We understand joint improvisation as an artistic form involving two or more performers engaging in multiple real-time interactions: with each other, with the audience and with the emerging content. Improvisers freely explore, within some boundaries, a large space of possibilities for new joint discoveries.
While joint improvisation has long standing history in dance, music and theatre, its scholarship as a unified phenomenon, in particular from a scientific perspective, is still in its infancy. Moreover, the perspective of joint improvisation is useful in studying a range of human phenomena beyond the boundaries of the artistic arena, including conversation, scientific co-discovery and the dynamics of groups operating in emergency situations.
The “Science of Joint Improvisation” meeting aims to bring together researchers from a number of different fields to establish a rigorous study of joint improvisation. First, the conference will bring together researchers that currently apply a scientific approach to study joint improvisation, using different paradigms – verbal report analysis, kinematic measurements, brain imaging and mathematical modeling. Second, the conference is open to researchers from different subfields of cognitive and behavioral sciences, social sciences and philosophy that study topics highly related to group improvisation, such as group creativity, aesthetic perception, linguistics, kinesthetic empathy and the human ‘mirror system’. We also see joint improvisation as a specific case of joint action, and look forward to contributions of experts from this growing field. Contributions from practitioners of improvisation will also be welcome.
The aim of this meeting is to foster scientific investigation of joint improvisation as a unique phenomenon, and as a rich novel ground for an ecological study of a number of central questions regarding human nature. The workshop is supported by the DIM cerveau & pensée (Ile de France).