[-empyre-] technique

Branden Hookway brandenhookway at cornell.edu
Mon Oct 31 13:46:41 EST 2011

Thanks to all for these discussions. One of the things that interested me about the cockpit was that its evolution was tracked by a parallel evolution of psychological apparatus. Along these lines, I found Amos Hetz' post on choreographic notation systems compelling in that it tied the theme of deceleration to the sensory threshold (yet another interface), as expressed in the Weber-Fechner law. This would seem to relate the evolution of choreographic notation to the lineage of psychological apparatus designed to map thresholds between the liminal and subliminal. If both notation and threshold apparatus can by necessity only model what is human in a highly limited and specific way, they are yet methods of discovery, just as abstracting notational systems from the human body yields discovery when it is mapped back onto the human body. But what is that which is discovered? Sondra’s description of butoh as a technique of productively encountering pain, as opposed to hiding pain through analgesic or distraction, seems a significant application of technique. It would be interesting to consider what might constitute social as opposed to individual pain, and what kind of techniques might similarly describe a productive encounter.

Perhaps in honor of Kittler a third term could be added to notation and apparatus here: software. Coding in higher level programming languages posits a kind of human accessibility and control to a blur of computation otherwise beyond imaging or comprehension, even as Kittler argues in his provocative essay "There is no software" (1995), the view onto computation provided by software is to a very real extent illusory. And yet what other way is there aside from technique or apparatus to relate with the complexities of either the body and mind or of the computational?
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