After recent tutorials and looking at the labanotation that I created of the simple hand/arm gestures, I felt that there was no need to actually used these as they have no relevance to the site and the client.
So I have decided to use the notation as a graphic assemblage of the signs and symbols.
Both designs still use the “staff” in perspective to add dynamism and movement, whereas the supporting symbols are flat 2D. I have played with the scale of the symbols so small symbols appear larger than they normal, and visa versa for the larger signs.
The layout suggests that these symbols and signs should be annotated in some way, rather like in a page layout in a “How to Do” book. I managed to create vector drawings of both windows to full size so that I can print out a full size cartoon of each design.
There is still the potential to tweak these but I feel I need to get these designs onto glass where I can finally experiment with colour and texture.
We discussed my reservations about the designs that I created and we both agreed that a more conservative approach to the aesthetic would be more suitable. We discussed the logistics of creating large-scale architectural glass and the resources available at college and I pointed out that most artists do not fabricate their own work due to the scale of these types of projects. Alan pointed out that my practice is probably design led and the making is in the form of samples and maquettes.
Tutorial – 30/1/18 – Kim Charnley
We discussed the background research that I have undertaken and the interesting directions that I have attempted to adapt to the design, which may form the basis of other projects. Kim agreed that I was right to think about the suitability of my designs in relation to the client. We discussed developing designs to scale and how this will be realised in glass with colour, texture etc. Kim suggests that I think in parallel to this and look at glass in an interdisciplinary context as a way of exploring the background research that I have undertaken, for example subculture. This module might include more than one line of examination around architectural glass. Contemporary art includes glass, eg vitrines etc. Kim thought it would be interesting to separate my enquiry into a design and contemporary art context, exploring the same research.
I decided to produce scaled-up sketches of both windows, from 1/10th to 1/5th, to get a better idea of how the imagery works.
I feel that the imagery is unsuitable for the site. There is too much emphasis on the subcultural which would probably work in a club in Ibiza, not a dance studio at boarding school. The labanotation on the floor of each corridor will refer to gestures alluding to the subcultural references, so the smiley face and mirrorball are unnecessary as I want these gestures and moves to be discovered by the viewer. The corridor in perspective refers to the architectonic stage of Schlemmer and Gropius, there is also a suggestion of computer games such as Tomb Raider. The architectonic stage is illustrated by Oskar Schlemmer’s Figur und Raumlineatur below.
Figur und Raumlineatur
I have decided to simplify the imagery so that the labanotation is the focal point. The sketches show that the notation is fighting with all the other images; the corridor and the subcultural signs and signifiers are battling for attention. I have decided to retain the perspective as this added movement and dynamism to the previous design. This is a rough sketch of the revised design.
After a lot of time consuming research into labanotation I have finally completed the notation for these windows that I want to present.
There are four gestures for each. The top is quite complicated as I had to include the positions of the palms of the hands. The bottom “staff” is mainly arm gestures spelling four letters. I will probably create digital versions of my notation so that they can be manipulated to create a perspective view. then I can finally experiment with glass and look at colour and texture.
Gayle pointed out that I should focus on the client and look at the history of the college, its alumni whether anyone went on to gain any recognition with any particular piece of music, choreography etc that you could reference. I did some research and the only connection to music and dance was a couple of ex-pupils formed rock bands.
As suggested by Gayle I looked graphic design, particularly Saul Bass and Neville Brody and Rodschenko. She noted that the windows look a bit like bookends and I have considered the large expanse of mirror between both windows.
I have looked at the school and its relationship with contemporary dance and it has hosted performances and workshops from significant contemporary dance companies, such as Rambert and hosting Experiential’s “Bridging the Void”
My impression is that Eastbourne College, although a traditional boarding school, is keen to promote and engage with contemporary dance and the building of a new dance studio attests to the enthusiasm in engaging with contemporary dance.
I was exploring the dancing form using stylised figures. The “big fish…” idea was starting to become a common feature.
The feature of dance studios is a large expanse of mirror, in this instance it it between the two windows. During a recent tutorial with Gayle, it was noted that the windows appear as bookends and the spines of books could be a source of inspiration. The disco mirrorball and a labanotation symbol were a possible solution.
The influence of Labanotation was starting to inform the composition.
During my research I looked into gestural expressions of the hands, which are an important feature of hip hop performance. Accompanies the verbal dexterity of African American working class “signifying” tradition of “dissing” your opponent during rap battles.
These pages shows the translation of movement and gestures into notational form.
These sketches indicate how these may appear. I used black paper and light coloured pencils to replicate the highlights, as opposed to the lowlight of shadow. The problem with these compositions is that the relationship between movement and notation is too apparent.
Creating a cypher that the audience and use to explain the notation and follow the movements within the composition. There are 3 element to the system, the “staff” where the notation is presented; the parts of the body and their associated symbols and the kinesphere which indicates positions of gestures and movement within the personal space of the performer.
This is a sketch of a pictogram illustrating how the system works. I am keen that this should be an interactive experience where the viewer gleans the information from the “Rosetta Stone” and follow the notation within the composition.
I researched Oskar Schlemmer which led me to look at the Russian avant garde, particularly Constructivism and Suprematism for inspiration. I wasn’t particularly happy with my attempts.
My previous attempts were too flat and two-dimensional. Adding single-point perspective seemed to add dynamism.
Here is a colour rendering of both windows. the corridor effect leading to the “key” explaining the notation on the floor of the corridor, like hieroglyphs. The mirrorball and Smiley offer more clues to the dance genre that the notation indicates.
Since the late nineteenth century, the blueprint was equivalent to a lawyer’s contract where the complete design concept has been presented as finished before it has been constructed. For architectural projects Computer-Aided Design is an invaluable tool for designing and presenting these large projects. However there is a disconnection between head and hand design when using CAD. Even before the advent of digital design, the design process was a combination of drawing artist’s impressions and making models. The tactile experience using pencils and pens gives the designer a greater understanding of how the finished design will appear and also greater familiarity with each brick or window that is rendered. The materiality of the bricks and the site becomes ingrained and with each site visit, you redo the drawings again. This circular metamorphosis can be eliminated with CAD and large scale, complex architectural projects could not have been made by a group of architects working by hand.
There are three failures that impede good design when using CAD
Disconnect between simulation and reality
Disables a relational understanding
Peachtree Center, Atlanta (2004)
Richard Sennett has observed these three failures using CAD for an architectural project. The first issue is that the “disconnection between simulation and reality” highlighted the daily life of the environment where the building is situated. The lack of tactile experience on the part of the designer did not take into account that the summer temperature from late morning until early evening. The streets lined with cafes were not full of people enjoying al fresco drinks as the temperature for most of the daylight hours can be too hot to enjoy the ambient cafe experience.
Secondly, the ability to change the viewpoint to disguise or conceal an eyesore, for example hotel rooms overlooking an ugly car park can be presented as a minor detail and that changing the scene to something more flattering “disables a relational understanding” of the site. Disguising these issues using flattering viewpoints merely hides the problem, not eradicate them.
Sanitised “overdetermination” presents a false impression of how the building will work. The ideal rationality of CAD designed totality does not present the predictable wear and tear of the life of a building or the informality of street life and old neighbourhoods. The “crinkled fabric of buildings” allow small businesses to occupy cheap tatty spaces and the impersonal cool rationality of CAD does little to present this aspect of the evolving urban space.
The tactile act of drawing and the abuses of CAD shows that when there is a disconnect between head and hand are separate, relational understanding suffers if computers do this learning. Solutions to problems can usually be resolved on site through improvisation of the plan through “embodied knowledge” where builders use their experience and physical knowledge of the site and its problems. These manual workers did not sit in the design sessions from the start so therefore unable to point out these design issues. The separation of head and hand in this instance is not simply an intellectual issue but a social division.
During my research into Labanotation and the subsequent frustration of trying to implement it into my work, I looked into the other forms of movement that could be recorded using this notation system, particularly within the realm of sports science.
The popularity of Football, described by some as the “world’s game”, or in the words of Alf Garnett “the working man’s ballet”, seemed worthy for investigation. The 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico was notable for the being the first to be broadcast in colour and for the Brazil team. I can’t remember if we had a colour television at that time but I do remember the colourful football of the Brazilian team. They won the final beating Italy 4-1 and the last goal of the game from Carlos Alberto is considered by many to be the best goal ever scored in any World Cup.
Watching this goal made me aware that to record this would be a huge undertaking so I thought that goal celebrations would be slightly less cumbersome. I came across videos from Stjarnan FC who are famous for their elaborate goal celebrations. This is my personal favourite:
Also during my online research I found Alec Finlay’s “Labanotation: The Archie Gemmill Goal”. Alec used the goal scored by Archie Gemmill for Scotland in the 1978 World Cup as the source to be recorded using Labanotation.
Labanotation: The Archie Gemmill Goal – Alec Finlay
This project was concerned with the relationship between transcription and performance. This record was used for dance performances and workshops. Alec’s collaboration with dancer Kathi Palitz allowed her to interpret the collection of movements, shifting away from the past event and its nostalgic association, translating it into Kathi’s own terms. (Finlay, 2002)
Seeing the notation in its entirety confirmed that recording great goals would require me to liaise with choreographers who were conversant with Labanotation. Alec used the services of Jean Jarrell and Rosemarie Gerhard at Laban Centre London to analyse and record the movement and gestures of just one player, dribbling past 3 opponents and scoring.
Here Alec is using transcription for the purpose that it is intended, a dance performance, so it was necessary for him to hire experts to faithfully translate the movements. Whether dance is “the working man’s ballet” or not, I feel the football angle is straying too far from the brief.
How does my current research around dance interplay with the technical constraints and potential of architectural glass?
I am using as a basis for this module a live competition brief, the Stevens Glass Prize. This is an annual architectural glass competition from The Worshipful Company of Glaziers & Painters of Glass. This year’s brief is to design and, if successful, fabricate two windows that will be situated within a dance studio at Eastbourne College.
Dance is corporeal and performative and there are many aspects that can be investigated, for example music, movement, rhythm etc. Inevitably this brief lends itself to examining the human form through life drawing and Expressionism to articulate movement and gestures.
Henri Lefebvre wrote an essay about the nature of gestures or dressage and gesture is a common feature of the performance of rap music as well as breakdancing. The sub-cultural dimension of dance, which is not of the theatrical tradition and could be seen as subversive by comparison. Visual artist’s have used dance sub-cultures such as Northern Soul and Rave as a source for their creative practice.
I have also been familiarising myself with Labanotation which is a form of notation used by choreographers. This system is not particularly intuitive to the uninitiated and I have been investigating its possible use to record and present movement and gestures of informal dance moves.
The technical considerations have made it necessary to visit the site and I also plan to visit Proto Studios, an architectural glass fabricators. I am required to provide a sample section and a visual representation of the finished panels in situ. Experimentation of materials will happen once I have settled on a final design.
I am currently looking to finally get some images after some research. I have followed the advice from the tutorials and I have been looking into Labanotation, choreography and dance sub-cultures. I have to admit that Labanotation is a bit ambiguous to understand and it is not intuitive to the uninitiated. However I believe this will work in my favour as the initial response may be that of bemusement from the viewer and then to discover that the routines illustrated are of a non-theatrical tradition, may amuse the viewer. Dance music and club culture are a source of inspiration, offering alternative choreographies of an informal nature.
Music sub-cultures such as Disco, Northern Soul,Hip Hop and House Music have always interested me. The informal performative nature of these predominantly working-class sub-cultures offer an edgy alternative to the theatrical tradition of classical and contemporary dance. It was interesting to read Adrian Piper’s essays about disco and funk as a politically defiant expression of sexuality. Highlighting the hypocrisy of detractors as they “attempt to eradicate their own uncontrollable impulses” (Piper, 1975). Transgender Bathroom Bill anyone? Also Halifu Osumare discussed the global phenomenon of breakdancing as a method of resolving disputes and its expression of the signifying (Dissing) tradition prevalent in African-American popular culture.
I have also looked at the work of Bauhaus artist/choreographer, Oskar Schlemmer, who seems to have been treated as a minor footnote in the history of the Bauhaus. The famous Bauhaus parties enabled him to design costumes and geometric set designs have influenced contemporary fashion designers, such as Issay Miyake and choreographers such as William Forsythe.
I’m collating an image bank of dancing figures, gestures, musical ephemera with a view to create an assemblage or collage of imagery. I briefly mentioned to Kim Charnley that in “the real world” I would not have this opportunity to research deeply into these subjects, but the research that I will eventually undertake into the technical aspects of architectural glass will broaden the research into something that is not so specific to this brief that I am using as a structure for this module.