Performing Science: What are the vital, and most energetic convergences of performance and science? At the intersection of scientific and artful rigor, our aspiration is a Film + Dance Project (and prototype for a larger project) that operates with vital signs in pulse together: ethics aligned with participation, development processes tied to the interdisciplinary, framing which unfastens the notion of possibility.
What is the operation of “false hopelessness” which closes down on risk, and thus, at the same time as making possible (bookmarkers of) definition, may render the discovery of new potential less possible? These questions apply to the two entities at work in this project: the science, in this case, of serious disease and illness, and the performance of artmaking as source and articulation of social, physical response to uncertainty in health and well-being. Experimentation is fundamental – what if anything is possible? By our participation in the process of experiment, contribution itself shifts us to the shifting; to wondering; to inquiring about the difference between probability and the possible. For example, we might encounter the social/political discourse around breast cancer that treats “survivorship” as object. “Think Pink” campaigns attempt strategically or through goodwill to reduce complexity and difficulty to simplicity, often in a corporate-inspired ethic for consumption and ease of “understanding.” There is, however, a possibility for something different, in the ways in which we support one another through disease and illness. How do we get there? In relationships between physicians/providers and patients which may typically or traditionally treat the body (and experience) of patient as object, there is a prospective silencing, if not simply “monologue” at work in diagnoses, treatment protocols and prognoses. What is the transition space – that with which we interact – in how we may get to a place of dialogue?
Not just a “shift from” silence to speaking, from despair to denial, death to “survivorship.” But a recognition of the inherent complexity in that which is “life-threatening” as starting point and imperative to a most radical approach to life itself. Hope, as experiment, is essential in the thru-lines and practices of both science and performance – how do we move from “demonstration,” as that with fixed variables and predictable outcomes, to “performance”? By stepping into “risk,” with (rather than against) the unknown, perhaps we are moving in the very spirit of particles, as “bundles of energy and momentum” which constitute all matter we know, but function on the principle of uncertainty. The dark space of the unknown in health and healing for a body, in artistic performance for a public – or the investigation of the hypotheses of “chance” for a scientific researcher – can be frightening. It can also be alluring, captivating, even encouraging. What is this enticing space of possibility?
What: This is a film project, done with Hueism Pictures, as a pouring-out of a semester-long “Performing Science” project about the science of healing, in very dark spaces. The question is whether our support for one another, as bodies (in this case, in motion together, and in movement, presence), can heal people going through very tough diagnoses, pain, distress, and dislocation.
Why: (For sources referenced here, see Annotated Bibliography). What is the science of performance? What is science danced like – and what is the science happening in our bodies when we dance? When we dance together? Building upon the science of social support, this project recognizes evolving scientific understanding of what people do for one another, at the cellular level –in physiological co-regulation, in the release of hormones which feed or quiet inflammation or immune response – to fight back disease. This includes diagnosis or progression of disease tied to relationships which are considered genetic, chronic, or “terminal” (Lutgendorf, 2008, Rholes/Simpson 2004). For this project: Tying together the power of social support networks (Christakis/Fowler 2009) to reorient a person, their body, and even what’s inside their body, this project recognizes as well the power of artful endeavor to gather people together (Halprin, 1997) for and in presence. We want to approach visual and audio landscapes as breath into and with these questions of sociality, physicality, and generation; of relationships and resiliency, the cellular, and possibility (Crease, 1993). To make movement, and to reflect/into the people gathered in its choreography, its expansion, and release, a spark that speaks the unspoken, perhaps even the (felt, but) unspeakable. (Massumi, 2002, Mantsoe, 2009, Eggleston, 2010, Dreijer Andersson, 2009).