Dada Birthday Party

A wonderful reflection from a guest to our class final event:  “Wow. Everything, every transition, was … crazy.” We were ecstatic.

SO… when guest pulls out an action card that says Da Da Birthday Party we magically manifest chairs around a table, party hats and balloons for all, and  place a miniature birthday cake and tiny wooden mallet on the table. and wait.

We were having fun, and obliquely referencing  Max Ernst’s offering of an axe next to artwork, at  the Second Da Da Exhibition in 1920, – you know- to see what people will do. Interactive Art.

In preparation for our final group event, the class and Professor Norah Zuniga-Shaw erupted in bouts of uproarious laughter as we plucked favorite concepts and ideas from past studies by both groups, from technical magic, conceptual puzzles, low tech interpersonal gems, and thematic content.

I was too wrapped up in playing to take photos, but we wheeled our guests – literally- into a world, with awkwardly excited flight-attendantesque tour guides (a recurring theme from Monday’s lab crew), casual grooving,  circular screens with projected moving textures,  chance-ordered  interactive scenes entitled “Hot Air Balloon,” “Blockhead,” “Motion Capture,” and “Dada Birthday Party,”  some savasana, an awesome catch the movement improv, memory recall sharing, and a rousing round of “you’re awesome”(instructions below).

Some favorite moments from the semester:

 

TaraBox

Storytelling on the box.

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Faces on boxes floating places.

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Demetra and Kyla’s wonderful Intermedia rendition of twister.

party table

Wednesday group’s Surprise Party as Interactive Performance

(What a way to consider how we “perform” in social situations all the time).

Some Favorite Concepts:

1) Relishing in learning happening by doing. And by doing without knowing what you’re doing as you’re doing it.  And reflecting and letting it wash over you. And doing more things.

2)  Questioning what performance is. Maybe a capital “E” Event,  maybe just walking down the street and noticing, maybe chance meetings, parties, shared experience.

3) Playing with tech tools, images, props, (something outside of the body) as a starting place to explore what kinds of embodied magic can happen. 

(This reminds me of the box of craft junk treasures my mother would take out for us to make “stuff” with.  Hot glue, feathers, glitter, paint, pipe cleaners, wooden shapes, and no end goal in mind. Those studies, just like our class studies, were little thought/doing  exercises in which the thinking and doing the blur in the moment of play.)

4) Genuine value of process.  The class ethos allowed studies to be studies – it allowed for risk taking.  The prospect of a flop (despite or because we were working in such a liminal space that who knows what a flop or success would even be?) was not prohibitive the way it can be in a traditional comp class, or even professional works-in-progress showing, in which lip service is paid (well-meaningly)  to risk taking and exploration but in which works are only nominally considered studies/experiments. They are graded/evaluated/critiqued often as products.

Maybe it’s something about “The Art of Making Dances” rather than “one of many perspectives on the Art(s) of Making Dances”

5) Thinking Bigger Picture:

What are the systems we make, live in, work in, are subjected to?

How do/can we function within those systems with agency?

What is technology- how has technology anchored our personal experience of the world? How do technological advances coincide with world events on broad scales: political movements, artistic movements, war?

How to we responsibly wield access to and advances in technology for benefiting humanity rather than destroying it?

Instructions for “You’re Awesome:”

Works best in a group standing in a circle, with some energy shifting side to side, or jogging in place, but can be seated, etc.

Person A  says “one”, holding up one finger.

Other players repeat: “ONE!!!!!!” Brandishing one digit.

Person A says something (they learned, they’re thinking about, excited about)

Other Players respond : “YOU’RE AWESOME!!!!”

Person A : “Two”

Other players repeat: “TWO!!!!!!!”

Person A says something else (they learned, they’re thinking about, excited about)

Other players respond: “YOU’RE AWESOME!!!!”

Person A: Three” . . .

Each player says three things, echoed by awesome affirmations, until the group has finished.The more raucous each “awesome” is the more hilarious.

Try it at your next business meeting, awkward team building day, rehearsal, birthday party…  it’s Awesome.

 

 

 

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Beginnerly Free-Play and Expectation Blocks

I am perfectly content, eager even, to fumble through things I don’t know anything about – like PhotoShop, or Final Cut,  or anything in the InterMedia Lab. I feel inept in these arenas.  I have no preconceived idea that my output must be stellar, or even decent. I’m embracing and learning through play.

Here’s an exercise in “Can you turn on a camera, upload footage, and do something with it?” I was delighted to complete even step one and see the little red  blinking dot.

(Thank you Andi – you’re awesome.)

On the contrary, I’m feeling a strong apprehension around academic writing -though I was longing to jump in again- that’s part of why I’m here in the first place.  I only have one important long form paper this semester – all other major assignments are shorter or in other media. And it’s not even that long a paper given writing I’ve done in the past. Laura you  have a degree in English. You used to do this well.

Bingo. Comparison to a previous self whose composition muscles were in-shape from constant use.

Ahhh. I’ve been grading essays for  years now – not writing them! Though I have continuously worked with words.  Choosing verbal cues for exercises for different demographics, writing”un-boring” practice sentences to teach parts of speech, writing hopefully clear exam questions…  but I’m afraid of the blank screen, and worse I’m afraid of a screen full of mediocre content.

I imagine this is a typical returning-student symptom. Though that doesn’t really make me feel better in the moment.

Like stepping into ballet class for the first time in a while – I undercut efforts by comparing the potential product to an ideal image or an illusion of previous abilities.  And yet I know the falling off balance is how to get your balance muscles back.  The getting messy gets you back “on your leg.” I know this rationally.  But the ego wrapped up in expectation isn’t rational.

The expectation feedback loop is such a thwart to the creative experience of play that facilitates growth.

Let’s be brave and play.

Oh but the internet- you fountain of e-books and JSTOR documents – you are also brimming with procrastination fodder –  who was Kate McKinnon this week?…