Summer Sampler Program Notes: On “Triangulating Euclid” – Real Books Have Lives | By Julie Potter

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Are you a Kindle person or a real book person? There are some things the Kindle can’t do and I’ll choose a heavier backpack any day to enjoy the physical relationship to a real book. New books with their smell of crisp binding, used books with notes in the margin penned by other stewards, library books with coffee stains and fingerprints from those who have toted the text on a significant vacation or mundane commute.

Art conservator Karen Zukor, preserves and restores works on paper – one of those being a rare original edition of Euclid’s Elements, which inspired the creation of Triangulating Euclid (2013) a collaboration between Brenda Way, KT Nelson and Kate Weare, in which Zukor’s voice is heard as part of the sound score. In considering the relationship between dance and conservation, Zukor reminds us of her studied physical relationship to the object of restoration, a sort of duet.

As the gestures, shapes and symbols of dance compose an embodied language, the word “element” is the same as “letter” in Greek. Therefore, the theorems in the Elements can be seen in relation to geometry as letters to language. Imagine if this book were irreparably lost. “It is one of the noblest monuments of antiquity…to know Euclid it is necessary to know his language.” writes Sir Thomas Little Heath in an introduction to his translation of the mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the ancient Greek mathematician.

On stage in Triangulating Euclid, powdered chalk meticulously sifted by Maggie Stack onto the black marley cuts stark white lines geometrically dividing the space. The particles evoke both chalk on a chalkboard, marking an idea, and dust, a sign of decay. As the chalk lines blur agitated underfoot throughout the dance, erasure occurs, like fading pages of Euclid’s geometry in his ancient Elements.

Summer Sampler is August 2 and 3 at 8pm in the ODC Theater.

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