[-empyre-] all call / an archival event

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Jun 21 10:07:37 EST 2013

dear all

>An Archival Event: Who is –empyre?>
what a good question, and thanks to Renate, Tim, Simon and Patrick for raising it; also Melinda Rackham's
look back to the origins of this list made me think about how such a discussion forum or workshop with curated
themes builds itself up and grows or sustains itself over the years. 2002 - 2013 seems a long time, and when I compare
empyre with other lists, I must say I always enjoyed the wide ranging, fascinating and passionate debates here, especially
when they are subject oriented and thus not informational or promotional. The relationship of the active participants (which
in a given month can range from a very small subject-matter group to larger, 40 or 50 debaters?) to lurkers was never quite
clear to me (if indeed the subscribers number around 1600) , but Renate, Melinda and Christina McPhee addressed it, I believe, with Melinda suggesting that
The rest of –empyre-  are silently lurking… which is an interesting form of participation. Recently I overheard someone on the list who had never posted, discussing a list topic in an offline context, and I realised that a mailing list’s influence is far beyond what happens publicly online, it reverberates - becomes interactive in the wider community. People contribute by reading, nothing is passive..
and I'd love to hear more comments on this and the role an empyre "archive" could play, has played or has not played, how do we ascertain this?
We're asked this month to introduce ourselves as part of a living archive, which is a fabulous and odd idea (as we are not debating but promoting, or narrating our lives?). 

It's also perhaps as good a moment as any to offer an apology to all, for having sometimes probably come across as unnecessarily involving myself with questions
or interruptions, or with interrogations that may at times have reflected impatience or unwarranted irony when I sensed that a circle of debate was shrinking rather than opening out.
I am sorry for that.  Encouraging is Simon Biggs's point that the days of such a listserv may not be numbered ('What's interesting is that lists like empyre, Netbehaviour and others 
not only survive but remain vibrant communities. Five years ago I thought the listserv was destined to become an historical medium..."). I joined empyre in late 2005, having been
introduced to it by Christina McPhee, and I thank her for it: over the years this community, in all its crazy/unpredictable diversity, has been inspirational. 
So thanks to all, and I enjoy reading about your work. (thx Gita Hashemi  for your 'poetic/political' introductions....).

Johannes Birringer


Johannes Birringer is a choreographer and artistic director of AlienNation Co (www.aliennationcompany.com), an independent arts ensemble based in Houston, Texas. He is also co-founder of a telematic performance collective (ADaPT) and has explored telepresence in performances with partners in different places in the early part of the 2000s, at a time when he was teaching at Ohio State in the dance department, developing a new MFA in dance & technology; already since the mid-90s he had involved himself actively in the international dance and technology movement and taught workshops on the integration of dance and new media.  He has directed numerous multimedia theatre, dance, and digital performances in Europe, the Americas, Japan, and China; collaborated on site-specific installations, and exhibited work at film and video festivals. He now resides in Houston and London.
He's author of Theatre, Theory, Postmodernism (1989), Media and Performance (1998), Performance on the Edge (2000), Performance, Technology and Science (2008) and co-edited two books on dance research (regarding neuroscience, and choreomania). In 2003 he founded the Interaktionslabor (http://interaktionslabor.de) - an interactive media lab in a former coal mine in southwest Germany which has met every summer since 2003 (more below). Since 2004 Johannes has been developing a research group in England with Michèle Danjoux, co-directing the Design-and-Performance Lab ( DAP-Lab) at Brunel University where he teaches Performance Technologies & heads the Center for Contemporary and Digital Performance. The DAP-Lab is an ensemble of artists and researchers (http://www.brunel.ac.uk/dap), and the lab also has a performing company that operates either as the LAB or as a label, dans sans joux, for performances, exhibitions and new collections (http://www.danssansjoux.org).

Over the past 15 years, the work has moved a bit away from the stage and into laboratories, but it keeps coming back to performance venues and exhibitions (such as the noisy KINETICA art fair recently), but an important dimension of the practice is the workshop, and continuous collaboration with others exploring cultural and generational differences. The formation of the Interaktionslabor (as an autonomous site) in 2003 was an experiment that I am particularly interested in, as the DAP-Lab, which began shortly thereafter, is affiliated with a university context and tries to sustain its own form of autonomy amongst rising research pressures and constraints, as well as a corporatized political/economic environment, that affect collaboration. The Interaktionslabor has been housed in a disused coal mine in the Saarland region, and an agency was set up (now defunct) commissioning projects for regional infrastructure development and the struggle against unemployment and precarity. For some reason, our lab was presumed to create jobs or innovations that could be marketed or become impactful, and with a small group of volunteers I have tried to reshape our research experimentations to be able to keep explaining why we exist and whether artistic work has to have impact and what kind. Some years ago it seemed inevitable that digital culture and new media arts would be based on interactivity and the paradigm changes implied by participatory play/ creativity and networking. The promise of a new aesthetics of interaction made me think that technically derived interface performances could adopt the digital into social processes that also taught us new techniques of behavior, new “acting” techniques. So over the past few years, the peripheral lab in the border Saarland has been trying to publish a manifesto on “interaction” (http://interaktionslabor.de/manifesto.htm), it remains incompleted.  As we tried, we also became more disillusioned. 
This summer, we want to finish off the manifesto,  examine why interactivity (the technical kind) is not working so much for us. And why the growth of virtual reality, gaming environments and second lives does not answer any social questions about how to care to act, how to give and how to receive. Meanwhile, the DAP-Lab, having devoted itself to conducting research into sensor choreography, wearable computing/wearables/garments and soft technologies, has entered its retro-futurist phase and looks backwards at all kinds of analog stuff, at nature, birds, zaum, radio transmissions, sound ecologies, sustainable energy.  DAP's new production "for the time being" (Victory over the Sun) is inspired by the 1913 futurist opera and russian constructivism; it was first performed in London in 2012, and an expanded version will appear in the winter of 2013-14 (http:youtu.be/WeAIYCnsDe4).

Johannes Birringer

Contact: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/dap


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