Re: Site Specific Work: Webbed Feats

Scott deLahunta (
Sun, 15 Jun 1997 12:38:57 +0200

At 12:37 PM 6/14/97 GMT, you wrote:
>Yes, folks I'm still here....barely....producing this web site has been
quite an
>experience....I've learned a lot!

Hello all... I'm still here as well -- and will be working my way back
through the dance-tech posts, hopefully finding time to respond to those who
have made comments on my post regarding the laban conference. But, for now
I'm starting with the latest post first: Stephen K's webbedfeats...

I jumped right into the promenade and immediately created a 5 figure
sequence of material. I am not sure that my contribution will be accepted as
it is a few days before the official launch of the site, but I was very
intrigued in general by the project. There is much to look at and reflect on
at this site, far more than it is possible to do here. Just to start, I have
a few thoughts related to 'making dances', memory and history.

In this century american/ european developments in dance have evolved the
most remarkable collection of histories. We have done an equally remarkable
job of forgetting these histories partly because the dancing body is not so
good at inscribing itself onto anything in any permanent and accurately
representative sense. Dance artists have left this job primarily to the
writers, photographers and film/videographers -- but of course they are
transcribing the marks of dance to another medium, another representation.
What is important is that they are capable of leaving behind these artifacts.

In the age of mechanical reproduction, western art forms without artifacts
have slipped more and more deeply into a perpetual mode of forgetting. This
peculiar condition is one that conspires to cause dance makers in the second
half of this century to recreate the wheel over and over again. There is no
progress and the result is a form of irrelevance. The label of 'postmodern'
which has been used so much in the last 20 years merely allows us to forget
where the sources of our ideas come from, giving us the illusion that what
we are creating 'in the moment' is an original, even if it is hybrid-ic-ally so

I'm sorry if my preambulary statements come across as generalizing in the
extreme... it's just that I'm reaching for a wide enough context for my
thoughts -- and I want to try and keep it all short.

We now have remarkable technologies which are permitting us to collectively
inscribe ourselves without needing to rely on other artistic mediums... and,
thus, we are currently in the process of adding a digital story to this
collection of dance histories. In the form of internet performances,
computer choreography, motion capture and cd-roms, we finally have 'genuine'
dance artifacts/ objects which will allow us to embark on the same project
of critical and reflective developments which have been possible for the
other 'artifice creating' art forms.

Now, one could argue that all the things I mentioned are only written and
visual representations of dancing and are no closer to the 'real' thing.
Some may interpret my comments as a denial of the body and a rush towards
the disembodied worlds of cyberspace. I strongly believe that there is a
dialectical approach to be sought here... but this is another essay. To turn
back to 'dance', I propose that a preoccupation with this 'real' thing, this
precious body, is precisely what has caused the dance field to have fallen
way behind somehow, slipping towards its not so mysterious and inevitable
disappearance. We need to catch up -- to pound out for ourselves a new zone
in which an individual's body is not perceived to be at the center of one's
experience, but is itself only one part of a decentered, complex and
strategically (in other words, 'we' still have agency) dispersed network of

Those of you who think I'm talking about the 'borg' (startrek reference)
will just have to believe me when I say that I am much more optimistic than

In the interest of collecting histories (references, sources, inspirations,
etc.) I would like to point out that the webbedfeat project reminds me of
others... in particular, formally speaking, it is very close to Remy
Charlip's Air Mail Dances copyright 1979, Troika Ranch's YEARBODY
( and William Forsythe's 'improvisation

One short observations on the PROMENADE section of Stephen's site:

One of the legacies of a particular dance history is the development and
refinement of various methodologies for making dances. However, at present
we are at the end of a process of forgetting these histories (as suggested
above) and therefore confined to what seems like increasingly subjective and
apparently intuitive choicemaking procedures. Why not be able to invoke a
particular approach to dance making as a choice on the website? I would have
loved a button to push to generate a 'random' relationship between the words
and images or a new order. Or a button which would have imposed various
mathematical scores or structures. I want to be reminded that my choices
have already been made somewhere/ sometime.

Maybe this seems to be going to far -- returning to the old schools of fine
arts where one would learn to imitate the masters before attempting to
strike off on one's own. But, I'm not worried about returning to the old
days here -- just the opposite, I'm excited by the possibility that dance as
an art form can begin to depart from its path towards forgetting,
disappearance and maybe self-erasure... and see some of the projects of
those of us who are reading and contributing to this list as being involved
in this departure.

Those interested in some provocative thoughts in this area please refer to
Diana Theodores summary comments following the 'connecting body' conference
last June:

Regards, Scott
Scott deLahunta and Susan Rethorst
Writing Research Associates, NL
Sarphatipark 26-3, 1072 PB Amsterdam, NL
tel: +31 (0)20 662 1736
fax: +31 (0)20 470 1558