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DANscienCE Residency. Post #1

August 14, 2013

As a dance artist I am very interested in the relationship between psychology and art; specifically how can the two mutually benefit each other as opposed to dance interpreting scientific material. What can art offer science? Educate people in an innovative way? Making people think more sensitively about specific issues? How can artistic experiments instigate scientific research? etc.

Upon entering the research period at DANscienCE festival, I have been reflecting on my previous works and how the relationship between art and science has evolved, specifically in the areas involving body language, psychology and sociology.

Set in peak hour pedestrian traffic, ‘fifteen’ began by an active examination of the ‘intimate zone’ (0-30cm radius around the body); with the inevitable intrusion of strangers into our intimate zone in crowded public space, humans physically react by limiting body movement, avoiding eye contact and stripping emotion from the face. Over it’s 17month realisation period (from first rehearsal to first performance), ‘fifteen’s relationship with psychology was constantly evolving. Our rehearsals all took place in busy public spaces. Our starting point was to actively test existing psychology experiments. From this emerged a need for new hypothesis and experiments that responded directly to the issues that emerged from the process itself, unlocking unforeseen investigations and explorations into areas including the ‘Occupy Movement’ and modes of political resistance. (More documentation of this research can be found here).

In comparison, my work ‘Synapse’ focused more directly on dance as a mode of research, exploring the energy between people in space and how this effects the movement of the group as a whole. For me the heavy psychology research that previously dominated my creative process seemed less integral in the development period, however the work itself seemed to still reveal my overall research as a practitioner. Reviewer Matt Foley wrote this statement in his review of ‘Synapse’: ‘This non-verbal study of body language should be compulsory viewing for advanced students of psychology and social work. It expresses the dynamics of group behaviour more lucidly more than a gaggle of doctoral theses.’

Most recently, in my development of ‘The Psychology Project’ I found myself determined to orchestrate a collaborative relationship between psychology researcher Rohan Kaye and myself. Therefore, I entered the development of ‘The Psychology Project’ focusing very specifically on developing the collaboration between myself and Rohan. This successfully instigated the writing of an academic paper on the Sacredness of Love, however, in terms of artistic progress and product I found myself unable to find an entry point into exploration through art.

Although the result of the exploration between Rohan and I didn't necessarily need to be a creative work, it made me reflect upon how the relationship between science and art come to be in my projects.

So this week, as artist in residence at DANscienCE Fesitval, I am focusing on how I can use my body as a starting point for research. Then perhaps the more scientific and analytical side of the process enter more organically? I wondering if entering the research through movement will mean the scientific research will respond more directly to the emerging needs of the process itself?

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