Sunday, July 11, 2010
The basic movements explored correlate in my mind with Graham's contract and release: contraction and extension, which illustrates four basic movements depending on whether the palms are turned in or out. Imagine the arms in First Position, palms inward, and extend the arms- this action looks like "giving" and is interpreted by the author as a movement of love. Next, bringing the arms back in with palms still facing in, wanting or desire are illustrated. Then, return to First with the palms facing out and imagine the arms extending- it is the motion of a push, as in anger. And then contracting them again with palms facing out, is withdraw as in fear. So with these four simple motions, four basic emotions are shown in movement- perfect for this project? I think so!
I found it interesting that the orientation of the palms made the difference between the positive (palms in) and negative (palms out) emotions. Essentially, these emotions correlate with the four basic modes of object relations: giving, getting, removing, and escaping. The author further breaks these down into object vs. subject, which does the moving, positive vs. negative, fixed or fluid quality, and categories of belonging/recognizing/being which further distinguish categories and continually more complicated matrices of emotions. What we end up with is several pages of categories and sub-categories that qualitatively define different dimensions of many emotions.
As an example, to define anger with this method, it is a negative "away" movement with the person as the subject actively altering the position of the object. It is fluid, and applies to the "belonging" subject of emotionality. With these six "choices," I can already imagine certain elements that I would want to include in order to portray anger. Away-movement is important, as is consideration of who is causing the action to what or whom, and whether it is a lasting, fixed situation, or fluid as in this case. These are all things I can easily give to dancers bit by bit to see how they react and what material is generated or how it is altered according to an emotion's characterization according to this theory. The dimension of belonging/recognition/being is the most difficult to show, but that could be creatively addressed as well.
It is interesting that these dimensions seem to have metaphorically-corresponding directions attached to them. Belonging is considered horizontally (pushing/pulling others to/away), recognition is vertical (looking down on or up to someone), and being is an in/out choice (being open to or closed to others, allowing them to be part of oneself or not).
The charts in the book which lay out the structured theory look like a formula for emotions, but of course we know that lived emotions don't exist in such broken-down ways. A gestalt mindset takes these observations into account with a whole rolled-up experience. However, these ideas and "choices" give me opportunities for play with my dancers, and I'm sure I'll enjoy using them to get started with my own choreographic choices when the time comes. (Fall semester is coming soon, and so are auditions where I may get to choose my dancers! The really fun part of this project is on its way, and soon enough I may have videos to post!)
There are also social antecedents that correspond to each emotion that are discussed briefly in the text- other books I am reading will let me do a separate, more inclusive post on that topic.
De Rivera (1977).
The strongest universal signals distinguishing between emotions are in facial expressions (Johnson-Laird et al 1992). I can consider it a variable to have or not have facial expressions in my dance. I would like to see the differences between showing expressions related to particular basic emotions, other kinds of facial use, and no expression. Tomkins (1962) also sought unique vocals for each emotion, and I may be able to look into that for use of vocalization in my dance.
The physiology of specific emotions is interesting, in that we seem to have common action plans for the different emotions. Though our actual behavioral responses may vary, it is common for blood to go to the hands in anger (in order to attack), or in fear, for us to freeze for concealment and also have blood sent to the large skeletal muscles as we become ready to flee. These specific Autonomic Nervous System patterns distinghs anger, fear, disgust, and maybe sadness (Ekman, Levenson, and Friesen, 1983; Levenson, Ekman, and Friesen, 1990 and 1991). I can consider this flow of energy to different body parts when creating movement; I imagine if I wanted to illustrate anger using hand movements, and freezing of large whole-body flight to help illustrate this aspect of the experience of fear.
Universality of antecedent events is found on a more abstract level (for example, loss of a significant other can trigger sadness, but who is considered significant varies across cultures and people). I may look into Ekman and Frieen (1975) to find out more about their prototypic interpersonal events that supposedly can universally cue certain emotions. It should be noted that different emotions can come of the same antecedent event (Stein and Trabasso, 1992). I hope to demonstrate the social nature of the emotions by the relationships of multiple dancers within each piece, and this will tie in with antecedent events as well as other emotional components.
There is a problem of distinguishing positive emotions in defining basic emotions; in this study, happiness is the only category outside the negative realm, making it a very broad category. As I have regularly found in my sources, the positive emotions tend to have less distinction (which may tie in with the Alarm Hypothesis, by which it is only necessary to survival to have distinction among the negative emotions). There are no distinctive signals between emotions of enjoyment, but collectively they do all demonstrate the genuine "Duchenne" smile. It is possible that they differ in vocal signals.
Other possible basic emotions (having significant distinction from other emotions in the earlier-listed ways) include embarrassment, awe, and excitement- each featuring its own research difficulties.
Stein and Oatley (1992).
James-Lange Theory's definition of emotion is primarily physiological and nonconscious: "an agitation of the passions or sensibilities, often involving physiological changes... and to excite, to move out, to stir up, to move." According to this theory, emotions are the results of bodily changes in response to a situation, which recalls the idea of the Cartesian Passions referred to in an early post. Even if James and Lange's early theory has the order of events incorrect (emotions following physical reactions to perceived events), the strong sense of the body-emotion link is still valuable.
Hochschild's definition of emotion supports this link, as emotion is defined as "bodily cooperation with an image, a thought, a memory- a cooperation of which the individual is aware." And Scheff corroborates, "emotions are specific patterns of bodily changes, whether or not there is conscious awareness." So while the order of events and role of conscious awareness are debatable at this point, the author further emphasizes the point that "emotions are embodied experiences. The place of the body as an instrument in the expression of the emotion cannot be denied." As I will be aiming to effect emotional responses in my audience, I will rely on this bodily cooperation, whether conscious awareness is part of the response or not.
Discussion in Denzin's text come to agree that in the process of awareness-recognition-interpretation, interpretation of emotions does not occur in the body; mental interpretation has value that may later be discussed in its value to individual emotional responses. I take this to mean that emotions in the rawest unthought-out form are those being experienced in the body, not having as much individualizing mental mess but being more universal. I will aim to apply myself towards the more universal emotions in this project, so this is a great coincidence in the essential role of the body in this kind of emotional experience.
"Emotion is a lived, believed-in, situated, temporally-embodied
experience that radiates through a person's stream of consciousness,
is felt and runs through his body and...
plunges the person... into a... transformed reality..."
Denzin, p. 66
The transformed reality mentioned in this quote is interesting because of how I view it in relation to my intended medium of dance. "When felt, emotion constitutes a reality, or a world, unique and solely contained within itself" (p. 66) which are not doubted; emotions are real, they crowd out disbelief (p. 93). Similarly, when viewing a dance, people may suspend their connections to the regular world to engage themselves more fully with the movement presented, allowing their reality to be transformed. Particularly with some imaginative dances (I am thinking of those of my project mentor, choreographer Neta Pulvermacher), the dance can be several steps removed from reality to really transform the space and subject for those involved. It will be a choice for me, then, to consider if/how I will "transform reality" through dance to bring in and mimic the transformations of the emotions.
Also, considering the similarities of emotion and dance, I have noticed that both build on themselves, relying on the past for future developments. Neta calls this the "archaeology of the dance;" it is the parts of the choreographic process that the final product doesn't overtly reveal, but which had an important impact on its conceptual and practical development. As an audience to the development of many senior projects in the department, I have seen how a piece can change seemingly drastically from week to week, yet it is still in the mind of the choreographer the same piece. They are processing what will eventually be buried within the meaning and movement of the final piece as its archaeology. Similarly, our emotions are based on the "archaeology of [one's] past" (p. 43) and this is important to the history of individual interpretations of events and emotions that make our moment-to-moment emotional experiences unique.
The symbolism of dance and emotions is another similarity I have noted. Indirect symbolism is derived through individual histories, as we unite our inner and outer worlds through lived emotions. Even the irrationality of emotions can be linked to dance, as "character assaults, disjointed speech, inappropriate dress, refusal to follow ceremonial rules of conduct, trancelike states, and hysteria" (p. 96) are all part of symbolically fulfilling our emotions in emotional life as well as performance contexts. To me, these events sound like potential elements of modern dance. "Magical structures replace deterministic activity when ordinary dealings with the world no longer work" (p. 97) and rather than always demonstrating pedestrian activity, dance often bursts into un-ordinary dealings and emotional displays.
In the world of emotions, as in the world of dance, "inner meanings and feelings are revealed" unlike in the taken-for-granted everyday world....
"This world of emotion and the reality it invites is always there,
waiting to be entered and embraced." (p. 277)
Fear and Sadness are discussed for IAPS, IADS, and ANEW (Mikels, Fredrickson, Larkin, and Lindberg, 2005; Stevenson and James, 2008; Stevenson Mikels, and James, 2007). This makes it easy to create a collection of multimedia stimuli to explore with potential dances of these themes.
Disgust, Anger, and Happy are included for the IADS and ANEW only (Stevenson et al, 2008; Stevenson et al, 2007). I might want to look into a categorization of IAPS for these three important emotions.
Amusement and Contentment are only in Mikels' (2005) discussion of the IAPS. These show a division of the "Happy" category that other studies do not regularly distinguish, but might be helpful for orientation within the theme in choreographic exploration.
As stated, some problems arise- besides not having all categories available from research so far for each type of media, there is also the vagueness of some categories such as "Negative" (not included), and "Happy" which give large and diverse examples. I'll update as more of these studies are found, hopefully.
Mikels, Fredrickson, Larkin, & Lindberg,(2005).
Stevenson & James, (2008).
Stevenson, Mikels, & James, (2007).
Examples of categorized IADS sounds include...
-Happy: carousel, giggling, colonial music, etc.
-Sad: baby cry, (and with less distinction in the data:) puppy cry, funeral, and bagpipes
-Disgust: nose blow, toilet flush, belch, etc.
-Fear: female screams (1 and 2), prowler, howling rain, and many others with less distinction
-Anger: only car horns
The ANEW (English words) categories are anger (n=8), fear (n=5), sadness (n=7), disgust (n=14), and happiness (n=323; with so many of the words under this broad category, I'll want to make distinctions within later; Stevenson, Mikels, and James, 2007).
Examples for ANEW stimuli under categories...
-Happiness: abundance, bless, dazzle, food, improve, mail, pancakes, sky, wink, etc.
-Anger: disturb, mad, noisy, etc.
-Fear: afraid, fear, fearful, horror, terrified
-Sadness: burial, dreary, gloom, misery, etc.
-Disgust: filth, grime, maggot, mucus, rancid, etc.
(Those last few are pretty bad-- I'm not sure I can stomach a "disgust" dance!)
I also need to note that some of the words are redundant to the category. For example, under Anger, are the words "anger" and "angry;" above you can see this is a problem for Fear as well. That narrows down the number of useful words for those categories, so I may rely more on other kinds of stimuli for those categories. I wonder if it is in the nature of the medium to have more triggers for some emotions than others.
It's interesting to note that some stimuli which may have the same dimensions can actually trigger different kinds of brain activation; these happen to be in different categories. This supports the need to consider multiple ways of describing emotions, dimensionally, and categorically (Stevenson et al, 2008)- and soon, I'll be writing about a text that defines emotions with a structural model.
Stevenson & James, (2008).
Stevenson, Mikels, & James, (2007).