June 11, 2010, 12:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m a dancer. I like to understand things through personal experience. Dance has been my way of consciously seeking and discovering information and cultivating an understanding of the world and of myself. The knowledge I gain is palpable, felt, immediate.

I’ve been making site-specific dances, informed by history, cultural studies and architecture, for the past couple of years. I wanted to work with a geoscientist who could give me another perspective on place. I found Christopher Small through his website.

Chris works with remote sensing, among other tools. He creates images, based on the amount of sunlight reflected off of the Earth’s surface, and can consequently measure the amount of urban vegetation in a place like New York City. He can then compare images from different times and look at the amount of vegetation growth or depletion that’s happened over a span of up to thirty years.

Of course thirty years is only a minute fraction of the time span that we consider when we discuss climate and geological changes.

Meanwhile, I am twenty-eight years old. The longest dance performance I ever did lasted 18 hours. Most last only 15 minutes.

I want to understand time, as it relates to urban development and environmental change. I want to know what urban growth is beyond facts and figures. I want the information that I learn from Chris to be palpable, felt, immediate.

So I’ve asked Chris and fellow dancer Deborah Black to embark on an investigation with me. Over the next couple of months, we’re going to pool our research and ways of understanding together. We’ll start by describing our methods and our ideas to one another. We will dialogue, document and move with one another. We’re going to find out  how information inside of our bodies can be shared and laid on the table next to information documented in papers and visual images. Our pool of information will inevitably juxtapose different time spans – that of an instant, a few minutes, a season, a decade, and a lifetime. We’re going to imagine that we can then understand each of these different time scales in multiple ways. We will position ourselves as scholars seeing the world as both participators and outside observers – taking measurements of ourselves, from both inside and outside of ourselves. We undertake the task knowing full well that we will not accomplish the impossible or imaginary but with the expectation of discovering something along the way and being able to share that with you, our virtual audience, and a real-time audience on-site.

Join us. First, keep up with this blog. This will be the only blog post for a while. We’ll be kicking it into high gear in August and September. More blog posts will come then. Second, tell us who you are. It’s more fun to write this if we are writing to you – not shouting into the anonymous virtual world, wondering who’s listening. So e-mail us ( or post your own comments here. Third, come join us on site. We’ll be meeting in the East River State Park in Williamsburg, on the East River between North 7th and 9th Streets. We’ll post some of our meeting times here so that you can come and participate as you’d like. Talk with us. Move with us. Or just listen in.

The catalyst for this project is an iLab residency. Thanks to the organization iLand for making it possible. Check out what other iLab residents and community members are doing by visiting

-Diana Crum