It’s Sunday and Spangbergianism is taking a break from inter-disciplinary. “-Oh I forgot” – How inter-, or mature is it for a practitioner of dance and choreography or isn’t it to spend OMG how much time on writing a blog. Do I have to surrender finally and send in my application to the International Inter-disciplinary Association – I like it their meetings must be the most amusing, how do they make decisions not to step on a million toes and kind of go Vervremdungs-effect on inter- everything?) – but are there issues here that might complicate things a little?
First, can you be inter-disciplinary alone or is inter- and trans- conditioned by meetings, relations, sharing between humans, is inter-disciplinary somewhat or genuinely humanistic? If inter- can be alone I’m curious about when and where the line is drawn, what do I have to do to qualify for being an inter-disciplinary artist or what constitutes an inter-disciplinary artwork? I’m just wondering? Do I have to sing and dance, is it like I was trained as a musician but ended up in dance, is it enough that I go see a Frank Stella exhibition to prep for the upcoming project? Or what about Xavier LeRoy who wrote his PhD in micro-biology and in parallel started to dance? Is he one of these special cases of a priori inter-disciplinary artists? I so envy him. Or Tino Sehgal who studied economy at the same time as he was at the Pina school, does that make him tanz-theater – which he obviously is – [tanz-theater isn’t that totally inter-] greedy or inter-disciplinary?
Does the different inter- have to be included in the representation, like in the piece, or is the time of inter- like free of choice. Am I an okay inter-disciplinary artist if I go visit my shrink on a weekly basis as part of the preparation for the new work – I mean does all parties in inter-disciplinary work need to know that they are sort of involved or does it happen automatically – and then don’t mention, more than in the program leaflet, that the work was an inter-disciplinary process shared with a cognitive behavior therapist – yeah, the piece suddenly became contemporary. Give me a break inter-disciplinary is ridiculous everything is inter- or trans- in some or other respect so why don’t we just give this shit up?
I have more questions. Must inter-disciplinary art include an artist or does an inter-disciplinary project between, let’s say, a gymnastics teacher and fighter pilot become art just because it’s inter-? Does it become more art if the engaged are more like a neuroscientist and an archeologist? Yeah, or aha there must be an artist involved and he or she must initiate the project, or no? Oh, it can be initiated by a neuroscientist but perhaps not by an air force pilot? I get it.
This is fairly problematic, I wonder who decides when or what is inter-disciplinary, is that you and me who enthusiastically make art or is that the job of that international association. We can also turn it around, for something to become inter-disciplinary how far apart must the at least two parties be? You know I experience a bigger distance to many disciplines within dance than with individuals in visual-art, poetry, philosophy or science. Do I become more inter-disciplinary then or not if I collaborate with somebody from a foreign discipline within dance? This is weird, and it seems that the boundaries for what makes inter- inter- rather or very vague. I’m confused.
Another option, in the art what is inter-disciplinary? Version one, I collaborate on an inter-disciplinary basis with a visual artist. We discuss and we talk, we perhaps make an excursion together or a trip to a festival and after three months we show something which is me dancing in front or around a number of paintings, objects, installations. How inter-disciplinary is that, isn’t that exactly consolidating the disciplines involved. Perhaps the content was influenced by our conversation but this doesn’t change our respective disciplines.
Even worse, when the inter- is with a poet, and we hear texts written “especially” for the piece is read out loud as part of the soundtrack, OMG. No, seriously I can not think of one single example of inter-disciplinary between different art-forms that doesn’t end up exactly there. Think about Ai Weiwei’s collaboration with Herzog & De Moron (the Beijing Olympia stadium), totally stupid. Or – ohha – anything concerning video art and music. Jezuz.
Version two, I collaborate with a scientist, obviously a neuroscientist – a physicist is also okay – and what happens? Oh yes, the physicist’s contribution, a brief lecture on how endlessly big universe is accompanied by some video projection of eternity, galaxies, and a super nova. The neuroscientist will have to do with just lecturing – of course with a Madonna microphone – since the images might be just diagrams and stats, and the perspective is reversed OMG there’s a universe in my head? [this is turning religious] In the mean time more or less some people dance around more or less freely. It seems that when you collaborate with a scientist the quality of composition and material is not really an issue anymore.
The worst-case scenario is obviously to collaborate with computer geeks, the result, yes your correct – is some dance that is restricted in respect of speed, space and complexity because otherwise the intricate system of sensors will not work properly. And what does that immense computer power do? It produces a mystical colorful and absolutely mind blowing video projection. Oh, yeah, when the dancer moves beyond this or that line the projection goes all red or was it purple or yellow. Well, doesn’t matter it anyways changes color. Fabulous.
We can flip side the proposal, i.e. not the artist collaborating with a scientist but a scientist collaborating with an artist, in this case a choreographer [probably called Wayne] with a flock of dancers. What happens? The neuroscientist now invites us to his lab and inspect us whilst we are dancing – researching not rehearsing. And he observes and observes and observes [nice to have lunch together] and finds out amazing things – like that daaancers must be using some unknown parts of the brain to measure proprioseptive space – they are incredible. At a presentation in Southbank Centre London the scientist recalls the amazing event and shows us a video of a choreographer at work, it’s fabulous. Conclusion, the artists are never doing anything science with scientist but is just a nice little ornamentation for the promotion talk for the institutions funding.
Get this, for scientist there are two reasons to collaborate inter-disciplinary with artist, first because there’s money to be made and second, exactly because it spices up another-wise completely colorless scientific field.
Further, obviously the artists has his reasons to work inter- the same as with the scientist, first because there is money to be made and second to gain further visibility in the field of arts. No, the artist doesn’t collaborate with a scientist in order to change a practice, questions the discipline or similar, on the contrary the motivation is to show that even when contaminated by science dance is autonomous and remains the same. The reason to work inter- with science is to strengthen the discipline dance and hence the identity of the artist, not in any respect to change what dance is, which obviously would undermine the artist’s position or identity in respect of his artistic work – especially in relation to the arts council.
For the artist to be really successful in his inter- work with science he of course integrates a video from the lab into his performance, something that plays on the back wall along with a soothing electronic soundtrack. Have you noticed that when science is involved [inter-] there is no limit to tacky, kitsch or sentimental.
At one point in history inter-disciplinary work was the domain of the artist, the scientist even the fighter-pilot. There was a time when inter-disciplinary produced differentiation and was something that the art council couldn’t incorporate in its frames and budget proposals. That time is gone, today inter-disciplinary work is exactly what the council wants, especially since it is now concerned with that the arts should have relations with corporate economies and what then is not better and easier (on short term basis) to sell than inter-disciplinary – oh yes we can all see how inter- will produce specific knowledge for both fields and how the artists specifically wired brain will unveil conventions, taboos and what not of science. And for the artist, well its just good and if there are expensive machines involved it’s really good.
There is one worse option and that’s when inter-disciplinary enters so to say traditional workspaces such as manufacturing or factories. Now the artist is there to work with the workers, engage them in artistic practices to reflect their work situation, i.e. to make them happier to work in a factory where the noise level is far beyond, but install some musicians and have them work out some sound fluff and the worker involved will not be happy for even a single day but CEO’s can justify another year of slavery – we are good people we invited a group of artists – inter-disciplinary – and you [the workers] are not grateful. Inter-disciplinary has turned into some kind of present day carnival, but today it happens on the factory floor. Easy to surveil and tax deductible.
Inter-, trans-, cross- and multi- has nothing to do with subversion, deterritorialization or anything like it, no it’s bubbles and glitter in the most superficial sense on both art and science, it’s topping on applications and smart talk accompanying the power point presentation. It is the neo-liberal answer to instrumentalization of the arts, and this time not in order to educate kids in he suburb or something like it, but an apparatus to make art effective enough to be inscribed in the economic equation set up by a system of governance that want art to be justified on the same basis as software development, advertisement, consultancy and performance management.
Fuck, Spangberianism forgot to take that Sunday break from inter-