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Experiential knowledge and improvisation: Variations on movement, motion, emotion

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Improvisation is a way of knowing that is experiential, pivotal to the body’s movement and growth in the world. It allows us to manage constraint and freedom in a rich world of possibility. Within this article we trace a trajectory from improvisation in life to improvisation in art. By focusing on practitioners who work with improvisation in precise ways in the fields of anthropology, ecology, visual art and music, we explore how improvisation and experiential knowledge are profoundly interconnected. To achieve this, we use the four characteristics of improvisation developed by anthropologists Ingold and Hallam as a framework for the evaluation of art practices of improvisation including the authors’ own project work. We expand the framework through Dewey’s analysis of art as experience. The article concludes with an evaluation of how the techniques and processes of improvisation from the case examples may be useful ways to shed light on the workings of experiential knowledge.
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Keywords: artistic improvisation; artistic knowledge; artistic research; cultural improvisation; experiential knowledge; improvisation; music

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Grays School of Art, The Robert Gordon University 2: Vrije Universiteit

Publication date: October 26, 2012

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