2024年6月15日 星期六

To defy and to define: Spring Forward Festival 2024

https://springbackmagazine.com/springback-academy/features/defy-and-define-spring-forward-2024/

Before going to the Spring Forward Festival in Germany, there were a few times when I mistakenly called its presenter ‘airwaves’ or ‘aerospace’ instead of Aerowaves. Was it because I had associated Aerowaves with the will to connect, to advance, and to explore? Then came the visit to the Festival, which made me wonder if they were slips of the tongue or moments of foresight.

In 1996, John Ashford, then Director of The Place in London, brought together a small group of European dance colleagues to form Aerowaves, a platform to bring emerging choreographers and their dance to new audiences across Europe. Ashford led the growth of this initiative to a network of partners in 34 countries before he passed away in December 2023. As if to testify to its magnitude, the 2024 iteration of Spring Forward Festival featured 20 dance works selected out of 750 submissions, which will also be promoted through cross-border performances in the partners’ networks.

Yet the Festival is not just about performance, which is but one component of the dance ecology. There are multiple efforts to nurture practitioners in different roles, including the ‘Springback Academy’ for 10 emerging writers resident in Europe, selected through an open call to be mentored by professional journalists; ‘Start Up Forum’, to offer guidance to a group of emerging presenters to address current programming issues; ‘Artists’ Encounter’, for 10 local artists to attend a workshop on international collaboration; and ‘Artist Development and the Buddy System’, which offers support on self-presentation, communication and other issues faced by young independent artists.

Whose Europe?
Europe as a geographical notion has for centuries been an evolving and, at times, contested one. For the Festival to position itself as the ‘dance across Europe’, whose Europe is at stake? If money speaks loudly, the Festival’s partial funding from Creative Europe promotes a level playing field for the 27 member states of the European Union. I may well be speculating but can’t help noticing an effort to even out the appearance by member countries, for one would think that, considering the sheer population and history in contemporary dance development, wouldn’t there be a higher share from some countries than others? If there is a redistributing hand, what kind of defy and define gesture does it make?

As an Asian audience member, it is eye-opening for me to see how choreographers from Cyprus, Greece, or Hungary approach ‘contemporary dance’, while I am also curious what it means for them to come under the massive ‘pan-European’ umbrella. As the Schengen treaty renders border-crossing between member countries less and less a noticeable experience, does this entail a renewed awareness of what were once called Eastern and Western Europe? How does the touring opportunity supported by a funding with shades of political and economic agenda have a bearing on the reflection of identity – European, or not?

Artistry and dependencies
Out of the 20 works presented in the Festival, 8 of them are solos, 8 duets. Arguably, some of these works we see in 2024 might have been created during the great lockdown when it was impossible for a large company of dancers to get together. But let’s also be mindful of their ‘tour-friendliness’ – small number of performers, simple or no set, pedestrian costume, audio and lighting effects within the parameters of the venues – an attribute not only practical for the presenters but also more and more accepted by the artists as a condition instead of a limitation. For artistic endeavour to be visible, it must rely on a network of dependency and collective links, as Howard Becker told us back in 1974 in his sociological analysis of art (‘Art as Collective Action’, American Sociological Review, December 1974). Not all institutions are interested in the business of dictating other people’s aesthetics but works that go beyond their resource capacity simply cannot be performed. Art happens everywhere but it is more readily conceived as art in some places of distribution than others, for example, theatres. As cultural products are more and more formally and professionally distributed, such a dynamic of the interplay between artistry and dependencies will likely continue to shape contemporary dance in the next decades of the 21st century.

Me and ‘my’ body
The notion of ‘body’ as the contested site of history, oppression and identity continues to make its way into dance. Workpiece by Cie A M A (Switzerland) examines the physical and social conditions of labour, and their effects on the body. Lithuanian-born Anna-Marija Adomaityte performs on a treadmill to the live music of Gautier Teuscher, her movements informed by her experience working in a McDonald’s kitchen. A woman-machine, she turns her head to an invisible screen where orders are displayed, exhausting gestures of packaging while her feet move non-stop to catch up with the speed of the treadmill, or that of a fast-food order system. Monotonous, repetitive, without a trace of emotion. For once we pride ourselves with the mastering of tools while the human body has now become the extension of the machine.

A body beyond your control may well be a possessed body, as Chara Kotsali (Greece) tells us in to be possessed. To the backdrop of layers after layers of black and white images of women taken over by devils, Kostali lip-syncs the voice recordings of their testimonies of being possessed. She crawls and twitches, moves fervidly, talking without speaking, losing herself in other people’s literal and symbolic voices. Stories and discourses that are never going to leave us alone, including those of one’s ancestors. Looking into the family archive of personal anecdotes, Belgian-French-Tunisian artist Habib Ben Tanfous makes an intimate inquiry into what shapes the ‘I’ we refer to in Ici je lègue ce qui ne m’appartient pas, presenting his body as the living testimony to the dichotomy of memory and history: the daily experience growing up as a non-white in Europe coupled with his responsibility to hand down the Tunisian heritage which his body has not encountered.
 
The disinclination to move
What does one make of the disinclination to move witnessed in a dance festival? Unlike Ivana Müller who proposes stillness as a form of movement, or Maria Hassabi who interrupts the mobility of ‘art objects’ in the context of art museums, these groups of young choreographers (in their 20s or early 30s) don’t seem to think much about the need to make extensive movements while dancing. While this may be regarded as a continuation of the defiance of stylised, institutionalised dance language since the 1990s, or how ‘dance’ is understood by the digital natives, I read this disinclination as a mute and passive submission to the reality this generation finds itself in. Alienated, confused, and deprived of aspirations, there isn’t the pleasure to motivate their movements, physically and spiritually.

Trevoga (the Netherlands) meshes online fantasies and brutal reality in 11 3 8 7. Three shiny, youthful bodies in trendy styling spend a considerable part of the performance as standing-by avatars: swaying slightly, staring without looking, flexing their muscles to commands beyond their own consciousness. They move from one spot to another to take a selfie, spit some blood on the floor, or snort ketamine. Not having any insight into their situations nor searching for communication with the spectators may explain the lack of development of the movement vocabularies.

A similar stagnancy can be found in Fatigue by Viktor Szeri (Hungary). In 40 minutes of non-stop poundings of electronic music and abstract video images, the dancer sways his pelvis to a consistent breadth and speed, not responding to the environment, rejecting his body’s motor tendency to speed up or elaborate as the repetition builds. ‘…a choreography on fatigue, on wanting nothing. He explores the limits and tolerance of his own body through the filter of burnout’ – these sentences taken from the programme notes seem an apt description of how Fatigue comes across to me.

Alienation is also the result of an ever-present distance between the private self and its public persona on social media; and that between our digital and corporeal presence. You can change your profile picture a few times a day without moving your butt from the sofa. The two performers of Les Idoles (France) shift their weight from one foot to the next throughout REFACE while their faces go through incessant transformations. Their witty use of adhesive tapes, chewing gums, plasters, plastic wraps, and markers leads us through a journey of mutability. As the receding make-up reveals more and more of the performers’ faces, are their identities coming through?

Some believe in movements, they do
At the opposite end of disinclination is the unflinching belief of movements, to its most intense possibility and its deviation from theatrical dance vocabularies. Choreographer Yotam Peled (Germany) and the two performers in Where the Boys Are shared training backgrounds in circus and martial arts, influences deployed extensively in their technique-demanding duets and contact improvisation. A school gym as the performance venue serves as an extra layer of reference to the piece, reminding us of how our bodies succumbed to discipline in those student days. Peled introduces verbal script and colourful music to the piece but in my mind, the emotional texture already exists in the very dedication to the movements by the performers. All that is needed is more trust on the articulative capacity of the body.

On this note, Sarah Baltzinger & Isaiah Wilson (Luxembourg /France) demonstrate a higher confidence in the voice of their bodies in MEGASTRUCTURE. Technically demanding, this duet is a plethora of speed, flexibility, muscle command and weight distribution skilfulness. However, instead of celebrating the amplitude of the human body, the piece has an undertone of the weight of endurance in situations of no exit. When the load on your back gets too heavy but dumping it is not an option, bend further.

Concerning the high proportion of solo and duet dance works and the distribution across countries, I am not sure if the stretch of ‘dance’ is a conscious curatorial direction, or a result of the proposals received. What I do see is the disappearing boundary between dance, acrobatics, gymnastics, sports, and gestural articulations. Cabraqimera by Catarina Miranda (Portugal), a quartet on roller skates, is a case in point, though I am not sure artistically where the wheels lead us. On the other hand, Tom Cassani (United Kingdom) and his magic (and magical!) performance Iterations is an excellent demonstration of choreography in the sense of structure and precision of movements, and performance qualities made perfect through repetition, self-reflection, and imagination.

Imagination is where the beauty lies when the moving bodies are concealed by darkness. In A BEGINNING #16161D by Aurora Bauzà & Pere Jou (Spain), the audiences’ eyes struggle to follow what remains barely visible: sounds of singing, breathing, the rustling fabrics, and dims of lights attached to the performers’ hands. Relieved from the haemorrhage of digital images and immersed in angelic singing, the audiences are gently led to the recognition of the presence of the others. The literal journey from darkness to light in the theatre is at the same time an individual’s journey from disorientation to tranquility.
 
Defying definition

To go back and forth between three cities: Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, and Mainz to attend 20 performances within 3 days is undoubtedly a challenge of physical and mental capacity. Yet this intense presentation format, the appearance of one choreographic strategy after the next like models on a runway, really calls for a reflection on ‘diversity’. One thing I find missing among these works is the lack of interrogation into the performer-spectator positions, physically and symbolically. Otherwise, the Festival’s stakeholders have to an extent demonstrated a will to defy (what dance usually means) and define (what dance can mean). Practitioners of this comparatively marginal art form continue to call attention to its contour while forever trying to redraw it so they might become more than who they are.

2024年5月15日 星期三

《謝洛姆.貝爾》


通透的Jerome Bel,在2020版本的《Jerome Bel》中,繼續以層層的悖論邏輯,建築關於舞蹈和表演的思辯樂園。穿著自傳外衣的文本,以第一人稱書寫,交由表演者讀出,台上的「我」是proxy;然而,文本強調表演是表演者和觀眾共時共地的連結,更以亮起觀眾席燈光來強調訊息,那麼,在現場演繹的「我」便必須處理法藉編舞Jerome Bel、其代理人、以及黃大徽這些身分的游移,等於直接觸及編舞--舞者關係,以及表演核心。


既熟讀Ranciere的 《The Ignorant Schoolmaster》,Bel 定必知道要啟發別人,需要的只是一個接點,於是把自己到現時為止對舞蹈的探索,化為素材,表演者若能成功embody素材為演出的undertone,Bel便能直接從論述個人觀點化身成連結接點,讓參與表演事件的各人接下他手上的思辯之棒。

黃大徽也真的是embody此文本的不二之選。從持續兩個小時的平穩步調以及零度表演中的自在看來,他已找到游移的身分與舞台呈現的平衡。

Bel 設定文本須由演員以當地語言讀出,把存在於編舞和舞者之間的翻譯關係可視化。正如語言和文化互為建構,語言轉換涉及進入另一種文化的可能暴力,以及歧義的無盡異變。舞者在「翻譯」編舞意念時,身體會否為另一文化所異化?舞者的演繹存在編舞可接受的歧義空間嗎?後結構主義的痕跡在Bel 的設定中清晰可見,亦延續著他在其他作品中對美學穩定性的抗拒。

令人大滿足的是一次過看到很多之前只能慕想卻未一睹芳容的Bel 名作,包括《Véronique Doisneau》的錄像。作品簡潔力量強大,叩問的何止是舞蹈/舞者為何,更是制度為何,身在其中的人之為何。喜愛層級階梯秩序的你,看著可有一點兒汗顏?

就如Bel 其他作品一樣,總有半場離去的觀眾。也許是星期四的關係,入場人數不多。我可沒有Kevin Wong 大愛,願意為未買票的人支付門票費用。事實上,若果只是喜歡「表達」而非藝術,只喜歡舞台而非人類,只為了知道如何創作一個作品,而非從整體社會經濟政治文化環境角度審視舞蹈的位置,那麼,其實沒有必要看《Jerome Bel》或任何Bel的作品。美麗新香港需要的畫面、科技、新鮮感、掌聲等,我們從來不缺。

Inquiries into additions and/or modifications of criteria for the perception of 'yijing' in online dance



Introduction

COVID19 and the resultant social distancing mandate around the globe mandated changes to the presentation of dance. Yet, that was not the initiation point of dance videos, live streaming, and exploration into computer-aided dance-making, as these variations to the ‘dance’ understood as the corporeal co-presence of the dancer(s) and the spectator(s), have been around for decades. However, the sharp ascent of online dance presentations triggered urgent inquiries into its relevance to a spectatorship whose presence is limited to the other end of computer screen.

This paper is an extension of the scholar discussion of ‘ArtCross Hong Kong 2022’ (ArtCross), of which one of the three themes of discussion was yijing (意境). The inquiry back then was whether yijing was present in online dance. During the discussion sessions, options of yijing’s English translation have been proposed but no consensus was reached. Neither was it agreed that there existed a counterpart in the English language which aptly reflected in full the aesthetic connotation of yijing. For the lack of a dogmatic equivalent of yijing in the English language, I refer to Gernot Böhme’s paper ‘Atmosphere as the Fundamental Concept of a New Aesthetics’, in which his description of ‘atmosphere’ resonates with some of the ways yijing is understood in the Chinese language, the latter presented as follows:

‘意境是指文藝作品中描繪的生活圖景與所表現的思想情感融為一體而形成的藝術境界。特點是景中有情,情中有景,情景交融。凡能感動欣賞者(讀者或觀眾)的藝術,總是在反映物件“境” 的同時,相應表現作者的“意”,即作者能借形象表現心境,寓心境於形象之中。廣義而言,包括作者和欣賞者兩方面。前者由作者的審美觀念和審美評價水準決定,有真與假、有與無、大與小、深與淺之別,後者因欣賞者的審美觀念和審美評價不同而有大小和深淺之分’. [1]

The above definition stipulates a specific requirement for yijing to be associated with reality. It is predominantly a perception to do with our visual faculty. While I argue that yijing does not neatly connote the aesthetic qualities of dance performance, hence my intention of aligning with ‘atmosphere’ in Böhme terms in the remainder of this paper, I am conscious of the increased predominance of visual perception in the making and presentation of online dance compared to dance in theatres. While Böhme has conducted a meticulous analysis of the notion of ‘atmosphere’, for the purpose of this paper, I will, in particular, refer to three attributes he proposed, namely that ‘atmosphere indicates something that is in a certain sense indeterminate,’ [2] ‘the relation between environmental qualities and human states’,[3] and ‘atmosphere is the common reality of the perceiver and the perceived. it is the reality of the perceived as the sphere of its presence and the reality of the perceiver, insofar as in sensing the atmosphere s/he is bodily present in a certain way.’[4] One should note the emphasis on the role of the perceiver and his/her bodily presence. Atmosphere is the result of the sensation of the perceiver, which may be affected but will not be dictated by the creative intention or presentation media.

Before one starts to identify the possible aesthetic qualities in online dance, which may come across to the perceiver as ‘something that is in a certain sense indeterminate,’ there are a number of questions to be asked. The first being what ‘online dance’ entails. ‘At one end of this spectrum is documentation: the recording of a live dance performance. At the opposite end of the spectrum is screendance: the articulation of choreographic ideas completely contingent on the specificities of media space.’ [5] With reference to the choreographic endeavours undertaken in ArtCross, I will limit ‘online dance’ to the followings in this paper:

  • Documentary recording of performance, in whole or in parts, play-backed on the Internet after the live performance has finished;
  • Synchronic live-streaming of theatre dance to spectators in a locale different from that of the performance;
  • Dance made specifically for the medium of the lens, presented as video-recording or live streaming;
  • A combination of corporeal movements and computer programming, for example, dance in VR (virtual-reality) and AR (augmented-reality) environments.
Should there be a historical development logic of dance, albeit the plethora of languages, styles and modes of presentation, what comes to mind is the co-presence of the dancing and viewing corporeal bodies in the same architectural space. ‘A performance as any event in which all the participants find themselves in the same place at the same time, partaking in a circumscribed set of activities.’[6] The ephemerality of dance is shared by these corporeal bodies: neither the performing nor the viewing experience can be repeated. The dance can start and end again and again until the physical limit of our corporeality is reached, but each experience is unique as its formation is at the expense of the vanishing of its temporal vessel. However, the historical development logic of dance has been muddled by online dance presentation and spectatorship as the idea of ‘space’ on which the presenter-spectator relationship is developed has been expanded, and the environmental mediation on perception experience has changed from factors such as, but not limited to, brightness, spatial expanse, room temperature and the presence of other people to the speed of Internet connection, monitor screen size, and non-spectatorial activities that are attention-competitive.

Aesthetic consideration of dance has also shifted from that of the generative experience of collective interaction to the question of visual significance. Online dance invites players of other artistic training, hence aesthetic consideration, for example, film directors, to the ‘dance’ making scene. Is online dance an encounter with ‘dance’, an image of ‘dance’, or its archive? Are we witnessing the changing role of the ‘choreographer’ from a tailor of movements to a collector of images?

In the following sections, I will look into how the re-modelled dance spectatorship poses challenges to the discussion of yijing, the aesthetic qualities of which have been deployed generally in the discussion of first, visually-dominant art manifestation and second, the co-presence of the artefact and spectator in the same architectural space.

Where is the dance?

Does online dance ‘take place’ or does it ‘take non-place’, in the anthropologist Marc Ange’s terms? The Internet is a non-place for the impossibility of its entry by our corporeal bodies, hence the impossibility of the reiteration of its affordance through the course of our habitual architectural dependence. It is a non-place also because it is not a destination but a web, literally, of crisscrossing routes that is always on the point of moving onto some ‘place’ else. It is the ‘place of transit which never actually goes anywhere but endlessly refers to other places directly.’[7] In the case of online dance, an event in non-place, we have on one end the spectator’s bodily presence in an architectural space of his/her choice. On the other is the performer’s ‘bodily presence’ as an image on the monitor. When the co-presence of the dancing and viewing corporeal bodies in the same architectural space deems unnecessary, how should one make sense of the ‘atmosphere’ of dance performance as the outwardly perceptible bodily co-presence? How will the laughter, cheers, sighs, tension, to name a few, those deftly described as ‘autopoietic feedback loop’ by dance scholar Fischer-Lichte, be perceivable by the dancer and the spectator? Will the aesthetic reference of dance shift from primarily the kinaesthetic to the visual?


Böhme pointed out that ‘atmospheres are evidently what are experienced in bodily presence in relation to persons and things or in spaces.’[8] Suppose we regard the online dance image as a ‘thing’ in the sense of an artefact of which the spectator experiences. Would that pass for an aesthetic object of the spectator? When following the rehearsal process of Yassmin V. Foster of Middlesex University and her dancers, which is accessible to me as video recordings, I set myself the task of developing a sense of space. By doing so, I was hoping to reject the tendency of regarding these people as merely images. I recorded the date, time, temperature and surrounding noises of my room, the food and drinks I munched, and the duration of video I went through. 

In the meantime, as if supporting my task, I noticed that in the rehearsals, the cameras were always set at the same positions. I wasn’t sure whether it was Foster’s requirement or sheer coincidence, yet, over time, I developed a sense of familiarity with the spatial arrangement of the dancer’s homes, their cats, their house-mates. I even had a sense of the time needed for them to move from one spot to the other. I could almost empathise with their sense of architectural space. But wait. ‘The form of a thing, however, also exerts an external effect. it radiates as it were into the environment, takes away the homogeneity of the surrounding space and fills it with tensions and suggestions of movement.’[9] These images of the dancers and their homes did not come with any volume. Their sizes varied according to the setting of my computer. Their forms weren’t closed, their determinative qualities malleable. What were the ‘tensions and suggestions’ that were influencing me? A new, to-be-defined ‘autopoietic feedback loop’ or the eager waiting of the resume of internet connection so the pixelated image resumes its verisimilitude of a human face?

 

Can truncated bodies dance? 
With the performing bodies unavailable to share the architectural space and ‘flattened’ as images, the spectators must imagine their materiality to which his own resonates. Rosenberg dubs the construction of the dancing body via screen techniques ‘recorporealization.’ By deploying online meeting software, Taiwan choreographer Jeff Hsieh of Anarchy Dance Theatre enables multiple images captured by four cameras in various locations to be synthesized and presented as a collage image to the spectator. Hsieh has done extensive tests on the lens angle, the position of the camera in relation to the dancer in the same room, Internet transmission speed and delays, etc, so that he can ‘cut and stitch’ different body parts of different dancers into a quasi-complete human form. Dancer A’s head on Dancer B’s torso commanding movement of Dancers C and D’s limbs result in a grotesque ‘body’ in action. This choreographic experiment exemplifies online dance as ‘a construction of an impossible body, one not encumbered by gravity, temporal restraints, or death… an exploration of and a re-imagining of the metaphoric and poetic possibilities of the body.’[10] To imagine the corporeality of a truncated body image as such, the spectator attunes to the specificity of dance in its mediated form so as to orient himself. He falls back on the belief in the existence of a complete, living body on the other end of the lens. Instead of the confirmation of a performing body with the spectator’s visual and somatic reception, he turns to his cognitive faculties to complement the visual signals he receives, as he is taught that in most of the cases, a moving hand is attached to a living torso even though the latter is invisible to us. When we look up from the street and see a head move across a window frame, for most of the time we don’t run up the stairs to confirm that there is a pair of legs walking underneath.

One may need a dose of empiricism, at times a large one, to spice up the kinaesthetic perception of online dance. Recorporealization is a matter of the replacement of sensation with cognitive faculties.


Choreographer who? 
While the authorship of dance performance continues to be a topic of debate, for the sake of the discussion in this part, let me assume that there is a single, identifiable author of the artistic output - conventionally known as the choreographer. Notwithstanding the expansion of the technique glossary in contemporary dance, s/he is expected to deal with the aspects of space, composition, movement language and the like which are at the core of live performance. Such parameters, however, are modified in online dance. One is concerned with the two-dimensional frame of the lens instead of three-dimensional architectural space, with movie editing instead of/as composition, while movements are rendered images of movements. When players from artistic disciplines beyond dance, for example film directors, engage themselves in dance-making, the question of intention complicates the matter: what is the difference between a dance video made for dance as the core artistic intent, and that which happens to look like one, for example, a music video with dance movements? How to approach the role of ‘choreographer’ when the dance presentation relies heavily on editing, which is an art language of its own right and exists outside of dance? Is there a difference between the tailoring of somatic movements and the arrangement of movement images? In the experimentation by Gao Shan and Li Qing from the Beijing Dance Academy, we see the ‘dance’ creative process as the collection of movement images and their transformation into visual objects which should be approached, appreciated, or to the least complemented, with aesthetic readings different from those in live dance performance. What have been the defining attributes of live dance performance are insufficient to deal with online dance as one is faced with the question of visual significance instead of the generative experience of collective interaction. If dance is supposed to be identified and appreciated beyond visual terms, how does the detour to images compromise the legitimacy of dance?

 

Dance, is it going to stay? 
Ephemerality has been one of the aesthetic qualities that legitimises dance as an expressive language in its own right, for its intention to be forgotten. The intrinsic value of dance performed live is kinaesthetic and synchronic presence, which ultimately promises life – the living. Movements and choreographic arrangement are the means to that particular end. The lens, on the other hand, is intended to make the dance stay. The mediatized performance, a.k.a. dance made for the lens, is a permanent record inscribed electronically or digitally. Even for live-streamed dance performances, technology has enabled the spectators to produce archives of the dance and watch them again and again, long after the lifespan of the performance has been exhausted.

Is video playback of ‘dance’ dance, or is it an archive of the dance? The accessibility to the ownership of dance on the spectator’s end breaks the promise of scarcity and immediacy of live performances. The ephemerality of dance is a veil which paradoxically exposes, bringing to the fore what is ‘indeterminate’,[11] what the wandering eyes of the spectators fail to catch, and what wants verification which is no longer there. Imagine the insatiable desire of knowing-for-sure. ‘Indeed, exhibition destroys all possibilities for erotic communication. A naked face without mystery or expression – reduced simply to being on display – is obscene and pornographic.’[12] The beauty in the ephemerality of live dance performance lies in the spectator’s awareness of his own unavoidable death as he lays his gaze on that of the disappearance of the dancing Other. The performing and spectating bodies die under the mutual gaze of each other. ‘(Jean-Luc) Nancy argues “that the individual Dasein first knows community when it experiences the impossibility of communion or immanence before the dead other... For if authentic being-toward-death is the condition of Dasein’s knowing itself as existing (that is to say, as transcending, as opening to Being), then it must also be the condition of encountering the other: it is the opening of a relation at the same time that it is the tracing of a singularity.”’[13]

Development or transformation?
This paper picks up from the Artcross inquiry of whether there is the presence of yijing in online dance. Taking reference of the definition of yijing in Chinese, it is associated with reality and is predominantly a perception to do with our visual faculty. I argue that this inquiry is irrelevant to a category of online dance, namely the documentary recording of performance, as dance videos made out of such a need is not a vessel of dance but of the desire of visibility. For the other categories of online dance suggested in the introduction, instead of the internal development of dance, I argue that they are the offspring of intermediation as existing art forms infiltrate into others by virtue of the expansion of technology. As interbreed offspring, they call for the development of new sensibilities and perceptual criteria for them to be approached in their own rights. What is at stake is probably not whether yijing is there in online dance, but other/new notion(s) to help us make sense of the experience. It is yet to be confirmed whether online dance should stay on the trajectory of the historical development of dance, or if it is a transformation of the artform that renders existing appreciation criteria irrelevant. Dance theorist André Lepecki argues for the agency of the ‘witness’ in contrast to that of the spectator, as contemporaries of the performer in the smartphone era. While the spectator searches for information for the sake of non-ambiguity, the witness, ‘the more political and ethical figure of the witness, an actor-storyteller’, is ‘subjective-corporeal-affective-historical.’[14] As language and experience mutually structure and define one another, the uncertainty of the English counterpart of yijing and the suspicion of the need to discuss it at all testifies to the need for renewal of performer-spectator relationship.

Footnotes:

[1]  https://www.zdic.net/hans/%E6%84%8F%E5%A2%83. The writer’s translation: yijing refers to an artistic realm when the life depiction merges with the ideas and emotions in literary works. it is characterised by the presence of emotion and phenomena in each other, entangled and integrated. For art to move its spectators (readers or audience), it must communicate the author’s intention while representing the reality. It means that the author symbolises his emotions in the images he chooses. Broadly speaking, yijing concerns both the author and the spectators. The author’s aesthetic criteria and judgement determine the quality, and there is the difference between real and fake, existing and non-existing, big and small, deep and shallow. The spectator’s aesthetic criteria and judgement determine the difference between big and small, deep and shallow.


[2] Gernot Böhme, ‘Atmosphere as the Fundamental Concept of a New Aesthetics,’ Thesis Eleven, Number 36 (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1993): 114, DOI: 10.1177/072551369303600107.


[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 122.

[5] Douglas Rosenberg, ‘Recorporealization and the Mediated Body’, Screendance: Inscribing the Ephemeral Image, Oxford Scholarship Online, September 2012, DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199772612.003.0003, p.3.

[6] Erika Fischer-Lichte, The Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies, eds. Minou Arjomand, Ramona Mosse, trans. Minou Arjomand (NY: Routledge: 2014), p.18.

[7] Quoted by T. Cresswell, ‘Place’, Elsevier, 2009.

[8]  See Note 1, 119.

[9] Ibid., 121.

[10] Douglas Rosenberg, ‘Recorporealization and the Mediated Body’, Screendance: Inscribing the Ephemeral Image, Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012, DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199772612.001.0001, p.3-4.

[11] See note 2.


[12] Byung-chul Han, The Agony of Eros, trans. Erik Butler (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), 32.

[13] Christopher Fynsk, ‘Experiences of Finitude’ in Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community (U.S.: The University of Minnesota Press, 1991), pp. xv-xvi.

[14] Lepecki, André. 2016. Singularities: Dance in the Age of Performance. London: Routledge, 173.



陳巧真:踱步

曾經在仍然必須帶口罩的某天,在一個私人聚會看過陳巧真拍的板間房紀實錄像,聽她分享住進拍攝地點的經驗,印象很深,至今未忘。當時她尚未確定如何展示。終於,2024年5月,在WMA委託計劃「家」之中再次見面。經過精心挑選和剪輯的錄像,少了情節,敍事力量卻更強。


在極有限的居住空間內,住客移動的方式大概也像踱步一一樓底高度不容成人站立的除外。踱步也是生存狀態的寫照:既不趨向目的地,也不回到原點;無所事事踱步,滿懷心事也踱步。在惡劣的環境中踱步,不屈從,也不呼天搶地,只求不過度消耗能量地與無盡頭的貧窮共存。某天突然消失了的誰,不過是在土地比生命昂貴的城市,以最極致的方式一一死亡一一「上樓」去了。

展覽空間全黑,陳撰寫的文本首句「黑色開始了」,是窗戶被木板阻擋的室內、有污漬的共用厠所、還是電力不足的樓梯?陳的錄像,彷彿把燈光照向那些被黑遮掩的面孔。潦倒地生活在社會視線之外的他們,頑強地要活得像個人:抽一口沒有癮的煙,去免入場費的海洋公園看魚,因為雛燕的鳴叫而雀躍,在板間的牆上貼一幅窗外風景的海報。陳不願意站在他者的距離用鏡頭「引起關注」,她走進住客之中,用同一群體的視點,看看人何以變得如此卑賤,而卑賤者賴以活下去的,還可以有甚麼。


香港的尺土比寸金貴已不再是本土特色了。在極度貧富懸殊、土地屯積、以及政府角色收縮的情況下,全球大城市的惡劣居所及無家者問題日益嚴重,低下階層和移民人口,是新自由主義擴張的最大受害者。放任問題惡化的發達國家政府,是無力還是無意處理?最近有報導指巴黎市政府為了粉飾市容,迎接奧運旅客,出動大量警力驅趕露宿者;比德國人均收入高三倍的盧森堡,貧窮人口竟佔20%,政府只是在近三數年才開始興建資助房屋。為求片瓦,不斷下調尊嚴底線的人們,與財富之塔愈建愈高的極少數之間,是連想像跨越也不敢的距離。

2024年1月15日 星期一

《女媧和她失去的孩子》

Florence Lam 《女媧和她失去的孩子》

劇場內,地上一大堆陶泥,直徑近兩米,淡淡的褐色在黑色的空間中靜止著,彷彿被無數雙腳踐踏過凹凸不平的表面,預報即將湧現的力量。燈暗,再亮起時,穿著白色襯裙(蕾絲吊帶連身petticoat)的Florence站在泥堆中央。襯裙,一般不呈現於他人前,是女性外在形象與肉體之間的最後屏障,與她肌膚相親,守護她的身體秘密,又隨時準備全身而退,不阻礙她與另一個身體結合。突然,女人和她的襯裙爬行起來,邊爬邊把陶泥推出原本的範圍以外。

濕的陶泥的密度本身已高,黏著力在地膠上變得更強,要推得動已不易,推一段距離需要的氣力就更大。但這只是開始。把部分泥推開之後,Florence用手抓起泥團,將之堆疊。手指先用力插入泥中,屈曲三個手指關節把泥盛起,跪在地上把它疊在已稍有高度的泥堆上,或者在較遠處把泥團拋過去。到泥堆差不多有嬰兒高度的時候,女人嘗試抱起它。不可能。它的重量,除了是物理的,也是歷史的,是女性身體需要確保人類物種永續的責任,更是道德的,是壓在那些決定放棄胎兒的女人心中的空洞感。

隨著身體的勞動,Florence的襯裙、頭髮、指甲都沾上大量陶泥,她的唇也漸漸變成灰白色。為了引發力量,她不時發出喘氣甚至呻吟聲,狀態愈來愈專注,表情卻總帶著孩子氣。這是一個完全把身心投入到當下的人,心無罣礙,只追隨勞動身體傳來的感知,體會合一的純然。選擇陶泥亦可見Florence對物質性(materiality)的敏銳觀察,以及創作概念和策略之間的扣連。女媧摶土造人,上帝也不遑多讓;濕陶泥的重量,要推搡它實在彷彿在惡夢中不受支配的四肢。泥的黏性,忠實地記下每一次接觸的力度和情緒,並毫不猶豫地給予反應。面對如此坦蕩的夥伴,女人必須抹去日常生活中的Florence與表演者Florence之間的界線,才招架得住可能令人退縮的誠實。

後來,女人在泥堆中翻出了天使號角。不會飛的身體,要吹這麽長的樂器也真麻煩。管道被塞住,Florence問觀眾要針、筆、水;終於打通了,不過,大概因為沒有甚麼喜訊要報,吹起來聲音悶悶的,彷如掩著嘴巴尖叫。聲音在Florence其他的作品中佔有一定位置:她的尖叫聲、硬物刮過廢棄車門的金屬聲,等等;這次除了物質在現場產生的聲音(泥的墮地聲、人的呼吸、空氣通過號角管道)之外,還加入了預錄的羊水聲。體內液體流動聲讓我想起Mona Hatoum 的作品《corps etranger》,她錄下自己體內的聲音作為自我認知的方法,譎異、古老。羊水聲之於此作品,在我來說直白,不過我認為,聲音作為美學媒介在本地製作中,還有很多未被發掘的潛力。

《女媧和她失去的孩子》的敘事和情感質地均明確。它敘事在於Florence把人生經歷中一些情感經驗,先清晰化再放大,它敘事而不說故事,在於不描述「那一件事」,而是把特定事件提升為一個可以擴展的喻意框架。框架架設好之後,表演者剩下來要做的,就是把自己完完全全的投進去。She sets up the situation and plunges herself in. 女人具有孕育生命能力的身體以及因此無法被理解的抉擇,突如其來的死亡,如濕泥般推不動的生存,從一個女人的到千萬個女人的經歷,再到一個可以容納不分男女的情感空間,觀眾把記憶投入其中,完成含有個人意義的存在察覺。


2024年1月14日晚上8時葵青劇院黑盒劇場

「想像力研究所」入選作品:Florence Lam 《女媧和她失去的孩子》




2023年12月20日 星期三

香港編舞家 黃大徽 舞蹈範式的轉移 讓他終於被看見

 《PAR表演藝術雜誌》2018年5月8日

https://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF%E7%B7%A8%E8%88%9E%E5%AE%B6-%E9%BB%83%E5%A4%A7%E5%BE%BD-%E8%88%9E%E8%B9%88%E7%AF%84%E5%BC%8F%E7%9A%84%E8%BD%89%E7%A7%BB-%E8%AE%93%E4%BB%96%E7%B5%82%E6%96%BC%E8%A2%AB%E7%9C%8B-101349533.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9sLmZhY2Vib29rLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAEfWkUpV2PSpXwAxnhdfxETEJIy_y-u4-o3Sz5N1y44mDFsMW4B08EzsU6MK7fwWubHPFqGQlbCAfe8KlOLU8zg0qGauaS4fyPPXvZhUtbhm4vnpr_iybh8VuFHi6L3qqFJ0ioQHloGjmPT-VGKqR5NrMAYzcp9lBx8Q6n8Ej5Y5 




出身「進念.二十面體」的黃大徽卅年來對身體論述和使用的關注從未動搖,但他在香港一直被視為屬於「戲劇界」,直到近年香港對舞蹈的想像有了更多參照,「舞蹈界」才開始正視他的創作。黃大徽的舞台身體,正好體現了香港舞蹈邊界的移動過程。他以自己的生命不斷地與這邊界協商,在行動之中讓協商的痕跡累積成自己的世界觀。

台灣劇場觀眾對黃大徽的印象,可能來自「進念.二十面體」的《萬曆十五年》和《如夢幻泡影》的舞台。這位身材瘦削的「戲劇演員」,六月份將在台北呈現「舞蹈」作品。拒絕形式分類法的話,便要另闢蹊徑形容黃大徽的藝術。可以從哪兒說起?

也許是歐洲。

在歐洲,看到另一番舞蹈風景


一九八○年代末期的某一天,黃大徽在香港中環一個「進念」慣常舉行會議的地方,看了畢娜.鮑許的《穆勒咖啡館》錄像,落得個目瞪口呆。除了表現手法之初見外,「一個陌生人把我想的,鏗鏘有力地說了。我跟自己說:『就是這樣。這就是關係。』對剛開始參與舞台創作的我,這個異於我的舞蹈認知的作品啟發的思考面向,竟然那麼多。『歐洲』引起了我的好奇。」

同一時間,林奕華在歐洲遊學之後,把在比利時困難時期迸發創意的舞蹈先鋒——如羅莎舞團(Rosas)、溫.凡德吉帕斯(Wim Vandekeybus)——的資料帶到香港,進一步加強黃大徽思考舞蹈身體的興趣。當時黃在雜誌社工作,有了積蓄,想看看世界,一九八九年去了倫敦。但真正的轉捩點出現在一九九四年:林奕華在英國獲得委約創作的機會,邀黃大徽參加演出,為期十個月。正值香港回歸前的黃金年代,黃大徽在《壹周刊》工作,條件優厚,但他只用了一星期考慮,便遞上辭呈。上司讓他停薪留職,黃便帶著積蓄赴英;演出後在歐洲逗留兩個月,上舞蹈課。「我在香港已經完成高階課程,但在歐洲的舞蹈室才知道舞蹈課有另一種風景。導師們不在乎學生能否達到動作標準,只在乎其動機及帶動的身體改變。他們對舞蹈很包容,關懷的是主體性而非動作本身。」回港後,黃無法忽視被喚醒的渴望,六個月後再向雜誌社申請長假,這次老闆請他「搞清楚自己想要什麼」,於是他辭職了。為了不讓家裡擔心,白天在麥當勞呆坐打發時間,直至帶著僅餘的積蓄,再去歐洲。

遇上命中註定,接下來的可不是美滿幸福。

幾年間,黃大徽以自由身在劇場游戈。離開雜誌社為回應內在呼喚,以為可能性在舞蹈之中;但走到一九九九年,突然感到自己一事無成,自覺未能建立關於身體和生命的世界觀,所以也無從於作品呈現。黃形容自己「身心俱毀」:「當時我不明白,建立世界觀所需的時間長度是無法預計的。在一九九九年,我以為用了三、四年也找不到是失敗,焦慮自責至崩潰。」他用了三年養身體,期間不斷思考「舞蹈是什麼」。二○○二年重新出發,發表了《B.O.B.*》。

《B.O.B.*》在香港沒有引起關注。二○○四年鄧富權引入《B.O.B.*》為曼谷藝穗節節目,亞洲舞者辭演,歐洲藝術節總監卻看上了它。作品先到巴黎,再到柏林,如是者以每年一至兩次的頻率,在歐洲演了六、七年,過程中作品不斷蛻變,最初的版本已無跡可尋;但是二○○九年回到香港時,觀眾對它冷淡一如二○○二年。

黃大徽很不忿,「《B.O.B.*》探索觀念、記憶、文化參照等普世性議題,有很多思考點,但香港人不喜歡。是因為沒有舞台化動作、服裝、燈光?」一而再地無法與自己的城市溝通產生的衝擊,令他決定開展一趟以「香港」為起點的遠征。

要走在那一點上,才會察覺

遠征途中出現了兩個中站:二○一四年的《無雙》及二○一五年的《舞士烈傳》。黃大徽邀得香港人的舞蹈偶像邢亮參與《無雙》,《舞士烈傳》的舞者來自香港舞蹈的四個年代。兩個中站成為了黃大徽建立世界觀的路標。「二○○二年我再出發時,隱然知道方向,我描述不了,但相信時間會幫我把它握在手中。十多年過去,我仍然在尋找『黃大徽的舞蹈』,不過不再把創作指向自己,嘗試以他人為方法,以香港為脈絡。一來,我想補充四、五年前香港舞蹈比較單一的狀態;二來,想知道自己能否在他人的生命產生意義。」

在創作《無雙》及《舞士烈傳》兩個關於他人的作品期間,黃對「做人處世」有了新的體會:原來可以處世,才更懂得為人;原來可以為人,生活便是創作。黃發現自己真正關懷的,原來是如何做一個人。這一悟讓黃很振奮,感到生命充滿未知的、包括舞蹈的可能性;這一悟教他正視廿多年前令他身心俱毀的糾結。

二○一六年作品《春之祭》的關懷,由藝術形式走到藝術人生。黃大徽說他的觀點未必驚世,但他追求有自己的說法。有了個人觀點,平凡的便不再一樣。「我們的美學觀受地域和文化影響。我渴望聽到的不是『喜歡』或『不喜歡』作品,而是其原因。在溝通的大前提下,喜歡或不喜歡本身並不太重要。」難怪談到少年時代的虛無感時,他說「回想也會起雞皮疙瘩」;難怪他會進行「Youtube自我學習」,讓程式演算帶領他在無垠的資訊中游走。也許他知道,必須一直走。人要走在那一點上的一刻,才會察覺。

黃大徽卅年來對身體論述和使用的關注從未動搖,但他在香港一直被視為屬於「戲劇界」,直到近年香港對舞蹈的想像有了更多參照,「舞蹈界」才開始正視他的創作。黃大徽的舞台身體,正好體現了香港舞蹈邊界的移動過程。他以自己的生命不斷地與這邊界協商,在行動之中讓協商的痕跡累積成自己的世界觀。舞蹈之為一種動的藝術,也許可以如此理解。

2023年11月28日 星期二

打不死,娛樂你——賀飛雪.謝克特舞團《死過翻生》



https://www.iatc.com.hk/doc/107304

儘管人世很暴力,可是為了顯得文明,我們擺出不容暴力畫面流通的姿態。這個月來,西方媒體頻繁地在新聞報導中警告觀眾,畫面可能令人不安;社交媒體在過濾圖片內容時,亦不遺餘力。

儘管人世很暴力,可是為了顯得文明,我們不會隨便訴諸拳腳,連語言也千迴萬轉,是為了避免衝突還是逃避責任,自己也搞不清楚。

既不能動粗,都市生活需要的體力勞動亦有限,文明人如何發洩不斷滲入身體的粗暴能量?線上角色扮演遊戲、超級英雄電影電視、隨街快拍的扭打短片等,以娛樂的、虛假的和不用防備的姿態,昂然進入日常。當我們深信影像無傷大雅時,暴力娛樂化的機器便啟動了。資本家以血腥為商品,死亡因「復原」鍵的存在而不再絕對;阻隔暴力畫面看來像是道德責任的全部,彷彿在真實生活中,除了肢體的暴力便再沒有其他的了。

英國賀飛雪.謝克特舞團的《Clowns》(新視野藝術節2023《死過翻生》上半場作品),譏諷暴力和娛樂的「水乳交融」,藉著戲謔暴力來詰問:對暴力的旁觀,有沒有極限?

先談談作品的呈現。首演於2016年,《Clowns》是一支以群舞和片段式敘事為骨幹的中長度舞蹈。謝克特把其特色的編舞元素,例如簽名式的仿似雀鳥起飛的動作、不斷重複的音樂母題、幾何圖形的舞者排陣等等,發揮得淋漓盡致;服裝的波浪型衣領、皺摺、色調和物料,既指向西方傳統小丑造型,亦帶時代感,令作品擺脫特定的時空想像;混合不同地方的土風舞步法,配合精妙的燈光設計,傳遞強烈的儀式感。謝克特的舞蹈語彙,不在賣弄難度技巧,觀眾若願意投入動作節奏,與舞者們同呼吸,便不難感受到在重複的動作背後的情感質地。重複非怠隋,而是再開始的條件,每個人的重複,都不重複。十一名舞者,十一種性格,他們的重複是同在、同步、卻絕非同一個圖章再按一次。

我說舞者們很出色的話,追求官能刺激的觀眾未必同意。不過,舞蹈之為舞蹈而非體操或馬戲,在於舞蹈表演不為完成一個接一個的難度動作,而在成為一首連綿不斷、餘音繚繞的詩。《Clowns》的舞者們雖然會因應編排而進出演區,但整體上沒有休息時間,要記得長約大半小時作品的每個動作、拍子和台位的話,除了靠腦袋,更要利用身體對音樂、空間和他人的感應來完成。演出所見的舞者們高度專注,持續地維持高水平的精準,這正正是在難度動作以外所需要的深厚功力。

誠然,穿戴整齊地進入一所尚算高檔的劇院,看一齣由世界知名舞團以「暴力娛樂化」為創作動機的作品,本身便含有娛樂成分。2023年10月20日此一觀演時空,同時盛載著不知凡幾因以哈衝突而引致的死亡。若問《Clowns》的創作關懷有否在劇場表演的幻象中失格,我會把演出視為觀眾參與的事件,而非僅僅是觀看的對象(內容)來思考。謝克特有話要說(內容),那是肯定的,可我更關心作品脫離了它生成的脈絡之後,能否在另一個脈絡找到生命。是以,與其問謝克特說了甚麼,不如問自己看到舞者模擬割破別人頸項、把刀子插入腹部、開槍或毆打時,覺得他們可笑嗎?假如我對被殺不夠兩秒便站起來繼續跳的設計毫無懸念,是因為陌生人的死亡,是真是假,與我何干?這些比鴻毛還輕的死亡,會令我憤怒、厭惡、不忍卒睹嗎?散場後,我的手指滑過手機新聞速報的死傷數字更新,隨即轉去查看附近的餐廳推介嗎?

謝幕部分是一段長約兩、三分鐘的舞段,燈光輪流在亮起和熄滅之間轉換,舞者們看來就像定格了,設計似是反照社交媒體上瘋狂的圖像生產和流播。不幸地,某些觀眾以行為把反照「完善」為恥笑:既然「謝幕」期間容許拍照,理它光或暗,拍個夠才是皇道。在我的視線範圍內,已有好幾部幾分鐘都高舉著的手機。硬要把別人的變成自己的數據或動態更新內容,是我們每天都在施行的微暴力。

《死過翻生》下半場是創作於新冠疫情期間的《The Fix》,與上半場構成調性上的對比,沒有線條硬朗的幾何排陣或者節奏強烈的音樂,但有多彩的服裝和燈光,柔和的節奏,舞者兩、三人一組,互相借力及支撐,回溯在疫情——更甚是抗疫措施下——人的脆弱、掙扎、放棄和堅持。作品完結前,舞者走到台下,與觀眾擁抱。雖然其直白非我個人杯茶,但相信它如實地反映了過去三年舞團上下各人的感受。《Clowns》和《The Fix》的前後並置,彷彿走了一段由憤怒走向悲憫、由譏諷走向嘗試諒解之路。疫情真的令我們再次察覺人類實為共同體?還是只是為抗疫而宣稱的良好意願?疫情一完結便出現的兩場重大戰爭,又是何種啟示?