Amphibious Trilogies

Research by movement

Artistic research in the field of choreography has seen a rise in the Nordic region in recent years. At KHiO, the host of the Amphibious Trilogies project, we have several recent graduates who have conducted artistic research in choreography. Ingrid Fiksdal (2018) looked at the affective and collective within dance and choreography (Fiksdal, 2018). Janne-Camilla Lyster presented her work on literary scores which are written for dance (Lyster, 2019). Brynjår Åbel Bandlien (2019) focused on recursing movements between dancers and environment. This drew into the AT project views on researching the body in and as performance – by dancing (see Parker-Starbuck, & Mock, 2011).

In terms of inquiry into extended choreography and movement one thesis is outstanding in our view. In Docudancing Griefscapes, Per Roar Thorsnes (2015) looked into choreographic strategies for embodying three contexts of traumatic grieving in a trilogy on life and death. Referring to these as griefscapes he explored relations between movement and social context of contest. longing and loss with reference to the concept ‘docudancing’. For him ‘The term refers to a choreographic approach to address socio-political contexts through drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and utilizing documentary material, both in the creative processes as well as in the performances.’ (Thorsnes, 2015: 7). With regards to choreography and social context, he reflected that:

… the imaginary provided a tool to explore how one could connect the different elements that we had identified from our contextual background research. In this way, the imaginary complemented my contextually based approach not only as an explorative tool but also as a means for welding together what I had encountered and absorbed about a social context in order to construct a choreographic outcome. (Thorsnes, 2015: 420-421)  

In The AT project in essence we have worked with the notion and practices from Research by Design to what we term ‘Research by movement’. As Slager (2015: 43) argues:

Artistic thinking as a form of pure rhizomatic thought separates artistic research from aborescent and sedentary conceptions of knowledge, from judgmental positions functioning as nodal points of academic science and replaces it with a fluent, nomadic, deterritorializing movement.

In a discussion on the concepts performative and enactment, Andrea Fraser (2014: 127) concludes that:

And this, for me is how “performative” if I used the word, would be defined: that is, as enactment that performs itself and in so doing structures a recognition of nd reflection on the relations produced and reproduced in the activity and, above all, on the investments that orient them. 

Behind her statement is a concern to bring to the fore structures of relationship in all forms of activity involved in unpacking the focus on the performative and performativty that shifted form linguistics to literary and then performance studies. 

Similar to Fraser’s orientation, in Amphibious Trilogies our mode and stance in artistic research and indeed transdisciplinary practice based research in the arts and design and social sciences, has been to offer ways in which the doing, the activities, and their heterogeneous forms, facts and fabulations may be materialised. In an extended choreography this is about movement as enactment, and enactment by moving.

Here the ‘actualisation’ that Fraser draws on from psychoanalysis is connected to activities of imagining and narrating. It is populated by notions and experiences of being in landscapes and connecting experience and understanding of them through moving, such as championed by the anthropologist Tim Ingold (2011) in his book Being Alive. Essays on movement, knowledge and description

For example, in  ‘Moving through the double vortex’, Jan Schacher and Patrick Neff (n.d),7 is situated in an electronic music performance yet extends beyond it with a dancer moving to translate to control and expression of temporal and dynamic music:

The exposition further thematises the methods of trace collection and analysis, as well as the making of maps, diagrams, and assemblages, and addresses the scope of this secondary discursive format. In a movement that goes from media trace to text to sketch, from descriptive to contextual to associative juxtaposition, the exposition speculates about – rather than claims to generate – insights and understanding on corporeality in technologically mediated music and dance performances.

Henk Slager has a considerable body of writing that reflects on creative practices and the communication of artistic inquiry on and as artistic research. In The Pleasure of Research (2015) he discusses the experimental aesthetics of artistic research as being akins to the procedural process driven character of methods in physics. Slager (2015: 32) sees:

… an ‘experimental aesthetics’, i.e the practice of the autistic researcher is characterized by a disciplinary, hodge-podge methodology of the laboratory…. And just like experimental physics relates in an oscillating way to theoretical physics, experimental aesthetics is as well continuously forced to mutually inspiring encounters with the theoretical.

Slager (2015: 33) writes that:

… one should speak of a relationship of “resonances” and “ interferences”…. Because of these resonances than interferences, the situation of artistic research as experimental aesthetics is ultimately characterized by the continuous movement between fluidity and rigidity, laboratory and herbarium, smooth space and striated space, non-discipline and discipline, the particular and the universal.

In 2020 we suddenly encountered a world best by a global pandemic, so that known forms of movement and behaviour and new curtailed and limited ones would become acute, shielded, locked down on and and disrupted by ‘covidiots’ who would move against the stream of shared safety and survival. We found ourselves as citizens with others trying to work out how to move in a pandemic.

. . . . . . . . . .

Bandlien, B. (2019). Dancing Recurrences. Oslo: Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo.

Fiksdal, I. (2018). Affective Choreographies. Oslo: Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo.

Fiksdal, I. (2018). Thinking Alongside. Oslo: Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo.

Fraser, A. (2014). ‘Performance or enactment’. In Dertnig, C. & Thun-Hohenstein, F. (Eds.). Performing the Sentence. Research and teaching in the performative fine arts. Berlin: Sternberg Press. 122-127.

Lyster, J. C. (2019). Koreografisk poesi. Oslo: Tiden.

Parker-Starbuck, J. & Mock, R. (2011). ‘Researching the body in/as performance’. In Kershaw, B. & Nicholson, H.  (Eds.). Research Methods in Theatre and Performance. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 211-235.

Schacker, J. &  Neff. P. (n.d). ‘Moving through the double vortex’. AR: Journal for Artistic Research, 12.

Slager, H. (2015). The Pleasure of Research. Ostfildern: Hante Cantz.

Thorsnes, P.R. (2015). Docudancing Griefscapes. Choreographic strategies for embodying traumatic contexts in the trilogy life and death. Helsinki: 44 ACTA SCENICA, University of the Arts Helsinki.


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