[-empyre-] Narrative, and speaking traces

sarah drury sdrury at temple.edu
Sat May 30 08:48:25 EST 2009

Hi all,
I've been on the road all day and have just found a rest stop with wireless.

More on narrative: I¹d like to branch out from projects that explore the
body  as ³the site or sites of multiple struggles, ambiguously positioned in
the reproduction of social habits, requirements, and regulations and in all
sorts of production of unexpected and unpredictable linkages² and look at
projects that track artifacts of the body in space and place, with various
ways of referencing the body as a tracking device for reading the
Earlier in this month¹s conversation, Christina McPhee discussed her project
Tesserae of Venus, that explores the buckling or folding of skin: the skin
of the body, the skin of drawings of technological landscapes as these
drawings buckle and fold over time in the weather, the skin of the
photograph documenting this deterioration over time, the skin of the earth
as it submits to processes of energy extraction and other kinds of
technological deformations, the skin of the buckling surface of the
carbon-saturated landscape of Venus, the cultural/architectural buckling
that occurs as  ³biological systems clash and meet with technological
landscapes at the urban edge. In an online interview, she refers to this as
an exploration of ³some sort of granularity of scale between the human body
and geologic form.²  Ultimately the photographs and video are the top layer
of skin, shed as a narrative form from this process. . ³Fault-seeking,
fault-finding, the performance drawings suggest field notes to a geophysical
and psychic space that can only be realized in brief.²

In a project that focuses more on memory and the archaeology of the ground
one stands on, Teri Rueb¹s ³Core Sample² creates a GPS-equipped,
headset-equipped  sound walk in which the walking body reads the landscape
of Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor, a former dump and reclaimed landfill
park visible just off the coast.  This project does not focus on issues of
body trauma, but on the wanderings of the walker as a kind of playback head
on the landscape, with the walker¹s coordinates, including elevation
relative to sea level, corresponding to exact points of narrative in the
geological, archaeological, industrial, the more current recreational layers
of the island¹s geological surface and including the
technologically-determined atmosphere above the island as well.   With each
step, the walker encounters geospatial tags and engages audio narrative of
the many layers of density of information: the geological record and
satellite communication, air traffic control of the nearby airport, the
archaeological record of native cultures on the island, the artifacts of the
increasing speed and violence of usage of the last 150 years, the current
recreational use of the island as a park.   Engaging the unselfconsciousness
of the walker as a kind of empty state, the walker moves over and through
the layers of human and nonhuman activity, engaging a four-dimensional map
of narrative of the landscape.

The body¹s movement through the gentle recreational location spools out its
embedded narratives, ³all sorts of production of unexpected and
unpredictable linkages².  The body¹s path reveals the location of the place
in space extending from the geological core to the orbital¹s of satellites,
its location in a historical continuum of production, consumption,
forgetting, cultural erasure.

> 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
> abjective.
> 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?
> What¹s a movement worth? £5 for a plié, one performer suggests in this piece.
> With arms  that¹s a tenner, add some emotion you double the fee. ³
> Heard you can do  some tricks², another man pesters a dancer. ³Do that thing
> with your leg. I can pay you,²
> 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.
> regards
> Johannes Birringer
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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