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

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Fri Oct 5 01:26:58 EST 2012

Hi Patrick,

This brings up a few things for me. I don't think emotions are true or 
false re: your last paragraph. Their meaning however relies on cultural 
context, particularly in relation to the Burden piece; cartoon violence is 
so basic to animation that I don't think I would have had much of a 
reaction to the shooting either if I hadn't known Burden's piece and 
Burden for that matter.

Your video I think is powerful because the music sutures it together; the 
symbolic and camera movements require interpretation which the music and 
its sadness take to another level altogether. It reminds me of Guy 
Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World.

I'm not sure about the clean division the article grants to various 
emotional plateaus or conglomerates (not sure what word to use here). 
Certainly anguish and lamentation both involve a degree of silence in the 
midst of the world, silence, that is, in relation to ordinary language; 
ululations, culturally determined to some extent, seem to have a kernel of 

- Alan, fuzzy this morning, another sleepless night

On Thu, 4 Oct 2012, Lichty, Patrick wrote:

> 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": http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0512/03-shouse.php 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 derivat 
> ive. I find the whole lot deeply problematic, and why it interests me 
> greatly. Submitted for your consideration: Dido's Lament: 
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN1LG7YVPzY 
> _______________________________________________ empyre forum 
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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