Last spring I started thinking about the recurrence of linearity in instant composition: one thing leading to the next, leading to the next. A continuum of awareness flowing ahead like a river. Could one compose in the moment following a different model? What kind of model could that be?
“Contiguity” – a duet by dancer Britta Schönbrunn and musician Thomas Gerwin performed on November 12th at Mime Centrum, Berlin, within the “60 minutes” instant-composition series curated by impro-per-arts brought some interesting possible answers.
The performance unfolds or rather unravels as some fractal system gone warped. As if the material produced cascading deviant replicas of itself. When a certain mutation tips the DNA balance, a new lineage is generated. Each self-sufficient detail emerges crystalline and differentiated, yet part and parcel of the macrostructure. Minute events build up distributed systems, varying trajectories between stable nodes of action pull the centre out of itself, vortices of action lead to vanishing points, spaces offer nothing as potential, and the whole organism morphs while curling space and time. Everything is radiating in all directions and into the adjacent calibres, languages and tones.
In the ensuing talk with the audience, Britta explained how Thomas and her had put aside vectorial development, which goes from one point to another, in order to try out different possibilities. What would happen if they applied the expansive conductivity of heat to performance? What would happen if the piece built itself rhizomically like ginger, so that every piece had the capacity of growing further on its own while remaining part of the stem it came from, so that no part would be the end, and everything would be part of everything else?
I am fascinated and inspired. From an artistic point of view, “Contiguity” offered me a complex yet totally intelligible composition. From a philosophical point of view, I suspect that there are profound implications in stretching our awareness beyond the linear patterns of the logical thinking mind in order to approach or empathize with the workings of the natural world around us. Tapping into that same natural world inside us should make it intuitively possible. I am convinced that such experiences can feed into a deeper knowledge of what it is to be in this world. Such knowledge is far from the end of the story, but a contributing factor for a radical paradigm shift. I mean radical in an etymological sense, that is, relating to roots, but I guess this can also be radical in the other meaning of the word.