Jan 21, 2011
commented on Today in Genius: Pacific Northwest Ballet
NOWHERE NEAR THE EDGES, SOMEWHAT REPEATED
A view of Synchronous Objects - One Flat Thing
On the basis what’s good for Albert should be good for us, it is instructive that the great Einstein died while still exploring and failing to ratify his unified field theory.
He had rather hoped that one day he would discover how to make the whole Universe comprehensible as more than the sum of its parts, rather than less.
This surely at a stretch, might be one of the key indicators of anything approaching coherent outcomes for the rather more mundane but nonetheless important artistic impulse.
I have to ask if Statistical analysis of spatial dynamics, or the investigation of how moving bodies can organise themselves - whether synchronously or within de-reified fields of order and organisation, or whether the chance arrangements of geometric patterns of moving human forms can help organise new ways of understanding the dynamic processes in design for the assembling of inanimate lumps of glass, steel and breeze-block architecture, can provide very much more than a very good pretext for countless imitative versions of the same thing somewhat repeated?
One of the problems with deconstructing the choreographic process, from a spatial, atomic, dynamic, visual or merely abstract aesthetic, is that the sum of parts will nevitably become less than the whole.
What is the philosphical, philological , spatial, contextual, emotional or semiotic motivator unique and central to the process?
In the breathless hype and total absence of informed critical appraisal of the S.O launch, this member of audience begins to wonder is whether there has any decision been taken as to exactly what this progenitor might be.
My feeling is that there is not one key motivator.
Thus what ensues is yet another monumental work of making and meaning in which there is no centre. What the gestaltists might call, lacking either a clear figure or a clear ground.
Is this yet another of those fantastically erudite exercises in the careful and mutually respectful allowing, of at least ten different sets of fingers to take hold of at best, different parts of, and at worst, the same part of the wings of a single butterfly and pulling sufficiently hard - to discover that the wings have come off?
All with the single and express purpose of examining, from at least ten different points of view, exactly how it, the butterfly, actually fails to continue to be able to fly.
If there is a value in pulling the wings off butterflies, at the very least a conclusion can be drawn, a carefully constructed set of reasons as to exactly why the dewinging of a butterfly should be taking place.
Perhaps even a a beautifully inscribed equation for all those involved in either the pulling or the observation of such.
One to be splashed upon lecture-room whiteboards the length and breadth of Academia:
Butterfly - Wings = General Lack of Flight - discuss
Further brilliant observations and outcomes following the exhaustive and minutely documented de-winging process, might be:
1 A certain amount of surprise and consternation that this butterfly is not looking as good as it did.
2 The entire exercise boiling down to not a great deal more than a final published series of findings with the general heading;
"How we, er, well…we um, probably killed a butterfly."
What is even more surprising is that despite ever more sophisticated and fantastical exercises in synchronous objectification of the atomic affects no-one seems to be questioning whether flying was something that the butterfly was ever intended to do.
In fact the only consequence of that kind of skewed and heretically unscientific thinking, is that it might lead to the entirely uncomfortable conclusion that flying and butterfly might even have a non-human imperative.
Worse even still, there may be a far more instructive and deductive poetry at work, which describes the whole of a butterfly in ways that do not even mention the bits that make it work.
And thus, with the noisy clattering of pot lids, launching of web-sites and general over-excited PR driven hype, we have Synchronous Objects.
Unquestioningly presented as a Major Creative Event, but which in fact resembles not much more than a large, multi-coloured, formless, disintegrated and more or less inert mass.
One, which may or may not have resembled something approximating a notion which might or might not, with all respect to the interdisciplinary sensibilities of the disparate and self-actualising interests of the various participatory groups, have been a thing which once accorded with the notion of butterflyness, or choreography, or creative endeavour.
Where I am confused about the "S.O." exercise and would greatly appreciate someone clarifying the why and the what for me, is in precisely what outcome might be measured as a result of the synchronous objectification of what to many is a dense and to most, an almost impenetrable piece of uniquely personal modern dance-making.
Secondarily, why there should be made such an uniquely uncritical din about its launch?
What I think Synchronous Objects would like to have been, when the notion started as that oh so riveting dinner party conversation all that time ago, is a series of possible outcomes which might or might not occur as a process of bringing together an interdisplinary team of variously post-hoc areas of research and design disciplines in the broadest sense.
One which has clearly been resourced to the eyeballs in order to exhaustively research the possiblity of Spatiality being a synchronous process involving the potential for the inconnectedness of things in general, which in certain contexts might or might not be recognised as something we might later refer to as: choreography-ness.
No chance that Synchronous Objects is an ok, if somewhat windy April Fool joke is there?
Here is Pacific NorthWest Ballet forcing "One Flat Thing" on their public for a second time.
Clearly attempting to brazen out the notion that alienating their audience, by feeding it the angst ridden internal monologues of this weeks Dance Genius, currently engaged in deep psychotherapeutic interventions, should be seen as essentially a positive step. I assume, on the basis that Stravinsky got away with it....
I wonder if anyone who suffers from the current chronic creative hubris so resplendent in its over-subsidised compounds, ever stops for long enough to wonder if any of this outcrop of "groundbreaking" avant-gardisms will really stand the test of time over the next five years, let alone the next 50 or even 100.
Perhaps we should pause to reflect that all of what has lasted was without exception deeply rooted in the notion that previous creative geniuses knew the rules REALLY well prior to finding themselves in a position whereby breaking some of them might be considered either advisable or relevant.
Now we seem to have constant examples of bathroom windows being thrown wide open accompanied by the often violent and always noisy jettisoning of baby, bathwater and seemingly, most of the plumbing equipment. All of this behaviour inevitably accompanied by the loud braying of self-congratulation and PR/media hype of white-noise intensity, including PNB's "LOOK, SEE!! We TOLD you, you were ALL too Phillistine to get it, so you are all to stay in after school and watch it again!"
Make of the piece below what you will, but listen especially carefully to the sofa-punditry which accompanies it. Notional value, positive attempt to explore the boundaries of modernism for its own sake - but "choreographic value"?, hmmm............
Mr Boal, you are one of the many brilliant, committed and passionate people all over the world, professionally involved in keeping the art of dancing on stage for the entertainment pleasure and occasional enlightenment of paying audiences. Your repertoire is brave, visionary and occasionally as in the case of One Flat Thing, wait for it....Post-Modern.
To continue in both breadth and depth, you have occasionally to be up to the task of becoming that thing you are likely most to despise - a critic. In the case of explaining repertoire choices, both erudite and profound, will you rise to the task or merely hide behind the fig-leaf of "if you don't get it, then you are clearly thick".