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These four volumes represent an exchange between choreographer Susan Sgorbati and book artist Thorsten Dennerline, using Sgorbati’s concept of “Emergent Forms” as their point of departure. “Emergent Forms” grew out of Sgorbati’s study of the spontaneous composition of form in complex systems. Elements of order and interaction create recognizable patterns in these systems, but they remain dynamic, engendering differentiations that influence and modify the form. This phenomenon – the creation of order from a rich array of self-organizing interactions – is found not only in dance and music; indeed, it is present throughout the natural world. This project consists of four emergent forms (Pattern, Memory, Landscape, and Dream), each represented by a “volume”, a unique print/object. The texture, color and gesture of each form on paper emerged through the process of collaborative dialogue, reminiscent of a shared choreography. Each volume is not only a documentation of this dialogue, but also an interactive visualization of these emergent forms.


Thorsten Dennerline produces paintings, drawings and artists’ books. The main focus of all the work originates from an interest in poetry and the relationship between text and image. This has led to collaborative projects with writers in book form and paintings and drawing projects that explore the poetic possibilities of the landscape. He received a BFA from the University of Massachusetts in 1994 and an MFA from Syracuse University in 1997.  He has exhibited his work across the U.S., Valparaiso, Chile, and Copenhagen and other cities in Denmark. His prints and books are included in numerous collections including The Saint Louis Art Museum, Kunstindustri Museet in Copenhagen Denmark, Mortimer Rare Book Room- Smith College, Yale University Library, University of Vermont Special Collections, the Library of Congress and libraries at Stanford University and UCLA. His paintings have been exhibited in Chile, Denmark and the U.S. Most recently he has had solo exhibitions at Galleri Tom Christoffersen in Copenhagen and group exhibitions at IPCNY in New York City and Dishman Art Museum in Beaumont, Texas. In 2000, he was awarded a one year Fulbright grant for Research and Study Abroad where he produced a large body of paintings and collaborative book project with Chilean printmakers. He has been a resident artist at the MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire, USA (2005), Frans Masereel Center in Belgium (2008), and most recently at Læsø Artists' Studio, Læsø, Denmark (2011) He is currently on the faculty at Bennington College and has taught, since 1999, at Southern Illinois University and the University of Notre Dame.

Susan Sgorbati has been involved in the field of dance for over thirty years as a choreographer, artistic director, dancer, and teacher. Since 1983, she has been on the Dance Faculty at Bennington College in Vermont where she has co-taught numerous interdisciplinary courses with biologists, musicians, visual artists, and anthropologists. Her focus on dance improvisation for performance coalesced into an on-going research into the relationship between dance and music improvisation and the science of complex systems, which she named Emergent Improvisation (EI). Her initial meetings, a decade ago, with eminent scientists in the field of complexity, Dr. Bruce Weber, Dr. Gerald Edelman, and Dr. Stuart Kauffman, inspired the direction and naming of her work and she sustains dynamic on-going dialogues with each of them and others. The Emergent Improvisation Project continues to forge new connections both nationally and internationally with organizations and institutions devoted to interdisciplinary research, education, cultural development, and unique platforms for performance.

film stills by Adityajit Kang

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