Known and unknown materials


I have just been blessed with an influx of new yarns, in all kinds of textures and colors (including sparkly!). A brilliant artist friend was giving away some of their hoard. This little crochet study is 6" high. It combines some of my "old" materials with the new ones. I don't think I've made anything that looks like this before. The formerly unknown materials called for formerly unknown forms.

In fiber arts practice, I work with touching as a form of learning. Maybe we have not known this fiber before, but once we touch it our hands receive so much information, and this new data transfers into the work. The unknown becomes the known through process.

With improvisational dance, the material is space, the body, and time. The qualities of all of these shift moment-to-moment. Awareness of these qualities also transfers into the dance. The trick is to allow this, to be open to the information/data coming in, to allow the dance, not yet known, to emerge. (This is unlike a gymnastics, balletic, or athletic approach to dance that is more about strictly managing incoming unfamiliar data and funneling the vast awareness of the body into the narrow activity of shaping known goals).

Digital media: Even though I don't do much digital media work, I do spend a lot of time writing on the computer or doing basic image editing. So much art is digital now, and this brings up a lot of questions about what is happening to our embodied skills, since it seems like typing is such an improverished physical experience than dancing or even needlework.  With a computer, it seems there is less of a sensual meeting between the material and the artist. The fingertips receive predictable pressure, speed, action from the keyboard and mousepad. Mostly, there is visual information on the screen, and possibilities of  how to shift that image are very numerous, I wonder does this enable a more imaginative inner visualization on the part of the artist than working with a "real" material?  I have discovered the sensations of digital interaction are deceptively deep inside the body. Images on the screen provoke responses in the nervous system and on hormonal levels. Digital media may not provide much tactility or kinesthetic drama but it can create lots of neurological impressions very quickly. It's like dreaming. Movement from the unknown to the known never quite touches earth, even though it may wash through the oceans of the body.

Aikido: The martial art of aikido is still fairly unfamiliar to me although I've been studying for 5 - 6 years. In that form, there is another body to contend with that brings the most unknown factors. How will that person approach, perhaps attack? Receiving an attack is like being asked a life-or-death question at high speed. How will you answer? Training is meant to allow the practitioner to be prepared to make the answer "This is my space and you cannot hurt me." So, the answer is known, even if the question can vary a lot. 

asimina chremos