Process: Research

Perspectives: An artistic investigation of inherent movement structures in reference to gender and sexuality as coerced by unfamiliar circumstances.

There are instictive reactions of the body relating to the id and ego when a person is put into a situation where the circumstances and outcomes are unknown. This digital media project is a visual and dialectal study of gestures that exploits the uneencumbered movement vocabulary of these reactions in an effort to notate the commanalities and differences between gender, cultural background, sexuality and other demographics.

I connected with friends and strangers through various media (in person, Facebook, telephone, Skype, email…) and told them I wanted to take a photo of them for a movement research project; I told them I couldn’t tell them anything else.

Everyone agreed to meet me at my home office. Each subject was offered tea and after some amicable and irrelevant (to the project) conversation, we retired to my office to begin the project.

I did not look them in the eye when they arrived in the room – I only gave them directions during four different settings in the room. It was interesting to see what was natural and what wasn’t – in the way they moved – and I did not mention or note any of the certain reactions until after the photographic process. All of the initial photos in position #1 and #2 were portraits of the body rather than the face, and the subjects were not notified until after the process of this technique.

When the photos and filming concluded, I apologized to each subject about the vagueness of my request to photograph them and further explained my intentions to build a movement vernacular based on researching the inherent physical reactions to unknown situations across a motley populous of age, race, gender and sexuality.

To develop categories and vocabulary of movement utilizing techniques and methodologies of Labanotation to establish a repertoire to be used in future choreographic/artistic and pedagogy contexts.

Main Conclusions:
Though examination of the quantitative and qualitative results correlating to the physical, photographic and data survey results, the inherent reactions of the subjects in accordance to their respective gender, sexuality and cultural distinctions show obvious patterns that are clearly noted in the photographic study. The men show tension and ease with different gestures than the women, as do the homosexual versus heterosexual. Through the portraits of the body, the subjects display major gestures that include clinching of the hands together versus freedom of movement of the arms, crossing of the legs and/or feet or keeping them open and spread apart, tension in various muscles, leaning or a heightened sense of posture.

Typically, the males make more use of the space than the females, and with each progression in position (from #1-#4), those identifying as homosexual tend to gravitate towards more freedom of movement, with less tension and posing.

The female subjects use less of the space and exhibit more trepidation than the male subjects.

Of the most import is the discovery of the unanimous reaction captured from position #4. All of the subjects were asked to stand against the wall and were told, “I need you to jump up and down for me,” with no inflection in voice or eye contact. Each subject, with little or no hesitation, began to smile and/or laugh. This inherent reaction was apparent in each case, and was documented by the photographic and film study.

Post-procedure comments included that the subjects were nervous but happy. In this moment when told to jump, feelings of youth and being happy were common, thus explaining the commonality amongst the photographic results. It is this tension that is released during this freedom of moment exercise after positions #1, #2, and #3 where the subject is not privy to the results of the camera or the requirements of the researcher – then there is a spontaneous dispute between the id and the ego, and the body is left making a subconscious choice and an initial unknown reaction to the perspective of the environment that up until that point had been completely mysterious and seemingly planned out.