AXIS: Anatomy of Space - Good Company Arts
25 March 2017, Otago Museum, Dunedin
Reviewed by Hahna Briggs
AXIS is a dynamic collaboration between Good Company Arts and Joyce Beetuan Koh (composer, sound artist and music director), PerMagnus Lindborg (composer, sound artist and researcher), Tanya Carlson (Dunedin based clothing designer), Jac Grenfell (digital artist), Donnine Harrison (Good Company producer), and artists of the Royal New Zealand Ballet with Daniel Belton.
AXIS is a 35 minute work showing a complex dialogue between bodies, movement, music, sound, light and texture using ‘optical devices, along with mapping and sound technologies’.
Dancers held round discs, performing mostly minimal and structured shapes, appearing and disappearing, melting into each other or expanding into multiple copies, against of backdrop of galactic imagery and geometric shapes. Some play on macro and micro imagery was evident and I desired to see more development on this theme. The texture of the dresses and skirts worn by the dancers appeared to be emphasised on the screen, I could almost feel the fabric against my skin.
AXIS appears to be an extension upon ideas developed in Belton’s 2014 choreography Satellites, a work commissioned by the Royal New Zealand Ballet. In Satellites dancers held onto similar round discs which I learnt were related to Jim Murphey’s kinetic sculptures. Belton describes the human dancers as satellites, “we are all orbiting each other all the time. Everything is moving all the time.” (ODT, 15 August 2014).
Human satellites are evident in AXIS as dancers revolve in relation to each other and the universe they inhabit. The film shows the infiniteness of the universe through the simultaneous imploding and exploding of bodies in space and time. In addition the interconnectedness of everything is demonstrated in the dance through showing similar and repeating patterns that occur in space, sound, water and bodies.
I was constantly reminded of images of early film and photography I have come across from time to time but didn’t have enough knowledge to remember who or what. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this cinema dance had a ‘vintage’ feel while obviously using contemporary technologies that could well be the great-great grandchildren of early film and photographic techniques. I was compelled to search for the memories triggered by watching AXIS; this search led me to images of the work by Étienne-Jules Marey, Eadweard Muybridge and Georges Méliès.
The design of the dome cinema was disappointing. This was my first time at the planetarium and sitting in the first few rows severely restricted my ability to take in the film in its entirety without straining my neck. I quickly realised the only seats worth taking in a film such as this would have been the back couple of rows. Despite the cinemas viewing restrictions, AXIS definitely appealed to my delight in imagining everything in existence as an ever expanding, interconnected and complex system of multiple and parallel universes.