[-empyre-] Enter the Dragon

Michele Danjoux mdanjoux at dmu.ac.uk
Thu Oct 13 09:21:33 EST 2011

To continue a martial arts theme (thank you Olu), since it is a movement system I know and have studied, I give you a little Bruce Lee:
('Enter the Dragon', as you know was his final film before his death in 1973.


Attain Stillness while moving, like thy moon beneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking>> Bruce Lee

In the context of the martial art Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee promoted speed and agility but he also advocated a certain slowing down, an altering of rhythm, strategies of counter-time, and for the fighter these were often cunning means of concealing one’s real intentions. In fact, what was important in his teachings was knowing when to be fast and when to be slow in a form of “body feel.”

I have not selected this quote to suggest that we should employ the skill of slowing down to enable us to conceal or delay our true intentions but rather to consider how such training systems can offer greater focus to what we feel inside our physical and mental selves and enjoy a certain alertness and fine tuning and awareness of how to move (rather than just moving). Like Olu, I find these philosophical movement systems totally applicable to our movements in every day life. Gordana also acknowledges in her post the impact of movement workshops to the flow of her internal energies and ideas. We can learn much from studying these various forms in order to make our movements truer to ourselves, purer and derived from within us (not driven furiously and haphazardly for instance by hierarchically controlled rhythms as mentioned by Michael Weiss in his post 9/10/11 or other external pressures - student demands in the case of Nilufer 11/10/11). We are it seems mostly under constant pressure (perhaps some self imposed) and in some respects need to acquire certain tools to enable us to resist or at least judge more wisely our chosen velocities.

Gordana’s text on the interconnections between art and science was so thought provoking, drawing us closer to understanding better (the states of) our bodies as core to our experiences and perceptions, noting that (in the context of installation art) the receptivity of the participant (and therefore the impact of the art) is dependent on the physical and mental state of the participant at any given time. Gordana notes levels of hydration for one and of course we all know the importance of water to our bodies, it is our most important nutrient and forms 70-75% of our mass, we cannot ignore the forces of nature. Eastern philosophies teach us of oneness (and not duality with nature)-  the Bruce Lee quote also takes us to water and to nature (always moving),  the Hokusai images employed by Ohno Yoshito in his workshops present the great waves and tiny tossed boats - drawing us to the small size of ourselves in this great cosmos where the rules of physics are forever challenged and changing.

Best Wishes

-----Original Message-----
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Olu.Taiwo
Sent: Wed 10/12/2011 2:58 PM
To: nilufer ovalioglu; soft_skinned_space
Cc: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Yan: empyre Digest, Vol 83, Issue 9

Cultural Deceleration!

First I must thank Johannes for inviting me to this conversation which I am finding fascinating and I apologise for my slow entry I have been giving workshops abroad and catching up on academic and family duties; however, I have been carefully considering what to say as a contribution to the subject of deceleration from personal experience. My first thought was to consider my personal struggle maintaining the different practices of meditation that I am engaged with in modern life; contextualised by my cultural life in England as a husband, father, artist and academic. In other words, the real flux of my life's discourse; not the performance of representation, but the performance of my existence. I pause here to consider my Uncle Afolabi Odofin, who studied architecture in Hungary when I was 10 and came to visit us in London every year while he was studying there. Once he said to me, 'Sometimes I watch the day go by and sometime I just sit'. At the time I didn't understand the difference. I just dismissed this comment as my uncle trying to trick me. It wasn't until I was 17 when I discovered meditation as part of the martial practice of Wu Shu Kuan that I began to comprehend the difference between 'observing' and 'being'. This was my first experience of the paradox of a 'dilation of duration'. The paradox is this, as soon as I stopped watching the day go by while sitting and started experiencing the nature of sitting, I encountered an experience of my embodied psyche slowing right down. Whilst this was happening I simultaneously experiencing duration speeding up. I am careful not to say 'time' here, as time is concept of measuring duration that the practice of advanced meditation disrupts. I was excited. This transcended state is what we were training for, in the pursuit of developing chi in Martial arts. It wasn't until I was 22 when I started T'ai Chi Ch'uan with Paul Zabwodski that I start to understand the deeper significance of meditation. Here is a martial form that uses attentive slow embodied movement with a reflective practice as a way to understand meditation within the flux of motion. After 24 year of practice, the combination of mindful action and postural efficiency through the application of technique, has had a material effect on my neurological projected physical journal (my embodied memory and knowledge). This physical journal has informed the formation of my muscular-skeletal development. It was this part of my trans-cultural practice coupled with the transforming effects of body popping in street dance on my identity, that drew my attention to Laban analysis, contemporary dance and Butoh as a way to personally explore and articulate expressive movement.

When I meditate, I decelerate by temporarly detatching from the wind resistence of worldly priorities. How this is done as a 'collective', is a more challenging enterprise. When we examine what is meant by deceleration we find it means either to decrease an object's rate of velocity or to reduce the speed regarding the rate of advancement of an activity. We use the word acceleration to describe an increase in speed, the increased scale of velocity. The use of the word deceleration is used to describe the reverse, a decrease in speed. Physically however, the specificity of both terms also refers to a change in the direction of velocity as an acceleration: that is its rotational motion. In other words the change in the direction of velocity results in a centripetal acceleration force toward the centre while the rate of change in speed is described as a tangential acceleration. There are cultural paralells like the centripetal force towards dominant cultural patterns of behaviour balanced with the tangential force of the artistic and cultural engineers that seeks to brake free of the centripetal pull. Both forces maintains the stable gyroscopic motion and momentum of contemporary culture.

Consequently, having reflected on the discussion thus far, I am struck by our mind's resistance to change as a result of this rotational motion; how we are drawn towards dominance patterns of thinking. Cognitive activity seeks to distinguish and describe the problems of perceiving what is required when real cultural deceleration in a material sense is seriously entertained. Action however, requires a whole other faculty! Personally working reflectively and more importantly reflexively to decelerate my actions and the actions of others through teaching workshops for the purpose of eudiamonia is one thing, but to do this as a cultural and trans-cultural collective practice is the challenge that I am particularly interested. I feel strongly that 'practice' and 'meditation' are important ingrediences. I would like to offer and propose the idea of dreaming a construction of new trans-national and trans-cultural space/ building/zone/institute (what ever shape this might take) for 'intercultural meditation' to facilitate the pegagogy of Cultural deceleration.

From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of nilufer ovalioglu [niluferovalioglu at yahoo.com]
Sent: 11 October 2011 15:30
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: [-empyre-] Yan: empyre Digest, Vol 83, Issue 9

Here's my second series of thoughts..Hello everyone, very ,nspiring to talk...
2. I encounter!
For the last two weeks I've been resisting telling the situation in which I try to center, read, understand and respond to posts here at Soft Skinned. Yet, I find myself in this intense and heavy liquid filled pool where aspects of abnormal everyday life dive in frequently and destroy my focus in each sentence. Talking about e-motion frequency deceleration! I write these words in a place where I stop in the middle of each sentence I am writing to assist someone else.
Here, where I am physically is a universe where art is mocked and perceived as 'unnecessary.'  Art is only of necessity to the look of the university because it's a prestige point to have a Fine Arts Department.
There are voices everywhere. I sit in an open office system in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Students, our customers, are allowed to come in as they wish (since there is no door), ask any question that they may like (whether it's related to my position as a lecturer, artist or not) and if I tell them that it is not my job to assist them, they look at me with a peculiar expression saying 'Off course it's your job: I pay this university for you to be available for me anytime on any field'. Other colleagues' voices are like TV's left on for hours without a volume button to turn them down.
Inside my pool of thought I fight to understand and comment on deceleration. What an irony.
I'm beginning to think that this is initially what we do. We/the creators fight the chaotic structure of life to find the simple, pure moment of coming alive. A breath. I've traveled a journey from sculpture to digital performance to physical theatre just to find ways of stopping time Being in love with form, with giving form is a meticulous state. . I have been in love with marble (a marble carver myself).You feel in love with the still moment in a way. The marble sculpture of the back of human body.an anatomical miracle of structure and cover/form.
'Why we need art' has been an ever so questioned but never countered problematic but this love for form?.... In my first encounter with Butoh dance, the production of ''Kagemi -- Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors"   by Sankai Juku at Brooklyn Academy of Music, I finally found the bridge (or the rainbow) between sculpture, the still esthetic and performance, the movement of the esthetic. This stimulating experience opened the doors to my experiments with 'moving the still'. Why move? Why should any form move? I look and listen to the form the back of a human being . The anatomy's stillness arouse mind's need to see/feel movement.Coming alive.animate.
The sculpture mocks a body that is alive but lifeless. Perhaps then, a choreography of deceleration is the prolonged moment when the anatomy/sculpture comes back to life.

Kimden: "empyre-request at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au" <empyre-request at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Kime: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Gönderildigi Tarih: 11 Ekim 2011 4:00 Sali
Konu: empyre Digest, Vol 83, Issue 9

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Today's Topics:

  1. soft_skinned_space (Jack Butler)
  2. open-ended (Fabrizio Manco)
  3. Re: : "(E)MOTION FREQUENCY deceleration" / second week,
      introducing our guests (Johannes Birringer)
  4. Re: : "(E)MOTION FREQUENCY deceleration" / second week,
      introducing our guests (Johannes Birringer)
  5. The second phase (David Hughes 19)
  6. speed addiction, interactive technologies,    some notes on
      science (Gordana Novakovic)


Message: 1
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 14:19:31 -0400
From: "Jack Butler" <fatemaps at interlog.com<mailto:fatemaps at interlog.com>>
To: "soft_skinned_space" <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
Subject: [-empyre-] soft_skinned_space
Message-ID: <000301cc86af$fe37f2a0$faa7d7e0$@interlog.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Dear Soft Skinned Ones

As a visual artist (I draw), I think I would like to enter this soft skin
space tentatively, just putting my toes into, what I understand to date to
be, a turbulent, enticing, pool of philosophies-of-choreography, or

I've been reading the soft skin entries late in the evening and then, at
first light in the morning ,walking fast but thinking slow, slower, slowest,
on the West Toronto Railpath, witnessed only by the huge stands of goldenrod
and purple vetch, I let the ideas from last night's blog tumble about in my
imagination. And out of this fast-walking-slow-thinking meditation four
ideas, or tropes have begun to take shape: Fatemaps; Somatechnics;
Technologies-of-the-hand; and the Inuit concept, Sananguargarq. Embedded at
the core of each is the problematic of time.

Fatemap is a concept from embryology, central to current understanding of
epigenetic development. In its narrowest application, a fatemap is literally
the spatial mapping over time of the position of a 'mother' cell from the
earliest blastocyst  ( a berry like disc of as few as a thousand cells) and
her daughter cells as they move into their final position in the mature

In my work as an artist who uses the means and methods of visual art to
produce medical research, on one hand, and research based installation art
on the other, I have broadened my applications of the concept  - fatemap,
pragmatically and poetically, to give concrete form to development over time
in the construction of amenable objects; models, drawings, animations,
installations and performances.

Somatechnics: the body always and already technologised. Technology always
and already embodied.

Technologies of the hand: I am more interested in the continuities between
embodied technologies and the digital/electronic, than in their rupture.
Having lived and worked with Inuit artists in Northern Canada over many
years, a people whose traditional culture was made entirely by hand, I find
that the integration of time (the time it takes to make ., the time together
., the time to play ., time to make mistakes .), answers a deep need for me
when I find the courage to take the time to live in Inuit time.

Sananguargarq: the translation in Inuktitut of what we non-Inuit call 'Art'.
But, what I have come to realize, after many years engagement with Inuit
artists from the community of Qamanittuaq, would, to my thinking, be more
accurately translated - 'making little models of how the world works'. The
category, Sananguargarq, includes dolls heads, maps, painting on kayaks,
scrimshaw, scratched or smeared marks-made-with-intention of almost any
kind. Surely a postmodern category, and the basis, now, for how I think
about my own working process.

To be continued.I hope.

Jack Butler

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Message: 2
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 12:28:43 +0100 (BST)
From: Fabrizio Manco <terragumo at yahoo.co.uk<mailto:terragumo at yahoo.co.uk>>
To: "empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>" <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
Subject: [-empyre-] open-ended
    <1318246123.77057.YahooMailNeo at web29610.mail.ird.yahoo.com<mailto:1318246123.77057.YahooMailNeo at web29610.mail.ird.yahoo.com>>
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Dear forum,
At this moment I can?t help but being quite open-ended. How can I make sense? Hopefully, this opens me up?

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