Unbecoming Ego: The Choreography of Immanent Space
II. Personal Space
a. Immanence vs Transcendence
i. ‘Heat Ball’: from a position of stillness, locate a tiny perceptive point in the body, determine its pathway through space, and go
ii. ‘Thrusting from Vague Points of Leadership’: Propel the body faster than your ability to identify its point of origin
b. Dualities: She comes up to you and whispers in your ear
i. Ride the line of active and passive, like a tensile string between two halves
ii. Up to go Down, Down to go up. Compression from above, Motivation from Below
II. Collective Space
a. Academic Atmosphere: Follow the indirect pathway of light through an infinitely dense forest
b. Reference the Image Bank, Build a Lexicon: Femininity and shame: slips and iconic poses (when you notice an iconic position or movement, stop and let it register as something absorbed)
c. An Embodied Network: ‘Creaturing’: Project an expanded creature self onto another person, who is also doing the same thing
III. Virtual Space
a. Technology as Capture
IV. Conclusion and Future Research: Dissemination as Documentation as Archive as Pedagogy, participation in the movement of words, Dissemination: Use an online venue as a space for live performance - hijacking as a proactive strategy, PARTICIPATION/Observation binary, social space
“The human maker is not the only one doing the thinking in the creation of performance; rather, Deleuze’s definition of thought as creation allows us to suggest that everything thinks – including the nonhuman aspects of performance – because every ‘thing’ is immanent to the creativity of life, an expression of how life thinks itself in and as the creation of different ‘things’. (L.O. Maoilearca, 4)
I am moving from the body I think I have right here. I am writing from the body I think I have right now. I have only checked Facebook three times since I started writing. I am simultaneously on and off the space of this word document. If dancing is an intentional transition between points, then I am dancing in this moment. Distraction, failure, and improvisation are interconnected.
This text is a performance. It is an attempt to choreograph immanently, whereby ‘writing technologies’ as described by Katie King are used as an extension of my choreographic practice to move knowledge between seemingly disparate pools, and to allow the moving body to produce connections, or provisional scaffolding, through a reconsideration of context. The space of research becomes a territory for dancing.
The live-ness of this text is linked to my practice by way of identifying the present moment, getting as close as possible to a language that is produced by movement, and bringing consciousness to the inner world of the dance. It is an attempt to give voice to the vanishing horizon of gestures that are of the movements themselves, and not a description about them, or their characteristics.
What is apparent in this practice is the affect of space, and how it shapes the content that emerges. There is a two-way flow of affect between the body and the space it is inhabiting, signifying a porousness of the body, and space as a conduit for the transmission of affect. The link between dancing and space is intrinsic. Alain Badiou describes “The obligation of space” (63) in his essay ‘Dance as a Metaphor for Thought’.
There are three ways I am working with space: Personal (in relation to witnessing the ego, and disproving the singularity of the subject through its expansion, and the production of an alter ego), Collective (the ego in relation to Other, and disproving dualities by way of implementing them), and Virtual (the ego as expanded embodiment of technology, and online space). They all share in common the principle of immanent, self-producing, difference, in line with Giles Deleuze’s philosophy of univocity, whereby what characterizes being, and what is immanent and equivalent in all things, are their continual and autonomous differentiation. What everything shares is its immanent force for continual difference. In this definition, affect becomes a powerful material energy that flows between perpetually changing things Each change, each positive step forward, produces what Brain Massumi calls a “margin of maneuverability” (3) in terms of potential outcomes. The greater the degree of potential outcomes or maneuvrability, the greater the intensity of the ‘affected’ moment. The power within change is therefore not morally judged, but measured in its intensity, or capacity to affect and be affected. How porous can the body be? How sharply can I listen?
“Space consciousness means that in addition to being conscious of things – which always comes down to sense perceptions, thoughts, and emotions – there is an undercurrent of awareness. Awareness implies that you are not only conscious of things (objects), but you are also conscious of being conscious.” (Tolle 228)
What affects the organization of being, and what can choreography do? What affects the present moment of attention, and what can dance do? I will discuss the intersections of space, dance, attention, and language as they point towards a vanishing horizon of the present moment. I will attempt to prove that the organization of being is in the organization of space, and that refined attention to movement can counter the illusion of a contained self.
The following headings, and the body of this text, outline the choreographic directives that emerged through my practice. They reference choreographic directives that emerged through movement improvisation and meditation made immanently by A. Spaziani, and appropriated by her alter-ego: Schpando. All of the directives have been italicized, and the concurrent, idiosyncratic writing that forms the body of this paper was generated through movement improvisation and working with each directive.
I will also reference the work of Jeanine Durning, Yvonne Rainer/ The Grand Union, Maria Jerez, Merce Cunningham with OpenEndedGroup, John Cage, Jonathan Burrows, Barbara Dilly, Nancy Stark Smith, Meg Stuart, and Ame Henderson.
So, network is an expression to check how much energy, movement and specificity our own reports are able to capture. Network is a concept, not a thing out there. It is a tool to help describe something, not what is being described…a network is not what is represented in the text, but what readies the text to take the relay of actors as mediators. (B. Latour, ed. L.B Larson, 70-71)
II. Personal Space
Construct a frame in your peripheral vision. Enter into it
‘… on stage I am not so much interested in the total performer as in the “total person”, including their hidden self. How does the person rub up against the performer? How does their personality leak out? I have always kept Pina Bausch’s statement in mind that she “is not interested in how people move but what moves them.”’ (Meg Stuart, 29)
What is it to exist peripherally? Beyond the space of an enclosed singularity lies a proliferation of affective information: there is glitter in the corners of my eyes.
Becoming more peripheral has a purpose. To soften the focus away from a single point, or soften attention to something wider, can multiply detail, enhance rhythm, and stretch the perception of vision. To hold less firmly to one’s vision, and open it to the possibility of change, aliveness, precariousness, and adaptation. This morphing of vision creates a space for change, for a morphing of self. If Deleuze and Guittari discuss a concept as preceded by a percept, how can the expansion of perception produce a new territory for knowledge? ‘What can a body do?’ Spinoza trumpets in my ear.
This is my body, but in some ways its porousness makes it ours. It has absorbed an ocean of peripheral information. We will look harder at what’s there by softening the gaze. We expand to see more, simultaneous waves at one time. We design a portal: an image constructed of something unfamiliar in timing and rhythm, an all-at-once-ness, and we enter into it. We enter into the self as abyss, and an ocean of impenetrable depth. We look to the traces of the personal left behind. The personal is a scavengers delight. The personal is a reflection and production of space. My eyes are sore from this laptop screen. I stretch my sight, I then choose the next frame. I will instigate my own experience by setting this thing in motion, but I cannot know what I will find once I enter each frame. Its particularities are beyond my own preparation. I will transcend option, choice, and delight in negotiating a field of choice that expounds exponentially with each movement forward. We will go in, we will go forward into the frame.
What I see is partly mine, and partly the space around me revealing its demure angles. To continuously go through, to re-enter, only requires an initial moment of contingency – something beyond the scope of an algorithm, intention, or re-creation. I will never look from this angle again. I will ever see these details the same way again. Curiosity is a mechanism of perpetual motion, binding my movements to a taste in the room, and the desire to stretch the mechanism of the eye. The blind spots are calling us, their hidden depths might suddenly expose something juicy. We wander through the dense vastness of personal. It is void of outward detail, but strikes a certain memory here and there. If I could take a photograph I would try. There’s a family portrait on the right. There is only one person in it, but it’s a group shot. We remember Barbara Dilley as a moebius strip, “…moving through layers of awareness within the singularity of an experience…” (137)
a) Immanence vs Transcendence
“ ‘The self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two multiplicities’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1988: 249)” (27)
Immanence and transcendence, as modes of producing performance work, are not mutually exclusive, but represent two opposing poles or approaches to entering into the field of improvisation, composition, collaboration, and authorship. The performer’s body offers many internal impulses, trajectories of becoming, and choices that are intimately tied to her/his modes of training, and patterning (even of thought). I fall this way because I know how to transfer force through these paths. It is not the same as how she falls, unless I go through the process of embedding, and adapting my body to learn her path. I can only recreate it within a certain degree of exactitude however. This kind of mimetic training has been embraced and rebelled against many times throughout the history of dance. Do decides how I move? Whose work is this? How am I the choreographer? If you, dancing in my work, are an ‘interpreter’, what exactly is your role in producing content? How much of you are you bringing to the process?
Improvisation provides one modality, one source of open agency that asks the performer to take responsibility for the inner process of the work, and in some instances, consider its outer image too. Improvisation can be wild, open, and formless. It can be constant movement without necessity, or a continual quest to discover what this moment is. But that questioning inevitably takes the performer out of the improvisation. It is an analysis, and distracts from attending to the necessity of the present moment. The fine line of improvisation demands both an internal and external sensibility: an immanent and transcendent authorship. A mode of navigation as well as the wild possibility to go off-course. “‘If you can imagine what an improvised event will look like, is it truly an improvisation?” (M. Stuart, 98)
But how? I believe that answering ‘how?’ is critical to my practice. It links methodology to the production of content, and leaves room for affect to transfer through the body: a damp sponge of absorption.
“…associating immanent authorship with improvisation comes with its own problems; in particular, the potential assumption that a call to immanent authorship is merely a return to an ‘anything goes’ attitude to making performance in which improvisation is being mistakenly associated with a kind of instant freedom or easy novelty.” (L.C. Maoilearca, 41)
I am done with judgment, but preoccupied with locating. “When one judges, one is possessed by the affects. When one discerns, one is able to detach from them, to know where one stands, to be self-possessed.” (T. Brennan, 2254).
Nancy Stark-Smith discusses the development of the Underscore through referencing a very open form of teaching: “…underneath what I was experiencing as a random selection of materials was a very consistent score operating all the time, informing my choices. What was this inner, under score?” (90). The body is in constant operation, a continuum of processes and senses, and when looking back in analysis I tend to identify the crystalline moments, and give them a name. These names inform an underscore, and offer something to grasp, discuss, and use to contain the improvisation.
I am unsure about this mode of hindsight. Deleuze and Guattari discuss how every concept begins with a percept. How are these perceptions attuned, and through what system are they processed into concepts? The transcendent container of language can be used in the form of a choreographic score. The score can provide a container for improvisation that attends to the score itself, the agency of the performer, the necessity of the moment, and the possibility for spontaneity. Its function is to deploy immanence and chance in a certain way, a manner in which to unfold towards something else, in an exactitude that can only be attended to as it is happening. This attunement to the present is where immanence and transcendence meet, and the dancer becomes an expert, in what Barbara Dilley describes as simultaneous hearing and contemplating, as though “…moving through layers of awareness within the singularity of an experience.” (137).
Hearing and contemplating make me think about John Cage. He challenges the vacuity of silence, and the prioritization of intention, deploying chance as a way to bypass the author’s meddling, or transcendent, externalized agenda that “… ‘provides a leap out of reach of one’s own grasp of oneself’…” (L.C. Maoilearca, 49). His concept of indeterminacy, as a way around improvisation, is another example of immanence and transcendence meeting at the ‘how’ of composition.
The body contains an inner knowledge that is constantly producing, how am I listening to what’s already there? The affects are present, and speaking, churning and sputtering. They reflect and refract the outer world. There is nothing I can make up that is better than, more interesting, or superior than anything that isn’t already here. I surrender to these materials of immersion, and how I play with them becomes the artistic intervention.
i. ‘HeatBall’ or Locating the Difference Between Inner and Outer: from a position of stillness, locate a tiny perceptive point in the body, determine its pathway through space, and go
“Ready, Fire, Aim” is a directive by Deborah Hay, but in this scenario, we are working with ‘Aim, Fire’, and letting the ‘Ready’ part go. We are never ready, but we have been preparing for years.
Glimpsing at the living potential of experience, and testing the difference between paths planned and paths traversed. An experiential comparative moment, as demonstrated by the moving body, we throw ourselves into the void, and the restrictions and necessary wildness of moving along a planned and complex pattern, coupled with the desire to transcend physical laws. The harshness of nature is exposed through the hardness of the floor meeting our momentum. The momentary self-protective instincts of the body, as mediated and crafted by years of learning to fall, to roll through the soft landings, and ingraining these patterns over time, appear spontaneous, but are a result of habit and perceptive encoding. There is a physical history to the body’s muscles memory. Those patterns took time to embed but are now automatic. This is where technique can hold us, support us, and slip a bony knee out of the way for a softer landing along a tibial ramp.
We lay here, for an eternal moment of stillness. We are alive, and not completely still. Our gaze is necessarily inward, looking deeply at the cells, and forming them into a complex ball, compressing it more and more, until a hot cluster is specifically positioned. It is near the left thumb, in that gusset between the index finger, and a little bit deeper towards the fleshy part of the palm. We have never sensed this cluster of cells before, in this way. We work to compress them, to feel the smallest territory of colluding and colliding cells. We consider a vector. Where should this heatball go? In the room? Outside the room? Be as specific as possible. See the trajectory, envision the pathway. Maybe it has to go through the rest of our body somehow, maybe the pathway winds irregularly. It’s up to us. But we are so clear with it. Tasting a pathway, desiring an irruption, producing an eruption. This is the only preparation, and the limitations are vast. We can’t wind up, the surge has to come from the explosive A-bomb of heat cells we are generating. But how, but how, but how, but how will we get there? What we project is not already there, it only exists in its potentiality. There is only one option or another, confronting a decidedly physical reality based on an attempt. We can’t move that far, the imagination is fleeting, we question it. This will not work. It is an exercise in failure, but also in producing an excess. A surge, in a momentary leap through the air, and the unknown configuration of a landing. Trusting the body has never been more difficult. There are people witnessing this catastrophe. We are bracing for it. We’re in an all-out duck and cover. We don’t want to let you see this silly flail.
Do it anyway. Time and space expose the limitations of our bodies, and our imagination. They are not in synch. But what has emerged? Some exhilarating scramble that we could not have anticipated doing. A grunt. The bodies around us do the same. The grunt interrupts the moment in a comedic attention grab. It’s an involuntary song of our effort. It surprises us and traces our movement sonically, though hard smacks against the floor and forceful exhales. Our thwaps interrupt us again.
The implications, the look of this wriggling through constriction has the outward appearance of three drug-induced women fighting against some kind of outward dominance. But look closer. We are working very hard. We’re stretching our capacity to sense ‘freedom’ within this configuration of restraint. Our present fidelity to the task illuminates unpredictable intensities to a depth that can only signify the presence of life happening, forms becoming something beyond a rational calculation of outcomes.
Our personalities leak all over the floor. We are distinct in every way, and also together. It is together that we navigate uncertainty, and certain instability. I just can’t really see you right now.
“There are always constraints. When we walk, we’re dealing with the constraint of gravity. There’s also the constraint of balance, and a need for equilibrium. But, at the same time, to walk you need to throw off the equilibrium, you have to let yourself almost go into the fall, then you cut it off and regain the balance. You move forward by playing with the constraints, not avoiding them. (B. Massumi, 12-13)
ii. ‘Thrusting from Vague Points of Leadership’: Propel the body faster than your ability to identify its point of origin
“I give myself up to space like a blind man’s tears. Whose will am I, who wills in me?” (E. Cioran, 322)
This inertia is going. All I have to do is start, or just say ‘start’ because I already have, so the word is what’s needed.
This is a combination of surrender and resistance. Recovery produces the next point of initiation. I feel my body-ghosts saving me again and again. Who are they? These paths are mine in this moment on this floor, and I accept their perpetual clumsiness. Exhaustion. Breath. The vague, the Nouvelle Vague, we don’t know where the next impulse came from. Was it the Rhythmic Overlord? An approximation of desire propelling, in some other direction? A response of an unknown potential, of an unknown degree, until it is happening. The immediacy of her recovery is immanent to its action. She moves through the elided present and can only glimpse at its trace afterward. After rage. After emotion points outward. The towards-ness, but to what? To what end? I can only go on for so long. The flops of each recovery determine the crackle of each proceeding move. Fail and recover, and crack open the streamline body through a furthering of decaying movements.
A revolution formed of the detritus that fell between the cracks, between the layers of good dancing and performativity, effort and expectation, precision and surrender to weight-full-ness, the upswing of gravity, the horizontal plane where suspense, and lilt moved in. She continues like a fool pummeling through quicksand.
It burns every now and again, it changes our relationship to it, at once a threat to the next pound, a glide to the next slide, a surface that holds us up and pulls us down. If it were softer this would be much harder. I remember when I ran on the sand, how the divots drew movement out from under my feet, the ground shifted from beneath in the opposite direction, as a counter balance, and counter weight, but on this floor we suspend. We fire the Judge. We are not acquainted anymore. She’s a menace with an unknown agenda. Don’t look her in the eye. She might make some decision that hurts. The floor stings but you still protect yourself. Where did that elbow come from? Stepping too far, too much, an effort to change, to dislodge, towards discomfort that is not necessarily hard to do, but hard to conceive of doing. To stretch my thoughts beyond the next step, to overstay my visit in this terrain of vectors that both confine and reveal a lasting bruise and imprint of an organization I cannot name. A flow I cannot pinpoint the origin of. The excess that swarms upon a completion that never comes. This might go on forever. I’m bored, I’m exasperated, she is leaking out everywhere. We are feeling time differently. Space is an anomaly. Each thrust is a micro big-bang, and the galaxies taste like cotton candy. Improvisation implies a technique, but here the technique is instinctive, and pops up on the smoothness. I go until it is less in my grasp. Creation becomes contingent. I am going backwards to a point of origin with every thrust forward, through, and around, but never inward. This is ALL OUT. This is a pixilated explosion of expression that knows no author other than the moment’s grasp, gaping wide with salivary disease and heartache. The pain of fatigue diminishes identifiers more. We recognize less from an internal view. We palpate more, and ride sensation like an expert pony. The flesh has become a dictatorship. The mutiny of the body organizes and mobilizes an affective front. We are wild without you. We fly under your radar, leaving enough time to escape. Our path is only revealed by our arrival, a short memory, and another recovery. Through space, further, and further, I am still going along this route of someone’s design. Why? It is mine. It is not mine. There is no single point of origin. It might be desire, perseverance to continue, but empirically it is only capturable in hindsight, that doubling-back that perceives a logical point that can be traced, but cannot be doubled, cannot be precisely duplicated. What might be duplicated is an overall sense of this dance’s characteristics: a flailing of debris with sharp edges and softening follow-throughs. It is continuously unsettled.
“We will never feel grounded when immanence is the starting point for our thinking. Indeed, the sense of a constantly shifting ground is precisely what characterizes the project to think immanence, to live immanently, whether we approach that project as ‘philosophy’, ‘performance’ or, simply, ‘life’.” (L.C. Maoilearca: 9).
The meal from 1pm, the degree of accepted uncertainty, the degree of accepted boredom, I am so sick of myself I let you all in, the critters of social norm, the neighbours upstairs who can tolerate these thuds, the neighbours below who I want to irritate, the dubiousness of this theory, the history of the room I’m doing this in, the permission that gives me, the suspected gaze of an unknown future audience, the paranoia of a present surveillance, and the unwanted.
Time and speed possess recognition. I try to harness their potential for deluding the leadership status of the mind, the crafting cruxes of logic and choreographic consideration IN THIS WAY. Just so. There is still so much repetition, but with a perpetuation of change, differing like each and every snowflake frozen in a water crystal for one decent descent. An entire existence in the lifetime of one fall, one categorical drip without a known landing. Maybe there are groupings along the way, forming clusters and triads of interlacing pandemonium, trends of melting and fixing along the trajectory of down. I go down, but try to go across. To defy the verticality of gravity by adding an outward, horizontal thrust, but where did that come from? This inner desire to conquer physics, to override intention and design, come from me still. To override intention is still an intention.
Who else is in there? Who has made me so polite as to not spill the water from my cup, spit and shit and curse and neigh? Too far. This limitation is in-bred. It is not animal, but anthropomorphic. I send away for a ride on another creature. I am waiting its present form in cartilage and aches. This flow is of resistance and surrender. The leaders are blurry. They have been elected as a group by the mind, but the body designates their roles, their redundant bickering and choking and anti-ups and spatial discharge. They are armed, insulted, and enamored by their own necessity. Each as vain as the next, but the kind of vanity that waits until its acts are noticed. ‘Oh thank you limb, your arcs are despicable and sultry’. The salty sweat remarks on fatigue, wears on it, and produces sounds like sliding wet fingers over the rim of a crystal glass. Is this some kind of device? We are lost in ourselves, and the deities have gone to sleep. Their leadership is over, and our belief in their figuration can only resemble Hollywood, and that one art history class. The imagination cannot hold these new leaders, the ones still churning in the night, the ones that continue beyond the decay of fatigue and labour and the value of the dancer as martyr. If this effort continues, I might get paid. If this effort continues, I might forget its ontology. Stop. Just stop. This task can’t exist in pedestrian time, but only the ultra fast, or ultraslow, each one beckoning its own set of residual escape attempts. To push out. THIS IS ALL OUT. In all directions at once. The lasting affect of space going through me, with direction, unknown, in time. A reconfiguration of choice, the decision to step on this rock, in this way, at this moment, to this degree of risk. “I’m the kind of person” talk is left out.
There are only so many options, there are so many options. We’ve been down this sidewalk before. I don’t give out change. This is a night out, I have to protect my image, I have to weigh affordances and investments after the one-night stand reveals the details of the night:
…in the dense but noncommittal encounters that make up a hyperactive social – and sometimes sexual – promiscuity, I can shed my self-awareness and step outside myself. It is only when I am ecstatic, outside of myself, that I can be with everyone, that I can float in a sense of potential. A networker must always be ecstatic, must maintain a slightly exaggerated enthusiasm, must get high on the potential of so many contacts that can never be realized or translated into actual collaboration, using this high in turn to leap to the next encounter. (D. Diederichsen, 12-13).
Our attention and criticality are displaced by time, by the next encounter, by pure potentiality of the continuous network the body has stepped into. Each encounter re-directs. The intrinsic knowledge of this dance produces itself. It is perfectly Neoliberal, self- generating, exhausting, and effortful for its own good, but it is also immoral, wild, and unpredictable. Its politics are corporeal, and surrender to desire, subvert verticality, and undermine the plan. Get used to it. Get used to the intensity of lived-in space, thrash and wane, gutteral response… Just stick with one thing. The effervescence of this unidirectional goal of ubiquitous change IS the one thing. This ever-shifting is the plane of live-force-change and subsequent death. It is an elaborate ritual happening through us. You don’t do it like me at all. It is yours.”
b. Dualities: Schpando Illuminated She comes up to you and whispers in your ear
“It would help to remove the “two veils.” I don’t know what this means… I find the section about the veils; one is “conflicting emotions” and the other is “primitive beliefs about reality.’ These veils obscure awakened mind, which is always already here. To this day this metaphor, these two veils, haunt my meditation practice.” (Dilley: 26)
Listening. Listening to the self, in its moment of action: its happening. There’s more there there; more to observe than on first glance. Listening is an act of becoming, in as much as it is an action.
There are so many binaries: inner/outer, mind/body, conscious/unconscious, personal/public, active/passive… The space between these binaries is a fissure, something to fall into. Their very naming, their very inscription is a clawing out of this fissure, and a leap from one side to the other. Their very naming is a moment of capture, albeit dubious and unstable, for in the space between the line of division, a duality of any kind, exists the shadow of the third: a ghost-like transparency that magnetizes, pushes, pulls, confuses, disorients, and adapts meaning, pulling on it like gnawing creature. It floats through the gaping distance, and is often unobserved. The third, the triad, the id, ego, superego, the other. All of these notions imply a stepping out of, towards, or away from. A change. To gain perception is to increase proximity. To gain perspective is to decrease proximity. I can only see myself from a distance. I can only focus, see it, name it, after its birth. But what of the elusive third? A force of becoming that forsakes vision, and penetrates and defies all sides. I do, think, name, dance, listen, and speak all at the same time. This convoluted activity distracts the attempts to see the self as a goal, and yet something emerges.
I go to repetition. I have been immersed in repetition throughout my training, throughout my life. Thousands of plies later, they are never the same, but they are so reliable, like a comfortable shoe. I am comfortable in myself, most days. But who is this third entity? The indirect disobedience of desire, ambition, accident, and deepening persuasion are always operating. How do I access them, but veer away from naming, veer away from capture in its narrowing, final, divisive capacity?
It is awful to discover Ego, my great big me. Once the dynamic of this peculiar belief in a solid self is pointed out, I feel covered in something murky and think. I can’t believe it is an illusion. Observing the way I see the world through this Ego lens, I am miserably self-conscious unless I drink a lot of whiskey. (Dilley 32)
I have decided to name her Schpando. My dear friend Geordan named her, unknowingly, sometime in the early 2000’s. Her name is an action, not a noun, not proper, and her essence is linked to my Italian father, and my studio advisor, by the word scapando (‘escaping’ in Italian), as well as my mother’s lineage and the mysterious Plains Cree ancestor whose identity is commonly cited, and also commonly questioned. Did she really exist? Who has proof? How do we know? But we know. Schpando is the third. The question. The doubt intertwined with deep knowing that doesn’t care about facts. A continual slipping out from under representation, and a perpetual breaking away from inscription. Schpando is the third, in the shadows of Derrida’s notion of ‘trace’ inferred by opposition or negation in language (‘self’ as inferring ‘other’). Schpando is ever-evasive affect that can only be met by a certain curiosity towards something else. She is intrinsically linked to the present moment in its impossibility to grasp, to fully sense, to interpret and justify. She is an emergence without characteristics, only aftermaths and strange dreams. She embeds and beguiles. She demands trust. She comes up to you and whispers in your ear. “ … the ego arises by identification with form, and deep down it knows that no forms are permanent, that they are all fleeting. So there is always a sense of insecurity around the ego even if on the outside it appears confident.” (E. Tolle, 80)
i. Ride the line of active and passive, like a tensile string between two halves
“…the detachment necessary for self-observation is one thing, the energetic force needed to override a passion or affect another.” (T. Brennan, 2210)
Active and passive are not reductive. They are omnipresent in the moving body, in the contraction and elongation of agonist and antagonistic muscles, in the ebb and flow of tension and release, directing and redirecting. A lengthening must involve an opposing contraction. A line of movement delineates the winding curvature of dynamic motion. This line, as we trace it through space, is also a centre, a negotiation of contact between two halves, a ridge. The moment one side flips to the other is difficult to precisely pinpoint without plumbing the depths of science, but it is undoubtedly happening, and there are undoubtedly spaces in the moving body that science cannot account for. The dancing is in the transitions. The play with which one body enacts movement is idiosyncratic, personal, and imprinted upon by time and circumstance. This play between experiential and theoretical, fiction and science, leave some gaps. Our perceptive limitations leave an opening for imagination to colour and fill.
If I could trace this ridge, this edge, this verge of flopping to the other side, it has a characteristic threshold. It informs a path, a familiar trajectory, although its specific sensation might be alien. Our movements produce a tipping point. If we could use the body as a metaphor, this verge, this tipping towards a flip is intoxicating. It is internal, and linked to our movements, linked to our histories, linked to our cultures, linked to out behaviours. Our bodies have been inducted.
Our bodies and our lives are almost a kind of resonating chamber for media borne perturbations that strike us and run through us, that strike us and strike beyond us simultaneously. This is all happening at a level before we can position ourselves, before we are able to step back and try to rationalize the experience. We are braced into the experience, inducted into it in a very direct, bodily way, before we can adopt a considered posture towards it. (Massumi: 114)
Likewise we address the viewer. The spectator as neither passive or active, not contracted or implicated by an externalized value of being ‘active’ as if watching was not already so, as if retreating in contemplation was not already so. Tracing the network, the edge, the openings and closings, is active, is spectatorship, even when observing the self. I observe the self in this active way through each online interruption, through this distraction of the keyboard, its design pulls me away from this document and towards the familiar platforms of self actualization and performance. Again and again. The status update as a moment of passive performance, as a moment of active character building, of the ego run amuck. This is the culture of my being. I can’t ignore its impact, especially in this keyboard dance, this lifestyle performance.
I am my own active spectator. The audience is not present in this moment. I anticipate their bodies in the room, but cannot fully plan for the surplus of energy, their gaze, the response of my adrenal system. I hide behind the performance. I try not to hide. To let them witness my thought process is a value I hold near. Dearly. For what? Who is this dance for? The connections between moments are virtual. They remind me of Cunningham and OpenEndedGroup’s ‘Loops’, where his hand and finger movements are traced digitally while he reads a journal entry from his first visit to New York in 1937. His hands are nodes of a network, like these keys I type. Hit hit hit. It is autobiographical to every extent. No one else ever performed this work, but it was an inquiry into the connections between. His digital affect dance.
“…networks have no inside, only radiating connectors. They are all edges. They provide connections but no structure. One does not reside in a network, but just rather moves to other points through the edges. (Latour 46)
i. Up to go Down, Down to go up. Compression from above, Motivation from Below
The floor is inescapable, relational material. I can’t do this dance without gravity. Depression pulls. Force normal pushes up. Compression from above, motivation from below. The horizontal axis is constant, but there is no hierarchy in terms of value, there is only necessity: the superior angle of my scapula must pivot down as my scapula upwardly rotates and my arm lifts. This is as close as I might get to The Grand Union, declaring that no movements have any greater ontological, or hierarchical value than any other. They just necessarily change in space. Even lying on my back, completely horizontal and relaxed, if I try to flatten my lumbar spine, DOWN through space, something must go UP. Oppositions in two directions, yes, but there are also axes spiraling through various pivot points at the same time. What if instead of a physical determinacy these ulterior movements were more ambiguous, subliminal, insidious, like my personality leaking out through the inner desiring pathways of my fascia?
And there is continuity. This is a rhythmic value. How does that push? Does that take over the rhythm of the movement in some way? I try to perceive these mutations, and the pulls away from pure verticality, and when concept and body cannot be mutually exclusive, but bounce off of each other to produce something in excess of dimension. The mind is taught and loose at the same time, open to change, and also the continual failure, and necessary adaptation, of the task.
I try to stick to the task.
I desire to jump. I have to bend my knees first. I try not to and roll over my toes. I think about the moments an astronaut comes back to gravity, and the muscular strength needed to recover, to become reacquainted with gravity. I remember a Hollywood film and the improbability of crashing from outer space, escaping a death pod, and swimming to a beach after days of starvation, shock, loss of consciousness, and George Clooney. I remember that popular culture references in performance work can be alienating.
I drop some objects, and try to strangle balloons. To make something else do the task. If they could go lower, a change in state would have to occur. And what of the body, as it manipulates the objects to conduct its will. It must move along this axis.
I think death is the only way to go down without going up.
Unless this is a spiritual conversation.
Unless this is a scientific conversation.
Someday something will munch on my bones and bring that energy back into some other life cycle.
Life is ultimate recycling.
The only things we share are energy and germs.
My friend and colleague Alicia Grant told me that once. The energy of those words are sill moving me.
I sneeze. Can the sound of a person’s sneeze indicate motivation? Look at me. Don’t look at me. Can the action of a person’s sneeze indicate compression? I sneezed into my elbow like a responsible Toronto citizen (there are signs about this everywhere). I sneezed into my hand and put it on the escalator. Germs have wanderlust.
The cute humour of this last thought makes me think about the stylized chatter on Facebook. THESE ARE SERIOUS QUESTIONS THOUGH. I am a question, personified. It’s fucking endless.
Sometimes you have to erect thought, or implement action, in order to step away from it. Sometimes you have to create a division in order to fall into its cracks. To use Dualities in order to disprove their Entirety, or their Polemic Assertions. Deleuze and Guattari (D&G) famously assert: PLURALISM = MONISM. The univocity of being is DIFFERENCE. The thing that is shared in life itself is its perpetual differentiation.
Every time I write D&G I think of Dolce and Gabbana. The ubiquity of capitalism has penetrated the philosophy of its grandfathers. Theories towards expansion, openness and instability have penetrated my imagination. The ‘me-ness’ of this moment makes we wonder if I should try almond milk for a change. Swallowing must involve some kind of upward motion. Swallowing philosophy involves a certain vertical elation, and sometimes the opposite is true. Here’s a regurgitation that brought me down in theory, and up in movement.
We live in a climate of exhaustion: the act of creation, of making and producing, is less significant in and of itself than in relation to the void, to the fall which follows. . . For our invariably compromised efforts, the divine and inexhaustible depths are situated outside the field of our concepts and our sensations. Man was born with the vocation of fatigue: when he adopted the vertical posture and thereby diminished his possibilities of support, he was doomed to weaknesses unknown to the animal he was. To carry on two legs so much substance and all the disgusts related to it!” (E. Cioran, 247-248)
The intrinsic, valuing of ‘exhaustion’ runs deep in me. I could keep at this for a very long time. The physical effort (in moments of intellectual weakness) sometimes serve to justify the work. I know this is bogus, and I push against it. This is not a durational project, it is a dance. Who is it for? If I am testing my own limits then that’s one thing, but why would anyone want to watch this, read it, join me?
Up to go down: if I jump for a long time, and attempt greater height, eventually fatigue will decrease the elevation in successive jumps. Compression from above: “GET IT TOGETHER you can jump higher you failure flailer!” Motivation from below: “these are the strongest legs I’ve ever had, ever, in this moment, no matter what the empirical evidence, this jump WILL BE higher because we feel it as such.”
If I stop judging, for one second, that one move is better than the other, then higher/lower lose their power AND value in relation to the floor, and to each other. I notice I just coupled the words ‘power’ and ‘value’. Are they synonymous to me? The suspension of judgment brings me back to the Grand Union, and the anarchist values penetrating the studio, the sequences, and the collectivist agreement to perform the decisions as they come. “Yvonne calls it “spontaneous behavior”. There’s no going back… we make up everything in front of audiences.” (B. Dilley, 96)
There are no fixed points, all movement is relative, so all that really matters is the perception of one jump, not in relation to the jump before, or after, in time, but to another, present, moving target. Every jump is higher than the floor. The floor is moving too.
The present’s ‘boundary condition’, to borrow a phrase from science, is never a closed door. It is an open threshold – a threshold of potential. You are only ever in the present in passing. If you look at it that way you don’t ever have to feel boxed in, no matter what horrors are afield and no matter what, rationally, you expect will come. You may not reach the end of the trail, but at least there’s a next step. The question of which next step to take is a lot less intimidating than how to reach a far-off goal in a distant future where all our problems will finally be solved. It’s utopian thinking, for me, that’s ‘hopeless’. (B. Massumi, 2-3)
II. Collective Space
“ …there are uses of language that can bring the inadequation between language and experience to the fore in a way that can convey the ‘too much’ of the situation – its charge – in a way that actually fosters new experiences.” (B. Massumi, 13)
Into communication. Choreography involves other people. Witnesses, or audiences, or collaborators. It is inherently social, but not a social art practice. It is choreography. It is also communication. A communication of ‘time over space’, which Marten Spangberg once said in the depths of a workshop in Vienna in 2012. To me, it’s the ‘over space’ part that implies movement – although nothing is ever really still. Under what conditions does choreography communicate its movements, or its ‘Over-Space’?
Control and agency play off of each other in endless conversation. If I am working with another person, how do I leave room for her/his agency to make live decisions, but within the structure of the score, the crafted frame, the directive? I look to these directives for answers. What are the words, and how do they come into being, and into the game of our collective space? How do they communicate the ‘Over-Space’ of a choreographic work? I think about this how. I think about how scores are made. The words of the author must come from somewhere specific. This is not arbitrary. There is a psychology embedded in the way a choreographer communicates the score, the deep control of the improvisation. I look to my inner motivations. I want to listen to them. I don’t know where I’m from. Where are these words coming from? Peering through the layers in my culture, the society I’ve been conditioned to, can give me surface answers about my motivations taking form. I will listen, and listen deeply. I will chatter incessantly, and once that first layer of garbage has exhausted itself, deep knowing will come through. I am choosing to believe this, as of March 10th, 2016, 1:12pm.
I am inducted into a way of being in the present, braced for catastrophe at any moment, and on all fronts. I want to listen to its affects, to attune to them through movement. ‘Differential attunement’ is something Brian Massumi talks about. “We’re all in on the event together, but we’re in it together differently. We each come with a different set of tendencies, habits and action potentials.” (Massumi, 115). What is pertinent to me here is the live-ness of this state, this presence, that is necessary to be attuned to something, and to grasp its affects on the body. But then how do I talk about them? The reflexive word has gone through a process of analysis. The live word is more immediately connected to the action of its origin. The keys on this keyboard are telling me this. I will harness the live word for two purposes: its attunement to the present, the way it can point towards movement in its immediate emergence, and how it can bring others into the dance with me through the score, in both the production and communication of the choreographic frame. “In naming a sensation of which he may be aware (energy departing and returning) he may be limited by his current vocabulary, but he is pushed to expand it in accounting for sensations in sequence: the knowledge gleaned by comparison.” (T. Brennan, 2297)
The choreographic score is a sensorial map. It traverses the affects over time that produce words in their immediate movements. Is it possible to taint this production of words with the intentional power of IDEAS? To produce an atmosphere that renders one’s vocabulary to fall under the spell of certain phrases, times, thought patterns, and perspectives? I tried to.
a. Academic Atmosphere: Follow the indirect pathway of light through an infinitely dense forest
I deploy vastness, peripheral vision, and Gaston Bachelard. This forest is also an ocean. I’m sensing its simultaneous, arrhythmic, specificity. I’m watching the ocean in my peripheral vision.
Words I take into the meditation: immensity, vast, volume, the forest, beyond objectivity, poetic opening.
Moving from the body I think I have. What is a thought? An inscription of an already-has-been and inputted way of feeling, understanding a delineation of arm, torso, trunk, concern, safety, pathways. The impossibility of undoing, or re-encoding, the indirect pathway as an elusive way, locating in the dislocating, the loss of identifiers that meant something to my body. The volume of the body, the volume of the room, the volume of the space of movement is the thing, the thought, that pushes the movement into the blur, into the unspecificity of previous pathways through the labyrinth of the dense forest of the present. To not register the present through a looking back, or an understanding of the breadcrumbs I’ve just left behind, but that each step along the path, each dot, is connected to the last, and preemptive of the future, the causality is a trap. But what if the density increased? This density of the pathway might also mean an increase in the volume of movement, of the inner density of attention to the body, the weight of each particle surrendering to gravity, or converging like mini anvils of vast weight beyond what I can hold. I trick my muscles to retain the anticipated weight, but then have to deal with the cellular anvils. They are surprised by the unsuspecting multitudes of trees and root systems and heavy water that suspend on each leaf and blur the sightlines. It is all at night. The sight is no longer a navigation tool, but an unfolding into the present. Sight is no longer for distance, for planning, for placing the foot, but a flash of the meeting of impulse and arrival. To be lost in the present is to be drawn into a fullness of being. Becoming is processual, and maintains an awareness of the pathway, a spot along the creases of a map, but being is a flash of the present, an all-in immersive pressure of a fullness of unfolding senses that hold no vested interest in before or after, but only operate by necessity, contingency, and the horrors of nonsense that summon operations of the body’s mechanism to be in constant question of the now, or now, or now, or the location of the room as the here, or here. The roots interrupt the footing, the leaves blur the sightlines, the fog lets it be known that the true density of this forest is ________ and _________ J)))))
b. Reference the Image Bank, Build a Lexicon: Femininity and shame: Slips and Iconic Poses (when you notice an iconic position, stop and let it register as something absorbed)
Referencing your image bank, your network, the transference of the lexicon of images you’ve absorbed through online searches, lived life, news reels, emotional draaaama, the assumed reality of others, the states you see and relate to something intrinsic, some memory of classifications, or supposed relations that have been learned.
I’m moving at a continuous speed, today it is slow, and I continue moving until I notice something familiar, presentational, frontal, performative, or something that has a title. It’s a kind of projection déjà vu. I’ve seen this position before, but in what context? Where, and when? In what ways am I responsible for noticing the continuities in the network within which I exist? Do I perpetrate these norms? Is there something more ancient churning in there?
We are wired to notice patterns. Perception is the base state of habit. What happens then, when I start noticing habit? Does a change in perception necessarily coincide?
I am both inside and outside this dance. Because I know the task, I am searching for iconic positions, and can find them quickly. However, each time one emerges, it changes the next, and an atmosphere or mood comes into the room. Today it is fashion, sex positions, and violence. Is there some relation between these subjects that stand out in my culture, and its absorption? YES. Consumption.
I should let this go on for longer. The subtleties of character, people, and things are immeasurably vast, and in a constant state of morphing.
Only human images came into the room today…
I’ve been so colonized, but there is something more primal that dancing can access. I want to tap this power-link to desire, necessity, urge, endurance, effort, force, dynamics, et cetera.
In searching for the next position I’m in a future-thinking-state: a temporary moment of anxiety about how to make it to the next landmark, and succeed at my own game. The positions occur at fairly regular intervals. The rhythm of want/get is solid in me. I will force an emergence at the right time it is supposed to emerge. This is my rhythm of expectation, my fear of boredom, my expectations of performance.
Perhaps the word iconic is too specific to a type of thing, person, archetype, etc. Maybe I’m looking for the edges, maybe I’m pausing at an interstice of the body, and the image of the body, as resonant of something else beyond its frame. What connects this body to something else? Does that thing have a name, a position, a point of reference that lives at an edge? A mini, buzzing line the catapults me out of the room and into timelessness, a lineage, but also only temporarily?
Femininity and shame need a societal container to even exist as identity and psychological constructs. Maybe I should examine psychological motivation a little.
I am the music video. I am the genre-bender, head-banging to a folk tune.
The slip has a direction that has carried my body towards another configuration.
I keep attituding, like an attitudinous monster with a ponytail and a shirt that wont stay tucked in. A tendency to look down, to bend over, to touch my butt, to hate the sound of my sliding feet.
To move away from the social. Shame has no object, it’s a mood, it takes over. Femininity is a force to be channeled, and it has nothing to do with gender.
Perhaps this dance has no shame. It plays with the camera, it licks the rim of the lens.
The pornographic body, the erotic body. What’s the difference? They’re both bound up with human freedom and violence. Mario Vargas Llosa, tell me about the cultural draught of eroticism please?
And the gaze of the beholder, please enlighten me Peggy Phelan: whose gaze and what do they see, or rather, what are they not seeing? Who are THEY?
What happened? The slip, femininity, shame, trying to identify the present moment.
There is tension between two surfaces that sometimes exists naturally by following weight, gravity, body logic, but then there’s the kind I can push into, to test it, to see how far before something gives out. This kind of slip is intentional, to produce a giving way, to produce another direction. The force has to be applied somewhat perpendicularly for a slip to take place. To go across the surface of contact, to subvert its fibres, but what did I say? There’s little left of memory after today. I must have been engrossed to the point past memory retention. A few new iconic positions, blurry in the memory, their shapes are muted, but the memory of their arrival still exists. Who do you think you are? I can’t pay attention to the present when I’m self monitoring. What do the words mean? It is possible to ignore their meaning, especially if I go back to the rules: slip out from under, continue going under, and when an iconic position presents itself, notice it too, but don’t set out to actively look for it. You must not. It will come to you WHENEVER it comes. There must not be urgency to find something, to arrive on something. This urgency lives in a dimension of time slightly ahead of you, and it eats your present attention.
I’m using English because this is the mode of my culture and personal history. I’m using English so I can face myself. I’m using English to notice the gaps, the disparity between a movement and its inscriptions, especially when they are contextually completely disparate. The words cannot change what I’m doing, because I lose what I’m doing. The elided present.
I imagined an audience today. I looked at them. Then I tried not to be ‘too frontal’. This inner judgment pulled me out. My attention to failing at my own game brought me back in, in its necessary self-forgiveness.
Stay in it. This is your whole world. Who did you become today? I go in with slipping, and shame, and Tammy Wynette.
c. An Embodied Network: ‘Creaturing’: Project an expanded creature self onto another person, who is also doing the same thing
“I love seeing people come out of darkness.” David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish
This is the most embarrassed I’ve ever been. The risk analysis is terrible. A vulnerability challenge of a strange variety, where myself and two collaborators (Alicia Grant and Julia Male) are staring at each other with deep knowing, but an outward unknowing. The surplus potential is massive.
We are projecting an imaginary version of ourselves onto whatever we see, and we are looking at each other. We are attempting to dance a unison duet with an expansive mirror version of our imaginary bodies, but how can we dance in unison with something completely incompatible in form?
This creature has endless shapes, limbs, and capacities to change. It is only ever a partial glimpse in an alien tango. It can move faster than we ever will, but we try to keep up.
This is a trio. Therefore, in our gaze towards each other, there is always someone left out. It keeps changing. We keep projecting this creature thing and try to keep up with it. Wiggles abound.
A collective creature of some kind, in negative space.
We are seeing ourselves through the body of another person. When that person starts to do the same thing, we are interrupted. The object of our gaze keeps wiggling, keeps moving, as we try to keep up with the phantom creature we are projecting onto their physical screen. There is so much wonder and confusion. It is impossible, but it’s also happening constantly, in a much more casual, and often negative way. We are amplifying an already existing mental engagement between the ego and itself, through another person: “The act of directing negative affects to the other severs my kin tie with her by objectifying her. I make her into an object by directing these affects toward her, because that act marks her with affects that I reject in myself.” (Brennan, 2243). What is the other dialogue we are initiating here? We are not projecting negative affects. On the contrary, they are coming from a positive attempt to expand our physicality towards an imagined evolution, towards change and adaptation. Glimpsing at the unimaginable forms deeply embedded.
We have an ethic of non-judgment. This ethic detaches us from the possession of affects in order to ‘discern’ them (T. Brennan). They become live ego witnessing, with a little bit more stretch, away from conditioned, pedestrian movement and behavior. We are dancing. We are ‘abducting’: C.S. Pierce’s word for “…thought that is still couched in bodily feeling, that is still fully bound up with unfolding sensation as it goes into action before it has been able to articulate itself in conscious.” reflection and guarded language.” (B. Massumi, 10)
Through this expansion, we are diffusing the lines between us as we attempt to stretch ourselves beyond singular subjects, outward to another person through the gaze, and animated by the body. We are becoming a new species, alien to ourselves, revealed in the delight of an outsourced behavior: a collective ecology of immanent transformation. We are individuating. And not under the imposition of the choreographic score, but because of the score. It is a small propeller that pushes us forward, beyond, and into other realms.
We had no idea we were capable of that. We had no idea we cold accept the gaze of the audience on this intimate projection. Our insistence on the task makes it compelling. We are coming together to field our own transformation.
I can see a big toe by your ear, but it looks like a hammer. It moves as though doing the fastest gig. We will not fear you witnessing this change. So much of the practice is dependent on the presence of an audience. We need your eyes to change ours. We need the stakes to intensify our commitment to each choice.
III. Virtual Space
“…it dawned on me that underneath what I was experiencing as a random selection of materials was a very consistent score operating all the time, informing my choices. What was this inner, under score?” (N. Stark Smith, 90)
To become aware of movement in the present, I have to remember that the space of my present culture includes technology, and its physical appendages. Software and hardware are a part of my daily experience and interactivity where I live in Toronto, Canada. In the time spent observing my thoughts and movements in-studio, I acknowledge the affective presence of the internet, the information that traverses its lines, and the performative space it provides in terms of self-actualization, constructed identities, shared affiliations, and movement. If dance is obligatory to space, then my movements through virtual space can be considered valid. If my movements through virtual space are contingent on a device, then I must include the hard technologies that impose movements on the body and adapt my way of being. Life itself is happening on this proliferating, unconscious network. I use it to witness myself, my thoughts, my movements, in the same way I would in the studio. There is no separation really.
For Spinoza, Deleuze, and Massumi, in the use of the word affect, the body must be included. “When you affect something, you are at the same time opening yourself up to being affected in turn, and in a slightly different way than you might have been the moment before. You have made a transition, however slight. You have stepped over a threshold.” (B. Massumi, 3). A threshold implies containment, a line, a ridge, the edge of a network, or a space. The Internet, a virtual space, is a hotbed of performed and projected egos. It is a culture of performativity, connection, and interaction. The affective flows run in both directions: through me, through my dance in this virtual space, and vice versa.
I witness my ego in action as I objectify, and project onto the images, and live chat windows, collecting information about me. I know something about myself through these frames, and like choreographic frames, they can produce a way of being, a level of control, and a container for perceived ‘freedom’. What levels of deep control are at play? If I were to consider the Internet a choreographed space, how are the parameters of its network produced?
Bruno Latour relates the network not to a physical object, but to a text that produces action. In his ‘Actor-Network Theory’, a good network “… is nothing more than an indicator of the quality of a text about the topics at hand. It qualifies its objectivity, that is, the ability of each actor to make other actors do unexpected things… In this case, network represents one informal way of associating together human agents.” (ed. L.B Larson, 69).
The collective, affective space of human agents, where bodies are involved, can be tied to Spinoza. These bodies can be in affectively attuned to the surges of the internet, and its potential intensity as a network that moves through and with bodies.
The Internet inducts the body, the body inducts the internet. It is symbiotic, collaborative, and improvisational. It is also constantly differentiating through and by the demands of its physical users. The hacker is the supreme creative being with maximal potentiality, tapping into the dark corners, under the radar, and bypassing the checkpoints that normally track the movements of traditional users. Maximal access, maximal potential, maximal maneuverability = intensity, and surplus power
Can these checkpoints, or evasive strategies, be represented differently as movements in space? They are bought and sold. They are not fixed. They are like the points along the dancing flow of choreographed bodies. They are directly related to unconscious movement, until there is conflict, or some other interruption that awakens the moment of necessity.
a. Technology as Capture
Marisa Olson used the phrases ‘after the internet’ and ‘post-internet’ beginning in 2006. At the time, “Olson described her artistic process as taking place in the wake of – ‘after’ – time spent online, as the ‘cognitive yield’ of obsessive clicking.” (M. Conner, ed. Kholief, 57). The idea of cognitive yield is important in rethinking the symbiosis of body and technology, but also implies that there is a separation, or distance between technology and body. I look to the work of Maria Jerez to point towards a new configuration. In her solo performance ‘The Perfect Alibi’ (2011-2012), Jerez embodies and repurposes everyday tools such as her desktop, and word processor, and she is re-imagined through the framework of the software. She creates a space of individuation through technology in live performance. It is immediate, and tracked, or captured, by the tools she is choreographing with.
These moments of capture are critical to processes of individuation, and producing the ‘subject’. In A Thousand Plateaus “Deleuze and Guattari characterize instances of subjectification as what they call ‘strata’: ‘acts of capture’ or ‘phenomenon of sedimentation’ that impose organization and stasis on the otherwise mobile, material energy of the worlds.” and the ‘subject is one of “ ‘the three great strata’, each of which is attached to a different aspect of life: the organism to the body, significance to the ‘soul’ (or unconscious) and subjectification to the conscious.” (L.C. Maoilearca, 27).
It is my argument that there is a congruence of themes here. Capture, and the tools with which one captures, can be used to produce a choreographic framework or score for movements. The language of a score is similar in function to a network, whereby the potential actions the result from the network determine its potentiality, power, and intensity. The greater the intensity, the greater the ‘affective charge, and the potential to change the subject increases.
The internet is a life force. People have made it so. How can it be utilized or represented by the artist? How can the dancer embody the space of the internet, and can it be choreographed? “Computers do not run Google; Microsoft is not a large computer. Computers don’t spy on people. People do. Facebook is not just an algorithm. It is the people who design and implement the algorithm, together with the unwitting users.” (C. Dullaart, ed. O. Kholief, 147)
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