Flickering photology:turning bodies and textures of light

Stewart, Nigel Henry (2016) Flickering photology:turning bodies and textures of light. In: Choreography and corporeality. New World Choreographies . Palgrave, London, pp. 51-66. ISBN 9781137546524

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This essay explores Russell Maliphant’s Afterlight, a solo for Daniel Proietto with animation by Jan Urbanowski premiered in 2009 at Sadler’s Wells’ In the Spirit of Diaghilev festival. By describing Proietto’s body as he twists and spirals under Urbanowski’s expanding and shrinking nocturnal imagery, the essay takes Afterlight as a postmodern looking-glass through which we might glimpse early twentieth-century optical experiments with light, colour and scale in the paintings of Degas, the movement studies of Muybridge and Marey, Carrol’s Alice stories, and dance works by Nijinsky and Fuller that transfigure the human form through the play of light on turning bodies. On this basis, I argue that Afterlight creates a flickering (or unstable) “photology” (or knowledge of light) in which there is not only a relay from Maliphant’s work to those early modern practices but also from those practices to phenomenological theory. In contrast to the hegemonic western philosophical and scientific tradition in which gross material things are “illuminated” by the “light” of transcendent human reason, I argue that Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Benjamin explore “textures of light” in which the subject who touches, sees and moves is always enfolded within, but can never master, the other that is touched, seen and moved. Considered in this way, Afterlight offers an after light, or erotic light, in which the dancing body coils into consciousness of itself, but then unfolds to trace and caress, but never grasp, the textures an elemental other that is non-possessable and indeterminable. This chapter thus develops an interdisciplinary perspective on dance and the visual arts, and on the relation of phenomenology to historical research. It was commissioned by Choreography and Corporealities, a dance research group from across the globe affiliated to the International Federation of Theatre Research. By 17/04/2020, this essay had been downloaded 224 times.

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27 Jan 2017 11:18
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17 Sep 2023 03:58