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Exploring the intersection between sound, fashion and butoh.

Poetics was a collaborative project involving myself, a dress designer, Winnie Ha, and a performer, Janette Hoe. It explores the concepts of spatial mapping for identifying the nature of the gesture as a counterpoint to modulate and transform physical and sonic spaces. Contextualised within the medium of live performance, this project aims to arrive at a poetics of relation and mutual responsivity between gesture and sound. This research proposes that gesture – or the imagination of gesture – implicates on the affectivity of sonic experience, inasmuch as sound – or the imagination of sound – implicates on the affectivity of gesture; herein lies a poetic mutual responsivity that can be spatially and temporally shared.


This project was funded by an RMIT Design Research Institute grant.


Having emerged from a previous project – White Froth, in 2008, the Poetics project came about from a shared interest, between myself, Winnie and Janette. The White Froth project, developed by Winnie as part of her Masters research, explored the sounds of dress within a spatial sound environment using performance as the vehicle. One of the most significant elements to emerge from White Froth is the notion of gesture and its relationship to sound.


Poetics explores the interrelation between gesture and sound, but on a more minute level; the repetition and transformation of gesture over time, and the convergence of these elements in the mapping, translation, and transformation of physical gesture into sonic gesture. At times they impress upon each other, at other times one echoes after the other, or sometimes they just miss each other. The project is comprised of a series of performance workshops with a dancer over a developmental period of 7 months, culminating in a 30-minute live performance.


Sound is employed as a device to modulate the expression and impression of bodily gesture. We were intrigued by the affectivity of sound (more so than the aesthetics of sound), in particular its capacity to call upon lived sensations. Sound permeates our physicality and psyche, resonating and reverberating within and beyond the body. We propose that the sound of gesture – or the imagination of gesture – extends bodily expression into a new, affective experience, inasmuch as sound, or the imagination of sound, implicates on an affective experience of gesture…and that therein lies a poetic, communicative potential that can be spatially and temporally shared.

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