Angela Woodhouse and Caroline Broadhead
‘Touching you, I propose to you to receive, to touch…To touch is to violently or gently encounter a surface, a contour. To touch is to feel the perceived limits of my contours, my surfaces, my body in relation to yours. To touch is to expand these contours, creating new perimeters’.
Erin Manning The Politics of Touch 2006
Thermal Duets incorporates 5 short films presented on framed iPods. The audience are encouraged to approach and observe the detail of incremental change, a moment-by-moment passage of time through the revealing of body heat filmed in single continuous shots. Each film is individually titled Shed, Shroud, Exchange, Stroke, Spread.
Thermal Duets expands on the question of the sensorial impact, of detail emerging and fading, of quiet attention, drawing upon what in life cannot be seen but only felt, that is body heat, and how the temperature of one person impacts on clothing, the environment, and other people. The notion of touch or near touch forms an intrinsic yet subtle aspect of the viewers’ experience, as to witness the visible heat trace of touch prompts a sense of touch in the viewer. The colour range of dark blue to red indicating changes in body temperature become painterly marks of wounding, subsuming, or blanketing the other. They can be viewed as expressive mark-making which serves to delineate a forming relationship.
We articulate the quiet detail of action through gesture, pace, and sculptural form of the body, extending its furthest reaches, that is the detail of hair or the heat tone of the underarm, and equally through garments in their texture and layering. All these elements are negotiated to create atmospheric imagery and performance on video.
As collaborating artists’, we have been exploring the questions of intimacy and detail to create highly charged performance events. Previous works constructed spaces into which audiences were invited. Through extended time and slight movement, the purpose was to draw attention to a heightened awareness of one’s own body, both performers and viewers, the actions the audience might take, whether of stillness or motion, and the impact these actions may have on the environment or other audience members. Proximity elevated questions of touch whether actual or imagined. Equally, the palpable nature of body heat became a choreographed element.
Our first work for video, Close Distance (2016) re-calibrates these issues through technology. One of our questions was how the sense of intimacy and shared moments can be experienced on the screen. Thermal Duets uniquely explores thermal technology to develop these concerns.
I loved the intimacy created by the miniatures
So beautiful! The simplicity of the subjects and slow movements with the thermal colours really work well together
Love seeing the energy through touch. the warm colourful trail of touch on the other dancers’ body
A magical duet of two soul
Audience responses, Kinesthesia Festival, London 2021
Woodhouse and Broadhead’s series Thermal Duets resonates with the investigation of form, material, and functionality. The videos … draw the visitor close as if to a miniature watercolour or embroidery. A description by John Berger comes to mind: ‘The bodies of dancers with their kind of devotion are dual…A kind of Uncertainty Principle determines them; instead of being alternately particle and wave, their bodies are ultimately giver and gift.’ The intensity and overlaying of colours make the proximity and interaction of the bodies tangible: the lingering warmth of a hand caressing a back, an arm delicately moving away, or the intense vibration of breath as two heads folds towards each and then separate. Affect is here a residue of presence, a memory of touch. Woodhouse and Broadhead’s use of the thermal camera has transposed Berger’s view into luminous traces of orange-red dance.
Caterina Albano, Writing About Dance (Marsden Woo Gallery 2019)
Photo Philip Sayer. Screenshots Caroline Broadhead.
Click on an image to open the gallery
Thermal Duets was made possible with financial support from Middlesex University, UAL Central St Martin’s, and Marsden Woo Gallery.