When Tables Dance: Technicity in Motion

Curator's Note

 Technology is often situated as a prosthesis to a body. This situates technology outside, in an implicit dichotomy between the human and the machine, both pre-constituted in advance. Here, I want to speak of technology in terms of the technicity of movement. While technicity is not of the human per se, it dances with the human, in a withness of movement-moving. Technicity is thus a concept that brings into alignment the more-than-human that is the intersection of the human and technology. Forsythe’s concept of cues and alignments in relation to his choreography One Flat Thing, Reproduced is the platform through which I foreground the technicity of the dancing body in movement.

Forsythe defines a cue as “an aural or visual signal that triggers an event.” The proposition I am making is the following: When you dance, you don’t strictly align to a rehearsed position, you don’t align to a person, you align to the mobility of the architecture of the dance dancing you. You align to the relational complexity of cues as they dance the environment reconfiguring. You align to the dance in the moving.

At the interval where movement aligns to cueing, where the choreographic surfaces as collective individuation, the body never acts alone. The field’s proprioceptive surface is agitated by incipient relationality. Relational movement’s preacceleration is always already coursing through the welling event. Some of the dance’s movement is in and of the human body, but the force of movement’s incipient cueing exceeds the bounds of the human, active in the non-local, non-human relation priming for collective alignment.

The choreography of One Flat Thing, reproduced proposes modes of entry into the collective movement of a dancing surface that is inherently compositional. Its technicity is its architecting of mobility that activates the more-than of the human, exposing collective movement for what it is: an orchestration of movement-moving. This technicity is never delineated in advance. It comes to expression as a mobile architecture that activates the more-than of movement in its collective individuation.



 Hi Erin, thanks for the great post!

I was thinking about your concept of dance's technicity as an 'orchestration of movement-moving', a form of individuation that makes dance emerge from its multiple intervals, or in-betweens. In fact, this concept really suggested the idea of relational movement as a sort of emerging 'third', what actually allows a potential discontinuity to become continuous, rather than the opposite. Would be curious to know what you think of this.



About continuity/discontinuity: I think it is the main point. When you watch the two curated extracts so far, the only obvious relationship between dance and technology is editing. And this is for me the key concept. What we do when we record and then edit a movement is altering its spatial-temporal integrity. The recorded trace of a moving human body hence becomes a "more-than-human" artefact. It can be manipulated beyond limit (and i'm not talking about any special effects here), and human senses (the viewer) can be therefore challenged beyond limit as well. A simple example: in "One flat thing, reproduced" when from a large shot the editing jumps (in 1/25th of a second) to a close shot of a dancer jumping on a table, you experience a strong "more-than-human" feeling as a viewer. Because you can not experience this in real life. The human hand, with the help of technology, be it digital or mechanical, has the potentiality to transcend humanity. Wow.


[By the way, Thierry De Mey is the director and editor of this film, and he is a master in this field, so allow me to pay homage to him.]

Thanks for crediting Thierry, Antonin. And the interesting issue/interest with dance for camera work and the editing you discuss is the challenge of bringing across some of the kinesthetic sensation of the live work in a work for the screen. Those edits and camera movements are designed by Thierry to elicit greater sensation than a single viewpoint or continuous edit could do. As an experienced dancefilm maker, Thierry is naturally going to approach the process this way and he should. But at the same time his choices drastically change the choreographic nature of the work, as will become clear in my post. The film then becomes more than anything, Thierry's viewpoint of the work, which highlights the individual performances much more than the intricate group structures that are central to it. All of this is obvious perhaps but also very important to acknowledge and is part of the reason that our work with Forsythe on Synchronous Objects (which focuses on One Flat Thing, reproduced) focused not on an attempt to recapitulate the live experience, nor an attempt to preserve it but instead to give new perspectives into the work that the camera and animation enable. The liveness returns when the viewer then moves back into the world and sees (live) patterns in other performances and experiences based on the perspectives afforded through technological mediation. perhaps.

Nora, I'm interested in your comments about the point when the viewer returns to the live performance after having experienced One Flat Thing, reproduced. This is where Erin's idea of "withness with movement-moving" becomes particularly important for me. My question is, does the viewer work in a system of cues and alignments as well?

Just as Nora points out how De Mey's film focuses on particular architectures based on his experience, there are  cues for the viewer who is also with the movement-moving in the live performance. If a viewer has seen One Flat Thing, reproduced or used Synchronous Objects, any perceived cues and alignments in a live performance come both from a live experience and that with De Mey's film or Synchronous Objects. As we move back and forth between mediated and live performance each experience carries the cues of the last.

Stimulating discussion. Attached are two links to clips from a documentary I'm working on in which choreographer Allison Orr is working with employees of Austin (TX) Department of Solid Waste Services to create a performance.  People's everyday movements at work plus truck ovements.  First clip is a sketch of a scene idea and second is performance excerpts.

Link one below.  Clip two is at:



Hi all, I apologize for my absence: I've been in Iowa jumping on a trampoline with an extraordinary 17yr old autistic boy. A few comments on your very interesting comments below: Stamatia, you ask: "In fact, this concept really suggested the idea of relational movement as a sort of emerging ‘third’, what actually allows a potential discontinuity to become continuous, rather than the opposite. Would be curious to know what you think of this". - For me the interval is outside time in any metric sense (so neither continuous nor discontinous) - it is the force that precipitates what I've called "event time" elsewhere. In my recent work, I've been trying to underscore how relational movement is always already distributed - how it moves movement moving in a way that realigns the field's dance of attention, always in the more-than of experience (so not aligned to a pre-constituted set of any kind, be they bodies or pre-constituted spacetimes). Andrew - I love Allison Orr's work! I think it's a great example in this context. Ashley/Nora - I think it's very important to see the field itself cueing and aligning. So with more space, I would have had to talk about how the camera itself cues and aligns the dance (as I did, for instance, with my piece on Thierry De Mey's film "Rosas Danst Rosas" - Nora, I agree with you about your comment about the importance of NOT using his work for the Synchronous Objects website, for precisely that reason (although I would argue that there is still the more-than of that particular interface-in-the-making to cue and align to). Antonin: the idea of editing is really important, I agree. When I am talking about the more-than of cueing and aligning (the fact that one never aligns strictly to a pre-existent body but to a mobile architecture in the making) I am thinking about Tarkowsky's ideas of editing (as sculpting time) much more than Eisenstein's notion of controlling time (re-metricizing time). Thanks for the fascinating discussion! Erin

Hello Erin, I think the way you describe your concept of the interval is very interesting. Being the force that precipitates events, or that actualizes potentials, I like to think of it as the potentiality of an event to become: a potential relation that is also always a potential division, a potential cut that distributes flows. I guess my question at this point would be: how is the interval, in its being neither continuous nor discontinuous, felt? 

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