Im/mediations is a performance-based project involving a series of one-on-one encounters online, as well as choreography for live-stream video that moves between stage and screen to explore experiences of being together-yet-apart in virtual contexts. Between June and December 2021, choreographer Teoma Naccarato and composer John MacCallum will host a series of events online, and in residence at Lake Studios Berlin.
Key questions to explore through artistic research and creation in this project include: what qualities of togetherness emerge when we share a virtual space together without doing anything in particular? If we strip away speech and vision from online encounters, what remains? How do silence and stillness resonate between us, dilating our sense of time and closeness? As we spend more and more time together-yet-apart via video conferencing and other online media, in what ways are our relationships and our ways of relating shifting?
You can learn more about Im/mediations on the project website at: https://immediations.com.
Below we will share traces from behind the scenes of our ongoing creative process in residence at Lake Studios Berlin. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
Teoma and John
Im/mediations Process Blog
Entry One: WHITE VOID
June 2021 @ Lake Studios Berlin
By Teoma Naccarato
This is my first time in a dance studio since the start of the pandemic. I feel pressure to move, to dance, to fill the generous space around me – space I have missed throughout the past year and a half of lockdown. I improvise without a plan, and what emerges seems superficial, indulgent, nonsensical – but I kind of like it. I shrug, sigh, shimmy, sway, groove, gesticulate, pulse, point, sit, stare. It is as if I am dancing around my kitchen while I wait for the coffee to brew – unobserved and unconcerned.
Despite hours of improv over the course of days, my mundane and idiosyncratic movement persists. My years of training in contemporary dance feel absent, although I’m aware that this understated, almost careless quality resonates with a lot of postmodern performance. In my attempt to improvise without structure, I notice patterns and habits as they surface: my right arm usually leads; one eyebrow is raised; I repeat to build in intensity and then cut to a new idea, in another part of the room. I try several times to shape this ambiguous movement into phrases, exploring shifts in rhythm and dynamics, but I arrive at nothing concrete. Each imposition of intention feels foregin, inconsistent, with the persona and logic that is arising.
I begin filming myself as I improvise, and I find my own image rather uncanny. Watching myself performing myself, or rather, some version of myself transplanted from my kitchen into the dance studio, and now onto the screen, has a distancing effect. I feel like I am watching myself from without. Curious about this, I set up a monitor with live-stream video directly from the camera, in order to watch myself in real-time – and also, to watch myself watching myself. This loop of self-observation of self, all the while being recorded, evokes in me a shift that is difficult to articulate. I might best describe it as an interplay of vanity and vulnerability – both integral to the nearly 20 hours of solo footage I will eventually accumulate.
I call the studio I am filming in the ‘white void’. When I am back against the white wall, the wide-angle lens of the camera makes me look small and far away, but with only a few steps I can enter into extreme closeup. This distortion of proximity and distance, this abstraction of site, reminds me of the notion of “no-place” coined by Harmony Bench. Bench proposes that:
“No-place is an abstracted space, a blank or evacuated space. It is, in a sense, nothing. Nominating no-place as a site for dance may seem somewhat paradoxical, but in identifying no-place, I am trying to theorize the political effects of a site deployed to erase location – a site that works to render itself invisible. No-place, I argue, substantiates dance’s mediation across analogue and digital platforms.”Bench, Harmony. 2008. “Media and the No-place of Dance,” Forum Modernes Theater, 23.1, p. 37
This, for me, is a conceptual link between the emergent aesthetic of my improvisation in this white void, with concerns related to virtual qualities of presence and togetherness in the Im/mediations project.
The outcome of this process will be premiered on December 14, 2021 at Lake Studios and online. Stay tuned for details!
Entry Two: IDLE
August 2021 @ Lake Studios Berlin
By Teoma Naccarato & John MacCallum
Whereas our initial month of residency at Lake Studios involved somewhat isolated and process-based studio exploration, in August I opened the virtual door of our collaborative practice to the public – with the constraint that I would encounter one person at a time.
The initial iteration of IDLE spanned twelve hours between August 22-24, 2021, and involved a series one-on-one encounters online, in silence and stillness. The invitation was simply to arrive, and stay, letting moments pass between us, listening to our silence, sensing without seeing, sharing without speaking, holding space for each other, virtually.
Following each encounter, visitors were invited to share a ‘trace’ of this experience – in words, image, sound, voice, video, etc. The growing collection of traces is now available online at: https://immediations.com/idle/traces
These traces enact a collective archive that not only documents what has passed between us, but also, offers entry-points to re/engage with qualities of togetherness in virtual spaces. In the coming months, resonance from these traces will be folded into the ongoing creative process in the Im/mediations project.
Finally, here are some photos from the making-of, taken by John MacCallum who was the wizard making everything run smoothly behind the scenes:
Entry Three: REMAINS
November 2021 @ Lake Studios
Teoma Naccarato, John MacCallum, & Benjamin Krieg
Photos from the video shoot for Im/mediations: REMAINS!
Premiere: December 14, 2021 at Lake Studios Berlin
Choreography & Performance: Teoma Naccarato
Music Composition & Performance: John MacCallum
Video Composition & Editing: Teoma Naccarato, John MacCallum, and Benjamin Krieg
Multi-Channel Video System Design: John MacCallum
Im/mediations: REMAINS (16:25) is a solo choreographed within a multi-camera video surveillance system. Filmed in one continuous take, the performer moves intentionally in and out of view, such that isolated body parts and gestures are distributed and reconfigured across multiple panels by way of real-time video mixing. That which is visible in each 16×9 panel, is set against all that which lies beyond its frame. REMAINS can be simultaneously performed for a live and virtual audience, on stage and screen, thus concealing and revealing the body and movement of the performer differently depending on the context of encounter. The stark aesthetic of REMAINS – white on white – is reinforced by the density and persistence of music.
The full-length video is presently passwords protected. If you would like to view it for personal use, or if you are interested in presenting it as part of a festival or event, please request access via email at: email@example.com
Entry Four: Virtual Studio Visit & Video Premiere
December 2021 @ Lake Studios
Teoma Naccarato, John MacCallum, & Benjamin Krieg
Join us via live-stream for a final sharing to conclude the Im/mediations Residency at Lake Studios Berlin! We’re excited to share what we’ve been up to since June, as well as how we imagine the project developing in the new year. As part of this event we will reflect back on IDLE, a series of one-on-one encounters online in silence and stillness that we hosted back in August. Additionally, we will premiere two new videos titled Im/mediations: White Void, and Im/mediations: Remains.
The live-stream is free, and open to everyone. No reservation is required. On the day of, just click the ‘enter’ button on the main page of this website and it will bring you to Vimeo: https://immediations.com
In addition to the live-stream, we will have a limited on-site audience for the video screening (strictly 2G +). If you are in Berlin and would like to join, please email us to reserve at: firstname.lastname@example.org.