Thursday, March 24, 2016

Days Seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen:

OK – spring break done – now to nudge the class a bit farther along on the gen art timeline. The Fluxus project has been developed over a number of years and a number of iterations and refinements. The first time I used it in a P2P class was in the Aesthetics of Dissonance back in 2012. My mistake was to time it right before spring break. It was the high point of the term, but we were never able to get the momentum back. In subsequent teachings it was moved to right after the break. Fun, chaotic, noisy, it is a good way to return to the class. I felt like there was quite a bit ridding on this piece and had really talked it up to Bob. My fear, of course, was that it was just going to crash and burn. It didn’t.

What was odd about this time is that students in both sections immediately started performing them simultaneously. Some, I suspect, as a way to mask their response, but other saw opportunities to overlap pieces and basically dove in when they felt the impulse. This lead to some amazing collisions of pieces. Hard to see everything, but the chaos really had a live and in the moment quality. As typically happens – some pieces bore, and others confound, and yet others demand attention and silence. While I prefer the one at a time model since the quieter more still pieces can emerge, there was something quite beautiful about the presentations. One thing we did notice – the 8:30 class spent a bit more time winding up to chaos, whereas the 10:00 started there. It’s hard to sustain over time – so the 8:30 class did a much better job of drawing the pieces out in time.

The following class I was out for administrative stuff – so Bob discussed some non-dualism material and worked with the students to pull out some basic ideas from the fluxus pieces and then they created new ones. His take was that they were not as successful as the first round, mainly because there was almost no one left to watch, but also the refinement didn’t help the overall process. A very valuable lesson.

The next class I presented information on chaos theory – with the idea that we have already seen examples of sensitive dependence, iteration, and strange attractors. Perhaps not as successful an integration as I would have liked, but a few of the students dug into this material, so it may have an impact later on. We started the class with the “one second late” piece in which they fill in five events that happen because someone started their day one second late. Its always interesting how they degenerate toward violence or destruction, some every day, and some fantastic. I have heard very few positive takes on this.

Today was day one for the fragmentation projects – and I’ll hold off on a complete discussion of them until we have finished the second group. But what we saw today was great. The students that are willing to challenge themselves to think through the process of taking something apart and reassembling it get to reflect on their process and what it produces. There are still some students that we feel are kind of phoning it in – doing the least invested pieces they can. It’s a shame because they are all bright enough to turn in some wonderful work. We do occasionally see students we thought were tuned out wake up and do some great stuff. How to keep them awake is more complex.

One more thing I will mention. Bob and I went back to the Solo olos rehearsal to watch four more iterations of the dance. The first one was amazing. Some lovely images and movements ridding right on the edge of collapse. The other three were good, but did not have the spark the first one did. Abby is working with the students to not get too comfortable with the piece. She also encourages them not to try and control it too much. When the caller tries to shape the piece by looking three or four moves ahead it loses something. Fascinating that they have to work so hard to be indeterminate.

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