No-How Generator: an artistic investigation of the event of choreographic performance as a site of embodied knowledge-generation
De Montfort University
This written thesis is an exegesis of developments arising within my choreographic practice and thinking through the creation and performance of the choreographic work No-How Generator, an artistic investigation of the event of choreographic performance as a site of embodied knowledge-generation. Drawing on the cognitive science perspective of Guy Claxton and others, this thesis emphasises the embodied basis of knowing and argues that this grounds an understanding of knowledge-generation as intrinsic within the embodied context of choreography. This understanding foregrounds the integral presence and contributions of ways of knowing that are felt, more-than-rational and intuitive within the generation of knowing and intelligence. Insights are articulated into how these ways of knowing unfold in my choreographic practice, supported by specific conceptual and practical tools and orientations that I have developed in a choreographic context during this research. This includes no-how (drawn from Samuel Beckett via Sarat Maharaj’s writings on art-as-knowledge), which I use to name the particular kind of knowing that I consider this artistic research to be generative of, and Magic & Science (drawn from art-historian Aby Warburg) which I use to name the broader epistemological orientation that I situate choreographic no-how generation within. Drawing connections between Warburg’s work and my engagement with the work of choreographer Deborah Hay, this thesis emphasises that the catalytic dynamics of paradox are a generative and inherent part of the artistic and embodied landscape of what I term choreographic no-how generation. Drawing on humanities writers including Boaventura de Sousa Santos, the thesis emphasises that a continual, underlying attention to the social and political contexts within which choreographic no-how generation unfolds is an integral dimension of a choreographic engagement with it. Through its integrated embodiment of this particular multidisciplinary constellation of knowledges, this artistic research develops novel approaches to practicing and conceptualising the generation of knowing in choreographic contexts. This research works to broaden understandings, both within and beyond the field of dance, of the forms that knowledge-generation can and does take, and of the social and political relevance that such a broadening has.