imagining proximities
dwelling in sites

How do I dwell in my own body while dwelling in urban space? How do I behave, act, move and why is that so? How can I observe, change and use it as a source for creative play? Urban space, this ambiguous context of immensity and intimacy. I am not interested in dancing in public space as a rupture of mundane behaviour, but in the power of imagination in the moment of dwelling as a body – as a site – in a site. Steve Paxton, whose term small dance describes the attendance to tiny movements happening while standing still, said about exploring pedestrian movements: “Standing I found more and more unpedestrian. It’s rarely done in a kind of pure state […]. I began to see that there were all these things very close to the surface that we maintain to get through the day that were in fact profound experiences – standing still for a long time was one of them” (Paxton; 1977).

I stand still. I perceive, I imagine. I record, I transfer, I listen. I start again. Standing and shifting in response to imagination and actual perception becomes a powerful experience of dwelling. “The distant and the near are experienced with the same intensity, and they merge into one coherent experience” (Pallasmaa; 2013, p.46).

Voicing becomes a powerful experience of translation. How I speak causes various densities, and this alters the meaning of the words spoken and the atmosphere of the sounds produced. Composer Daniel Barenboim links the production of sound to the notion of gravity (retrieved from The production of a sound is a lifting from silence, energy used against gravity. Brandon LaBelle observes the mouth as the architecture around voice processing this lifting: “Subsequently, the mouth is precisely what puts into question the separation of interior and exterior, as distinct and stable […]. It performs […] to echo and vibrate with a multitude of forces that pass through its chamber, from the edible to the inedible, the symbolic to the semiotic, the proper to the improper.” (LaBelle; 2014) I lift a sound, which carries a meaning. The mouth is the threshold in which both physical sensation/ability and the production of meaning come together, just as while standing still and perceiving the site: bodily sensation, readings of meaning, evoked imagination layer.

I see the spaces around me almost as a stage, in the sense of a dual vision: as a sign for something and the thing itself. Valerie Preston-Dunlop calls this interpraxia: the oscillation between the experiential and referential dimension. It hold the possibility of “desemiotitasion” (Preston-Dunlop, & Sanchez-Colberg; 2002) in theatre, of rupturing the conventional reading of signs. Can I rupture the order of perception and movement of the context I am in? I learned about choreology (Rodulf von Laban) – the analysis of space, movement, effort, harmony – and fell in love with the playfulness it provides:. Can I be surprised by my imagination, not following the efficient rhythm of effort and recovery, of up and down, turning left and right? Can I thus play with the sign content of spatial orientation?

I think I can. Starting with and arriving at the notion, that “the city and my body supplement and define each other. I dwell in the city and the city dwells in me” (Pallasmaa; 2013).