31 October 2012
UNTRANSLATABLE! at the Gallery in the Duderstadt
UNTRANSLATABLE!: A Series of Dance Improvisations for the Camera by Peter Sparling
The Gallery in the Duderstadt Center, U-M North Campus, October 9-19, 2012
In response to UM LSA fall semester’s theme of translation, UNTRANSLATABLE! confronts the theme head-on, or body-on. The seven-screen installation consists of videos of myself performing danced improvisations for the camera. The largest screen features ten sets of dance improvisations videotaped in Paris during the fall of 2010.
I ask myself: Can the viewer, as I did while dancing, let my movement be “abstract”: a hypermobile (albeit middle-aged man’s) body improvising in rectangles of empty space, framed by the camera and in editing, with no meaning or narrative intended other than its subliminal effect on each witness made by the interplay of weight, flow, time and space? I defy the audience to translate my movement when there is no system of signs making up a movement language or no story to tell.
But I dare to contradict himself. Unable to resist the thrill of editing in Final Cut Pro, I immediately set to work translating the raw materials shown in UNTRANSLATABLE!, creating the twenty-five short screendances of The Paris Series. Eight of these works appear on a large flatscreen monitor to the immediate right of the large screen.
Water Alchemy is a video montage created from photographs by Ernestine Ruben of Sparling moving underwater at night in a pool lit by two beams of light. The images are striking for their distortions, caused by interaction of the movement of water, light and body. The surreal phantasmagoria for the screen is set to the vocal music of Gesualdo. As a last thought, I chose to include five studies I painted with acrylics to add yet another layer of translation.
Four Translations are works directly inspired by or translations of literary and musical texts, ranging from T.S, Eliot, Benjamin Britten, Walt Whitman and Bach.