JANINE HARRINGTON > Screen Time: Dancing & Coding

screensaver test 5 from janine harrington on Vimeo.

Hey Chris, thanks for the invite to share this work.

I picked up on the theme of this first Ifso Times issue: from time to time. You asked me to write more personally than academically so I do so quickly, intuitively without back-up. I’m going to give you an intro to what I do. I know you were interested in the screensaver project specifically.

Exploring time(s) is through and through my work. Most obviously The Human Clock (2013) where time is performed manually and pretty accurately over an extended period by performers and members of the public. This installation shows us the digital image, in analogue materials run on an embodied understanding of time passing. When I perform this work (last time in Aberdeen at Dance Live in Autumn 2016) I always enjoy the tension of keeping up with time and actually having to be quicker than clock-time to account for all the time lost in the action of turning the numbers. But, most enjoyable are the reactions of the people who pass by, join in, return later, help with our accuracy.

Right now I am thinking about a new project called SOME TIMES. I started r&d this year with Elisa Vassena, Christopher Matthews, Luke Birch, Katja Nyqvist, Lena Kimming and Jamie Forth. It’s going to be my first full-length work and explores the structures and time-scales of different ways of being together, beyond the human-scale. Think electrons and geological time.

But what you wanted was to know more about screensaver. It’s an ongoing project that has a few different strands with different collaborators- all the dancers I work with plus Jamie Forth who does live sound coding and Erik Axel Eggeling who is working with me on videos.

With this project I was interested in the screen-saver as an obsolete technology, but still a space, a gallery, and having a certain rhythmic quality. I think a lot about different spaces for dance, not to try to be new, but because my making processes have always been more like coding, or book-making (something I have studied too).

With most of my work I am thinking about how the dancing of the dancers meets the audience in a live and usually interactive way. Normally this means that the audience navigate the work with their own bodies, and this has different affects on how the dancing happens. With screensaver I was interested in a kind of blank-state, of a processing-block, or a kind of ongoing mesmeric/ mesmerised state. There isn’t a beginning or an end. When we dance the work we decide when it’s right to end or to start again.

You asked me for a favourite moment in the project. I have lots but one jumps out right now: when 4 of us (Elisa Vassena, Erik Nevin, Louise Tanoto and I) were rehearsing the work in Villa Empain in Brussels ready for the show the next day. We installed the work in front of Daniel Buren’s beautiful window works. Lots of people stopped to watch us dancing and I really felt a kind of shift happen in the room after a while. It was like everyone’s nervous systems settled, or got grounded, or a particular kind of attention was happening and was shared between the 4 of us and our audience. For me this feeling is really important. From the inside of the work it’s the ground of a practice than enables us to connect to each other, and supports all the acrobatic things that can happen. It is a kind of listening-sensing that is distributed through the whole body and which helps us to continually refresh our connections without seeing each other.

This video is documentation from a presentation at the Movement Computing Conference, Goldsmiths College, London in June 2016.

The Human Clock was commissioned by AIR/ Islington Borough Council for A Million Minutes, Archway in 2013. SOME TIMES was supported using public funding from Arts Council England and South East Dance. screensaver was supported by Arts Council England, Choreographic Coding Lab Amsterdam/ Pola Arts Foundation, South East Dance and Sadler’s Wells.

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