[-empyre-] into what midst? which collective? whose imaginary space?

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Sat Apr 13 00:21:32 EST 2013

dear all

the responses received here in the discussion were of considerable interest, thank you all, and i hope  that it was not deemed inappropriate by the moderators or invited guests this week that I threw out
small questions early on; I gathered from Erin's reply that one should have waited perhaps, as more participants from SenseLab and SenseLab's "collaborating formations" (Nathaniel) were going to post here to elaborate on "Into the Midst" and, as Erin mentions, have a  "conversation on how a collective process can set the conditions for an emergent proposition, which, in this case, was the question of working in an architecturally, economically and digitally circumscribed environment..."

Already I think one can perceive some interesting propositions, also reflections on what the circumscriptions might have been in that dome, though not the Parc  (from those of you who are part of SenseLab or partook in the actual events or activities or, as Charlotte argues, the "processual art practice."  Charlotte speaks of something radically empirical, which I would like to learn more about (the radical of the empirical), and "thisness" of experience perhaps also requires more discussion I think. All experience can be said to be here and there, this or that, no? and if it is understood to be about the not-form of experience, then I would love to hear you speak about your choreography of experience (your forms) in your processual (art) practice.

I also wish to begin looking at Toni's response, as I quite agree with, and already implied, the question..."which notions of collective are there and are in use?"  This concerns the collaborating formations of a Lab group (understood as collective?) and their disseminating strategies (of processes or material objects, or knowledge or training and so on) or, to use perhaps the dome mediators' language, their hardware/software solutions, programming and content (for going into or out of the dome immersion spectacles and projection environments, to pick up what Toni and Brian describe of the technical and ideological circumscription in the dome).

It's the ideological or political that interests me most, thus I wish to raise more questions about the social field in the midst of which or out of the midst of which your group operated, for which, Toni then wonders, a notion of a collective may not be required; you also say that the dome is not that different from a gallery in terms of a media ecology, and that seems obvious I guess. So the exploding bit of the art gallery, that was my earlier question, and now I want to ask you to address the political unconscious of what you set up, presumably, as a "philosophical process."  Toni mentions that folding the surroundings into the art gallery did not work, as passers-by and park dwelllers may not have seen a need for such folding or a necessity for it.

But at least this is what I gathered to be an underlying assumption from Brian Massumi's writing here on the philosophical process of finding techniques for "stimulated space."   I believe this lovely term may have been the result of a typo (you meant simulated space?), but i think the situationist project outside, in the park and in the dark, is apparently directed at sensory communication and stimulation – you mentioned a different proprioception, kinetic sense... --, but what is being communicated, activated, and stimulated for those who may have no stake in the dome, in art, in choreographic objects?

Here I would like to draw a link (if it were not too time-consuming now to even begin to describe and set the stage for a slightly different or comparative context) to some discussions I recently learnt about taking place in Zagreb (Croatia)  amongst some theatre and media practitioners there, especially the dramaturgs of BADco.[http://badco.hr/] and the writers for the journal Frakcija's issue on "Artistic Labor in the Age of Austerity"  (no 60/61, zima 2011/12) - what impressed me when I met them was their uncompromising effort to step back from the gallery (or the theatre) not to explode it but to reflect on the privileged position that might be implied in thinking philosophically or imagining futile experimental gestures, as I have called them elsewhere, on (art) labor and precarity under the current circumstances of economic and financial, political, crisis.  I am also aware that in my own work, which is to some extent focussed on "thisness" of form and materials and how they may relate to anything in close proximity to their instrumentations, to use your terminology, the process is not politicized enough as members of our team perhaps have not yet been eradicated or coopted enough or shown up to be affirmative, to worry and investigate what Marko Kostanic calls the "choreographic unconscious," and what Goran Sergej Pristas and Ana Vujanovic address in the Frakcija' issue, when they directly confront questions about any possibility of, I quote, " politicality of the working methods in art in the context of general politicization of production and economization of politics in neoliberal capitalist society" (p. 124) [much of the writing, and debate in some parts of Europe of course are indebted to Lazzarato and Vierno and their writings on immaterial labor and the public good (sphere), on their comments on performance which have not often yet been reflected in the performing arts community]

I wonder whether over the weeks to come it would be welcomed by all of you here to draw out some of the questions about labor, methods of practice, and the instrumentals, and instrumentalizations involved, whether in SenseLab's activities or other site practices, from a dance or an online platform, a struggling non profit arts organization or failed start up company, from bankrupt states to Occupy or various innumerable breakdowns of civil rights/public spheres .....(central London I understand will be cordoned off next Wednesday for Mrs Thatcher's funeral as protests are expected to erupt and the police in our midst will pre-arrest troubleperformers).

I am skeptical of an idealistically conceived notion of collective, in the present era of fragmentation (my own failing memory is from the 60s and 70s, not 1917), and the question of labor looms large i think, especially if our working conditions are not privileged (most labs, I think, are highly privileged spaces in this sense, and they often also include instruments that allow the fabrication of simulated space. But who is this space for? in relation to what?).

Johannes Birringer

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