P. Jayachandran

Arts Collaboration
1998-1999

Grant Period: Over three months

Not much work has been done in India to develop a theoretical basis or methodology of adapting movement and dance for films or video. The Indian commercial film industry has evolved a song-and-dance genre that has become popular, and more recently, music-video on satellite television has attracted attention from the young in urban areas. Film directors in parallel/art cinema have been reluctant to explore movement and dance as potential medium of communications, while choreographers have also not applied their minds to see potential in film and video outside the performance format. The proposed collaboration between Choreographer P Jayachandran and Filmmaker/Visual Artist Prakash Moorthy, will attempt to bridge this gap. Jayachandran has been trying to develop a contemporary movement vocabulary that derives inspiration from a diverse range of styles including traditional Indian forms, popular and mainstream modern dance forms, and pedestrian movements. His recent choreographic works for his Imlata Dance Company in London has won critical acclaim.

In outlining his approach to choreography, Jayachandran mentions that in the realm of movement the performer’s body defines the space as much as the space becomes dynamic by having its influence on the body. The traditional Indian forms have developed a detailed way of defining the space through a performer’s action. However, it does not explore the concept of empirical space of the performance area where the real space acts on the body or grips the performer. Forms like contact-improvisation, martial art traditions and acrobatic skills have helped in the process of empirically activating the three-dimensional performance space. The video and film frame offer a different challenge that gives a scope to bring real life images, either abstract or figurative, into the frame to enhance the sensorial narrative of movements. It provides scope to amplify movements that are highly localised or peculiar to an individual performer’s body. New technologies have the capability of bringing within the frame movement tasks that are not possible to see in live performances.

Prakash Moorthy, a diploma holder in animation filmmaking from the NID, feels that cinema has a capacity to string together images to tell stories or evoke feelings or explain concepts. To him this form of abstraction draws serious attention where the art is both a form and process. He has experimented with techniques of animation to explore a cross-section between visual art, video technology, movement and music. The collaborators have identified two quarries in Kerala to provide a spatial context to their respective concerns in the project. One is a granite quarry situated between Kovalam and Thiruvananthapuram with a natural water pool, and the other is a laterite quarry near Shornur in Trichur district. They plan to investigate the surface, texture and architecture of the quarries to develop strategies for movement and design ideas.

The proposed video will try to create an illusion of the quarry as a suspended space juxtaposed with elements of water, earth, and fire combined with props of galvanised steel, glass and wood. Site specific locations, techniques of animation in studio work and projections on stone walls as backdrops would be explored in movement, time and space to create a narrative of images that will attempt to liberate the action from the territory, giving meaning to images sown of references. The soundtrack would be developed by Satish PM, a graduate in sound engineering from FTII, using real and manipulated sounds of materials in the quarry.