PLUTON | opus #7 : Reality and Matter | Katie Ward

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Katie Ward | Crédit photo : Michael Feuerstack

Knowledge generated by attention to matter in performance

Pluton is a project on which I have been invited to work by La 2e Porte à Gauche. It pairs choreographers of a younger generation with performers of an older generation. I am working with a well-respected and loved Montreal performer named Peter James. The working title for the project is Matière Grise.

This fall we began our research process by walking around the studio guided by a vague idea of our desires. We showed each other things that we liked, things in the studio that spoke to us. The performance content has (so far) become an itemizing of what is in the space: pointing at it, sometimes naming it, and saying whether it is ugly or not ugly. So far, from this process we have created some navigational techniques that Peter uses. Peter works from what he sees – and what he feels is significant to mention. As viewers we are bathed in this subjective indexing of present material objects and therefore are immersed in a world built from the perceptions of the performer.

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Peter James working under the gaze of Katie Ward | Pluton – acte 2 de La 2e Porte à Gauche | Crédit photo : Claudia Chan Tak

In the research process we are now beginning to think about how Peter can sustain this activity that is sometimes exciting and sometimes unremarkable or potentially uninteresting. We have decided to work from questions posed by Roland Barthes who asks:

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Peter James | Pluton | Photo : Claudia Chan Tak

“But is it possible to know how the world looks like in reality, to modify our gaze, as it were, and lift the veil of its own predefined visual habits? And if so, can representations which use alternative ways of depicting space help us to see things differently? How does this in turn act upon our experience and understanding of the world around us?” [Source: http://thedetachedgaze.com/2014/01/13/what-is-a-detached-gaze]

[…] Peter James works from a detached point of view where he renews his interest, not knowing each time he tries the score what he will find. Working at re-investing in a curiosity and receptivity towards the space he is in, he navigates it providing points of focus for us the viewers to more passively experience a version of this kind of viewing. From these concrete points of focus, we create our own connections. […]

Matière Grise combines a detached gaze-tour of the environment while borrowing from Open Focus Meditation, creating a hyper awareness of the immediate and the material.  This creates a potential for moments of realization for both the performer and the viewer related to ‘the real’, in this case the surrounding environment. […]

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The ‘Ah-ha! Moments’ of Peter James, working with Katie Ward for Pluton – acte 2 of La 2e Porte à Gauche | Crédit photo : Claudia Chan Tak

The second kind of ‘Real’ is created by an accumulation of experience which can cause a relaxed mind (as with the Open Focus Meditation) and ideally creates moments of realization, the ‘Ah-ha! Moments’. In Matière Grise Peter James itemizes things from around the space. The accumulating awareness of different material objects creates a state of relaxation in the mind leading to moments of discovery and deepening the vividness of the environment.

Katie Ward
Montreal, January 3, 2016

Lire aussi : Notes sur le processus de création de Matière Grise

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