Reflecting back over this semester has been a interesting and sometimes cumbersome task while being present and giving my energy completely and effectively to finals and projects that are due. While I was perusing the site we have been using to document and trace our progress in Devising Experiential Media Systems for Live Performance ( I came across a task we completed very early that sparked a new interest. I am compelled to give a place to live on my portfolio here, to see the ways such a written, generative exercise can be used later on.

It is a twist on the classic fortune-telling list game.

The original MASH is played by making lists of various aspects/milestones of ones life (marriage, job, home, kids, etc.) in separate categories, picking a number at random then using that number to cross off potential ‘candidates’ one by one until each section has only one option left.  The method we used to decide how many jumps to take until a candidate was crossed off included me drawing a spiral until my classmate Sarah Lawler (incredibly smart and multi-talented lighting and game guru) said, ‘Stop’ and counting the number of rings.

Original constant: spiral in UR shows 5 marks starting from center to detonate a cross-off every 5 moves.

In our (truncated) controlled, original version of the game Sarah can look forward to marrying Stephen Hawking, living in a mansion in Ireland and be employed as a CEO. Not too shabby a life, Sarah!

Next we decided to take out the constraints of having all the corresponding potential categories in the same list. We randomized them in a word cloud, used the spiral method to find a number and cross off at random until only 4 remained. This added the possibility that a player could have multiple jobs but nowhere to live (and all the variants therein).

I very much enjoyed the ‘risk’ involved in the world cloud set up of the game. In the original, making some of the categorical choices unappealing left some risk but the stakes are higher when all these ‘goals’ are not necessarily guaranteed. We ran into a problem when in the second version, which was at times it was difficult to be unbiased when ‘randomly’ crossing off choices. An amendment which included still putting the contenders in a list, but one long continuous and arbitrary one adds the element of organization with the suspense of the intended outcome.

I am interested, reflecting back, how this exercise can be utilized to ‘shake up’ my studio composition habits. I do not usually choreography with a particular degree of organization but I have brought in a few trail runs to my current choreographic work.

In a recent rehearsal, when needing to take a large amount of content and organize it individually for each dancer , I used a combination somewhere between this exercise and chance procedures (hello, Merce!) I labeled each phrase, randomized them 5 times, and then had my cast randomly choose a piece of paper with their aleatory choreography on it. This then lead us to problem solve the combinations in our own bodies while I intermingled and offered support and suggestions to fit my movement style. The assembly process was then another puzzle to solve, making each of our ‘new’ phrases fit well together. It was a great solution to a cumbersome task.

I look forward to exploring, through this prompt and others, how reorganization and certain degree of ‘breaking the rules’ can promote new and efficient ways of organizing and creation compositional scores.



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