Choral Arts and Embodied Media for Social Plurality and Planetary Health
NEW EU-FUNDED PROJECT
Coordinated by REVERSO – Jaime del Val
with partners K. Danse and Trans-Media-Akademia Hellerau
STARTED 1st June 2022 – Ending 31st May 2025 . Duration: Three years
Creative Europe Programme-EACEA
BODYNET-KHORÓS is a transdisciplinary project on digital and physical artistic experimentation for reinventing the body, movement and relations towards sustainable and plural ways of living and for restoring the Planet’s Health in the Anthropocene, across the arts, technology, philosophy and the social dimension. The project proposes to address the current global, ecological and social challenges in a unique, original and transversal approach that stresses the underestimated role of the moving body and the need to reinvent it.
The project takes as starting point the following speculative premise:
The source of the ecological problem as being in unsustainable ways of living and in overpopulation has at its roots a millennia long process of impoverishment of the body’s movement, sensory, creative and expressive capacities. This impoverishment makes us dependent on unsustainable systems of transport, communication, consumption and production. This is the same process that induces rigid normative conceptions sex-gender, class, ability and species that erase social-cultural plurality.
Moreover, digital culture strengthens the tendency to immobility and control. A far more critical digital shift is needed, since digitisation as is now happening contributes both to worsening climate change (as with digital trash covering Africa) and social alienation and control (as with increasingly immobile and isolated bodies). Both aspects: of physical and digital immobility have been dramatically worsened by the pandemic. It’s urgent to reinvent our relation to the body in both physical and digital environments.
The reply to this unprecedented challenge is in moving and sensing in more varied ways so that we can rely less on unsustainable technical systems and at the same time counteract social homogenisation. Diversification, as crucial evolutionary process, is as essential for natural ecosystems as for cultures and societies, and both are interrelated. A healthy, sustainable planet and society needs an as rich as possible biodiversity, cultural diversity, neurodiversity, bodily and affective diversity, as all are equally crucial for processes of sustainable evolutionary diversification. Underlying all these is the need for a diversification of movements and perceptions that have become atrophied by millennia of alignments with geometric, mechanistic, algorithmic and utilitarian environments.
Novel transdisciplinary artforms and processes (that we will name metaformance) are the laboratory proposed for addressing this ambitious evolutionary challenge. Art has the crucial role of reinfusing richness in our impoverished and accelerated lives by focusing on qualitative variations of experience that don’t follow a narrow, pre-established, utilitarian goal. This experimentation has far reaching implications for all domains of life including education or health, for instance in terms of affording richer neuroplasticity. As proposed by Del Val (2020) the more narrow are our movements-perceptions, the more narrow will be our thoughts and lives. Inversely, the richer are our sensorimotor spectrums, the richer is our neuroplasticity. The project will propose a focus on the largely ignored sense of proprioception to address many of these issues: the body’s internal sense of movement and its unexplored potentials.
Artistic experimentation will be done to outline, produce and test experimental responses to the mentioned global challenges of erasure of diversity in bodies and in natural-cultural ecosystems. This will be done in the transdisciplinary convergence of dance, performance art, digital media, visual arts, music, interactive architecture and design. New forms of collective, immersive, participatory media and art forms will be proposed that involve perception and bodies in motion in as rich and non reductive ways as possible, counteracting the prevailing tendency of digital media to immobility, standardisation of movements and sensorimotor atrophy, while regaining and reinventing bodily capacities for a diverse culture and an ecological future: new techniques for education and training, communication and dwelling, for a society to come.
These issues will be addressed not only in the content of artworks and its associated technical systems, created and performed in the project, or in the theoretical debates around these, but in the entire process of production of the works, the events and the project: at stake is how to involve people of the most diverse types and backgrounds, in highly diverse specific contexts outside the existing traditional cultural venues, in sustainable processes of collective creation through participatory co-creation processes and improvisation techniques that involve as rich as possible a spectrum of movement and multisensory integration.
The core aspect of the approach lies in choral practices, collective co-creation process of bodies in motion, based on novel improvisation techniques focusing on the body’s capacity to move and sense in always new ways while creating always new relations with others and the surroundings. These processes stress the role of the body, nomadically, with site-specific processes in each location, and avoiding far away and short trips: a renewal of the otherwise unsustainable concept of touring and of the spectacle as consumption.
This idea will be implemented by means of site-specific public events with a laboratory character. These themes are addressed not only in the content of each project, but throughout the production process. We are explicitly concerned with the application of activist-oriented socio-cultural art practices and the generation of non-hierarchical collective knowledge spaces as opposed to the production of new art products. The project will experience the value of artistic research and promote diversity in perception and practice. Attention will be paid to the application of open-source practices and to the mediation of media-ecological contexts.
BODYNET-KHORÓS is designed as an artistic research project, which will not only activate people in Spain, France and Germany, but in cooperation with its networks, it will have an impact in regions such as Greece. And this not primarily in the urban centers, but urban peripheral areas as well as rural regions focusing on development of applied DIY technologies for practical socio-cultural work with people, especially disadvantaged groups in Europe.
The aforementioned challenges will be explored along two interrelated strands:
- Khorós – Embodied technologies for emergent collectives — collective and embodied improvisation technologies (with educational and training components) through bodily movement and physical body extensions, as rebirth of ancient choral practices, oriented to letting people unfold richer capacities of movement and perception rather than repetitive learning of patterns, with focus on physical formats.
- Bodynet – Broader bandwidth bodies in times of social distance — richer and less reductive digital experiences that reinvent digital interaction and telematics involving the body, movement and multisensory experience in far richer ways than usual, with focus on digital and telematic media.
In ancient Greece the chorus, as groups of dancing and singing bodies in public space, from which the tragedy arose, of primordial importance in Greek culture, was considered, for instance by Plato, a fundamental means of education, a way of educating bodies through movement, whereby movement and the body had a crucial role in culture, a role that we seek to recuperate. It seems that choral practices have been present in nearly every culture, including the origins of Western culture, as in the Greek Khorós. The project thus proposes a revival of some ancient roots of European cultural heritage through the concept of choral practices, while bringing these in convergence with cutting edge approaches to new media. At the same time, it proposes a planetary chorus, an embodied Internet, a radically embodied digitality of unquantifiable bodies: a Bodynet.
- Reverso – jaime del Val
- K. Danse – Jean-Marc Matos
- Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau – Thomas Dumke
- Plena Inclusión Madrid – mediating entity for collaborations with numerous disability institutions in Spain. Collaborations with Reverso ongoing since 2018.
- Universidad Complutense de Madrid – Philosophy Faculty –Collaboration in education, lgtbi+ curriculum, and philosophical reseatch topics of transhumanism, neuroscience, philosophy, Nietzsche, the Dionysian chorus.Collaborations with Reverso ongoing since 2015.
- University of the Aegean – Lesvos, greece – Collaboration in education, and mediation with refugees. Collaborations with Reverso ongoing since 2010.
- University of Valladolid- Alicia Peñalba – collaboration on research on the relation of the Metabody/Metatopia environments and techniques with neuroplasticity and neurodiversity(ongoing since 2016).
- ESMUC Barcelona –Ruben López Cano – collaboration on research on the relation of the Metabody/Metatopia environments and techniques with neuroplasticity and neurodiversity (ongoing since 2016).
- Villa Wigman für Tanz e.V., Dresden [https://www.villa-wigman.de ]
- HELLERAU – European Center of the Arts, Dresden [https://www.hellerau.org]
- Hole of Fame, Dresden [https://www.holeoffame.de/]
- Büro für gute Maßnahmen e.V., Dresden
- Bastelbox e.V., Dresden