Phil Ross - Molecumersion
I went out and bought every book I could on high school biochemistry. Then I worked with a choreographer in San Francisco who I have worked with before on some of my other projects and I described the principles of the project to her. We devised some strategies together just to make sure they would work as choreography and be true to the descriptions of the molecules.
It was really important that the science be correct. We couldn’t do something that an atom or molecule wouldn’t do... I had to figure out a dynamic interaction; it was like the bonding in a molecule, a balance between the attraction force and the direction of repulsion.
We then asked each other what can we do as a group, how can we have these simple rules that would lead to more complex models and experiences.
We started with just basic warm ups. The warm ups didn't represent a real corollary between the participants and anything occurring on the atomic scale. They were just very very simplistic interactions to get us going.
Everyone had a partner, we'd begin by 'bonding' with each partner and then we'd move through the empty space as larger group forming a 'gas.' We would then find our oppositions, or pair bondings, and build random movements around actions. It was partially intuitive, going from simple things to more complex things.
The ultimate plan for the choreography is to have a situation or a strategy, where you’d begin with one movement and then suddenly out of that movement another emerges as a chemical reaction. Maybe it’s a reaction to fusion, or again maybe it’s like some kind of oxygen cycle occurring inside something, and then out of these basic parameters you could actually experience how chemical reactions happen.
If you get the critical number of people together, you can have these emergent events that will start to happen- one tiny little variable can set off a cascade effect that could then carry through and make certain characters clump together or react in certain ways so that you might have an explosive reaction via another dancer. Certain bonds between the performers might break apart after joining together because suddenly there’s a free oxygen that's introduced to the choreography.
The idea is to get to that place where you’re not scripting the movements but they just emerge from the basic rule sets, like a spontaneous emergent chemical reaction.
In the history of imagining the invisible, and definitely in microscopy…anytime there’s been some innovation in how we image the world, it’s led to great disturbances of the physical and cultural world as well.
During the Renaissance, it was catatropic; reality is actually 'fungible'—our eyes are creating new perspectives—there are definitely new and different ways in which we can imagine our world through micrology ,microscopic observation and visualization.
The workshop went from the idea of a mystical force to an actual agency. I imagine this process enabling us to imagine our bodies at very different scales simultaneously. It's like the atomic to the galactic all in one body all in the same time.
It’s kind of phenomenal…a lot of people talk about the molecular and subatomic realm being our normal state. We really are 'out of our minds' most of the time- being rational is such a specialized state of existence. Our psychic transference is just that slippery and it's very confusing to our rational side.
My fantasy is that I would like to do the project as a halftime show at a football game. Doing it in a stadium at such a large scale, with multiple video cameras, could enable us to show the global view of attractions and repulsions and at the same time, the view from down on the field could reveal individual bondings. You could use an X,Y and Z axis for describing the movement of the various components and molecules within the choreography. I don’t want this project to be just an isolated art event.
I think that when the project does scale up to say to one hundred people, then who knows what can happen. It's sort of beyond me to even imagine what that could be like.