The Portal

Trisha Brown’s Optical Imagination

Trisha Brown, Planes, 1968. Photograph ⓒ Wayne A. Hollingworth, courtesy of Trisha Brown Archives.

Using Trisha Brown’s archive as a point of inquiry, this course brings undergraduate students from the Dance, Film & Electronic Arts, and Studio Arts programs together to create collaborative experimental film works. Students will engage directly with Brown’s work, a seminal artist to emerge from the Judson Dance Theater, who has extended a major influence on contemporary artists of today. Taught by Cori Olinghouse, this project-based course will unfold in three phases: through the study of Brown’s collaborative works, through a series of embodied practices gathered by Olinghouse from former Trisha Brown Dance Company dancers, and through the creation of collaborative experimental film works that will be shown in a final screening.

Encouraging a dynamic relationship between the camera and the body, students will engage in hands-on experiments exploring the moving image as a performative medium. Explorations will include the use of the camera as a second body, movement and stillness, framing, time deconstruction, and editing as choreography. Students will look at film and video works by key figures responsible for developing the relationship between dance and film such as Charles Atlas, Shirley Clarke, Maya Deren, and Babette Mangolte, and contemporary artists such as Martine Syms, Steffani Jemison, and Aki Sasamoto, among others. Over the semester, students will be required to keep a digital video journal, actively indexing responses to and questions about the readings and screenings. Critical texts include: Jennifer Barker’s The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience; Laura Marks’ Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media and Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses; and Vivian Sobchack’s Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture.