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I was recently at a shindig for dancers and dance artists and had to exert considerable self control not to explode in an indignant mess.
I love the arts, despite being a grouchy bastard, I really believe and enjoy them, but recently I am seeing that we, as artists, could possibly be the worst thing that ever happened to art.

On several occasions I’ve been to talks and showings about ‘research’, movement ‘research’ and the like.  As a budding scientist and also just because I have a brain, its pissing me off – I am more than willing to accept the need to discover new things in art practice and that it requires investigation. But what I’ve seen is absolute rubbish which is indulgent, stupid and justifies why people hate contemporary art.

Case A.
A  choreographer and dancer have been given 4 weeks of rehearsal space time to research her project, which was vaguely looking at Communication Technologies, pas and present.  So I dutifully trundled out, as my practice is technologically mediated and I do love a good stickybeak.   I then spent the next hour physically holding myelf in so I didn’t launch myself onto stage and hurt someone – either that or holding in bales of laughter at the sheer idiocy of it.  It was actually offensive how insanely stupid the showing was.   It consisted of 2 dancers in various scenarios looking at communication technologies
*Idea one.  Stand on one leg, balance while wriggling fingers like they do in bad hacker movie. This was supposed to represent SMS-technology.
*Idea two. Hold hand to ear like you had a phone and rush around.
*idea three. Do the same as above but run from the back of the stage to the front of the stage, stopping suddenly and running back
*idea four.  Walk in circles rapidly. Apparently this was to convey the idea of radio wave propagation.
*sitting down while flapping hands – smoke signals

Case B.
this time a 2 week research grant.
Which developed a ‘call and response’ technique using sensors.
I mean WTF? A cellist plays a phrase. the dancer moves a limb hooked up with a bend sensor which triggers a pre-recorded track. Woop. Who the hell cares? Its old, and uninteresting to boot.

Case C.
I overheard two choreographers passionately talking about this ‘research’ they were going to do on tango  dancing.  I like tango dancing. I can’t do it, but it sure is awesome to watch.  However the premise for their research was ‘what if i put my leg here, instead of here’.  I mean, what if? Its exactly the same as tango, except every so often my leg goes on the outside instead of the inside – amazing.

While these may all be necessary stages in their arts practice to develop as artists, I really have to question, does the public purse have a duty to fund them? Perhaps I’m just grouchy, but for me, these projects, answer and deliver nothing of use.  It seems that this sot of thing is better left to dicking about in loungerooms.
A problem is the funding structure that I am talking about in particular – which is specifically for ‘research’ and not to be outcome oriented. But perhaps it should be – maybe it will filter out stupid, if people know they are supposed to put something on.  One thing to say about free market capitalism is that it forces some sort of applicability due to the need for public consumption – it does limit innovation as it means work has to ‘populist’ (not always a bad thing), but the state supported model goes the other way, and lets artists get all carried away with their own importance and encourages them to waffle about directionlessly.