Amphibious Trilogies

On movement, vocabularies and narratives

Choreographers naturally use their bodies and movement in the design and development of artistic expression and creative works. They also use words to describe and discuss what they are in the process of making and have made. The former typically uses spoken words, whereas the latter may also include writing. How to apply words and their related wide discourses is central to making meaning and communicating it. Words emerge crucially through the practices of movement. This was certainly the case in Amphibious Trilogies.

Here we worked together in exploring and shaping a working vocabulary of movement through our joint and individual activities. This served to support the emergence of a growing sense of a movement vocabulary and how it was not only forged through our transdisciplinary collaboration but also extended beyond a vocabulary generated only by choreographers.

Why does it matter to look into language and movement one may well ask? We see this as central in times of increased complexity, the climate emergency and most recently the Covid-19 pandemic. The world is always moving; we are constantly in motion, as the ice melts, the Northern Sea Route opens up to global trade and the very special sense of our bodies – individual and collective – has become more acute as ‘social distancing’ has entered our global vocabulary. We see that everyone needs to reconsider how central such a vocabulary of movement is for us to articulate and critique how we move, act, gesture, position ourselves and shift our stances, as it were, to meet emerging and deep seated challenges and needs.

From March to September 2020, Amphibious Trilogies has looked into such movement vocabularies. Amanda Steggell and Andrew Morrison have drawn together their shared travels, conceptual and physical, through the project and in others and in their daily lives.

Extending choreography was central to the close of one of our key seminars on Passages. In a workshop on OCTOPA we presented a more detailed set of concepts and activities for participants to consider how the persona of an octopus and its creature characteristics might help us to probe and perceive further notions of movement and their application in  wider sense of extended choreographies. We took this work further into connected directions: on language and movement and futures, and on developing OCTOPA and the Northern Sea Route, a key item in the project.

The first was to work on the development of inputs to a related project called FUEL4DESIGN that looks at design futures literacies with a specific work package on a Design Futures Lexicon. The second was the co-design and development between the project and Amphibious Trilogies on the device of OCTOPA and her connection with the Northern Sea Route in the shape of OCTOPA’s JOURNEY as design fiction view on the arctic, change and movement.

The links provided allow one to access these resources that have been developed during the pandemic to further focus on the importance of movement in the world and in the conditions and contexts of our contemporary, historical and near and far flung futures. We need words to label, describe, define and direct movement; personas help us to engage with movements in transition, movement as transformation and relations between the kinetic and temporal in narratives of change.


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