Amphibious Trilogies

Horizon video #5

ROUNDTRIP ARKHANGELSK – SVALBARD
Shot on the research vessel, Prof. Molchanov
Arctic Floating University Expedition (NArFU), 22 June – 11 July 2019

Expedition Route: Arkhangelsk – “Kola meridian” transect – Barentsburg – Ny-Ålesund – Pyramiden – Longyearbyen – Barentsburg – Arkhangelsk


This silent stop motion video assembles sequential photos, frame by frame, shot with a game camera tied to the mast of the R/V Prof. Molchanov. With 24hrs of lightness its impossible to know what is a day and what is a night. On the outward bound journey we struggle to protect the camera from the weather. When approaching the Svalbard archipelago the camera became more stable.

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Horizon video #4

ARRIVAL ARKHANGLESK OBLAST
Shot from the White Sea to the Northern Divina River
Arctic Floating University Expedition (NArFU), 7-11 July 2019

This silent stop motion video assembles sequential photos, shot with a game camera tied to the mast of the R/V Prof. Molchanov. Homeward bound, on the last leg of the Arctic Floating University Expedition.

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Horizon video #3

RIDERS OF THE STORM
Shot on the Barents Sea
Arctic Floating University Expedition, 5 July 2019

This silent stop motion video assembles sequential photos, shot with a game camera tied to the mast of the R/V Prof. Molchanov. We have left Svalbard, heading homeward bound on the Barents Sea. A storm is brewing!

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Horizon video #2

PASSAGE SVALBARD
Shot in the Barents Sea and the Isfjorden
Arctic Floating University Expedition, day 29-30 June 2019

This silent stop motion video assembles sequential photos, shot with a game camera tied to the mast of the R/V Prof. Molchanov. We approach Svalbard by way of the Barents Sea. The port of call is Barentsburg.

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Horizon video #1

SURROUNDED BY ICE
Shot on the Barents Sea
Arctic Floating University Expedition, 26-27 June 2019

This silent stop motion video assembles sequential photos, shot with a game camera tied to the mast of the R/V Prof. Molchanov. Suddenly, we encounter a massive area with sea ice and icebergs, the biggest up to 14m high. The captain changes the route several times Fog, sunshine, openings and closings. Remarkable.

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Related posts: Sensing the Sea

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SLIPPERY video art #1

SLIPPERY TAI CHI TAI CHI
Shot on the Barents Sea
Arctic Floating University Expedition, 8 July 2019

Raw footage, captured with a GroPro camera tied to Brynjar’s chest when doing the practice of tai chi tai chi, on the top deck of the R/V Prof. Molchanov. A storm is coming. We feel the force of the storm and struggle to keep balance in this unbalanced world. Seabirds, however, are in their essence, gliding elegantly in the slipstream of the vessel.

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More on this: Tai chi before the storm

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SWISH video art #1

This one-shot wonder was taken on the research vessel, called Prof. Molchanov, when on the Russian Arctic Floating University.
Location: Kola meridian in the Barents Sea, 25 June 2019.

Marine scientists are trawling a device called ‘MANTA’ alongside of the research vessel. The aim is to capture micro-plastics in this region. My aim is to capture the movements of MANTA. I put my POV camera into the MANTA’s mouth to see what she sees.

Eye in mouth. Swishy. Hissy. Slippery. Speedy. In between the frames you might see the underwater world; gasses, valleys and mountain tops. You might encounter a tentacular creature, amphibiousness in character.

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Location map: See 1. Oceanographical transect, Kola meridian.

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For more, see the post Manta Ray Moving Plastics

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On transductive methods in artistic research

Addressing matters of feeling, sense and the elusive, from a view in art therapy and art making, Learmonth and Huckvale (2013) discuss how more systemic concepts and methods may be developed when working reciprocally with inductive and deductive methods. We quote a paragraph of their work at length as it echoes many of our own concerns, even though we have been working with movement rather than the image as our core conceptual and contextual material. Learmonth and Huckvale, (2013: 105) write that:

The vivid, vivifying, libidinous, Dionysian and mercurial creative process will not disclose much knowledge to capture, vivisection and autopsy. We need to study our creative processes as dynamics every bit as alive as natural habitats. Sometimes the life of images feels like a glimpsed, imaginal, flora and fauna at work and play in the ecologies of how we think, play, feel, imagine communicate, suffer, survive, grow and change. With their apparent autonomy they assume personalities and shape-shift: as shy as deer, as magical as Invisible Lions, or as sly as Schrödinger’s cat disappearing into the bushes, just when we want to ask them some questions.

Central to artistic inquiry as they too assert, is to be cautious when working with the slippery. From a therapy view creative expression needs to be let go of in order to find its possible realisations. 

In Amphibious Trilogies this has meant we have literally needed to discard many of our preconceptions yet also refer to prior knowledge when and as needed, always influenced by its existence and at times presence, not always explicitly sensed or known in the moment, of a visit or an event. On occasion this has been much a matter of working with improvisation, drawing on practices and techniques and prompts from dance and choreography, fiction and photography. Concerning mixed methods – form the humanities, social science, art, design and technoscience – we have enacted an experimental practice (Papadopoulos, 2018) that has been a hybrid of the method and techniques choreography, narrative, historical, societal, systemic and mediational.

As the project has advanced, rapid changes in climate science and change, global economic and public health, geo-politics and social movements and social media have occurred. Papadopoulos (2018), who also works with migration as we did on this project, also refers to a Baroque methodology as I do (Morrison, 2017): from vocabulary generation to fieldwork meanderings, including historiography and speculative fiction. However, in contrast, our ‘amphibious project ship’ sails with a dancer and a choreographer, an artist and an actor, a social scientist and a historian, a fiction writer and a teacher, more skills than surnames, more hats than heads, in effect an octopus like factive-imaginative hybrid (see our OCTOPA and OCTOPA’s Journey).

A globe spinning on its axis but also in a spin. We had not known that the metaphor and mechanics of our interface would be quite so expanded and expanding! Early in the project we looked at Paul Carter’s work on vortex in the context of climate change and the design of complexity (Carter, 2015) and the Bakhtinian centrifugal and centripetal. Extended choreography has not only addressed matters of an expanded field and its movement actualities and potentialities. It has needed to engage on the move with the turbulence and models for knowing and working with it transductively.

The research has also been how responses to emerging and changing matter and contexts – often steeped in history or challenging understanding of the present – have demanded improvisation related to settings and people, extending into fieldwork experiments and experiences, and to seeming contradictions between the given and the transient, the graspable and the slippery (see also Levine, 2013).

In ‘Capturing the transient’ Corinna Brown (2013) discusses ways dance/movement therapy (DMT) may be more actively and insightfully a part of the content and processes of creative arts research. She argues that it is possible to conduct such inquiry by ‘asking and analysing through movement’ (Brown, 2013: 120). Noting that sensitive material, especially when deeply personal, needs careful communication, and often to small audiences, Brown also notes that ‘findings’ may be performed for different audiences, in different venues and with varied intentions and to allow a diversity of feedback, review and critique. Here she refers to her own more autoethnographic enactment of her work, referring to the ‘creative analytic practice’ outlined by Laurel Richardson and Elizabeth St Pierre (2005). For Pat (Allen 2013: 17):

A critical part of art-based enquiry must be the physical inactivity of the stories our images tell, bringing them to life before an audience, performatively and emotively transmitting the truth of the images so that they enter bodies as well as minds. The image and its information of it it’s not only the mind but also through the heart and the gut.

Here ‘truth’ is visceral, embodied and felt. Yet, in writing on artistic research methods concerning modes of knowing, Learmonth and Huckvale (2013) examine what may be provided and prompted by working from deductive and inductive methods. They conclude as follows:

Deductive reasoning can make the slippery and elusive behaviour of art glimpseable, and never quite graspable. Unchecked, inductive processes grow magnificent associative briar patches that can soon hopelessly entangle clear thinking. Spontaneity and discipline are as implicitly interdependent in art-based research as an art making: gardeners need seeds and secateurs …. (Learmonth & Huckvale, 2013: 107).

In closing by saying that artistic researchers can only have peripheral vision at best, we are reminded that this is similar to our experience in seeing shapes and patterns and problems and potentials just at the edge of our field movement. Our interest is not the image itself but knowing through moving artistically and by way of shaping moving methods and moving practices themselves: in, as, by and about movement.

There is a key opportunity for artistic research views on enacting making knowledge: a need for a far fuller and indeed exploratory and experimental engagement with knowing by movement and critiques of knowledge that are arrived at by moving. Slager (2015: 90) motivates for ‘Models inventing dynamic notions of mapping (or counter mapping’ able to communicate that the world is in the process of becoming fluid with open models for a “coming community”.’

One way we need to develop the notion of reciprocity further in working towards common methods with different horizons  is to move to include and move through the abductive or transductive in our making and inquiries. This is less a reciprocity between top down or bottom up methods but more a matter of identifying and enacting ways to MOVE through and across and between elements of a what is no less than a creatively infused, dynamic, unfolding methodological becoming. This is a matter of enacting and critically reflecting on not two but three relations: deductive, inductive and abductive.

In addition, and using movement to articulate a wider notion of extending choreographies as practices (that is as verbal and plural and dynamic), we suggest that these three modes of analysis and methods are related by way of their being transductive. This entails a move from the general to particular and the reverse and by association and allusion in abductive ‘logics’ and transdisciplinary assemblages. 

Given the title of the Amphibious Trilogies project with its focus on amphibiousness, concerning creative and critical methods we have adopted the notion of  ‘a transductive trilogy of kinetics of knowing’ to encapsulate the complex weaving of relations – needed and used and offered and only half known – through our investigations together.

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Allen P. (2013). ‘Art as enquiry: Towards a research method that holds soul truth’. In McNiff, S.  (Ed.). Art as Research: Opportunities and challenges. Bristol: Intellect. 11-18.

Brown, C. (2013). ‘Capturing the transient’. In McNiff, S. (Ed.). Art as Research: Opportunities and challenges. Bristol: Intellect. 221-228.

Carter, P. (2015). Turbulence. Perth: Puncher & Watman.

Learmonth, M. & Huckvale, K. (2013). The feeling of what happens: A reciprocal investigation of inductive and deductive processes in art experiment’. In  McNiff, S.  (Ed.). Art as Research: Opportunities and challenges. Bristol: Intellect. 95-108.

Levine, S. (2013). ‘Expecting the unexpected: improvisation in art-based research’. In McNiff, S. (Ed.). Art as Research: Opportunities and challenges. Bristol: Intellect. 125-132.

Morrison, A. (2017). ‘Design-Baroque-Futures’. 2nd International Conference on Anticipation. 8-10 November. London: University of London.

Papadopoulos, D. (2018). Experimental Practice. Technoscience, alterontologies and more-than-social movements. Durham: Duke University Press.

Richardson, L. & St. Pierre, E. (2005). Writing: A method of inquiry.’ In Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 959-978.

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

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Extending choreographies

In shifting from choreography to choreographies we wish to encompass ways movement may be placed more fully in focus in addressing pressing, emerging and demanding social issues thereby informing understanding and working with issues such as climate change, the Covid-19 global pandemic, and efforts to shape and meet anticipatory futures needs and their navigation. In addressing these issues in Amphibious Trilogies we drew on a variety of earlier publications and works, including some key ones of our own in arriving at an understanding of extended choreography as related enactments

For Amphibious Trilogies we continued with these as artistic ‘enactments’ but also as performative events through visiting, travelling and consulting amongst other movies in the world. When visiting Arkhangelsk in Russia, we became even more aware of the vast presence of nuclear power – civilian and military in the Russian arctic, at the scale of the particle to global geo-politics. While encountering such matters in a prior project called Future North based at AHO, in which we also collaborated, in Amphibious Trilogies our artistic and design practice orientation in addition needed views from the arts, for example, The Nuclear Culture Source Book edited by Ele Carpenter (2016).

In one of our posts here about a speculative design-artistic artifact entitled A dynamic relational terrella , we write that:

[…] To think about movement in today’s world in the context of climate emergency, or perceptions and practices of fake and trustworthy news, of the societal pressure and forces of migration, survival and sustainability, of a globe exposed to its own carnivorous actions. 

Exposure. Encounter. Enactment. Exposition. 

These are key terms we continued meet in such endeavours of our own and in published accounts of art and design in terms of social innovation, sustainability and futures. They also come to mean demanding and challenging things, and invisible forces, realised as nuclear technologies built on ridiculously long after lives in respect to human ones.

These terms and their modes of inquiry appear too in other domains and disciplines, in the Social Sciences but also the Humanities, where a diversity of  active and productive working is taking place to understand and meet these challenges. Concerning artistic practice, in the edited collection entitled Art in the Anthropocene. Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments and epistemologies, Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin (2015: 3) position the diversity of contributions as

reaching urgently beyond its paginated form towards environmental concerns’ amongst others … [as] … an intellectual disparate structure, operating as a conceptual centrifuge for further speculation and future action.

As these artistic researchers talk of thinking with and through art, so too we think with and through movement in the complex contexts, systems and times of the Anthropocene, and that we are all implicated in its making (Davis & Turpin, 2015: 20). This is a ‘making as movement’ that occurs in landscapes, and through abductive and linked relations to other studies in which the amphibious, the Anthropocene, landscape and movement are articulated (see e.g. Ness, 2016; Pauwelussen, 2017).

However, in these serious yet creative ventures, there is little that explicitly and persistently conceptualises and articulates ‘movement as material and as medium’.

Behind an emergent movement praxis, stand published works on dance and choreography. Following on from key works on researching dance, performance and choreography (e.g. Fraleigh & Hanstein, 1999), in the past decade there has been a slew of book publications on dance, choreography and the body. This has included focus on body and writing relations (Rethorst, 2012), relations between choreography and the dancer (Poillade, 2017; Foster, 2019), choreography and embodiment and the contemporary dancer (Roche, 2015), embodiment and philosophy in dance and movement research (Katan, 2016), somatic aspects and change through movement (e.g. Fraleigh, 2015). Diverse views on dance and politics have also been circulated in a key edited collection (Kowal et al., 2017) as well as a critical reader on contemporary choreography (Butterworth & Wildschut, 2018).

However, seldom in these texts does one find mention of relations between the choreography, dance and the kinetic in the wider word (e.g. Birringer 1989). Rarely too does one encounter reference to research on movement in other disciplines. In ‘moving on’, this posed a number of challenges in working towards placing knowledge and practice in wider social and political contexts outside of the traditional stage and performance for gathered audiences. These too, as our colleague Snelle Hall (2018) observes regarding the doctoral work of choreographer Ingrid Fiksdal, may be understood in terms of kinaesthetics.

We have engaged in shaping a polymorphic space of opportunities to go further into, that is what Blades and Meehan (2018) term ‘performing practice’. We mention performative practice elsewhere in this website, in our presentations, as well as in related earlier projects and earlier projects and enactments. We encourage our colleagues engaged in movement based inquiry and choreographic practice and writing to join together and amplify their insights in a spirit of not just extended choreography but in what we term ‘extending choreographies’.

In doing so ourselves, we explore and offer some ways through which co-creativity may motivate and inform further studies on and through extending choreographies: pedagogically, collaboratively, expressively and analytically. Here our use of language is key. These multiple, individual and linked enactments are braided not separated, they stretch, veer, dive and surface, they pause and query, judder and rush, all entangled in a needed set of purposive and improvisational moves, seeking to appreciate, understand, elaborate, share and engage.

This is just one indication of how our own views and values as well as the ways of realising and engaging with movement as material and moving practices emerged and multiplied.

As Slager (2015: 89) argues, ‘a non-paradigmatic artistic research explicitly requests an open, non disciplinary, delta attitude, and the insertion of multiple models of visualisation and interpretation.’

And we’d add movement.

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Birringer, J. (1989). Media & Performance: Along the Border. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.

Blades, H & Meehan, E. (2018). (Ed.). Performing Practice: Sharing dance and choreographic practice. Intellect: Bristol.

Butterworth, J. & Wildschut, E. (2018). (Eds). Contemporary Choreography. A critical reader. (2nd edition). Abingdon: Routledge.

Carpenter, E. (20166). (Ed.). The Nuclear Culture Source Book. London: Black Dog Publishing.

Cunningham, M. (1952). “Space, Time, and Dance.” Transformation 1(3): 150–151.

Davis, H. & Turpin, E. (2015). (Eds.). Art in the Anthropocene. Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments and epistemologies. London: Open Humanities Press.

Dunagan, C. (2018). Consuming Dance. Choreography and dance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Foster, S. (2019). Valuing Dance. Commodities and gifts in motion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fraleigh, S. (2015). Moving Consciously: Somatic transformations through dance, yoga, and touch. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Hall, S.(2018). ‘Kinaesthetic transference. Production of presence’. In Fiksdal, I. (Ed.). Thinking Alongside. Oslo: KHiO, 57-64.

Katan. E. (2016). Embodied Philosophy in Dance: Gaga and Ohad Naradin’s movement research. London: Macmillan.

Klien, M. and Valk, S. & Gormly, J. (2008). Books of Recommendations: Choreography as an aesthetics of change. Limerick: Daghdha.

Kowal. R, Siegmund, G. & Martin, R. (2017). (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Leon, A. (2020). ‘Between and within choreographies. An early choreographic object by William Forsythe’. Dance Articulated (Special Issue: Choreography Now), 6(1): 64-88.

Pauwelussen, A. (2017). Amphibious Anthropology. Engaging with Maritime Worlds in Indonesia, PhD thesis. Wageningen: Wageningen University.

Poillade, F. (2017). Unworking Choreography. (Transl. Pakes, A.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rethorst, S. (2012). A Choreographic Mind: Autobodygraphical Writings. Helsinki: Theatre Academy Helsinki, Department of Dance, Kinesis 2.

Roche, J. (2015). Multiplicity, Embodiment and the Contemporary Dancer. Basingstoke. Palgrave Macmillan.

Rothfield, P. (2017). ‘Experience and its others’. In Attiwill, S., Bird, T., Eckersley, A. Pont, A., Roffe, J. & Rothfield, P. Practising with Deleuze. Design, dance, art, writing, philosophy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 120-161.

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

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Mediation and documentation

The transitory, contingent, unfolding and process oriented character of much of the artistic and related transdisciplinary research in Amphibious Trilogies has needed to be communicated and critiqued as ‘a discourse of becoming’. The working and insights of the project have been neither declarative nor confirmatory, but exploratory and anticipatory in character and activity.

In recent years, such as in the European Artistic Research Network (EARN), a burgeoning set of publications and through and journals such as PARSE, artistic researchers have sought to highlight what makes such a mode of inquiry quite what it is and is becoming and might be. Central to these endeavours has been to elaborate on and secure further agreement as to what constitutes artistic research and how modes and means of its mediation and documentation might also be more formally and institutionally framed, recorded, communicated and indeed studied.

One key text had been the edited collection (Schwab & Borgdorff, 2014) entitled The Exposition of Artistic Research: Publishing art in academia. Central to its concerns and to the various seminars, publications and networks, exhibitions and doctoral studies centring on practice based artistic research, has been attention to what in Amphibious Trilogies we see as matters of mediation and documentation. 

In ‘Counter-archival dissemination’, Slager (2013) discusses the changing nature and conceptualisations of archiving, evolving from traditions of capture, power, site, gaze and record to ones of process, assemblage and incongruity on content, work and matter and their fluid  relations. He lists this change as a shift from a controlling will to a ‘frivolous’ one: a move from powerful possession and control, to probing, connecting and assembling (Slager, 2014: 239). In such a networking view, as it were, archiving is also altered by the mode of inquiry and its content that emerges in and through practice via creative making, together with its embedded and extra-artifactual critique.

Here Slager (2014: 239) sees a shift from Foucault’s important work on the archive as a site of locating and positioning power in and as discourse to a realm of desirology’. For Slager (ibid) this is ‘a thinking in terms of new order of affective associations, of fluid taxonomies, and above all, oa thinking terms of intellectual and artistic pleasure, linked to derange the symbolic order’.

While this makes sense to us in our pursuits in artistic research by movement and by a transductive means of mixed methods and transdisciplinarity, In our work we have not sought to explicitly derange or upend symbolic order. To challenge conventions and expectations may well be central to the reasons and functions of art in the world, as part of public and intra-subjective experience, we have needed to experience and consider movement in motion in the world, as kinetic plurality and as emergent material and means to mediating, via talks, words, drawing, photos, videos, relation web design, and shared, differential meaning making as experience. engagement, access, viewing and reconfiguring.

We have done this together in a variety of settings, together and with others who have shown and shared their experiences and views. As a whole or moving parts, metaphorically and literally, this website then offers traces and tellings of how our work moved and changed and challenged us to shift the choreographic into the three selected thematics.

Here we have sought to address through looking at and being in motions, and its connections with time, agency, system and transformation (see e.g. Morrison et al., 2015). In retrospect we agree with Slager (2014: 244) when he says that:

… the most categorical imperative for an artistic research practice seems to be an awareness of the urgency to draw attention to novel models for imaging otherness or to generate other forms of imagination through the potentiality and multiplicity of the artist image.

Let’s substitute ‘artistic movement’ though. This is critically important in a world where ice melts faster than policy makes changes to meet the climate emergency and where in the closing year of the project the Covid-19 global pandemic has ushered in whole new personal, societal and global awareness of movement as we elaborate in Movement in a pandemic.

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Morrison, A., Nordby, K., Arnall, T. & Westvang, E. (2015). ‘Breathing life into research mediation’. In Carlin, D. & Vaughan, L. (Eds). Performing Digital: multiple perspectives on a living archive. London: Ashgate. 161-184.

Schwab, M. & Borgdorff, H. (Eds.). The Exposition of Artistic Research: Publishing art in academia. Leiden: Leiden University Press.

Slager H. (2013) ‘Counter-archival dissemination’. In Schwab. M. (Ed.). Experimental Systems and Future Knowledge in Artistic Research. Leuven: Leuven University Press. 237-244.

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