TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science
27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta
The artist performs an ancient martial arts-based movement form, to trigger and affect audio output via limb-mounted IMU3 sensors. The resultant soundscape originates from recordings of real-life testimonies of near-death experiences, transgressing western cultural taboos of silence around the end of life; a transition at the forefront of people’s lives during pandemic, and in ongoing war zones. The testimonies being heard as a result of movement, rather than direct speech, symbolises embodied memory.
The movement style is influenced by mixed martial arts including Indonesian Kembangen, an improvised form individualised by each practitioner, combining changes of speed and level, in a continuous flow where movements respond to the moment.
Sword movements based upon Malay Silat are replicated with a fluffy duster, reflecting unremarked-upon daily struggles of ongoing duties of care and survival, and the normalising of unseen violence experienced by many.
During the performance, esoteric books wrapped in cloth are occasionally examined, but never unwrapped, relating to the hidden principle of consciousness lasting beyond death.
By combining this improvised movement work with wearable technologies, two software programmes, a laptop, and sound-system, the artist electronically expresses meaning evoked from ancient, pre-tech movement vocabularies which originated in close connection with the rhythms, patterns and forms of trees, land, ecology (Spiller, 2016) The performance and audio outcomes can thus be seen/heard as expressions of planetary ecologies and – being improvised – the artist’s inner expression, human expression and supra-expression.
The artist’s deeply embodied martial arts practice is hard-won after much disciplined training. However, avoidance of regimented aspects of martial arts and choreographed movement gives free rein to any spontaneous interiority they care to express in the moment as mover and sound-maker.
Combining ancient, esoteric movement forms with modern technology offers a sense of circularity, a transcendence of the supposed linearity of time.
The artist gives voice to other-than-human identity; in performance their consciousness evolves, becoming cyborg, as spontaneous movement choices are not just as a dancer/martial artist but also as an electronic music device.
Although identifying as non-binary, the almost 60 year-old artist is perceived as an older ‘female,’ the use of tech and martial arts transgressing the safety of age and gender stereotypes. Perceived thus, being the centre of their own creation, using powerful fighting moves as well as flowing forms, creating amplified soundscapes by their movements, the artist empowers the older cis-female within a patriarchy focused on youth. This expression subverts any traditional gendered gaze, revealing the perceived-female as creatrix, by harnessing technology to empower and enlarge the scope of their existence when even their smallest movement echoes outward into the world as amplified sound.
The physical performance creating sound blurs boundaries, encouraging loosening of perceptive expectation, opening witnesses to the connectedness of all phenomena, the interdependence of all experience.
The performance shared via video link will be updated for this performance. The introductory section performed rather than spoken, the artist anticipating a more informed audience. The artist is currently gathering further near-death testimonies to include in the soundscape, and further developing the sword/duster section.
Length of performance can be adapted as required, repeated at different times.
Minns is an older non-binary artist using dance, music technology, words, video, liveness, to create work with cosmic resonance. Facilitator of collective ecoart events Be-coming Tree. Immersed in 1990s London queer club scene they were bassist in bands e.g. Leigh Bowery's Minty, also combat medalist in Silat martial arts world championships in 1997. In 2010 obtained degree in Dance/Music Technology, and began working with motion-sensing music tech. 2014-17 supported by Arts Council England to create/tour autobiographical mixed-genre socially engaged theatre: Get Therapy, Danielle Imara’s In Jail. Live art/cabaret at queer events eg ActArt, Duckie, Deep Trash, The Glory. Member of non-binary live art gang FBI+A, performed LADA, MK Gallery. During pandemic made collaborative videoart: Y&I series, Matters A:Rising and award-winning solo pieces, and co-founded/facilitated collaborative durational live ecoart events Be-coming Tree. 2021 Creative Scotland funded wearable motion sensor setup and software integration, 2022 performance commission at Live Art Ireland.