Re: undemanding fish

Merilyn Jackson (
Wed, 25 Aug 1999 15:34:36 -0400

To Johannes, Doug et al:
I enclose the pre-edited text of my review of IDAT from Technology Review
It was my first feeble attempt to write about a subject that as I pointed
out at IDAT, most dance writers are not subjected to enough.

In literature we have something called naturalization -- that is when you
can pick up a book and fall right into it. You are already naturalized in
its language. Sometimes five years after you tried to read a book that
failed to interest you back then, you can pick it up and devour it. What
happened? You became naturalized in its language, the words took on meaning
for you. Likewise, I think this will happen to D&T criticism as time goes

This discourse, confrontational as it may ever become, is wonderful. After
all, none of us can get a bloody nose over the net. It is good, however, to
know that Doug can take it on the chin. I admire his struggle to listen to
other voices while keeping his artistic integrity intact. He and I have
discussed what I found so unsatisfying about Falling to Earth, and none of
my criticism is directed against his work, as it is not directed against
Jennifer Predock Linell's or Rogolja Wolf's (taken separately, each was
gorgeous) below. My criticism is directed at the failure of the
collaborating artists to integrate (as in integrity) the disparate elements
into one seamless entity. Failure is a poor word to describe the efforts of
two or more artists to understand and interpret the artistic intentionality
of the project. In this respect, Cunningham, Cage, et al are/were really
onto something with the chance thing. How is it that it works so well, so

Just now, I am privileged to be struggling with a full-length feature on
Isabelle Choiniere for ETCMontreal in which I hope the writing process will
bring me and my readers to a deeper understanding of what artists working in
this field are striving for.

The excerpt:
In some cases the technology served a basic story as in choreographer Ellen
Bromberg’s <IFalling to EarthI>, created on the Intelligent Stage.
Artist/technologist Doug Rosenberg projected his lyrical imagery and text on
ess-curved drapes and over the dancer’s bodies. But the beauty was only
screen deep and couldn’t carry the piece over the undistinguished narrative
and music.
Of the public performances, dance and technology were not always evenly
matched, as in video artist Rogolja Wolf’s and choreographer Jennifer
Predock-Linnell’s <IInner Spaces of DriftingI>. Partners of equal, but
separate strength, they forced the audience to choose between watching
either mesmerizing aquatic images or the smart dance trio which seemed lost
in the dark at the bottom of the horizontally divided set.
Better to be lost in the dark than sit through the silent hour of <ILight
DanceI> by Seth Riskin, who weighed his black-clad dancers down with battery
packs and incandescent tubing. Looking like Jules Verne divers, their
range of movement was as limited as his light patterns.
Others more successfully integrated technology to make a whole artform. In
her hallucinatory, entrancing dance, <ICommunionI>, Montreal
dancer/choreographer Isabelle Choiniere explored ancient and contemporary
nuances of dance within a tableau-like form...