QUESTIONS I asked
(I collected the questions I asked in cronological order and created a full text with them - re-reading the questions made me realise my interest, curiosity and concerns in performativity and context as meta concerns in art making)
A glimpse of a moment. A framed encounter. Edited cuts in the filmed a situation. People relating without a cause, figuring out, negotiating cuts, power, feelings. No character development. No script. Several ontologies. Continuous interactions or could they be intra- actions? The camera (the frame) and the filmed as part of the same game. Experimentation.
All this made me think of Karen Barad and her discourse upon ‘agencial realism’. Both quotes underneath refer to her thoughts on how we (humans, non-humans, apparatuses, nature, culture constitute each other) and are part of the following article: Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter > Link
I’m interested in understanding what do we think about this and how it manifests in our protocols.
“On an agential realist account, it is once again possible to acknowledge nature, the body, and materiality in the fullness of their becoming without resorting to the optics of transparency or opacity, the geometries of absolute exteriority or interiority, and that theoretization of the human as either pure cause or pure effect while at the same time remaining resolutely accountable for the role “we” play in the intertwined practices of knowing and becoming.”
There are two contrasting vectors: on the one hand a tendency towards making the presents feel welcome and comfortable; on the other hand a strong distancing between the public and us (the physical and vocal presence, the display of knowledge, the dynamic of the space....). Is this a precise decision on how we want the research to encounter the audience? What are the desires we want to nourish in us?
How to give instructions without words and what can be overwhelming abbreviations keep coming back to my mind as potential grounds for critical view upon the way one reads, the way one writes the world. What has been said by the description of the the actions accomplished? Laying down. Staying up. Looking. What was said by the actions themselves? Laying down. Staying up. Looking. Saying and saying. Words and gestures. Conflictuous sayings that don’t contradict each other but question each other dependency.
Here an excerpt from a text in The time we share publication where Daniel Blanca Gubbay citates Levinas: “ Although the saying is undeniable necessary to the appearance of the said, the later in facts pre-existent to the activity of saying: I move my mouth to utter a word , and yet all the movements of my mouth are guided by the existence of a word that I already know and wish to utter, and this word pre-exists my own movements, it directs my saying and is, underneath all, its owner. I am the instrument of a meaning that precede my attempt to communicate , I do nothing but be an instrument of a said that I must bring to light, make visible.”
How do we see co- writing or re-writing or writing with manners of saying? What are the said’ we must bring to light?
A way from 2D to 3D. There is what could be identified as an experiment on scientific observation using two cardboard squares held by two people on both sides. The audience could be positioned in two rows behind two people holding the cardboard. The movement of the ‘holders’ would be quite and steady which would make the rows of people behind linear and with small variation. I think the experiment could have to do with the relation between rigid lines (cardboard) and soft lines and how they interact. I wonder how the relation between these two components could be more expressed. The lines of people having evident self will and the cardboard being of a slower nature. I have to think also about accidents, troubles and deviations as the possibility of seeing otherwise. The other day I came across this video that departs from a line of separated points that evolve in fantastic patterns. I was mesmerised by the will of matter. > Link
There is a text on the wall. Drawn on black fabric, almost visible. There is a computer and a projector projecting a film of the text on the fabric. The computer also has a black screen. There is a woman lying on the floor back to us reading sometimes parts of the same text. This text comes in and out of the different support frames, forming and un-forming in multiple matters. From the ink on the fabric, the projection of the computer and the voice of the woman. Not linear and not not deconstructed, it always seemed like the text was full on its segments. It was an intimate atmosphere, it felt like being back stage looking at the process of something taking place. A room. A room with words. A woman. My question would be about movement. The movement of the words between surfaces. The movement of the words and the movement of the body gaining meanings through their movement. Can this movement be the undetermined place where meaning takes place? How is the body of the performer acting within it? What type of embodiment is needed to be intentional and fractal simultaneously in this situation? Saying this I came across a quote of Athena Athanasiou definition of the performative included in Singularities by A. Lepecki : "differential and differentiating process of materialising and mattering, which remains uninsured and unanticipated, persistently and interminably susceptible to the spectral forces of eventness".
Got in search for On Violence by Hanna Arendt and found a talk she gave in 1968. Here is the [link] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GUNDQ2CyPw )The subject of her analyses is of another kind and another time but very insightful about issues of power. I had to recall what you told us before we started shooting the last film: I am not sure it’s about violence but rather about pessimism as a component of life, the other side of optimism that forces us to eliminate, obscure, hide certain aspects of our lives in the hope of happiness.
Following your advice, I got the book of Lauren Berlant for a.pass, "Cruel Optimism" and in the introduction I read: "optimism is cruel when the object/scene that ignites a sense of possibility actually makes it impossible to attain the expansive transformation for which a person or a people risks striving; and , doubly, it is cruel insofar as the very pleasures of being inside a relation have become sustaining regardless of the content of the relation, such that a person or a world finds itself bound to a situation of profound threat that is, at the same time, profoundly confirming."
This sentence makes me think the way everything is already there stuck and perpetually unfolding, a kind of satisfactory pessimism.
I keep thinking about method and the frame and the editing and the instructions and the actors as a machine of dependencies! A series of situations where a group of people (actors) embody the machine. I could come back to Hanna Arendt and think about ‘action’ as the place of the political.
What is next episode?
QUESTIONS I answered
There is a strange entanglement of spacial architectures visible to me: architectures of Chloe’s body, of my gaze, of the room... Sliding backwards as forwards as backwards through and between them. On the spot but moving “maybe, maybe” from “here, here” to “and there, and there”. It made me feel enveloped by space as a dynamic, yet structuring agent. I want to ask you about TIME, is there as many times entangled as spaces? and if so is there a way to make these ENTANGLEMENTS graspable the way you to me made different kinds of architecture visible?
A looming score. A score of interaction and collaboration. A score of improvising. FRED MOTEN appears. Rain drops encountering patterns. STRUCTURES OF THINKING BECOME VISIBLE. We're sitting on a black runway. A stage for a ballet of sorts. The bass will follow. An answer to a question about desires. Answers centering on gaps of knowing. Filling pieces. DENISE FERREIRA DA SILVA. Together in corners in the middle of the space. Struggles against placelessness. We're silent. It's making me think of Singing in the Rain. Transitions. Voices consumed collectively. Hoarse throats and loud digits. A presence through the shuffling of messages. Sounds of paper between fingers. HOW DO WE IMPROVISE WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW? How do we veer away from solitary references of knowledge and back towards the collaborative generation of wisdom? How do we disconnect hierarchy from sentiments of responsibility?
Looking at your presentation we were considering the idea of breaking a body in pieces in order to be able from these pieces to build another body. It seems legitimate to ask ourselves what body do we choose for a MATERIALISATION and what follows from this choice. What is the BODY you choose? What are its PROPERTIES? What do these properties do in relation with the CONTEXT?
In your mode of storytelling, as an audience I was faced with AN UNFOLDING of a serious (if not mysterious) matter. your suspense allowed a continuous engagement with you, and also sustained a relation between you and us, in which one is disarmed and quieted in order to hear the full story till the end. we are at the presence of both an effective narrative and an edifying discourse ['edify' meaning: to make understand, to enlighten.] you used a style of storytelling that blurs between being an evidence and performing a testimony. AN IMPLICIT [NOT ENUNCIATED] SEARCH FOR AN ABSENT AND FRAGILE *WITNESS of the (catastrophic character of) events you face or care for. this search (not research) is not really looking for a legal default, it is rather a form of demanding it. you ask rhetorically "where is the witness?". the police is called in, material evidence mobilized, historical documents shuffled up and zoomed, and so on. we are in the space of a trial, which is in this case, not to reach a definitive verdict, but as a form of historical and political pedagogy. In your presentation, you had this box that was sent to you viciously. after which you called in the bomb squad to open it. my question is that, why you didn't open the box?! i am taking that box as a metaphor, of an UNWANTED POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS GIFT, that by opening it you put yourself at risk. this is not a sadistic jinx, but a question of research. why you don't want to explode?
While watching your expo I was struck by the way the CUT_OUTS were displayed.
The flatness of the large sheets of paper - in 2D - carried enormous reduction. Since all what I was informed about directly (the captions about certain technical solutions used in cloth making process and the procedures applied in a prison) and indirectly (my knowledge of a user, a person who wears clothes) related to a 3D experience. It felt as if it was so easy and unpunished (sic!) to magle the COMPLEXITY OF MATTER, LIFE, ACTIONS and present it like this, on the table.
Yet this reduction was not only troublesome, but carried also a quality of something pure, poetic, bare. I found this five minutes a meditation time.
Was is rather a MEDITATION ON SOME LEFT OVERS, LIKE A SHED SNAKE’S SKIN like a shed snake’s skin - left when it reaches the point that the further growth is impossible and is ready to renew, or rather on death, stillness, loss?
What was it about?
STRUCTURES OF THINKING BECOME VISIBLE
DENISE FERREIRA DA SILVA
HOW DO WE IMPROVISE WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW?
A MATERIALISATION, BODY, PROPERTIES, CONTEXT
AN IMPLICIT [NOT ENUNCIATED] SEARCH FOR AN ABSENT AND FRAGILE WITNESS
AN UNWANTED POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS GIFT
CUT_OUTS OF THE COMPLEXITY OF MATTER, LIFE AND ACTIONS
A MEDITATION ON SOME LEFT OVERS, LIKE A SHED SNAKE’S SKIN
QUESTIONS I received
The proposed practice made me wonder if the collective body that is generated through it is a manifestation of our social body or a potential one, speculative.
How the art practice can be the place of practicing the potential collectivity radically (so that it does not just represent the social structures of power or personalities that are present in a group but enters the speculative space) and how the practice can create conditions for not settling down in one recognition (gaining one group identity, creating own history that becomes a reference for development) but facilitate continuous forgetting (so stay focused on practicing the potentialities)? How the practice can be the space of an ongoing rebirthing of common? How the practice can be constructed to facilitate it?
Here is something I wrote once (https://www.plinth.us/issue07/birch.html).
When I was taking part in your piece and when I realised something of the collective imaginary object we were creating—touching and enveloping the object, speaking our relation and echoing the others—I thought of this passage, particularly that an 'echo is the sound of silence, the silence of the room turned back on itself.' An echo is a measure of distance. It is tactile.
There is something about the intentional distance you asked for, something about touch, and something about the echoing.
I am asking about that, but there is no question mark. Or maybe there is. But it might be a different question. If duration is a measure, a tactile sense of time that brings us back to what we're doing, "and when I know what I am doing, I experience who I am" (Peter Handke): what kind of tactile-time experience is my imagination with objects ("I delight in it") fostering?
I do not like to face myself, and so I face myself turning away. That is all I can hope to be. A facing and a turning in the right direction.
I am a stance, but I am not a position. This is facing up to care. A facing and a turning. To what is hollow.
I must, I must.
I must not: this is myself. How can I destroy myself? Easy.
There is no Easy. Easy is a voice.
Easy is a word.
I am sorry for such empty hollowness. You will forgive me now.
I have betrayed myself. I have already turned away. I clutch at Easy as though it would stop me crumbling to dust. I turn and face Easy with all the fervour that I would turn and face myself. Easy is a foil. It is the winking eye of the portrait on the wall that I pounce on saying, See! You moved. Because I am afraid that I am not the only living thing. Because I am afraid of the animism of objects. I am afraid because I touch objects as though they were alive. Each of them is cheek and chin and bone. Hi, I say. Ohhhelloo. I coo. I stroke and coddle my objects. It is shameful how I degrade them. I delight in it.
I parse and prod Easy. I abuse Easy to prove that it is just a word. Because I am afraid it is more or less malleable than myself. That it is more hollow and more substantial.
I am afraid of the substantiality of the photos on the wall. Each photo is a voice. They say what is there, they say what can be said. It is not enough. An echo is the sound of silence, the silence of a room turned back on itself. Why is it that a cathedral has such a loud echo? Because it is a house of silence. To communicate with a God is the space of the self turned back on the self. The measure of the silence of a man.
And what is a woman? A woman is a man. And what is a man? A man is also a man.
Firstly my attention attached to and followed the sound of touching, then when performers started to talk my attention was navigated by the moments when texts were merging - this is when one performer picked up a word from another one or spoke as she would continue the sentence of the one previously speaking. After a while objects started to be used in unconventional ways (positions, ways of keeping them) and watching that together with hearing the words and time passing made the environment on the table transform and I started to look at it as on something I don't know. I didn't name what I saw but there was some fiction created. What, in the collective practice as such, can a conscious playing with fiction bring? What can it produce for the reality of the practice?
My body has its world or understands its world without having to go through representations, without subordinating itself to a symbolic or objectifying function... I am not in space and time, I do not think of space and time; I am in space and time, my body applies to them and embraces them. The breadth of this apprehension measures the breadth of my existence (Merleau-Ponty, 1994, p.195).
From experience I feel that training, perhaps implicitly, is even therapeutic. Why not think about the healing dimension of the experience? Which agency frames the healing dimension of the experience to an aesthetic one as well? What are the tensions between knowing and not knowing the other's body? What are the tensions between faking or not faking the touch? How do such tensions draw the dramaturgy-score of this action?
You asked us to look as though touching, but we couldn't seem to do it, or we couldn't translate that into speech.
We mostly stood there, mute, observing, looking out the window at the fading light. I remember at one point being lost in thoughts of the outside, and then lost in what I could say to add to the description and, finally, giving up, feeling a bit guilty, and then feeling that we weren't up to the task or the task wasn't up to us. No matter how clear instructions are, sometimes we can't be made to follow.
Luce Irigaray says the sense of touch is "the sense that underlies all the other four senses, that exists or insists in them all, our first sense and the one that constitutes all our living space, all our environment. [...] This is the sense that travels with us from the time of our material conception to the height of our celestial grace, lightness, or glory."
If the attempt was to make seeing like touching, what would touching like seeing (sight at its most extreme or caricatural) be like? Skimming, scanning, gazing, scrolling, flicking through.
Would it make us more aware of how we touch and how we see? Does the negative path come to the same place as the positive?
Also, this is an aside, why do the rest of us get to watch the participants touching? Why aren't we all in the dark....