APR 9, 2014
What is the relation in your opinion between music, an instrument, dance and a work of art?
All involve a consideration of the treatment of space.
Was there a catalyst that encouraged you to move from music into a realm in which music, art and dance interrelate and play?
As a percussionist, physicality and movement have always been a fundamental part of my studies and play. Choreographed movement forms the basis of learning most percussion instruments and exploring this movement-music crossover was the real stimulus for the project. Working collaboratively with dancers, I began trying to bring out the physicality of music [and vice-versa], to explore the between of music – movement and space. I was particularly interested in the way that dance had incorporated physical space as a central element in its methods of notation – such as Labanotation - which uses symbols to depict spatial placement and actions to occur in these. Translating this into a musical context, by creating music by notating movements, was the initial stimulus for the development of my floor score notation. Trying to bring that which exists in the in-between of movement, music and space, to the centre was what brought me to this cross-over.
What is the significance of uncertainty within your practice? How do you relate it towards the exploration of the space and the inner self which seem to be important motifs in your practice?
I am interested in uncertainty because it brings a quality of flux, shifting focus to the now. It subverts the expectations of good as ‘perfect’ and ‘complete’, instead bringing qualities of the imperfect, irregular, living and decaying as things that should be embraced rather than avoided. I am not interested in telling people what they should be experiencing or how they should interact. For me, the use of non-narrative structures/situations, as the foundation of ambiguity, is something that allows this uncertainty to arise - allowing people to come to their own conclusions. By saying very little, the floor score allows people to take from it a wider variety of experience and meaning. I like the idea that the floor score can bring a different sense of activity and awareness to each person on it.
You are relating your performance ‘Gestures: the space between’ to a rather complex concept of ma which came from Japan. How did you become interested in this aesthetical approach and how do you apply it to this particular piece? Is it important for your musical practice as well?
The concept of ma is something I came across whilst studying marimba with Keiko Abe in Tokyo. Underpinning everything that occurred during my studies was something I couldn’t put my finger on, but it felt fresh and alive in a way that I had never experienced. The attention to space, that ma promotes, emerged as what was essential to this education. Central to this overarching approach, was a sense of space that was powerful in engaging the students. Vital to this was the inclusion of irrational and experiential characteristics such as ambiguity and tension, as well as focus on texture, timbre, edges and irregularities; and these are something I bring to the center of GESTURES. For me, there is a real contemporary relevance in these ideas that can be seen to have begun to be explored in the way that contemporary focuses on interactive, interdisciplinary and environmental art; which seem to echo ideas from the ancient aesthetic concept of ma.
Who are your artistic influences?
The prolifically playful, active and creative seven year olds at Bramley Music Centre. Sebastian Rochford [drummer], for relentless collaborations and contributions to the philosophy of groove.
How important is collaboration in your artistic process?
I like a good dosage of alone time for developing ideas, but the moments of collaboration and the impact of input from others are what brings about the joy of turning those ideas into a fertile living reality.
And how important is the participatory and interactive element in your work?
Very important. In GESTURES I use the simple and primitive instinct of play and discovery to stimulate audiences to interact with the floor score, sounds and space. By providing an ambiguous space for play and exploration, audiences have to actively engage with the work. I have set up a situation, but what audiences bring to it is the heart of what they take away from it. Putting to the test the old saying… ‘Only boring people get bored!’
For more information on Greta Eacott visit her website
Penumbra exhibition by VERB will open on 1 May 2014 at A.P.T. Gallery