When the term “social distancing” entered our vocabulary in late February 2020 it seemed like a strange concept. Moving through public space felt uncertain and uncomfortable while navigating a two-meter boundary between our bodies and others. Directional marks appeared on the floors of grocery stores- arrows and lines directing traffic flow through the aisles, showing us where to pause, turn, stop and form lines like a complex game of hopscotch.
Now we navigate our streets much more gracefully, shifting aside to let others pass, smiling from a distance while we perform the loops and turns required to hold ourselves in four metres squared. We have learned the choreography of social distancing.
This is already a familiar choreography for birds. When flying in “murmuration” birds maintain awareness of the seven birds nearest to them, responding to the movements of their neighbours to maintain the synchronous movement of the flock. In a way the pandemic has made us more acutely aware of our own interdependence as a species- recognizing that we must act as a unified body to combat the virus. We move now in flocks, aware of those around us, towards our common goal.
Murmurations: Scores for Social Distancing are a series of dance works based on bird flocking behaviour. The choreography will require seven dancers to perform an interconnected set of movements while never coming within two meters of each other. As a public art work Murmurations will be shown through its notation- directional markings that form a choreographic score painted onto pavement. These markings will reference the social distancing directions that we now see in public space. The work will exist as a visual score for our social distancing choreography, and an invitation to follow the directional markings on the pavement to perform the dance.