My first video!
Title: Perfect Grasp
Camera, edit and performance: Emma Wilson
It’s been a big week. Physically and emotionally. Finding my way into this residency, back into my practice (it feels like a long time!), reconnecting with my mentor Dianne Reid whom I have not conversed with since the early 2000’s.
I had a little laugh at myself today when reflecting on my process this week. I decided to use the scythe as my point of departure for this week’s exploration. When I first laid eyes on a scythe over 20 years ago in my high school literature class I was captivated by this tool of labour from another time. It seemed to represent a way of being in the body that would appear nonsensical or fruitless in todays society. Why scythe when you can whippersnip? Power tools save time and energy. But I knew then I wanted to experience first hand the poetic and rhythmic way of working the body and the land that Robert Frost alluded to in his poem ‘Mowing’, which we were studying at the time.
Fast forward 20 years I now have my own scythe. I am slow and my work is patchy. But I love the meditative repetition of the movement and the spacious connection with the landscape around me. And I wanted to bring these qualities into my process this week. I had wanted to frame the poetic labouring body of a time gone by, but instead found myself feeling very awkward, grappling not only with the physicality of dealing with this large, cumbersome and potentially dangerous tool, but also the technicalities of working with video. Getting to know the tripod, trying to adjust its position swiftly in the flow of responding to arising ideas, figuring out how to position myself in relation to the camera, to get the right focus, distance and perspective. I was missing the possibility of a moving camera and found it hard work trying to negotiate with the conditions of the studio-shed or paddock- e.g. the changing light or uneven terrain. My way of being in my body became very much about problem solving, figuring out creative solutions to technical challenges and being in quite a ‘heady’ space.
Luckily I had my first zoom meeting with Di this week. I am so thankful she reminded me to begin with play and to be led by my curiosities in the moment and not get attached to original ideas. I needed to hear this, as I could feel frustrations arising and feelings of overwhelm in trying to negotiate the technology to realise my ideas.
Note to self: in the coming week – start with play, allow what arises in the play to inform ideas. GET OUT OF MY HEAD AND STOP TRYING TO OVER THINK EVERYTHING!
My request to Di was that her responses aim to encourage me to see what I am not seeing, to offer provocations and questions that lead me into different directions. And for her responses to become part of a creative exchange with me – using words or videos to reflect back to me or nudge me in a certain direction.
I’m going to share her responses to my video here. Di very generously offered first words and then a video. I feel like she has conducted a laser precision dissection on my video to amplify and reflect back something that cuts away all of my questioning and doubting around dealing with the material I generated (as well as hinting at editing out the noise of the cement floor and power point of the shed), and touches on the heart of where I would like to go with this video. The density of her words and images liberates the choreographic ideas from linearity, like an ever-spiralling movement into the present, rather than a beginning/middle/end. I am tempted to go back and do a re-edit. But I’m going to leave it where it is for the moment and and carry this insight into next week’s exploration.
Slash, a re-edit by Dianne Reid in response to Perfect Grasp