Autopoiesis and Improvisation. Tamar Grosz

The past six months were spent in researching this topic and conducting interviews with choreographers. The result is a text which is not yet published.

This project I have undertaken is theoretical but not academic of nature. It is a text made for sharing my curiosity and intimate relation to improvisation, to autopoiesis and how the two relate to dance and creation. I imagine most of the readers have an affinity to dance, so I leave out the whole improvisation section and use this blogging opportunity to seduce those of you who might be interested to get to know the fascinating, gaze changing, and inspirational theory of Autopoiesis.

What is Autopoiesis? In short: Auto=self and Poiesis=creation, self-creation. Autopoiesis is a biological theory trying to explain the mechanism of life! which was conceived by Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela at the beginning of the seventies. Recently, on the 6th of May 2021, Maturana left this world. His philosophy I believe will gain new vitality, as the dead are notoriously known to channel spirit in celebrated comebacks, we the living are left thunderstruck with our mouth open ready to eat their fruits.

This paragraph can now be used to explain the autopoietic mechanism. And let me be clear, it is not going to be clear! (yet):

In this case what is alive is the many knowledge or understandings that are revealed as the theory of autopoiesis is studied. It is alive through the mechanism of sharing ideas in the upcoming text or this blog for example. I, the writer, am a member of the system and you, the reader, are one as well. We together make the mechanism of reproduction of the knowledge. In this circle, loop or spiral we reproduce the knowledge of autopoiesis by our exchange. In a way the theory is using us as a “host” (parasite or symbiotic, for you to decide), to reproduce itself. That is life.

We are made of biological cells which reproduce themselves to create organs and our physical organism. And (as linguist Ira Livingston, who used the following analogy, said) we identify ourselves as an “I”, even though all our material cells and molecules are replaced every 7 years by new ones. Are we the host of our body? Who are we then? And I am sure you can see the ceaseless movement in all of this.

As a disclaimer I want to state that I am no fun of words of verbal laws and of language.  I am first and foremost a dancer. Being a dancer defines my entity as an animal, a woman, a physicist. I write because it is Corona times, because I was given this opportunity so generously by Dachverband Tanz, BKM and NEUSTART KULTUR, and because an overwhelmingly strong stream is pushing dance in Berlin to create contact, share, think, verbalize and conceptualize. I hope this dimension of online sharing can be used only as a pushing point from which one can return to a reality with physical sharing. Being a dancer, I believe, is a practice and its true knowledge cannot be transferred through verbal theories, vocal or written, let alone online. Take this research project as an aperitif stimulating the appetite, to go out into the physical world and create.


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