Archive for the ‘attention’ Category
Eiko and Koma: The Revolutionary Dancing Duo
by Myya McGregory
Eiko and Koma are dance veterans. The duo, now both over 60, are in fact rather lighthearted in their interviews despite putting on vulnerable and occasionally morbid performances. Now working on an exhibition titled Residue for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, they continue to explore the intersection of performance art and their signature style,”delicious movement.”
Having trained with pinoeers Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata, their movement style is heavily rooted in Japanese butoh.
Butoh or “Dance of Utter Darkness” drummed up a considerable amount of controversy in Japan as it emerged after World War II. Drawing its influence from the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, butoh showcased movements that originated from a very dark place in Japan’s history. Dancers would powder themselves white, exposing their ghostly, naked bodies on stage, make faces, and move their bodies in extremely vulnerable and contorted ways almost always using small isolated motions. Performances may be haunting or comical, but it is not uncommon for audience members to be moved to tears or outrage.
Performance art takes art to the next level — it’s live art that you can watch and sometimes even participate in.
As you will find out in the upcoming Cinema Issue, watching (whether it’s a movie, a theatre performance, or a dance) is akin to experiencing. When you watch you are transported. You are there.
Though the New York Times has called Eiko and Koma’s Hunger “glacial,” their incremental movements have direction, and in slowing themselves down they help the viewer get lost in the details of their movements. Their performances are long, and the average adult attention span (when the mind is not being actively applied) is less than 20 minutes. Naked, for example, was performed at the Walker Art Centre for four weeks during all museum hours. During that time an audience of over 40,000 members came and went. Friends of GLIMPSE who saw the performance said they somehow ended up staying longer than intended. As Eiko and Koma are masters of setting engrossing scenes and telling stories, it is no wonder the audience gets glued to their performances. Eiko and Koma transcend the attention span. Once you engage your prefrontal cortex, you don’t have to concentrate to focus on the scene unfolding before you. You are already sucked in.
Piero della Francesca, like many other artists of the Renaissance, sometimes used linear perspective despite the fact that it would be impossible to view his work from the correct station point when on display … For him, perspective was not merely a technical convention for representing a physically correct world. It was just one of many devices that could be adapted for use for other, non-optical ends. Our hypothesis is that the perspective in Piero’s fresco cycle depicting The Legend of the True Cross in the cappella maggiore of San Francesco in Arezzo is less about coherent space than about drawing attention to important narrative details … by which the artist hoped to instill in the viewer a sense of spiritual rapture.
Excerpt from Drs. Robert Belton and Bernd Kersten’s “Vision and Visions in Pierro della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross.” Issue 6, Visions. Read the full article in GLIMPSE’S Visions issue at www.glimpsejournal.com.
Saturday, April 17 is the 2nd annual International Slow Art Day. Part of the global grassroots Slow Movement, Slow Art Day encourages visual awareness and critical thinking through the close observation of art. Needless to say, any event that encourages visual attention and critical thinking is right up Glimpse‘s alley.
Glimpse staff will be slowing down and seeing at the acclaimed Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), in Salem, Massachusetts (USA) — one of 47 participating art institutions worldwide. Participants will view select pieces exploring themes of power, at a leisurely pace and then discuss the experience with other participants over lunch in the atrium café. Join us!