[-empyre-] Narrative, and speaking traces

sarah drury sdrury at temple.edu
Thu May 28 13:54:21 EST 2009

I heard from Hana Iverson, who tried to post to the list but couldn¹t,
making me wonder if there¹s still something up with the server.  Her
questions are below, followed by my answer.

Hi Sarah,

I am curious in the idea of counterposing social orders, and if Leslie Frye
actually felt that the media traces created by The Walking Project actually
"spoke" of a social reframing of her body/self/identity?  Is there a link
somewhere on-line where this can be seen?  And if these media traces
"speak," is that what you are referring to by narrative?  It seems to me
that narrative within the context of movement, often means "story" as
opposed to say, code or coded languages, even in the spirit of bread crumb
trails.  And how, and in what way, these trails/traces become political?  In
what way are these traces paralleled to Deluezian processes/actions?

Would love to hear more.

Hi Hana,
Thanks for your thoughtful questions.  I think that, yes, Lezlie experienced
the relationship between her movement and the media traces as a changing
figure/ground relationship that spoke of a successive reframing of her
body/self against the environment. Her movement at the beginning of the
performance built a relationship with interactive iconography (media traces)
that explores force, linearity, control, consistency, symmetry. In some
sense, her performance enacts the cultural dynamics that produce the
³normal²: strength, speed, repetition, health, etc.  You can see video of
the performance here:

Athletic and rhythmic, this movement produces a line that traces a
right-angled, repetitive urban iconography. Within the linearity of her
movement also, at times, is emphasized the snag, asymmetry, the glitch,
picked up by sensors in the uneven movements of her arms.  What I am calling
narrative is, as you say, the engagement of coded language (rather than
storytelling) in the combination of body, movement and responding
image/traces, in that there is a three-layered narrative of the body itself,
movement and its responding traces/trails.  Lezlie enacts the production of
normalcy even as her sensor-amplified body enacts live and mediated
asymmetry.  I suppose it is the non-standard aspects of Lezlie¹s physical
form that are ³unaligned or unalignable components which refuse to conform
to the requirements of order and organization², but more, it is her
presentation of an ambivalent embracing/enacting of normative embodiment and
simultaneously engaging difference outside the categories assigned to it,
engaging difference intimately and playfully.  The media traces simply
accentuate this aspect of form and performance, as a third layer.

To grab a fragment of Laura¹s May 21 post:
³However, I guess part of my interest is in how to make encounters with
difference more sustainable (or less painful) and/or to emphasise less
extreme and more apparently banal examples of how we might jump onto new
planes of perception.²
I like to think this performance functions this way.  While Lezlie¹s charged
performance is not banal, it is Œless extreme¹, and I think conditions
perception in new ways, on some level through the relay of various planes of
narrative: the body and its narrative, performative gesture and live
animation.  But I would welcome more questioning and discussion about ideas
of narrative in the context of movement.

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