Video

Here are Volumes 1-4 of Camera Dances 
In the fall of 2010 Eric Geiger and I asked Tara Knight to join our weekly practice of creating improvised dances for the camera. Each week the three of us chose a quotidian location in which to perform: condo complexes, shopping malls, grassy areas, all spaces ubiquitous in Southern California. Attempting to re-open and re-envision these landscapes as sites for improvisational performance, we created dozens of short films, and then collected selected works in three volumes, Camera Dances Volumes 1, 2 and 3. During this two-year period of weekly performing/filmmaking practice, we arrived at several important conceptual intentions. We’re invested in exploring the durational aspects of shooting improvisational performance. Rather than shooting hours of footage, and then selecting the “best” sequences for a final edited film, we choose to embrace and celebrate the experience of improvisation as it happens. Instead of edited mastery, the work invites the audience to experience film as it coheres and then unravels, to witness a thread that is created, and then lost, and then transformed into something new by a gesture, a camera movement, a sound.
A second significant aspect of our research from this period was the distinction between dancing for the camera and dancing with the camera. Each volume of Camera Dances is conceived of as a dance with the camera, and as a trio of performing bodies both in front of and behind the camera. Events, which are traditionally edited out – the sensation of a camera being attached to a body as it settles into position, a quick pan through proximity of bodies in motion, or the meandering contemplation ofaction away from the performers – are all part of the final film. This requires Tara, as the performer most often holding the camera, to be actively engaged in “finding the dance” that we three bodies are engaged in at that moment, not hours or days later in the editing room. It requires attention to being in that moment, to both recording the movement and being an improviser of that movement, to both document and be instrumental in the creation of the material being documented.

Camera Dances Volume 4 screened in Berlin in July 2012 as part of the On The Wall dance film festival (screened on June 1, 2012). Volume 4 marks a deepened understanding of these initial experiments. Disorienting and visceral, the film explores the kinetic and emotional experience of improvised movement, from the proximity of a blue jeans pocket to the negative space between bodies suspended in air. Ambient sounds combine with fragmentary images: the breath of a dancer with the veins of a neck, the sound of a plane passing overhead as a body is heaved into the air, the scuffle of feet as the camera is laid on a chest.