PhD Thesis: The Ecological Body ~ extracts
I decided to move out of the studio for the research and development period.
First, I wanted to engage with point, line and angle through environmental movement, which would offer more stimuli and perspectives. Second, I wanted to continue to use multi-media within the movement study, but to base the study in shared sites, as a common reference for our material. There would be recorded text, photos, video, live and recorded music and movement sequences based around two contrasting outdoor sites: a car scrapyard tucked away in the Dorset countryside and rock ledges in the Isle of Purbeck. Third, environmental sites would immediately present thematic content for the piece, aside from the themes raised by practising point line and angle, so this would add another layer of narrative to the piece. Fourth, I was still searching for a congruent position for the audience attending the movement studies and I hoped that working environmentally might help me to clarify the necessary relationship between myself and the audience.
The car scrapyard provided me with the ecological themes of consumerism and recycling, and was a site rich in associations: children’s secret gardens, finding the right part, the part that you need to make the whole car work again, rust, geometry, the mystery of lives gone by, forgotten journeys, the constancy of change and a sense of a parallel world to our more visible consumer reality. It was a site that reverberated with the results of human activity but that was also overgrown and seemed to be in danger of being overtaken by nature’s prolific growth. Here, I worked with the same writer, photographer and musician, each of whom visited the site and created material from the site: photographs, music, recorded sounds and commentaries, all created from and in relation to point, line and angle on site. I developed a series of movement sequences at the car scrapyard, which I then took into the village hall and improvised from, to see if a further layer of associations emerged from the physical movements when I changed site.
While I was working with the cars, several other themes began to make themselves felt. A sense of dismay developed within me at the quantity of these destroyed cars just on this one site and the sheer amount of wreckage that we manage to produce in our society. Respect grew for the detailed system of salvage, repair and restoration which took place on site, the value the scrapyard men gave to parts that to me would look like rubbish. As I moved, I became aware of the conventional use of sexual innuendos and ‘body parts’ in car advertising - I became aware of loss, death, ageing and disintegration. At that time, my father was ill with cancer and had become wheelchair bound. I was very aware of new limitations in my ageing body and my desire to accept and value the changes as they were. These associations travelled with me into the empty village hall. I imagined littering the stage with broken miniature cars and stacked car tyres…
In contrast, the rock ledges by the sea were very beautiful, wild and offered a sense of geometry in nature as well as the apparent “unchanged” ancient landscape. At the same time they lay beneath the disused quarries for Purbeck stone, so there were signs of past human activity all around.