Jacaranda Time: Diagrams of Collaboration

"Our own order is disrupted when we take another's routines and certainties "

Quantum Of Disorder, Hediger, I & Schaschl, S. (2015)

Jacaranda Time: Diagrams of Collaboration asks questions concerning the formats and complexities of inter-disciplinary collaborative creative encounters.

Exploring through the lens of Jacaranda Time, an inter-disciplinary performance developed in October 2017 as part the 2nd Season for the Centre for the Less Good Idea, what is presented in [...]Ellipses is the original work's data - its script, segments of its sound and code, alongside commentary on the experience of making and presenting the original work by all five collaborators. In the original Jacaranda Time Mwenya Kabwe’s poetic script (inspired by Changing Changing by Aracelis Girmay), Tegan Bristow’s interactive-software, Cameron Harris’s interactive sound composition, Tshego Khutsoane’s recital and Thandazile Sonia Radebe’s choreography and movement, led and fed the code driven interactive and experimental multi-media work.

Outside of the complexities of collaboration across diverse creative disciplines – theatre, dance, interactive creative coding and electronic composition – the development of the work spoke strongly to the act and role of modulation and transversal.  This online version of the project therefore explores collaborative encounters between distinct disciplines and the values of modulation and transversal, both as metaphor and in reality. Can you explain 'transversal' here... Modulation in electronics and tele-communications refers to use of a stable wave form (carrier signal) as a carrier for more complex information that is held in another wave form (modulating signal). The outcome is a new wave that allows the information to be moved and transmitted by the other.

The original Jacaranda Time used Kabwe's script as the basis from which to engage the aesthetics of transversal, migration, borders, blocking and flowing through space and in time, in the mythical and the real. This reflective exploration, takes further this unwinding and unpacking of transversed forms. With the implication and requirement (found in the commentary of the collaborators) for a participant performed version that may make bare the inconstancies.

The intensity of making the original large-scale performed work - saw experimentation, design and performance take place almost simultaneously. This left the collaborators with the feeling that they had not fully grasped its outcomes. What was left was a sense of longing and a need to unpack its inner workings and learnings as a shared experience between them. Diagrams of Collaborations, therefore acts to sketch (a trimmed down single encounter) of a moment in this reflection and a re-joining of its raw materials - people, skill, technique, samples of text and data - meeting again on an online stage.

The online audience can themselves 'modulate' the interactive elements by exploring how the data begins to overlap and inform a reflective exploratory whole. For example, raising the volume of the sound samples feeds colour data to the scene and changes the behaviour of the falling Jacaranda 'blossoms' (in the live performed version the blossoms responded to the dancer's movements, which in turn led and modulated the live sound composition). The speed of the line by line flow of the script can be altered.  The collaborator commentaries can be played over one another and are overlaid by the choice of sound samples.

Mwenya B. Kabwe is a Johannesburg based, Zambian theatre maker, lecturer and mother. She is local in parts of Cape Town, New York, Boston and Lusaka. Kabwe has a Masters in Theatre and Performance with a focus on theatre making, from the UCT where she was a lecturer in the Drama Department. She currently teaches in the Theatre and Performance Division of the Wits School of Arts and her interests include contemporary African theatre and performance, migration, immersive and site specific performance and collaborative and interdisciplinary creative practices.

Cameron Harris studied composition at the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester and Pennsylvania during which time his teachers included Nigel Osborne, John Casken, Edward Harper, James Primosch and Jay Reise. He was a Thouron fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, and later the recipient of a Benjamin Franklin scholarship. He won the Network for New Music composition competition in Philadelphia and the David Halstead Music Prize for Composition at the University of Pennsylvania. Originally from the UK, Cameron has been based in South Africa since 2006 where he lectures in music at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He was the Chair of NewMusicSA, the South African section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, from 2007 – 2011 and has curated many festivals for the organization. His main interests are interactive electronic music composition and the history of electonic music.

Dr. Tegan Bristow is a South African artist and developer of interactive digital installations; Senior Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand and Director of the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival since 2016. In 2017 Bristow completed PhD on Decoloniality and Actional Methodologies in Art and Cultural Practices in African Cultures of Technology, which she wrote with the Planetary Collegium at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Arts at Plymouth University in the U.K. In 2015 curated the Post African Futures (http://postafricanfutures.net) exhibition with the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, in extension of this research. Bristow has exhibited her own practice widely – most prominently “Meaning Motion” at the Wits Art Museum. Bristow has also published various journal articles and book chapters on her research and practice, most recently in Critical African Studies in 2017.