Dictionaries define a verb as: ‘a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence’. And I am dependent on them.
Now that I’ve thought about it, it’s obvious, because ‘dancing’ is a verb. In contemporary dance, especially when you’re young, you might learn the basic actions: jump, travel, turn, gesture, stillness – along with the principle that every movement can be categorised as one of these.
Dancing is actions within actions, verbs and more verbs. As much sense as it makes, I have still wondered why I am particularly drawn to them.
For example some of the subjects I’ve briefly written about in recent months include: stillness as an activity, the process of waiting, documenting whilst dancing, drawing and writing.
Recently we have been exploring hugging; reflecting on components and raising memories of writing instructions. People often ask: what are you up to? Whether they are interested, nosey or polite, people want to know what you are doing and how you are spending your time.
Perhaps it is partially that actions have processes, and therefore durations. When things take time there is a chance that they will evolve or change, and there is (be it small) a potential risk and links to impermanence that I like.
Or as it is perfectly phrased by Tim Ingold in The Life of Lines: ‘things do not just exist; if they did, then they would indeed be but objects. The thing about things, however, is that they occur… this is to admit them into the world not as nouns but as verbs, as goings-on. It is to bring them to life.’ (page 16).
In the chapter To human is a verb, Ingold highlights the importance of what it is we do in defining ourselves:
‘Whereas other creatures must be what they are in order to do what they do, for humans it is the other way around. They must do what they do to be what they are’ (page 118).
He discusses how referring to ourselves as a ‘human being’ isn’t necessarily accurate; living as a human includes developing and that isn’t being, perhaps instead we should refer to ourselves as ‘human becomings’, or that most exactly, our ‘becoming is continually overtaking [our] being’ (page 118).
I haven’t spoken to that many artists who find titling their work easy.
There is some pressure from an imaginary place that causes me to feel that with a title I’ve got to be really sure, and I’m often not sure. How is a title adding something, and more importantly, how can it not detract from what I am trying to present?
I have resorted to labelling the activity that is happening (Bettering, Weathering, etc.) and am noticing that others have done this too; you can avoid imposing what you want the viewer to see on them and alternatively suggest the activity that you are trying to attempt.
Maybe it’s a cop-out, but it’s also hopefully less of a comment on what is being presented.
Looking through notes of the collaboration with Theo Arran (which has been paused until contact work shall been recommended again), I was reminded that we divided our reflections into ‘what we’re doing’ and ‘what happens when we do it’. We still don’t have a title there yet…
Perhaps because: often titles have to come before you really know what it is that you’re doing, and we were waiting to decide what it was we were doing.
My conclusion is a list:
Verbs & titles Most of this was written whilst I made focaccia Is this all more relevant when the work is improvised? A combination and/or order of activities Time passes So the only thing I’m sure of is that it changes
References: Ingold, T. (2015). The life of lines. Abingdon, England: Routledge.