Where You End and I Begin

“Where You End and I Begin: Cognition and Continuity in Experimental Improvised Music and Dance.” In: Critical Studies in Improvisation/ Études critiques en improvisation Vol 8, No 2 (2012).

  • Christopher Williams, contrabass + text
  • Martin Sonderkamp, dance + text
  • Thomas Martius, videographer

When we improvise together in music and dance, our bodies, instruments, and environments not only interact; they become mutually dependent. A bassist’s shoulder shifts, bow slides, instrument rings . . . vibrations bounce off the walls, reach the dancer’s inner ear, filling the lungs, lunging toward the bassist’s shoulder: these sounds, movements, spaces, and perceptions form a real-time feedback loop that blurs where you end and I begin.

Recent research in embodied and situated cognition by scholars such as Clark and Chalmers (1998), Gallagher (2005, 2007), Hutchins (1995), Noë (2004), and Suchman (2007) provides a theoretical foundation for formalizing this continuity. This literature has inspired us to reconsider how cognitive processes we tacitly know within a specific aesthetic framework are in fact at work throughout everyday life.

In four videos taken from an hour-long studio session recorded in February 2012, we explore these processes once again in our own practice, and offer reflections in the form of program notes that invite the audience to perform these connections themselves.