What is PrimeOrderly?
In 2008 I slowly started creating a movement practice intersecting research into marine science, conservation, its wider communication and advocacy through contemporary dance/movement research and other embodied practices - scuba and breath-held diving - all with social inclusion at its core. Formulating a system of physical modes and methods that can engage diverse groups of people - in studio and site-specific explorations - with potential in offering some relief to the isolation and overwhelm many of us feel around mounting climate change concerns; those impacting us directly or indirectly.
Members of these exploratory groups have included; contemporary dancers and other performers, marine scientists, divers, environmentalists, activists and people living with physical and/or intellectual diverse-ability and/or mental health issues. I developed PrimeOrderly as an environmentally 'embodied-aware' participation practice and as an act of environmental soliphilia*. I hope that in its own way it facilitates some countering of the fast-spreading solastagia* being felt by increasing numbers of people around the world due to the seemingly unstoppable causes and effects of climate change.
The list of these effects is large and incredibly confronting, but acknowledging them, finding any number of methods we can to bring clearer awareness and change them, is key and crucial if we're to map out a more sustainable and less bleak pathway through (and lets hope that it is through and not only into) the Anthropocene** -
- continued climate change denial by major world leaders
- colossal disaster of plastic pollution, building throughout our global marine ecosystems and waterways
- continued fossil fuel mining with major terrestrial and marine habitat destruction
- excessive over-fishing and by-catch wastage of other key-stone marine species - reducing some species by 90% in the last 20 years alone.
- ocean acidification, warming and oxygen depletion due to farming fertilizer run-offs, phosphate toxicity (from detergents), oil spills etc
- millions of acres of land cleared to house livestock and the emissions used in such an industry (let alone the abominable inhumane practices)
- introduced species who become invasive - by overt and covert means, e.g. on the hulls or in the bilge water of ships, illegal animal import trades
- the accelerated extinction of key-stone species across the entire biosphere, due to human practices, many that could be changed or avoided altogether.
After attending several environmental conferences, led by renowned Australian and international environmental scientists, between early 2009 and late 2010, I found myself feeling utterly bewildered by the challenges we all face ahead and how urgent addressing them was. Bewilderment quickly turned into obsession with several questions plaguing much of my waking thinking:
- How on Earth is humankind going to process all this complex, planet-threatening information on a day-to-day basis, especially once a larger majority of us begin to awaken to what's actually at stake? How long is it going to take for enough people to comprehend what needs to be done? We certainly can't face it in isolation as the pressure will become too much for most.
- Everyone's focusing on the terrorism growing around the globe and a feeling of impending large-scale war. But aren't we already engaging in a large-scale 'war' with our planet's natural environments, pillaging so many natural resources?
- Perhaps this environmental degradation just all just seems too abstract for most to comprehend, given so much of the information available (at least in 2010) was scientific jargon?
- Enforcing isolation on those communities already suffering at various environmental ground zeros – human and animal – must be high on the inhumane list needing to be addressed, surely?
- And what of all this irreversibility many top scientists are trying to warn us about?
All this wrestling our conscience and anxieties around what we can each do, and seeing our complicity in it all if we do nothing, also adds to our individual sense of worry, helplessness and despondency (*solastalgia) - especially when we feel our lives are already full-to-the-brim with personal pressures. So how can we build community around our efforts to join environmentalists and scientists in awareness-building / public activation strategies? I worry that all this bombarding of information, without adequate hands-on approaches to monumental lifestyle changes required, could also make many within the general public give up, become apathetic to the causes of protecting the natural world, its and our own health and wellbeing well into the future. And claiming "there is no future, we're fucked!" is just not the kind of defeatist resolve I'm ready to engage in because, well, it isn't as yet 100% certain - at least not in the scientific sense ... yet.
We are on the precipice of colossal changes, many of them are not at all positive. However, as of 2018, there is still time to come together and engage the best of our humanity, and with it, the expertise we each have as artists, divers, scientists, environmentalists, movers and shakers, thinkers and lovers, to come together and demand, quietly and loudly, a more environmentally sophisticated and sustainable future ... but the clock is ticking. The Anthropocene is upon us, that much is now certain, but even so, ‘dirty energy’ and the continued drive towards a “mine, mine, mine” cultural implosion, whilst so much is at stake, should be well and truly behind us.
In it's own small, quiet, creative but determined way, PrimeOrderly is my artistic, environmentally impassioned pledge towards promoting a return connection with the natural realms, the magnificent species who inhabit them, in our daily thinking and an embodied approach, in perpetuity, to an act of *soliphilia.
So, for over a decade now I've slowly positioned my artistic and diving practice combination as creative movement play, research and communication methodology, one that advocates for and celebrates all things sub-aquatic. I like to think of it as a climate and environmental science 'embodied messaging practice' that we feel within our bodies through imaginative application, just as much as we think about and attempt to rationalize specific choreographic expressions of factual information, viscerally and in a meaningful way. I’ve heard, for years now, prominent Australian and international environmental scientists speak about needing assistance in communicating their complex evidence-based data findings to the wider community. Many freely admitting they aren't doing so well in this area, given it's not their focal point of expertise.
After commencing scuba diving in 2008, followed by all the information gathered at environmental lectures, symposiums and conferences, I to subscribe my performing arts practice to the growing community of artists and scientists coming together to explore methods of shared, wider public climate change communication. I was particularly interested in investigating ways my choreographic experience could embody and express sub-aquatic (rivers, estuaries, marine into pelagic zones), ecological and biological knowledge - from both scientific and first-hand (scuba and free diving) immersions.
Diving deep into and attempting to unpack such loaded global questions is what a good many artists, across the full spectrum of artistic practices, are innately built / trained for. After attending the 3-day internationally-touring Tipping Point conference - held at Carriageworks in Sydney in 2010 - I was inspired to the point of applying for a two-year Dance Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts 2011/12, and was, thankfully, successful. My research was initially developed during several residencies at Critical Path - a leading choreographic research centre in Australia - allowing me to further expand and hone it over the two-year fellowship.
Macquarie University, Performance Space, Critical Path and Riverside Theatres, Parramatta in Sydney (through FORM Dance Projects) all endorsed my fellowship research, offering me space and time to investigate connections between my diving and dance practices and collaborate with marine experts and agencies as well as test out some choreographic renderings of these collaborations over the two year period. In this time I formulated the basis of the system that continues to define my processes when making new works, as well as my teaching and movement research.
Apart from now defining my overall practice focus, PrimeOrderly is a choreographic and movement research and training system, whose structure is partly inspired by the biological taxonomy used by scientists (in particular, marine) to study and classify organic life throughout the biosphere. Some of its components are also influenced by marine data collection processes. The system acts as a type of user manual, which provides definitions of the physical language uncovered in my research, over the last decade+, into marine environments and conservation communication efforts.
As an out neuro-diverse (Asperger’s Syndrome / ADHD) person myself, I have also worked extensively in the disability integrated arts sector in Australia over the past 8 years - especially engaging in work with renowned performance ensemble RUCKUS, in Sydney. As my marine research has informed much of my current dance, teaching and activist practice, so too has my interest to formulate an authentically inclusive movement methodology; one that intersperses dance, choreographic exploration, marine science and awareness, scuba diving technology and the integration of people living with physical and/or intellectual/neuro-diverse disability - whether they are professional artists, raw beginners, proudly amateur or dabbling hobbyists. PrimeOrderly is designed to be embodied by everybody.
It has been referenced during general practice & training sessions, educational forums at various universities and conferences, within professional and non-professional dance classes and during the construction of new interdisciplinary performance work. It is designed to be understood by those in the arts, disability, sciences, diving & marine conservation communities - sometimes all in the same room at once!
As a system that speaks to my own (and others I know) neurodiversity, PrimeOrderly has been written down in a large table format that comprises four main categories (domains), twenty-five primary movement modulations and over a hundred subset modalities and their precepts (laws of engagement). It intersperses over 2.5 decades of experience in choreographic practice with more recent research into human interactions with marine environments.
*For more on the terms Solastalgia and Soliphilia please visit Prof. Glen Albrecht's site. Glen, with whom I have had some contact, is an environmental philosopher and his work has deeply inspired and helped to continue the development of my research over the past 5-6 years. Glen's website - http://psychoterratica.com
** The Anthropocene - http://www.anthropocene.info/short-films.php
Some composition experiments, inspired by field data collection processes, during a 3-week choreographic residency at Critical Path in Sydney. This was researched as a means to include scientists in the actually making of new work where they can have substantial input to the choreographic process. Movement modalities and their precepts here are addressed as data and manipulated given various stimuli or directives.