Several years ago I started experimenting with stop motion animated dance videos. I wanted to explore how improvisation might translate to frame by frame animation. I didn’t choreograph or storyboard the videos – the idea was to allow each movement to emerge from the last, only planning the next 10-15 frames ahead at a time. This led to a curious relationship with spontaneity and time. Decisions and movement which were split-second in the body took maybe 5 minutes to animate. The first example was a Solo.
In the next video I experimented with animated Contact Improvisation (in part inspired by Katrina McPherson’s films).
The last video in the series is an unfinished test. At the time dance in shopping centres seemed to be everywhere and I was interested in the relationship between dance (dancing bodies) and the purpose of the architecture – to coerce people to shop with confidence. I had some idea of what a bodily rebellion in a shopping centre might look like and actually thought it was more interesting to identify and explore choreography that was coherent with the architecture and message of consumerism. Was there a “body of confidence” and what did it look like? This seemed far more subtle and nuanced stylistically than the propaganda from the 1930s and 40s that I was also looking at.
In the end I didn’t have the time or resources to develop the idea (I had plans for a whole dance company and large scale set!) but as with all three videos stop motion did provide a means of thinking that left visual documentation. The process required me to analyse movements and think about the sequence of initiation, weight, release etc and translate that to the puppet. There was also a curious relationship between sensing the movements in my body and standing for long periods of time in often quite tense positions doing the animation.
A38 performance at In the Flesh, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth March 2010.
Jules Laville, Noel Perkins, Lisa May Thomas, James King, Kathleen Downie and Tim Sayer.
A performance with Mary Pearson and Rachel Sweeney at “If Only”, Bluecoat, Liverpool. November 2010
Protoplasm is a multimedia performance project in the making. It is inspired by both Science Fiction and Butoh and began life as a series of improvisations prompted by a 1950s Sci Fi b-Movie “Prehistoric Planet”. This movie was itself a reworking of an earlier Russian film “Planet Bur”. The video here shows some clips from the source material, studio experiments and concept drawings.
I wanted to post about the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival in Germany because it has been such a profound influence. Every year dancers from across Europe and beyond migrate to Stolzenhagen for this festival which is in parts a performance extravaganza, a training ground, an experiment in community living and a shamanic immersion. The creative child of Steph Maher, Uli Kaiser and their team the festival hosts a programme which runs throughout July combining a range of workshops covering improvisation, choreography and somatics with numerous performance events.
Last year I was invited to participate in Mary Pearsons 10 day Failure Lab part two and I finished my stay with Keith Hennessy’s workshop, “Ritual Performance”. The death ritual I underwent in that workshop was an extraordinary experience.
There is too much to say and too few words to describe Ponderosa so a few images…
frog basking in the solar shower
“these are my bunny rabbits”
umbilical black stiletto marking time
snake skin on the path to Stolpe
softly drunk night-time harmonies
speak american australian speak
falling, falling, failing
“to kill the death in me”
2 am chocolate cake
mud caked early morning bodies
punk song – “hate the shamen, love the shamen”
amniotic peace, gasping awake
THE boy band
chakra swatting on the slack wire
the awesome Core reunion
…greeting the rising sun at the end of the day
FB Ponderosa – Movement and Discovery
“The Blancmange” was an interactive sound sculpture developed for my performance project, “Protoplasm”. It had to have a decidedly B-Movie Sci Fi look to be in keeping with the project’s origins. The design was light activated and allowed performers to interact with the sculpture to change parameters in the sound scape. I was aware that there were existing PC and Mac based technologies that would have allowed me to do this but I had a strong desire to achieve the design through an entirely analogue system as this seemed to mirror more closely the non linear processes in nature I was interested in. As an improviser and sculptor there was something philosophically important (and fun) in the component of invention- assembling a working system from first principles. In the end I had to compromise for reasons of flexibility and time and settled on using an Arduino board to drive an analogue software synthesiser, ABox.
In action.. https://vimeo.com/26264193
A further development looked like this. There is much more I want to do with this project at the same time I recognise it is driven as much by the play of bricolage and inventiveness as the performative possibilities of the soundscape. I’m attracted to the idea that as our lives (and bodies) are increasingly drawn into a coporately owned world there are possibilies for reclaiming technological space though Open Source technologies like Arduino and Ubuntu.
Motherland was a video I made during the Artists Exchange at the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival in Germany 2008. An international gathering of around 30 artists from across Europe and beyond worked together for 10 days both on individual projects and collaborations. The video grew from some experiments with a moving camera into a kind of postcard from Ponderosa. The strongest memory I had was the faces of the participants.
Motherland from Noel Perkins on Vimeo.
Another project involving participants was “The Donkey Princes” a film made by Johanna Chemnitz, Sopie Malmberg and Annika Nilsson
In November 2010 I was invited to participate in a 5 day festival of performance “Raw Roar Rare” facilitated by Keith Hennessy at the Bluecoat in Liverpool. The festival investigated the relationship between performance makers and an audience group – exploring the assumptions and expectations each had of the other.
The Exchange, Penzance, March 2010
The Body in Residence was an artists’ residency where the site of residence is the body itself. The project was part of an ongoing collaborative investigation between artists Noel Perkins and Caroline Schanche into embodiment, phenomenology and what it is to consciously inhabit our bodies.
“Dances with Sheep” was an Improvisation Lab I curated at Penpynfarch, West Wales in October 2008. We worked for 5 days exploring ensemble improvisation to live music from Matthew Venn. Participants included Noel perkins, Jenny Hill, Rebecca Mackenzie, Lisa May Thomas and Ruth Cross.
Bathosphere was an experimental video with soundtrack by Tim Sayer. The work began life during walks along the beach where I noticed I was as visually drawn to the “pollution”- the flotsam and rubbish, as the “natural environment”- the seaweed and seagull feathers. This prompted thinking about the way we use the world “natural” and the complexity of our notion of beauty. The iridescence sheen of oil is beautiful (in my eyes) yet its also toxic. The idea was to experiment with an aesthetic deep dive into the visual possibilities of this environment, rubbish and all, and see what it might evoke transformed beyond its immediately recognisable form.