an interaction with Jean-Marc Matos

Scott deLahunta (
Sun, 20 Jul 1997 13:58:30 +0200

Jean-Marc Matos (find him listed on DTZ artist links and upcoming events)
emailed me a "general statement" on art, science and dance a few months ago.
I've asked him to post his statement to the list -- but here are some of the
'interactions' I had with his text (Jean-Marc's lines are clipped and copied
here with the > in front of them).



>New media offer not only a multiplicity of services but also a new way of
>conceiving and considering the possible. In my work, the "artificial" is at
>the service of creation. The dialogue art-science, dance-technique,
>body-machine is what I am dealing with in my choreographies.

Absolutely ! The notion of the artificial is essential for dancers to grasp
as we have to deal more and more with appearances upon appearances. The
various dialogues/ discourses which you mention here help to sketch out a
network of relationships to which and from which we must bring/ take new
strategies for making creative choices. AND we need to embrace the
probability that depth and surface are no longer mutually exclusive domains.

In order to do this, the dance artist of the 20th century has to strip away
a legacy of certain essentialist notions of the 'authentic' body in order to
move beyond discourses of the simple subject and towards those of
multiple-subjectivities. A dance is no longer the vehicle for the expression
of the soul of the artist, but is a palimpsest upon which a variety of
possible readings (as many as sit in the audience) will be wielded by the

>Man has always been fascinated by his own image and has attempted to
>reproduce his double, to extend and perfect that image.
>Somehow "naturally" my dance work has been associated, right from the
>beginning, with video images, computer based technology and relationships
>with machines.

I like this play off of the notion of the "artificial" -- and at our school
we are definitely seeing the strong tendency amongst new, young students
towards working, from the beginning, with a sense of the mediated in
relationship to attention, representation and, most importantly, what it
means to be "real". Gone (almost) are the times of only ten years ago when
nature still held forth.

>In the same way, I am interested in the diversity of elements that are
>inherent to a choreographic performance; that which asks from the audience
>an elevated perception: either to choose where to put one's concentration,
>or to look and perceive several things at once.

There is an interview with Robert Lepage I read recently (can't find the
book "conversations with the gods" or something like that) where he talks
about the audience as coming to the theater trained as mental gymnasts, able
to synthesize and process complex imagery and narratives faster and with
more skill and dexterity than ever before. He is committed to creating the
kind of theater that will engage these minds. So, should we all be.

But, the choreographer works with the body in ways which are unlike any
other live performance form, except maybe live music (the fundamental
difference here being the primary senses involved, seeing versus hearing).
The choreography takes the rapid disappearance and dissolution of the moving
image as fundamental material in the creation of a work. The audience brings
more than their senses for just perceiving the unfolding of the form in
real-time, they must also bring to the work a skill for real-time processing
of the fleeting moments in time -- for the dance audience, memory serves a
function in a way which is entirely different than with other performance
forms more reliant on representation and evocation of 'meanings'. I tell my
choreography students that they should be aware of three activities when
they are making their compositional choices. Where the dancer has just been,
where they are and where they are going. In the mind of the audience, these
are the three most important facets of choreography which is, I would posit,
a temporal artform more than a spatial one (despite a persistent belief in
the primacy of the latter). Probably things like MTV are a good training for
such a mind.

>Why and how can we articulate choreographic scenarios with the use of new
>media, images, machines and objects?

A wonderful question -- and one I'm excited to be involved in exploring...
with you and others in the field. AND YET, I remain personally committed as
well, maybe paradoxically so, to the possibility of magnificent
choreographic scenarios which are articulated by little more than movement
in time and space (as evidenced for me recently by Cesc Gelebart performing
one of the late Gerhard Bohner's sublime abstractions).

AND FINALLY i close with his is a short statement I wrote in the preparation
of the symposium called 'Connecting Bodies' we organised a year ago here in
Amsterdam on the connections between the discourses and practices of dance
and technology. It resonates with some of the ideas in your statement:

'Connecting Body' is a metaphor for the dancer as a point of intersection
for the impact of media technology (digital technologies combined with
traditional media--in particular, television, video, film and print). The
dancing body is often perceived as being resistent to mediation, unique for
it's non-negotiable presence, its 'realness'. However, it is precisely at
the level of perception, both physical and psychological, that change is
taking place. The influence of media technology is radically altering the
dancer's understanding and experience of the body's potential for
transmutation and transformation. In addition, as the combined site for
experience and representation, the dancing body, increasingly recorded,
digitized, captured, morphed, traced and held in memory, is involved
directly in the production of new symbolic information. It is this double
capacity, to initiate as well as respond, which gives the dancer unusual
authority in a rapidly changing technological world.
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