Butoh Class at Keio: “Poetic felt space: embodying poetry through dance movement, projected visual images and sound.” by Maria Adriana Verdaasdonk

On 17th December, Maria Adriana Verdaasdonk joined the Butoh class led by Takashi Morishita, at Keio University.
She gave a presentation according to her thesis “Living Lens: exploreing interdependencies between performing, bodies visual and sonic media in immersive installation” (Queensland University of Technology, 2007, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/16631/).
Here’s the summary of her presentation/lecture.

Overview of lecture, December 17, 2010:

Poetic felt space: embodying poetry through dance movement, projected visual images and sound.

Poetic felt space is a concept coined to describe organic and sensory connections between performing bodies, visual and sonic elements, in an immersive performance installation entitled Living Lens. An ongoing project developed both in Australia and Japan since 2006, Living Lens is a collaboration of dance artists, visual and sound artists, and computer programmers.

Living Lens is inspired by butoh-fu – a kind of imagistic dance notation developed through the Japanese dance-form butoh – using text-based or pictorial images as the basis for developing dance movement. Living Lens particularly references the butoh-fu of Tatsumi Hijikata, as transcribed by his student, Yukio Waguri, in the CD-ROM/DVD-ROM Butoh Kaden (1998/2004). The poetic phrases identify the bodily sensory world as an extended nervous system:

Her nerves crack a tiny whip on her fingers…

Hands are touching the surface of a wooden door in front of you,

Antennae stretching out of your fingertips,

infinitely trace the grains of wood…

The imagery of extension/retraction of nerves through the fingertips helps to enhance a dancer’s tactile sense, with the fingers actively palpitating the air. Having “antennae-like fingertips” is a way for the dancer to extend her/his touch range to imagine invisible connections to space, such as to projected visual images on a screen surface. By the same means, a projected visual image of a skeletonised leaf with lace-like veins, for example, can reciprocally evoke ligaments or nerves within the human body. Sound helps to further activate sensory dimensions, for example, the sound of heartbeats, or electric pulses reminiscent of synaptic firings in the brain, are invisible, yet tangible presences, in the installation. Thus, butoh-fu is a poetic and practical means for integrating the elements of performing bodies, visuals and sound. The following butoh-fu has great potential for such an integrated scenario, setting the atmosphere for all three components: the “behaviour” of the dancers, the moving “wall” or projection screen/surface, and the tense “insane air” augmented by sound effects:

World of the neurology ward

A mad woman appears.

The walls and air of the room are insane.

What are you doing?

Her behaviour and sensitivity have become frighteningly precise

and she herself is frighteningly beautiful…

In summary, the concept of poetic felt space has a multifunctional role: to conceptualise the affective nature of the immersive environment with its components of performing bodies, visual images and sounds; and, in relation to the butoh-fu, to refer to the way a dancer becomes attentive to felt sensations within her/his body and subsequently, to manifest these feelings as outward expression.

Maria Adriana Verdaasdonk (Netherlands/Australia)

From the early to mid-1990s Maria Adriana Verdaasdonk (Mariana) studied aikido at Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo and butoh at Asbestos-kan studio with Akiko Motofuji. In 1994 she co-founded media performance unit 66b/cell as a result of work combining body movement and multimedia. In 2007 she completed a practice-led PhD at Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia) investigating interdependencies between performing bodies, visual and sonic media.

Performances and presentations include Ars Electronica 2002, ISEA2002, 2003 Seoul International Dance Festival, 2008 World Dance Alliance Global Summit and 2010 World Dance Alliance Event. She received an RSA Encouragement of Arts Award for visual research on the Japanese art concept of ‘ma’ in 1996 and the Peter Elkin Drama Prize for Faust II Project in 1997.

Media performance unit 66b/cell: http://www.66bcell.com



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