Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Ly Ly set up her Traffic experiment in the studio adjacent to the main living quarters in Bundanon Artists Center (for those familiar with the place, it’s the studio with the drawing of the wombat on the wall. This space is the kind of studio that’s long enough to be divided into two, a trait that turned into a qualifier over the course of the exercise. Doris spent most of Monday assembling obstacles in the room, laying out a tiny avenue within the four walls.
On the morning of Tuesday, Ly Ly laid down the ground rules: they are to go through the paths any which way they liked but if Doris put in front of them the Stop sign (a red dust shovel tied to what I think was a microphone stand), they need to go another way.
For a very long time, the choreographers stayed in only one side of the room, and followed the rules accordingly. They all walked single file around the various structures that Doris put up. Ly Ly pretty much dictated a lot of what else could be done – other movements, like sudden turns and touching the others, slapping the obstacles – were mostly initiated by her, as if signaling what was and was not acceptable.
It was Cat who eventually rebelled against the single file and dropped to the ground to lie stretched out on the floor. They would fall into that single file now and then, but very seldomly and each did their own thing, moving around, and in Vicki’s case usually, through the obstacles.
All throughout this exercise, Vicki was holding her camera, documenting the experiment on video from start to end.
Rhiannon interacted with the furniture-as-highway more than she did with other people: the choreographers often addressed whoever they pass while walking, from simple physical acknowledgements to joining in what the other was doing. In contrast to Rhiannon, Cat would try to violently move the objects out of their original assigned places, as if trying to really disrupt the space. Simon interacted with the others also, but often broke away from everyone to stand still – in the corner, on top of a chair, by the window.
At some point, Jerome ended his ambient music and seemed to signal for everyone to wrap up the exercise. But Ly Ly went to the other half of the room, prompting the others to spill out after her. And the traffic continued.
The interesting thing about the other half of the room was here, the rules were seemingly abandoned. Instead of a flow of traffic, the choreographers started to pick things up, move them around, turn them on and off, create sculpture with them, wrap themselves in them, use them to attack other inanimate objects with, and so on. I used to have a more complete list but I lost my iPad before Christmas and, relying only on my memory, must acknowledge that there was just too many things going on to remember who did what exactly.
Many of us opined that it’s possible more things happened in the other room because there were more objects to manipulate there, as opposed to the seemingly immovable structures in the first room. There was only so much you could do with couches and chairs, and they were indeed done. But in Room # 2 you had rolls of tarpaulin, a vacuum cleaner you could plug into a socket, a plastic bag hanging from the ceiling, a wastebasket, a sink full of sand, just to name a few. There was so much possibility. The movements that were then created looked more like prop improvisation than the structured walking done previously and the concept of traffic had now liquefied into something else entirely.
Later on, after the exercise and the discussion, Vicki commented that it was great that they were able to do some physical movement as the whole lab was primarily visually-motivated. It was a good reminder to dance as well.