[-empyre-] undocumented worker

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Tue Jun 9 02:11:18 EST 2009

This is all very interesting.

I think of the question of "presence."  Whenever we enter into the
problem of representing a particular event, we take the "present" and
repackage for a different or deferred experience (which itself is
another "present," but which is not a strictly one-to-one experience
of the event).  It's like taking a drug to have the experience of
dreaming while awake, of looking at a snapshot to have the experience
of being with someone who is absent, etc.

I think this is a persistent problem for artists, whose job it is to
represent things experiences for those who do not experience them
directly.  The artist creates the concept.  Engages in the process.
And then, if your lucky, you experience the fruits of the artist's
labor.  But each step of the way, the event is necessarily removed
from its conception.  the strength of the representation resides in
how well the artist's work can capture the intensity of the event.  In
an odd way, the strength of the art is in the power with which it
bridges the gap of difference between the event and the
representation.  Hence, I can see why the artist would experience
longing for presence....

But on the other hand, this longing does not mean that "presence" is
only the object of nostalgia.  Whether empirical methods can account
for it or not, we all have everyday lives.  We experience the
"presence" constantly as a part of our being, as a dynamic tension
between the singularity of the moment and the temporal (history or
future).  We either yearn presence via representation or we forget
about it while immersed in it, but in both cases, this is what
constitutes the existential nature of being.

To tie it to more practical political concerns, this dynamic view of
presence is experienced most powerfully by people who feel their
existence threatened (by death) and who tend to be denied access to
re-presentation (through historical record, through anticipation of
the future, and, immediately, even through representation in popular
media).  A strong example, here, would be the experience of
Palestinians or working people in places like Colombia, who are
routinely denied representation in mass media, denied claims to
history, and denied a future.


On Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 10:12 AM, Johannes
Birringer<Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
> Dear all:
> from a peripheral perspective on the discussion here,
> i was struck by Hana's (replying to Margaretha) comments on a desire for, or nostalgic longing for
> something like an undocumentable/pure (?) presence --  in an event or an action or a performance
>>>a moment without feedback, without a document, without a traceable trace -->>>
> This was in response to Margaretha's claim (unfounded or uncorroborated, i assume)..
>>>i too have created relational artworks that play with and overlap different periods of time to induce a re-orientation, but increasingly i am intrigued by practices that might bring people into the present moment, and that remain completely undocumented. it fills me with a sense of release and relief to even think of it - a moment in this hyper media saturated world, a moment without feedback, without a document, without a traceable trace - think of it!>>
> While this indeed is an intriguing thought, i would venture to say it's impractical, from an artistic point of view;
> your work won't exist and won't have that many relations, and problems paying your rent,
> (and i don't want to go into the political implications here)
>  if it is not recordable and (re) producible for dissemination,
> and potentially able to be archived and collected.
> the plots of collection for time based (live art) works, vis à vis other kinds or work,  would need to be differentiated.
> Your contesting of the archive does bring to mind some of the unusual/out of the ordinary, long durational works by Tehching Hsieh (http://www.tehchinghsieh.com/), who appeared on the scene in the 70s and 80s and then was almost forgotten/marginalized and deported from the scenes of mediation. banality, power and symbolic capital..
>  I think the one-year piece where he punched a clock every day at the same hour, was documented by the self-same/framed photograph of the action repeated every day for a year, and in some of his performances (like the one where he lived with LInda Montano tied to her by a rope for a year) he did not collect documentation or refused to collect it or refused to have the audio tapes he made played back, etc.
> Now this is all academic, of course, since this extraordinary work is visible to all in a fabulously edited catalogue (book) on Tehching Hsieh:  OUT OF NOW, edited by Adrian Heathfield earlier this year.
> I am so glad the work can be traced back now and tracked a little, and feedback forthcoming to Tehching Hsieh.
> the postcards with Tehching living outdoors for year look great.
> regards
> Johannes Birringer
> dap lab,
> london
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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