[-empyre-] Virtual Embodiment / whose "our systems"

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Aug 1 04:08:10 EST 2014

Dear all,   

last day of July has come, and, thanks to Jacky, we are suddenly on to sports and a quite fascinating subject regarding the current era of
technological reproducibility of the aura of high performance, or as you argue

the extreme embodiment of  their sports discipline, though along side there is  a virtual body , data _video, statistics, motion capture data_ collected through all kinds of tracking technology. This virtual body is there to assist in elevating the athlete slightly above their physical 'limitations'.

This is interesting on many counts  --- thanks also to Sue for expanding on her work and the choreographic or performative "embodied presence of place" (Sue schreibt:  " the kinaesthetic patterns of the there-and-then reveal the presence of ghost gestures that haunt the here-and-now, wherever that may be". There are some cross-overs to Moments in Place....").  The feedback you quoted, Sue, is of course also fascinating as I was imagining myself, not having experienced this haptic-dance project, what it would be like to feel a dance but not see the dancer.

This is perhaps analogous to radio. And what it leaves to the imagination, Jacky.  You remembered (and made your 'Intimate Irrelevant Moments') about the 1974 final world cup game (Germany-Netherlands), which I remember having watched.  On the other hand, before our time, there was a final  (a few years after the war, and a defeated and humiliated germany was allowed to participate again), in 1954, in Switzerland, when Germany won 3:2 against Hungary and there was no television, only radio, and yet the final minutes of this game have had mythical proportions in German culture  and yet the action was only ever experienced aurally by the listeners to the radio broadcast,  the voice of the broadcast commentator, by the time I grew up, had become a collective reverberant, a series of vocal gestures perhaps indeed comparable to a "monument" in Kirk's sense of an intangible heritage, and something that could perhaps be re-constructed via archaeology.......

...and an "audio" archaeology  (of virtual embodiments of sound and music, as well as instruments) seems to be at the heart of a current exhibit at the Science Museum in London which I believe drew from the archives of the BBC and also featured a female inventor and sound artist probably not many have heard of -- Daphne Oram. The wall texts of the exhibit say that the museum " unveils lost gem of electronic music", the Oramics Machine, a unique synthesizer - invented in the1960s by Daphne Oram  who established the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The synthesizer machine (see: http://www.nervoussquirrel.com/oramics.html) is rather amazing as it seems to have been an early synthesiser that has audio parameters controlled and sequenced by drawing on strips of clear film (!). Oram drew Michaux-like sinuous curves, shapes, graphic signs, figures and gestures onto film strips. The film is wound across a horizontal bed, with the graphical elements interpreted by light sensors. 

The sound was early electronic sine waves, oscillations and noises etc (as rock musicians then also started to use them when the Moog Synthesizer became available); well now, Jacky, can you tell us more about your video and what you actually mean by vector video -- watching your "Impression of Bimhuis Dance & music improv Lab" (http://vimeo.com/99429183), your camera work looks like mine and I don;t know whaty vector video is. I also was not sure what (in that video) was the camera's observation point of view as it seemed straightforwardly focussed on the dancer and the dance gestures.

Sue's work on inhabiting places (then and there and here and now), or Kirk's experimental archaeology with digital means thus gains an interesting contradictory dimension:  if we cannot see the place or experience it with our own body,
but only through virtual means (and an other body becoming virtual, yes?), how  d o  we know or sense  (mentioning Harun Farocki,  whose critical images surely would interest Simon Taylor, reminds of what Brecht said about photography: namely that a photograph of the Krupp Steel Works does not tell us anything about the Krupp Steel Works), through "amplification"  or other definition (HD , 3D or other wise), what is the matter?

(radio, by the way, is back, and thus our work of imagination.  I read the other day that audio books are becoming more and more popular, folks like to listen to literature,  I find this rather wonderful, as I enjoy imagining places and characters).

Johannes Birringer

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