Chapter 6: Dancing with Twitter: Mobile Narratives Become Physical Scores

by Susan Kozel, with Mia Keinanen and Leena Rouhiainen

Chapter Abstract:

This chapter expands the reflections on narrative in this collection by considering Twitter, SMS, and dance. At the heart of it is a project called IntuiTweet, where dancers used Twitter to send short messages to each other describing movement or kinesthetic sensations. Performers across several cities then performed the movements described in the tweets. The focus of this chapter is structured around two questions: “Why consider mobile media narratives through a project based in dance?” and “Why consider dance through the lens of mobile media narratives?” The term “narrative” is questioned and several alternatives are evaluated: script, score, notation, archive, or documentation. Score fits the qualities of these “bodily tweets” best because it relies on listening, with implications for preservation as well as reenactment. Finally, the relevance of bodily tweets is expanded to a context wider than art, suggesting that social media is not significant simply because multiple connections are made between people, but because the intention to use a media platform in an unconventional way can be a transformative act.

Hands-On Exploration:

1. Getting started

Set up twitter account for your improvisation with a particular hash tag. Decide how open you want your improvisation to be. If you want to keep it quite tight and intimate, then create a particular twitter account for this purpose: only invite a particular set of followers, and only follow each other with this account. This will mean the score you produce will not be cut across by tweets from others you follow.

If you want to experiment with openness then let the movement tweets exist alongside all the other tweet traffic in your and others accounts.

Both options are valid

2. The improvisation instructions

a)        decide how long you want your improvisation to last: one day, one week, one month, indefinitely…

b)        take a moment to listen to your body and notice a movement intuition or sensation;

c)         code it into a Tweet of 140 characters or less;

d)        send it to other participants by SMS or through Twitter;

e)        when a Tweet is received, improvise it immediately or with a time lag (hours or days);

f)         notice how it has morphed in your own body over time and through space;

g)        recode it into a fresh Tweet and resend it to be received and improvised once more.

3. Integrate other social media

Try also new applications that have developed since the original IntuiTweet. project took place. SnapChat (http://www.snapchat.com/) offers scope for movement potential by sending an image that disappears.

How can this be integrated into improvisation?

How do images differ from movement that is translated into words?

You might also pull in other applications that geotag your movement improvisation, providing a mapping of where you were when you improvised or when your received a tweet impulse from someone else.