15 November 2008

daily and random inspirations

After one of my recent postings on Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, artist Andrea Way e-mailed me and told me she had spent last year doing a painting a day, and during the month of September she had listened to LHL while painting. You can check out the fabulous results here. This project reminded me of Suzan-Lori Parks’s play-a-day-for-a-year, some of which I saw at The Cutting Ball (by the way, you still have a couple of weeks to see their latest production, Ionesco’s Victims of Duty, which I highly recommend and hope to write about, oh, soonish; and The America Play by Parks is next up at Thick House Theater). I find the whole “one artistic product per day for a year” idea fascinating. I’ve thought about doing it with haiku, but that always seems too easy to me – I mean, five-seven-five, it’s not that difficult, people – but I’ve occasionally exchanged haiku with co-workers as if we were Heian aristocrats and not cubicle monkeys, and apparently it’s more difficult than I think, judging from the unnatural elisions and other blunders I would see. Maybe I will do that.

Many years ago I was associated with a high-school science textbook that ended up never being published, and one of the suggested (not by me) student activities was to “illustrate the concept of osmosis by performing an interpretive dance.” I found this absolutely hilarious, partly because the target audience probably knew as much about interpretive dance as about osmosis and partly because I could imagine the high-school students who would do this, what it would look like, and how stunned their captive audience would be. Well, damned if an idea that seems silly can't really work: check out Jolene’s lovely choreographed version of her Ph.D. thesis over at Saturday Matinee. See, it's frequently said that life is like high school, but sometimes instead art, science, and athletics can all come together, instead of sitting at separate tables in the cafeteria.

8 comments:

sfmike said...

Miss Jolene really is something, stuck at UCDavis being a brainiac medical student while also being a would-be artiste. I'm totally curious where she ends up on the spectrum because there are not many like her.

vicmarcam said...

I absolutely love the Dance Your PhD idea. I'm not sure that I agree with SFMike about how there aren't many like her, except there aren't many who would step out and make their artistic idea happen.

The osmosis dance idea was never a totally bad one, but I always hated how cynical it was because you just know that the textbook authors had some check-off sheet somewhere that made them include cross-curricular connections, and I also couldn't help thinking how very much I would have hated it if a teacher had made me do that. Other than that, I can't laugh at the idea, since I have had seventh graders get up out of their seats and demonstrate osmosis using their bodies with a row of desks representing the cell membrane.

And now that you've said it, you HAVE TO, ABSOLUTELY, do a haiku a day because I love the idea and because they really aren't easy for us mortals to write. Coolest New Year's Resolution ever!

Sibyl said...

Our family does haiku at dinner every night. One of us sets a topic and we each have to compose one. Now we will consider doing an after-dinner interpretive dance illustrating scientific principles. Mitosis needs to be first.

jolene said...

Thanks for all the happy thoughts! You guys are the best. It was hard for me to even post this on Youtube, knowing that real dancers and choreographers are going to see it, in addition to avid dance lovers who see REAL dance regularly. Judging results come out tomorrow; it's a long shot but wish me luck...

I love the idea of osmosis in dance - I would use a line (a wall of light/lasers even?) as a semi permeable membrane, and could even use children as the freely diffusible molecules while bigger adults could be nonpermeable molecules. The dance would end with the system in equilibrium. The idea of illustrating science through interpretive dance isn't new though, as a grad student in my lab recalls seeing a video in high school of protein translation being danced out. But you're right, I can picture the stunned audience in my mind too. :)

pjwv said...

OK, now I feel I need to explain away my laughter at the textbook assignment; yes, there was more than a whiff of cynicism and desperation about the whole project, and that assignment in particular struck me as just a wild stab at getting some sort of "activity" down, since that was the big thing at the time. But this was so long ago that perhaps it was merely the first stirrings of a whole "dance your science" thing. I'm fascinated to hear that there were dance videos of protein translation -- perhaps Sibyl can film her mitosis dance for scholarly use? (V, you'll have to explain to me what protein translation is -- I looked up mitosis.)

OK, I *blush, blush* will write a haiku a day, starting possibly with the New Year. At the very least it will prove I can write in short forms as well.

Jolene, I think you should create your osmosis dance. It sounds great!

vicmarcam said...

What? Lights and music, children and adults, instead of a line of desks and kids holding handwritten construction paper signs with chemical formulas? Sounds good to me. Jolene, might as well add active and passive transport while you're at it.
DNA replication would make a beautiful dance, and so would molecules as they enter and exit different phases.
Thank you, Patrick, for posting the dance that I never would have found on my own.

jolene said...

I would love to do this - what I like about this idea is that with this system, you can create this whole world with an inherent sense of movement. Can you picture, men partnering women as active transport and people walking across the membrane as passive?? The hardest thing though was the practical aspect of putting it together - trying to a studio and a 3 hour block where everyone was free, and the time and money it took to see it through. I do wish I had more time to rehearse, as I found out to my huge embarrassment that the higher ups at Pilobilus were a part of the judging team.

By the way, I received word yesterday I didn't win in my category. :) Winners will be announced tomorrow - I have a feeling you needed the support of a dance company behind you in order to win this thing.

pjwv said...

My computer just ate my comment, so here goes again. . . .

Thanks for the update, Jolene, and sorry you didn't win. The infrastructure thing must be a constant struggle for small arts groups: in the past year or so I've come across so many groups (theatrical and operatic) that lose their space, have inadequate space, and so forth. It's great you managed to persevere.

I used to see Pilobilus frequently when I was in college, but I haven't heard about them in years. I wasn't sure they were still together. Do they just not come to Berkeley anymore?

I was seeing people being dragged or carried for passive transport, but then I don't know the science involved so my thoughts might be an inaccurate representation.