Thanks to a Travel Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, I was able to participate in the Master Artist in Residency Program, at the beautiful Atlantic Center for the Arts, from May 15 through June 04, 2016. The Center is carved out of the Florida jungle and its award-winning buildings are made of cedar. I loved walking along the paths lined with palmettos, under Spanish moss, while little lizards scurried about in front of me. Such a special place.
The structure of the ACA Residency Program brought together three “Master Artists” from different disciplines, with 24 “Associate Artists” to participate in the three-week program. The Master Artists were Ian Winters (video and media artist working at the intersections of physical performance, installations / architectural form, and time-based media), Myra Melford (pianist, composer, experimental piano forms), and poet, Frances Richards. Milford and Winters were collaborating on a multi-sensorial performance investigating the deconstructed piano.
My explorations over the course of the residency responded to the combination of connections with fellow artists, facilities available, and opportunities as they presented. I used my time at ACA to develop my ability to collaborate, to explore collaborative relationships, to learn different approaches to creation, composition, and work practice. This was also an opportunity to make connections with artists working across the continent.
This residency was intentionally process oriented and exploratory. Rather than have a specific project in mind, I set out to develop a somatic practice through daily investigations in the studio and to explore different forms of collaboration between disciplines.
My solo movement research, as well as compositional explorations and improv sessions with other artists, add to a foundation that I can draw from when working with performers in creating movement sequences as I continue in this direction. paige sorvillo generously ran me through her improvised response technique which is a useful tool in developing shared vocabulary with collaborators. I used it as a tool with collaborations at the ACA and will use the technique in the future. Sessions in which I led a group of interested artists from across disciplines through various embodiment exercises yielded two types of collaborations.
Improvisation sessions with multi-instrumentalists and a poet were a step beyond what I have tried before. They incorporated words andI was partnering in movement with one of the musicians while he played the trumpet, yielding surprising moments and results. Documenting all sessions will give me plenty to reflect on in the coming months.
A collaboration with artist/poet Kristine Eudey and electronic music composer Jeff Morris was anything but straightforward and through the process I learned a great deal about communicating through a project. We came together without a basic premise other than wanting to incorporate movement, sensor driven sound (using wii devices), and video projection. Through the project we explored interaction between human, computer, and the jungle-like surroundings. We played with the sensors, used the improvised response technique to create a unified starting point, and tried out various video projections. In the end, what was intended as a performance piece turned into a minimalist light sculpture in which we projected through a screen into a swath of Florida jungle creating a seemingly endless rectangular void in the palmettos.
As part of the residency, Winters lead technical workshops in Isadora (an interface tool) and simple physical computing tools for artists. This was a basic introduction and mastering the program was not my intention. Rather, this exposure gives me an idea of what might be possible in the realms of projection for performance or animation going forward in my career and what technical assistance that I would need. I did apply what I learned in this workshop tocreate a simple presentation for the ACA’s public event INsideOUT.
Unexpectedly, I ended up joining the group of poets facilitated by Frances Richards, in their afternoon meetings. I was drawn to these discussions because of the group was deeply examining visual poetry as well as links between visual and textual language. The compositional and aesthetic concerns that were raised in our talks about poems and literature echoed many of my inquiries into performance, dance, and video.
It remains to be seen what will result from the many relationships that I developed over the course of the residency. A number of potential projects were discussed, including more group improv work,creating animation for existing music, and long distance collaborations with various poets. Perhaps, most fruitful will be the relationships that I developed with the poets, who have set up a group forum for sharing work, writing, and feedback.