Weathering Part 1 & the future of Audio Hugs
Weathering Part 1:
Working with Bun & Ella, the movement research for Weathering began.
The parameters which we are working within mean we don’t have a long rehearsal period (this is the norm and therefore to be expected), but our initial sessions were dedicated to exploration.
We are sometimes working remotely on zoom, sometimes offsite, together, outside, and then together in a studio. I enjoy working on the same thing in different configurations & spaces, as I find there is more to navigate. And this is particularly relevant when we’re talking about the weather.
Here are a few of the scores we have trialled in different settings:
- Where do you stop and the air/weather start?
- Receive the weather (in stillness, whilst walking for long distances, whilst dancing...)
- To fluctuate without progression
We spoke about sensing temperature and wetness.
Many of our conversations led to the realisation that we had forgotten lots of what we had learnt about in science at school. But Ella remembered those classic gas atom diagrams.
Bun noticed there was a particular speed where you could feel the air the most. And then there is how this links to space. Carrying the warm air with you and meeting new cold air. Creating anchor points that hold the heat and finding warmth near the ground or close to the body, yet knowing that hot air rises…
It was easy to receive the weather in stillness.
The effects of the weather are also available in sight and sound.
At one point Bun was too hot, Ella was too cold and I was the comfortable temperature.
I felt that the time spent here could not be reversed. Bun felt that she knew throughout that it could be reversed, that afterwards she would be able to undo the heating and cool back down. She also questioned the criteria of success and said that she felt like a beetle with an antenna.
We spoke of having 32 senses. And people lying to you about these things. Why didn’t we learn about that in science at school?
The tale of trying to fluctuate without progression
We tried to fluctuate without progression. We all struggled to find the point in this. Bun questioned ‘what is movement without progression?’ All Ella wants to do is progress. This feeling is timely.
But we want to find some enjoyment.
So we tried again with less intensity. To allow our engagement with the task to fluctuate too, like Ella suggested. To find peace in not progressing. What if we receive the tasks like we received the weather? Time is going to pass whatever, with and without the progression.
Because enjoyment is even more relevant as weather is related to moods.
Bun suggested that fluctuating is the important part, not the progression. To focus on the change enabled more possibilities. Notice the possibilities when you’re less consumed with going up, and more interested with going laterally.
We tried again on another grey day, in a windier place. But this time not mentioning progression (because of times like when you are told you can think about anything whatsoever except a blue polar bear, and then all you can think about is a blue polar bear…).
Remembering the lateral possibilities, fluctuate: in temperate, location (in relation to the weather) and movement/stillness/activity.
Images of Bun, taken by Becky
The first time we tried this score I thought that it would be immediately scrapped. But it became the basis for much of the projection for the installation.
The projection was not part of the plan. But as the performances would happen on just one day, it felt important to have something visual in the gallery too. A key interest here was the passing of time, phases of weather.
In contrast the audio guides were part of the original proposition, because inquiring ‘how does it feel to be weathered?’ lends itself to the participatory. After working with Anna on Audio Hugs, I had a basic understanding of how to make and distribute audio guides. The aim was still to facilitate movement and sensory engagement for the participants, but this time outside, with attention to the weather.
What is seen by participants and passers-by as unusual behaviour? How uncomfortable does that make everybody feel? And then taking that into consideration, what and in which ways can I offer or challenge?
As I was nearing the end of editing the recordings, I attended a Kinship workshop with Tom Goodwin & Katye Coe.
I wanted to be reminded of what it is to participate – this was an especially good fit, as part of the day was working outside with audio guides. Created and led by very experienced facilitators and practitioners.
On a practical level, they influenced how I introduced and prepared participants for the guides, to make them as safe and accessible as I could.
But it also proved a great reminder for the purpose of facilitating outdoor explorations. People really benefit from spending time outside, but also from the space and dedication to engage in a way they would not ordinarily. It does offer a shift in perspective. And personally, the reminder of how much information there is to receive and how much movement there is in stillness; and how much joy there can be in that.
Audio Hugs in collaboration with Anna Dighero continues:
We have now released 4 episodes which you can find here.
Every time we created an episode, we revisited recent conversations we had had with friends and relatives, discussed any feedback we had received from the last episode and evaluated what our current feelings were in relation to touch and hugging. This steered the work.
The 4th episode anticipated the prospect of hugs being ‘allowed again’, and the complexities surrounding this – everybody has experienced vastly different challenges recently and so there are endless combinations of feelings when people now meet.
Personally this is the first time I have been involved in making something that is so responsive to the wider societal context.
When writing funding applications, you often have to explicitly describe how your project is necessary and relevant right now. I often find this difficult because I am interested in concepts that are more abstract or elusive, and feel they are equally relevant and timely, just more subtly so.
But Audio Hugs is not that. It was born out of reaction. And so retrospectively would have been a perfect opportunity for investors…
It feels good to give hugs and receive them, so the project is both selfishly for us and generously for others - to bring lightness to the potentially awful experience of craving human physical contact.
I do not know if we will create anymore. As always, we would love to hear any feedback or responses to the hugs.