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Assisted Solo Navigating Relational & Representational Failure in Music-Dance Collaboration

Myfanwy Hunter

Masters of Interdisciplinary Arts Practice (by Research) The Centre For Ideas, VCA/MCM, The University of Melbourne

November 2017

Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters of Interdisciplinary Arts Practice (by Research) ORCID No. 0000-0001-5581-9863


Abstract This practice-based research asks how failure can be harnessed as a generative tool for locating, articulating and extending creative capacity in Assisted Solo music-dance collaboration. Throughout this research, the term Assisted Solo is a solo work derived from improvised interaction between one instrumentalist (myself) and one dancer. The problematic of defining failure in improvisation is addressed through theoretical discourse on relational and representational aesthetics. Failure in praxis is explored in three interrelated bodies of work. Sounding – three audio albums of Assisted Solos based on research-informed provocations of failing, falling, convoluting, and capacity. Seeing – a series of photographs and drypoint etchings reflecting thematics of cracks, gaps, rupture, and repair. Interplay – interactive interviews with creative practitioners exploring the aforementioned provocations and thematics. A rhizomatic methodology permits multiple associations between the practical work and the main theoretical, philosophical underpinnings of Heidegger’s non-privative lacunae, Priest’s surplus of failure, and the Japanese concept of ma – a space, gap or interval. The practical and written work coalesce to form an argument in favour of embracing failure as a tool for locating, articulating, and extending capacity within the Assisted Solo and related fields of inquiry. Access the practical work via http://www.assistedsolo.com. Key Words: assisted solo, failure, improvisation, ma, viola, dance, drypoint.

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I did not have desire to overcome absences in my faculties... I merely used them to the advantage of invention.1 John Cage

1 David Revill, The Roaring Silence: John Cage, a Life (New York: Arcade, 1992), p. 16.

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Certification I hereby certify that this thesis comprises only my original work except where indicated. Image permissions have been granted for all images not my own. Due acknowledgment has been made in the text to all other material used. The thesis is 19,190 words in length, inclusive of footnotes, but exclusive of the bibliography.

Myfanwy Hunter November 15, 2017

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Acknowledgements My sincere gratitude to the Centre For Ideas at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, for providing the opportunity to undertake this research. Particularly to my supervisors Dr Elizabeth Presa and Dr Roger Alsop, to Chair Professor Mary Luckhurst, and to all fellow researchers based at the Centre For Ideas. Your collective input, encouragement, and firm guidance over the years have been intrinsic to the research trajectory and development. A huge thank you to the dancers who collaborated with me on the recording project - Alice Cummins, Brendan O’Connor, Cobie Orger, Elnaz Sheshgelani, Evgenii Timofeev, Tony Yap. To Ross Colliver and Alice Cummins of Riddell’s Creek Dance Studio, where so much of the work took place. To sound engineer Myles Mumford for his expertise and enthusiasm for the project. To all Interplay participants - Jennifer Andersen, Emma Bathgate, Ezra Bridgman, Natalie Cursio, Ineke de Graaf, Ernie Gruner, Ross Henderson, Dr Adrian Little, Anita Quayle, Dr Philipa Rothfield, Lauren Simmonds, Suze Smith, Naree Vachananda, Ren Walters, and Ilka White. To Adrian Kellett Head of Printmaking, VCA, and to artist/printmaker Katie Stackhouse for their drypoint etching guidance and expertise. To Grace Pundyk for editorial support. Finally, my deepest gratitude to family and close friends for their ongoing support throughout the research, and especially to Jonathan Sinatra for his insights, support, encouragement, and for his embodied knowledge as a dancer and photographer.

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Table of Contents Abstract....................................................................................................................................................................... i Certification ............................................................................................................................................................ iii Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................................... iv List of Illustrations ................................................................................................................................................ vii INTRODUCTION: ENTERING ........................................................................................................................... 1 Research Impetus ..................................................................................................................................................... 1 Artist’s Background ................................................................................................................................................. 3 Key Terms ................................................................................................................................................................. 4 Research Questions .................................................................................................................................................. 5 Methodology............................................................................................................................................................. 5 Project Documentation ............................................................................................................................................ 8 Thesis Overview ....................................................................................................................................................... 9 CHAPTER 1: LOCATING .................................................................................................................................... 11 Open Improvisation............................................................................................................................................... 11 The Assisted Solo ................................................................................................................................................... 12 The Solo-Social Continuum .................................................................................................................................. 14 Articulating the Assisted Solo .............................................................................................................................. 16 The Double Fail of Improvisation ........................................................................................................................ 16 Heidegger’s Non-Privative Lacunae ................................................................................................................... 17 Ma Correlations ...................................................................................................................................................... 19 Locating Summary .................................................................................................................................................. 21 CHAPTER 2: INTER-ING .................................................................................................................................... 22 Interplay .................................................................................................................................................................. 22 Main Interplay Findings ....................................................................................................................................... 23

Future-oriented Failure ............................................................................................................................ 23 Myelination ................................................................................................................................................ 24 Effortless Attention................................................................................................................................... 25 Solo Practice Notes................................................................................................................................................. 27 Subsidiary Interplay Findings .............................................................................................................................. 29

Neurological Newness ............................................................................................................................. 29 Tom Johnson’s ‘Failing’ ........................................................................................................................... 29 The Intimacy of Failure ............................................................................................................................ 30 Beckett the Optimist ................................................................................................................................. 31 Inter-ing Summary ................................................................................................................................................. 31 v


CHAPTER 3: SOUNDING ................................................................................................................................... 32 Assisted Solo Recording Project .......................................................................................................................... 32 Audience/Witness ................................................................................................................................................. 35 Scordatura ............................................................................................................................................................... 35 Sites of Trauma ....................................................................................................................................................... 37 Music-Dance References ....................................................................................................................................... 38 Modes of Listening ................................................................................................................................................ 41 The Album Titles .................................................................................................................................................... 44 SOLOS I:I Viola ...................................................................................................................................................... 46

Track 2: ‘Attending’ .................................................................................................................................. 46 Track 5: ‘Mapping’.................................................................................................................................... 48 Track 6: ‘Subverting’ ................................................................................................................................ 48 Track 7: ‘Departing’ .................................................................................................................................. 49 SOLOS I:I Bass ........................................................................................................................................................ 50

Track 4: ‘Suspending’ ............................................................................................................................... 50 Track 5: ‘Drilling’ ...................................................................................................................................... 51 RUPTURE//RAPTURE ........................................................................................................................................ 53

Track 1: ‘Rupture’ ..................................................................................................................................... 53 Track 2: ‘Rapture’ ...................................................................................................................................... 54 Post-Production ........................................................................................................................................ 55 Sounding Summary ................................................................................................................................................ 57 CHAPTER 4: SEEING ........................................................................................................................................... 58 Mapping Ma ............................................................................................................................................................ 58 Verandah as Intermezzo ....................................................................................................................................... 62 Visual References ................................................................................................................................................... 64 The Etchings............................................................................................................................................................ 66 Seeing Summary ..................................................................................................................................................... 73 CONCLUSION: EXITING ................................................................................................................................... 74

Locating ...................................................................................................................................................... 74 Articulating ................................................................................................................................................ 75 Navigating ................................................................................................................................................. 75 Attending ................................................................................................................................................... 76 Extending ................................................................................................................................................... 76 Failing Forward ...................................................................................................................................................... 76 Bibliography .......................................................................................................................................................... 79 vi


List of Illustrations Fig. 1 Rhizomatic depiction of the research project. M. Hunter, July 2017. .................................................... 8 Fig. 2 Danish duo WeGo. 'An Assisted Solo 1-3' 2004-2007. Photo: Thomas Petri. ...................................... 12 Fig. 3 Motion Bank. The Forsythe Company (2010-13). Zoo Company dancers: Mat Voorter, Thomas Hauert, Sara Ludi. ......................................................................................................................................... 13 Fig. 4 ‘Solo-Social Continuum’. Illustration #1. M. Hunter, May 2017. ......................................................... 14 Fig. 5 ‘Solo-Social Continuum’. Illustration #2. M. Hunter, May 2017. ......................................................... 15 Fig. 6 Interplay discussion and interaction provocations. ............................................................................... 23 Fig. 7 Solo Practice Notes. M Hunter, Nov 2015. .............................................................................................. 28 Fig. 8 Attempting to play Tom Johnson's ‘Failing’. Interplay with L. Simmonds, March 27, 2015. .......... 30 Fig. 9 Cello Suite V ‘Prelude’ by J.S. Bach – showing original scordatura tuning. ........................................ 36 Fig. 10 Broken viola, April 2015. Repaired by master luthier W. Fordham, June 2015. .............................. 37 Fig. 11 Site of trauma & transformation, Riddells Creek Dance Studio, April 2016. ................................... 38 Fig. 12 SOLOS I:I (Viola) album cover & track details. ..................................................................................... 46 Fig. 13 SOLOS I:I (Bass) album cover & track details. ....................................................................................... 50 Fig. 14 Rapture//Rupture album cover & track details. ...................................................................................... 53 Fig. 15 Max/MSP (Cycling '74) vb.stretch patch. Screen shot M. Hunter, Oct 2016. ................................... 56 Fig. 16 Tram floor repairs, Melbourne, April 2014. Photo: M. Hunter........................................................... 59 Fig. 17 Nishi Hongwangji Temple, Kyoto, Japan, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter .................................... 59 Fig. 18 Nishi Hongwanji verandah floor repairs, Kyoto, Japan, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter. ........... 60 Fig. 19 Walking over repairs, Nishi Hongwanji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter. ............ 60 Fig. 20 Nishi Hongwanji verandah floor, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter. ................................................. 61 Fig. 21 Left: ‘Walking Fort’ by Kim van Someren. Drypoint etching, 12"x9", 2011. ..................................... 64 Fig. 22 Right: ‘North Bank’ by Ross Loveday. Drypoint etching 33x33cm, date unknown........................ 64 Fig. 23 Left: Example of kintsugi. Photo credit: DemysTeafication. ............................................................... 66 Fig. 24 Right: Example of yobitsugi, ‘Shino Yobitsugi Daizara’ by Goro Suzuki, 2010. .............................. 66 Fig. 25 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016. ............................. 67 Fig. 26 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016. ............................. 68 Fig. 27 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016. ............................. 69 Fig. 28 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper. 20x20cm, 2016. ............................. 70 Fig. 29 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016. ............................. 71 Fig. 30 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016. ............................. 72

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INTRODUCTION: ENTERING We practice entering. Where, how to commence? Out of the space? In the space? In stillness? Locomoting? Sounding? Silencing? Walking? Falling? Falling as a type of failing. Failing is as type of arriving. At the ground. At the edge of the Known. Falling and failing through to the New. As the musician, do I enter first and lay down a bed of sound for the mover to move into? Do they enter first and ‘take up slack’ in the space for me to slide a sound in to and around? How much is enough? How much pressure at the points of contact between viola and jaw line, shoulder rest on clavicle, posterior edge of tip of left thumb on the neck of the viola adjacent the peg box? Leathery flesh of left fingertips make contact along well-worn grooves of metal strings, pressing just enough into the fingerboard. Sliding, milking, kneading the notes with this vibrato or that. Or none? Attending to the minutiae of ‘No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ 2 3

Research Impetus As a violist, cultivating and revealing a practice based on failure represents the antithesis of the Classical Western music fixation with virtuosity, technicity, and prestige. Working in the field of the Assisted Solo in improvised music-dance collaboration, this practice-based research project draws on personal and interpersonal accounts of failure to illustrate alternative relational, representational, and psychophysiological associations with failure. Actual or perceived failure is common among string players and musicians in general. Performance pressures can have severe detrimental impacts on musicians, as indicated in music performance anxiety (MPA) research by Kenny4, Helding5, Amorim6, Barbar7, and as far back as Burk in his 1918 article ‘The Fetish of Virtuosity’8. MPA can be succinctly encapsulated as a fear of failure. At risk of being a ‘fetish of failure’, this research project aims to demonstrate how failure can be utilised as a means to locate, articulate, and extend creative capacity, specifically in the context of the Assisted Solo and improvised musicdance collaborations.

2 Excerpt #1 from ‘A Sentence. A Paragraph. A Page: On the influence of Alice Cummins dance/movement classes in my music making’. M. Hunter, May/June 2016. 3 Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho (London: John Calder, 1983), p. 7. 4 Dianna T. Kenny, Stephen Arthey, and Allan Abbass, ‘Identifying Attachment Ruptures Underlying Severe Music Performance Anxiety in a Professional Musician Undertaking an Assessment and Trial Therapy of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (Istdp),’ Springerplus 5, no. 1 (2016). 5 Lynn Helding, ‘Music Performance Anxiety,’ Journal of Singing, no. 1 (2016). 6 M. I. T. Amorim and A. I. L. Jorge, ‘Association between Temporomandibular Disorders and Music Performance Anxiety in Violinists,’ Occupational Medicine 66, no. 7 (2016). 7 Ana E. Barbar, José A. Crippa, and Flávia L. Osório, ‘Parameters for Screening Music Performance Anxiety,’ Revista Brasileira De Psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil: 1999) 36, no. 3 (2014). 8 John N. Burk, ‘The Fetish of Virtuosity,’ The musical quarterly 4, no. 2 (1918).

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Failure is often experienced as arriving at the edge of capacity, or in fact, risking tipping over the edge of current capacity and ability. This project maps the proprioceptional terrain of failure as experienced internally in the body engaged in improvised instrumental music and sound making. Concurrently, it maps exteroceptionally the influence of situation, space, and other in co-created improvisation and visual art practice. Turning towards failure presents an opportunity to reframe my relationship to self, instrument and other. In her editor’s forward to Failing – Documents in Contemporary Art, Lisa Le Feuvre advocates ‘using both dissatisfaction and error as a means to rethink how we understand our place in the world.’9 Bio-locating self and creative practice through mapping failure is central to the underlying impulse of the work. This research extends Le Feuvre’s concept of failure as a tool for harnessing failure in private practice and in social spheres of interaction. In Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure, Sara Jane Bailes comments that ‘a discourse of failure in art practice has mapped a vibrant counter-cultural space of alternative and often critical articulation, in which conventional standards of virtuosity are challenged and methods of practice scrutinized and re-worked’.10 Bailes promotes enagagement with performance theatre ‘where failure is illuminated and foregrounded – interrogated for its radical and potentially subversive strategy’.11 Similarly, this research is interested in failure, not in failing. To wit, the project does not set out to create works that fail. It aims to explore failures of representation in audio and visual mediums. This distinction is crucial to the viewing of the practical work in its final form. The research culminated in a suite of Assisted Solo audio works co-created with six dancers, ‘Interplay’ – a series of interviews with creative practitioners, and a collection of drypoint etching representations of failure, cracks, gaps, and repair.

9 ‘Failing: Documents of Contemporary Art,’ in Whitechapel Gallery, ed. Lisa Le Feuvre (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010), p. 12. 10 Sara Jane Bailes, Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure: Forced Entertainment, Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service (New York: Routledge, 2011), p. 2. 11 Sara Jane Bailes, “Fail again, fail better: performance theatre and the poetics of failure,” (lecture, University of Melbourne, Parkville, October 18, 2017).

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Artist’s Background This practice-based research project stems from over 25 years experience as a violist, visual artist, and music educator. My private viola practice resides with refining classical repertoire, such as the Bach Cello Suites, Telemann Fantasias, and the works of Francesca Maria Veracini. However, I rarely perform this material live; my public performance engagement is situated primarily in a social practice of experimental and improvisational ensemble performance contexts. I collaborate with musicians, dancers, theatre makers, and visual artists using adapted string instruments, fretless bass guitar, found-sound implements and re-purposed mechanical musical instruments, such as the pianola.12 My visual art practice encompasses projection, stencils, photography, videography, etchings, and installation. Previous research and creative works explored the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and the body in motion. Concepts of error and glitch played a significant role in these works through the repurposing of the internal mechanisms of a player piano, transforming it into a hand-operator projector machine. The works of Kim Cascone,13 Conlon Nancarrow,14 Andrew Durkin,15 William Gaddis’ Agape Agape,16 and performance duo Optical Machines17 informed the theoretical and practical basis of previous work. This Masters research delves further into the terrain of glitch interpreted as failure in relation to my own physical body and instruments – viola and bass guitar. These interests in interdisciplinary arts practice inform my capacity as a music educator. I have taught viola and directed instrumental ensembles since 1998. Since 2008, I’ve held the position of Music Coordinator at Sophia Mundi, an inner-city Waldorf and International Baccalaureate World School founded on the pedagogy and anthroposophical principals of Rudolf Steiner. While the findings of the research may have beneficial application in educational contexts, the main impulse for this research project stems from my work as an artist and researcher.

12 For more details visit www.myfanwyhunter.com 13 Kim Cascone, ‘The Aesthetics of Failure: 'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music,’ in Collected Work: Electronica, Dance and Club Music. (2012). 14 David Suisman, ‘Sound, Knowledge, and the "Immanence of Human Failure": Rethinking Musical Mechanization through the Phonograph, the Player-Piano, and the Piano,’ Social Text vol. 28, no. 1 (2010). 15 Andrew Durkin, Decomposition: A Music Manifesto (New York: Pantheon, 2014). 16 William Gaddis, Agapé Agape (New York: Viking, 2002). 17 Optical Machines, ‘(Shift),’ (Montreal: Centre George Pompidou, Live performance, October 18, 2011).

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Key Terms There are several key terms drawn from the research title and abstract that are described here in brief. These terms are: Assisted Solo, ‘relational failure’, ‘representational failure’, ‘navigating’, ‘music’, ‘dance’, ‘collaboration’, and the ‘Solo-Social Continuum’. Each of these key terms is discussed in greater detail throughout this dissertation. An Assisted Solo is a solo that contains the imprint of the other. The term is utilised throughout this project to frame the interaction between myself as an instrumentalist in oneon-one collaborations with dancers. ‘Relational failure’ refers to a disconnect between self and self, instrument, space, and other.18 ‘Representational failure’ occurs when the creative material arising from relational encounters does not meet the intended outcome.19 ‘Navigating’ is how I engage with both the relational and representational material. ‘Music’ encompasses my instrumental practice with 5-string viola and fretless acoustic bass guitar and includes timbral and rhythmic extended techniques on both instruments. It also extends to the resonant potential of the room, incorporating the dancer, their footfall, their breath, and the external environment. ‘Dance’ incorporates the background and experience of my dance collaborators, who have trained in butoh,20 BodyMind Centeringâ,21 martial arts, and improvisation. Dance also encompasses movement as distinct from dance, including micromovements of my body in relationship to instrument, space, others. ‘Collaboration’ occurs in the solo, duo and social fields of creative engagement and is identified and expanded on through the project as the self-coined term ‘Solo-Social Continuum’. Utilising failure to locate, articulate, and expand the realm of the Assisted Solo along the Solo-Social Continuum is the focus of this research project.

18 Stephanie Hill, ‘"An Invitation for Disaster" - Embracing the 'Double Failure' of Improvisation,’ Critical Studies in Improvisation / Etudes critiques en improvisation Vol. 9, no. 2 (2013): p. 1. 19 Ibid. 20 Butoh – a form of contemporary Japanese dance founded by Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo, circa 1959. 21 BodyMind Centeringâ (BMC) - Study of the experienced body, developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen.

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Research Questions In Boring, Formless, Nonsense - Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure, Eldritch Priest states that ‘failure has no particular point, that it is radically perspectival and, ultimately, despite the regularities that restrict its measure, radically indeterminate’.22 This research argues that failure, rather than having no particular point, contains a multiplicity of points, or nodes, which can direct the creative practitioner to locate, articulate and extend latent creative potential. Stemming from my interest in failure in both solo and social forms of creative practice, the main question of this research is: How can failure be utilised as a tool for locating, articulating, and extending creative capacity in Assisted Solo interaction? Three subsidiary questions arising from this main question are: 1. How do I navigate failure in my creative practice? 2. How does improvisation fail? 3. How can a robust relationship with failure benefit my work as an artist, researcher and educator? In contrasting the failures of improvised and composed music, Priest claims that the latter ‘shine a little brighter’.23 Composed music can be readily held accountable to the composer’s score and intent. The score or map for improvised music is often more elusively located in a verbal agreement or image-based graphic score. Priest’s statement informs the underlying lodestar of this research: ‘How can failure in improvised music-making shine a little brighter?’. Turning towards failure as a tool for locating current ability/inability and honing future capacity assists me to ‘shine a little brighter’ in my creative practice.

Methodology As an artist, researcher, and music educator, my creative process locomotes between these three arenas in a rhizomatic approach of embedding the theoretical and philosophical concepts into practice. In keeping with this rhizomatic approach, the methodology employed throughout this research project is A/R/Tography – an arts-based methodology encompassing the artist, researcher, and teacher in a ‘decentralized exploration of intersecting interests and activities’.24 (Throughout the remainder of this dissertation I will refer to this methodology as ‘artography’.) Informed by Deleuze and Guattari’s explication

22 Eldritch Priest, Boring Formless Nonsense: Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013), p. 6. 23 Ibid., p. 18. 24 Rita L Irwin et al., ‘The Rhizomatic Relations of a/R/Tography,’ Studies in Art Education 48, no. 1 (2006): p. 71.

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of rhizomatic connectivity in A Thousand Plateaus,25 artography supports inter-related inquiry through a helical approach of ongoing making-writing/writing-making. Deleuze and Guattari define the fourth principle of the rhizomatic structure as ‘asignifying rupture’: ‘asignifying rupture…A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines…There is a rupture in the rhizome whenever segmentary lines explode into a line of flight, but the line of flight is part of the rhizome. These lines always tie back to one another. That is why one can never posit a dualism or a dichotomy, even in the rudimentary form of the good and the bad.’26 Rhizomatic research encourages a nonlinear approach. It preferences mapping over tracing and invites the everyday, the lived experience, the flailings and failings. As noted by Wiebe, Sameshima et al., ‘Rhizomes resist taxonomies and create interconnected networks with multiple entry points’.27 Per the underlying rhizomatic methodology of this project, there are potentially multiple entry points to this dissertation and the associated creative works. Rhizome’s resist binaries. An obvious path in researching failure in creative practice is to contrast it with success, or virtuosity. By employing a rhizomatic approach to the research material, the atypical binary established between failure and virtuosity (or success) is disbanded in favour of a more nuanced understanding of their inter-relationality. As Clarke and Parson’s state: ‘Simplified binaries of qualitative vs. quantitative no longer hold sway as they develop awareness for what Kristeva calls the ‘abject’, or what one might call being caught in paradox, or Heidegger called unheimlichkeit or ‘strangeness’.’28 Examining failure in creative practice uncoupled from the binary implication of success or virtuosity permits psychophysiological availability to the full range of possibilities that failure heralds. Artography permits a relational dynamic between the three practical components of the project – the interviews, audio albums, and drypoint etchings – and the theoretical,

25 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Bloomsbury Publishing, 1988). 26 Ibid., p. 9. 27 Sean Wiebe et al., ‘Re-Imagining Arts Integration: Rhizomatic Relations of the Everyday,’ The Journal of Educational Thought (JET)/Revue de la Pensée Educative (2007): p. 270. 28 Bryan Clarke and Jim Parsons, ‘Becoming Rhizome Researchers,’ Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology 4, no. 1 (2013).

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philosophical underpinnings. The three bodies of work inform and give rise to multiplicities of correlations and connections. Irwin et al. state ‘Rhizomatic relationality affects how we understand theory and practice, product and process. Theory is no longer an abstract concept but rather an embodied living inquiry, an interstitial relational space for creating, teaching, learning, and researching in a constant state of becoming.’29 It is this domain of non-binary, embodied engagement with failure that the project navigates. Artography is a burgeoning area of academic research that offers depth, breadth, and relevance for the 21st century arts researcher. A 2017 PhD research project employing an artographic methodology with a web-based repository is evidenced in the work of Dr Kathryn Coleman. Coleman’s work ‘explores identity, creativity and digital portfolios as A/R/Tographer.’30 Coleman’s web-based portfolio and thesis is mutable, contradicting academic requirements of providing a permanent record. The internet itself can be viewed as a mass Deleuzian plain of rhizomatic information and connectivity.31 Coleman’s research and others like it, such as this research project, indicate the leading edge of growth for institutions to grapple with and accommodate web-based rhizomatic presentations of academic research in the creative arts. Artography offers a non-arboreal, non-hierarchical approach to arts-based research. It preferences the middle ground of connectivity between co-existing nodes of inquiry. The three ‘middle’ nodes of this dissertation are ‘Chapter 2: Inter-ing’, ‘Chapter 3: Sounding’ and ‘Chapter 4: Seeing’. In ‘Chapter 2: Inter-ing’, rhizomatic methodology permits a thick synthesis of the material collected during the Interplay series, which consists of over 35 hours of audio-tape and 150,000+ words of interview transcriptions. In ‘Chapter 3: Sounding’, artography takes the framework and provocations from the Interplay series and further explores concepts of failure in collaboration with the six dancers. In ‘Chapter 4: Seeing’, rhizomatic connections are mapped between a Melbourne tram floor repair and Japanese temple floor repairs via the drypoint etching series. These etchings subsequently informed the artwork of the audio album recording project.

29 Irwin et al., p. 71. 30 Dr Kathryn Coleman, ‘An a/R/Tist in Wonderland Exploring Identity, Creativity and Digital Portfolios as a/R/Tographer,’ Accessed, http://www.artographicexplorations.com/. 31 Christian Beck, ‘Web of Resistance: Deleuzian Digital Space and Hacktivism,’ Journal for Cultural Research 20, no. 4 (2016).

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As evidenced by this interlinked activity throughout the practical, theoretical, and philosophical aspects of the work, the project is inherently rhizomatic and therefore well suited to a web-based portfolio and an artographic methodological approach. The interrelated rhizomatic lines of inquiry are depicted in Figure 1.

ASSISTED SOLO: Navigating Relational & Representational Failure in Music-Dance Collaboration Research Impetus Artists Background Methodology Solo-Social Continuum

Future Research

A/t/ography

Research Questions

CONCLUSION: EXITING

INTRO: ENTERING

RHizmoatic research

Research Scope

Project Documentation Assisted Solo Key Terms

Relational Failure Representational Failure

Dear Mr West

Recordings

Etchings No. 8 Tram

Website Photography

Public & Private Repair Verandah as Intermezzo

CHAPTER 4: SEEING

Etchings Interplay Interviews

Repair

We Go

MA

ASSISTED SOLO

Examples of

A significant contribution to new knowledge

SOLOS I:I Bass Max patch vb.stretch~

CHAPTER 1: LOCATING

Solo-Duo Continuum

Extreme time stretch misperformance

A tool for locating, articulating and expanding creative practice

RUPTURE//RAPTURE

Brokan Viola

Thomas Hauert New Node

SOLOS I:I Viola

Failure

Broken bass string

Thematic throughout Defines edges of the Assisted Solo along the Solo-Duo Continuum

Disconnect w Tony Yap Site of trauma - location within the studio Failing - A Very Difficult Piece For Solo String Bass

CHAPTER 3: SOUNDING

Marder

Tom Johnson

Heidegger

Interplay Interviews

Cobie Orger

Ineke

Elnaz Sheshgelani

Myelination of neural pathways

Prof. Adrian Little

Alice Cummins Dancers

CHAPTER 2: INTER-ING

Brendan O’Connor

Naree

Tony Yap Evgenii Timofeev

Da-sein The ‘Non-privative Lacuna

Future-Oriented Failure

Attention

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity Simone Weil

Discussion Provocations Interaction

Fig. 1 Rhizomatic depiction of the research project. M. Hunter, July 2017.

Project Documentation The project was documented through audio, video and photographic mediums. These practical aspects of the research are supported by reflective writing and journal entries, which illuminate and deeper synthesise in the work. The audio recordings, visual works and interviews are housed online at www.assistedsolo.com. The site will be referred to at various key points throughout this dissertation. The repository includes: Inter-ing Excerpts of interviews with twenty creative practitioners and one political theorist on failure, capacity, rupture and repair. Interview excerpts can be accessed here: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay. 8


Sounding Three albums of Assisted Solos co-created with six dancers: SOLOS I:I (Viola) - http://www.assistedsolo.com/viola SOLOS I:I (Bass) – http://www.assistedsolo.com/bass Rupture//Rapture - http://www.assistedsolo.com/rupture-rapture Seeing Visual interpretations of cracks, gaps, rupture and repair in a series of drypoint etchings and photographs. A selection of the etchings can be accessed here: www.assistedsolo.com/etchings

Thesis Overview This dissertation is structured in the following way: Introduction: Entering includes impetus for the research; background of the artistresearchers creative practice; the main research question and subsidiary questions; rhizomatic methodology and reasoning; project documentation; thesis overview; definition of key terms. Chapter 1: Locating contextualises the research within improvisation music practice. Introduces and expands on the term Assisted Solo; introduces the Solo-Social Continuum and frames failure in improvisation through the lens of relational and representational aesthetics. Three core concepts are introduced: Martin Heidegger’s non-privative lacunae; Eldritch Priest’s surplus of failure; and the Japanese concept of ma (space, gap, interval). Chapter 2: Inter-ing gives an overview of findings from twenty-one interviews conducted with creative practitioners on the themes of failure; expands the interview findings on future-oriented failure, myelination, and forms of attention; identifies examples of attention and myelination via reflective solo practice notes; gives brief mention to select and relevant subsidiary interview findings. Chapter 3: Sounding provides a detailed description of the recording project with six contemporary dancers, culminating in three audio albums of Assisted Solos; outlines key musical references; defines modes of listening from Chion, Oliveros, and Voegelin, employed to revisit the recorded material; detailed analysis of album titles and select tracks, 9


which highlight the research aims of using failure to locate, articulate and expand creative capacity; outlines post-production processes that epitomise the research objectives. Chapter 4: Seeing expands the Japanese notion of ma in Japanese architecture and culture; considers the verandah muso-metaphorically as an intermezzo space between inside and out; discusses the value of broken-ness; references key printmakers whose work informed the etching series; gives examples of the visual aspect of the project, comprising a series of photographs of repaired temple floors and subsequent drypoint etching prints; draws connections between the etchings, the audio works and the Assisted Solo. Conclusion: Exiting summary of the main findings on failure and the Assisted Solo; responds to the main research questions with the following thematics: locating, articulating, navigating, viewing, extending; indicates future trajectories and potential applications of the research findings; and the project’s contribution to the field of music, failure, and its current relationship to sound, movement, and visual arts practice. Chapter Prefaces Contextualised The beginning of each chapter is prefaced by an excerpt from a piece of reflective writing titled ‘A sentence. A paragraph. A page.’ This piece was prompted by a conversation with Alice Cummins - a dancer, BodyMind Centeringâ teacher, and mentor of mine since 2008. During the recording project, Cummins suggested I write a reflective piece on the influence of her dance classes on my music practice. The body of the text refers to key themes within Cummins’ work, such as entering, locating, exiting. This text subsequently informed the dissertation chapter structures, as detailed above. The excerpts offer an alternate reflective voice and are intended as a poetic lens with which to frame the contents of each chapter.

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CHAPTER 1: LOCATING The Walking Score. Walking as composing. Walking as finding. Self. The space. Others. As a type of locating. A rearranging of the Ma of things. Locating my body and/or my sounding with the rhythmic patter of footfall. Locating the external and internal parameters. Finding potential space to move from and into. Alice’s Walking Score is like a musical scale. It’s an extension of Steve Paxton’s piece titled ‘Score for a Satisfyin’ Lover’. We are simply walking. Up and down the room, across, to the side. Always forward. Arms to our sides. Very much like up and down a scale. From this stripped back structure we build to find new forms and freedom. Freedom to interject between each other, to compose in stillness and silence a thickening of the spaces between. Alice’s body and movement language is intrinsically musical. She speaks of arrangement, composition, counterpoint, theme and variation, melody, harmony and timbre. Much like with music, but it’s with the body. It is this common shared language that drew me to her classes and continues to provide many modes of access and connection when working with dancers in rehearsal and performance. 32

Open Improvisation In this research, my music and sound-making on viola and fretless bass guitar is informed by Free Improvisation, otherwise known as Non-Idiomatic Improvisation or Open Improvisation.33 Emerging from 1960-70s free-style jazz musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane, exponents of Free Improvisation include Gavin Bryars, Tony Oxley, and Derek Bailey.34 Costa writes, ‘free improvisation is a practice free from any pre-established system, based mainly in desire, interaction, and listening’.35 Furthermore, Niknafs states that Free Improvisation has two distinguishing characteristics: ‘It can be played by anyone regardless of age and musical capability, and is the accumulation of musical identities of all the participants involved in making the music’.36 I take influence from Australian improvisor’s such as violinist Jon Rose, violin/violist Erkki Veltheim and Director/trumpeter Peter Knight of Art Orchestra, bassist Mike Majkowski, and guitarist Ren Walters, to name a few. In this research, Open Improvisation is tethered with enabling constraints in the form of provocations based on the research material. The provocations act as starting points, or points of departure, for exploration of failure as material in an Assisted Solo context between dancers and myself as instrumentalist.

32 Excerpt #2 from ‘A Sentence. A Paragraph. A Page: On the influence of Alice Cummins dance/movement classes in my music making’. M. Hunter, May/June 2016. 33 Gary Peters, Improvising Improvisation: From out of Philosophy, Music, Dance, and Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017). 34 Matthew J. Sansom, ‘Imaging Music: Abstract Expressionism and Free Improvisation,’ Collected Work: Leonardo Music Journal 11 (2001). 35 Rogério Luiz Moraes Costa, ‘Free Musical Improvisation and the Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze,’ Perspectives of new music 49, no. 1 (2011): p. 5. 36 Nasim Niknafs, ‘Free Improvisation: What It Is, and Why We Should Apply It in Our General Music Classrooms,’ General Music Today 27, no. 1 (2013): p. 31.

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The Assisted Solo The term Assisted Solo is not commonly utilised in either music or dance vernacular. I have found only two significant references to the term in music and dance collaborations. Founding members of Danish music-dance ensemble WeGo, Niels Bjerg and Kirstine Khyl Andersen, collaborated on a series of works between 2004-2007 titled ‘An Assisted Solo #13’ (Figure 2). They define the Assisted Solo as ‘a solo and at the same time a duet for one dancer and one guitarist’.37 Bjerg also worked with the concept of the Assisted Solo for his 2012 album Music From Movement.

Fig. 2 Danish duo WeGo. 'An Assisted Solo 1-3' 2004-2007. Photo: Thomas Petri.

Thomas Hauert, of Belgian-based Zoo Company, and choreographer Norah Zuniga Shaw collaborated on an Assisted Solo research project through The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at Ohio State University. Shaw developed a series of online visual choreographic scores titled Motion Bank, in which Hauert’s Assisted Solo works feature (Figure 3). Shaw and Hauert describe an Assisted Solo as ‘an articulation pivoting the

37 Kirstine Andersen and Niels Bjerg, ‘An Assisted Solo #1-3,’ Accessed, http://wego.dk/an-assisted-solo1.

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choreographic idea into a new set of relations…dancers are exploring ways to get out of their habitual impulses in improvisation…assistants give outside impulses to a soloist…they like the chaotic timing, the sense of abandon and irregularity’.38 Zoo Company dancers worked with concepts of resistance and loose impulse in the Assisted Solo. The dancers imprint physical resistance onto each other’s bodies and then continue moving/dancing with the kinesthetic memory of that interaction.39

Fig. 3 Motion Bank. The Forsythe Company (2010-13). Zoo Company dancers: Mat Voorter, Thomas Hauert, Sara Ludi.

Working with the kineasthetic influence of the other, as per Hauert and Shaw, is a significant feature of this research project. However, music and sound are not a feature of the Hauert/Shaw project. My research is more akin to the music-dance collaboration of Bjerg and Andersen’s work. This research project differs from both the Hauert/Shaw and WeGo projects in that the video material of the dancers is intentionally not featured in the final audio works; the dancer’s bodies and movement are subsumed into the audio material. As a musician, my interest was in how my viola and bass playing is informed and shaped by my interactions with the dancers. The Assisted Solo provided the framework to create a solo work in a non-solo context.

38 Norah Zuniga Shaw, ‘Animate Inscriptions, Articulate Data and Algorithmic Expressions of Choreographic Thinking,’ Choreographic Practices 5, no. 1 (2014): p. 104. 39 Zoo Company dancer Albert Quesada, also gives a brief description on his website of an Assisted Solo in relation to movement workshops: ‘we create a ‘supporting dance’, reading and responding to our partner’s dance becomes our very own dance.’ http://www.acmearts.xyz/education/

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The Solo-Social Continuum To distinguish an Assisted Solo from other forms of creative interaction, it was useful to consider key aspects of relational arts-based practice, as defined by art critic and curator Nicolas Bourriaud. In Relational Aesthetics, Bourriaud states that relational art takes ‘as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space’.40 This socio-centric view of contemporary art practice negates the value and relevance of solo inquiry. I argue that the first point of contact in developing a well-informed and engaged social practice lies in the interface in moving from solo to duo interaction. Through applying Bourriaud’s relational aesthetics to the social dynamic that exists between one instrumentalist and one dancer, I propose that there is a gradient between private, non-audience-centric solo practice, and fully engaged duet or ensemble interaction. Articulating this area between solo and social practice enables a greater capacity for informed, intelligent improvisation in solo, duo, and social creative engagement contexts. Through the practical work and in reflective writing, I identified five nodes between solo and social practice. These nodes are Solo, Co-Solo, Assisted Solo, Duo, and Social forms of creative practice that can be illustrated along a gradient. I have titled this gradient the SoloSocial Continuum, as depicted here in Figure 4.

Fig. 4 ‘Solo-Social Continuum’. Illustration #1. M. Hunter, May 2017.

40 Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (France: Les Presses du Réel, 2002), p. 14.

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To distinguish between these five nodes along the Solo-Social Continuum two key questions were asked: 1. Who is it for? 2. Who is it with? Responding to these two questions through the theoretical and practical components of the research, I arrived at the following synopsis. The ‘Solo’ is for self, with self. ‘Solo’ is one person in a room/space practising an instrument/discipline. It is for me, with me. There is a liberty to explore the material outside public performance or audience scrutiny. The ‘Co-Solo’ is for self, with other. The inquiry is for myself, with others present. There's very little if any interacting between these discrete, autonomous, co-existing selves. In other dance/theatre vernacular, a ‘Co-Solo’ is understood as simultaneous soloing, parallel play41, or co-existing. An Assisted Solo is for self, with the imprint of the other. A ‘Duo’ is for each other, with each other. There is a porosity in the exchange. It is about co-initiating and a co-responding. The ‘Social’ node of the continuum represents creative engagement for multiple others, with multiple others. These distinctions are noted in Figure 5.

Fig. 5 ‘Solo-Social Continuum’. Illustration #2. M. Hunter, May 2017.

41 Lisa Blomgren Bingham and Rosemary O'Leary, ‘Conclusion: Parallel Play, Not Collaboration: Missing Questions, Missing Connections,’ Public Administration Review vol.66 (2006).

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Articulating the Assisted Solo The Assisted Solo inhabits the central node along the Solo-Social Continuum. Articulating the particularities of the Assisted Solo informs how to navigate the space between self and other. The Assisted Solo works with the psychophysiological resonance that remains after an interaction or encounter has taken place. There are countless examples of music-dance duo and social collaborations. However, there are very few examples of Assisted Solo audio recordings. Taking the thematic of failure to this inquiry permits me as the practitioner to uncover the edges of the Assisted Solo: when is an encounter truly an Assisted Solo, and when does it move to another node along the Solo-Social Continuum? Answers to these questions are revealed primarily through the recording project, detailed in ‘Chapter 3: Sounding’.

The Double Fail of Improvisation An enduring question throughout the research has been: How does improvisation fail? The most succinct response is given in Stephanie Hill’s article on the ‘double fail’ of improvisation. Hill proposes that improvisation fails in two ways – relationally and representationally. Hill situates improvisation as innately relational: ‘Improvisation as a relational art form is concerned with the moments of encounter between two or more artists’.42 There is the relational dynamic of self to self, self to instrument, self to room, and self to others in the room. Each of these points of contact house the potential to fail, relationally. In referencing Fischlin and Heble, Hill writes ‘[m]usical practices in which improvisation is a defining characteristic are social practices’.43 The representational material arises from this relational dynamic between co-creators. Hill proposes that representational failure occurs when the aesthetic or technical output of the creative material does not meet the desired outcome. Representational works in this project are the audio albums, interviews, and the drypoint etching series. Hill’s succinct explanation of the double-fail of improvisation provides the framework with which to review the creative output of this project. Employing this duel optic valorises the creative material outside of a constricting binary of success or failure. Relational and

42 Hill, p. 1. 43 Ibid.

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representational failures are harnessed as fodder for the Rupture//Rapture album, as discussed in ‘Chapter 3: Sounding’. This research project is interested in failure as material for further creative material, not as retrospective judgement about the quality of a performance or passage of music. The research aims to uncouple failure from success, or, in musical terms, virtuosity. It is not interested in virtuosity as material for further creative works. Having said that, in order to place the context of failure in this research, it is beneficial to momentarily view the normative role of virtuosity in music practice. Francois Pachet states that ‘...virtuosos are above all outstanding classical musicians (violinists in particular) who perform musical pieces known to be extremely difficult at the limit of human capacities.’44 However, what is virtuosity in improvisation? In an interview with vocalist Maggie Nicols of the pioneering improvisation group Voice, Chris Tonelli states that Nicols ‘is, perhaps, the improvising musician most responsible for promoting the notion that the crucial prerequisite for improvisation of social virtuosity.’45 This statement most aligns with the development through this research of the Solo-Social Continuum, and of the understanding the improvisation is, at its core, a social practice.

Heidegger’s Non-Privative Lacunae The core philosophical underpinning of this research stems from philosopher Martin Heidegger’s discourse on privation, as discussed in his book Sein Und Zeit (eng. Being And Time). Heidegger states, ‘Existential nullity by no means has the character of a privation, of a lack’.46 It is this concept of the non-privative space that is intrinsic to the research focus on utilising failure as a generative tool for creative exploration. A key concept in Being and Time is Heidegger’s self-coined term Dasein. Roughly translated as ‘there-being’, ‘presence’ or ‘being-towards-death’, Dasein can only arise in the gap of the broken, missing portions of itself. In his article ‘Heidegger’s “Phenomenology of Failure” in

44 Francois Pachet, Musical Virtuosity and Creativity (2012), p. 117. [Italics original] 45 Chris J. Tonelli, ‘Social Virtuosity and the Improvising Voice; Phil Minton & Maggie Nicols Interviewed by Chris Tonelli,’ Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation 10, no. No 2 (2015): p. 1. [Italics original] 46 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time - a Translation of Sein Und Zeit, ed. Joan Stambaugh (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010), p. 263.

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Sein Und Zeit’,47 Michael Marder distinguishes two types of failure within Heidegger’s concept of Dasein. Firstly, the failure to listen to one self, or to one’s own internal moral compass. Secondly, the failure to follow the norms of society – i.e. the laws of the state containing publicly binding legal parameters and consequences. In order to read Heidegger’s argument clear-sightedly, claims Marder, this distinction must be made. Marder identifies three core concepts throughout Being And Time. Firstly, the plentitude of existence – a state of fullness, abundance, completeness, which he summarises thus: ‘Firstly, if existence is incompatible with lack, and if failure is to be included in the list of existentials, then failure is determined as an integral part of the positive order of existence’.48 Secondly, the deflation of actuality – existence as being in a state of constant decline. Thirdly, is the positivity of falling. Marder encapsulates these concepts when he writes: the ‘breakage of a thing does not produce a sort of vacuum of that thing in the world of Dasein’.49 Marder extends to us an image of Heidegger’s existential nullity as a ‘non-privative lacuna’50 (lake) – a non-negative event that signals the very possibility of possibility. The notion of the nonprivative lacuna was explored in collaboration with dancer, Tony Yap. Further to Heidegger’s discourse on Dasein, Marder states that when Dasein is the object of care and attention, it understands itself in terms of its own potentiality for being. Marder proposes ‘failure not as a privation, as a lack, or as a cessation of existence, but as one of its modes, indeed as the most abundant mode of our involvement in the world’.51 I propose that when presence and attention move in to close relational proximity to Dasein or ‘therebeing’, greater potential for intimacy and exchange are available to the creative practitioner and any potential audience interaction. The edge of one’s capacity is experienced as a crack, an opening. These concepts were explored with participants in the Interplay series, and in the recording with dancers. With his references to perforations, the space between, present-at-hand-ness, ready-athand-ness, failing and falling, Marder’s critique of failure in Heidegger’s Being and Time

47 Michael Marder, ‘Heidegger's "Phenomenology of Faiilure" in Sein Und Zeit,’ Philosophy Today 51, no. 1 (2007). 48 Ibid., p.70. 49 Ibid., p. 77. 50 Ibid., p. 71. 51 Ibid., p. 70.

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reflects key themes within this research. The above philosophical concepts were explored in the discussion and interaction provocations created for the Interplay series, detailed in ‘Chapter 2: Inter-ing’. Heidegger and Marder later informed the provocations given to the six dancers for the recording project, as further detailed in ‘Chapter 3: Sounding’.

Ma Correlations There are distinct correlations between Heidegger’s notion of the non-privative lacuna and the Japanese spatial-temporal notion of ma. Described by Richard Pilgrim as an ‘“interval” between two (or more) spatial or temporal things or events’52, ma is deeply embedded into Japanese daily culture and life. Ma also means ‘among’, implying not only the objective gap between two or more things or events but also a subjective relational dynamic. Richard Pilgrim states: ‘…although ma may be objectively located as intervals in space and time, ultimately it transcends this and expresses at a deeper level. Indeed, it takes us to a boundary situation at the edge of thinking and at the edge of all processes of locating things by naming and distinguishing.’53 The ‘edge of all processes’ echoes Heidegger’s non-privative lacuna – the gap that signals the possibility of possibility. Failure can also be described as arriving at the edge of processes. Locating, articulating and expanding the edge of failure brings my practice closer to emergent potential: How much can I lean in and attend to the lacuna, the ma, in my creative capacity? Leaning in is evidenced throughout the project in my attempts to work directly with the failed relational and representational material. Rebecca Hill identifies further correlations drawn between Western philosophical discourse and the Japanese concept of ma: ‘Like Irigaray, Bergson ascribes fundamental importance to a formulation of the interval as the veritable opening of thinking and life from which space and time might be reconceived’.54 And so too does Simone Weil: ‘Whoever endures a

52 Richard B. Pilgrim, ‘Intervals ('Ma') in Space and Time: Foundations for a Religio-Aesthetic Paradigm in Japan,’ Vol. 25, no. 3 (1986): p.255. 53 Ibid., p. 256. 54 Rebecca Hill, ‘Interval, Sexual Difference: Luce Irigaray and Henri Bergson,’ Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 23, no. 1 (2008): p. 121.

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moment of the void either receives the supernatural bread or falls. It is a terrible risk, but one that must be run—even during the instant when hope fails’.55 This notion of an encounter at the edge of the void (interval, or ma) informed the project objective of locating, articulating and expanding the field of the Assisted Solo. I identify with the particularities of ma as ‘the way to sense the moment of movement’56 and employ a similar sensibility when working with dancers. It’s not necessary for me to physically observe the dancers. Sensing the movement is equally about attending to the displacement of air around the body of the dancer. This sense of ma runs through the audiorecorded material, particularly with SOLOS I:I (Viola)

track 2, ‘Attending’.57 Henrik

Oosterling defers to the French martial arts master Michael Random to explain the notion of ma: ‘“In a word, ma is perceived behind everything as an undefinable musical chord, a sense of the precise interval eliciting the fullest and finest resonance.” Ma ai technically means the correct distance between two opponents. Correct again in a Confucian sense: in harmony (ai).’58 In the recording project, I deliberately played with ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ distances between myself and the dancers to find the edges of ma. Through closely attending to macro and micro iterations of failure, harmony and discord are revealed. Ma was also intrinsic to the collection of drypoint etchings based on repairs to a Melbourne tram floor and a Japanese temple floor. My attending to these two sites of repair elicits a spatial-temporal recognition of their similarities – public space, floor, repair – and their differences – transient contemporary pedestrian tram, static sacred 425-year-old temple. These asignifying characteristics of rupture and repair call for, as Delueze and Guattari state, ‘relinquishing the tautological, and hence trivial effort of tracing, in favour of creative mapping’.59 Transforming photographic images of both sites through the medium of drypoint etching allowed me to explore ma in a visually representational form. The drypoint etchings began as a discrete collection of works untethered to the audio recordings. They

55 Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, trans. Emma Crawford and Mario von der Ruhr (Oxford: Taylor & Francis Group, 1952), Non-fiction, p. 11. 56 Henk Oosterling, ‘A Culture of the Inter,’ Sensus communis in multi and intercultural perspective. Würzburg: Könighausen & Newman (2000): p. 76. 57 http://www.assistedsolo.com/viola 58 Oosterling. 59 Deborah Hauptmann and Andrej Radman, ‘Asignifying Semiotics as Proto-Theory of Singularity: Drawing Is Not Writing and Architecture Does Not Speak,’ Footprint, no. 14 (2014): p. 7.

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later formed the basis for the visual artworks that accompany each album. The etchings imply vast plains, remote dwellings, edges, lacunae, and lines of flight. In this regard, the etchings aptly co-exist with the audio recordings. Ma opens a portal into the richness Japanese cultural life and creative inquiry. With utmost respect to the cultural significance of ma, this research project aims to offer a personal response to the complexity and breadth of ma’s reach. My acquaintance with ma throughout the research assisted me to identify the potential space within an interaction, between two notes, or between two marks on the etching plate. I sense that the innate nature of ma is rhizomatic – that it exists in a multiplicity of modes in Japanese culture, and throughout this research. Ma is further discussed in ‘Chapter 4: Seeing’ with the drypoint etching works.

Locating Summary In this chapter, I introduced the concept of the Assisted Solo and related research projects. Exploration of the Assisted Solo in my creative practice lead to the development of the selfcoined term Solo-Social Continuum, which provides a useful model for navigating stages of inquiry and engagement in private and social creative practice. Failure in improvisation is viewed from the lens of relational and representational aesthetics. This offers valuable insight in developing reflective capacity and social engagement as an improvising musician. Heidegger’s notion of the non-privative lacunae led to exploration of the Japanese spatialtemporal concept of ma. Ma rhizomatically underpins the connection between the interviews, the audio works and the visual artworks. These three main creative outputs are discussed consecutively in the following chapters.

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CHAPTER 2: INTER-ING So we have entered, located ourselves in the field of the room internally and externally, and now we interact. I move my attention from the internal fields of my own interiority out to the space, and the others in the space. Commencing with microiterations with others in passing. Then a lingering, then a delving, then a staying-with. Really exploring the potential space between us. What shall we do with it? How can it move us?60

Interplay This chapter describes and reveals the findings of the Interplay interviews with creative practitioners, which explored the themes of failure, capacity, attention, and virtuosity. These interviews formed the basis for exploring failure in co-created encounters, encouraging, as Bourriaud states, a ‘dynamic relationship enjoyed by an artistic proposition with other formations, artistic or otherwise’.61 The interviews reveal a more nuanced definition of failure through experiential interaction, rather than a predetermined definition. Excerpts of the interviews are available to listen to at http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay. Participants & Interview Structure Twenty-one participants took part in the Interplay series. Six of these were the dancers involved in the recording project. Participants were invited to engage in one-on-one interviews. Each session consisted of 30-40 minutes of dialogue and discussion, followed by 30-40 minutes of creative interaction. Provocations Participants were presented with a collection of provocations drawn from the research literature. These provocations work much like Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies62 or John Cage’s use of the I-Ching for his Chance Operations63 compositions. The cards provided a catalyst for discussion and interaction. Examples of some of the provocations I used in the Interplay series are illustrated in Figure 6 below. Full documentation of the provocations can be accessed at: http://www.assistedsolo.com/provocation-discussion http://www.assistedsolo.com/interaction-provocations/

60 Excerpt #3 from ‘A Sentence. A Paragraph. A Page: On the influence of Alice Cummins dance/movement classes in my music making’. M. Hunter, May/June 2016. 61 Bourriaud, p. 21. 62 Kingsley Marshall and Rupert Loydell, ‘Thinking inside the Box: Brian Eno, Music, Movement and Light,’ Journal of Visual Art Practice 16, no. 2 (2017). 63 Marc G. Jensen, ‘John Cage, Chance Operations, and the Chaos Game: Cage and the "I Ching",’ The Musical Times, no. 1907 (2009).

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Fig. 6 Interplay discussion and interaction provocations.

Main Interplay Findings Three significant insights were drawn from the Interplay findings: the notion of futureoriented failure drawn from current political theory; myelination of the neural pathways; and effortless attention64 and its relationship to peak states, creative practice, and failure. The following discussion expands on these concepts in relation to the interviews, and practical and theoretical work. Future-oriented Failure It was beneficial to the research to look outside of philosophical and creative arts domains for current commentary on failure. For example, political theorist Adrian Little advocates ‘…embracing failure as an ontological feature of policy making in a complex environment’.65 Little proposes that rather than ascribing failure by retrospective judgement, governments might engage in a future-oriented approach to delivering robust, adaptable policy implementation. Little suggests relinquishing certainties that inform normative argument and applying focus instead on the benefits of the unknowability of

64 Brian Bruya, Effortless Attention: A New Perspective in the Cognitive Science of Attention and Action (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010). 65 Adrian Little, ‘Political Action, Error and Failure: The Epistemological Limits of Complexity,’ Political Studies 60, no. 1 (2012): p. 7.

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outcomes. He states that it provides a stronger foundation to think creatively, to innovate and to take risks in attempting to grapple with social and political issues. In reading Little, I began mentally substituting the word ‘political’ for ‘creative’ or ‘artistic’. For example: ‘Failure tends to be articulated as a pejorative term — something to be rejected as erroneous or addressed with a more successful strategy. This article differs in arguing that we need to embrace failure as an inevitable feature of [political creative] life and a key part of the dynamic of learning’.66 The outcome of this experiment indicates the potential for creative practitioners to elucidate future-orientated failure for policy-makers. Curious about his notion of future-oriented failure, I interviewed Little as part of the Interplay series. Little, currently Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, referred to the re-emergence of realism in political theory with philosophers such as Bernard Williams67 and Raymond Geuss,68 who advocate embedding political theory within practical, real-world scenarios. He argued that there is a great schism between analytical, ideological and post-structuralist political theories that needs to be crossed. The interview presented an opportunity to suggest that policy makers might benefit from consulting with failure-informed artists for alternative input on future-oriented failure in policy development and implementation. Little agreed that the political theorist could indeed benefit from input from artists to facilitate said dialogues. (Little interview: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay/adrian-little) Myelination Alexander technique practitioner and dancer Ineke de Graaf raised the relationship of failure with the myelination of the neural pathways. De Graaf commented: ‘In The Talent Code69 they talk about how people who are…become virtuosic are people who are always on the edge of their failure. When you’re learning a skill, the more you’re learning that skill the more that pathway gets myelinated into your sheath.’70 The myelin sheath is a fatty

66 Ibid., p. 37. 67 Bernard Arthur Owen Williams and Geoffrey Hawthorn, In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005). 68 Raymond Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008). 69 Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How (New York: Bantam Books, 2009). 70 Ineke de Graaf, interview by Myfanwy Hunter, March 24, 2015, Northcote, Melbourne, Australia.

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protective covering over the axon of nerve endings. It is essential for transmitting electrical impulses along the neural pathways.71 R. Douglas Fields, in a 2005 study on the relationship between the myelin sheath and playing the piano, noted: ‘Practicing piano as a child increased myelination in the posterior limbs of the internal capsule bilaterally […], the corpus callosum, and the fiber tracts in the frontal lobe in proportion to the number of hours at the piano. These regions carry sensory motor information for independent finger movement and cross-connections between auditory regions and premotor cortex coordinating bimanual movement, respectively. In adolescence, increased myelin was seen in interhemispheric fibers from superior temporal and occipital cortical areas, which include auditory and visual processing regions, respectively. Practicing the piano as an adult increased myelination in the arcuate fasciculus, which connects the temporal and frontal regions. The long association fibers of the forebrain, which are increased by adult practicing, continue maturation into at least the third decade of life.’72 The interview with de Graaf and my subsequent research into the function of the myelin sheath prompted me to consider the connection between myelination and failure when playing an instrument. In private solo practice, I sense micro lapses in neurological signals along the nerve pathways. These lapses are experienced as a rupture or gap in transmission. It is this state of compromised myelination that I chose to draw my attention to in my playing. Not to close the gap, but to see what material arose from it. (De Graaf interview: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay/ineke-degraaf) Effortless Attention In dialogue and interaction with dancer and Pilates instructor Naree Vachananda, there was a revelation around the connection between myelination, attention and failure. In conversation, Vachananda describes her experience of virtuosity and failure as such:

71 Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘Myelin Sheath Definition.’ 72 R. Douglas Fields, ‘Myelination: An Overlooked Mechanism of Synaptic Plasticity?,’ Neuroscientist 11, no. 6 (2005): p. 529.

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‘When you’re going to particular solo improvisation…it comes down to the response to this attention, which informed the decision making. That’s all there is to it with solo improvisation for the moment for me, which is…at the moment of the solo improvisation you don’t really…think too many things, compartmentalise things…you bring all that other satellite information into attention.’73 This description resonated with my experience of how I attend to bio feedback as I move up and down the fingerboard of the viola. How fluid is the translation from my eye on the score on the page to the brain to the hand? How well met is the point of contact between strings and bow? How am I inhabiting my body? As Eldritch Priest states, ‘Music connects bodies— fingertips, metal strings, bows, habits and reflexes (expedited bodily movements), eyes and scores, ears and vibrating air molecules’.74 Meeting with Vachananda compelled me to research current literature on attention. In their 2010 publication Effortless Attention in Everyday Life: A Systematic Phenomenology75, Csikszentmihalyi and Nakamura describe attention as a psychological resource; the ‘mechanism by which our brain registers information is what we call attention’.76 A large part of the mechanism of attention is proprioception—touch. It resides in how and where my body makes contact with the instrument. Sound artist Pauline Oliveros identifies five states of attention, as listed in the Encarta Dictionary: concentration; interest; appropriate treatment; affectionate act; and a military stance. Oliveros states that attention ‘begins with the ability to concentrate. Next is the ability to process our external environment through our senses by taking an interest. The third is giving care and tending to the information we have received, then fourth is responding to the information by an affectionate act.’77 This research project questions how to respond to failure as an affectionate act in the way Simone Weil intends when she states: ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’.78 Or, as honorary scholar of the

73 Naree Vachananda, interview by Myfanwy Hunter, May 1st, 2015, Northcote, Melbourne, Australia. 74 Priest, p. 274. 75 Bruya, pp. 179-89. 76 Ibid., p. 180. 77 Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening: A Composer's Sound Practice (New York: iUniverse, 2005), p. 63. 78 Simone Weil, Correspondance / Simone Weil, Joe Bousquet, Bruit Du Temps (Paris: l’Age d'homme, 1982.), p. 18.

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Institute of Failure79, Sara Jane Bailes writes, ‘Distraction comes easily, and when it does I pay attention’.80 To paraphrase Bailes, how do I pay effortless attention to my distractions? Csikszentmihalyi and Nakamura suggest that attention is related to states of flow, or peak performance: ‘Studies of flow during the past three decades have found that three conditions are generally present in activities that result in deep and effortless concentration. These are: clear goals, immediate feedback, and a balance between opportunities for action and the individual’s ability to act.’81 These lines of inquiry lead me to undertake a series of personal practice observations to map attention, distraction, and myelination in my viola playing, as described in the following section. (Vachananda interview: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay/naree-vachananda)

Solo Practice Notes The Interplay sessions with de Graaf and Vachananda lead me to examine how states of attention and failure are mapped psychophysiologically through my body while playing an instrument. Myelination and effortless attention were tracked in a series of private practice notes reflecting on my viola playing. These ‘windows’ of self-reflection enable me to see where failure and flow are experienced corporeally and mentally. Priest states ‘Practice has no end: it is excessive. Practice skews the concluding perfection of the perfect. To open practice to desire is to scar the verisimilitude of all performances…with the sense of their own imperfection.’82 Examining my practice from the lens of attention and failure shed light on where the edges of my creative capacity lay. For these solo practice notes, I devised a template to establish the main focus of each practice session, and a series of questions to reflect on the practice. This enabled me to collect important information on my process of practice, mapping threads of continuity and discontinuity. Answers to the template questions revealed the inner machinations of myelination and varying levels of attention in my practice. Figure 7 shows an example of one of the solo practice sessions. States of myelination, and effortless and effortful attention

79 http://www.institute-of-failure.com/about.html 80 Sara Jane Bailes, ‘Distracted,’ (Institute of Failure, 2002), p. 1. 81 Bruya, p. 186. 82 Priest, p. 6.

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are highlighted in the corresponding colours: myelination, effortless attention, effortful attention. The main question arising out of these practice notes was: How do I cultivate effortless attention and thick myelination of failure in my practice?

Solo Practice Notes Date: 22 Nov 2015 | Location: Home Studio | Intended Duration: 1hr | Actual Duration: 4-5hrs Main Focus: Bach Suite 6 – Allemande & Courante Parameters: 1. Refining flow 2. Work on phrasing 3. Develop more intimate understanding of the courante Questions Was there continuity in my attention? Sound coming smoother today. Viola feels not so dry. Very in the zone whilst shifting between different activities. Really hooked into the material. Couldn’t stop once I’d started. Beautiful feeling to finally have more flow through the pieces. Were there gaps in my attention? Heaps. Many breaks to tend to emails, social media, chats with friends, bite to eat. Noticed myself thinking of people overhearing me playing – my attention is drawn outwards. I am immediately performing, not just practicing. The playing becomes much less engaged. Even simple phrases I falter on. I wonder whether anyone will ever hear me play this material. Whether I will ever let anyone hear me. What did I experience in my physical body? Awareness with keeping left index finger close to the fingerboard and really in on the action. Now that I’ve stopped playing I’m experiencing quite a bit of tension all up my left forearm. Did I experience any moments of effortless attention? If yes, when and how? In my note reading ability yes. A fluid transfer of info from eye to brain to hand. Sections that in the past have eluded me are now clear on the page and I move through them with much greater efficacy and ease. Did I experience any moments of effortful attention? If yes, when and how? Numerous. It is so difficult for me to just stick with one thing. I need to constantly move on and jump to the next piece and to work way outside of the parameters I’ve laid out for myself. Are there any other questions, shifts, observations? Ended up playing all movements from Suites 1,2,3,4&6. All but Suite 5. Found some stunning recordings by violist Maxim Rysanov. Fig. 7 Solo Practice Notes. M Hunter, Nov 2015.

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Subsidiary Interplay Findings Neurological Newness Choreographer Nat Cursio’s 2017 dance piece Tiny Slopes83 features four trained dancers attempting to work choreographically with skateboards, and four pre-teen experienced skateboarder girls. The work explores the movement and physiology of the adult beginner and celebrates the challenges and failures of neurologically adjusting to an unfamiliar task. Cursio introduced me to skateboarding, something I’d not done before. Exploring the unfamiliar is the approach I bring to playing the bass guitar and to undertaking the series of drypoint etchings. (Cursio interview: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay/nat-cursio) Tom Johnson’s ‘Failing’ In creative interaction with artist Lauren Simmonds I attempted to play Tom Johnson’s composition Failing: A Very Difficult Piece for Solo String Bass.84 Simmonds imposed obstacles on my physical body and the viola, limiting my capacity to play the piece. Despite the increasing impositions, I became very focused on playing the music. My level of focused attention was acute. In this regard, the attempt was a success. In terms of actually playing the piece as written, however, it was a failure. But in this ‘failure’, paradoxically, I also succeeded, as Johnson helically states: ‘If I tried to fail, and then failed, that would be a kind of success, and not a failure at all. So I must try to succeed. That way, when I fail to succeed, I will succeed in communicating the essence of the piece, even though I will fail to accomplish the task as it is set up’.85 This experience made subsequent attempts to play the piece more accessible.86 (Simmonds interview: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay/lauren-simmonds)

83 Natalie Cursio, ‘Tiny Slopes,’ (Melbourne: Artshouse Meat Market, 2017). 84 Tom Johnson, Failing: A Very Difficult Piece for Solo String Bass, ed. Jon Deak (Paris: Editions 75, 1975), Music Score. 85 Ibid., p. 9. 86 It is interesting to note that in Eldritch Priest’s dense and heavily referenced 2013 publication, Boring Formless, Nonesense: Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure, his opening paragraph strikingly resembles Johnson’s ‘Failing’ composition in its helical verbiage ‘if one intends to fail and does so, whereupon he succeeds and therefore fails to fail, but in failing to fail one fails and therefore succeeds, and so fails again and succeeds again.’ However, Priest does not make mention of Johnson’s seminal composition. I am indebted to Priest for elucidating the contemporary field of failure in experimental music in such a comprehensive and prosaic way. However, I am compelled to point out the similarity between the two texts. Other works of Johnson are cited elsewhere in Priest’s book.

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Fig. 8 Attempting to play Tom Johnson's ‘Failing’. Interplay with L. Simmonds, March 27, 2015.

The Intimacy of Failure One of the more absurd, exposed and vulnerable moments of the Interplay series came via my encounter with Ezra Bridgman. The improvisation theatre clown and entrepreneur set me the task of exploring the room we were in while he observed me. He then instructed me to stand directly in front of him while he applauded me. He held my gaze and clapped for an extended period of time. I felt awkward and motioned to bow. But Bridgman stopped me and told me to just stand there, while he continued clapping for what seemed like an inordinately long time. The experience between the single “audience” member (Bridgman) and myself as “performer” created an intimate opening imbued with the porosity of an ordinary one-on-one encounter where nothing much happens and yet much is revealed. This level of intimacy counters the ‘othering’ that can be experienced with an encounter of virtuosity, whereby by an audience member feels it is totally beyond their capability to reach the ability of the performer they are witnessing. In brief, failure endears, virtuosity others. (Bridgman interview: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay/ezra-bridgman) 30


Beckett the Optimist In the Interplay interview with philosophy lecturer and dancer Philipa Rothfield, we discussed disbanding the binary of virtuosity and failure. Rothfield drew on Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho to demonstrate a positivity towards failure, noting that Beckett appears uncharacteristically upbeat in the following quote: ‘All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Fail again. Fail better’.87 Rothfield described an approach to creative practice where ‘the comfort allows for openness, which allows for more play’88. This statement can be related to the field of High Coherence, as defined by the HeartMath Institute, whereby persons learn to self-regulate mental-emotional states to move physiology toward greater neurological cohesion.89 (Rothfield interview: http://www.assistedsolo.com/interplay/philipa-rothfield)

Inter-ing Summary Undertaking the series of Interplay interviews enabled a lived inquiry of failure through praxis in direct engagement with fellow creative practitioners. The research literature was explored in the Interplay discussion and interaction provocations. The Interplay sessions lead to further research delving into the fields of future-oriented failure, myelination, and effortless attention, and the series of Solo practice notes. These interactive interviews established a framework and paved the way for working one-on-one with dancers to create the series of Assisted Solo albums, as detailed in the following chapter.

87 Samuel Beckett, p. 7. 88 Philipa Rothfield, interview by Myfanwy Hunter, May 22, 2015, Northcote, Melbourne, Australia. 89 Barbara Lutz, ‘An Institutional Case Study: Emotion Regulation with Heartmath at Santa Cruz County Children's Mental Health,’ Global Advances In Health And Medicine 3, no. 2 (2014): p. 68.

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CHAPTER 3: SOUNDING Attending to my sound whilst making it draws me to all the points of physical contact with the instrument. Initially, how the viola rests on my lap or shoulder. How and where my fingers make contact with the body of the instrument, the strings, â

and the edges of it. How the bow rests on the strings. In BMC (BodyMind Centering ) classes we learn about touch. It’s a very specific type of touch. Alice talks about allowing the ‘blood-fullness’ and ‘fat’ and ‘blood-fullness’ of our hands to be there in the quality of our touching. She encourages us to connect through our whole body, via the ‘fat’ of my hand to bring warmth and attention to another’s body. I organ-ise my body in relation to another’s so I’m not over-extending through bones, organs, muscles, ligaments. I draw my whole body physically close to another…It is this same quality of fat, bloodfull, close-in touch that I particularly enjoy working with when playing the acoustic fretless bass guitar. Sometimes the notes are so low and rumbling I wrap my whole body around the body of the bass and draw my ears in real close to better discern the nuance of the sound I’m producing. This is particularly the case when I’m thrumming a multiplicity of notes that form a generative wall of sound. The bass played in this way provides a massive, hefty container – an enabling sonisphere. This low ‘tsunami’ of indiscernible notes is fertile ground for a dancer to explore. Talk about Satisfyin’ Lover! 90 91

Assisted Solo Recording Project The Interplay series (Chapter 2: Intering) gave rise to the Assisted Solo recording project in collaboration with six contemporary dancers. The intention was to create a series of solo albums exploring failure, with the imprint of dancers in the audio material. In my capacity as an instrumentalist, I have had little to no interest in either performing or recording solo. My music practice thrives on social engagement. As Oosterling states: ‘Interactivity is the activity of the ‘inter’…The growing awareness that individual life, after the downfall of meta-narratives, more than ever is in need of a shared project.’92 My interest in undertaking the recording project was to examine how my viola and bass guitar playing is influenced and altered by my interactions with dancers. The recording project embeds theoretical and philosophical concepts of failure into practice to arrive at a collection of three albums of Assisted Solo works for viola and bass guitar.

90 Satisfyin’ Lover – Steve Paxton seminal dance/movement piece, 1967. Re-enacted by Alice Cummins, myself and fellow dancers at Dancehouse, Melbourne, 2012. 91 Excerpt #4 from ‘A Sentence. A Paragraph. A Page: On the influence of Alice Cummins dance/movement classes in my music making’. M. Hunter, May/June 2016. 92 Henk Oosterling and Ewa Płonowska Ziarek, Intermedialities: Philosophy, Arts, Politics Textures (Lanham, Md. : Lexington Books, 2011), p. 97.

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The Dancers Six dancers took part in the project: Cobie Orger; Elnaz Sheshgelani; Alice Cummins; Brendan O’Connor; Tony Yap and Evgenii Timofeev. Aside from O’Connor and Timofeev, I had worked with all dancers in some capacity over the last eight years. I had seen O’Connor and Timofeev either in performance, workshops or video recordings, so was familiar with their dance style. This familiarity and/or previous collaborations with the dancers provided a common understanding of praxis and dance vernacular to draw on and interact with during the recording sessions. Logistics, Documenting, & Sound Engineer The recording took place at Alice Cummins’ Riddells Creek Dance Studio on Friday 29 April and Saturday 30 April, 2016. Each dancer was allocated two hours to work with me one-onone. I used my Tasmanian sassafras and huon pine 5-string viola, amplified with Fishman pickup, LR Baggs DI, and Roland AC-33 amp. This instrument was salvaged from the Hobart tip. In 2009 I commissioned luthier Isaac Webb to complete the half-made instrument and turn it into a 5-string viola. This discarded, reclaimed instrument connects with the core thematic of working with broken and repaired materials. I also used a Cort fretless bass guitar, amplified with Roland KC-350 keyboard amp. I’ve worked with bass guitar since 2011 in a deliberately non-expertise approach to exploring the timbral potential of the instrument. Audio and video content was recorded as two discrete materials. The video was set up as simple wide shot static frame to eliminate any extraneous content and emphasise to blocks of form as the dancers move throughout the space. The video material was intentionally not used in final presentation of the work. The project was recorded, mixed and mastered by sound engineer Myles Mumford, who I have worked with on two previous albums. Mumford has worked extensively on experimental sound, music and dance projects, including with BalletLab, Australian Art Orchestra, Anna Smith, and his own sound installation ‘The Tunnel’93 at MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart. Mumford’s sound engineering experience, aesthetic and temperament was well suited to the impulse of the project.

93 Myles Mumford and Chris Townend, The Tunnel, 2011. Museum of Old and New Art.

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Provocations One week prior to recording, each dancer was given a provocation drawn from the research literature, as with the Interplay provocations. The provocations provided entry points into exploring failure and the Assisted Solo. Each session commenced with conversation based on the dancer’s provocation. Dialogue was followed by interaction with sound and movement, with occasional breaks to debrief and discuss the next phase of the interaction. The provocations given to each dancer were as follows: Cobie Orger: ‘There is a pleasure in testing through failure.’94 Explore the pleasure of failure — surprise, newness. Elnaz Sheshgelani: ‘Greek orator, Demosthenes, who at the outset was plagued by a stutter, so taught himself his craft by addressing the roaring sea with his mouth full of stones.’95 Explore limitation/freedom. Alice Cummins: ‘Failure as an introduction of a fold or convolution in direction or intent.’96 Explore folding, convoluting. Brendan O’Connor: Potentiality - 'What is potential is capable (endekhetai) both of being and of not being. Dekhomai means "I welcome, receive, admit”. The potential welcomes nonBeing’.97 Agamben on Aristotle on Potentialities. Tony Yap: The ‘non-privative lacunae’ — a gap, a missing part, something removed, but leaving no sense of lack, loss, deprivation.98 Evgenii Timofeev: Explore the positivity of falling/failing.99

94 Le Feuvre, p. 18. 95 Revill, p. 16. 96 Marder, pp. 77-78. 97 Giorgio Agamben, Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, ed. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), p. 182. 98 Marder, p. 71. 99 Ibid., p. 70.

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Audience/Witness Solo practice and exploration of my instrument without an audience present is a cornerstone of my music inquiry and development. This truly solo pursuit provides liberty to explore my instrument without the pressure to ‘perform’. Contrasting with this, engagement with an audience is intrinsic to the dance practice of both Cummins and Yap. To explore the Assisted Solo in its most unembellished form, it was important for me to limit the interaction to just one dancer and myself in the studio. With Mumford stationed in an adjacent room, connected only via headphones, I was able to disregard his ‘presence’ and focus my attention on my playing. However, for Yap and Cummins, whose preference is to engage with a witness/audience, Mumford’s presence and the silent witness of the video camera were essential.

Scordatura From the Italian word meaning mistuning, scordatura is an ‘abnormal tuning of a str instr [sic] in order to obtain special chordal effect and changes of tonal quality’.100 Scordatura features in Bach’s Cello Suite V, originally written with the high A string tuned down to a G, as seen in Figure 9. Playing this piece in its original tuning alters the geography of the fingerboard, alters chordal options, and opens up new harmonic resonance of the instrument.

100 Michael Kennedy, Joyce Bourne Kennedy, and Tim Rutherford-Johnson, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 6th ed. (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2012), Electronic resource.

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Fig. 9 Cello Suite V ‘Prelude’ by J.S. Bach – showing original scordatura tuning.

In my improvisation practice, I utilise scordatura as a means of destabilising the familiar. When the strings of my instrument are given alternative tunings, my fingers can’t rely on well-trodden paths of muscle memory. Melodic phrases tangent. Chord structures and key signatures are abandoned for non-theoretical engagement with a new sonic terrain. Through this somatic re-mapping between two notes on the fingerboard, new neurology pathways emerge from finger to ear to nerves to the aural cortex. For the Assisted Solo recording I deliberately chose to work with scordatura to open this unfamiliar terrain of the fingerboard. The viola open strings were initially tuned Bb F C F C, and the bass in regular E A D G tuning. Over the course of the 2-day recording, both instruments were further detuned, either deliberately, or unintentionally. In working with scordatura, time and attention are required to develop new neurological pathways to find melodic flow, as with Bach’s Cello Suite V. However, in the context of working with contemporary dancers, melodic virtuosity is not at the core of my musical intent. Focusing on timbre and texture in my playing liberates the mover (and any 36


listeners/watchers) from associating with other known melodies, that may unintentionally distract from the nexus or impulse of the interaction. Scordatura destabilises familiar patterns and shifts my engagement with the instruments from the known to the new – an important feature of working with failure.

Sites of Trauma A significant traumatic event occurred half way through my Masters candidature. Through an unexpected act of collective ‘mis-care’, my viola suffered extreme damage while in creative development with three dancers and director Cummins in April 2015 at Riddells Creek Studio, as documented in Figure 10. It was a shocking event that took many months to recover from. The viola was masterfully repaired by luthier Warren Fordham — an act of utmost virtuosic craftsmanship. Thanks to his care and attention, the viola now sounds better than its previous incarnation.

Fig. 10 Broken viola, April 2015. Repaired by master luthier W. Fordham, June 2015.

Precisely one year later, I intentionally set up my instruments and equipment for the Assisted Solo recording project on the exact location in the Riddells Creek studio where my viola had been damaged. (Figure 11) The decision to return to this location of rupture was a deliberate act of reclaiming a site of personal trauma and transforming it into a site of new creative interaction and generative material. As Bailes states, ‘A poetics of failure speaks to attending to the value of brokenness as a structural motif.’101

101 Bailes, Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure: Forced Entertainment, Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service, p. 22.

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Fig. 11 Site of trauma & transformation, Riddells Creek Dance Studio, April 2016.

Music-Dance References Several key music references informed the recording project and reflect the prevailing aesthetic basis of the work. Most are derived from experimental and improvisational music practices. Of experimental music, Priest states, ‘Music that swerves towards the experimental comportment of intentional unintentionally still affects us.’102 And also, ‘Experimental music…finds its way into this failing scheme through tactics of duration, distraction, and duplicity; devices of )dis)engagement [sic] that characterise the operational purview of a post-Cagean experimental music community’.103 Duration and duplicity were explored in the third album Rupture//Rapture through the direct engagement with error, extreme time stretching and distortion of the original audio material. The Assisted Solo project pays homage to specific music-dance collaborations, notably, John Cage and Merce Cunningham. In his ‘2 Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance’, Cage writes, ‘We are not, in these dances and music, saying something. We are simple-minded enough to think that if we were saying something we would use words. We are rather doing

102 Priest, p. 19. 103 Ibid., p. 28.

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something.’104 It is in the act of doing that this research project uncovered revelations around failure, attention, ma, the Solo-Social Continuum, the Assisted Solo, and effortless attention. Cage also writes ‘there is an independence of the music and dance, which, if one closely observes, is present also in the seemingly usual works. This independence follows from Mr. Cunningham's faith, which I share, that the support of the dance is not to be found in the music but in the dancer himself, on his own two legs, that is, and occasionally on a single one.’105 This text was discussed and explored in the dialogue and discussion aspect of the recordings with the dancers. A significant catalyst for the recording project stems from attending Cummins’ BodyMind Centeringâ dance classes. Cummins curates a selection of music to explore specific body parts and processes. Recurring audio works feature in her selection. For example, The Necks ‘Raab’106 might be used for exploring the notion of ‘spaces between’, or Mick Majkowski’s ‘Tremolo’107 for somatic exploration of the pathways of the nervous system. The music aids connection both internally and with others in the class. Attending Cummins’ classes from 2008-16 and taking part in these psychophysiological acoustic experiences laid the foundation for creating an album of solo works for dancers with dancers. British guitarist and Free Improvisation pioneer Derek Bailey evolved over four decades of improvisation lexicon dedicated to exploration of the timbral potential of the guitar. His 1997 album ‘Music and Dance’108 in collaboration with Butoh dancer Min Tanaka astutely exemplifies the impulse of this research project. In ‘Music and Dance’, Bailey’s timbrally treated guitar forms the main audio content of the album. The presence of Tanaka is experienced through discrete breath and footwork. The resultant ‘silences’ or pauses in Bailey’s playing are impregnated with a sense of him closely attending to Tanaka’s movements and gestures. External factors such as a heavy rain storm (‘Rain Dance, Pt 2’109 3’55”) and cars driving by (‘Saturday Dance Pt. 3’110 2’28”), creaking floor (‘Saturday Dance,

104 John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings (CT, USA: Wesleyan University Press, 2011), p. 94. 105 Ibid. 106 The Necks, ‘Raab,’ ‘Anthaneum’, (Fish of Milk, 2003). 107 Mike Majkowski, ‘Tremolo,’ ‘Tremolo’, (Avant Whatever, 2014). 108 Derek Bailey and Min Tanaka, ‘Music and Dance’, (Table of the Elements, 1997). 109 ‘Rain Dance, Pt. 2 ’ ibid.). 110 ‘Saturday Dance, Pt. 3,’ ‘Music and Dance’, (Table of the Elements, 1997).

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Pt. 4’111 4’02”) can also be detected in the work. This recording echoes my intention to work with the entire sonic field of the permeable recording room and infiltration of external environment. Other artists working within a similar sonic vein are pianist Nils Frahm’s albums Screws112, Solo113, and Solo Remains114. The track ‘Passing’,115 from Solo Remains, is indicative of the spatial timbre apparent in the SOLOS I:I (Viola) track titled ‘Entering’. Frahm’s 2016 collaboration Sheets Zwei116 with his photographer/architect father Klaus Frahm is a recent example of a collaboration between musician and visual artist. Their resultant artbook houses Frahm’s compositional manuscripts and his father’s illustrations and photographs. Sheets Zwei is similar in intent to the connection between the drypoint etching works and the audio albums of this project. Another key example of sonically working with failure is evident in William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops117 where he took old reel-to-reel tapes he’d recorded decades prior and preserved them by recording small sections in loops until the audio material was wiped off the tape. The resultant body of work maps the transition from analogue to digital medium and comments on the inherent fallibility of any audio recording material to the vagaries of time and decay. Although the Assisted Solo research project is not specifically about sonic decay, Basinski’s process of time shifting the looped reel-to-reel tapes does correspond with my intent in extreme time stretching the Rupture//Rapture tracks.

111 ‘Saturday Dance, Pt. 4,’ ‘Music and Dance’, (Table of the Elements, 1997). 112 Nils Frahm, ‘Screws’, (Erased Tape Records, 2012). 113 ‘Solo’, (Erased Tape Records, 2015). 114 ‘Solo Remains’, (Erased Tape Records, 2016). 115 ‘Passing,’ ibid.). 116 ‘Sheets Zwei,’ (Manner’s McDade, 2016). 117 William Basinski, ‘Dlp 1.1,’ ‘The Disintegration Loops’, (2062, 1982 & 2002).

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Modes of Listening Producing over nine hours of recorded material presented the challenge of developing a method to edit and arrive at a selection that best addressed the research question of how to work with failure to locate, articulate and extend the Assisted Solo. Michel Chion’s ‘Three Listening Modes’,118 Pauline Oliveros’ ‘Deep Listening’119 and Salomé Voegelin’s ‘Phenomenological Listening’120 provided the framework for reviewing the material. These three views on listening formed a composite perspective on how to listen, review, and treat the audio material. Michel Chion’s views on acousmatic listening informed the editing process. Acousmatic listening promotes attending to audio material untethered from its visual form. As Chion states: ‘…the acousmatic situation intensifies causal listening in taking away the aid of sight. Confronted with a sound from a loudspeaker that is presenting itself without a visual calling card, the listener is led all the more intently to ask, "What's that?” (i.e., "What is causing this sound?”) and to be attuned to the minutest clues (often interpreted wrong anyway) that might help to identify the cause. When we listen acousmatically to recorded sounds it takes repeated hearings of a single sound to allow us gradually to stop attending to its cause and to more accurately perceive its own inherent traits.’121 This quality of acousmatic listening supports my decision to separate the audio recordings from the video material. While the dancers were video documented during the recording process, the intentional removal of this visual material from the final works was intrinsic to bringing acousmatic focus to the realm of the Assisted Solo. Similar to acousmatic listening, Oliveros’ developed the field of ‘Deep Listening’ as a way to take into account the entire acoustic field. In defining ways of listening, she identifies two

118 Michel Chion, ‘The Three Listening Modes,’ in The Sound Studies Reader, ed. Jonathan Sterne (New York: Routledge, 2012). 119 Oliveros. 120 Salomé Voegelin, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (New York: Continuum, 2010). 121 Chion, p. 52.

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distinct forms of auditory attention – focused and global: ‘Focal attention, like a lens, produces clear detail limited to the object of attention. Global attention is diffuse and continually expanding to take in the whole of the space/time continuum of sound’.122 Oliveros’ notion of global attention is exemplified by Cage’s contentious ‘silent’ composition 4’33”.123 The piece draws attention to the environment and the room in which the pianist sits at the piano, lid closed, counting bars of silence. In 4’33” we are invited to move our aural attention away from the focal point of the piano/pianist and towards the global aural sphere of the room/environment in which we are listening. With the Assisted Solo recording project, it was never my intention to record in a sound vacuum devoid of the outside world. There is a directness to the recorded material. It is recorded live, is unrehearsed, and has cars, aeroplanes, birds, feet, and breath littered throughout the recordings. In reviewing the recorded material, I worked from global listening to focal listening over a period of six weeks to arrive at the final selection of pieces. Oliveros further describes global listening as inclusive listening, and focal as exclusive: ‘Inclusive listening is impartial, open and receiving and employs global attention… Attention narrows for exclusive listening. Exclusive listening gathers detail and employs focal attention. Focal attention is necessarily limited and specific. The depth of exclusive listening in clarity.’124 Employing this ‘Deep Listening’ approach of moving from global to focal listening in my own revisiting of the audio material permitted incidental sounds to remain part of the final works. This is demonstrated in the opening of ‘Possessing’ from SOLOS I:I Viola where dancer Brendan O’Connor is heard exerting his breath and thrashing his body on the wood floor. The third influence in reviewing the material is evidenced in Salomé Voegelin’s concept of ‘phenomenological listening’. In Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, Voegelin states that ‘Phenomenological listening as an intersubjective sensory-motor engagement is a reduction in order to get to the essence of the perceived, to critically

122 Oliveros, p. 13. [Bold from original text] 123 John Cage, 4'33": For Any Instrument or Combination of Instruments (New York: Henmar Press, 1960), Sheet Music. 124 Oliveros, p. 15.

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experience and expand that essence; not to reduce the heard but to get to the wealth of the heard through a bracketed listening’.125 There is validity in making available the entire 9.5 hours of recorded material and exposing all the relational and representational flaws and failures within it. However, in a research project where the focus is on foregrounding failure, the audio wealth is located in the imperfect, irresolute, and fractured material and encounters. The focus was to arrive at a distillation of the recorded material that best highlights the research agenda on using failure to locate, articulate and expand the Assisted Solo. This distinction of focal listening not being a reduction of the audio material was crucial to the concise selection of final audio tracks. Informed by the above three modes of listening, I developed the following framework to revisit the recording material, moving from an inclusive global listening towards an exclusive focused selection of imperfection. Phase 1: Reflect (May 2-19, 2016) Writing down key components of the relational and representational exchange from recollections of interactions with each dancer. No direct listening of the audio recordings. I relied on the capacity of my inner hearing to recall key moments of each interaction. Phase 2: Immerse (May 9-15, 2016.) Engaging in durational global listening over extended periods while doing other physical activities such as walking, cleaning, clearing, sorting. As Priest might say, this was a ‘listening away’ to the material in a non-analytical way while engaged in everyday activities. He states, ‘The act of listening away that realizes music as background phenomenon is closely tied to the nineteenth century ideal of autonomous concert music’.126 This initial approach to revisiting the audio material gave me the time to listen to everything and to nothing in particular.

125 Voegelin, p.35. 126 Priest, p. 165.

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Phase 3: Transcribe (May 16-22, 2016.) Transcribing the dialogue and exchange between each dancer and myself. A painstakingly slow process but one that ultimately revealed connections and disconnections between conversation and interaction. The process also informed the next phase of listening with focal attention. Phase 4: Mark Out (May 22-29, 2016.) Uploaded each track to Soundcloud; made brief notes on each track’s timeline; delineated dialogue, bass parts, viola parts; and noted down first impressions of music/sound vignettes using simple metric such as ‘YES!!’ ‘Expand’ or ‘Discard’ to capture my first listening impressions. Phase 5: Select (June 1-8, 2016.) I worked with focal and exclusive listening to select one portion of viola and one of bass from each dancer’s interaction. This entire process enabled me to move from global listening to local listening in an immersive revisiting of the audio material to arrive at the final selection, which exemplified the research motivation while preserving the breadth and depth of the Assisted Solo recording experience.

The Album Titles This process of listening and reviewing resulted in three audio albums: SOLOS I:I (Viola); SOLOS I:I (Bass); and Rupture//Rapture. The word ‘solo’ is etymologically linked to the Latin root word solus, meaning ‘alone’ or ‘non-assisted’. SOLOS I:I implies that they are not strictly solo albums, but rather a series of one-on-one solos. This quality of soloing with the other present, or in the company of the other, is a significant feature of the Assisted Solo. The palindrome title invites multiple readings both forwards and backwards. The use of capital letters gives equal weight to each letter of the title and visually supports the palindrome effect. Reflected in the title is the homograph 1:1 in the Latin numeric system, or I:I in the Roman numerical system. The ‘I’ can be interpreted as 1, one, self, or eye, which itself is a palindrome. Consequently, the title allows for a multiplicity of readings and meaning:

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SOLOS I:I = I:I SOLOS SOLOS 1:1 = 1:1 SOLOS SOLOS ONE:ONE = ONE:ONE SOLOS SOLOS SELF:OTHER = OTHER:SELF SOLOS SOLOS EYE:EYE = EYE:EYE SOLOS The last two iterations play on the heard sound of ‘I’ and ‘Eye’, implying a state of witnessing each other while engaged in Co-Solo interaction. SOLOS I:I also delimits a binary, on-off, 1:0 interpretation of cause and effect whereby ‘I play, you respond’. We coplay and co-respond. There is a simultaneity in the multiplicities of the interaction. This dichotomy of a non-alone solo, or Assisted Solo, hints towards a non-hierarchical exchange between dancer and musician as ‘rhizomes co-becoming in concert with other rhizomes’.127 To illustrate the process of articulating the Assisted Solo along the Solo-Social Continuum, what follows is a detailed description of selected tracks from each album, with references drawn from the key thematics of the research.

127 M. Hunter, Journal Entry, June 24, 2016.

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SOLOS I:I Viola TRACK DETAILS 1. Entering - how we enter the space, into interaction with one another (C. Orger) 2. Attending - to the task at hand (A. Cummins) 3. Possessing - allowing outside forces to penetrate (B. O’Connor) 4. Edging - edge of technical ability, mental capacity (E.Timofeev) 5. Mapping - the score, the room, the space between (E. Sheshgelani) 6. Subverting - virtuosity, habit, excellence (C. Orger) Fig. 12 SOLOS I:I (Viola) album cover & track details.

Album Hyperlink: http://www.assistedsolo.com/viola/ Track 2: ‘Attending’ The title of this track takes its thematic from John Cage when he writes, ‘To obtain the value of a sound, a movement, measure from zero. (Pay attention to what it is, just as it is.)’.128 Cummins and I used this quote in parallel with the provocation drawn from Marder’s notion of failure as an introduction of a fold or convolution in direction or intent.129 In revisiting this excerpt, convolution reveals itself in attending to the unexpected detail of timbral nuance and melodic phrasing. The piece welcomes imperfection. This is particularly evident in the opening passage as the bow brushes the strings and circles a multiplicity of notes before a low melody slowly emerges. At 36” the bow shudders along the strings in a rounded jagged motion; indecision is evident at 1’03” when I almost imperceptibly initiate notes up high on the viola, but then more decisively enter with full bow strokes on lower notes. A more distinct melody establishes itself from 1’29” to 2’56” followed by a high, imperfectly tuned chord brushing across the strings and dissolving at 3’21”. The floor creaks

128 Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, p. 94. 129 Marder, p. 77.

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at 3’38” suggesting that I am not alone in the room. A long pause of 9 seconds ensues, after which the viola slowly returns, almost inaudibly, then with an increasing strumming across the strings with my left hand clamped down over the fingerboard. This motion reduces the potential resonance of overtones, producing a rounded timbral quality of withheld, beating tones, slowly increasing in volume, as my left hand releases. At 4’15” there is a distinct shift in tempo, tone quality and dynamic. I’m reminded of Cummins in dance class directing the dancers to move faster than we can think. At this point, Cummins and I move away from the more measured, considered provocation of attending to convolution. The production of notes becomes less deliberate, swept on a more rapid trajectory of counterpoint. A repeated descending pizzicato phrase is established and developed from 4’31” to 4’56”. It commences at a micro-tone between E and F (exploring the spaces between) before arriving at a persistent micro-tone between C and C# at 5’05”. This is joined unexpectedly by a micro-tone a minor 6th higher on Ab at 5’28”, followed by a pause. Consideration is taken for how to work with this unexpected tone. I fold it into the phrase. I am then floundering, searching for the next thematic to explore. I settle on repeating the C and Ab pizzicato phrase with increasing rhythmic folds toward a ‘nonevent’ ending. The piece ends. Resolving to resolve unresolved on the unsteady minor 6th. The quality of ma is evident through this piece in the temporal-spatial alignment of one note to the next and the quality of space that is captured between myself and Cummins. Aside the floor creak at 3’48”, Cummins’ footfall is imperceptible throughout the recording. However, it is evident that I am not alone in the room. I am in close relation with the instrument, and with the other – Cummins. In attending to her movements, Cummins is assisting me in attending to the interplay of tension and release across the viola. It could be said the silences are ma-full. For this piece, the relational dynamic remained well intact, while the representational material produced from the interaction revealed its imperfections and flaws. The piece does not flaunt virtuosic dexterity or flashy melodic/harmonic articulation. The track’s merit is evident in the low ebb of tones in which the dancer can reside and explore. There was a liberty to own the imperfect, to not deny or eradicate error but to welcome tonal and timbral anomalies in the material as they arose. 47


Track 5: ‘Mapping’ In David Revill’s biography The Roaring Silence, John Cage: A Life, we are privy to Cage’s perspective on his limitations as a musician: ‘As he grew older, Cage gained confidence and began to construe any shortcomings in his abilities as defining the nature of his success rather than making it impossible. “I didn’t have the desire to overcome these absences in my faculties,” he said. “I rather used them to the advantage of invention.” [Cage] offered a comparison with the great ancient Greek orator, Demosthenes, who at the outset was plagued by a stutter, so taught himself his craft by addressing the roaring sea with a mouth full of stones.’130 Sheshgelani was given the above provocation referencing Demosthenes.131 In response to this provocation, Sheshgelani worked on her lexicon of twenty-one scripted Iranian dance postures and gestures. I worked on Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6 ‘Allemande’, mapping out the chordal structure within the piece – holding and sustaining notes, finding the resonance between two notes. Sometimes succeeding at the task, other times not. The final melodic line reveals itself more so only towards the very end of the track. Listening back on the interaction, it was evident that we began in Co-Soloing. As the track progresses and more of the Bach Suite is revealed, we hear Sheshgelani’s footfall increasing in both tempo and volume in the background of the track. In post-production, I chose to keep Sheshgelani’s vocalising and footfall in the audio material. Her gestures are subsumed into the recorded material. This track is an example of a Co-Soloing interaction shifting into the realm of the Assisted Solo. The viola material is foregrounded while the imprint of Sheshgelani’s engagement with her physical practice remains in the background. Track 6: ‘Subverting’ In working with the provocation ‘the pleasure of failure’, Orger and I chose to focus on subverting our normative and habitual approaches to moving and playing. Quoting

130 Revill, p. 16. 131 The image of a person with a mouth full of stones roaring at the sea to overcome their inadequacies was also explored in interaction with Interplay participant Lauren Simmonds.

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Harrison from ‘Making Sense: Embodiment and the Sensibilities of the Everyday’132, Priest writes, ‘Habits are eminently enabling…Yet at the same time, while habits enable, the field of action and meaning that they organise diminishes “the potential, or virtuality, of the body to do things otherwise.” Habits make life possible, but at the cost of restricting the range of the life that can be lived.’133 In this track, Orger and I attempted to subvert habitual patterns through the provocation of ‘moving on’. Initially, we hear the viola commence with the hand brushing across strings, moving from less-defined to more articulated notes. At 1’00” I continue working with a Japanese drum mallet, alternating between mallet and finger strumming of the strings. At 1’43”, use of the mallets escalates producing multiple overtones. At 2’10” I disrupt the regular rhythmic patterns and commence pulsing at 2’46” with the back of my fingers across the strings. At 4’00 I commence circling the fingerboard. It is questionable how successfully I subverted my habits throughout the track – there are so many of them! Again, from Priest: ‘habit draws something new from repetition—namely difference.’134 Rather than arriving at a place of distinct difference in my playing, what is evident to me in this track is a grappling with habit in an attempt to move from the known to the new. In my opinion, I fail to break with my habits. Around 4’20” it appears I surrender to habit and make peace with repeated drumming on the strings with the mallet, waiting for the new to arrive. It never really does. Track 7: ‘Departing’ This track is the least personally satisfying of all the recorded excerpts. It represents a period of complete relational disconnect between myself, my instrument, and with Yap. I am unable to listen back to it without feelings of frustration and boredom. I find the melodic pattern predictive, unimaginative, unprogressive and tedious. Rather than discarding this segment, I deliberately feature it in the final recorded material as an example of working, as Le Feuvres states ‘with dissatisfaction and error’.135 The representational material of this failed relational moment is the excerpt I used in post-production to produce ‘Rapture’, as detailed later in this chapter.

132 Paul Harrison, ‘Making Sense: Embodiment and the Sensibilities of the Everyday,’ Environment & Planning D: Society & Space 18, no. 4 (2000). 133 Priest, p. 177. 134 Ibid., p. 175. 135 p. 12.

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SOLOS I:I Bass TRACK DETAILS 1. Revealing – the intimacy, vulnerability, transparency of failure (T. Yap) 2. Convoluting - folding in the failures (A. Cummins) 3. Accumulating - generative qualities of repetition (C. Orger) 4. Suspending – as a state of falling - floating. Between falling and landing. (E. Timofeev) 5. Drilling - burrowing down into the material. Into one’s own practice. Into the potential between self and other. (B. O’Connor) 6. Exiting - ending, leaving, concluding. (C. Orger) Fig. 13 SOLOS I:I (Bass) album cover & track details.

Album Hyperlink: http://www.assistedsolo.com/bass/ Track 4: ‘Suspending’ In this track, Timofeev and I worked in very close proximity to one another with microiterations of falling. We discussed the quality of suspension and floating that exists in the moments before a fall. This too could be equated to the space ma – the moment before the ‘event’ occurs. In falling, a destabilisation is required to place oneself or an object off balance. Boyan Manchev writes ‘…not fulfilling, executing the form, but constantly destabilising it, stepping beyond its border. Changing the very condition of its actualisation, suspending its limits in the unlimited potential.’136 ‘Suspending’ opens with a briskly plucked B quickly followed by a descending glissando to a sustained Eb with an Eb harmonic trail. Evening frogs are heard in the distant background. A series of ascending notes intercept the background chorus of frogs outside. The opening B to Eb phrase is repeated with longer pause and rubato with a deadened harmonic close. Repeated insistent B strumming’s shifting to B with Bb resonating underneath create a

136 ‘Transformance: The Body of Event,’ in Dance: Documents of Contemporary Art, ed. André Lepecki (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), p. 125.

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dissonance and tension. At 1’37” I make numerous failed attempts to create a full resonant tone on a low Eb. Lingering in this lower octave range, I hear my desire to create a more sustained sound, as with a bowed instrument. The bass guitar has a shorter envelope and quicker decay than the bowed viola. This frustration is meted through the satisfaction of the deeper frequencies available on the bass. I exchange long resounding bow technique for rhythmic pulsing and strumming of the low notes. At 2’13” the low E strumming fades, returning more delicately at 2’20’ on B then ascending. This ongoing interplay between the octave B’s, and Eb is the sonic terrain of suspension and falling that this track emulates. At 2’29” a glissando arrives and hovers at a new tone – a low C#, accumulating multiple harmonic overtones along the way. At 2’45” the bass strings are audible brushed. Measure 2’48” reintroduces the low E and Eb tones, and the introduction of F# and Ab at 3’05”. At 3’18”, 3’29” and again at 3’38” the floor is heard creaking – Timofeev is very close to me, not more than 20cms away, but appears in the audio track to be further away at the other end of the space. What follows is a low strumming descending from C# to Ab and Bb, arriving at very low Eb. Measure 4’15” to 4’30” technically fumbles around Ab to B, returning with more comfort and certainty to the mid E range and repeating the descending motif to Eb, under which Timofeev is more evidently heard agitating the floor with his hands and legs. Track 5: ‘Drilling’ O’Connor and I worked with provocations of ‘potential’, ‘potent’, ‘posession’ and ‘rigour’. Starting with very low tones on the bass with Japanese drum mallets, I commenced hammering the strings and pegs, creating accumulating overtones, then cutting with my trajectory. At 2’15” O’Connor is audibly heard producing a series of brisk exhalations through his nostrils. The sound is agitated. The bass strings are very loose, creating intentionally ill-formed tones. At 2’30” the bass and the breathing interject one another. At 2’45” a car passes by. The mallets are put aside in favour of a softer attack on the strings with the pads of my fingers. The bass pulls out at 3’11” revealing O’Connor’s somewhat frenetic breathing. The mallets return at 3’25” with more insistent repetition and increasing intensity than previously. At 4’30” Brendan is heard evidently tapping the floor along in time with the bass mallets. This quality of drilling on the bass informed the track title.

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The word ‘drilling’ implies rigourously staying with the material at hand and going deeper into the state of being/making that is revealing itself to us. At 5’02” the steady rhythmic pattern is disrupted with a phasing effect of increasing and decreasing the tempo of the tapping. Around 5’30” a two-tone interval of a 2nd is introduced and rub against each other. At 6’15” a 9th interval further unsettles and agitates the dynamic between O’Connor and myself. He is heard thrashing his body on the ground. At 7’20” the bass becomes aggressive and persistent, imposing the two-tone strumming onto O’Connor. Recording levels are maxing out. O’Connor’s body is in full flight, producing an audible percussive interaction against the bass. The bass pulls out at 8’02”, raging back in at 8’07”, dismantling itself in a series of muted cluster chords, before finally arriving at an F# - C# - E arpeggiated ostinato fade. The piece is reminiscent of the South Korean concept of ‘rough beauty’ as described in the music documentary ‘Intangible Asset No. 82’137 with Korean traditional singer Bae IlDong.

137 Emma Franz and Simon Barker, Intangible Asset No. 82 (Western Australia: Kanopy, 2013), Videorecording.

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RUPTURE//RAPTURE TRACK DETAILS Track #1: ‘Rupture’ with Alice Cummins. Track #2: ‘Rapture’ with Tony Yap.

Fig. 14 Rapture//Rupture album cover & track details.

Album Hyperlink: http://www.assistedsolo.com/rupture-rapture/ In Boring, Formless Nonsense Eldritch Priest quotes Camus from Le Mythe de Sisyphe when he states, ‘nestled in the circuit of failure [is] a splinter of heightened awareness that carries a potential for a difference which ‘produces an unexpected surplus, the residue or demonstration of wasted energy’.138 It is this unexpected surplus that the third album Rupture//Rapture explores most directly. Track 1: ‘Rupture’ This track features a moment of technical failure when a string unexpectedly exploded off the bass guitar while in interaction with Cummins. The string made a shocking loud noise through the amp and dislodged from the bass. The moment had the potential to end the interaction between Cummins and myself, but we continued to work and respond to the infraction. I recall feeling adrenalin rush through my body at the shock of the sound and thinking I had permanently damaged the instrument and would not be able to play it for the remainder of the recording sessions. Initially, I turned the amp off and went into

138 Priest, p. 5.

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recovery mode to fix the issue. I soon realised that this was an opportunity to work with failure. Cummins had not stopped, so neither did I. We deliberately worked with the recovery of the string and I continued with a very slack string for the remainder of the session. The track’s title references Deleuze and Guattari’s principle of asignifying rupture: ‘against the oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure. A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines…There is a rupture in the rhizome whenever segmentary lines explode into a line of flight, but the line of flight is part of the rhizome. These lines always tie back to one another. That is why one can never posit a dualism or a dichotomy, even in the rudimentary form of the good and the bad. You may make a rupture, draw a line of flight, yet there is still a danger that.’139 Working with this failed representational material in post-production was a deliberate choice. Extreme time stretching the moment of the string break extends the lacuna of rupture and reveals latent fields of sonic potential hidden in the audio material. Track 2: ‘Rapture’ The source material for ‘Rupture’ is taken directly from SOLOS I:I (Viola) track #7 titled ‘Departing’. The track features a moment of what I perceived as relational failure and a disconnect with myself in relation to instrument and dancer Yap. This interaction and lack of relational connection are noted in my reflective writing the evening after recording: ‘Today with Tony I felt a swelling up of frustration in my playing. Not finding it. Not finding him. Not finding the connection. I had to break with my playing. I had to name it out loud to him. To leave my instruments and to move my physical body. We spoke. I voiced my frustration. We re-configured to a much closer dynamic with him right by me and the camera close to us and then Ahhhh! Yes!!! In. Finding. Found. Underneath it at last. Close and quiet and very intimate. Much more satisfying.’140

139 Deleuze and Guattari, p. 9. 140 M. Hunter, Journal entry, April 31, 2016.

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In his 1950 lecture ‘The Thing’, Heidegger reflects on distance and remoteness: ‘What is nearness if it fails to come about despite the reduction of the longest distances to the shortest intervals? What is nearness if it is even repelled by the restless abolition of distances? What is nearness if, along with the failure to appear, remoteness also remains absent?’.141 This philosophical quandary epitomises the frustration I experienced during the earlier phase of my interaction with Yap. This relational mis-fire contained the nexus of material, the nonprivative lacuna, of the audio track ‘Rapture’, which was only revealed later through postproduction processes.

Post-Production In post-production, I intentionally chose to work with these two moments of ‘misperformance’142 to uncover their potential for producing new audio works. Using Max/MSP (Cycling ’74) patch ‘vb.stretch~’ I adjusted the various parameters of the software, extending ‘Rupture’ from 2 to 40 minutes and ‘Rapture’ from 6 to 30 minutes duration. This process echoes Deleuze and Guattari when they write: ‘Always follow the rhizome by rupture; lengthen, prolong, and relay the line of flight; make it vary, until you have produced the most abstract and tortuous of lines of n dimensions and broken directions.’143 Figure 15 is a screenshot of the software used.

141 Martin Heidegger, ‘The Thing,’ in Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper & Row , 1971), p. 163. 142 Monica Prendergast, ‘Misperformance Ethnography,’ Applied Theatre Research Vol. 2, no. 1 (2014). 143 Deleuze and Guattari, p. 11.

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Fig. 15 Max/MSP (Cycling '74) vb.stretch patch. Screen shot M. Hunter, Oct 2016.

Choreographer Meg Stuart demonstrates a similar process of extending small sections of improvised works into a longer piece: ‘In Maybe Forever, Philip Gehmacher and I used video in a different way. Rather than repeating whole improvisations, we cut out our favourite images and bits from a series of attempts at one score, sometimes only seconds worth of footage, and then carefully crafted them in to a continuous sequence’.144 For the recording project, the less satisfying relational and representational experience in real time became the more satisfying material to work with in post-production.

144 Meg Stuart, ‘Rewind, Edit, Play,’ in Dance: Documents of Contemporary Art, ed. André Lepecki (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), p. 194.

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The two brief and sub-excellent moments of ‘Rupture’ and ‘Rapture’ in their extreme timestretched version are akin to what Priest calls the ‘sensuous infinite’. He writes: ‘I argue that contemporary boredom is a way of paying attention to our culture’s fixation on nothing in particular/everything in general and that contemporary music engineers this by staging an encounter with a sensuous infinity.’145

The subsequent

material revealed by

Rupture//Rapture epitomises the research objective of turning towards relational and representational failure for locating and articulating the Assisted Solo for generating new creative material.

Sounding Summary The recording project extended my engagement and understanding of failure in the context of an Assisted Solo music-dance collaboration. The Interplay provocations and framework inform the interaction with each dancer. The albums are situated in the context of 20th and 21st century experimental and ‘new music’ genres of music/sound-making. Revisiting the recorded material through reflective writing, acousmatic and phenomenological listening, and Deep Listening practices reveal the articulation of the Assisted Solo along the Solo-Social Continuum. Ma is experienced in relation to gaps in relational connectivity, technical ability, instrument malfunction, and historical sites of trauma and transformation. Ma continues to be explored in visual form in the following and final chapter of this dissertation.

145 Priest, p. 44.

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CHAPTER 4: SEEING I remember one BMC class in 2012, being witnessed in movement by Alice Cummins. I recall exactly where I was in the space at Cecil Street Dance Studios. My knees were bent, arms out to the sides, head down and slightly to the left. Alice called out ‘Myfanwy - really see. Really see your body. Your arms. Where you are in the space.’ This directive completely altered my moving-thinking-sensing. To really see and to really be seen. Not vacating the gaze in a distant place. But actually see. Me, my limbs, the space, others.146

Mapping Ma Concurrent with the aforementioned recordings was my exploration of failure through photography and drypoint etching. In musical terms, failure can be understood and/or experienced as a gap in technically or relational ability. Translating technical and relational failure into the visual domain, I began to notice and document failures and repairs in public spaces. These visual works revolve around two sources – a vinyl repair on a Melbourne tram floor and wood repairs on the verandah of Nishi Hongwanji temple in Kyoto, Japan.147 The practical repair of the tram floor catalysed questions around public and private admissions of failure: What is the difference between private and public admissions of failure? How willing am I to reveal my failings publicly? How do I attempt to cover up my failings in public? These questions were explored in the solo practice notes, and in the Interplay series. My absorption with the tram floor and temple verandah repairs lead to a series of 600+ photographic compositions. The repairs on the temple verandah floor contrasted with the impeccable grandeur of the tatami mat halls and the gardens outside the temple. In Japanese architectural contexts, the verandah epitomises ma in its function as a structure that exists between inside and outside. Both sites are depicted in figures 16-20. The selection shows the diversity of the repairs and illustrates my compositional inclination to establish a horizon line as a spatial narrative and core motif from one repair to the next. More photographs of the temple verandah and tram floor sites are located on the project repository located at http://www.assistedsolo.com/photographs.

146 Excerpt #5 from ‘A Sentence. A Paragraph. A Page: On the influence of Alice Cummins dance/movement classes in my music making’. M. Hunter, May/June 2016. 147 Nishi Hongwanji temple is colloquially known as ‘Onissan’ – ‘Dear Mr. West’.

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Fig. 16 Tram floor repairs, Melbourne, April 2014. Photo: M. Hunter.

Fig. 17 Nishi Hongwangji Temple, Kyoto, Japan, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter

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Fig. 18 Nishi Hongwanji verandah floor repairs, Kyoto, Japan, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter.

Fig. 19 Walking over repairs, Nishi Hongwanji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter.

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Fig. 20 Nishi Hongwanji verandah floor, October 2014. Photo: M. Hunter.

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Verandah as Intermezzo Articulating the space between inside and outside is intrinsic to the Japanese architectural sensibility embedded in ma. Renowned Japanese architect Arata Isozaki defines ma as ’the gap between two things, an opening; the space encompassed by columns or folding screens.‘148 Drawing parallels between the qualities of ma across architect, music, and dance, Isozaki goes on to write, ‘In painting, the focus has been on the margin rather than on shape, in music on silence rather than the notes and in dance on stillness rather than movement. All of these can be expressed by a single term: ma.’149 This presence of ma through visual art, music, movement and architecture is reflected in this project’s foci on failure in sound, dance and public sites of damage and repair. In his 1986 publication Intervals (Ma’) in Space and Time: Foundations for a Religio-Aesthetic Paradigm in Japan, Richard Pilgrim states: ‘Another contemporary architect interested in Ma is Kurokawa Kisho. Highlighting the idea of a "world between," he discusses the engawa ("veranda") of a typical Japanese home as exemplifying the betweenness by which outside and inside, nature and human, are merged, blurring boundaries, distinctions, and oppositions’.150 A correlation exists between the interstitial space of the verandah and the musical temporal form of an ‘intermezzo’. In musical terms, an intermezzo is described as an ‘entre’acte…A piece of INCIDENTAL MUSIC performed between the acts of a play’.151 The small admissions of failure, care, and attention that the floor repairs represent, and their specific location on the intermezzo space of the verandah, were visually critical to my understanding of the particular qualities of ma and the role of the gap or crack that failure illuminates. Working with the two sites of the temple verandah and tram floor repairs presented the opportunity to delve into visual representations and connections between failure, the ‘inter’, and the Assisted Solo. In ‘A Culture of the ‘Inter’: Japanese Notions of ma and basho’, Oosterling explains that ‘The middle or inter is not a passage or passing through. It is ‘mi-

148 Arata Isozaki, Arata Isozaki, ed. Ken Tadashi Ōshima (London; New York, NY: Phaidon, 2009), p. 156. 149 Ibid., p. 162. 150 Pilgrim, p. 272. 151 Christine Elizabeth Ammer, The Facts on File Dictionary of Music, 4th ed. (New York: Facts on File, 2004). [Italics and uppercase original]

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lieu’ as an ‘entre’. This inter ‘exists’ ‘before’ any position, although we can only describe it ‘afterwards’.152 An Assisted Solo contains within it the state before interaction with another and the articulation of presence after interaction with another. Failure to articulate the relational field between self and other indicates a gap in realising the potential between intention and action. Concurrently, this gap in relational (or representational) cohesion can also be viewed as a portal of becoming, as Oosterling goes on to state: ‘Deleuze calls this inter also a ’becoming'. Varying on the Heideggerian theme of presence and absence – and resonating Derrida’s deconstructive enterprise – his inbetween furthermore is conceptualized as an ever present – now/here – but ‘at the same time’ absent – no/where – tensional field’.153 The Assisted Solo welcomes failure as a call to remain present in the tensional field of becoming. The intermezzo space of the verandah, and the ‘tensional field’ inherent in the audio works, reflects independent selves shaped and informed by interaction with the other. The space between myself, instruments, and each dancer is the place of emergent relational and representational material. How deftly or inadequately I/we navigate the relational and representational variables determines the breadth and width of the ‘verandah’ of interaction that we co-create. Interpreting the verandah muso-metaphorically as an intermezzo space, the verandah ‘assists’ the solo of the internal world, structure, or inhabitant to interact with the social realm of the outside world. Transitioning from the Solo to the Social nodes along the Solo-Social Continuum requires stepping into the relational intermezzo fields of the Co-Solo, Assisted Solo, and Duo forms of interaction. Artographic exploration of ma through the temple and tram floor images elucidates the intermezzo quality of ma as inherently rhizomatic. An artographic perspective on intermezzo is found in Clarke and Parsons’ article ‘Becoming Rhizome Researchers’. They describe artographically informed teachers as ‘liv[ing] and shar[ing] their research from where they were living intermezzo’.154 Intermezzo is also referred to by Deleuze and Guattari as rhizomes when they write, ‘A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle,

152 Oosterling, p. 72. 153 Ibid. 154 Clarke and Parsons, p. 37.

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between things, interbeing, intermezzo’.155 This correlation between intermezzo, the verandah, artography, music, and ma fueled my inclination to explore the temple and tram repairs in a visual medium.

Visual References The temple verandah and tram floor repairs formed the visual basis of an inquiry into How do I attend visually to the ‘value of broken-ness’?156 The photographic compositions were initially reworked as a series of cyanotypes and stencil works. Recalling Le Feuvre’s view of error and dissatisfaction,157 a persistent dissatisfaction with the outcome of these works propelled me to explore the unfamiliar medium of drypoint etching. In researching experienced drypoint etching practitioners, the works of Kim van Someren and Ross Loveday provided examples of printmakers who exemplify the type of mark making, compositional form and density that I wanted to explore. (Figures 21 and 22)

Fig. 21 Left: ‘Walking Fort’ by Kim van Someren. Drypoint etching, 12"x9", 2011. Fig. 22 Right: ‘North Bank’ by Ross Loveday. Drypoint etching 33x33cm, date unknown.

Van Someren’s works ‘reference the idea of building [through] construction of a physical structure or implied movement’.158 My original photographs of the temple floor compositionally imply buildings, structures, hovering forms in a horizontal plain

155 Deleuze and Guattari, p. 25. 156 Bailes, Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure: Forced Entertainment, Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service, p. 22. 157 Le Feuvre, p. 12. 158 Kim Van Someren, ‘Artist Statement,’ Otherpeoplespixels,Date Accessed, http://kimvansomeren.com/page/2-ARTISTSTATEMENT.html.

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landscape. Van Someren’s work tends to feature a dense central form within a void background. Similarly, my etchings were composed with a central form located within a sparse or contrasting background. Loveday states ‘location itself isn’t that important. I want to convey an atmosphere…The subjects are only the starting point, sometimes a small insignificant detail or texture… triggers a new print.’159 It is the same quality of small, apparently insignificant detail on the floor of the tram and temple verandah that catalysed the entire body of work. With attention on the cracks and repairs, the grandeur of the temple and the bulk of the tram faded into insignificance. The etchings suggest parallel worlds with topographic weather patterns containing floating forms and uninhabitable structures. Loveday’s square format echoes my original photographs and subsequent prints, also intentionally composed within the frame of the square. Notably, I came across the work of both van Someren and Loveday after commencing work on the drypoint series. The appeal of their work validated my intention to work with square formatting, dense central forms, repeated parallel etching marks, and smearing the ink across the drypoint plate. Kintsugi & Yobitsugi A connection can be drawn between the floor repair etchings and the Japanese tradition of kintsugi and yobitsugi, whereby broken ceramic vessels are repaired with gold seams (Figure 23). The moment of a break diminishes the vessels place as a useful object in the world. Repairing a ceramic bowl with gold not only returns the object to the world, but also elevates the perceived value of the object. In this sense, the kintsugi repairs are indicative of Heidegger’s phenomenology of failure. In falling and cracking, a bowl or cup falls out of logic with its place in the world. To paraphrase Marder on Heidegger, a vessel may be present-at-hand, but it is no longer ready-at-hand.160 An elevation of the value of the object occurs - what is damaged is, through attention and care, more highly valued. This value of brokenness was evident in the poetics of the floor repairs – what is underfoot and disregarded becomes, through tending to the minutiae of repair, transformed. The intrinsic value of the flawed floor is raised.

159 Ross Loveday, ‘My Inspiration,’ Accessed, http://www.rossloveday.com/profile.html. 160 Marder, p. 71.

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Yobitsugi involves a piecing back together of ceramic pieces from different vessels brought together to synthesis in a new configuration (Figure 24). The literal translation of yobitsugi is ‘calling in’.161 It could be said that yobitsugi exists as a Co-Solo – the pieces co-habit a form with clear delineation between the individual parts.

Fig. 23 Left: Example of kintsugi. Photo credit: DemysTeafication. Fig. 24 Right: Example of yobitsugi, ‘Shino Yobitsugi Daizara’ by Goro Suzuki, 2010.

The Etchings My interest to create a series of drypoint etchings arose out of a curiosity to extend the narrative of the temple and tram floor photographic series through a less deliberate print medium. Drypoint etching presented an opportunity to work with re-interpreting the images in a series of gestural mark making. Many variables contribute to the success of a print. The quality of ink, type of etching tool, plate material, quality and pressure of the press and quality of the paper all influence the outcome of a print. As a novice printmaker, failure was inevitable. My facility with the medium and ability to navigate the variables at each stage of production was limited. I do not stake claim to being proficient as a printmaker. The decision to undertake a series of etchings was driven by aesthetic consideration and the choice to challenge my current skill set – to move out of familiar comfort zones of making and responding. Figures 25-30 show examples of some of the more satisfying attempts. Further examples of the work are available on the project repository at http://www.assistedsolo.com/etchings.

161 In conversation with artist-researcher Manabu Kanai, VCA Centre For Ideas, 15 July, 2015.

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Fig. 25 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016.

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Fig. 26 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016.

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Fig. 27 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016.

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Fig. 28 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper. 20x20cm, 2016.

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Fig. 29 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016.

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Fig. 30 ‘Untitled’ by M. Hunter. Drypoint etching on Somerset paper, 20x20cm, 2016.

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Seeing Summary Exploration of failure and ma through the drypoint etchings series offered the opportunity to extend my creative practice into a previously unexplored medium. The process of making the drypoint etchings was a very solo pursuit. However, it was not without assistance. After my own failed attempts to produce a print of any merit, I sought assistance from Adrian Kellett head of Printmaking at the VCA, and artist/printmaker Katie Stackhouse. Their guidance and instruction led me towards more satisfying results with the correct use of ink, paper, tool, pressure through the press and dry-time. It was an experience of moving from a Solo pursuit to an Assisted Solo through recognising the need to seek assistance from people more experienced in the field of printmaking. The etchings were initially undertaken as an independent body of work distinct from the audio works. In this sense, the etchings and audio works initially inhabited the Co-Solo mode of the Solo-Social Continuum. Later in the development of the practical work, the etchings formed the visual artwork for the audio albums. Through shared narratives of failure, repair and gaps, the album covers set a visual tone for a listening experience of the Assisted Solo audio albums.

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CONCLUSION: EXITING My bow moves to its tip and slowly lifts off the strings, hovering. Our sounding settles itself on the contours of the room and its temporary inhabitants. It’s a simple task — play one note. Nothing particularly virtuosic about it. However, this one note…presents itself as an opportunity to really enter, locate, interact, sound, see and exit. In improvisation, this ‘really listening’ and ‘really seeing’ is often about allowing an ending or exit to find us. Exiting as another type of entering. And so, we begin again…162

Locating and articulating the field of the Assisted Solo through the lens of failure has offered valuable insight for myself and fellow creative practitioners working in solo, duo, and social forms of practice. Extending my viola and visual art practice through attending to the failed and discarded relational and representational material questions and inverts the normative virtuosic pursuit by opening new pathways for creating, making, reflecting and interrelating. This research inquiry uncovered five main benefits to working with failure and the field of the Assisted Solo. Each of these areas is summarised below, with indications of future trajectories for ongoing research. 1. Locating the Assisted Solo through future-oriented failure. 2. Articulating the Assisted Solo through experiential interaction and development of the Solo-Social Continuum. 3. Navigating failure through a rhizomatic framework connecting theory and praxis. 4. Attending to failure in improvisation practice from the ‘double-fail’ lens of relational and representational aesthetics. 5. Extending my creative practice in exploration of failure and the Assisted Solo the through the audio and visual artworks. Locating Through the practical work, personal reflections, and theoretical and philosophical inquiry, I now encapsulate the essence of an Assisted Solo as such: a solo that remains present to the absence of the other. The Assisted Solo transforms normative negative perspectives on absence, failure, gaps, cracks. The creative works generated throughout the research position the Assisted Solo as a rich source of material in interdisciplinary arts inquiry.

162 Excerpt #6 from ‘A Sentence. A Paragraph. A Page: On the influence of Alice Cummins dance/movement classes in my music making’. M. Hunter, May/June 2016.

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Turning towards failure as a means of locating the Assisted Solo has extended my potential available means of relating and making in music-dance improvisation practice. Bringing a perspective of future-oriented failure to the practice of an Assisted Solo has given me greater capacity and courage to lean into the emerging relational and representational failures in solo practice and in collaboration. These qualities have been invaluable improvisation skills for me to develop throughout the research. The research findings and creative works may also prove beneficial to fellow practitioners working in music-dance collaboration, as well as applied improvisation, interpersonal, social change and team management settings. Articulating Articulating the Assisted Solo through the recording project expands current research in Assisted Solo fields of music-dance inquiry. Development throughout the research of the Solo-Social continuum extends the lexicon of possible engagement in improvisation practice along the five nodes of Solo, Co-Solo, Assisted Solo, Duo, and Social interaction. Working with failure to define the parameters of an Assisted Solo distinguishes an Assisted Solo from other nodes along the continuum. The Solo-Social Continuum articulates solo, duo, and social forms of creative practice and provides a cohesive yet flexible framework for ongoing research and creative inquiry. These distinctions have proved valuable when working with collaborators on projects outside the parameters of this research. Navigating The artographic methodology employed throughout the research proved to be a useful tool for navigating interdisciplinary arts inquiry. Artography connects the Interplay interviews with the practical and written components of the research. Correlations between rhizomatic methodology, the spatial-temporal concept of ma, and the Assisted Solo offer comprehensive approaches to working with academic art-based research and collaboration. The Interplay provocations for discussion and interaction are a valuable resource for myself and fellow practitioners to access and explore creative relationship to failure in creative practice. The Interplay interviews published on the project repository are a resource for fellow musicians, dancers, theatre makers, policy developers, and arts educators. The interviews and collection of provocations continue to inform my emerging creative projects and collaborations.

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Attending The research offers valuable insight on attending to failure in improvisation from the lens of relational and representational aesthetics. Employing this dual optic directly responds to the research question How does Improvisation fail? Facility in improvisation is measured not by retrospective judgment or the capacity to replicate thousands of notes, but in the quality of one’s capacity to attend to the relational and representational dynamics within any improvisation context. Relational capacity is developed in attending to oneself, the other, the instrument, and the environment. Representational capacity is developed through the sounds that are produced within the relational dynamic. Attending to failure as material to plough back into creative practice supports a robust failure-informed improvisation practice. Extending Undertaking the creative works extended my practice in the field of new works for viola and bass guitar in interdisciplinary improvisation practice. The project aims to demonstrate the above philosophical, theoretical and methodological approaches through the practical work of the three audio albums and drypoint etchings. SOLOS I:I (Viola) and SOLOS I:I (Bass) albums locate and articulate the burgeoning field of the Assisted Solo in music-dance improvisation. Rupture//Rapture extends the field of the Assisted Solo through extreme time stretching the failed relational and representational material. The companion collection of drypoint etchings provide a visual portal for reflecting on the potentiality of failed materials, cracks, gaps, and repair. The albums are available as a resource for dance practitioners and persons interested in inter-disciplinary rhizomatic research in the arts.

Failing Forward The creative outputs, methodology, concepts, and insights uncovered through this research have extended my creative practice and broadened my appreciation of the Assisted Solo. Development through practice of the Solo-Social Continuum offers a clear yet malleable framework to explore how to navigate in a failure-informed way between individual creative inquiry and collective exploration and collaboration. The research outcomes valorise turning towards failure to reveal latent potential in creative practice. The processes, artworks, interviews and writings developed during the research may present beneficial implications in the fields of music performance anxiety, peak performance, and effortless 76


attention. Further work and research in the field of the Assisted Solo could focus on musician-musician interactions, and intra-disciplinary application of the Assisted Solo in non-arts based fields such as neurological cohesion and the social sciences. The Assisted Solo, Solo-Social Continuum, and associated creative, theoretical and philosophical content of this research project offer a multiplicity of resources for application and exploration by artists, change-makers, interpersonal relationship coaching, string educators, and classroom educators. Failure, as presented throughout the research, offers new ways to engage and extend capacity at all levels of learning and development from self-directed solo practice to socially responsive co-creating. It is my sincere hope that the research findings and creative outputs are of value to fellow artists, researchers and educators interested in cultivating a robust and pliable relationship with failure in solo, duo and social forms of interdisciplinary inquiry and interaction.

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((Post-Ending)) In mapping endings and exits with the Assisted Solo dancers, I arrived, non-conclusively, at the following: With Cobie - Clear. Abrupt. Elbow meets the wall. End. Regroup. With Elnaz - Succinct. She counts 1-10 in the space between ’scenes’ of interaction: “Yek. Do. Seh. Chahar. Panj. Shesh. Haft. Hash. Noh. Dah.” Done. Next. With Alice - Bam! It finds us. We are there. With Brendan - Multiple vignettes. Seamless continuity. One to the next. With Tony - Durational. Far. Broken. Reset. Close. Yes. With Evgenii - No ending. Continuing. Ability, attention, application, and intention are honed along a trajectory towards temporal states of peak performance, flow, virtuosity. A definitive event of failure is elusive and inherently subjective. The pursuit of failure is asymptotic – ‘a straight line continually approaching a given curve but never meeting it at any finite distance.’ 163

163 M. Hunter, Journal Entry, May 1, 2016.

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Myfanwy Hunter - Masters Thesis

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