Hamish, Martine and…Kurt

There are really three of us in this duet: Hamish, Martine and Kurt Schwitters, the German artist who worked in several media, including painting, sculpture, poetry, sound and graphic design. Born in 1887 and working largely after the First World War, Schwitters invented his own branch of Dadaism called ‘Merz’ that aimed to remove the boundaries between different arts.

“I pasted words and sentences together into poems in such a way that their rhythmic composition created a kind of drawing. The other way around, I pasted together pictures and drawings containing sentences that demand to be read.” — Kurt Schwitters

Twelve by Kurt Schwitters

Twelve. Taken from Rothenberg, J. and Joris, P. (eds) 2002. Kurt Schwitters: poems performance pieces proses plays poetics. Exact Change: Cambridge

When Martine introduced his number poetry to Hamish they were both so excited by its relevance to their work on Meeting Place. Above is a photograph of the poem Twelve and below you can watch Martine reading it. Continue reading

Pascal’s Triangle

As you may know, an interest in numbers was something that brought us together in Meeting Place. Here’s a simple example of how we used maths in our choreography.

Pascal’s triangle (named after the French mathematician, Blaise Pascal) is a famous number pattern in mathematics. To build the triangle, start with ‘1’ at the top, then continue placing numbers below it in a triangular pattern. Each number is just the two numbers above it added together (except for the edges, which are all ‘1’):

This has been used in the past as a compositional tool in music, for example by minimalist Tom Johnson and is something we’ve used in our own for movement.

As the video below shows, we used the first four rows of Pascal’s Triangle as a compositional device, to structure movements with 1, 2 and 3 elements (we also used 4 and 6 elements later on).

Although we then went on to modify, rearrange, discard and build on some of this movement, it was a helpful tool and not an entirely arbitrary approach as some of the relationships remained. For example in the video above, each cycle of movement (i.e. each row of the triangle) is marked by the ‘1’ move (walking backwards in a circle, bent double) and ‘peaks’ with a more complicated combination of elements. This simpler ‘1’ motif, that appears to restore and reset calm, went onto be used as a marker of different episodes in the work.

Hamish and Martine will be premiering ‘Meeting Place’ on 10 January 2012 at The Place, London as part of Resolution!, a season of dance works by emerging choreographers. You can buy tickets online, Over the phone (020 7121 1100) or in person at The Place: Robin Howard Theatre box office, 17 Duke’s Road, London WC1H 9PY.