[-empyre-] stepping out of the frame

Scott Mcquire mcquire at unimelb.edu.au
Fri Jul 20 10:37:10 EST 2012

Hi Johannes, Andreas, Sean and all

Yes, play, like participation, is a term that is much used in the present,
probably too much.  And of course the conditions of play have been
significantly transformed by its pervasive commodification in the digital

But I'm not sure I want to surrender the term.

Johannes asks:  Why is there so much credit given to "playful" immersion?
why is the sensory valued over the cognitive and pro-active political
organization of behavior and decision making, interpretation, withdrawals,
denials or choosing?

For me, both modalities are important and necessary in any transformative
project.  One of the problems with traditional 'left' approaches to public
space/public sphere was the tendency to ignore the affective and privilege
the cognitive/rational (Habermas, etc).  I was thinking more in Sennett's
sense, where play involves the collective testing and renegotiation of
social rules, both formal and informal, in the course of public encounters.

I think we ignore the affective, sensory dimension of play -- which is the
aesthetic ‹ to our own loss.

Best, scott

On 20/07/12 1:08 AM, "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>

> Dear all:
> Salvatore's response was beautiful, inspired, and moved me with both its
> enthusiasm and idealism.  I wish to reflect on it a bit more before [even]
> attempting a response.
> But i'd like to pick up from Scott's and Andreas's reply, also debating what i
> think are the intrinsic weaknesses of (Jeff Shaw on)  "expanded cinema."   I
> link my comments on expanded cinema to the false claims and impressions
> marketed under the labels of 'interactivity' and such inanities as "Twitter
> revolutions". 
> from Shaw:
>>> That was a very large-scale piece with a very large inflatable structure
>>> where the whole audience, or a large number of people in the audience, threw
>>> off their clothes and just jumped in spontaneously ­ or not so much
>>> spontaneously, they were led by Jean-Jacques Lebel. He took off his clothes
>>> because he understood that this was the right thing to do, because you were
>>> throwing yourself into the projection screen, into the images that were
>>> projected onto that screen, and basically you were then body-painting
>>> yourself with all this cinematic imagery and disturbing, changing the
>>> curvature and shaping of the screen, so it was really throwing yourself into
>>> the screen and joining, immersing yourself in the cinematic space.
> Scott Mcquire schreibt:
> ...<<spectacle and surveillance...... that this context makes it even more
> important to recognise and try to develop alternative modalities. I¹ve also
> recently been re-reading Lefebvre, specifically his Le Droit de Ville essay,
> where he emphasises the importance for inhabitants to be able to Œappropriate¹
> the time and space of the urban. In relation to screens, this kind of
> appropriation can occur at a variety of levels, but one of the most
> fundamental moves is demanding that screens situated in public locations are
> able to be accessed by different publics, to  support diverse, collective
> inputs (as in the atlante-dell-visioni/atlas-of-the-visions project that
> Salvatore mentions). In our work, we¹ve found that there is often an unspoken
> barrier to public interaction with large screens ‹ precisely because people
> are so innured to the one-way display mode of advertising and broadcasting.
> Andreas Maria Jacobs schreibt:
>>> Interface functions as an intermediate of something 'happening'
>>> simultaneously in real mind-space or in real body-space, where the mind/body
>>> dichotomie is that field of interaction wich is 'touched' by the agency of
>>> acting upon it, i.e. it's teleologics
> Real space is 'still' conditional for the functioning of our sensory apparatus
> and as such imperative to out 'worldy' understanding
> Mapping the (invisible) information layer to a visual or sensory field of
> experience
> My thoughts, briefly, are:
> Yes, The Living Theatre and "Paradise Now" (in 1969) happened, and happenings
> happened. Folks took their clothes off and jumped in (or were "led" into the
> fray). 
> Expanded cinema expanded cinema and de-framed and dissolved. Inflatables
> inflated, and i remember trying it also, for visual/aesthetic effect, and it
> was beautiful at times.
> In the 1990s, amongst performance practitioners (and theorists), we thought,
> Artaud is dead, long live Artaud, It seems that Artaud's poetics of space, and
> the incantations, playful affective athleticisms, and sonorous streaming
> resonances were beginning to be celebrated and validated in the new age of
> immersivity (and so-called interactivity).
> Brecht was forgotten, and though his plays are still performed, his
> participatory, political testing arrangements (Lehrstücke or learning plays)
> are entirely forgotten and may also be considered an artistic failure, failing
> to produce the (later: Boalian) social transformations or pedagogies that
> workers in the audiences could apply to "appropriate" decision making, not to
> speak now of urban space.  What are "public interactions?   Rafael?
> Why is there so much credit given to "playful" immersion?  why is the sensory
> valued over the cognitive and pro-active political organization of behavior
> and decision making, interpretation, withdrawals, denials or choosing?
> Why is it considered "passive" to be amongst an audience that observes and
> witnesses?   I have not fully read Rancière, but tend to think he is arguing
> on behalf of the discerning "emancipated spectator" that Brecht had in mind.
> So much theorizing on agency, isn't there.   But what does it mean for the
> users? to have agency, to download?    Alternative modalities seemed inscribed
> into the myth of interactivity, it seems to me, but what is this intermediate,
> in terms of the screens pushing you?
> respectfully
> Johannes Birringer
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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