the form of an archeology; an archeology that does not, however, regress to a historical past, but returns to that part within the present that we are absolutely incapable of living. What remains un-lived therefore is incessantly sucked back toward the origin, without ever being able to reach it. The present is nothing other than this un-lived element in everything that has lived. That which impedes access to the present is precisely the mass of what for some reason (its traumatic character, its excessive nearness) we have not managed to live. The attention to this ‘un-lived’ is the life of the contemporary. And to be contemporary means in this sense to return to a present where we have never been.” [translated by David Kishnik and Stefan Pedatella in Giorgio Agamben What is an Apparatus? Stanford U Press, 2009]

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