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Performance artist Ryan McNamara joins PBS Digital Studio's The Art Assignment to challenge you to play a game of MOVEMENT TELEPHONE. Here's what we mean:

Movement Telephone Instructions:

1. Find a clip of movement on the internet. Watch it once.
2. Film yourself replicating that movement.
3. Watch your video and then film yourself replicating your movement in that video.
4. Repeat step 3.
5. Upload your 3 clips (edited together, ideally) and a link to your inspiration video with #theartassignment.
6. Fame and glory (your work may be in a future video).

Learn more about Ryan's work: www.ryanmcnamara.com/.
And why not give Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene a read?: http://www.amazon.com/The-Selfish-Gene-Richard-Dawkins/dp/0192860925
Today we're in Queens, New York outside of Topaz Arts, a creative development center that hosts a dance studio where we'll be meeting with Ryan McNamara. Ryan is a performance artist whose work explores what it's like to be a person today in our largely media-driven and -saturated world.    Past performances have seen him learning to dance over the course of five months in front of the public at PS1 or buried in the ground up to his neck singing love songs. He performs, but he also choreographs the movement of others, creating works like MEM3, a story ballet about the internet, or Misty Malarky Ying Yang, which used President Jimmy Carter's 1979 "Malaise" speech as a point of departure.    Ryan's work creatively upends expectations as well as the traditional separation between audience and performer. So let's go talk to Ryan and see what he's cooked up for us.    Hi, I'm Ryan, and this is your Art Assignment.    So, I'm not a dancer. Don't claim to be a dancer. I-- um... The project you're talking about was at PS1 a few years ago um, called "Make Ryan a Dancer." Yeah I had people come to the museum every day and teach me a different kind of dance, and, you know, from ballet to stripping to contact improv, kind of a wide array of things. It was embarrassing [laughs] at first, but then there was something very liberating about it at the end.    I don't film myself dancing that often and that was fascinating to watch because, you know, we see ourselves in the mirror, but we don't see... so that was just amazing. It was like watching someone else dance, so that was really weird and exciting. So, yeah, I mean that was actually very helpful, just be like, "Oh wow, that's how my body does it." And then, for me, I just thought, well, rather than, uh you know I'm not trying out for a part on Broadway, so rather than try to sort of correct those things I'll just lean in to those idiosyncratic movements that I had.    And that's actually when I'm working with performers and dancers, I think they have that as well. That's why I work with them. They have their personalities reflected in the way they move rather than just being able to have the perfect pointed foot. I'm much more interested in that kind of personality shining through, and it does.   So your assignment is to find a clip of movement on the internet. Something around a minute or less, just anything that you respond to, and I wan to you to watch it once. Then I want you to film yourself replicating that movement. Then I want you to forget about the original video and just watch the video you just made of yourself, and I want you to replicate the movement you see in that and film it. Then, I want you to forget about the first video you made and watch the second video and try to replicate the movement you did in that and film that. So it's like a game of movement telephone.   John: So Sarah, have you ever seen the video "Tortoise upside down is ignored by his friends."   Sarah: [Laughs] No.   John: Because I think that would be great for this.   Sarah: Would you like to do that?   John: I will totally do it.   Sarah: Well, I haven't seen it, so why don't you demonstrate?   John: I'll do it, and you can do it based on what I do.   Sarah: Okay.   [Sarah laughing]   Sarah: Well, that was humiliating!   John: Yeah, definitely. But it did make me think about memes and the way that as people make things, they change.   Sarah: Right, and Ryan has done this performance that's thought about this before, but this assignment gets to the essence of how things transform in interpretation.   John: Right, I'm sure there's art historical precedent for that.   Sarah: Well sure there is. You can think about the many people who have painted "The Madonna and Child" over time, or have sculpted it.   John: I have seen a lot of those when you have made me go to museums.    Sarah: That is not actually what I want to talk about today. I want to go back to the origin of the term meme. Do you know where that comes from, John?   John: I do. Yeah, uh, Richard Dawkins.   Sarah: Your favorite person.    John: My favorite person.   Sarah: From his book The Selfish Gene from 1976. Let's look at what he exactly said about this.    "A new kind of replicator has recently emerged. It is still in its infancy, still drifting clumsily about in its primeval soup, but already it is achieving evolutionary change at a rate which leaves the old gene panting far behind. The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission or a unit of imitation. Mimeme comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds bit like gene. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. It could alternatively be thought of as being related to memory or the French word meme. Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catchphrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so do memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process, which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation."   I've been doing this process now with twenty dancers, of watching something and making it our own, and, um, you know, I think that we've always used it, you know, I think it is interesting to use it as a guide, you know, something really basic. you know. And then allowing yourself to inhabit it in a way. That's what I find really interesting. I'll always find that more interesting than someone who can just replicate it perfectly. Um, you know, someone who kind of owns it themselves. Um, so that would be my advice, really: make it your own. It's going to be a much more exacting process for you. This is not about getting frustrated or you know, anything like that, it's really more about exploration.    Okay, so, to demonstrate the assignment I've invited Mickey Mahar here. He's a New York based performer who I've worked with for about the past year. And, um, we've chosen a video clip that actually Mickey has never seen before. And while Mickey is a professional dancer, this is not necessarily the genre he is used to dancing. In fact, we are going to be looking at a video of two orangutans playing. So we're going to watch about 30 seconds of it.   Ryan: You ready? Okay, go.   Ryan: Now, Mickey's going to forget about the first video and just replicate at the movement of this one.    I like the hold at the end. That's nice.   Mickey: Yeah   Ryan: That's nice. Alright, you ready?   Mickey: Yeah.   Ryan: Forget about that one, and now we've got a new one coming our way.   Mickey: Okay   Ryan: Got it? Okay.   Ryan: Perfect. You're such a good orangutan, Mickey. Thank you so much.   You know, the great thing about YouTube is that they give you suggestions right after, so [laughs] you have 10 choices right after, yeah. It's a great and bad thing, because, you know, there's the rest of your afternoon.