A Body Practice: Intermedia Reflections

Aug. 29, 2016 Course goals/expectations: For this course I am excited to create (figure out) a working “elevator speech” definition of intermedia. I look forward to composing movement in a way that works to question spectatorship, power, and what the heck the point is for the movement that is lived or performed. I hope to work collaboratively with technology and human alike as I learn and grow as a moving creative.

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Dec. 2016 Elevator Speech: Intermedia is a multidisciplinary art form acknowledging equally the role of text, tech, movement, performer, and audience as they work together to create. It is the space we go to play.

Art is not just made for the sake of its material existence, it’s brought to life by the interpretations of those who come to be a part of the work. Art is therefore not a spectator sport, it is a human collaborative effort. Even a stationary painting is brought to a new life by the viewer studying it. There is something then about the acknowledgement of all the individual players (text, technology, movement, performer, audience, paint, etc.) who come together to create that becomes important. Seeing a work of art through an intermedia lens acknowledges this importance. It allows people to express ideas in a safe space, and therefore it pushes the boundaries of what we define our current state of being to be. Yes, intermedia is an art form. But it is also a way of thinking. It is a way in which we as humans learn to see and respect one another for the different skills each of us brings to the table.

IMG_4506.jpgIn an intermedia-minded community, like the one my class fostered throughout the semester, there becomes an experimentation with the multiple forms of “other”. Through innovative technology and freely discussing concepts, we deal with the impossible, or maybe the not possible quite yet. We use intermedia to blur the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them.’

‘Us’ and ‘them.’ This idea can quickly become political, based in socio-cultural boundaries that we set up between one another. While making art this fact must be acknowledged, but I do not believe collaborators must always play on the politics or lean into the message possibly read. People view art with individual histories affecting their perspective, so any material presented is inherently political due to its construction by specific people at a certain moment in time. That being said, art can be an important vehicle for initiating social change. One example of this comes from intermedia artist Augusto Boal, who used his work as a Brazilian dramatist to create the plans for Legislative Theatre, an idea that made him senator of the city of Rio de Jeneiro in 1992. From Augusto Boal’s FORUM THEATRE for teachers, Notes about Theatre of the Oppressed and Forum Theatre, “Legislative theatre involves teaching the drama techniques to community groups, trade unions and others associations. The groups then put together model plays about the different problems or issues, and through analyzing different interventions to the play, plan concrete action, which can bring about real change regarding that particular issue.” I find this intermedia concept incredible. Boal uses theater acting to help the government and its public to better communicate issues and possible solutions with one another.

Better communication and equal access to information! That’s what I like to hear. With many groups working in intermedia, their body of work is available online for stay-at-home audiences to peruse at their leisure. Full- work videos are still kept private for the most part, but video excerpts, images, engineering blueprints, textual information such as concept development or artist statements, and technological guides become part of the online archives that artists create of their works. Check out THE WOOSTER GROUP, 9 Evenings, or From Wagner to Virtual Reality to see different ways in which these elements are explained for any to partake in.

So there is a political body. And a body of work. But there is also the kinesthetic or individual body, a body of people, and so on. Being a dancer I tend to mostly consider the individual and kinesthetic body, it is the one I think about most often, but in a general sense a body is group of knowledge. And when we use our information to listen to and support one another in a open-minded, body-conscious manner, really everything is intermedia.

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A few other points of interest from my class experiences:

Storyboarding an idea. This essentially is a planned out collage that gets the creator of a work to fiddle with ideas of material order, concept, mood, technological plan, etc., on paper.

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Storyboard for “Warmth on a Cool Day” (video below)

Storyboards allow people to translate their thoughts, that which provides no tactile or visual information, into something physically held, seen, and able to be shared with others.

Concept of practice. This is something that I still need time to reflect on. I just recently found Self Interview on Practice by Chrysa Parkinson to help fuel my curiosities in asking what brings us to our work each day. One moment of the interview that currently sticks with me starts when Parkinson questions whether new artists are just those who receive the education necessary to thoughtfully create. Are they artists just because they understand the techniques and know how to make something? She answers herself with no, new artists redefine doing ‘it’ by redefining ‘it’, not by redefining the doing. I talked in my course midterm post about this mysterious ‘it,’ but I do not yet have answers.

View my lab group’s study “Warmth on a Cool Day” (storyboard seen above) by clicking HERE.

What is known? What is unknown? How do we bring what is known to participate in/observe/experience what is unknown?

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