Thursday, March 22, 2007

training (the) quartet pt. 1.1: protocol of affinity

revision notes:

It’s not everyday that I post up a revised version of a post, but having sat on this a while, I think it’s worth it in the long run. The previous version of this article was titled ‘protocol of mirroring’ and I’ve pretty much simply substituted the word ‘mirroring’ with the phrases ‘sharing affinity with’ or ‘creating affinity with’.
Looking back on my old scribbles and notes on these exercises, I noticed that I used ‘affinity’ to describe the main protocol, and that’s the word that I use to describe this in practice (in rehearsals and in class), so I don’t know what stroke of anti-genius (what is the antonym of ‘genius’ in this context?) made me choose ‘mirror’ instead. Whatever the case, having re-read Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’ recently, I was struck by the following:
Cyborg unities are monstrous and illegitimate; in our present political circumstances, we could hardly hope for more potent myths for resistance and recoupling. I like to imagine LAG, the Livermore Action Group, as a kind of cyborg society, dedicated to realistically converting the laboratories that most fiercely embody and spew out the tools of technological apocalypse, and committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state. Fission Impossible is the name of the affinity group in my town. (Affinity related not by blood but by choice, the appeal of one chemical nuclear group for another, avidity.)
Donna J. Haraway (1991), ‘A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century’ in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge), pp. 154–155.
Not political alliances because we are the same, not alliances because we are related, not an alliance based on some intrinsic quality, but alliances borne out of contingency and necessity, because we can work towards some collectively desirable outcome. (I am reminded of the recent anti-war demonstrations which I’ve tangentially blogged about.)

revision 1.1:

Having specified the quartet formation, let me introduce the protocol in the context of this ensemble: affinity. Well, I’ll be calling this thing ‘affinity’, but when one is sharing affinity, or creating affinity, with another, it can, for example, mean any of the following:
creating similitude
corresponding with
correlating with
This is the elemental behavior within these exercises. When one improviser shares, or creates, affinity with another, the improviser modifies their behavior to correlate in some way to the behavior of the other. Affinity may be implemented as imitation or impersonation, behavioral or stylistic equivalence, etc. Don't get too dogmatic about this, improvisers will find various (creative) ways to implement this idea.
A simple arrangement of the quartet is in a circle in which each improviser creates affinity from the behavior of the improviser on one side (behavioral information is passed in the opposite direction).message-passing in a quartetThis sounds simple, and it is, but we’ll be developing and twisting this idea as the training continues.

some (unanswered) questions:

Does the concept of affinity hold up to scrutiny?
Given that improvisative interaction may encompass juxtapositions, contrasts and contradictions, how can we engineer, or justify, such simple interaction? Affinity is somewhat an arbitrary protocol, but I find it easier that others to explain and implement. I’m, however, very interested in hearing of alternatives.

Is the dualism embedded in this protocol (similar OR different) culturally restrictive?
Yes, it is, and this will come to haunt any ensemble, particularly those composed of inexperienced improvisers. Does anyone have any solutions?

Can interaction, under any circumstance, really be thought of as unidirectional?
Of course not….

1 comment:

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