RE: New Series on Dance Film and Video

Scott deLahunta (
Tue, 22 Jul 1997 17:19:16 +0200

At 11:39 PM 7/21/97 +0100, you wrote:
>Feeling compelled to pick up another thread Scott offered us when he quoted
>interview on:
>>***Dance Online launches new Series on Dance Film and Video***
>< Interview with ELLIOT CAPLAN,
>>the filmmaker for the Merce Cunningham Company, and videos of his work.

Lots to respond to from Johannes, I'm going for one thing at a time:

><... and the camera has served a reciprocating function. For example:
><photographic media was the first to 'capture' bodies in motion... and has
><had a major impact on our expectations of the physical capabilities of the
><dancer. Just take a look at old film clips of dance and you will see that
><the jumping body never appears to be as extended in space as it is now. I am
><convinced that still motion photography inspired dance artists to learn how
><to push the body into far more sharp, clear and extreme shapes at the height
><of the jump than before.

This was my comment not Caplan's --- I was only making reference to an
unstudied observation I have made in looking at a minimal amount of old
films of dances... and wondering at the apparent technical ability of the
dancers from those times... in relationship to now. I have always wondered
if the more dancers saw themselves captured in STILL photographs, the more
that somehow this became reflected in technical (virtuosic) desires to be
able to jump higher and with more extension. Cunningham has made the
observation in interviews that video and lifeforms have shown him ways in
which the body can move which he did not imagine before -- so I am just sort
of picking up on this possibility.

Johannes writes:

>not that
>am I persuaded that Mary Wigman changed her body movement (after her years of
>working with Laban) following technological reproduction on film, I am
>she saw film as lagging behind in movement and spatial capabilities of

Absolutely -- neither am I convinced that my observation, above, is accurate
or correct in any way. It certainly doesn't take the thought far enough...
and I appreciate Johannes taking the time to point out the complexity(s) of
the situation.

Johannes says:

>I am only suggesting to keep an alert eye on assumed mutual influences or
>correspondences between performance and technolgical media.

For sure...

><The idea of 'second viewings' implies something which is importantly NOT
><simply 'recycling'. Recycling suggests a perpetuation of consumerism/
><consumption -- second viewing suggests something else. The web is beginning
><to reflect some of these concerns -- there are advances being made in web
><technologies which will create much more dynamic sites which 'change',
><uploading new information each time the 'viewer' clicks in (see products on
>Not agreed. I feel that Caplan confuses the issue.

Johannes is disagreeing here with me, not Caplan... I was just sort of free
associating. Making a connection (irresponsibly?) between Caplan's comment
on 'second viewings' (which Johannes agreed with) and some current
experiments with web technologies.

Johannes writes:

>I think I understand your use of "permeable" or fluid, but then I am not sure
>why you insist or favor "exact definitions or distinctions". I thought the
>is that the distinctions become insignificant, if we use a new language of
>programming or coding or designing or interfacing or dubbing/sampling or

My point is that certain distinctions will become insignificant... or rather
that the pre-digital ideas of distinctions/ categories will become
insignficant. That in the digital environment the making of distinctions
will become more a play upon or playing out of contingent circumstances,
more fluid... but I don't think that the making of distinctions will become
insignificant or unimportant. We will set up borders and boundaries as
necessary, but with the expectation that they will and should shift.

-- but this is a very general comment on the nature of distinctions,
borders, etc., one which does not take into account other parameters of
these changes, for example an adequate acknowledgement of the underlying
struggles for voices and identities.

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