Intro to the Remote, the Immediate

Some text to get us started . . .

I’m a dancer. I like to understand things through personal experience. Dance has been my way of consciously seeking and discovering information and cultivating an understanding of the world and of myself. The knowledge I gain is palpable, felt, immediate.

I’ve been making site-specific dances, informed by history, cultural studies and architecture, for the past couple of years. I wanted to work with a geoscientist who could give me another perspective on place. I found Christopher Small through his website.

Chris works with remote sensing, among other tools. He creates images, based on the amount of sunlight reflected off of the Earth’s surface, and can consequently measure the amount of urban vegetation in a place like New York City. He can then compare images from different times and look at the amount of vegetation growth or depletion that’s happened over a span of up to thirty years.

Of course thirty years is only a minute fraction of the time span that we consider when we discuss climate and geological changes.

Meanwhile, I am twenty-eight years old. The longest dance performance I ever did lasted 18 hours. Most last only 15 minutes.

I want to understand time, as it relates to urban development and environmental change. I want to know what urban growth is beyond facts and figures. I want the information that I learn from Chris to be palpable, felt, immediate.

So I’ve asked Chris and fellow dancer Deborah Black to embark on an investigation with me. Over the next couple of months, we’re going to pool our research and ways of understanding together. We’ll start by describing our methods and our ideas to one another. We will dialogue, document and move with one another. We’re going to find out  how information inside of our bodies can be shared and laid on the table next to information documented in papers and visual images. Our pool of information will inevitably juxtapose different time spans – that of an instant, a few minutes, a season, a decade, and a lifetime. We’re going to imagine that we can then understand each of these different time scales in multiple ways. We will position ourselves as scholars seeing the world as both participators and outside observers – taking measurements of ourselves, from both inside and outside of ourselves. We undertake the task knowing full well that we will not accomplish the impossible or imaginary but with the expectation of discovering something along the way and being able to share that with you, our virtual audience, and a real-time audience on-site.

Join us. First, keep up with our blog at theremotetheimmediate.wordpress.com. We’ll be posting some of the text here at ilandsymposium.wordpress.com as well. This will be the only blog post on either site for a while. We’ll be kicking it into high gear in August and September. More posts will come then. Second, tell us who you are. It’s more fun to write this if we are writing to you – not shouting into the anonymous virtual world, wondering who’s listening. So e-mail us (theremotetheimmediate@gmail.com) or post your own comments here. Third, come join us on site. We’ll be meeting in the East River State Park in Williamsburg, on the East River between North 7th and 9th Streets. We’ll post some of our meeting times here so that you can come and participate as you’d like. Talk with us. Move with us. Or just listen in.

-Diana Crum

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Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    Diana,

    Thanks for posting. I like the way you are talking about time and the directness of your approach with Chris and Deborah. I look forward to learning more. Do you have any articles or books to share with us?

  2. I keep thinking of “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino. Right now, I’m interested in how we use space to help us understand time and vice versa, how the two things become metaphors for one another, and how the two are understood as both abstract concepts and something quantifiable.

  3. Another book: ‘The Archeology of Knowledge’ by Michel Foucault. He talks about various disciplines, how they divide history into time periods differently and prioritize either patterns or disruptions.

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