Audio Textural Bodies

BOXBLUR, Catharine Clark Gallery

Created and performed by Emma Lanier and Cauveri Suresh.

Audio Textural Bodies was commissioned by BOXBLUR in conjunction with Catharine Clark Gallery’s exhibition, Open Field, and is accompanied by composer Phyllis Chen’s Tone Grove, featuring both recorded sound and live performance by LigoranoReese.

Lanier and Suresh chose to develop this work primarily in conversation with LigoranoReese’s compositions for music boxes in the series “Listening to the Material” that are featured in the exhibition, Open Field. Because Lanier and Suresh had the opportunity to hold all rehearsals at the gallery, they were able be highly receptive and source their material from works in the exhibition, not only LigoranoReese’s music boxes, but also the works of Mary Muszynski, Anni Albers, Amy Trachtenberg, and Reniel Del Rosario. The raw material the dancers created gave way to playful and detailed movement phrases with names such as “Tapestry,” “Interlocking,” “Bra,” and “Bad Bunny Retrograde.”

One point of inquiry for this work involved taking LigoranoReese’s punchcards, and translating them into a movement phrase. Dots in twos and threes and fours punctuate the long scrolls of paper, while diagonal and vertical lines cut across and through the paper, creating scales and repetition. The punchcards already translate visual patterns from Anni Albers’ weavings and prints into graphic music compositions, so Lanier and Suresh assigned themselves the task of translating that translation. The result was a peculiar unison crawling pattern on the floor that no one would know was derived from Albers’ works on paper and weavings, but exists as an example of LigoranoReese’s view that “patterns and graphics often contain embedded information that is unseen but not neutral.”

Another task that the artists took upon themselves was creating two separate movement phrases using a series of words in a chance-operation of sorts, a humble salute to Merce Cunninham. From there, they painstakingly wove the two phrases together, move by move, creating an unusual sequence that one person alone would not have created. This task-based practice focuses on rigor and structure, without the aim of creating something aesthetically pleasing or expressive. By creating daily problems for themselves to solve, the artists accumulated a series movement ideas that they reworked and re-ordered into a performable score.

In this project, Lanier and Suresh’s modalities for creating resemble the experimentation within formal confines, problem-solving, and structured exploration that grounded many of the artists and thinkers that taught and studied at Black Mountain. The result is a playful fifteen minute-long dance that bounces across the gallery’s vestibule, looks back at the pedagogy and lineages that brought us here, dances with what is happening now, and looks ahead to what is next.

© Copyright 2021, Emma Lanier