[-empyre-] Introducing Laura Cull and Johannes Birringer on Empyre for Week 3 of Critical Motion Practice

Cull, Laura lkc202 at exeter.ac.uk
Mon May 18 18:30:48 EST 2009

Dear all, 

Many thanks to Renate and Tim for their generous invitation to participate in this discussion. I have already learnt a lot from the exchanges so far, and only hope I can contribute something of interest regarding this complex theme of critical motion practice. 

Johannes' last post - in response to the Tank Man Tango piece - resonated with me a great deal. I have recently returned from Zagreb, having participated in a workshop organised by the Shadow Casters on the theme of cultural memory and urban, immaterial heritage (see: http://shadowingthecity.blogspot.com/) The premise was an emergent concern of/in the Balkans, that the predominant popular relation to the past was one of amnesia and/or of a manufactured nostalgia - in which an ideal past that never existed is written on top of more complex and uncomfortable memories. Then, the question was of how artists might respond to such a context - telling the unheard stories of the city. There were a lot of archival projects presented - but also motion projects: artist-written guides to the city that intervene into the tourist context and re-write the canon of places that matter in the urban landscape.

I was there to represent SpRoUt (www.sproutart.co.uk) - an artist's collective to which I belong and within which I participated in various projects since its founding in 2004. The Shadow Casters were particularly interested in a project of ours called 'Talent on Route' in which SpRoUt transported an audience around South London in a 1951 London Transport 'Green line' Coach - a 'time-machine' that paused en route between Vauxhall and Walworth for performance stops. The journey culminated with further interventions, live art, music, and a local 'talent show' at The Mason's Arms on East Street market. The Mason's Arms on East Street market is a pub with strong links to the local Trade Association and was the hub of leisure activities such as 'beanos' – a colloquial name for group outings or coach trips  - and talent shows in post-war 1950's London.

So that is one point of entry for me into the recent discussion - the politics of motion through the city, movement and memory, and the guided walk or tour as an artistic form that addresses itself to publics beyond the art world...

A second point of entry is around this question of the relation between "indifference" and "agency" - a problem which I come at in the context of recent debates around the politics (or lack thereof) of Deleuze's philosophy (see especially Peter Hallward's Out of this World, and Badiou's The Clamor of Being). If I have understood Stelarc correctly, the "indifference" to which he refers is something like the necessary condition for becoming - a letting go of the illusion of self-presence in order to allow oneself to participate in encounters with other ways of being in time, in other durations. The indifference is not an absence of affect - on the contrary, it is affect that sweeps the self up in a becoming 'and makes it reel', as D&G put it. Rather the indifference is, perhaps, an indifference to the notion of insurmountable differences or categorizations of life: such that women have nothing to do with men, humans nothing to do with animals or the wider inhuman, and so forth. 

Implicitly, this emphasis on becoming rather than being creates an ethics: what John Mullarkey has called  ‘the need to open ourselves affectively to the actuality of others’. This is not a question of appropriating or absorbing the other into oneself, but of acting in the awareness that individualities (all the way down to the micro) have their own actuality which may or may not be perceptible to 'us'. To go back to some of Ashley's earlier remarks - this might include 'the body' and indeed various parts of the body - such that we can no longer say 'MY body' because its actuality differs from that of conscious thought. 

But what of politics? I don't have an answer... but would be interested to talk more about the relation between indifference and agency and what kinds of critical motion practice might experiment with new ethical and political strategies in response to that relation.

With very best wishes

From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Renate Ferro [rtf9 at cornell.edu]
Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 4:06 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: [-empyre-] Introducing Laura Cull and Johannes Birringer on Empyre for Week 3 of Critical Motion Practice

Dear Empye,

Many thanks to Norah and Stelarc for leading our discussion off this week
on Critical Motion Practice.  We have been thrilled and amazed at the
depth of the discussions.  There is quite a lot of interest in this
subject and we have observed that during the past couple of weeks we have
had many new subscribers to -empyre!

While Norah and Stelarc and our other guests may continue to join in our
discussion, I will properly introduce Laura Cull (UK) and Johannes
Birringer (Germany/UK).  Johannes has been posting throughout this week
but he will be our special guest for this week three of Critical Motion
Practice with Laura. I've attached their biographies below.


Laura Cull is Lecturer in Performing Arts at Northumbria University, a PhD
candidate in Drama at the University of Exeter, nd editor of the
forthcoming book Deleuze and Performance (Edinburgh University Press, June
2009). She is also an practicing artist, working primarily with
performance. She has presented her individual practice at Tate Britain and
Studio Voltaire, and most recently at the Serpentine Gallery's Manifesto
Marathon as a member of the collective, SpRoUt.

Laura's publications include "A dialogue on becoming", co-authored with
Matthew Goulish in Theatres of Thought: Theatre, Performance and
Philosophy (2007) and an essay on Deleuze, Carmelo Bene and Georges
Lavaudant in Contemporary French Theatre (forthcoming 2009). She is also
founder and chair of the Performance and Philosophy working group in
Performance Studies International, and co-chair of the PSi Graduate
Student Committee. "

Johannes Birringer is a choreographer and media artist. As artistic
 director of the Houston-based AlienNation Co.(www.aliennationcompany.com),
 he has created numerous dance-theatre works, video installations and
 digital projects in collaboration with artists in Europe, the Americas,
 and China. He currently leads a performance research project on mixed
reality composition, “Ukiyo”, with partners in Japan. He is director of
 DAP-Lab at Brunel University, West London, where he is a Professor of
Performance Technologies in the School of Arts. He is also the founder of
 the International Interaktionslabor (Germany). He has authored numerous
 books, including Media and Performance: along the border (1998),
Performance on the Edge: transformations of culture (2000),
 Performance,Technology, and Science (2008), amongst many articles on
 contemporary art, performance, and media.

Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Art
Cornell University, Tjaden Hall
Ithaca, NY  14853

Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
Website:  http://www.renateferro.net

Co-moderator of _empyre soft skinned space

Art Editor, diacritics

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