[-empyre-] On Pain and affect in the Virtual.

Lichty, Patrick plichty at colum.edu
Fri Oct 5 00:26:58 EST 2012

I like the conversation that is going on so far, but where I'd like to reengage a key topic is that of hte virtual in regards to these concepts of embodiment (pain, suffering, affect seem to be of the body, and the mind as embodied consciousness). 

This has to do with why I engage in virtual performance at all.  When I talked to Eva and Franco Mattes about their upcoming "Synthetic Performances" in 2006, around the time Jeremy Turner wanted me to be part of the founding group of Second Front, I had already done a lot of performance art, primarily with existing NYC FLUXUS members and Guillermo Gomez-Pena.  I thought the idea was absurd, as I used to joke about SL-sex as "retinal", and my conceptions of performance were about its roots as a reaction against the dematerialization of the bject from Minimalism and Conceptualism in the 60's, using the body of the last bastion of immediacy. 

50 performances later, after laughter and anger and ejections from servers, I have found a Massumian relation to virtual embodiment. As Eric Shouse talks about three levels of engagement "Feeling, Emotion Affect":
As I understand Massumi and Shouse, affect relates to precognitive reactions at the most basic level from which come the other effects.  The one thin I have come to believe, at least in my consciousness, is that when you remove the body, what remains is affect, which then produces the other effects, not through immediacy, but through associations such as empathy, sympathy, projection, and mirroring.  When Scott Kildall reenacted Burden's "Shoot" in Second Life, I could only flinch to see the "cartoon" (Abramovic) gunshot and associate it with Burden.  I had a gut reaction, could imagine the cartoon pain, but had I not known the original Burden piece, I would not have imagined the immediate, embodied pain.

This is why I find Alan, Sandy, and Azure's work so overwhelming at times.  They are a tornado of affects that evoke associative responses to the semiotic eroticism, suffering, anger, pain.  Sometimes I can't even watch it, btu then that is the case with some people with my work.  This is also more testimony to the idea of affective relation to the virtual.

In regards to pain and suffering, I submit a performance I did solo for the Odyssey Performance Festival in 2010.  It was called Dido's Lament, and I was clad in many signifiers of anguish and torment.  I was Cicciolina, who went through a hellish divorce with Jeff Koons, clad in a tunic with the crimson gash of Prometheus, impaled by the arrows of St. Sebastian.  At the time, I was in great anguish from a break with a lover, and I proceeded to pour signifiers on the bed (after the myth of Dido) like symbols of love, family, and belonging, to which I set the lot on fire, impaled Cicciolina on the bed, and launched nuclear weapons onto the bed.  My Facebook responses to the piece were very emotional, which I merely state as success of the piece.  But as I write this, I wonder about whether emotion is true in the virtual, if perhaps from mirroring/empathy/association, or whether I remain in the position of the virtual being purely affective, and subsequent effects being derivative. I find the whole lot deeply problematic, and why it interests me greatly.
Submitted for your consideration:
Dido's Lament:

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