YaYaYaAyAyAy is a dance piece dealing with darkness, sensory deprivation, and its effect on how we perceive space and time. I am all about how we perceive space and time. Brace yourselves, shit's about to get nerdy.
The woman sitting beside me didn't like me taking notes – it's LIVE art not WRITE art hahaha classic – so this is the extent of my notes:
I can explain. Show begins, Louise – I'm going to call her Louise because we chatted at the bar afterwards – dances slowly through a very slow strobe light. The strobe light was inspired by the light she saw in perfect darkness due to cortical white noise. While this is interesting, I never would have known this if she hadn't told me. Happily, sustained slow strobe lighting throws off plenty of other interesting associations. Like aliasing! I briefly thought the strobe was skipping beats to fuck with us, but actually I was just (unconsciously) blinking right as the strobe went off. Once I copped, I felt like a stupid camera that thinks helicopter rotors go backwards, or a stupid audio format with a low sample rate that turns sexy harmonics into unsexy bullshit. That simultaneous misperception and misattribution of the cause of the misperception was a really interesting reminder that your brain is a tabula non rasa, always implicated in any goings-on going on, even if it wasn't the commentary on perception Louise intended.
I was deliberately blinking really fast when the light stopped strobing and Louise began to speak as well as dance. Her approach to movement/text is described in mini-DRAFF [a one-off series of four tiny DRAFFs produced as part of Live Collision] as 'reversing and forwarding movement', but I didn't or couldn't perceive it that way. Knowing that's what she intended, I still struggle to perceive it that way. That's not a criticism, necessarily, but it says something interesting about how repetition and prolongation bleed into one another. Exact repetition of non-expressive units gets gestalted into a granular whole. Phew. Does that make sense? All I mean is, if there's no reason to think of things – movements, sounds – as discrete things because they don't have discrete meanings/qualities/identities, generally speaking your brain decides they're parts of a singular process rather than atomistic events. Rope, not dominoes. (Try see the dots but not the circle in this gif: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/491596115550090329/)
Applied to time, that means a single moment stretched out rather than equicapacious time containers all filled with the same action. This made the piece feel jarringly linear to me, given it claimed to “challenge and exhibit how our perceptions of time, space and choreography shift when in contact with sensory overload and deprivation”. The logic by which Louise repeated was cumulative, ultimately tending towards a complete/intelligible statement of whatever gesture/phrase she'd dissected. She certainly fucked with the audience's sense of temporal scale, but succession is an equally fundamental component of our sense of time with which she could have fucked.
That leads to Beep Beep. I wrote Beep Beep because someone's watch went Beep Beep during one of the weird bits. This struck me as both a total dick move and weirdly apposite, a reminder that regular clock time was still ticking away for everyone else.
And that, in turn, leads into why I wrote Early Dev. Early Dev is from the moment when Louise steps out of her strange, processual approach to motion and language and asks, in real/human/practical time, if she can have the houselights please? She could, as it turned out, and then she told us that the piece was finished, and how this was just an early development of YaYaYaAyAyAy. Whether or not it was intended as such, that was a moment that retroactively made me like all the strangely-linear-strangeness a lot more. You get habituated to trippy prolongation without periodic shocks, reminders of what regular time feels like. Her sudden naturalness was just such a shock, and it was, actually, shocking. In my head I went woah. Conditional to more Beep Beeps and up front chatting around the mad experiential components, this is a full length show I'm looking forward to loads.
Dylan for DRAFF
YaYaYaAyAyAy by Louise Ahl was presented at Project Arts Centre as part of Live Collision. Image by the artist. More on Louise's work at louiseahl.com
Posted: 03 December 2016