[-empyre-] failure or mishap

Ashley Ferro-Murray aferromurray at berkeley.edu
Wed May 6 03:05:25 EST 2009

Hello all,

Ricardo, I am incredibly interested in the ideal of an "aesthetics of
failure" and agree that this pertains specifically to Lepecki's
situation of dance and politics. I am hesitant, though, to associate
stillness as failure for the same reasons that Stamatia is resistant
to associate technical cut with mishap. If we associate stillness with
failure we equate stillness with a body that does not move. If I stand
still my body is still moving, both on the inside and on the outside.
Micro-movements become more apparent as my body awareness begins to
increase. I was in an Alexander technique workshop this past weekend
and we were discussing this very concept. So, I feel that in the way
dance often employs stillness the still does not result in the
non-moving. What is particularly interesting here is that I have
become more aware of this fact through my work with sensors. I have to
calibrate the sensors and their thresholds in order to act
appropriately with my movements because they perceive my
micro-movements much more accurately or specifically than my audience
would. The slightest twitch of a finger and subsequent shift of
tendons and veins in my wrist could send a sensor like an
accelerometer located on top of those tendons and veins into a great
deal of reception. Lepecki discusses the "betrayal of the bind between
dance and movement" as one that dance watchers including critics
perceive. Perhaps we can use a sensor to illustrate the moving affect
in stillness. I think, though, that this also disrupts the political
intention behind adding perceived body stillness to the dance
performance. It is here that we can locate your failure of politics
and an aesthetics of failure. By employing technologies in
choreography I think that we truly can move between failures of
politics as affect and clean techno gestures as effect within an
"aesthetics of failure." I agree with Stamatia entirely that the
technical cut is an affect, but am still interested in how we work
with engineers who could consider our affect a purely technical
mishap. The clean techno gesture is effective, but in its gaps the
artist finds her affect. The artist can also find affect in
intentional cut, though, that I would associate with a cinematic cut.
I often program a cut into my technology to initiate an affective
presence. In this sense the affect does not rest on mishap at all and
we again move between affect and effect, gap and seamlessness,
movement and stillness. I am very interested in the in between here.
As we move we supposed move through or between points of perceived
stillness. When I dance with sensors and projections I am moving in
the in-between sensor, computer, projection and audience. In Dance
Forms we move between the different grids and boxes that Stamatia
brings up. The in-between provides affect for both physical and
digital affect. A perceived gap in technology, or a perceived
stillness in the body when it isn't really still after all.

I am curious where this in-between fits theoretically, especially in
terms of D&G's ideas of the machinic and body without organs.

Ashley Ferro-Murray
MA/PhD Student
Dept. Theater, Dance & Performance Studies
University of California, Berkeley

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