[-empyre-] Narrative, and speaking traces

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Sat May 30 01:08:34 EST 2009

hello all

thanks to Sarah and this discussion that has been springing forth --

i was really interested by your emphasis on narrative, and hope we can come back
to asking more questions about "narrative"  (different narratives) in relationship to voice (sounding/sound making/
vocals/music) and movement, and in relationship to  body movement  and gesture,
and following the last statements you made, also in regard to the interactional design
you describe in some of your examples (the narrative in design is a tricky issue, i would
suggest, since working with interactivity, in my mind, is always counterintuitive and

Her movement was counterintuitive in the degree of learning and control
required to manipulate her wearable accelerometers to achieve a specific
graphic quality.  Practicing was about finding the movement that is both
expressive in itself and also "draws". Lezlie's performance was highly
controlled, highly choreographed, and was about control in some sense.

i am not sure now how to address the many issues related to control and control systems
(in such interactional settings of performance), but initially, i thought, the discussion was
heading somewhere else, when you began to recount your work with Lezlie.
I didn't understand what "normative embodiment" is, I also don't know what
"fear of ephemerality" is.  I always consider it a joy (ephemerality). 

The "challenge to normative embodiment" may rest in Lezlie's body presence and movement themselves, 
in terms of the role of the gaze in the social construction of the body with dis/abilities, 
paralleling postmodern theories  of the gaze in the construction of the female body. 

I think you perhaps would have to talk more about what you assume such constructions to be like (gender -specific?
age-specific? culture-specific? abilities-specific?), and how a behavior or performance performed can critique
the gazes (which are all differentiated), and how such differencing works.

I am in rehearsal and cannot fully find the space to reflect and think of examples where i might have been confronted
with : "existential anxiety" about the functioning of the body being seen, and by extension, 
the body of the viewer [my body?] , and "aesthetic anxiety" generated by fears of bodily difference in a society "with a quest for 'supernormal bodily perfection'." 
I would like to hear others respond to this challenge.  I don't recall aesthetic anxiety, unless you assume that we all are insecure about
our "lack" or or difference from some assumed "norm"  - i don;t think there are any norms that anyone believes in except of course on the surface
of consumption and sexual selection display.  Or are you also including "religious anxiety"?  
well, there is so much to say now.   
I hope we can come back to  the question of movement narratives.

I certainly think that all movement is inherently story telling and telling. And naturally so, it is also always also lying, no?  it is fashining our selves as movement characters
in the stories we invent and retell ourselves and others every day, faking it, and being also quite serious about that.   

In the everday sense [i would also think there is no everyday, but that we tend to live under constant or increasing stress symptoms and in symptotopographies, and so the question of anxiety is of course real, a kind of performance anxiety, and we smile now because that too is institutionalized and rhetorical now,  cliché) , the movement through our environments is something i assumed you'd be also addressing,   
when i think of walking or audio walks (Janet Cardiff and others), they sound is voice is oral culture of whispered and shouted memories or associations,  i love to listen to audio art and radio dramas,  they are rich to me and full of e/motion...

and then the notion of the trace as walking is something i came across this morning, in  preview of Richard Long's new exhibit at the Tate (Heave and Earth) in London, and the preview mentions the walking/ tracing in the landscape as a motion leaving shadows or foils,  i never saw the term foil before,  and apparently it refers to hunting vocabulary and the track that might be left by some legs or feet when they touched the dawn of the grass and its wetness, as first sunrays fall across the land. 

I remember viewing DV8's "Cost of Living" and wondered how they wanted to foil me into taking it, feeling confronted by it?  

What’s a movement worth? £5 for a plié, one performer suggests in this piece. With arms  that’s a tenner, add some emotion you double the fee. “
Heard you can do  some tricks”, another man pesters a dancer. “Do that thing with your leg. I can pay you,” 
I wondered how such critical work (if that is what it is, or is it exploitational? experimental? anxietal?)  is received by different communities/audiences, and how you narrate the work organizationally when you produce software interaction design with abled and differently abled performers in company or in schools or therapeutic environments;  
I noted recently also the work of Petra Kuppers (The Tiresias Project , an Olimpias Disability Culture Production), featured recently in TDR, with a stunning photograph of one of her collaborators on the cover.  It is certainly the case, i think, that methods are altered when dis/abilities are involved as a conscious /acknowledged fact. 


Johannes Birringer
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