Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dream Job ... or ... WTF!

This job announcement was posted to The Linguist List just yesterday:

Performance Space 122 in association with Movement Research and Instituto Cervantes seeks an English speaking cognitive linguist for 4 weeks of exploratory research with Spanish choreographer Juan Dominguez.

The individual chosen will provide Juan with the linguistic knowledge and will guide him during one on one research sessions (Nov 26-Dec 14, Mon-Fri, for 3 hours/day) and during a larger workshop with ten participants (Dec 17-21).

During the individual research with Juan, the main focus will be studying how language is built, how we use it, and how we understand reality through language. In the four previous workshops, Juan has tried experiments that influence the way of perceiving time and space through the verbs of movement. This will be a continuation of that research and experimentation.

During the larger workshop the linguist will spend the first two days giving the participants an introduction about verbs with special focus on the verbs of movement. The linguist will be present during the workshop (5 hours/day) as a reference for further questions and of course to give his or her point of view about what the participants will work on. (my emphasis)

PS122 is a legitimate place which promotes itself as a "multi-disciplinary arts center dedicated to finding, developing and presenting new artistic creations from a diversity of cultures and points of view."

They're giving themselves 4 weeks with one linguist to figure out

1) how language is built
2) how we use it
3) how we understand reality through language

On top of that, they hope to "influence the way of perceiving time and space through the verbs of movement."

Good Luck.


hyperjetlag said...

Its a project with a pretty renowned Spanish choreographer / programmer - which has already been duplicated in Montevideo, Beijing, Vienna and he is currently in San Paulo working on the Portuguese section. It will become a film next year, and the performance the year after...Not seeking definitive answers, but more an investigative process into the relationship of physical movement and language in several cultural contexts / languages - German, Spanish, Chinese, Portugese and English. So the WTF aspect is exactly the point, really. V

Thanks for posting though.

Mike B. said...

If the outcome is going to be an arts project and not a scholarly paper, I think a month is a pretty decent prep time. They want ideas and inspiration, not necessarily answers.

I'm going back to Vassar next weekend for a cog sci reunion (25th anniversary of the major), and one thing I look forward to asking my old profs is how well they've managed to integrate the art, music and dance departments into the program.

Chris said...

I didn't mean to disparage the artistic intent or value of the project. Sorry if I came across that way. My "WTF" reaction was a first impression of the rather tall order the project had set for itself. These are big questions with no easy answers. Any one of the four things I listed would make for a challenging graduate seminar in linguistics and cognitive science. All four together in 4 weeks is quite a mountain to climb.

BTW, I wasn't joking about the "Dream Job" part either. I have a soft spot for the arts and artists who struggle with big ideas and part of me would love to be the linguist who got to spend time with dancers who want to understand the language of space. I was a student of Talmy and Van Valin and these are the big issues they deal with. (I suspect Len Talmy is the perfect linguist for this too).

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