Reading – The Craftsman – Richard Sennett
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
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.
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.
There are now screen printing frames for accurate printing. The screen is clamped in position.
After the screen has been attached to the frame, a sheet of acetate is taped to the base. The image is printed onto the acetate.
Paper is positioned under the acetate and tabs are taped on the bottom edge and one side edge to ensure consistent registration when printing subsequent copies.
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.
Oskar Schlemmer’s designs/choreography has been mostly treated as a minor footnote. Bauhaus parties allowed playful exuberance and were an important prominent aspect of the school. The “Bauhaus: Art as Life” exhibition at the Barbican Gallery in 2012 presents these social choreographies. One photo shows “the building as a stage”, included Schlemmer’s musical stairs and glass spheres suspended from the ceiling. Actors in costumes present themselves as architectural elements.
Schlemmer arrived at Weimar Bauhaus in 1921, running the wood and stone workshop and the sculpture workshop, undertook many preparations for festivals/parties. He assumed the role of a kind of multimedia impresario. His practical work motivated him to experiment with choreography and his interest in space and plasticity, akin to Gropius’ Architectonics, investigating space, form, colour, sound, movement and light.and Schlemmer’s interest in the geometry of the human form.
The “Triadic Ballet”, was in 3 acts, 3 performers, 12 dances and 18 costumes. Each act displaying a different colour and mood. Figurines of exaggerated headdresses and masks, padded torsos and outfits built with wire and concentric hoops, were to impede movement. The stage was an extension to the traditional proscenium arch/stage, similar to a fashion runway. This would influence contemporary fashion designers who drew heavily on this form of avant-garde installation/performance art. Geometric lines on the floor inhibits the movement to that of chess figures involved in an abstract game. The human body or face is obscured by sculptural costumes, rejecting expressionism and mimetic theatre conventions of the time. The choreography neutralises the performer to geometric motion. The performer is the unseen puppeteer, the operator of the figurines.
Mapping of figures in space “Figur und Raumlineatur” and “Egozentrische Raumlineatur” uses uncostumed figures to show the mathematical principles to measure space, treating space as abstract. These biograms show man as a combination of mechanic and organic components.
Contemporary choreographer, William Forsythe, coined the expression “choreographic object”, transposing dance from the stage into other manifestations, e.g. participatory installations. This fluidity of space has informed the idea of “liquid architecture” to overcome the ideas of static, fixed architecture to transform space.
Constructivism endeavours to to use analysis of the materials and forms for utilitarian purposes for a new society. Kandinsky’s spiritualism was at odds with this new approach, forcing him to leave Russia. His biomorphic shapes reverberated with Schlemmer’s choreographies, unlike Moholy-Nagy who would work directly with the new technology available.
Moholy-Nagy created the “Light Space Modulator”, a motorised sculpture of glass, mirror and steel was a kinetic installation which imagined light as performance art. Both art’s collaboration was complementary to their practice and are the pioneers of “Hybrid Art”.
Schlemmer’s “Hoop Dance” is similar to Moholy-Nagy’s “Light Space Modulator” film as a kinetographic study of movement through objects. William Forsythe’s interest in architectural notions of spaciality and choreography is often linked to the legacy of Rudolph Laban rather than early 20th Century Constructivism.
Dance as a Practice of Contemporaneity – Andre Lepecki
Dance’s main qualities:
Recently dance projects have been created by artists, not choreographers. For example, Nevin Aladag’s Dance Occupations where groups of non-dancers invade a space, dancing wildly to no music. Flashmob. Here there is no collaboration between visual art and dance, but this fusion is driven by a need for the arts to break away from neat divisions.
Dance as a metaphor emerges at the end of the 19th Century in an attempt to establish dance as an autonomous art. Away from the constraints of music, literature and symbolic gesture.
After WWII many artists links their practice to questions of freedom and participation. Experimentation opened up the body to new arenas, getting closer to problems linked to questions that are constitutive of dance and choreography.
At the beginning of the 1980s two forces combined to reignite the political and aesthetic capabilities of dance:
Dressage (1992) – Henri Lefebvre
People gesticulate, usually the top half of the body but sometimes with the hips and legs. Each segment of the body has its rhythm. What is fully natural?
Gestures cannot be attributed to nature, they change according to societies and eras. These manners are acquired/learned.
Something passed as natural when it conforms without effort to accepted models. Distinguish between education, learning and training (dressage). To enter into a society is to accept its values, bend to its ways, dressage. Dressage is based on repetition to break-in people to perform a certain act. Repetition is ritualised in humans, rites.
Phases of dressage:
The military model has been imitated in western societies to preserve and extend this rhythm. Repetition is pushed to the point of automatism.
Rhythms are present in learning and training, as well as dressage, these must be united as are the organs of the body.
Some Reflective Surfaces 1 (1975) – Adrian Piper
“Aretha Franklin Catalyst” (1972)
Adrian’s interest in disco dance figures as a form of ritualised sexual and political confrontation. Also this type of dance was capable of expressing a whole spectrum of feelings that they have about their own bodies, because the rhythms tend to be repetitive and transform while musically it is complex and densely textured. Disco makes possible a physical empathy with the music which requires coordination and rhythmic discrimination to achieve this. You have to actually dance to disco and not just behave. To succeed is to express one’s sexuality individually. In a sexually repressive culture this is to express deviance. Hence the racist/homophobic reaction to disco.
The expression of defiance and individuality is open to misinterpretation. For example, you want to be picked up.
“Some Reflective Surfaces” (1975)
Explores the gestural and political significance of disco on a number of levels:
Voluntary self-objectification can be an act of political defiance, a celebration of the self by exposing the hypocrisy of the disapprovers as an attempt to eradicate their own uncontrollable impulses.
Notes on Funk (1983) – Adrian Piper
Motivation for doing “Funk Lessons” was the ignorance and xenophobia of black working class culture since 1972. Deemed inappropriate for serious political topics, which is elitist and patronising.
“Funk Lessons” (1982-84) – Hand-out summary
Global Breakdancing and the Intercultural Body (2002) – Halifu Osumare
Breakdancing takes place in an improvised circle. Each soloist demonstrates their skills while encoding gestural messages which usually comment on other dancer’s perceived lack of skill. These battles originally took place in opposing gangs, lined-up facing each other, usually to settle disputes. A creative dance alternative to gang violence allows it to claim a discursive basis as a particularised dance form of the signifying tradition prevalent in African-American popular culture.
This has become a global phenomenon during the current era of capitalism, going beyond the barriers of language. Global capital and evolving Hip Hop subculture exist as parallel, yet intertwined, forces in this increasing complex era.
Rest in Pieces: Scores, Notation and the Trance in Dance (2005) – Myriam Van Imschoot
Dance has not used the word score for a specific object. Also dance has not depended on copyright and distribution to publish these scores. Scores are working tools.
The English word “score” covers a far wider range of meanings than, for example, Partition in French. Lisa Nelson’s “Turning Scores” does not refer to a written score at all. It is more a case of learning and enacting the rules of a game. William Forsythe scribbled lines, arrows and numbers onto a book of sketches by Tiepolo, forming an enigmatic riddle that the dancers were free to interpret. This choreography-at-a-distance resulted in “Hypothetical Stream” (1996). These scores enter a whole range of possible implementations.
Labanotation is a standardised system for analysing and recording dance movement. Hungarian Rudolph von Laban (1879-1958) published this first in 1928 as “Kinetographie”.
The “Staff” is a vertical grid which indicates which part of the body is moving/gesturing etc
Bars, Beats and Time
The centre line will indicate beats with a short dash across and bars are indicated with a line right across. A vertical line indicates the duration of each step eg position 1 transfers weight to right foot for 2 beats.
Horizontal movement is indicated using the symbols at the top of the page. Vertical movement uses similar symbols; cross-hatched symbol is up high, dot in the middle is level/horizontal, and full-shade is low/down gestures.
Indicated horizontal and vertical directions and can be used to show directions in a room/space, written in a square. Can also show intermediate positions by modifying the direction of the symbol, and by merging two pins together.
Arm and Leg Gestures
These symbols show the position of the limbs.
Intermediate Direction Gestures
Usually in increments of 15º but it is possible to get intermediate 7.5º, using symbols connected with a bow. Eg a symbol for 0º and another for 45º with a dot between.
Foot connections uses modified pins.
Centre of weight and transference of weight
Five thing can happen:
A small circle = hold weight
The staff should be read from the bottom up.
A/ The starting position; weight on both feet, legs straight, both arms down.
B/ Weight stays on both feet
C/ Right leg lifted to mid point, left arm to low point
D/ Hold weight on right arm, left arm straight down
E/ Transfer weight to both feet
F/ Weight stays on both feet
G/ Jump and leg gesture
H/ Land on both feet
Shifting the Centre of Weight and Steps
Jumps and Turns
Quantity Signs and Connection Bows
These are just some of the basic symbols used in Labanotation. There is also software available which facilitates the drawing of symbols.
Gayle noted that my site visit to Eastbourne College was useful in gaining key information about the dimensions and the proportions of the room. The drawing I produced of the space in Google Sketchup will help with my design exploration.
Gayle also feels that Labanotation symbols have potential, especially with regards to semiotics and suggested looking at Carl Jung’s “Man and his Symbols” and Howard Rissatti’s Craft Theory book which also has a section about symbolism.
I mentioned the various dances that could be interpreted using this system of recording movement. Potentially this could be slightly subversive by using dance moves that are used within the public sphere as opposed to contemporary dance practice. I’m quite keen to use the “raver’s” standard “Big fish, little fish, cardboard box” move that is really a bit of a micky-take of ravers and their rather basic dance expressions.
Coming in at number two is the wedding reception standard the “Hokey cokey”. There are other moves, such as the basic Northern soul shuffle and samba/salsa, however the criteria is that this moves are performed without a dancing partner.
Gayle thought it would be beneficial to visit a dance studio and take photos of the dancers within a dance space and also suggested looking at musical scores and play with composition/imagery. Also mentioned looking at Kandinsky’s book “Point and Line and Plane”.