On Notation

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Notion of Notation >< Notation of Notion

Research article in Performance Research, Vol. 20, Issue 6, ‘On An/Notations’, eds. Scott deLahunta, Kim Vincs and Sarah Whatley (Deakin University [Motion.Lab] AUS & Coventry University [Centre for Dance Research] UK). Publication date: 31 December 2015.


Drawing on findings from the first year of the research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line (including field-work undertaken during a month-long research residency within ImPulsTanz, [Vienna, 2014] and a one-week residency-workshop at a.pass [Centre of Advanced Performance & Scenography Studies, Brussels, 2015]), in this article we – Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil and Emma Cocker – consider notation (and its related technologies) through a diagramming of the multiple, at times competing, forces and energies operative as drawing, writing and choreography enter into dialogue through shared live artistic exploration. Conceived as two interweaving artists’ pages – presented as a page-based annotated performance score – we explore two interrelated concepts: the notion and notation of (I) figuring and (II) the (choreo-graphic) figure. Figuring — we use the term ‘figuring’ to describe the small yet transformative energies, emergences and experiential shifts which operate before, between and beneath the more readable gestures of artistic practice. We ask: What different systems of notation can be developed for cultivating awareness of, for marking and identifying the moments of ‘figuring’ within the process of artistic ‘sense-making’? Figure — we use the term ‘figure’ to describe the point at which figuring coalesces into a recognisable form, figuring’s dynamic vitality crystallised towards communicable content. We ask: How might we communicate the instability and mutability of the flows and forces within practice, without fixing that which is contingent as a literal sign?

Whilst the article draws on materials generated in the first year of our research project, the shape and content of the article itself were developed through an intensive micro-residency undertaken at WUK, Vienna (4 – 7 June 2015), enabling us – the key researchers – to apply pressure to our practice and process in specific relation to the possibilities and constraints of page-based presentation. Content originating in this article will be further developed as part of a book chapter Choreo-graphic Figures: Vitality Gestures & Embodied Diagrammatics in Body Diagrams, eds. Alexander Gerner and Irene Mittelberg (Gesture Series, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, Publication date: 2017 TBC).

Publication context: ‘On An/notations’ considers the potential of the surface of the page, alongside other surfaces, including the screen, as sites for engaging with and thinking through performance ideas and processes. An annotation at its simplest level is adding information to information using some kind of mark-up language or tools. This issue will seek to engage projects using a wide range of approaches alongside critical reflection to draw out and make explicit research and insights from within the entanglement of sensing, feeling and thinking that is the body-based practitioner’s research field.