Knowledge Cartography for Choreography?

15 09 2008

It’s always a nice feeling when a book you’ve been working on for months finally lands on your doormat, and so what better way to kick off the week than to proudly hold up Knowledge Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques!

Co-edited with KMi Research Fellow Ale Okada, and NESTA Fellow Tony Sherborne, Creative Director at the Centre for Science Education at Sheffield Hallam U.

We summarise the book’s orientation in the preface:

While “sense” can be expressed in many ways (non-verbally in gesture, facial expression and dance, and in prose, speech, statistics, film…), knowledge cartography as construed here places particular emphasis on digital representations of connected ideas, specifically designed to:

I. Clarify the intellectual moves and commitments at different levels.
(e.g. Which concepts are seen as more abstract? What relationships are legitimate? What are the key issues? What evidence is being appealed to?)

II. Incorporate further contributions from others, whether in agreement or not.
The map is not closed, but rather, has affordances designed to make it easy for others to extend and restructure it.

III. Provoke, mediate, capture and improve constructive discourse.

e-Dance’s mission is to explore how an approach such as this — which emphasises clarity and rigour of thought, making relationships explicit between ideas — meshes with the modes of cognition and creativity that we find in choreography. Tomorrow at DRHA’08 in Cambridge, we’re hosting a panel session reflecting on the changing possibilities of the digital interface that performers, choreographers and audience may now encounter with dance. Thinking specifically about mapping memetic, intellectual worlds, we might muse the following:

  • The concept of “memetic media” is quite an interesting one, pointing to the fact that e-Dance media fragments can have ideas behind them that are being crafted by the choreographer within a knowledge mapping tool
  • In terms of the knowledge mapping interface, it’s possible that performers might not see this at all, if it is primarily a tool for the choreographer to reflect on discussions in rehearsal, to maintain her multimedia research archive, and to craft performance and/or research narratives (e.g. paths of ideas)
  • Another scenario is that the knowledge mapping interface is exposed to performers, as a useful visualization for discussion, eg. of how ideas develop in the unfolding of a piece, or to show spatial configurations
  • Yet another scenario is that the tools generate visualizations of memetic media fragments that are good enough to use as part of the performance, eg. dancers trigger, and/or respond to visualizations
  • It is possible that visualizations of the connections between ideas, themes, moods and media fragments might literally provide an orienting map for audiences to follow the connections between activity in different locations and times.



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