The Poetics of Space

The information below are extracted directly from ‘The Poetics of Space’ by Gaston Bachelard. Only relevant information will be written and it will be paraphrased and be included in my final report.

Book: The Poetics of Space

Author: Gaston Bachelard

Publisher: Beacon Press in 1969

Purpose of this book: This book explains the idea of experience in a space/phenomenology of architecture. The author relates a house of daydream and how daydreaming and imagination is an manifestation of a house in metaphorical terms. Bachelard analysed the structures of a house: stairs, corners, attics, wardrobes to meta ideas and how are we able to recapture and preserve memories of a place through dreaming. This book allows me to draw a connection of using a body to relate to an architecture and how that medium/body can serve as a vessel or as a metaphor for daydreaming.

The problem of the poetics of the house. The question abound: how can secret rooms, rooms that have disappeared, become abodes for an unforgettable past? Where and how does repose find especially conducive situations? How is it that, at times, a provisional refuge or an occasional shelter is endowed in our intimate day-dreaming with virtues that have no objective foundation? – Introduction

Transcending our memories of all the houses in which we have found shelter, above and beyond all the houses we have dreamed we lived in, can we isolate an intimate, concrete essence that would be justification of the uncommon value of all of our images of protected intimacy? This, then, is the main problem. – Page 1

In order to solve it, it is not enough to consider the house as an ‘object’ on which we can make our judgements and daydreams react. On the contrary , we must go beyond the problems of description in order to attain to the primary virtues, those that reveal an attachment that is native in some way to the primary function of inhabiting. – Page 4

We comfort ourselves by relieving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams. – Page 6

Thus, by approaching the house images with care not to break up the solidarity of memory and imagination, we may hope to make others feel all the psychological elasticity of an image that moves us at an unimaginable depth. – Page 6

The places in which we have experienced daydreaming reconstitute themselves in the new daydream, and it is because our memories of former dwelling-places are relieved as day-dreams that these dwelling-places of the past remain in us all time. – Page 6

Memories are motionless, and the more securely they are fixed in space, the sounder they are. – Page 9

A house constitutes a body of images that give mankind proofs or illusions of stability. – Page 17

The phenomenology of daydream can untangle the complex of memory and imagination. – Page 26

Why were we so quickly sated with the happiness of living in the old house? Why did we not prolong those fleeting hours? In that reality, something more than reality was lacking. We did not dream enough in that house. And since it must be recaptured by means of daydream, liaison is hard to establish. Our memories are encumbered with facts. – Page 57

A metaphor gives concrete substance to an impression that is difficult to express. Metaphor is related to a psychic being from which it differs. An image, on the contrary, product of absolute imagination, owes its entire being to the imagination. – Page 74

At times, the simpler the image, the vaster the dream. – Page 137

To begin with, the corner is a haven that ensures us one of the things we prize most highly – Immobility. Consciousness of being at peace in one’s corner produces a sense of immobility, and this, in turn, radiates immobility. – Page 137

Daydream undoubtedly feeds on all kinds of sights, but through a sort of natural inclination, it contemplates grandeur. And this contemplation produces an attitude that is so special, an inner state that is so unlike any other, that the daydream transports the dreamer outside the immediate world to a world that bears the mark of infinity. – Page 183

What is Gone and Still: Rochor Center and Lorong Buangkok

Rochor Center

My parents used to own a furniture business in Rochor Center. They started business since 2004 (14 years ago) and they befriended many residents of Rochor Center through the years.

Images taken by Dan Ng

I used to visit the shop every weekend and would order coffee while I ate my favourite fishball noodles. In 2016, we were told that Rochor Center will be demolished for redevelopment, in preparation for the upcoming North-South Corridor. Residents were offered the Rochor SERS (Selective Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme) where compensation were offered for the relocation. 

“They (The residents) will have the opportunity to move to a new, 99-year lease home and will be given a package comprising compensation and rehousing benefits.”

Extracted from Channel Newsasia, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/rochor-centre-living-on-borrowed-time-7640324

The North-South Expressway—originally conceived as a 21.5km expressway to connect towns in the North to the city centre—is being redesigned as North-South Corridor to better enable cycling and walking. The NSC will be Singapore’s first integrated transport corridor featuring continuous bus lanes and cycling trunk routes.

(Extracted from Land Transport Authority, https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/roads-and-motoring/projects/north-south-corridor.html)

The shop owners, including my parents and residents were given notice to find new locations.

Image taken by Dan Ng

Rochor Centre is made up of four Housing Board blocks, each painted mainly in red, blue, yellow or green, and was one of the few remaining landmarks from 1970s Bugis, where sailors, and transvestites  could be found before the area was  developed further  in the 1980s.

The residential and retail complex, originally home to 183 shops and 567 households, was completed in 1977.

(Extracted from The Straits Times, https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/demolition-of-rochor-centre-to-begin-on-june-26-in-preparation-for-north-south-corridor)

Rochor Center left a great deal of memories for me because I used to take the bus from my house to the place just to find my parents. I used to study and explore at the area and my family would return to Rochor Center every Chinese New Year just to visit our shop and take photos. Prior to the movement, I took several photographs of the location for memory keepsake.

     

As the date of withdrawal came closer, I took another series of photographs. This time, to show the emptiness of the buildings. Most of the businesses have left and relocated and the quietness of the environment was slightly haunting. It was a vastly different from what it used to be like: blustling, crowded and full of energy. 

      

 

I love Rochor Center so much that I made a video of Rochor Center and I interviewed my parent’s employee and our business neighbour about their feelings towards the demolishment of the place.

Password: fypfyp

Following the demolishment of Rochor Center which happened on ‘June 26, 2018’ (The Straits Times, 2018), the rainbow building became nothing but a fond childhood memory of mine.

____________________________________________________

I’ve always been interested in places with symbolic meaning, just like everybody else. A place whom one resides in for years form part of an identity for that person. Besides Rochor Center, another place that is on the risk of being removed from the face of Singapore is my grandparents kampong house in Lorong Buangkok. I’ve always been proud of their house because it is exclusive, unique and I grew up witnessing the house gone through the test of time and government urban planning. ‘Currently, 26 families live on the land, each paying a monthly rent of between S$6 to S$30.’ (Today Online, 2017) 

To date, the house is one of the last few kampongs in Singapore despite the country developing so rapidly into a metropolitan city. 

Courtyard of the house

The backyard

Old school swing that my siblings and relatives would sit on while we talked about our lives.

The stray dog that became a pet of the house

My father recounting his childhood memories to my domestic helper

Every Chinese New Year, my family and relatives would gather and celebrate the holiday. The old house became a spot for gatherings, rekindling and bonding. Despite the availability of new electric stoves in the house, we would still use charcoal stove to cook the dish ‘Braised pork with bamboo shoots’. 

Unlike in HDBs, there are no trash bins that is readily available to be thrown into the main garbage system. Instead, makeshift basket with plastic bag wrapped on top of it is placed outside the kitchen for easy rubbish disposal. 

In addition, I made a video back in 2016 of the kampong and the relationship between me and my grandmother, who have unfortunately passed away in 2017.

Film abstract

For many of us, Singapore is home but how much do you understand it or think about your relation and opinion about this place where you spend most of your time living here? Through the years you developed relation with people, places, objects and establish the way of life. These relations gave meaning, shape your identity; grant you a sense of belonging. Sometimes these relation challenges you. What is your feeling towards this place, people and culture? In what way have these relation affected you? How do we disrupt the everyday to excavate stories about people, places, our surrounding, way of life or even ourselves?

22 tells the story between my grandmother and I. Set in Lorong Buangkok where my grandparents have been living in the kampong for almost a century. It reflects the intimacy and tension between myself and her against the house as we converse about our lives, and the kampong house. In this film, I seek to explore the depth of our relationship and try to fathom what it feels to be in a place that fills with so many memories even though there is lack of strong physical connection. The film allow the exploration of silence and space together with conversation and close interaction.

Growing up with the house, I’d hate for the place to be demolished and replaced for urban renewal. To my relief, the plans for urban renewal will only happen ‘several decades later.’ (Today Online, 2017) and the ‘kampong could be integrated within the future schools and be a “community living lab” for students to learn about shared history, culture and traditions.’ (Today Online, 2017)

_______________________________________________________

Moving on, I decide to explore more on pioneering landmarks in Singapore that are on the threat of being demolished. I asked myself, is there an instruction manual as to the ethicality of building demolition? Is demolition seen as a pro or a con? It is a controversial issue. Urban planners would argue that removal works is essential for the expansion of new buildings to accommodate the growing population in Singapore, yet conservationist persist that the clearance of old heritage sites would result in the loss of culture, history and identity of Singapore. As a millenial, I agree with both sides. However, I personally feel that there should still be a few iconic landmarks that should be preserved for the future generations’ understanding and education on the history of Singapore. My work produced for this project would not be a controversial piece demanding for attention for the place. Instead, I’d want to raise awareness on the presence of such places and the memories that it held for its occupants.

Reference:
https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/rochor-centre-demolition-begins-in-heavy-rain

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/redevelopment-lor-buangkok-kampong-likely-several-decades-later

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/demolition-of-rochor-centre-to-begin-on-june-26-in-preparation-for-north-south-corridor

https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/roads-and-motoring/projects/north-south-corridor.html

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/rochor-centre-living-on-borrowed-time-7640324

Framing Dance: Screen Test (ADM) & Feedback

Password: fypfyp

Password: fypfyp

Concept: Showcase Singapore’s urban architecture as an otherworldly landscape using experimental film technique.

Moving on, I met up with Isabel and we did a test screen in ADM. We experimented in different locations in the building and I was thinking of shooting both urban concrete and modern city architecture styles and ADM have both styles. We also explored shooting reflections and tested various angles and framing. All of them are shot in 4K. Videos above are exported in 1080p but final video will be exported in 4K.

Going back, I tried different placements, entry styles, play timings, expanding, piecing the footages side by side. I also did a little colour grading.

Isabel in a single frame

Isabel in all frames

Side by side placement

Slow motion, 120 fps, full screen

Mirror, water reflection

Combination

Reflection combination

Full screen

I had a discussion with Ina and we both agreed that the two videos above works the best. 

Note:

  • Greenery does not work
  • Be careful with reflections. They either work really well or flop.
  • Think about pacing

Following up, I sent the material to Susan Sentler for her opinion and I consolidated the notes as seen below. 

  • Body in sites is lovely, so is the colour and tones
  • More sensitivity entering and exiting frames is needed
  • Split screen is nice
  • Movement could be slower and less or even non-moving
  • Isabel could play with greater differentiation of movement language material with each site. From something more bold, extension, vectors…shifting to something more subtle, working with the negative/hidden spaces and again shifting to something slow, continuous, one gesture. 
I sent Susan and Ina some sites that I am considering of shooting. The sites are made of concrete mostly and they make great locations to shoot at.
Esplanade bridge
Marina coastal underway
Skate park
Suntec city
Susan shortly followed up with her suggestions which is consolidated below.
  • Suggested sites are wonderful.
  • A clear plan on what type of quality is needed in each space
  • More limitations will allow greater creativity. 
  • Dance: Allow for some to be very subtle, almost pedestrian. Then build with a change
  • Some areas/sites could repeat material from another, or accumulate, or change in velocity, Could have a basic phrase, that shifts and changes depending upon the site.
  • Shoot the texture of the concrete. The lines or play within each yield movement that could be edited into the live body.
  • Play with the abstract sense of movement. Allowing light, material to move the body to become material.

Framing Dance: Why are Urban Screens Important? and The Power of Urban Screens for Cultural Exchange

As my project proceeds, I need to dig deep to understand what is the importance of urban screens and how does it affect the environment, society and the people who interacts with it. What is considered an urban screen? What are the limits and boundaries?

—————————————————————————————————————-

Definition

Urban (extracted from dictionary.com)
adjective
adjective: urban; adjective: urban contemporary
in, relating to, or characteristic of a town or city.
“the urban population”
  • denoting or relating to popular dance music of black origin.
“hip-hop’s traditionally urban vibe”
  • denoting popular black culture in general.
    “an urban comedy”
    Figure 1. Urban City of (Image from Getty Images)
Screen (extracted from dictionary.com)
noun
noun: screen; plural noun: screens
A flat panel or area on an electronic device such as a television, computer, or smartphone, on which images and data are displayed.
“a television screen”
  • a blank surface on which a film or photographic image is projected.
    “two historical swashbucklers are due to fill cinema screens this year”
  • films or television as a medium, genre, or industry.
    “she’s a star of the track as well as the screen
  • the data or images displayed on a computer screen.
    “pressing the F1 key at any time will display a help screen”
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
    a flat piece of ground glass on which the image formed by a camera lens is focused.

I explored further, as I need to understand the definition of urban screens. What constitutes a screen to be large enough to be urban screens? Are our smartphones, tablets considered to be urban screens? 

Definition of Urban screens by Mirjam Struppek, Urban Researcher, Berlin (extracted from http://www.urbanscreens.org/about)

URBAN SCREENS defined as various kinds of dynamic digital displays and visual interfaces in urban space such as LED signs, plasma screens, projection boards, information terminals but also intelligent architectural surfaces being used in consideration of a well balanced, sustainable urban society – Screens that support with their content the idea of public space as space for creation and exchange of culture, strengthening a local economy and the formation of public sphere. Its digital nature makes these screening platforms an experimental visualization zone on the threshold of virtual and urban public space.

In the article ‘The Social Potential of Urban Screens’, Struppek questioned the ‘ability of screens to be expanded beyond dominating commercial use and instead, present cultural content for viewing purposes.’ She also questioned if the screens can become ‘a tool to facilitate an active urban community involving their viewers (inter)actively.’ Struppek explained that ‘urban screens can only be understood in the context of the re-exploration of the common space and the characteristics of the urban cities, built on a fair combination of uses and the notion of its dwellers as lively individuals.’ To elaborate, urban screens is seen to be creating and defining a whole new space in the city for the residents. 

Struppek also explained that urban screens is a ‘mix of the use of common spaces for business and exchange with an integral cultural factoring responding to the health of an urban community: the screen presentation with a fresh perspective on encouraging the notion of common spaces as a place for creation and flow of culture and the creation of a common space using feedback and respond.’ She further noted that their ‘digital characteristics make the presentation an exploratory visualisation area on the limits of reality and digital.’ Lastly, Struppek suggested that ‘matching the messages, place and presentation style would direct the result of communicating with the viewers and also assist to reduce and deter noise and visual pollution.’

—————————————————————————————————————-

In support of Struppek’s view that urban screens have the ability to reshape the health of an urban society, Scott McQuire gave a Ted Talk titled ‘Urban Screen‘ where he noted that there are two things that are all around us: Cities and media. He explained that they become media city when they both come together and our social experience of space is increasingly defined by various forms of intersection between traditional urban spaces architecture, streets and different media platforms that intertwined with them.

McQuire starts to define public spaces and its functions and he recognised that public spaces are for: space of assembly, both physical and symbolical assembly. It could be for a political gathering or a festive gathering and it could be a place of research.

McQuire mentioned that public space is a space that is open to everybody but it is also a contested space where there are visible and invisible barriers to participation and belonging. Public space becomes a place in which we engage with others who are different. He believes that the role of public spaces is a space of encounter and an encounter with difference. He then linked it to how media have changed where the recent developments in digital media that have made the impact on public spaces much more pervasive.

McQuire listed how is it more pervasive:

  1. Ubiquity of media and the ‘all around us’ nature. In the past, you have to travel to see a particular site of interest, but now, the context is different as there are mobile technologies and embedded forms of media that saturate city spaces.
  2. Media has become much more positional. The increased use of GPS technology where media can take place relevant data and deliver it to particular sites or it can extract and place relevant data from those sites.
  3. Real-time nature of digital networks where we can observe media feedback systems through human and non-human actors can start to act on public events as they are occurring.

He observed that what we seen in the last two decades is that different media platforms start to become entangled in material spaces and this brings together the affordances of public space which has the capacity to gather people together for embodied face-to-face interactions with the capacity of media technologies to extend on relationships to make connections across time and space. 

Both Struppek and McQuire’s explanation of urban screens in public areas answers the question of ‘Why is this relevant?’ in my project

McQuire observed that the use of urban screens as a form of interaction and extending relationships is an attempt to challenge the current agenda and present to the masses that we have to reevaluate how we are using these technologies and platforms that can go beyond purely commercial. With these kind of ‘interventions’, there is a different kind of public space, different kind of public sphere and we can actually use these kinds of technologies as a way of reactivating, reclaiming public spaces and the kind of encounters that has been so important through the culture of modernity.

… we can actually use these kinds of technologies as a way of reactivating, reclaiming public spaces and the kind of encounters that has been so important through the culture of modernity.


Figure 2: ‘Mouthfeel’ at Parer Place Urban Screens, QUT, Brisbane

Figure 3: “Electric Speed” curated by Kate Armstrong and Malcolm Levy in Surrey Art Gallery

—————————————————————————————————————-

In an article titled ‘Urban Screens: Discovering the potential of outdoor screens for urban society’ by Media and Communication Professor Tore Slaatta, he highlighted that ‘buildings and digital media are converging and the former is transforming to a media infrastructure. He explained that the ‘content created for the screens are examined as a response to changing business and cultural thoughts about the connections between media and the community: a emerging tool and meaningful relation between constructed areas for symbolic creativity in the international visual communication sector and international city centres.’

Slaatta emphasized the importance of having urban screens in new architecture as the ‘variety of technological boundaries are currently explored in cross mixing of ideas for restructuring private and public places and presentations to a performance architecture subsumed in a digital city visual arena. He introduced the idea of ‘symbolic creativity’ where it is executed in spaces where the tangible structures intrigued the viewers to conceive the notion that the physical, cultural and social dissimilarity between the audience and creator is diminishing.’ Slaatta interestingly linked the idea of an imaginary condition to the film adaptation of Ronald Dahls novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where both objects and the people in it have the ability to navigate between reality and virtual world. 

The articles and input have led me to conclude that urban screens have the potential to harmonise, improve, re-create and encourage the coexistence between media, urban architecture and the city dwellers. 

—————————————————————————————————————-

Research links: 

http://www.paulos.net/teaching/2009/AE/readings/protected/urbanscreens.pdf

http://www.urbanscreens.org/about

http://ojphi.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1549/1464

Images links:

Figure 1: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/the-urban-evolution-how-city-travel-is-changing/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d27684c4

Figure 2: http://www.urbanscreens.org/

Figure 3: https://www.feastingonart.com/2015/12/mouthfeel-at-parer-place-urban-screens-qut-brisbane.html

Framing Dance: Experiment Two

Password: fypfyp

This is my second draft for Elbphilharmonie. It is still very very rough but I made some changes according to what was discussed.

The background is changed to a high resolution image of a concrete texture and I added the banner is that ever-present on the screen. 

The entry is still sliding in but I played with the rhythme of the footage by adding in stills. On the top right of the screen, I experimented with brush strokes. 

Small frames, identical footages slowly fade in on the banner itself. The frames also follows the dimensions of the three black frames. 

The footages eventually black out and became a wide shot of a HDB facade. 

I also experimented with cutting the frame diagonally and overlay close up shots of dance movements. 

Notes and areas of improvement:

  • Weak entry; slide in may not be effective for intro
  • Considering not using frames but simple a wide shot of an architecture.
  • Experiment more with slicing frames.
  • Remember to shoot your footages in 4K so that the images are clear crisp.

At this point of time, I think it is best to get my hands on and start shooting.

Framing Dance: Experiment One

Password: fypfyp

Music: Boy by Instupendo

This is my first experimental draft for the visualisation in Elbphilharmonie. I placed the visuals using footages that I found from my research and might use similar angles and texture. I adopted the method from Robert Grigsby Wilson, a film editor where he paid tribute to Sally Menke, Quentin Tarantino’s Editor and placed footages of Kill Bill and other film inspirations side by side.

It started the frames sliding in for entry.

Different footages of different aspect ratios and angle starts to emerge through the music.

All the footages will appear and air simultaneously and halfway through, the frames will start shifting in size and move.

They shift and changes in shape slowly so that the viewers are able to digest the visualisation better and the frames eventually.

At the back of the video, the screen blacked out and eventually emerged as a full screen for a dynamic look.

After consultation with Ina, we could still play with more experimentation.

Notes and areas of improvements:

  • Consider using abstracts form in between frames.
  • The black frame on the right is an escalator going up to the upper level of Elbphilharmonie. There could be some abstract forms or the dance could ‘influence’ the movements up to stairs.
  • Create a rough mock up of the space.
  • Change the background to a darker tone or simply just textures of architectures in Singapore because if it is white, it will be very bright.
  • Golden ratio: Slide and match the windows and the doors. Scale is derive from the architecture of the screen.
  • There could be one long banner in one screen across the wide screen.
  • There should be a consistency. If it is filmed in nature, then it should all be in nature and if it is in an urban setting then it should all be in urban. Unless there is a good reason to mix them both. Yet, always remember to question, nature with urban, does it work?
  • Consider filming in places of crane, and port since Elbphilharmonie is situated next to a port. This is able to showcase the vibrance of the architecture too.
  • The frames might not need to shift all the time or at all.
  • There could be textures, brush strokes, that glides over to show the footages.

Research on Eadweard Muybridge motion experiment.

Framing Dance: Location Research & Inspiration (Darren Soh)

Darren Soh’s photographic practice explores architecture, urban landscape and space. An established photographer who is most recognised for his documentation of vernacular architecture, Darren has been placed in several international photography awards over the years, including the Commonwealth Photographic Awards, the Prix de la Photographie, Paris, the International Photography Awards, PDN and ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu. His works have been shown widely, including solo exhibitions at The Esplanade and Objectifs (Singapore Art Week 2015), and internationally at photography festivals like Noorderlicht (The Netherlands) and Obscura (Penang). He has published several monographs including While You Were Sleeping (2004), For My Son (2015) and In the Still of the Night (2016). (Extracted from https://www.objectifs.com.sg/before-it-all-goes/)

I went down to Chapel Gallery, Objectifs to visit Darren’s exhibition titled ‘Before It All Goes’. In his exhibition, Darren researched on the passing memory of Singapore architecture buildings. A few buildings shown have been demolished while others are awaiting for their passing. 

What of our heritage, memories and connections do we lose as much of Singapore’s architecture from the early independence years is now getting demolished and redeveloped? Darren Soh has spent more than a decade documenting such spaces, and presents images — most of which will be shown for the first time — of eight iconic sites from this period in this solo exhibition. (Extracted from https://www.objectifs.com.sg/before-it-all-goes/)

The visit to Darren’s exhibition is paramount for my research because I am looking into filming the urban landscapes of Singapore and I wish to collect both landscape and texture photography of said country. Singapore is iconic for their Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, known for their high, structured building.

Photographed by Darren Soh, Image taken by Dan Ng

What sets Singapore’s HDB apart from some European buildings which ultilised similar architecture framework is the presence of various identity.

Religion: Incense burner, red Chinese banners, Chinese lantern, Christian cross.

Cultural: Clothes racks/hangers, bird cages, bicycles, plants.

‘Before It All Goes’ Exhibition

In his presentation above, he placed the HDB facades side by side in an orderly grid form of 6 x 8 totalling to 48 images. The visual reminded me of my visualisation for frames placement. It gave me an inspiration to place frames tightly side by side instead of setting the frame apart from each other. 

Below are HDB facades taken by Darren Soh. Published in his booked also titled ‘Before It All Goes’. 

Frames Dancing: Dance Research and Does Screendance Need to look like Dance?

Susan Sentler provided a whole list of dance videos that I could watch and it was tremendously helpful. I’ve listed down the videos which I find useful. I’d love to use Susan’s work to start off the very first dance example/inspiration. In ‘A Preparation’, she shot dance in stills as well as still imagery of architecture. Within the film, Susan played with the duration, some quick and some slow.

Notes:

  • Changing the frame of the camera as well to show relationship with the space.
  • Sounds are industrial repetitive.
  • Body movement is almost mechanical.
  • Preparing a ‘machine’, preparing the body.

I could extract some of her ideas of using still imagery and moving images in the video.

Susan Sentler – A Preparation

Steve Reich – Violin Fase
Performed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker

Through time, the sand gets wiped and it changes.

  • Very repetitive.
  • Very minimalistic era, minimalist art.
  • Subtle changes in differential in repetition.
  • Different shots, overhead, close frame, really tight.
  • Goes on and on and on.

Rosas Danst Rosas – Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker

Use of multiple dancers in one coordinated scene/set

Comment from Susan (In relation to the video above)

“Dance doesn’t have to have sound, because dance itself, has sound. Dance involves body, space and time. Time encapsulates rhythm, pulse, relation to music but it doesn’t have to. It works with breath which also gives a sense of time. Very gestural. Be aware of the folly sound, live sounds. Capture everything.”

William Forsythe – Solo (Choreographer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDTu7jF_EwY

  • Use of tight frames. 
  • Black and white.

One Flat Thing, Reproduced by William Forsythe

  • Static throughout
  • Archive film but also site specific
  • Setting up of tables is part of the dance.
  • Playing with positive and negative space, spatial content, in relation of tables and the human body.
  • Come in and out in time.
  • Only movement sound, no music at the back.

Nowhere and Everywhere by William Forsythe 

  • Created with both normal people and dancers.
  • Objects having movements, shifting to dancer, creating sense of rhythm and space.
  • Feet shot to full body shot.

HANDS by Jonathan Burrows

  • Just the hands. Close shot of the hands.
  • Repetition, subtle, soft movements.
  • Black and white to showcase lighting and intimacy.

Early Works of Trisha Brown

Post minimalist period
Activity where the dancers mount on it, and find ways to go inside the clothing and nest in it, and hang for a minute or so. Then they begin again.

  • Using multiple dancers to mimic mirror like sequences. 
  • Tight frame, different shots.

Becky Edmunds – Recall

Talking about dance. Tight frame, eyes closed, going through the movements.

Note: Could have Isabel face, and another frame is another body part, and another frame is another body part.

Rosemary Butcher – Hidden Voices

  • Fading into black to show the duration of time.
  • In and out of the light. Sort of like a frustration with the activity
  • Consider using repetition, focusing on different body parts
  • No sound

Rosemary Butcher – Body as Site

Shooting overhead, different kind of perspectives.

Underline by Surjit Nongmeikapam Bon

My favourite work out of the other films. In this video, the body becomes the architecture.

  • Using real sounds
  • From shoes to barefoot
  • Doesn’t have to be ‘the typical language of dance’. Works really well with the space

____________________________________________________________

Notes:

60 sec dance http://60secondsdance.com/archive/
60 seconds dance contest: http://60secondsdance.com

Condense a film to 60 seconds

____________________________________________________________

More dance research (Dance Styles and Film Techniques)

Welcome Home by Spike Jonze (Contemporary Dance)

  • Interaction of the human body with the interior, environment
  • Expanding of frames
  • Use of dance double, mirror

Delicate by Joseph Kahn (Contemporary Dance)

Changing of frames – Transition from one place to another

Most of the works that Susan provided me to reference are relevant and useful. I could extract small ideas and details from each video and experiment. 

Framing Dance: An Interview with Susan Sentler

The very next day after meeting Isabel, I went down to LaSalle again for an interview with Susan Sentler. 

Susan Sentler

Susan is a choreographer, teacher, researcher, rehearsal director, and performer. In New York, she trained at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance to become a performer in the Martha Graham Ensemble as well as a teacher of the faculty.

She has worked in higher education for over 20 years, in numerous institutions globally, most notably serving as Senior Lecturer with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

She has collaborated with Dr Glenna Batson on imagery research and presented at numerous conferences. She has performed for Tino Sehgal and for Candoco Dance Company in a work of Jerome Bel.

Her personal work focuses on durational installations, using the body, objects, sound, moving/still image and has exhibited in the UK, Ireland, USA, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, and for the online symposium Waterwheel 2014.

Research Interests
  • Interplay between the Still Image and that of the Moving Image – the Idea of movement in stillness and stillness in movement 
  • Varied avenues of imagery research

____________________________________________________________

An Interview with Susan Sentler

What do you think of using frames?

I think it’s great. Within the frames, think of using tight frames. It will help the rhythm.

Why use a dancer?

Sensation reaction to, to relate to. A body is looking at a body. There is a quicker sense of relationship than a body to an object. To a body to a place. Sometimes the body to a place can lead to something but if there is a discordance, body to body. That’s how we are all related. We all have bodies. Get down to material of the dancer which is the body. It can lend a quicker and clearer possibility of a sensorial relationship. Not feelings, not emotions, sensorial. What I mean but sensorial? Smell, hearing, taste. It may trigger feelings and emotions but it doesn’t have to. It does however, triggers you as a human because you are seeing a body.

Also, there is something about the qualities of a dancers’ body. If they are directed, used well. That can allow more poignancy and amplification and directness into what you are saying because their tool and material is body instead of clay. If you are collaborating with a dancer who has an understanding of that materiality of the body then you are working with a clearer palette.

Embodiment – Mind and body become one. Embodied world. Our mind alert our body, our body alert the mind. When I shoot, I have a sensorial experience. The image comes from my reactivity with the environment. Comes from live to virtual to live. You can still devise an embodied sensorial experience from just the image and dancers have the possibility to trigger that. It can be used inappropriately. Hence be savvy about it, and sophisticated about it.

Why the change in gender?

A person entering into your memory. It’s coming from. You just want a gender perspective. I wish my body to be in it. It’s as if my body is their body. You want to send it through a female voice because I want to be open to any voice. Your sensibility of memory and memory always changes. When you remember something it is never going to be the same because it is never the same. By recollection, it always changes.

Notes:

Dan: I was thinking minimalist, jeans and t-shirt. Or, the dancer could be dressed with flowy kind of outfit.

Susan: Watch out with the flowy. It is possible. But sometimes it can be read as dated.

Filming a lot from above, not sequential, tight shots. The sense of going in, the perspective that a normal person cannot get when they are watching. No sound but there is a rhythm to it. Play with footage and stills. Rhythm of stills acts as a counter-play to the footage. Conversation of the live body and the virtual body; in dialogue. Going through different spaces. The body becomes the material and losing the face.

Consider flipping the footage or crop the footage to ‘lose the identity’. Architecture has such a live bodily sense to it that can be coupled with the live body.

Play with reflection, play with the idea of movement.

Think of colour and tone. What your dancers wear. Post-production – Tone

Think conceptually. What are you interested in? Beyond the idea of rhythmic. Are you interested in the layers of the architecture of Singapore or the specific site in Singapore to be accentuated like the HDB? Maybe you just want something that is about concrete because concrete is so repetitive. Concrete of the old versus the new. Pattern of the wall versus the skyscraper of the buildings. Intimacy of the body. What is the underlying other things you want the film to negotiate or speak to. It doesn’t have to be loud and clear. It gives it a tone and holds it in one piece. Maybe on the water side, from the sea to inland. Representation of the body of the man versus the environment.

Talk to the dancer about activities or sensations. Vibrational energy. Sense of letting go and floating. That place and sense of metaphorical. Different ways of falling, going in of frame and out of frames of her falling.

Prelude is the space she is walking in. Space space space, and then the body enters. There could be chapters. Episode of first place, episode of second and then third.

Doesn’t have to be hand that draws the frame inwards, it could be just the movements itself. Think of it choreographically. If it is hand, it might appear too forced.

Could just be the pattern of the walls so it is consistency as you have to think of the picture of the whole. Think of frame within the frame. (Through the window)

Stills can use screenshots too.

Frames Dancing: An Interview with Isabel, Dancer

Artist Profile (Isabel Phua) Retrieved from LaSalle website

Isabel is pursuing a BA(Hons) in Dance in LASALLE College of the Arts. Isabel has been dancing ballet since the age of 6 and has experience in classic and street jazz, chinese dance and contemporary dance. She was taught by ballet masters Cheng Hsien Fa and Jeffrey Tan. During her time in LASALLE College of the Arts, she had solos in a full-length work, Iris (2016), by Christina Chan and Aymeric Bichon, Patterns (2017) by Albert Tiong and an excerpt of Silences we are familiar with (2018) by Kuik Swee Boon. She has also worked with international choreographers such as Barbara Matijevic (Croatia), Chey Chankethya (Cambodia) and Martin Schick (Switzerland). She has an interest in understanding the way nutrition affects the performer and intends to further her study in this area upon graduation. In keeping with this, she has been researching how to improve aerobic fitness in pre-professional Singaporean contemporary dancers through a fitness-training program that she designed. She wishes to use her research to educate dancers on the correlation between nutrition and the body.

We had an hour long conversation in Lowercase in LaSalle and I transcripted the interview. Keywords and important notes are coloured and bolded. 

Interview Questions (Isabel)

1. Can you give me a brief introduction in dance?
Commercial dances can be fast, and it can be slow too. It can be big, showy as well.
Non-commercial dance style is more abstract. It is more challenging and it deals with more emotions and more body awareness is needed. The dancer requires to understand their body better.

2. What are the few dance styles that are frequently seen in Singapore?
Contemporary, hip hop, ballet.
Ballet is more classical, standard, comes from French court dance. Very regimental, can’t go down to the floor. Upright and there’s a straight line. Ballet still has a fluidity, though lines are fixed, it is still very fluid. just that it’s a very fixed structure.

After time passes, ballet becomes modern dance, and it breaks what the classical dance is. Instead of being upright, they go to the fall. After modern comes post-modern which questions what dance really is. After post-modern comes contemporary: Breaking the rules.

3. Is there a specific culture and country that contemporary dance belongs to?
No there isn’t. Contemporary dance can be anything. Does not belong to any country or region. Depends on what they want to express, or trained in.

Korea and Japan has a vibrant contemporary dance culture.

In Singapore, our contemporary dance tends to be very much influenced by Chinese, Malay, Indian dance styles. Hence, the principles behind it, are somewhat low, grounded, spiracle and circular. A little similar to Taichi. Indian dance is always bent, grounded. Their movements tends to be lower and grounded. American would be more modern, and lines oriented. Still using a lot of ballet technique.

4. Is there a ‘better’ dance?
To each his own. Isabel loves ballet.

5. How does dance express one’s self individuality?
The dancer has to reach upon a maturity where she can express a state of mind. She is able to show what she wants to show. There has to be a lot of training, and self-awareness. Performances are usually more mentally drained than physically drained. Experimental work goes more into thinking, and what state you are in.

Note: Isabel was recently in Venice for a dance program. 24 preludes with different states and she taps into different states.

“When I’m angry, express anger on stage, I tap on specific body parts to channel energy. It becomes a physical kind of. Emotions are very physical. The state of your body can inform your emotional health.”

6. Do you think dance as an expression is able to bring out the mood/authenticity of a place? Eg. if we were to shoot you dancing in a place of opulence, how will the dance style and movements differ from, say in a quaint and quiet place like a kampong?
Yes, it will affect. If you want the dancer to be affected, you can. The dancer can contrast the dance mood against the background as well. Depends on the artistic direction.

7. Do you agree that a dance performance/expression should be seen live instead of on screen?
Yes.

8. If the medium is limited to screen only, how would you advise the film/dance could be improve to bring out the expressions and emotions intended?
Facial expression connects with people better. Also incorporate more human movement. When she wants to express a happy feeling, she would do an open kind of gesture with much body movement. To show depression or depressive vibes. She can show more side view, more down.

9. Does the dancer require music in order to dance?
The dancer does not have to have music or move in the relation to the music. The challenges come when the dancers have to dance in silence or against the music. It’s not hard for experienced dancers. Dancers listen to their body and the energy that affects them. Just like how any other stimulus will affect you. There is a theory of how the audience affects each other. Look for images, sounds, words that would affect the dancers’ mood.
Research: Daniel Kok. Independent artist. Director of Dance Nucleus

10. What is one aspect of dance that you’d like people to know more about?
Anyone can dance. Dance is for the soul. I’d be dead if I cannot dance because I simply can’t live without dance. In fact, you’re dancing all the time in life. Anything can be a performance. If I can’t dance, I can’t move. Even simple gesture can be a dance. Even sitting on this chair, talking to you, I’ve been moving non-stop. That is dance. It makes you feel alive.

11. Do you think there is sufficient exposure for Singapore dancers?
Making dance a career is tough. The government don’t really care about the art as general and they use it as a political agenda. If you use art, it’s more political stable. Non-commercial dancers can’t do exactly what they want. If they want funding or grant, there is a certain quotas to meet, and certain outreach to do. Do pro-bronc. Community becomes very niche. In Singapore, art is curated.

I’d think that the public is already wired to see dance in a way. Non-commercial would not thrive. Public would think they still don’t understand. It’s art for art sake. There is a barrier in communication as they are not aiming the general public. In London, it’s almost always full. Singapore’s market is not big enough. In Singapore, the tickets are not very expensive. Black box, $20. Esplanade, $40-$50. $20 – $70. It is very accessible.

________________________________________________________

Dance
dɑːns
verb
1.
move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps.
2.
(of a person) move in a quick and lively way.

noun
1.
a series of steps and movements that match the speed and rhythm of a piece of music.

(Extracted from dictionary.com)

This project could be an evolution in the understanding of dance. Based on the dictionary, a dance is understood as to ‘move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps.” In my research, I’m trying to explore the execution of dance without a music stimulus. 

Following the interview, I accompanied Isabel to attend a dance class conducted by Susan Sentler. I observed that dance is not simply involve the literal movement of the body. It also require the dancer to gain a certain sense of understanding of their surrounding and how they are affected by various stimulus to execute a certain kind of movement. In actuality, depending on your definition of dancing, everybody can be dancing all the time.

This exploration became even more interesting for me because as much as I realised that a single movement can be considered as a dance move, sound notes strung together could represent music.