Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

A Phenomenology of Chunky Move's Glow: Moves toward a Digital Dramaturgy

Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

A Phenomenology of Chunky Move's Glow: Moves toward a Digital Dramaturgy

Article excerpt

White plastic sheet, drop sheet, inviting, walk, roll on hunched foot, planted, split open. Laser line hit white effervescent glow when rolling out the measure of one in folds of white; snow dropped depression in snow roll, land. Arcs, line, glacial bunny snow. Exhausting screech. She yelps with quavering voice downward and upward - off the floor from beneath the lines masking, face masks. Tremble she will shiver. Nordic goddess of the right haunted [by] black globules. I feel fear, real terror with sound. Her eyeline searches - different level down, reptilian strong lines rolling, whipping, shifting torso mapping floor dragging face. Melting, bubbling, conditioning wiped away clean - nothing there now, slate clean but screamatic sound - a trace. Heavy luminous courageous cotton line with her? Without her? Purple haze lines envelop directed by limbs carrying the weight - who directs who? The God of médiatisation? Always together. Haunting her. Absorbing her.1

This excerpt is the poetic result of a phenomenological workshop conducted in 2007, one session of five organised to examine the relationship between bodies and digital media experienced by audience in a public dance performance. The workshops were developed in order to carry out phenomenological analyses from an audience-oriented perspective. By emphasising audience receptivity in the ontological status of an artwork, the balance is restored between the artist, the artwork and its reception.2 There are many performer-based phénoménologies to be found in both the Dance Studies and Performance Studies literature that describe from a first person perspective the experience of dancing with technologies.3 My research draws attention away from the perspective or experience of the performer toward a group-style practical phenomenology conducted from within audience.4 Here, audience members participating in these workshops become trained in a specific phenomenological method as spectator-analysts. Their first person descriptions engage with their experience of participation in the performance event. A further difference between my approach to phenomenology and other models is the use of'eidetic' analysis, which comes directly from the philosophy of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenological method.5 Combining practical phenomenology with eidetic analysis permits me to inquire into the meaning constitution of experiences. It is my contention that through such a method called Poetics of Reception, the structural relations between bodies and digital media in performance may be elaborated in distinctive and insightful ways.6

Two questions: What is the significance of revealing the structural relations between bodies and media via a phenomenological approach that harvests its insights from poetic, receptive-based writing? To what extent can phenomenology as a descriptive, somewhat subjectively oriented task elucidate these structures and contribute to both the discourse and practice of digital performance? It will be the purpose of this article to actively demonstrate through the use of my findings from the Poetics of Reception project how phenomenological analysis is not just a theoretical tool for generating concepts, but is a practice for understanding performance through the experience of performance, and a means for providing valuable insight into performance-making itself; I consider this to be a new method for digital dramaturgy. Section One will discuss the importance of seeking new methods in dramaturgy to account for the complexity and diversity of interactions and experiences in digital performance; provide a theoretical reasoning for the analogous claim, phenomenology as dramaturgy; and introduce the idea of a spectator dramaturgy based on group phenomenology. Section One will also introduce the nuts and bolts of the Poetics of Reception method along with a cursory consideration of its findings. These findings are the analysis of participants' writings from a 2007 performance of Chunky Move's GLOW, and are taken up in Section Two where the prototype software application, Digital Dramaturgy Matrix (DD-Matrix), will be sketched. …

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