[ISEA2020] Paper: Renee Carmichael — Dance and Code with Empathy: A Reading of Joana Chicau and Merce Cunningham


Keywords: Dance, Code, Aesthetics, Poetics, Perception, Merce Cunningham, Joana Chicau, Formal Language, Dance-Writing, Feeling

This paper argues that the specifics of dance as a language, as being beyond writing at the same time as being a form of writing itself, can be used as a tool to evidence an aesthetic of code that includes a direct empathy with a formal, machinic feeling and not a metaphor of this feeling. The paper focuses on two specific cases: the live-coding performance The Theatre of Re_Sources by programmer and dancer Joana Chicau, which concretely provides connections between dance and code through its exploration of distances, and the Cunningham Technique developed by choreographer Merce Cunningham, which rids movement of any affect to later free the body through movement, illustrating a relationship between the formal and the feeling. The uxtaposition of these two works not only proposes an aesthetic of code that transverses the problems of its formal language, but it also illustrates a possible methodology for a reading of this aesthetic that goes beyond the instrumental and the expert.

  • Renee Carmichael, Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Renee Carmichael is a researcher, writer, lecturer and artist originally from Seattle. She is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Art Theory at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero in Argentina. Her thesis research focuses on the aesthetics of contemporary dance and code, exploring a relationship between the formal and the feeling. She has a master’s degree in Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice from Goldsmiths College in London, has previously worked as a researcher in the Hybrid Publishing Lab at Leuphana University in Germany, is founder of the experimental publishing project Flee Immediately! and is co-founder of the podcast Liminal Bits. Her research, writing and artworks often bring together poetic and interdisciplinary ideas that explore the boundaries between theory and practice. renee-carmichael.com