[-empyre-] theory/practice and becoming-avatar

lotu5 at resist.ca lotu5 at resist.ca
Sun May 24 10:13:03 EST 2009

hi all,

Ashley, i totally resonate with your last post. for me, (or how i've been
trained in our art department at ucsd) post-conceptual, post-contemporary
art is a kind of thinking. i began realizing this when i was studying
clowning and came across the book Through The Body by Dymphna Callery
(http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9780878301249) where she discusses
thinking with the body. As I continued to study Boal and Theater of the
Oppressed, I understood more how physical gestures can in themselves be a
kind of thinking and how thinking about physical gestures can allow one to
approach a problem in a totally new way. This is how I educate my
computing and the arts students about concepts like the virtual, war,
interactivity, race and gender, by using movement exercises asking them to
improvise gestures around these concepts, allowing them to not only think
of means of representation but then to embody them, feel them and realize
new things about them.

With my work, I begin with a question, or a set of questions and try to
find a performance gesture which can give me some new knowledge about this
question. Sometimes its a matter of just looking very closely at one
thing, as in durational performance, I see Becoming Dragon in a way as
getting very up close and personal with the gritty materiality of the
virtual, of the motion capture camera, of the head mounted display. Yet I
also think about it in terms of an investigation of the line between the
real and the virtual and how it can be blurred.

One of the first conversations I had about Becoming Dragon was with our
technical director at CRCA, and he was asked, "are you sure you want to
wear the hmd? t gives you a strong sense of disembodiment", and I said
"but isn't a sense of reembodiment? I'll have a new virtual arm, and with
the motion capture, when I move my arm it will move, whats the difference
in the sense of your real arm moving and your virtual arm moving?" I still
find this notion of reembodiment to be an important concept for me,
outside of the embodiment/disembodiment binary, because it is only because
of our memory of embodiment, our sense of having a body, our muscle
memories of walking, that we can understand this new avatar as our own
body, as an extension of ourselves. The notion of transreal speaks to this
well for me, in that our identities, bodies and gestures have significant
constituent parts which span multiple realities.

My interest is really in this queer strategy of blurring boundaries and
categories and continuing to push that limit, not only the line between
genders and sexes, but between the real and the virtual, the human and the
machine, but still holding onto an affective sense of compassion or
holding onto a consideration of the ethical stakes of such an
intervention. I think that haraway's recent book "when species meet"
expresses this incredibly well. This quote gets to an explication of some
of the ethical questions involved in bringing together people and machines
or people and other species:

“...ways of living and dying matter: Which historically situated practices
of multispecies living and dying should flourish? There is no outside from
which to answer that mandatory question; we must give the best answers we
come to know how to articulate, and take action, without the god-trick of
self-certainty... Far from reducing everything to a soup of post- (or
pre-) modern complexity in which anything ends up permitted,
companion-species approaches must actually engage in cosmopolitics,
articulating bodies to some bodies and not others, nourishing some worlds
and not others, and bearing the mortal consequences.”

I can appreciate haraway's approach which accepts our finitude and
historical situatedness, yet which still seeks to bring multiple bodies,
technologies and species together. My new project that I'm working on now,
tentatively titled "mixed relations" is a collaboration with Elle Mehrmand
in which we are experimenting with putting two performers together in
mixed reality environments to create live audio, exploring not just "how
am i changed" but "how are we changed" and how do our relationships to
each other and these technologies change, become erotic, become painful,
break down or transform into something new.

I also love the writing of the argentinian group Colectivo Situaciones on
the question of theory/practice, from a footnote(!) in their article:

"Faced with these deliberations, our friend poses questions: “How is it
that you do not believe in communicating and publishing texts?” In order
to separate ourselves from the alienating image of communication, in its
ingenuous version as a message from one consciousness to another, we
suppose that writing, implicit in a practice, in a living thought, is
particularly moving for those who search. We experience publication more
as a search for (producing-receiving) resonances than as a transmission of
messages. The final goal of publication is, in our case, extending
experimentation, establishing links with those who experiment in other
places. This bond is incompatible with the pure “will to communicate.”"

from: http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/5-4/5-4colectivo.pdf

or in html:



> For a purely process based response to bringing Deleuze into the studio
> and
> on theory/practice in general...
> When I read the rhizomatic arguments of Deleuze and Guatarri I often sit
> with my journal and choreograph in my head and on paper. My still body is
> intellectually moved by concepts of multiplicity and the body without
> organs. Conceptually, I desire physical movement. When I finally make it
> to
> the studio to satisfy my impulse to move, Deleuze and Guatarri's
> inspirational words directly influence my becoming body. I transcribe my
> thought process through critical motion practice.
> Of course, this is just one method and one fragment of a potential
> practice.
> Nonetheless, my process is ingrained in theoretical inquiry just as my
> theoretical inquiry is ingrained in my process. To me, it seems that
> although this intimate connection between theory and practice in critical
> movement conception is not necessary, it is absolutely possible.
> I am interested to hear more about collaboration on this topic. I don't
> usually think of my work with theory as collaborative process. Although I
> suppose that there is potential for that too. Am I inherently
> collaborating
> with scholarship? Or does this scholarship inspire collaborative process
> through interdisciplinary?
> Ashley
> On Thu, May 21, 2009 at 5:51 AM, Norah Zuniga Shaw
> <zuniga.11 at osu.edu>wrote:
>> On bringing Deleuze into the studio and collaboration as critical
>> practice:
>> I've been thinking about this in response to stamatia's good questions
>> about
>> our use of the word diagram and the deleuzian possibilities of this
>> word.
>> For me, this is a good example of what Laura is describing as the theory
>> in
>> the mix vs. systematic application. We enjoyed thinking about the nature
>> of
>> a diagram within the critical process of iterative design and deleuzian
>> conceptions kept our creative options open and mobile (these conceptions
>> were inserted into our process by members of our interdisciplinary
>> working
>> group from art history, philosophy, and architecture). But no where were
>> we
>> applying theory systematically. Discourse, production, process ...
>> functioned together as critical making.
>> In this rubric of critical motion I'm trying to determine for myself if
>> I
>> believe our objects to be the locus of critical motion, the animated
>> objects
>> are theorizing on the choreographic motions. Or theorizing with the
>> choreographic motions? Not sure whether this is important or not.
>> And finally, Laura and Johannes bring us to thinking about collaboration
>> as
>> critical practice and this is hugely important to me and to the kind of
>> work
>> many of us do.
>> On 5/21/09 4:43 AM, "Cull, Laura" <lkc202 at exeter.ac.uk> wrote:
>> > For my part, I feel as if I do bring Deleuze into the studio (it's not
>> > 'rehearsals' for me) - not literally, nor in an overbearing way - but
>> he
>> is a
>> > persistent voice given that he's been a focus of my research for the
>> last
>> 3
>> > years. I've not tried to 'apply' Deleuze in any systematic way - which
>> I
>> think
>> > would be disastrous in any case - but I feel as if reading Deleuze
>> (outside
>> > the studio) has tuned my sensibilities somehow, such that I pay
>> attention
>> to
>> > different kinds of things than I once did (when I was reading Roland
>> Barthes
>> > and Edward Said). It has also been Deleuze (alongside groups like Goat
>> Island
>> > who are also very influenced by his thought) who has drawn my
>> attention
>> to the
>> > complex and multiplicitous creations that can come from collaboration.
>> (You
>> > already knew this of course, Johannes, whereas I came from an art
>> school
>> > environment in which one was encouraged to develop one's own distinct
>> style
>> > and recognisable product, rather than make things that were or looked
>> like the
>> > product of many minds). Dare I say that I think that 'genuine'
>> collaboration
>> > is inherently a critical practice? That is, collaboration is its own
>> thinking
>> > (without philosophy) in a manner that critiques how we are constantly
>> being
>> > told to think socially, politically.
>> >
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> --
> Ashley Ferro-Murray
> MA/PhD Student
> Dept. Theater, Dance & Performance Studies
> University of California, Berkeley
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

More information about the empyre mailing list