Thursday, July 26, 2012

Final Project Revamp

After a cleansing talk with a dear friend and fellow collaborator, I have realized that for this project I have set my ambitions too high.  However, I feel like it would be such a shame to let all of my thinking and planning go to waste that I want to share the beginning of a project treatment here.  I would love for this project to be completed at one time or another, but giving the time and financial constraints, now is not that time.  Instead, I am going to narrow my focus and broaden my span.  This is the beginning of what I was hoping to have accomplished:
My work is to be a ten minute performance art dance film that highlights the experience of one girl, Alice, as she struggles with questions of her identity in a socially dominated night club.  As she stumbles through her night, she comes across several characters who help her come to a resolution about who she is.  These characters are represented equally in the nightlife, as well as a wonderland.  Her identity is revealed through a dichotomy of two experiences; a sexualized and socially laden night life and a whimsical, creative wonderland that captivates innocence and a sense of clarity amidst chaotic images.
Several allegorical characters help illuminate Alice's experience.  The White Rabbit is the token of Alice's desire.  In this film it is an attractive guy that lures her subconsciously into the raucous nightlife where Alice feels she must adapt in order to gain his affections.  In Wonderland, he is the figure that connects all of her experiences.  The Caterpillar is a stranger in line, as well as a member of the Red Queen's inner circle.  He gets Alice to question her identity in  both worlds as he encourages her to conform in the club, yet stay true to herself in Wonderland.  The Red Queen is Queen of the night club, but Alice's mentor in Wonderland.  She allows Alice to create the rules and helps Alice to understand that she is a master of her own self and an individual in the otherwise homogenous club.
I think instead I am going to highlight this idea of social dancing in a club and how the context of the same movement is represented and contextualized in a completely different, natural setting.  While I am abandoning the story line of Alice, I still feel I am interested in identity.  But instead of exploring one's psychological identity, I will be more interested in a movement identity.  How is provocative movement interpreted in different settings?  Also, what does one's outfit and dress add or detract from both a perceived and intentional message?  How does this fabric shape movement?
On a totally different note, what if I instead focused solely on the movement of different fabrics?
Either way, I envision two, if not more, settings.  The first being a club, or a place similar, with bright lights and intense colors.  I would contrast this with the softness of trees or rolling waves.  The fabrics would reflect the two different color palates as well as the setting.
I am still interested in filming very specific moments to capture detailed movement that is often overlooked.  Again, I love the work in "Motion Control," (posted below), and would love to replicate that specificity and manipulation of time/speed.

Essays on Alice

"Looking at a chronological listing of the most popular images of Alice, it is undeniable that she's been maturing with the passage of the years: the once innocent child heroine is now commonly depicted as a physically mature young woman, and the Wonderland that surrounds her is more commonly employed as a place of experience than as a place of innocence" (175).
"Fundamentally, Alice exists within a Wonderland of our own construction, an ever-shifting locale that reflects social concerns and the kinds of growth we feel she should experience..." (176).
"Jack Zipes remarks that Carroll's writing was part of a trajectory on the part of Victorian fantasists who were on a 'quest ofr a new fairy-tale form [that] stemmed from a psychological rejection and rebellion against the 'norms' of English society,' and that 'Carroll made one of the moste radical statements on behalf of the fairy tale and the child's perspective by conceiving of a fantastic plot with no ostensible moral purpose" (178).
This list of quotes, which will grow over the next few days, (citations and editing needed), is from a compliation of essays regarding Alice.  I will go into further detail with these later, but primarily I am inspired by the clarity of the forms of interpretation.  In turn, I think I have decided the overlying and underlying means to my work: identity and innocence through a dichotomy of two experiences; a sexualized and socially ladden night life and a whimsical, explorative wonderland that captivates innocence and a sense of clarity admist chaotic images.  I envision bits of choreography at varying tempos entertwined with movement from related symbolic imagery.
These thoughts are in part a record and keepsake for myself, but as always commentary and criticism is appreciated :)

Alice in da Club?

I mentioned earlier that I thought of creating a modern version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but what if I stick with my original idea of fantasy and merge it with a modern "Alice" who explores her relation to the world in both a wonderland and real setting?  The possibility of a camera has freed up the possibility of so many more settings as opposed to the theatre, and I think it would allow me to express a clearer dichotomy between reality and wonderland.  Currently, I am thinking of using feelings of disenchantment with reality and exploring new possibilities in a wonderland to reveal a truth, or questions, about identity.  How does our reality construct a version of one's self?  How does one's self affect a given reality?  What role does perspective have on reality and identity?  To one's self, one may perceive themselves and a shared reality as entirely different from surrounding cognizant figures.  I have several scenarios I would like to explore.  I would like the "Alice" of my video to be disenchanted with her social reality and who she is in a given situation.  I would like to juxtapose fantasy scenes with related "real" scenes.  I think I would like to follow Alice as she gets ready for a party/night on the town. Some rambling thoughts:
Tea Party scene couples with drinking at a Halloween party
Social dancing vs performance dancing
Social Queen vs Red Queen
Head is spinning caucus race with all of characters from wonderland who deposit Alice into real life. I don't think that Alice necessarily feels a sense of identity in her real life and escapes in and out of wonderland to find herself.
A reality scene would run as follows:
I need a clip of a bouncer asking, "who are you?"
Alice replies, "I beg your pardon?"
"Your name, on the list?"
Alice looks on in confusion.
"If you want to get in, I need a name."
Alice, more to herself:  "my name?"
Someone blows a puff of cigarette smoke in her face, "Just give him your name"- scene fades in the cloud of smoke.
*Fantasy scene with a caterpillar character asking about her identity would then follow*
Inside the club scene occurs afterward
The name scene above relates to two chapters.  "Advice from a Caterpillar" in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and "Looking-glass Insects" in Through the Looking-Glass.


Final Project Musings

I have been considering for my final project a video adaptation of a dance piece that I have been picturing for several years.  However, now that it has the possibility of coming to fruition, naturally it's already changing.  I have always been interested in the fantastical and elaborate, and while that is still true for my vision of this project, I am considering taking a less decorated approach as far as setting.  The main issue that I believe I am centering around is that of identity.  What if instead of having "Alice" walking around in a fantasy land, she is wandering the streets of downtown, a Halloween party, and a night club in addition to gardens and natural bodies?  Is she still dreaming?  Am I still interested in exploring identity through a dream?  Thoughts?
This photo shoot by Annie Leibovitz has always been a source of inspirations as she has incorporated the character of Alice into a modern, yet still dreamy, setting.  The costuming is incredible as is the interpretation of the actual text to the recreated characters.  Please also note the fabulous picture where the male-queen is yelling "Off with her head!"  I just realized the queen is a drag queen.  FABULOUS!

Project Inspiration

For my final project, I have been considering creating a dance film based on a piece that I have always wanted to execute based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  I have several thoughts I wish to post regarding this idea, but for now I want to share a performance art video by Liz Aggniss.  While I do not currently possess the technical ability to create a piece as complex as Aggniss', I am inspired by her manipulation of time and space, both concepts that I am interested in working with.  Also, her focus on setting and how it relates, (or doesn't relate), to movement parallels my own desires in creating art.  I am enamored with elaborate settings that dictates movement or that a dancer can completely ignore, creating the illusion of a disinterest/separation from reality.  I love fantasy and dreams and have noticed several techniques that can help create these notions in the following video.  Beside the scenery and costumes, the warped sound and use of focus by the dancer towards the camera manipulate reality.  As a separate note, I ADORE the costumes in this video and how they work to enforce the dancers movement, but at the same time possess a movement all of their own, (see pictures by Masny).

Dancing Fabric

I recently came across fashion photographer Jan Masny who had a dancer inspired photo shoot.  What originally intrigued me about these pictures was the way in which Masny was able to capture the movement and grace of fabric without overshadowing the beauty of the dancers.  I have an overlapping interest in fashion and dance, and how the two reinforce the other.  For my photo shoot, I am considering working with fabric as a way to further the shapes created while dancing.

Stillness as Dance

As I was stumbling along the vast planes of the internet I came across a series of photographs of dancers in St. Petersburg, Russia.  I was immediately struck by the contrast between the arguably formalized movement and the casual setting.  Often, dance photography is done in a studio or is a still from a live performance or rehearsal.  This photographer took dance from the proscenium into the streets.  His subjects are considerably well trained but dressed in casual attire.  As the dancers blend with their fellow pedestrians, the post-modern notion that anyone can be a dancer resounds strongly.  Having a fair understanding of the post-modern era in dance, I am not a stranger to the idea of stillness as dance.  Arguing that dance could be anything and everything, the post-modern dancers paved a way for new interpretation of what qualifies as dance.  I have now found myself in a conundrum due to the vastness of this notion as I pose the questions:
  • Can the act of photography be viewed as dance?
  • Is photography an accurate means of recording dance?
  • Is the physical photograph itself dance or just a representation?
While viewing these pictures, I am aware of several planes.  I am cognizant of the idea that I am viewing an actual photo, which is in itself a representation.  However, the first thing I consider is that I am looking at dance.  Even though the pictures are stills, I feel a sense of motion.
I have an interest in how to capture movement in a single frame.  Also, I love how the dancers seem distinct from their setting.  While the setting helps define the picture, I am more interested in how the dancers seem to be in their own world, unconcerned with their surroundings.

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