Currency of Play

Update: in addition to this short text below, Shaun McLeod and I developed a longer document (also called Currency of Play) that was published by Critical Path in Sydney.

In the European summer of 2019 the choreographer-dancer Shaun McLeod (Australia) and I worked for four weeks in a studio in London. We worked with simple materials: Authentic Movement, a camera and each other. We did not produce a work or outcome to be seen, but rather ended up exploring the nature of things that cannot be described. Here’s some text we wrote together to introduce the work we did:

Authentic Movement is a movement practice used by dancers as a creative source and as a practice of improvisation. We have been practicing and considering the implications of Authentic Movement as an end in itself. The practice is a defined relationship between a mover and witness in which the mover moves (usually with eyes closed) according to their own free associations while the witness watches. Both the mover and witness attempt to avoid making judgments on what happens. The mover tries to let things happen without concern for what it looks like or how to interpret things — something that is surprisingly difficult given that judging our actions and thoughts is deeply habitual. The witness is there to support the mover: to keep them safe, provide structure and to reflect back to the mover after the practice.

In attempting to capture’ something about the practice, we (as witnesses) started taking photographs of each other as the mover. But taking photographs implicates the photographer in a field of assessments, personal preferences, camera angles and so on. In other words, the photographer makes lots of judgments. To maintain the ethos of non-judgmental watching, we blanked the camera screen and installed an app which took photos every 30 seconds. In this way we never knew exactly how the photo would turn out.

The photos below are individual collections arranged in grids of 31 photos. Each photo in a grid evenly marks 30 second intervals of a 20-minute practice session during our work together.

– Shaun and Simon, 20 January 2020

Shaun and Simon Shaun and Simon

Supported by C-DaRE — the Centre for Dance Research — at Coventry University.

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