POINT OF DEPARTURE
"Strange as it might seem, I am a chemistry graduate and I have never found the fashionable dichotomy between the arts and sciences to be anything other than lazy and provincial–C.P. Snow be damned. This false dichotomy seems to be almost exclusively a product of European education after it moved away from the traditional Trivium and Quadrivium. Before then no such division existed, and recently in the last fifty years some Western artists have begun to recover the idea that the sciences and arts are the same. Often artists who have strong science backgrounds themselves (Hollis Frampton in his films, for instance) or who pursue scientific ideas with aplomb (Iannis Xenakis, Vibeke Sorensen) are the most interesting artists around.
Karin Stevens Dance continued to prove this to me with their newest piece, Point of Departure. As Ms. Stevens explains, the piece is an investigation into the visual similarities of Islamic architecture and the Large Hadron Collider, comprised of four different sections, “Neo-Prehistoric,” “Point of Departure,” “Genesis/Evolution” and “Sub-Atomic.” Islamic art has traditionally prohibited representation. It naturally tends toward abstraction, no less than Mondrian or Kandinsky, only in a much more thorough fashion and has always had mathematics at its core. Industrial design, too, has tended in this direction for different reasons. This piece is all about finding the commonalities between the two.
It all sounds very abstract. It is not. Or, rather, it is abstract but it is impossible to notice or care. This is an extremely beautiful piece. Craig van den Bosch’s visual imagery is stunning and his accompanying score has incredible subtlety and effectiveness as accompaniment and as music on its own. Some have called architecture “frozen music.” Here, in Ms. Stevens’ choreography, the goal is to free the music from its frozen form and give it shape. It is a brilliant piece and completely refreshing in the sometimes sterile world of Seattle dance. If I had any complaint it would be that any given section could be twice its length. The density of the piece is extraordinary and it surely requires and rewards repeated viewings."