Never Pure Source: In Response to Merce Cunningham


“… In 1960s diaries and letters, Merce Cunningham records days spent cooking beans and watching television, flipping between old movies, the news, and variety shows. In different spaces in which he lived and worked throughout the decades, I imagine him solo, or alongside his partner John (Cage), using chance to determine structure of movement in time and space—throwing hexagrams, flipping coins, tossing dice, opening his work up to other flows. TV waves discharging into the ether, refracted in choreographic form. Western movement, for the first time, unhinged from the frontal perspective of the proscenium, holding multiple centers, requiring many attentions—discontinuous, infinite, prismatic like nature and television. When you open your process up to the unknown, what other logics are let in? Does chance have interiority? Authorial voice, perspective, desire? Though many who worked with Merce insist chance was only one strategy by which he made dances, decisions made by generating randomness built the scaffolding of many of his dances. ‘I make movements,’ he said. Movement from his own kinesphere, sourcing nothing else. Then chance threw up proposals for what bodies can barely do, what minds would never think to do, and the dancing was the practice of puzzling, the labor of how to get from this strange point in space to the next. ‘I am no more philosophical than my legs,’ he said. In this moment in which I am a respondent to the time and practice of Merce, Souen-New York’s first macrobiotic restaurant can no longer keep its doors open and streams, clouds, and screens proliferate in images; my body is never pure source. I set to task exhaustively appropriating Merce’s most rigorous employment of the I Ching, Book of Changes to make my own dance. I approached the internet at random until I had collected sixty-four videos, one to sixty-four seconds long, to replace Merce’s sixty-four movement phrases—the vocabulary bank, what Merce called ‘the gamut,’ to match sixty-four hexagrams in the Book of Changes. …”
LACMA
Chance Dance
NY Times – Twist, Bend, Reach, Step: A Merce Cunningham Solo Anyone Can Try
THE I CHING AND ME: Merce Cunningham in conversation (Dance Magazine)
W – I Ching
YouTube: Inspirational Working Methods: John Cage and the I Ching

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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1 Response to Never Pure Source: In Response to Merce Cunningham

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