I want to do so many things, I am undecided most of the time. Am I more interested in the body, or space?
…a kind of conservation of space. Only when space could be distinguished by modern architects as independent of structure could [the exploded cube] have been developed. Space, in the general (singular) sense as a positive, independent, and abstract essence is the final aspect of this argument. Architects are often called molders of space, but the term space was not always an essential word for architects. Peter Collins suggested that space, before the turn of the twentieth century, was itself an idea subsumed within structure…Wright confirmed that to him space was something independent; writing many years later, he argued for “the essential of the architectural change from box to free plan and the new reality that is space instead of matter.
Thomas L. Schumacher - The Outside is the Result of the an Inside
Barbara Morgan - Martha Graham, Primitive Mysteries, 1938
“This generation,” Yuriko explained, “is conscious of the shape they are creating. They check the mirror to see if a shape is correct instead of creating the shape from within themselves. There is no life in a movement that comes from the outside. There is only a visceral imitation. Movement must initiate within before it has an outer shape. Film and video have contributed to this habit of outer imitation that is different from the generation that learned a work from live dancers. The result is a copy of a movement—lacking spatial awareness, weight, power, and abstract qualities that cannot be sensed from a screen.”
The group began by working on technique. Yuriko noted that this generation of young dancers has legs and arms that seem detached from the center of the body. “To give them an image,” she said, “I asked them to see a tree in their mind’s eye that begins with roots, grows into a trunk, and then freely spreads and moves its branches upward. We forget that we are part of nature. Martha talked about the spiral growth of plants: We, too, don’t move straight up, but grow as everything in the body spirals in rotation to enable us to move in any direction.”
Getting deeper into the inner meaning of a movement meets with some resistance from young dancers. “It’s scary,” Yuriko says, “because we all prefer to sort, analyze, and hide behind physicality. I told the dancers that each role, no matter how small, represents a person, a human being; not a machine, but someone who lives aside, in a geographical location, at a different time, with another scenario. All that has nothing to do with reality, the reality of one’s existence, but is about regaining the lost innocence of childhood when you could become whatever you were told to become. A child will become a spider if you ask him to do so. As we grow up, we begin to pretend to be a spider and lose the capacity to become. You have to trust that you will return to being yourself as you are in real life. The dancer has to learn to make this trade again and again between stage roles and real life. You have to just do it until it becomes comfortable. And you know, it’s so wonderful when I see truth and individuality emerge in a dancer. I can tell the difference day by day, from moment to moment, if the content is there or if it’s not, or when it falters, or drops, or doesn’t connect with the next image.”
Naomi Filmer’s Lenticular photo piece in the Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft exhibition at the V&A Museum. Her work revolves around the body, her fascination with its shapes, sounds and movements. By capturing a facial gesture on film, or the sound of someone clearing their throat, she abstracts the familiar and makes it strange. With her three-dimensional pieces Filmer chooses not to adorn but to celebrate the human form. By casting an elbow or the back of a knee, and magnifying and isolating them inside glass lenses, she is setting the jewels of the body.
In the dark hours,
With half words whispered low:
As earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.” —Robert Graves