Special Installation

Saturday, April 14, 12:45pm

"In the memory of Hope":
a generative sound and movement installation

John Priestley, Virginia Commonwealth University
Salvador Barajas, University of Richmond
danah bella, d a n a h b e l l a danceworks
Liz Canfield, Virginia Commonwealth University

How do we welcome the uninvited stranger into our community, home, family or country? What expectations do we impose on their unexpected visit? Do we ask them to leave when their language or customs are different enough that they nudge us out of comfort space, or do we await without expectations, extending what philosopher Jacques Derrida has termed "hospitality without reserve"? The arrival and non-arrival of the stranger must prompt a mutual improvisation that requires arrivant and host to engage one another "in the memory of hope" in the precariousness of now.

In this generative movement and sound performance/installation we will investigate the possibility or impossibility of welcoming a stranger into our fold. The sound and movement installation/performance will embody the improvisational gesture of the event both in the design of the space and in the movement that is generated as part of the interactive exchange between the responsive materials and the bodies of the performers.

The structure of the performance is closely informed by John Cage and Merce Cunningham's investigations of how chance and the independence of the movement from the music can create a more engaging visual and aural experience for the observer. Their formulation of chance as both a theory and practice in their compositions and choreography has a very similar philosophical application to Derrida's notion of hospitality and the meeting of stranger as a necessary act of improvisation. We contend that the same holds true for the conceptual framework of this performance. In other words, the dancer, independent of the soundscore, must listen to and feel the "strangeness" of technology and embody it in any number of appropriate improvised physical gestures. Just as none of us can predict how we will respond to a stranger in our midst, the dancer must be open to the chance encounter as a possible or impossible act of "hospitality without reserve."

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