Visiting Artist | December 1 - 13, 2019
Dayna Hanson will return to MANCC in December 2019 to further develop her 2016 quartet 28 Problems, that uses movement, translation theories, and GIFs to transcode content from one language to another, in this case, mathematics to dance. Based on a discarded sheet of hand-written calculus equations, the work’s formal rigor serves to probe aspect’s of Hanson’s family history. Personal details arising from the scratch paper itself—and the gesture that produced it—humanize an otherwise formal dance piece.
The work is unusual for Hanson in that the subject matter is both deeply personal, yet widely relatable. The source material—hand-written calculus problems on the back of a recipe for “Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs”—has personal meaning for Hanson: the sheet was left on her dining table in 2013 after her older son offered her younger son an impromptu calculus lesson. The moment piqued Hanson’s interest as a gesture of connection in a neutral realm of abstract knowledge. 28 Problems reflects Hanson’s interest not only in what exists within the spaces between people, but also in gestures that narrow the gap with another person.
To view a sampling of the movement vocabulary, visit the 28 problems Glyph GIFs, which show front and back views of some of the glyphs in 28 problems. The drag-and-drop interface also allows the viewer to rearrange the Glyph GIFs to form a range of mathematical expressions.
During her time at MANCC, Hanson plans to work on what she has dubbed the “Monobloc Challenge,” which is inspired by a drawing of an XY axis with curves on the discarded sheet of calculus equations. For this section, Hanson aims to set movement on an “ensemble” of plastic chairs— specifically the cheap, ubiquitous “Monobloc” chairs forgotten on roadsides, alleys, and yards. Because they are cheap, these chairs can be found all over the world, and because they are plastic, they tend to endure, taking on a patina from years in the elements and falling into disrepair along the way. Hanson notes, “When I see these chairs, whether in odd or typical spaces, I see the suggestion of human occupation—I see artifacts of activity, connection and conversation encapsulated in the often random-seeming compositions in which I see them.” Enhanced robotically, these lightweight chairs will perform choreography that reflects the drawings on the page by executing combinations of simple commands: left, right, forward, and reverse.
With the help of FSU resources in the engineering and mathematics departments, Hanson hopes to create a system of multiple methods to realize this vision of dancing chairs in touring performances of 28 problems. The lines of the drawing can be imagined as a pattern on the floor of the stage. The Y axis runs along the floor from the center of the audience to the upstage wall. The X-axis runs left to right, or parallel to the audience. The two axes intersect at center stage. The pattern serves as a map for the chairs’ movement, and while the coding may be fairly simple, the mechanics have proven tricky. Throughout her time at MANCC, Hanson plans to troubleshoot these various strategies to bring this section of the work to full fruition.
28 Problems will premiere at The Chocolate Factory in Long Island City, NY.