Intersensoriality and emplacement / The cornerstones of my choreographic practice for babies
Choreography as organisation of attention
Throughout my choreographic practice, I aspire to introduce a broader understanding of dance and choreography in the context of both the artistic and social experience. I work with choreography as expanded practice - which takes as its starting point a re-thinking of choreography as a general referent for any structuring - extended beyond dance, bodily expression, representation and style.
I perceive choreography as the organisation of attention and as such I apply it to strategies, protocols, spatial structures and movement of the audience itself.
Synergy of choreography and installation art
My choreographic practice considers the synergy of choreography and installation art and their capacities for activation of the audience. Installation art allows the viewer to be immersed in sensory and narrative experiences. Rather than being separated from the viewer, installation art takes into account the viewer’s entire sensory experience in interaction with the artistic work.
Installation art's main concern is the activation of the 'seeing' subject - the audience. By proposing multiple perceptions of a single situation, it denies the viewer an 'ideal' place from which to contemplate the work (as defined by the artist) and instead assigns an emancipatory role to their activation. I share the perspective of some installation artists who see ‘psychological rigidity’ in 'seeing things from one fixed point of view', relating a single-point perspective to patriarchal ideology (Bishop, 2005).
Therefore, I see agency and the 'idea of activated spectatorship as a politicised aesthetic practice', as noted by Claire Bishop (2005). Moreover, as she formulates it, 'this type of work conceives of its viewing subject not as an individual who experiences the art in transcendent or existential isolation but as part of collective or community' (2005).
Decentralised and dispersed spectatorship
By merging choreography and installation art, the structure of my works breaks down the division between audience and performers, and proposes movement in space as a way of experiencing.
As such, and in accordance with theories of babies' specific 'lantern' consciousness, my performances induce the interplay of audiences' physical movement and sensory input, operating on the basis of both generated and directed attention - looking at each other, at the performers, at the structures in the space, at their caregivers, often all at the same time.
The structure and the content of my work insists on decentralised and dispersed spectatorship in order to raise the audience's awareness that "there is no one 'right' way of looking at the world, nor any privileged place [such as by traditional hierarchies of gender, race or ideology] from which such judgements can be made" (Bishop, 2005).
My choreographic strategies are devised on the basis of a phenomenological approach to perception and the connections between vision and movement. As such, they are directed towards first-hand, direct, immersive experience of the audience, heightening their awareness of perception as embodied and interdependent with its surroundings.
The audience is challenged to reorganize their repertoire of responses in accordance to unfolding events - as subject and object are not separate entities but are reciprocally intertwined and interdependent. With this approach, I am aiming for a multi-modal and affective experience of both child and care-taker. The role of the care-taker is emphasized as adults are invited to support and follow their child and to share the experience.
Proposing to the audience to move, respond and choose their own perspective and their own way of interaction and participation means entrusting the audience with an active agency. Giving an active role to the audience also means that their experience and responses become part of the aesthetic of the performance: 'The specific aestheticity of the performance lies in its very nature as an event. And the aesthetic experience of the performance does not depend on the 'work of art' but on the interaction of the participants. What emerges from the interaction is given priority over any possible meaning' (Fischer-Lichte, 2008).
Therefore I am interested in the subjectivity produced by sensory immediacy, and the asymmetry which occurs in the diversity of the audience's experiences.
Intersensoriality and emplacement
My practice is problematizing socially limited sensory hierarchy and exploring of non-western sensory profiles in relation to extents of audience involvement in the constitution of their own experience.
The emergent paradigm of emplacement suggests the sensuous interrelationship of body-mind-environment and it allows questioning of our relation to sensuous materiality of the world, perceiving the surroundings not only visually and haptically but aurally, olfactorily and kinesthetically. Intersensoriality refers to the multi-directional interaction of the senses and of sensory ideology, in a variety of ways (Howes, 2013). This approach relates to increasing evidence from neuroscience on the interconnectedness and interactions of sensory areas of the brain, 'saying that anything is purely visual or purely auditory, or purely anything' (Drobnick, 2005). In relation to infant's perception abilities, my research investigates the 'amodal perception' which refers to an infant's ability to take information in one sensory modality and to translate it into another sensory modality (Stern, 1985).
Safe and stimulating performance environments are conceived to generate an interrelational ecology, providing unique conditions for a wide variety of interchange and communication.
Dialogical approach and sensuous responsiveness
The performative practice implemented in my performances concerns the ongoing, mutually influential exchange between the performers and audience. I implement a dialogical approach, taking care that the dancer/performer is in constant negotiation between carrying out the scores of movement material and being in open dialogue with the audience, responsive and sensible to movements and inputs coming from the child, seeking 'equality of presence' and 'equality of action' (Fletcher-Watson, 2013).
Within the frame of my works audience is invited to spend additional time on the stage / in the installation setting. This 'open space' proposes to babies and their care takers to enjoy the shared experience in any chosen way.