VIP – Judith Jamison

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Dancer VIP: Judith Jamison – Alvin Ailey former Artistic Director

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Home » 4 - Summer 07, DANCE, POP CULTURE, VIDEO

Sensory Overload, A Multimedia Project

Submitted by on 18 May 2007 – 8:06 PM Comments

In a corner of a dance studio built in a converted San Francisco SoMa (South of Market) tannery, Matthew Taylor, director of photography and film editor, has just arrived from Washington, DC. He has already set up his gears for The Artist Group (T.A.G.) first shoot. movmnt offers an exclusive first look.

Local dancer and choreographers Garen Scribner and Brian Gibbs gaze in anticipation while performers start taking over the space. Scribner and Brian met while studying at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Photographer Rachel Eisley, a mutual friend, introduced the two to her boyfriend Matthew, and the three of them began using digital video as a platform for their creative impulses. “Collaboration is something I’ve been waiting for,” says Scribner. “I always knew I would meet the people who would be in tune with my creative vision.”

The trio is thriving on a collaboration whose guiding forces are trust and mutual understanding. Working together has been about creating a scenario that will instigate transformation. “Change is so important to an artist,” says Scribner. “You learn by doing, and experience turns itself into progression.” Gibbs agrees that feeding off each other’s ideas always takes the movement to another place. His and Garen’s professionalism and creativity lift Taylor’s constraints. “Our closely aligned working relationship allows me the freedom to experiment with unorthodox staging methods,” he says, “such as squeezing the two of them into tight spaces and having them do contact improv.”

In the studio, Scribner and Gibbs tackle choreography with similar joy, abandonment, and thoroughness. Their classically based work is characterized by a sense of inevitability that produces movements with unforced breadth and articulation. Gibbs sees his choreography as revolving around natural reactions and intrinsic physical qualities. “I see him [Scribner] do something, and I am able to telling which direction the movement should go next,” he says.

With his eyes fixated on the viewfinder of his high-definition video camera, Taylor connects with the “dynamic filmic potential” of the dancers’ vocabulary. “Most of the subjects of my previous films have been fashion models,” he says. “This required a great deal of directing and camera movement. I have only recently had the chance to work with dancers. I’ve found my role as DP reversed. Instead of having to move my body around, I was able to set up the shot and watch the dancers’ movement construct the film’s narration.”

What Matthew records are vibrant visual exchanges that he converts into digital compositions he calls “visual cornucopias.” Post-production editing and stylization affect the natural order in which visual elements convey information to the viewer, and turn raw footage into highly structured music-based video sculptures. “I use the cinematic capabilities at my disposal,” he says, “to magnify the silent dialogs in the varied dynamic angles and interactions of my subject matter, in ways that only a moving image can.” When the trio convenes, creativity overflows beyond planned shooting sessions, which quickly become improvised filmed choreographic escapades into domestic settings or the urban landscape. “The process of creating something is what counts,” Garen concludes.

Whether they aim to explore the makings of digital sculpture, or to use film and technology to find exposure outside the concert hall, it is always out of a need to create and help others create. “The best part,” he says, “is we don’t care if you like it. We don’t care if you hate it. The process of creating something is what counts!”

Creative dance scultures by Matthew Taylor, Brian Gibbs and Garen Scribner
Text by Muriel Maffre