Ecology of Techniques

Workshop, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Feb. 1-2, 2019

Guests: Rose Beermann, Xavier Le Roy, Sebastian Matthias, Juli Reinartz

Techniques is what we live by. We learn how to walk, to sit, to swim, to concentrate, and to perform. Without techniques, it would be impossible for us to act, to live, and to exist. Even though most of these techniques are backgrounded and we don’t think about them in everyday live they are habitually at work in every movement. Dance, on the other side, is a field in which techniques of moving, acting, and creating are foregrounded. Here, techniques are actively and consciously learned and experimented with. They are part of the training (in schools, in workshops) as well as of production processes.

Even though everyday movements play a major role in the choreographic work over the last decades, they are often addressed as “natural” actions, only made “artificial” by the techniques of dance. In the workshop we want to follow a different path and investigate how the everyday life is as much produced by techniques as the field of dance. By this, the engagement with the “outside” of dance becomes a turn towards other techniques: How do these techniques intermingle and what is happening in the event of their interference? The ways these intersections happen can be manifold: be it in a way that we want to overcome a habitual movement to produce a different quality, or be it that we rely on the techniques of the everyday such as jumping, falling, running, in the creation of movement. One quite prominent example of an interplay of techniques is improvisation: Improvisation is itself a technique that aims to withdraw from choreographic techniques to allow the habitual techniques of everyday to take over – it is a technique of correlating techniques. We see how in improvisation but also in other forms of rehearsal and performance many techniques co-compose, intermingle and create. By taking them into different fields and bringing them into relation with each other, techniques’ creative potential re-surfaces. Instead of being an ability to master a movement they become tools of creative reproduction. Together they create an ecology of techniques.

In the workshop, we collectively investigate and experiment with this ecology of techniques. How do they relate with each other? What backgrounded techniques are at work we normally do not classify as such? How can we use the interference of techniques to un-learn habits and create different ways of moving and living? How can we open up the habitual repetitions of everyday life and insert a moment of speculation back into the operations of our techniques by bringing different types of techniques together?

For these investigation, I propose a very wide notion of techniques, that is not defined by training or authorship. Here, techniques are by no way limited to the realm of movement or body techniques. They are techniques of living and existence, techniques of getting up in the morning, techniques of hiding at a party or techniques to make (and lose) new friends. Social techniques, mental techniques, techniques of coping with pain and illness as well as techniques of avoiding or addressing power-relations, harassment and discrimination. In bringing our experiences with all these techniques together the questions therefore are: What can the interplay of techniques do, that no single technique can do alone and how can we use this interplay to create new techniques for dancing, moving, acting, living?

Ecology of Techniques II: Formats

(Workshop, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Jan. 25-26, 2020)

Guest: Kai van Eikels, Stefan Hölscher, Elisa Linseisen, Anne Schuh, Lucie Tuma

The follow-up workshop  revisits the discussion of the first workshop with a focus on  the question of format from a performance and media-theory perspective. How do a different notion of technique (as it became popular in the recent years) also call for different formats on the level of presentation as much as on the level of production. And how can we use concepts of format/formation stemming from media theory to rethink the processes of performance art and its techniques?