Design And Performance Lab
"for the time being"
NOTES on movement research
CRITICAL MOTION (from online soft_skinned discussion in 2009) Part 1 Part 2
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of stamatia portanova Sent: Thu 5/14/2009 6:12 PM
Subject: [-empyre-] R: Agreement within difference
The notion of counterpoint is of course very much evocative of a performative relation between dance and music... By looking at the moving images on the site, a parallel with painting also immediately came to my mind. There are different painting 'styles', or 'genres', that, in order to briefly summarize, Gilles Deleuze (in his book on the work of Francis Bacon) describes: the first is more 'geometrical, conceptual, digital', the other is more 'organic, based on the emergence of sensations, analog', and the third is a more 'equilibrated' balance of the chaos of sensations, or their insertion into a geometric frame. These are of course to be considered only as tendencies, and not as polarizations, of painting, but can very well explain how a work can contain different aspects, while tending more towards one or the other...
Strangely enough, Deleuze's use of the term 'diagram' does not refer to the clear ordering of geometric structure (as emerging for example in Mondrian's painting, that he defines as digital), but to the almost chaotic gestures of the hand, the disordered trace of the painting gesture, brought to its extreme by Pollock's art, where it becomes almost impossible to distinguish any 'intermittent or irregular coincidences between organizational elements that produce an order interplay'. In other words, shapes and directions becoming more intricately entangled, indiscernible, and not clearly distinguishable. Considering these different sense of the term, I would be very interested if you could say something more about the 'diagram' in One Flat Thing... thanks!
From: email@example.com on behalf of Christina McPhee Sent: Thu 5/14/2009 8:17 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] R: Agreement within difference
The "diagram' is a subtler more powerful operation than this. Deleuze as usual makes an incredibly intricate argument step by step. From the perspective of Bacon's practice, Deleuze notes that the diagram arrives first and takes over the picture plane. A catastrophe. Then Bacon must both engage and subdue the diagram. Or else the diagram, apparition, psychic projection, takes over the possibilities of the painting, causes a still birth.
The act of painting involves initially smashing around with scrubs, scumbles, traces. "Now this act, or these acts, presupposes that there were already figurative givens on the canvas (and in the painter's head)...it is precisely these givens that will be removed by the act of painting, either by being wiped, gbrushed or rubbed or else covered over. ..
This is what Bacon calls a 'graph' or a Diagram: it is as if a Sahara, a zone of the Sahara, were suddenly inserted into the head; it is as if a piece of rhinoceros skin, viewed under a microscope, were stretched over it; it is as if the two halves of the head were split open by an ocean; it is as if the unit of measure were changed, and micrometric, or even cosmic, unites were substituted for the figurative unit. A Sahara, a rhinoceros skin: such is the suddenly outstretched diagram. It is as if, in the midst of the figurative and probabilistic givens, a catastrophe overcame the canvas."
The catastrophe blows up in one's face, one is inside it in a blind manual dance like Jacob wrestling with the Angel. Without the fight the painting will fail. The psychotic topology of the diagram is raw live material. Without the fight the painter would have to pretend to have an innocent mind, like a little child with fingerpaints. No, everything would go to shit-- banality and goo. Bacon can't stand that, he has to get tough, 'almost blind manual marks attest to the intrusion of another world into the visual world of figuration'-- the catastrophe ensues almost blinding, 'one can no longer see any thing'...the painter remains entangled in the optical phenomenal of gesture, but must not give into it , because giving into the diagram kills the diagram, or anyway spoil it: ..."botch it , so overload it that it is rendered inoperative (which is another way of remaining in the figurative: one will have simply mutilated or mauled the cliche...
More than the cliche is also the psychic loss- Bacon risks everything to get through this, risks a loss of self, gives in to an extreme degree of aggression relative to the diagram. Wrestling with the diagram must be to not to kill it nor subdue it but to collapse into it, and embrace it while fighting-- into a dangerous possibly productive curve, into the abyss, and then, maybe, then, a painting will build out from the sensation-dimensions that spring out from the dangerous curve-- "The diagram is thus the operative set of signifying and non representative lines and zones.... that introduce 'possibilities of fact' " or, contains the germ of a rhythm of new order-sensations. Deleuze later observes Cezanne as pre-eminently to 'have produced the experience of chaos and catastrophe as intensely, while fight to limit and control it at any price". He continues "Chaos and catastrophe imply the collapse of the figurative givens, and thus they already entail a fight, the fight against the cliche, the preparatory work (all the more necessary in that we are no longer "innocent").
It is out of chaos that the 'stubborn geometry' or geologic lines' first emerge; and this geometry or geology must in turn pass through the catastrophe in order for colors to arise, for the earth to rise to the sun. It is thus a temporal diagram, with two moments..."
(quotes from Gilles Deleuze, Frances Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, Daniel W. Smith, translation, University of Minnesota Press, 2003)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Sally Jane Norman Sent: Thu 5/14/2009 7:43 PM To: soft_skinned_space Subject: Re: [-empyre-] R: Agreement within difference
These links are for me uncanny - as befits the motion of critical thinking like this! - in that they can't but bring to mind Forsythe's "execution" of Bacon's Retranslation/ Final Unfinished Portrait, exhibited at the Louvre in autumn 06. Forsythe attached lead to his shoes and gloves and performed a violent four-legged movement sequence (two legs good, four legs better?) to transcribe/ transpose/ interpret Bacon's "stenography of sensation", filmed by Peter Welz who "staged" an installation comprised of multiple video views of this terrifyingly frenergetic (yes, that's the only word for it!!!) "diagram" in the making. The sound was/ is vital.
The lead traces on the white surface formed a haunting (also olfactive) trajectory, a twisted echo (counterpoint?) to the Bacon portrait, likewise part of the installation/ exhibit. The exhibition breathed. Actually it sweated and panted and exerted. In all its disembodied "quiescence". One of the most moving pieces of "motion capture I've experienced... This exhibition coincided with the DVD publication of One Flat Thing. There's something about the way Forsythe moves relentlessly across media - just as relentlessly as he carves out space with the movement of his own limbs - that's akin to the tireless movement of another of my heroes, Oskar Schlemmer. Whose work on trajectory/ traces is, again, part of a massive, massively moving exploration. Of movement.
best sjn ---
Gio 14/5/09, Norah Zuniga Shaw ha scritto:
From: email@example.com on behalf of Stelarc Sent: Thu 5/14/2009 11:55 PM
Subject: [-empyre-] the inadequate, the involuntary, the alternate...
Hi Norah (Stomatia, Ashley, Christina, Alan, Sally Jane, Erin, Johannes, Tim and Renato)-
Just to say that this posting will not be in sync with the most recent exchanges. I am staying in a hotel with very expensive internet access which I can't afford. And during the day I'm busy programming. Anyway, this was done last night and being sent morning, Sydney time! I'm delighted to read the articulate and astute observations made by all of the participants about critical motion practice which have accumulated but remained unanswered in my In-box. As a counterpoint to the ideas that have unfolded in these exchanges, perhaps the most appropriate contribution I can make is to suggest something other- the experience of the body as inadequate, involuntary and augmented. A body immersed in uncertainty, anxiety and ambivalence. A body that is absent from itself, empty in itself and exhausted by itself.
This has generated ambivalence, uncertainty and anxiety. The body might be enabled and accelerated, but this only exposes and amplifies its obsolescence. In an age of excess, the body needs to cope with mixed realities, telematic embrace and its chimeric other. It is an age of circulating flesh, fractal flesh and phantom flesh. It is also a time of multiplying and outmoded metaphysical assumptions still affirming the biological status-quo of the body or perpetuating disconcerting desires of out-of-body experiences. We still speak as if these bodies possess inner selves.
As if speech is an outering from something inner. Performances such as Fractal Flesh and Ping Body explored remote actuation of the body wired to a computer sequenced muscle stimulation system. In Fractal Flesh people in other places prompt the body to move. In Ping Body mapping the reverberating ping signal, measured in milliseconds is mapped to the body's musculature. The body moves as a crude barometer of internet activity. The body is seen as a split body. Voltage-in, to jerk the left arm and leg up and down and voltage- out, to actuate a mechanical third hand. The body moves, but not through space. Its task envelope is defined by its limb motion but the internet constructs it as an alternate and extended operational system.
Movatar was an inverse motion-capture system where an avatar, imbued with genetic algorithms, whose behavior varies during the performance, actuated the two arms using a pneumatically powered upper body exoskeleton. The body becomes a prosthesis enabling the motion of an avatar in the real world.
The body becomes both a possessed and performing body, simultaneously actuated and improvising. The body not as a single agency, but also a host for an artificial entity. The performances were done in a posture of indifference. Indifference as opposed to expectation. Actions without anticipation. Moments without memory. Indifference to allow an unfolding of the performance in its own time, with its own rhythm. Ashley's space for the in-between not only connects but opens up. It's also a pause that allows for reflexion, infection and interpretation. Perhaps this is a fatal moment and a moment of collapse. ItŐs what happens when there is a slippage between the intention and the action. A singularity in programming a robot occurs at a moment when, because of multiple possibilities, the robot can't choose which one to execute. What happens when a dancer stops but then can't start?
Best wishes- Stelarc
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Timothy Murray Sent: Fri 5/15/2009 3:46 PM To: soft_skinned_space Subject: Re: [-empyre-] the inadequate, the involuntary, the alternate... >
Thanks so much for your fascinating post (sorry that -empyre- has no funds for subvention for guests staying in hotels with pricey internet connections!). I'm fascinated by your emphasis on the body as "something other- the experience of the body as inadequate, involuntary and augmented. A body immersed in uncertainty, anxiety and ambivalence." This does indeed suggest that there's something exceptionally 'critical' in your motion practice that engages with what you call "an age of circulating flesh, fractal flesh and phantom flesh." Particularly critical, it seems to me, is your performative intervention in networked (as opposed to 'bare') life.
To revert to Ashley's phrase, what does it mean when motion practice is inscribed in the in-between, when it consists of, reflects on the technological interfaces the interfaces, the tracks, the pings that enable us daily? Also interesting is your suggestion that, within the scope of the network, which encompasses both the daily activities of -empyre- and the technological interfaces of choreography, "the body becomes both a possessed and performing body, simultaneously actuated and improvising. The body not as a single, intentional agency, but as a host for an artificial entity."
This would certainly entail what you call an "indifference," and, here, indifference would envelope traditional attitudes of performance and theatrical perspective that are organized around the centrality of "the subject" as organizing principle, not merely as interactive host. I might have mentioned on -empyre- once before that Jean-Franois Lyotard used to tell me that indifference is the most effective form of terrorism. Here terror could involve a choreographic intervention that foregrounds the prominence of the unsettling prosthesis in an age of otherwise willed alignment. Perhaps what once served as the engine of transubstantial transcendence or spiritual alignment, "the host," now works as a provocative trope of the state of the body as a prosthetic motion-captured-being-in-the-world.
Thanks so much for joining in. Tim
From: email@example.com on behalf of Ashley Ferro-Murray Sent: Fri 5/15/2009 4:37 PM To: soft_skinned_space Subject: Re: [-empyre-] the inadequate, the involuntary, the alternate...
Tim and Stelarc,
Thank you for your critical motion thoughts. I would be curious to meditate on the "state of the body as a prosthetic motion-captured-being-in-the-world." I too am particularly interested in Stelarc's notion of the body as augmented, involuntary and fragmented. We have seen in various works by Stelarc how machines, sensors and digital networks can enhance these qualities of the body and encourage their performance. I am curious how performing with the body alone, a machine in itself, can reach similar states of prosthesis. Can we reach an augmented, involuntary and fragmented performance without an added prosthesis? Or, perhaps this is precisely the point. We are added prosthesis.
We inherently exhibit the qualities of prosthetic intervention as we are and have always been infinitely dependent on prosthetic presence whatever that may be. Nevertheless, it seems that there are more effective ways than others to encourage augmentation, involuntary movement and fragmentation. I would like to consider which qualities we rehearse or focus on to perpetuate and focus on these types of performance, the performance of the "state of the body as prosthetic motion-captured-being-in-the-world."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Johannes Birringer Sent: Sat 5/16/2009 12:54 PM
Subject: RE: [-empyre-] critical motion nowhere and everywhere at some time
it was almost involuntarily seductive to not hear from a participant due to non-access to the soft_skinned_space, and wonder what the guest might have said about the articulation of 2 degrees or 3 degrees of freedom (of joints) and/or ideas of critical making (Norah's term) or research-creation (Erin's term).
>>Movatar was an inverse motion-capture system where an avatar, imbued with genetic algorithms, whose behavior varies during the performance, actuated the two arms using a pneumatically powered upper body exoskeleton. The body becomes a prosthesis enabling the motion of an avatar in the real world. >>
presumably the movatar/avatar was the performer, or rather the "system" --- and it would interest me to hear more about whether system design in this case designs various kinds of possible, not possible involuntary and inadequate (?- regarding what adequacy?) actuations or operations......
I have now read up on the discussion that has evolved this month, and i want to thank everyone, it is a very breathtaking and heady space to enter,
most recently Sally Jane's remembering of 'Forsythe's "execution" of Bacon's Retranslation/ Final Unfinished Portrait' was indeed haunting me as much as Christina's comments (via the French philosopher who has been involuntarily nourishing the debate) on Bacon's graphs/paintings, and then i then spent a while learning the "tank man tango"
I tried to figure out what forget2forget is (and what their politics might be).... and i found :
>>Tank Man Tango is an artwork by Deborah Kelly featuring Teik Kim Pok dancing choreography by Jane McKernan in a video made by Sven Simulacrum>>
This is quite straightforward. the roundabout (others joining in on June 4 to commemorate [and not forget) idea is less clear, how when where for whom? to webcams? YOUTUBEr ?
the space of forgetting/remembering now "our" internet social networkspace. pliable and moveable (ukiyo-e)? If there is any opportunity, given the complexity of the last two week's discussion - can one go back to ask the first week's guests how philosophy as a "conceptual operator to highlight the reciprocal relation between human movement and digital technology" [Stamatia] was harnessed (what assumptions about this system were brought to the making of dance, the discourse of citations and ideas, or the movement of movement), and why this particular framework, and not another (non-Western, say, or transrational)? early on, Ricardo mentioned the Lepecki book (Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement ), and its referential systems (including Sloterdijk's "Mobilization of the Planet from the Spirit of Self-Intensification" & comments on political kinetics; and European Konzepr Tanz -- has anyone seen Jrme Bel's "The Spectator" - hmmm, it was a bit exhausting and uninteresting, indeed, I felt)......
[ clip ] [clip]
and Alan took us onto a somewhat different track with his reference to Second Life and body art >> I've always been interested in the psychoanalytics of dance/performance, beginning with Acconci's and Anderson's early work years ago. With Sl/ live performance, we've been able to explore these things - particularly issues of abjection and discomfort, sexuality/body/language - directly >>>
thanks to Ashley for her wonderful description of her experience inside Kentridge's installation "7 Fragments for Georges Mlis & Journey to the Moon'" --- I gather this is K's homage to creativity manifested in his particular fusion of performance, drawing, animation, film....... Mlis and Mybridge haunt these pages here, as does Schlemmer (thanks Sally Jane) and - i hope - as does manga and anime. later, i am very grateful to Norah for her reflection on what "critical making" might be (I am not sure i understand yet).
And how would you compare Tank Man Tango to, say, Movatar or your huge collaborative production at OSU's Computing Centre " making visual objects for choreographic ideas, writing within the visual space of these objects" .....(creating an interlaced system of online dataobjects [OFTr] including notation/description, animation, graphs and visualizations as analyses-tools for re-viewing certain -- i.e. Forsythe's -- choreographic principles?)
were these choreographic objects created for reproductions of a very particular dance, understanding its particular principles [or Forsythe's system of imporvisation technologies and vocabularies?], or reproductiions of dancing? addressed to dancers, readers, and users as we were asked to join in, with Tank Man? Historically, how has OSU's collaboration on such research evolved from, say, Labanotation software and DVDs offered for dance reconstruction [preservation] and videodance to the online Synchronic Objects?
1989 [ clip ] 2001 [clip] 2009 [clip]
Tim's last remark on indifference and "choreographic intervention" also struck a note with me, if indeed (in a larger political and global world beyond concert dance and arthouse installations and interdisciplinary university research centers) indifference can be a principle of terror, as it is of the Sublime (are we reminded here of Stockhausen's comment on 9/11?)
Question (to Norah), why was One Flat Thing chosen, and not, say, "Three Atmospheric Studies" or the equally disturbing "Decreation"?
regards Johannes Birringer
>>> Tim wrote>>
Also interesting is your suggestion that, within the scope of the network, which encompasses both the daily activities of -empyre- and the technological interfaces of choreography, "the body becomes both a possessed and performing body, simultaneously actuated and improvising. The body not as a single, intentional agency, but as a host for an artificial entity." This would certainly entail what you call an "indifference," and, here, indifference would envelope traditional attitudes of performance and theatrical perspective that are organized around the centrality of "the subject" as organizing principle, not merely as interactive host. I might have mentioned on -empyre- once before that Jean-Franois Lyotard used to tell me that indifference is the most effective form of terrorism. Here terror could involve a choreographic intervention that foregrounds the prominence of the unsettling prosthesis in an age of otherwise willed alignment.
From: email@example.com on behalf of Stelarc Sent: Sun 5/17/2009 1:52 AM
Subject: [-empyre-] swarms, task envelopes,trajectories and displacements..
Hi Tim and Ashley-
Thanks for suggesting alternate ideas, constructing additional meanings and relevance to what was written and prompting a further response. Much of what we do affirms and perpetuates outmoded assumptions and perceptions about the body. I just wanted to problematize it and try to re-think, if not re-figure what it means to be a body- in both form and function. (The "I" in these references simply means "this" body.
It is a huge metaphysical leap to assert anything inner, anything other). We should neither affirm the biological status quo of the body nor should we be mimicking machines. What is more interesting is to see the body now as an extended operational system of mixed realities in both proximal and remote spaces. To augment and extend the body is not so much about enhancement but rather being able to perform with alternate capabilities and unexpected outcomes. Indifference allows not mere entanglement of bodies and machines but their assemblage. These assemblages of body, machines and virtual systems are constantly changing with the trajectories, intensities, rhythms and duration of operation. Indifference is necessary for an erasure of agency at the critical moment that allows a coupling. This coupling can result in Chimeric Flesh. We are fascinated by the diverse locomotion of living things, of the flocking behavior of birds and the swarming behavior of insects. Of their complexity and seeming emergent behavior.
Aliveness is now enriched by the seductive, smooth and speedy motion of machines. Not only do living things move, but things now move too. Some relevant ideas that come to mind include technology as the external organs of the body (McLuhan), the displacement of human capabilities into machines (Baudrillard) and the unexpected occurrences and accidents that occur with new technologies (Virilio).
Accidents though seen in a more positive way, as unscripted moments of possibilities and creativity. With Circulating Flesh, not only do bodies move but now bits of bodies are displaced from one body to another. Blood circulating in my body may tomorrow circulate in your body. Ova that have been stored are fertilized with sperm that has been unfrozen. The face of a cadaver becomes a third face on a recipient. Organs are extracted from one body and implanted into other bodies. Organs in circulation. Organs in excess. Organs awaiting bodies. Organs without bodies.
When I talk about Fractal Flesh I mean bodies and bits of bodies spatially separated but electronically connected, generating recurring patterns of interactivity at varying scales. The proliferation of haptic devices on the internet will mean being able to generate potent physical presences of remote bodies and machines. To interact with force-feedback. Tele-presence becomes tele- existence when there are adequate feedback loops between a body and a robot. That is what's meant by Phantom Flesh. Unexpected kinds of bodily trajectories have been generated. Bodies coupled with machines, bodies contained in machines, machines inserted into bodies.
The body once only seamlessly moved in space with a continuity of time. Now bodies are violently launched, accelerated and propelled across time-zones. This is increasingly experienced as displacement. We are not going anywhere now but rather we are sometimes here, some times there. We are all differently enabled bodies on varying prosthetic trajectories extending our task envelopes beyond the proximal (beyond the boundaries of the skin and beyond the local space we inhabit) and becoming remote sensors and end-effectors for other bodies and surrogate machines in other places. A prosthesis is not necessarily a sign of lack, but rather a symptom of excess.
The HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) EMG controlled exoskeleton for example both prosthetically supports and actuates a disabled body or strengthens the musculature of normally functioning body. Perhaps we need more singularities. More moments of implosion. More anxieties generated by indecision. Unable to choose, the body stops, the body can't move. The dance ends. Time to re-think.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Norah Zuniga Shaw Sent: Mon 5/18/2009 5:09 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] swarms, task envelopes, trajectories
Great to have Johannes and Laura taking the reins this week and thank you again for including me in this conversation.
I owe some of the contributors a response to their very good questions and have not gotten to them yet because of an up tick in teaching responsibilities and the delightful arrival of Dana Caspersen in our mix as a guest teacher this week. Thank you Johannes for this lovely threading together of many departure points in the conversation thus far.
Allow me to add a few words from Dana that I think also thread together many of the themes that have come up in our critical motions: Excerpted from walker arts blog titled: Performing Arts Č Methodologies: Bill Forsythe and the Ballett Frankfurt by Dana Caspersen The work we do takes place on many levels, but always comes back to the undeniable fact of the body: its capacity for oceanic depth and complexity, its simple pressure against the air, the intricate nature of its thought, its states of oracular, dreamlike possession. á
Bill dances with extraordinary vision, his body releases into time in fine, detailed increments; magnificent, rhythmical waves of complex, shearing form. In his dancers, he looks for the ability to coordinate in highly complex ways, creating folding relational chains of impetus and residual response, using isolation and extreme articulation of head, neck, hips, torso and limbsáThese initiations and reactions within the body are simultaneous and inextricably linked. The body is a continuum, like a body of water; all parts are continuously alive to the others. I notice that the biggest challenges for dancers seem to be maintaining the authenticity of this full body integration, maintaining and traveling large forms, understanding the complex internal relationships that inform the movement. á
Throughout the years, Bill and the company have been developing an extensive group of procedures that we use constantly in choreographing and improvising. These procedures should be regarded as tools for the playful mind, not laws or some kind of choreographic machinery. The dancerös [Norah:and here I could insert the řuserös÷ in relationship to our site] own curious mind is the most important thing. I find these procedures, and Billös methodologies in general, useful in that they tend to promote an inventive curiosity. áBillös dancing is co-ordinatively extremely complex and at the same time completely organic.
The key to understanding how to dance his choreography lies in figuring out which points on his body are initiating movement and which are responding to the initiation. This inner response, which we call residual movement, is refraction, like light bouncing between surfaces. áWhat I have learned from Bill is to direct myself to be equally curious about failure and success; to try to move continuously back into the work, and not anticipate the outcome. As I was trying to find a good way to describe Billös work, I came across a quote from the 17th century Japanese Zen master, Takasui, who taught: ř You must doubt deeply, again and again, asking yourself what the subject of hearing could be.÷
(empyre / soft_skinned space: (c) http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/)
* * *
For more in formation on the design and performnce concepts for
for the time being, visit us..(c) dap 2012Project directors: Johannes Birringer & Michèle DanjouxBrunel University, West London