“You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word.”
A Portmanteau is a linguistic blend of words, in which a part of multiple words or their phones (sounds), and their meanings are combined into a new word.
Exploring the use of abstract images projected on the space and on moving bodies, the Finnish dancer / circus artist Mira Ravald and the Brazilian visual / circus artist Luis Sartori do Vale investigate how different colors, shapes and soundscapes may influence the way physical movement can be interpreted and experienced.
Researching psychological concepts such as apophenia, Portmanteau plays with the human tendency to look for meaning and patterns in random data and situations, combining circus, dance, music and live images.
Rorschach and Apophenia
Portmanteau is a performance in which the audience is invited to make their own interpretations, based on their own personal experiences. By making use of suggestions and metaphors, Luis & Mira combine their physical skills with other visual and sound elements to create ambiguous images and situations, inspired by the principle of Hermann Rorschach’s famous inkblot tests.
Abstract and random at first, these situations can offer multiple possibilities of interpretation.
The Rorschach is what psychologists call a projective test. The basic idea of this is that when a person is shown an ambiguous, meaningless image (i.e. an inkblot) the mind will work hard at imposing meaning on the image. It’s a psychological principle known as apophenia, which describes the universal human tendency to seek meaningful patterns within random data.
By asking the person to tell you what they see in the inkblot, they are actually telling you about themselves, and how they project meaning on to the real world.