One-on-one studies

Over the past few weeks I have worked with three people one-on-one, observing and documenting their responses to different Antarctic texts. Each had participated in some of my Drawing through Movement workshops, and Movement Improvisation workshops that others run in Sydney. Each uses improvisation in their various practices as ways to engage with the world. Each is familiar with, and articulate about integrating internal and external landscapes through the arts.

As anticipated, each responded to the texts differently, reflecting their different backgrounds and personal predispositions. I photographed and made sound recordings of these sessions, where each found ways to transform qualities in the texts into human gestures. I have booked a film studio for future sessions, to videotape more of this work.

Dr Rena Czaplinksa is a practicing architect who also lectures at Sydney University. As well as teaching academic subjects to architecture students, she teaches them improvised drawing as a way to have them think beyond the square.

Rena moved to Fred Elliott’s drawing, Fearn Hill, improvising to some qualities she saw in the drawing: heaviness of the ice, bearing down on the rock beneath, the immense scale of the scene, the depth of the ice.

Meredith Lucy is a dance therapist who is working at the moment with older people. Her background includes work in art and theatre. Meredith responded to different qualities within the same image. She drew with her body the wide line of horizon, the upward line of mountain top, and the downward line of crevasse.

Yoris Everearts is an artist and art therapist. His background has been in sculpture. He is currently developing approaches to bereavement counseling, and exploring improvising with voice and movement.

Yoris responded to three texts: Fred Elliott’s Masson Range, Fearne Hill and the voice of scientist Dominic Hodgson describing the rapid changes happening in our environment that he knows from ice core and sea bed evidence. Yoris responded through movement and sound to both of the images. Sounds were long and deep, shot and deep, long and high, short and high. They reflected the vast scale of the scene, and the high contrast between the dark rock and sea, and the white of the ice and its reflection in the clouds. Yoris found the voice of the scientist unemotional and his words very technical. He said it was difficult to follow his meaning. I remembered how difficult I had found it when I first began listening to scientists describe climate change. It is only after many sessions of listening to scientists and reading what they have written that I have begun to understand them. Their language is difficult. Their tone of voice can be unemotional.

Material from these sessions will contribute to a more a sustained animation I have only just begun: a dancing parade of different responses to Antarctic landscape within a narrative drawing connections between climate change and human actions. The idea for this fell into place after seeing William Kentridge’s animations at the Sydney Biennale last weekend.

Starting this more sustained animation coincides with starting the more sustained writing. Both attempt to draw together fragments from research.

Awkwardly I write as awkwardly I feel about describing my personal response to Antarctica. It seems my research is partly to verify the strangeness of my experience, and the enormous impact this has had on me. Evidence of others experiencing similar responses can be found in poetic texts, in their literary and artistic responses. I have also seen evidence in how people gesture when reflecting on ‘their’ Antarctica, and in the tones in their voices, searching for words to describe it.


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Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008