Multimodal Redundancy

You might find this film boring, but I could watch it for hours! The movements are technically quite simple, but the precision with which the two dancers maintain synchrony and then multi-phase is incredible!!! While I would feel comfortable sitting at a piano for hours hammering through the repetitious phrases until my fingers cramped, I’m not sure that I could perform the dance movements in a duet as shown in this clip.

But why am I posting this clip on Neuroanthropology, I dare to pretend to hear you ask? It’s because of the multimodal redundancy of audio and visual signals that link socio-cultural history with neural processes through the ongoing construction of meaning from the musical sounds observed and dance moves heard. a ‘faite-totale’! (sp?) 

Multimodal Redundancy is where you have signals that represent the same thing in two different sensory mediums.

As for Meaning construction, how is that encoded through music and movement? Quite abstractly! The pendulum like movements obviously symbolise time and the movement repetition highlights the repetitive phrases within the music. The use of shadow is also demonstrating overlap, synchronicity and out-of-phasing. It’s a mesmerising performance, especially if you are perceptually-attuned to what’s happening through a cultural relationship with the performance. What a beautiful opportunity to look at how creativity takes place in the mind of the observer–a process which draws together social history, life experiences, cultural milieu, random and development neural processes, physiological states etc…

It reminds me of my favourite quote from Edelman which goes something like “Every act of perception is an act of creation” and “every act of memory is an act of imagination”

When you watch choreographed movement and composed music, are you watching creativity or participating in creativity? Is creativity expressed in the practice, the play or the performance of dance? Is musical creativity hidden in the practice, the play or the performance of a composed work?

I believe performance (of choreographic and composed material) is the product of creativity. You are probably being more creative as an audience member watching a performance than as a performer performing something you have already rehearsed. As an audience member, our mind makes links between visual and audio events that may or may not have been present through the practice and rehearsal stages.

The symbolic redundancy in visual and auditory signals in the above performance are meaningful for those familiar with Reich and modern dance. But what about people with different social and cultural backgrounds and experiences? How does such an art-work engage them?

Found this website in my travels:

As a sidenote, multimodal/intersensory redundancy is actually an example of what Edelman, Gamow, Friston, Price and others would call ‘degeneracy’.

Published by

Paul Mason

I am a biomedically trained social anthropologist interested in biological and cultural diversity.

5 thoughts on “Multimodal Redundancy

  1. Sadly some anal-retentive executive has had this wonderful clip removed from YouTube believing it somehow offends their precious bank account. I feel privileged to have seen that wonderful clip when it was in the public view, and angry at myself for not capturing it at that time and tucking it into my personal archives, foolishly trusting that this cultural artifact would be openly shareable for the forseable future.

    If anyone encounters any alternate clips from this wonderful dance, please let us know. Discreetly, of course.

  2. sadness strikes again; I spoke too soon on that second clip; it contains the dance, but in disjoint fragments too brief and jarring to really illustrate by experience the sense of multimode redundancy. Ironically the dance co probably felt the previous powerful video gave away too much for free, and then considered this ineffective hack advert as ‘promotional’. sigh

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