I Am In Your Mind

Photo: Uupi Tirronen

I Am In Your Mind was a contemporary dance piece which explored mirror neurons and physical intersubjectivity between people – in other words the ability to share emotions and experiences that is crucial for all social interaction between human beings. It was premiered in 2018 at Zodiak – Center for New Dance, Helsinki. Although strongly planted in choreographer Mikko Orpana's research by theme and groundwork, the performance itself emerged as a tight collaboration between the experienced group. Among others the spatial and structural choices were discussed and navigated jointly through the process, leading to a performance which shared also some features with exhibition work.

 

I Am In Your Mind sample 1

Composing for I Am In Your Mind

As much as composing for this work had to do with sound and music, it also involved negotiating the spatial choices for the piece. The composition process was based largely on how music and sound could be reproduced in the space. Custom solutions were used in order to achieve both very diffuse and localizable characters of sound.

Specificity in how contact between people takes place was constituent for the choreography. I refer here to close physical contact but also to how positioning, postures and distance affect the way contact between people takes place. With it's qualities sound can also suggest or translate a feel of touch. The feel of sound, on a very material level, became one way of finding connections between the physicality of dance and composition work. Operating with very localizable and clearly perceptible, almost "touchable" qualities of sound allowed it to connect tightly with movement. One interesting observation was how the perceptions of touch and hearing could be blended in these moments. Even to a point when during rehearsals one of the dancers thought for a moment I was using real time the sounds she made with her body by moving on a surface. While actually the sounds I had composed before were playing from a speaker under a podium she was moving on. In fairness her thinking was guided by the facts that I was already using sensors for creating sounds from another dancer's movement and that we had tried before using microphones and real time sound manipulation with these podiums. Nevertheless the sound and movement both operated with such similar qualities and had a level of connectedness that it was hard even for the performer to perceive if and how they were affected by each other.

Photo: Uupi Tirronen
I Am In Your Mind sample 2

Our choices of using the space gave audience the possibility to explore the piece at times as an exhibition and sometimes to find themselves inside it, in the middle of movement, sound and lighting. Diffuse sound was used as part of the composition process and performance to enhance an experience of being situated in our piece. A custom multi-channel sound system was designed and the compositions were made specifically for this system. As a counterpoint diffuse sound gave other sounds and events a chance to be distinguished as intimate and adjacent. For the whole piece I aimed to construct an experience of shared but open state of mind by using the dynamics of closeness and ambient. The more ambient and diffuse parts of compositions perhaps contributed more to how the experience of spatial distances, intentions and mental and emotional states formed as part of the event.

 

I Am In Your Mind sample 3

Overall I got some very positive feedback from the piece, for some reason from sound designers especially. This is rather rare (for me anyways) and it was fun to see sometimes people even laying on the floor between our beanbag chairs and listening to the piece, rather than turning themselves to grasp what's happening around them. I wonder if this was an outcome from our method of collaboration, which had me deciding compositional structures and pushing out lots of material at times without exactly knowing how it will be used. This perhaps resulted in richer compositions and more material than I otherwise would have used. Maybe sometimes more is more?

Choreography Mikko Orpana
Dancers Laura Faarinen, Mirva Mäkinen, Mikko Orpana, Katri Soini
Lighting and video design Tiiti Hynninen
Sound design and music Antti Nykyri
Choreographer's assistant Anni Rissanen
Production Zodiak – Center for New Dance, Mikko Orpana
Duration 60 min
Premiere 27.9.2018, ZODIAK STAGE