Water e-Motion - Transformative Views

New Paper and Presentation: 

Water e-Motion - Transformative Views 


Lila Moore is an artist film-maker, screen-choreographer and scholar. She holds a PhD degree in Dance on Screen, which incorporates her creative practice, from Middlesex University, 2001. She likewise holds an MA in Independent Film and Video from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design,
London, 1989. In 2004-2006, she was an Associate Research Fellow at London Metropolitan University,
and has presented research papers in academic conferences, (2009-2013). She has lectured, curated film screenings, and exhibited in universities and cultural organisations internationally. Her work explores the interaction of body, psyche, nature and the world through performative screen-texts and screendance.

In this paper I will discuss few films in which imagery of water and dance/movement play a key role and generate transformative views. The aim is to explore, and reflect on, poetic depictions of water that heralded a transformation in art and consciousness, and screen-based technology and images which can induce empathy to water creatures and sensitivity towards the ways water is being treated and shared.

The first part is dedicated to seminal films and theoretical ideas, starting with Maya Deren's argument that art is neither an expression of a visceral emotion, such as pain, nor an impression of pain but is itself a form which creates pain (or whatever its emotional intent). Deren states that in the 20th century, art
cannot replace science's capacity to reveal reality. Thus, the function of art is to allow the comprehension and manipulation of the universe in which the individual must somehow locate herself/himself (An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film). These ideas serve as historical and theoretical framework which still reflect current aesthetic attempts to understand and influence human interaction with our planet's resources. Water, too, is a central theme in Deren's films, mirroring the life of the psyche. This theme is correlated with Anaïs Nin's "Bells of Atlantis" where, as I will illustrate, the filmic depiction of water is a temporal reflection of nuclear and ecological disasters and traumas extending beyond Hiroshima to Fukushima.

In the second part, I will analyse 2D/3D videos by the Dolphin Dance Project with reference to kinesthetic empathy stimulated through viewing movement on screen. I will draw on my creative experiments entitled "Water e-Motion", and research of global interactivity, e.g., Gene Youngblood's "Media Activism" (2013), aiming to identify technological and aesthetic forms that equalise and heal our relationship with water and the natural environment. .



Transformative Cinedance

Fire and Water Ceremony

Text & Images © Lila Moore, 2014

In a forthcoming online European academic conference (with the conference programme to be published shortly), I'll be presenting my views on cinedance as a transformative and ritualistic art form. I regard cinedance as a form of filmic dance, though it encompasses video and new media technology. I use the terms cinema and film as I rather maintain the aesthetic and conceptual origins, and the historical context of the art form that synthesises and mediates movement and screen technology. My perception of movement is also unlimited in its possibilities and not confined to dance. However, I maintain the link to dance due to the underlying connection with principles of choreography, which are shared by film-makers, dancers and choreographers. 
This winter, many parts of the world were affected by extreme weather conditions. It was impossible to ignore the movement of water in its many forms, from floods to storms and spectacular ice formations. It is particularly hard to ignore nature when harsh weather affects one's local environment, home, body metabolism and state of mind. But, how do images of floods and storms impact the distant viewer both detached  from, and engaged with, the elements on screen? As the screen mediate between the viewers (us) and the world, are we simply becoming more distant and alienated from nature, and the world which is out there, or do we wish to engage with it more, and if so, in what ways?.  Are images of beautiful sunsets enough to satisfy a psychological need to connect with the environment, or do they just blind the viewers from seeing beyond and around the radiating sphere?
Gaia – Mysterious Rhythms, the dance-ritual film which I made as part of my PhD in Dance on Screen, depicts an environment which no longer exists. Within a decade, the environment has changed in a radical way, not only as a result of powerful winter storms but mainly as a result of damaging human activity. The photographic collection of the Gaia project includes many images which I still work with, but I am conscious of the fact that I interact with visual depictions of an environment which is no longer available in a physical way. As a result, I no longer manipulate the visual images of a known reality but of its remaining ghosts. Although the connection with the 'real' is lost forever, what remains is, nevertheless, an intriguing exploration of the ways the elements of nature are being mediated through screen technology in the framework of cinedance, which also mediate movement in space and time as it is removed from its temporal and live contexts.
I am currently exploring how images of natural elements are being mediated through screen technology within a ritualistic form of cinedance. Aspects of this research are mentioned in my previous blog posts and other recent research papers. In my own practice, I isolate the elements and re-introduce them as ritualistic, visual and kinesthetic experiences.
 The need to isolate the elements and focus on movements within a restricted space emerged not only as a result of my ongoing interest in moving forms and textures, which is described in my PhD thesis, but also as a result of environmental conditions. My walks in nature along the seaside where I spent half of the year became a struggle to find clean or non-polluted spots. Wherever I turn, I could see garbage lying around and the marks of human activity which clearly disregards its natural space. It appears as if everything which is external to the individual has become a legitimate scene for violation and pollution. To avoid filming images of garbage, which are rather monotonous, I searched for isolated spots where the motion of the elements grabbed my attention. However, I have been aware of avoiding the entire scene not only because it wasn't 'beautiful' but because garbage was not part of the exploration. Still, the garbage in, and the pollution of, the environment affected the visual style of my recent work and my conceptual realisation. It became relevant to bring the elements closer to the body and consciousness of the viewer through the mediation of screen technology and give them a ritualised form or/and framework. The embodiment of the elements even through the mediation of technology is a way to bring them into the mental and physical sphere where they no longer 'naturally' belong.

Water e-Motion Excerpt from Lila Moore on Vimeo.

The excerpt from the series Water e-Motion focuses on the element of water as it merges with artificial light and the motion of the wind. The movement is repetitive and meditative, allowing the kinesthetic event to create a state of mind. 
This excerpt from the series Water e-Motion is made of images captured on a rainy and windy evening. It is an atmosphere of patterns, which are the result of weather conditions, and the transient feeling of a moment.

This excerpt was utilised in an online (and live) peace event involving fire and water ceremony. (Peace in Syria event)

Creative Commons License
This work by Dr Lila Moore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- License


Screen Dance with Dolphins

Text © Lila Moore, 2013

Dance on Screen with Dolphins

The Formal Aspect

In the PhD thesis entitled 'Dance on Screen', "I approach choreography in screen terms thereby referring to the expression of movement in the broader sense, including performance, body language, the motion of objects and natural events, and rhythms and movements created via film/video technology" (Abstract: Dance on Screen). I emphasise the hybrid nature of the form, thus allowing the integration of various forms and sources of movement which are not necessarily human or relating to dance in a traditional sense. 

The Dolphin Dance Project is an example of the potential of hybrid choreography which is experienced through the mediation of video camera and screen technology. It illustrates a new form of dance choreography co-created by human dancers and dolphins. It is a process where intelligent sea creatures collaborate with human beings through movement and rhythm in a gravity-free space-time. It also demonstrates the creative potential of this 21st century hybrid art form which combines video and choreography, and integrates human dancers, dolphins and screen-based technology.

The Mythic Content

In 'Dance on Screen', I demonstrate the theme of the Mythical Journey as correlating with the aesthetics of choreography for the screen. I argue that the hybrid aesthetic potential of the choreographic form may reveal dimensions of existence and states of consciousness that are unavailable through other 'live' performances and aesthetic mediums. The mythic content is sourced and represented via symbolic, poetic and metaphoric images that the organic or non-organic body/object produces as it moves in space-time. 

The Dolphin Dance Project brings to mind the mythic relationship between humans and dolphins. From a transpersonal perspective, dolphins remind us of our inner world which, like a treasure or a sealed Pandora's box, is often hidden under the sea. The dolphins metaphorically represent access to the depths of the psyche and to the realm of the collective unconscious.

'Delphi' is the Greek word for dolphin, and its derivative 'delphys' means womb. Delphi was also the name of the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world. According to the mythic lore, the location was guarded by a Python, which was a female dragon who lived underground and protected the navel of Gaia, and the womb of the Earth.  Dolphins are, therefore, associated with Delphi and with the qualities of depth, wisdom, vision and prophecy. They are also symbols of knowledge of the Self and of Destiny which often bring about personal and collective healing, transformation and fulfillment. In mythological depictions, the dolphins are sometimes portrayed accompanying the sun god Apollo, the god of Delphi, and Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of beauty and love who was born of the foam of the sea.

Aphrodite (Venus) Marble statue of Venus with dolphin. 2nd century CE. Credits: Barbara McManus, 1991.

Transformative Concepts and Technology

In our day and age, dancing with the dolphins takes on new forms and meanings as illustrated by the Dolphin Dance Project. Human dancers replace the mythic gods. The humans don't dictate the dance to the dolphins or coach them to perform, but co-create the dance with them as equal partners. The dolphins join the dancers spontaneously and leave when they wish.

It is challenging to overcome the human tendency to exhibit superiority over animals and force them to fulfill human expectations. Most of the images of animals that we watch on screen and online on a daily basis are manipulated for human purposes and needs. It is difficult to 'capture' (film) dolphins (or any other animal) and show them as images on screen without projecting conventional and limiting perceptions of their characteristics and environment. As viewers we are likely to project our own ideas and emotions on the filmed sea creatures, unless we are guided by the film-makers to see them differently and through alternative visions. 

"The Dolphin Dance Project believes that one of the most powerful ways to transform how our global civilization relates to its natural environment and treats the other creatures with whom we share the planet is to challenge the common assumption that we are separate from the rest of nature" (Blog).  In my opinion, the project challenges the patriarchal worldview that humanity is above, and superior to, the rest of nature, and inherited a privileged status on Earth. In the project's videos we can observe the dancers following the natural movements of the dolphins and creating the possibility of interaction on both species' terms. The films function as transformative experience as they offer the viewers an experience of "the mutual understanding and creative collaboration" of humans and wild dolphins.

This unique project has stimulated my research of Transformative Cinedance, which has been recently enhanced by additional research of Kinesthetic Empathy. I suggest that the transformative experience of the Dolphin Dance Project's videos is the result of a kinesthetic experience which is greatly enhanced by 3D technology. This and other factors are discussed and analysed in my research.

This research evolved from my PhD research in which I explored the creative potential of screen choreography to transform, and enlarge the scope of, our experience of space and time, involving the interaction of body, psyche, nature and technology.