September 2010, Brooklyn, NY
AMCh Final Report, Number 4
Covering: March – June 2010
2- Part One: Wandering to inging
– Quotations within Quotations
– Extra, Extra: Get Your Gained Knowledge Here!
– A Revisitation: When “not – knowing” becomes Knowledge
– The Struggle to Gain Distance
– Recursion and Composition
– Readings: Hyper-reflexivity, Solipsism and The What-of-the Social
3- Part Two: Parsing through inging
– Attempting Defining inging
– Some Feedback on the Practice of inging
– Camera as the Other
– Speaking the Unknown – Speaking into Silence
– The Table as Invitation: Relation or Division
– Puncture or Collapse
* * *
First Years Colleagues:
Myriam van Imschoot
Thomas Lehman (First Year)
Susan Rethorst (Second Year)
Liz LeCompte (First Year)
Andre Lepecki (Second Year)
* * *
– Giorgio Agamben, Means Without End; Language and Death
– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie
– Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable; Not I
– John Cage, Silence
– Noam Chomsky, Language and Thought
– Andrew Hewitt, Social Choreography
– Amelia Jones, Performing the Body, Performing the Text
– Marty Jezer, Stuttering
– Rosalind Krauss, Perpetual Inventory
– Andre Lepecki, Exhausting Dance
– David McNeil, Hand and Mind
– Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy
– Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct
– Jacques Rancierre, The Future of the Image
* * *
This fourth and final report will cover the events, references and findings I perceive most relevant to the period leading up to the public presentations of my research for the AMCh program ending in June 2010 in Amsterdam.
I come at writing from the point of view of a practitioner whose main interest and purpose is to discover, activate and work with an ongoing proliferation of questions made productive through the body, through bodies, through time, through the practice of itself, through dancing. My interest is not to come to a point or to find answers to these questions but to openly engage undetermined
I find my way through doing.
I find my way here through doing writing.
I structured the last two reports more or less chronologically. I did this with deliberate intent. I decided to use the format of the report as a document that would trace and track my shifting modes of thinking, to follow closely an elusively articulated process that did not begin with a clearly articulated subject, concept or
question.1 Indeed, without such starting places, it becomes more challenging to justify (1) a perspective and method of working that, which is very open at times. I took on previous reports in this organizational way in order to communicate as clearly as possible, through writing, the intangibility of choice-making in art practices – a sometimes elusive process that sometimes does not follow logical lines of thinking or well defined procedural methods. I wanted to be accountable (paradoxically) to the articulation of that elusiveness in order to offer a
perspective on the kind of choreographic practice that I engage in – from a perspective that is not fixed, that is often dependent on contingencies, that often resists in order to insist on something and that tries not to calcify with definitions for fear of paralysis.
What is it that we follow? And why? Is it enough to just go? And when we say enough – enough for what or for whom? And when we say go – go where and go, why?
My attempts at meticulously and thoroughly tracing and tracking my process, led to an attempt to meticulously and thoroughly document my thinking that then led to my thinking/doing, through writing, talking and capturing through video. The general idea was this: if I could articulate these tracks and traces, these skips
and patterns, these associations and meanderings, these micro decisions and multiple awareness, the essence, as it were, of my thinking, then I could clearly offer my perspective on choreographic practice. Indeed it is how one thinks, oneʼs perception, oneʼs patterns, memories, associations, the learned behavior and learned skills, knowledge, influences, in relation to the meeting points of recognition, that contribute to a way of thinking/doing/making and therefore to a particular choreographic mind. A way of thinking that enfolds subjects, yet, at the
same time, is not bound to subjects as footholds into making. Within this process – the attempt to map my mind – my thinking became my doing through languaging (or what I would later name, inging. inging is the name for the performance practice of non-stop talking). This languaging conflated and collapsed all the
processes, subjects, and possibilities already present, as well as generated potentials for unknowns to emerge.
For this final report, I have found the chronological form and the step-by-step accounts less relevant in sharing the mind of inging. Parsing through inging has been an arduous endeavor. Sometimes it escapes me. I find it impossible to cover all of it. Concrete selection of information always limits. So, I remedy this by allowing my self to wander.
* * *
“The age in which we are living, in fact, is also the age in which, for the first time, it becomes possible for human beings to experience their own linguistic essence – to experience, that is, not some language content or some true proposition, but the fact itself of speaking. The experience in question here does not have any objective content and cannot be formulated as a proposition referring to a state of things or to a historical situation. It does not pertain to this or that grammar but – so to speak – to the factum loquendi as such. Therefore, this experience must be constructed as an experiment concerning the matter itself of thought, that is, the power of thought.”
– Giorgio Amgamben, Means Without End
Part One: Wandering to inging
* * *
Quotations within Quotations
“Communication is a more-or-less matter . . . it does not require shared “public meanings” any more than it requires “public pronunciations.” ”
– Noam Chomsky, Language and Thought
I like using quotes. They often validate and make concrete thoughts that were always there, but that I didnʼt know I had or that I couldnʼt think to say or didnʼt know how to say. Even if taken out of the context from which they are meant, the words of others ground me – in realities other than my own. They remind me that my small reality is a part of a larger whole, of a collective purpose. Left to my own devices, I could go off on a tangent and never find my way back to the point.
What is “the point” after all? Writing well is very difficult. So is a well-articulated thought . . . very difficult, that is. Especially when there are so many thoughts, so many perspectives, so much to say. What is the thing to say when there is so
much to say? With this question in mind, speaking (and in this case, writing) then becomes saying with precision and accuracy. Making most of an opportunity to be understood. Is it possible after all to really speak oneʼs mind, to speak out with
oneʼs own voice? And if so, what would that voice sound like and what would it say. Mostly what happens when the voice speaks out, it forms sounds that are then met with conditions from the outside and become signs that are then transformed into something other than what they initially were: translations into permanence, material, meanings. These “meanings” can be met with understanding or just as easily with misunderstanding. It seems that the voice, the voice of the self that is, exists exactly in the transition of emission from the vast space of the interior world to the reasoned concreteness of the exterior world. The voice exists in transition: escaping, impermanent, immaterial, rather than in concrete translation. It exists at the blurred, and sometimes terrifying edge, of speech and body, of interior and exterior, this place that is untranslatable as separate, as difference. This is where the voice is.
I didnʼt grow up with language, really, as a form of communication. I grew up with silence. Literally. “Children should be seen and not heard.” This was a dictum in our household while growing up. I became skilled at a young age, though unconsciously, to read the “language” of the body- its behaviors, moods, tensions, releases. Itʼs not a bad thing. I became acutely aware of sounds. Listening. The sound of speed of a closing door or the measure of heaviness on the stairs or the tone of distant voices in another room. I have an elderly father who once mastered the language of Shakespeare, who now speaks like a child. This is not therapy after all but when attempting to parse through where things come from, how things are processed and where they go…back out into the world, then, itʼs hard not to go back there. How close do you get? How far do you go? We desperately try to separate these things but we canʼt deny their integration into every thought, every action, so ubiquitous and woven into the fabric, the choreography of the mind, the choreographed self, that it needs a worthwhile reason to emerge as subject.
What is worthy of emerging as subject? When we speak of emergence, what do we mean? Is it always possible to know what we mean? To say what we mean, and mean what we say? (2) What we sense, what we feel, what we imagine, what we canʼt imagine? What are we saying? What are we doing? What are we saying about what we are doing? What do we know and when? What is the language that can articulate this knowing? What are the awarenesses that slip through the cracks of our ability to speak of them. Every intention, every consequence of every action, every meaning of every word. What amount of time does it take to “know”, to formulate, to articulate analysis, purpose and meaning of our intentions and our actions? Does clear intention make our actions clearer? Does clear formulation of action make the action more worthwhile? What is worthy of being rigorously pursued? What is the value? What is at stake? What is the thing to say when there is too much to say, the thing to do when thereʼs so much to do? Is the movement, the speed of our thinking through our stammerings, our stutterings, our broken, incomplete and imperfect language enough? And if so, who is listening?
It seems to me that the growing inability to listen is a fundamentally deficient condition of the 21st century. Certainly people of differing cultures invading other cultures for oil in the name of divine intervention of democracy, or those within
the same country fighting for territory, or those whose greed supercede social conscience, or those who participate in “reality” shows who have their lives, actions and relationships orchestrated by producers, or those on Facebook who post soft porn pictures of their best friend passed out drunk, naked in the shower to humiliate them, arenʼt really listening to each other. Whatʼs more is that people arenʼt really listening to themselves, inside themselves. The diffuse attention span of our culture has drifted away, onto other things. Drills, spills, crashes, volcanic ashes, planes in the Twin Towers lead to riots at the Parthenon, bailouts, tea parties, tent cities and celebrities. What is the voice that can be heard? The voice of propaganda, the voice of hope, the voice of fear, the voice of spectacle, the voice of power, the voice of political correctness, the voice of ethics, the voice of abject stupidity to the point of entertainment, the voice that says the right thing at the right time to the right person, the loudest voice? Let free dumb ring!
Are we too obsessed with freedom? The notion or concept of freedom is different than the being in of freedom, or the kinds of mobilizations that freedom is a consequence of. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, a womanʼs right to choose, a manʼs right to marry a man, the rights of immigrants to not have to carry legal documents on the streets of Arizona? Every man for himself, pick yourself up by your own bootstraps, the self-made man, work hard enough and you can live the dream. The American dream: that beautiful capitalist construction. America: land of the free, home of the brave. What freedoms are worth fighting for? What freedom are we fighting for now? Free to buy a home without being able to pay for it, free to go into trillions of dollars of debt to China, free to allocate a trillion dollars to go to war to protect our oil interests, free to send 18 year olds from the poorest families to go to Iraq and Afghanistan who then come back home with their heads caved in from blast exposure who then commit suicide whose families are then scammed out of millions of dollars by life insurance companies? Oh well, no matter. At least we are free to have access to the newest models of the Ipad, Iphone and Ipod: those designs of individuated sameness, those objects that say “Iam” because “Ihave” – consuming the rapid rate of information at any given moment of our choosing, networking our private lives into monstrous publicness, filming ourselves doing nothing of importance and putting it on Youtube, accessing Amazon, Google or Pandora that, genome- like, can automatically organize our “unique” creative and intellectual interests, standardizing our purchases, our learning and our experiences.
So what has all of this got to do with artistic research and mine in particular? Is it enough to say: “I donʼt know” and keep going? Just go, keep going? Is it enough to go and not say? Or is this silence a kind of violence? Or if say, say in a way that might escape?
Is it true that art makes possible the kind of freedom we no longer have? Or has art also been hijacked, sent through the sieve and filtered of any unwanted materials? Not economic enough? Not efficient enough? Not doing what it set out to do? Not saying what it set out to say? Is it now relegated to the job of social and political commentary? (3) Perhaps art makes more apparent that freedom is actually out of our hands, slipped away, and canʼt be grasped or gotten back.
* * *
“… that is to say with regard to me, this is going to take a little longer, with regard to me, nice time weʼre going to have now, with regard to me, that it has not yet been our good fortune to establish with any degree of accuracy what I am, where I am, whether I am words among words or silence in the midst of silence … I donʼt know, doubt is present, in this connexion, somewhere or other, I resume, how I manage to hear, if itʼs I who hear, and how to understand, ellipse when possible, it saves time, how to understand, same observation, and how it happens, if itʼs I who speak, and it may be assumed it is, as it may be suspected it is not, how it happens, if itʼs I who speak, that I speak without ceasing, that I long to cease, that I canʼt cease … with regard to me, itʼs I who seek, find, lose, find again, throw away, seek again, find again, throw away again … if itʼs I who seek, find, lose, find again, lose again, seek in vain, seek no more, if itʼs I what it is, and if itʼs not I who it is, and what it is, I seek nothing else for the moment, yes I do…”
– from The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett
Extra, Extra: Get Your Gained Knowledge Here!
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
– T.S. Eliot, The Rock
1- On August 11th, I received an email from Bianca Nieuwboer who is on the editorial staff of ‘Danswetenschap in Nederland.ʼ She writes:
“The editorial staff of ‘Danswetenschap in Nederland’ has read a summary of your research done at the AHK and we are interested in taking it in as an article in the publication. The summary of the research needs a bit of rewriting though. We would like to know what your research question was and what kind of steps you took to answer the question. And what are you going to do with the gained knowledge?” (my emphasis)
2- In the feedback to my last report, Jeroen writes:
“I think you have succeeded in connecting your questioning into a generative practice. But you sound nearly unwilling. I wonder why that is so.”
3- In my last report, I wrote in response to Henk Borgdorffʼs article on artistic research in which he states that artistic research makes possible “the deliberate articulation of unfinished thinking in and through art:”
“Iʼm really intrigued by this term “unfinished thinking.” It makes me wonder what kind of thinking we are talking about, and for that matter what kind of knowledge, and for that matter what kind of articulation, and for that matter what kind of language to help articulate this kind of thinking about this kind of knowledge…
I donʼt disagree with the value of this common language and the knowledge that it communicates but it is only part of the story … I suppose my question is around the issue of “justification.” If we continue to accompany art works with descriptions and justifications, we risk cutting off the potentials of a wider net of experience and engagement, and itʼs potential for tacit understanding. Indeed our notion of language itself is a tacit knowledge. I just wonder if its possible to collapse this common language, that has a history, into the artwork itself, so that these known, common and historicized forms to convey knowledge, these unifying principles of “understanding” are disrupted; our sense of comprehension is challenged and shifted; and we can slip into a realm where the “language” of art signifies to itself.”
* * *
Indeed, what am I going to do with the knowledge that I have gained through the steps I have taken to answer the question that I needed to begin with in order to have a reason, to begin with, to start working?
What is the proposition? What is the articulation of this proposition? What is the purpose of this rigor, this intense reflexivity? What is the function and value? What is the perspective?
What is work, what is working, what is a work? How is working toward making a work different than just working? If one works and works hard then one assumes that there will be an outcome: a product, a work of art. Because working hard for the sake of working hard without anticipation of a determined outcome is silly, right? In the case of artistic research, what is produced at the end is knowledge. What is this knowledge? Who does it benefit? How can the knowledge be broken down to bits small enough to comprehend, a systematic organization of oneʼs imagination? (4) What of the knowledge that is tacitly apprehended, through the senses, through, say, the smell of toast that triggers a memory, through the image of that memory that triggers a song, through the melody of that song that triggers the imagination of a floating body in a forest, that triggers the non-rational sweep of an arm across the surface of a table that elicits a feeling of something not quite describable? When does working (practicing) become a work (of art/performance)? Is researching the practicing of making/producing/composing working again? Researching is just working again and again, searching over and
over again, sometimes, for some, with a goal in mind and at hand, but for others, sometimes, without. What of those cases? “And that I listen and that I seek,” (5) and that I seek and that I speak.
So, I turn to Agamben for support, and his notion of the gesture as a means without an end. In the gesture, nothing is being produced or acted, but “rather something is being endured and supported.” (6) It is not an end in itself but instead reveals “the sphere of a pure and endless mediality.” (7) He also defines politics in this same way, as “the sphere neither of an end in itself nor of means subordinated to an end; rather, it is the sphere of pure mediality with end intended as the field of human action and of human thought.” (8) He goes on to say that the gesture doesnʼt communicate anything. Here he makes the distinction between communication and communicability. “It has precisely nothing to say because what it shows is the being-in-language of human beings as pure mediality. However, because being-in-language is not something that could be said in sentences, the gesture is essentially always a gesture of not being able to figure something out in language.” (9) If we are to make the syllogistic conclusion, then, what is of the human body, its gesture, the gesture that shows the fact that
human beings are in language, yet a language that can not be said, that can not be communicated but rather, that is communicable, then, therefore, what is of the body and its gesture is inherently political. (10)
I could also go on to say that action without goal contains the potential for emergence of intensities and sensibilities that cannot be determined ahead of time. This “goal-less-ness” inherently contains the potential for inclusion and togetherness precisely because neither experience nor its meaning are ever imposed, dictated, or commanded. This is pure action where language has met its limit. It becomes a being-in-language that cannot be communicated or commanded, but is nevertheless communicable.
A Revisitation: When “not – knowing” becomes KNOWLEDGE
“How can I know what I think until I read what I write?”
– Henry James
From the beginning of the program at AmCh, I proposed that part of the process of making is a necessary “not-knowing,” and that this “not-knowing” is not passive but an active and participatory relationship to that which canʼt be determined and to possibilities of that which might become. A not – knowing is not “to not know” but rather a chance to think through practice, to understand
In my first report, I wrote:
“I donʼt set out knowing what I am going to do or how what I do will manifest itself. This is not to say that I donʼt have tools, or strategies, or histories, or tendencies, or ideas, ideals, dreams or purposes. I try to make the not – knowing, in relationship to what I do know, in relationship to what I can imagine, productive for allowing content and form to emerge. I am one of those people who feels that anything is possible until it doesnʼt belong anymore and that you canʼt know something or its methods or its parameters before youʼve practiced something first in order to find out what those methods and parameters are.”
This point of view, or at least my articulation of it, came up against some friction in the program. I have since come across these similar points of view and offer them here:
1- “One doesnʼt arrive – in words or in art – by necessarily knowing where one is going…You may set out to make a sculpture and find that time is your material…You have to be open to all possibilities and to all routes – circuitous or otherwise…Not-knowing isnʼt ignorance. Not-knowing is a permissive and rigorous willingness to trust, leaving knowing in suspension, trusting in possibility without result, regarding as possible all manner of response.”
– Ann Hamilton, from a paper called, Making Not Knowing
We were given copies of this article by Ann Hamilton on the last days of our program. Funny. The thrust of the article is how knowledge is constructed and understood through sensorial experience and that language is inadequate in articulating that experience. She speaks of art making as a process of “making not knowing.” Ann Hamilton is a MacArthur award winning visual and performance artist who is also a professor at OSU.
2- “Artistic Research . . . is more directed at a not – knowing, or a not – yet – knowing. It creates room for that which is unthought, that which is unexpected – the idea that all things could be different. Especially pertinent to artistic research is the realization that we do not yet know what we do not know.”
“The requirement that a research study should set out with well defined questions, topics or problems, is often at odds with the actual course of events in artistic research. Formulating a question implies delimiting the space in which a possible answer may be found. Yet research often resembles an uncertain quest
in which the questions or topics only materialize during the journey, and may often change as well. Besides not knowing exactly what one does not know, one also doesnʼt not know how to delimit the space where potential answers are located. As a rule, artistic research is not hypothesis-led, but discovery-led, whereby the artist undertakes a search on the basis of intuition, guesses and hunches, and possibly stumbles across some unexpected issues or surprising questions on the way.”
– from Henk Borgdorffʼs draft version of
The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research
We were introduced to Henk during our second year at AmCh. Henk Borgdorff is a professor of Art Theory and Research at the Amsterdam School of the Arts, and research fellow at the Royal Academy of Art and the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague.
* * *
The struggle to gain distance
“For an oral culture learning or knowing means achieving close, empathetic, communal identification with the known…separat[ing] the knower from the known…sets up conditions for ʻobjectivityʼ, in the sense of personal disengagement or distancing.”
– Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy
Because of the always, encroaching proximity that I have to the intertwining sources and source material in my work, I am always struggling to gain critical distance from it. Within this struggle lies my difficulty with and my suspicion of describing, justifying, or defending what it is Iʼm working on/with/through. (11) In
cases like this, I wish this wasnʼt so but so it is. In cases not like this, I am comfortable with things as actions, not as descriptions. Perhaps it has to do with my deep suspicion of language as a hegemonic paradigm for being in and understanding the world. Oneʼs authority or command over gaining this distance and indeed oneʼs authority and command in the articulation of that critical distance can contribute to the overallreadability/legibility/intelligibility of the work by others, a kind of intelligibility that almost always has to do with the discursive.
During my time at AMCh, while in an effort to gain distance from, as well as to develop more articulation of, my artistic practice, I was naturally sent into fundamentally questioning my modes of working, while at the same time plunging deeper into the center of its immersion. Both: analytical reflection of and intuitive immersion in. Both: analyzer and synthesizer. Bringing in all that I can and honing in as much as I can. Very early on in my research for this program, a practice that I simply named non-stop talking emerged.
Even though text had emerged for me in earlier works, the languaging practice that emerged here took on a very different form, precipitated by a tension between 1) questioning language as a paradigm for sharing and understanding and 2) from a desire to record (as a way of sharing) the map of my mind in its process of shifts of thinking. The focus in this languaging was less on prioritizing “subjects,” “contents,” or this or that “innovative” material that would emerge, which I then could manipulate later into some “innovative” composition. The emphasis was rather on tracking the overall choreography of the mind, one that inherently patterns, composes and structures, even in its free form tangential, looping, circular, associative, repetitive mash-up. A mind that is its own database, of sorts, of different images, imaginings, past experiences, subjective memories, snippets of cognition and associative meanderings – a kind of hybrid utterance if you will, or complex connection machine. The idea was: if I could expose my way of thinking through the actual form that I was challenged by (language), I could simultaneously trouble and excite my own systems of making as well as share with the program the essence of my method of choreographic practice, one again that is an aggregation of multiple, disparate, hybrid strands of information.
* * *
Recursion and Composition
“Whatʼs past is prologue.”
– William Shakespeare, quoted by Joe Biden during the Vice presidential debate with Sarah Palin
Thoughts within thoughts, sentences embedded within sentences, meanings within other meanings generating still more meanings, a frame within a frame. When you yell down a deep well the sound comes back to you in a series of echoes, the sensation of your inside on the outside of your skin, the circuitry of the mind, the reversibility of your inner thoughts becoming external language. The hand taking the glass that is on the table that is in the room, that puts it to the lips of the person who is you, who takes a drink of water, who feels the water go inside the mouth, that swallows the water to hydrate the organs including the skin, that organ on the outside of the body that is you, including the skin on the hand that is yours, that holds the glass, that puts the glass down on the table, the table that is inside the room where you are sitting.
There is a natural additive, circularity to how we think and process information. Linear thinking is a construction. (12) We communicate by looping back to what we know through what we have previously experienced within the context of new inputs and perceptions. The more complex and multiple the interface/s between what we know and what we take in, the more we can consider and be tolerant of new experiences of that information in different contexts other than the ones we already know. How can we be pushed and pulled to consider associative information in new kinds of structures that we donʼt yet know?
* * *
Readings: Hyper-reflexivity, solipsism and the what-of-the social body?
“The evolution of consciousness through human history is marked by growth in articulate attention to the interior of the individual person as distanced – though not necessarily separated – from the communal structures in which each person is necessarily enveloped. Self-consciousness is coextensive with humanity: everyone who can say ʻIʼ has an acute sense of self. But reflectiveness and articulateness about the self take time to grow.”
– Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy
More often than not, it takes time for me to grasp a defining perspective on (a) work. Often, I will consciously hold off on grasping these definitions too soon within a process. (Certainly, one of my primary desires in coming back to school was to give myself more time. Time to hold off and let go.) Iʼm more accustomed
to focusing on the operation of things, the strategies, the techniques, and asking what more can it be, what more can it do? This is not at the exclusion of its implications but actually allows the multiple implications to hover over the practice with varying degrees of proximity on any given day. Sometimes, maybe because of time, or circumstance or the feedback of another, or just something that canʼt be intuitively denied, one such implication will pierce the core of the practice to such a degree that it becomes central to the work itself. In this way, the practice becomes a process of adding and subtracting, expanding and contracting. And in this way, it begins to have a life of its own with multiple possibilities and directions.
I realize that this perspective on slowly defining perspective has been a question posed to me several times at AMCh, perhaps interpreting it as a resistance to or inability of defining perspective. I think there are distinctions on what it means to
offer perspective versus what it means to convince or defend oneʼs work. As Iʼve pointed earlier out in this report, the common understanding is that oneʼs command with which they articulate and deliver their perspective on their work will often convince others of the work (as Henk Borgdorff pointed out). I donʼt deny this nor do I live in a bubble. I am quite aware of the expectations and values of communication, to other artists, to audience, to curators, to producers, to foundations and so on. Because I donʼt readily crystallize thoughts does not mean I am not aware of them. But I am reluctant to convince. Itʼs not an enjoyable game for me. This has come up often in this program and came up in the final “assessment” of the program, as well. I think for other artists this skill of rhetorics is itself an art and they donʼt separate this skill from the rest of what they do. I respect that but Iʼve functioned with a different perspective. I suppose one could see this as a deficit. I try not to. Hopefully, these reports have shed light on some of my perspectives. And perhaps, the work itself has provided an even fuller perspective that the writing, within its inherent limitations and approximations, cannot.
The various readings from others over the course of the two years about my process have been incredibly valuable to me. Among these readings are: solipsism, hyper-reflexivity, and recursiveness, working on the edges of intelligibility and incomprehensibility, or within the frame of psychoanalysis. I have been asked to provide my perspective on these readings in relation to my choreographic practice and how these ultimately are propositions into the reading of the contemporary social body. Yes. There is consequence to every action and meaning to be read in everything we do. I suppose the consistency with which I approached my inquiries contributed to the ability for one to interpret those multiple readings. I donʼt believe there is any one perspective to be had. The strength of work is often in the multiple perspectives that it elicits. l am aware of and donʼt deny its underpinnings which are consequent within a contemporary context. I donʼt desire to hold on to any one perspective too tightly. There is a different kind of rigor in this letting go.
I have learned, not only about the various materials that have emerged but also more importantly I have learned, in direct relationship to them, about my own assumptions, habits, doubts and fears in creating. What challenges me to keep going and what holds me back? These are the perspectives, at this point for me, that are most valuable, rather than any particular reading on any particular material. The desire to keep going-to keep making-is a valuable thing, and something that I had severe doubts about prior to entering this program. Over the course of these 2 years, I developed a practice that has tilted me in a direction of performance that is fragile, unpredictable, uncomfortable, challenging, vulnerable and scary. For me, this is the worthwhile endeavor and Iʼm grateful for this moment that allows me to eke out more time with feeling interested in creating and sharing.
My process is indeed self-reflective. I am close to myself in it and yet I donʼt feel that this self-focused attention, this interior journey precludes relationality but for me makes relationality more possible. This is a process of looking back on and retrospectively analyzing actions and experiences that are at first undirected, immediate and unmediated, then made aware and practiced through selection and insistence. The performance practice that developed from this particular time at AMCh, named inging, is a subject of itself, a metadiscourse on metaconsciousness, describing itself through itself, a process within a process, a frame within a frame, myself within myself, seeing myself being in myself while being aware of what is outside of myself, projecting myself in relationship to other. Indeed, the other was necessary from the beginning and made my languaging possible.
* * *
“I’ll have heard, without an ear I’ll have heard, and I’ll have said it, without a mouth I’ll have said it, I’ll have said it inside me, then in the same breath outside me, perhaps that’s what I feel, an outside and an inside and me in the middle, perhaps that’s what I am, the thing that divides the world in two, on the one side the outside, on the other the inside, that can be as thin as foil, I’m neither one side nor the other, I’m in the middle, I’m the partition, I’ve two surfaces and no thickness, perhaps that’s what I feel, myself vibrating, I’m the tympanum, on the one hand the mind, on the other the world, I don’t belong to either.”
– The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett
Part Two: Parsing through inging
* * *
Attempting defining inging
inging refers to grammatical aspects in language which point to the present progressive tense, or continuous present. The continuous and progressive aspects in language are used to express actions that have begun but have not yet finished, that which are still in progress.
The action of inging is languaging, a practice of non-stop speaking and being in the continuous present. Thought becomes action in and of itself, at the intersection of body and language. The mouth mobilizes thought in the transition where language exits the body. The circuitry of the mind moves through mouth, lips, tongue and liquids. The practice of inging moves forward, toward the edges of intelligibility and comprehension where thought itself persists and insists. Gesture emerges as the inevitable bridge between thought and language, where speech stammers and stutters. Silence emerges as the inevitable puncture to the exigencies of the continuous present. Moving thought through speech and speechifying thought through movement brings speaker and listener, “performer” and “audience” at the threshold of communication and relation. To speak is made possible through listening; to listen is made possible through speaking.
The audience enters a room. In the room is situated a table, with books on top, notebooks, computer and small camera which records the performer, seated at the table, non-stop speaking without script, following only one directive: moving the continuing present thought articulated through speaking. Behind the table, on the wall, are projections from the computer of past practices of inging. The inside thought made external as image of multiple selves, in multiple places. Simultaneously here, now, and there, then. Both, inside and outside. Past and present. Present and future. Memory and imagination. Body and Voice. Every performance simultaneously produces, accumulates and archives information for a future use that is unknown. There are empty chairs at the table and scattered about the room. The audience chooses whether or not to sit at the table and where to be … or not …
* * *
Some feedback on the practice of inging
I thought it would be relevant to include some observations and feedback on the earlier practices of inging in NY prior to coming to Amsterdam in May. I have an extensive list of feedbacks from the time that I began the practice of non-stop speaking as performance to the final presentations in June, but thereʼs too much to include here.
NY, March 24th, Myriam:
– The integration of movement becomes more performative- more presentational.
– The ritualization of beginning and end is broken down.
– Movement and talking-can be too one on one, too self-conscious.
– Subtexting of dancerʼs muteness comes to the foreground in the silence.
– Narration gives safety; more syntactical. Does this come from more practice or from the frame of sharing and being “social”?
– How can you destabilize the indexes in the way that communication is destabilized through this languaging.
– It is important to have handles (techniques) so that you can stay on the edge but not throw yourself on the knife.
– To have the viewer know that you are in control is a relief. As a viewer, I donʼt always need you to be “real”.
NY, March 25th, Andre:
– Getting up from the table starts to dissipate the program, it falls into improv.
– Updating is important. It presents it as a problem.
– History is apparent and the apparatus of camera as archiving and creating personal history
– Material should dictate duration.
NY, April 16th, Liz:
– Direct address to audience and being in your own thoughts at the same time.
– Restraint seems important.
– Free flow and construction both.
– Donʼt need the video. If you use video it should be images that are as random as the speech. A million images behind you. Your images detract from you.
– Persona of the speaking woman. Donʼt trivialize it. There is a specialness in it. Oracle, shaman. Take it out of the casual.
– The frame is important. Formalize it. Be specific.
– Build in the silence. It canʼt be a relief. Like a mute button where thought and speech are still going on.
– This is not an intellectual exercise at all. Not just task oriented. Itʼs visceral and emotional.
– Every part of your body is focused on the next thought.
– Emotion in the face but informational in the text.
* * *
Camera as the other
“I am a camera with its shutter open…”
– Christopher Isherwood, from Goodbye to Berlin
“Yes, I can hear my echo and the words are coming back on top of me. Uhh, the words are spilling out of my head and then returning into my ear. It, uhh, puts a distance between the words and their apprehension, or their comprehension . . . I have a double
take on myself. I am once removed from myself . . . I have a feeling I am not where I am . . . The words keep tumbling out because I want to hear them. I want to hear my own words pouring back in on top of me . . . The words become like things. I am throwing things out into the world and they are boomeranging back . . . I am surrounded by me and my mind surrounds me. My mind goes out into the world and then comes back inside of me. There is no escape.”
– Nancy Holt in Richard Serraʼs Boomerang
When I began the initial research period at AMCH, I worked alone. This was necessary. It was an introspective period for me, questioning and reconsidering process, form, content, modes of articulation and modes of construction, and purpose. Within this maelstrom of inquiry, the camera became an essential tool to not only document the practice of non-stop talking that had emerged but was also a very practical device for gaining this critical distance that I so desired. At first, I used the camera to be able to let go actually of my analytic mind so that I could reconnect to a “flow” of thought. Afterward I could parse through what the structure of that talking was by watching the videos.
I didnʼt fully grasp all of the implications of the camera, but eventually and inevitably though, through its consistent use and consistent conditions of use, the camera would end up framing this practice in very important ways. (This isnʼt uncommon for me: choices that are made because of practical, functional, useful reasons or even choices made based on intuition or contingencies or accidents often have, through retrospective analysis and associative awareness or through sheer consistent implementation, have key thematic or dramaturgical consequences to the work.) (13)
Because of the consistency of the daily practice of non-stop talking in front of a camera, the position of the camera within the room (at the same table with a black curtain behind), the position of myself in the frame of the camera (the head, chest and arms above the table), the constancy of my voice, the constancy of my tone, the constancy of a rhythm that was a result of not knowing what I was going to say, the constancy of my appearance, and the constancy of duration (around 20 minutes), the recordings cumulatively took on a life of their own, with their own readings and implications. The frame was already being built. Soon it became less important to parse through the structure of the speaking as material but to follow the nature of the program that I had intuitively set up.
What was clearly set up from the beginning was my relationship to the camera as the need to speak to and not just to speak out. Speaking out without the frame of the other borders on madness. The use of the camera framed my seemingly purposeless “babbling” as purposeful through its relationship to speaking to an other. The camera allowed me to become a medium of my own subconscious thought through my speaking without script, uncensored. This is where I see the reference of the frame of psychoanalysis (14) as being relevant. Unconscious thought translated through speaking whatever comes to mind to a silent other is the foundation of psychoanalysis. What is interesting for me here in this reading is that the silence of the other makes the freedom of speaking, uncensored, possible, opening the space of listening, a receiving which is also a giving…back.
Within this reading, the camera can also be seen as a mirror in which the person being recorded (and recording) is both speaker and listener. The other is myself, the other of myself. Both, giving and receiving, both, speaking and silent, both, inside and outside, both, unconscious and conscious, a constant loop of being in
and reflecting on. With the subsequent addition of a group of listeners (the “audience”), this auto-reflection is magnified. The audience is not separate from but is the unifying aspect of this reflection. I am not parrying with someone else but parrying with myself through the reflection (listening) of another.
Oftentimes, in this automatic speaking, I will use the pronouns “I” and “you” interchangeably, though most often than not, not deliberately.
I am thankful that I came across this essay again by Mladen Dolar
called Whatʼs in a Voice?
In this passage he speaks of psychoanalysis as the “Pythagorean
embodiment in reverse,” in which the analyst is not the voice of authority but “the voice reduced to silence, an inaudible voice, which is perhaps the voice in its pure form.” The power of that silence is in that “the subject learns and transforms him/herself…by speaking him/herself into the silence – to learn
from the silence of the Other which receives his/her own voice and
transfigures it…the subject has to make his/her way to a teaching through his/her own babbling, a babbling turning into a teaching through the loop of the silence of the Other.”
One could also interpret this “monologuing” into the void of the silent listener as a “monumental construction of narcissism”, as Lacan did. I suppose this is where the extension of interpretation and “analysis” of my project and process from the perspective of solipsism could come into play and the commentary of that interpretation from within the wider context of contemporary culture.
Each practice of inging is recorded, accumulating an archive of information. Each practice both produces and archives. Memory cards are used when the camera is unable to store any more information. The camera acts as a concrete device that can objectify, store and replicate the ephemeral nature of the spoken word.
* * *
Speaking the Unknown – Speaking into Silence
“Is there any reason, why that terrible arbitrary materiality of the word’s surface should not be permitted to dissolve…?”
– Samuel Beckett
“Perhaps the word ʻsilenceʼ has been given masculine hardness because it is given the imperative mode. “Silence,” says the master who wants to be listened to passively. But when silence brings peace into a solitary soul, one clearly feels that the silence is
preparing the atmosphere for a tranquil anima.”
– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie
When inging “worked” least is when it appeared to others that I actually had something to say with the stream of words that I spoke. inging “works” best when nothing (15) is construed in that cascade of words, when meanings are stacked and then dismantled but not in that order or not as part of a compositional score for a performance. It happens best in the space where divisions are blurred: body and speech, me and you, theater and reality, banal and transcendent, colloquial and theatrical, interiority and exteriority, significations and what escapes meaning. (16)
The terms, “works” or “better” or “worse” are I feel not useful when it comes to this practice and yet I use them because that is a conditioning of creating performance. And I fall into these traps too. What is important for this work is to focus on what is essential to it and to not be seduced or driven by fear to control it too much. This isnʼt precious. Itʼs just the way it is. When I attempt to compose it, when I try to drive repetition away, when I question its originality in relation to itself from set to set, when I try to make it more interesting is when it is not the thing I am interested in – it is something else. But this will always come up as negotiation not to be compromised. This what drives the performative, where the tension and the force is.
There were comments from some who saw several practices in Amsterdam saying that I was “repeating” myself, that subjects and contents would keep coming up from set to set. Indeed this was true. A risk of not having a script, or agenda, or not cultivating strategies of feeding myself with new information prior to doing it so that I could erase the memory of the set before. I was seduced too by this desire for newness and freshness and yet I was suspicious of placing too many devices on the practice to make it “better” and more “interesting.” I think there was some concern prior to the official public presentations on how I would prepare for “this freedom of mind” and worrying that I might be practicing it too much. For me, this is the risk of working on something that is fragile, where you donʼt yet have a clear idea of its parameters, simply because you havenʼt worked this way before. There is a simultaneous desire to leave it alone and keep doing it so you can learn from it. After all, that is the research particularly of performance practices- this very tenuous line between “authenticity” and representation. For me the question remains, how can I be in a constant state of accepting the material that is continuously present, with all my history, expectations, modes of performing, methods of constructing, need to “make
sense”, desires to “arrive”, perhaps in the midst of not meeting any of it? I do think that multiple viewings start to create a history and the it of the thing starts to move into the realm of a piece of theater, a performance- those things that happened before and happen again or happened before and didn’t happen again become highlighted and the expectations and comparisons start to build. There are risks for sure- in all of it. But the beauty is in that very fact.
* * *
Itʼs important to remind myself that content is secondary and compositional directives are minimal. Itʼs not about cleverness of invention, or integrity of a dramaturgical arc. Emphasis is on the movement of thought and its velocity through non-stop speaking. Emphasis is on porousness, feeding in and feeding back, letting go, go and keep going. Where that going meets the limitations of language is where the censoring comes in, the stutterings, the stammerings, the too many thoughts and too little words, where affect emerges and gesture pushes the work forward, where the voice of silence punctures the ceaseless need for language and meaning.
Silence is the puncture where language has met its limit, where the neurological circuitry of thought is seen active in the face, in the body. This moment of silence is necessary to the practice but it is important for me to not dramatize it, not separate it. It is not a break. It doesnʼt stop. It is not a division. It is not about the entry into discourse. The silence at best unifies, it reminds everyone of that void that we try to avoid, listening to it, it brings us back into ourselves, enfolded into our own thoughts and then back out, again, fluidly, into the room in which we are sitting, reminding us that we are in a piece of theater, witness to it but also a part of it.
Below is an email exchange between Andre and myself once I was in Amsterdam in May. I had doubts about where to perform the project –concerned about how the environment and setting would contribute to its reading and reception. I found myself thrust into a production mind mode while having, what I considered, a very fragile practice on my hands that I was still in the process of understanding. I am so happy to have shared the evening with Ame and Martin. In retrospect, to have done otherwise would have been silly and isolating and unnecessary. I really have learned so much from both of them and their integrity and generosity is inspiring to me. I am very happy to have let go of what I thought the piece needed and allowed it to be what it could be where it was at that time.
May 26 to Andre:
since i got here on the 4th, the bulk of the first weeks was dedicated to figuring out where to house the non-stop talking. the upshot is that after all the back and forth, trying to coordinate remotely from NY and then arriving here, there indeed were no appropriate spaces that were available for the determined dates. then most of the effort for me was in considering, if i were to remove myself from ame and martin and create a separate event, that the conditions should be “perfect” so as to justify this move. but once it was revealed that this would not be the case, i then
decided that the best decision would be to share the evening with ame and martin which takes place in a theater (maybe close to the size of mark morris’s studio where you saw it that day) i have had to relinquish some ideas/attachments and remind myself that rather than this “compromising” the work, it can in fact strengthen it by making it adaptable to various conditions. testing it out in different weather, as it were. and also to consider these presentations as one way of sharing the work and not THE way to show the work. the work then becomes more in understanding how to invite the audience in to the mind of the material and “to the table” which houses the mind. i will do two sets at the top of the evening, back to back, in order to keep thenumbers down as i still think that the intimacy and fragility is one of its strengths.
i continue to practice it with people present as that seems to be its nature now and a completely different practice without others present. i definitely feel the consequences of that though- and am reminded of its riding the edge. too much control, or construction, or even too much assessment from my end of its reception in the moment of doing it, can destroy it a bit. i’m finding it’s a fine line between being porous and being too vulnerable to it. how much to take in in relation to following myself in internal flow. it seems to operate best when it almost functions as a simultaneously osmotic and secreting machine.
May 28th from Andre:
I guess, if it becomes a “presentation” of an idea and a skill, this is the worst possible thing that can happen to the work. So, whatever makes it remain not a “presentation” but a thing in itself in its consistency and integrity, then there is NOTHING that can happen to the piece to undermine or compromise it.
I saw it a few times, and every time in different ways, and all the ways were always powerful (when performed by you) even if so different. So, this means to me only one thing: that regardless of the situation the work finds ways to guarantee its expressions. And, most importantly, you know how to find ways for the work to work in different contexts…
And yes the others. The others (us, me you, him, she, they) are all (poor of us, me you, him, she, they) a reservoir of cliches, habits and desiring projections. And this of course destroys immanence and its forces (this is way it is so difficult to make a full bwo!), that’s how we are, and the machines of signification and representation (school, theater, showing, colleagueship, tickets, stages, studios) are also so many organizers of the neat and the proper — pushing us into places we never thought we would go, just because they are there, there, there, and we succumb (not always a bad thing…).
So, yes, let the “osmotic-secreting” machine secrete whatever it needs. And do not resist if in the middle of the thing you are pulled to an absurd or unexpected situation. The key text here is Kleist, of course, and the horror it instills because consciousness exists. Become the bear in the story; the only way out as long as you make sure you are parrying with yourself and never with the other.
May 31 from Andre:
the velocity of thought, a thought that holds itself up in its force, away from an “image” that demands it to be what makes it recognizable, acceptable, “interesting”, “intriguing”, a “tour de force” a success…!! This is the piece, as you dance in your head with all of us, for us so generously. whatever stops this force in/of the piece, will always surface – but negotiate, accept as the inevitablity of experimenting at the threshold.
the kleist reference of course is from his essay on the puppet theater, which your piece reveals it in ways I would never imagine: what brushes the floor in your dance are the stammerings; that by brushing define it and make it as well — and what flies is thought itself, which can only happen thanks to the articulated articulations of muscles (tongue), liquids (saliva), semi-hard and hard tissues (bone, teeth), electricity and chemicals (neuron-transmission). And what endures and persists are the books, the table, the grain of your voice, your face, the computer and its cables, the files, and all the places that make art possible which then get scrambled not into the ground of the work but that which the work liquifies in its stream of … (consciouness?? unconsciousness?? meta-consciousness??). Stay close to the edge, and it will happen.
* * *
The table as invitation: relation or division
People walk into a room, perhaps itʼs a studio or a theater or a room in a house or in a gallery space. In any case, in any room, people have been invited, so there is already expectation. There is a table, there are chairs, around the table and in the room. People are talking to each other and you are talking to them. You sit at the table and continue talking – a flow, without discourse, without communication, without need for response. People sit, at the table or not, or stand or lean against the wall or sit on the floor or move about the room.
Being at a table talking is a new setting for me. Growing up, my family sat at the table to have dinner together but there wasnʼt much conversation. School was on the other end of the table being lectured to or in a studio being taught. Working was always in a studio or theater, empty, sitting on the floor in a circle discussing and then getting up and moving, working. The last two years, I sat around tables in studios and discussed…moving…through concepts. The table became a place of sharing, a place of negotiating, a place of constructing and designing ideas, a place of arguing, a place of silence, a place of listening, a place of communicating, a place of conveying, a place of relating and communing.
The lecture performance is a well-known and used form in performance. The setting: microphone, chair, desk, table, projector, computer, slides, power point, notebooks, papers, blackboard, and information to be conveyed. The performance transmuted into a conveyable form.
My desire with inging is to invite without dictation, to invite without conveying. How people accept and translate that invitation is partly up to them, to the conditions and setting of the invitation and to the conventions of that setting.
In Amsterdam at the theater, Frascati WG, the audience is used to crossing the stage space to sit on the chairs in the tribune. I decided to empty the tribune of chairs and stack the chairs scattered about the space with a few around the table. There was an open window to allow for some transparency and relation to the outside. In New York, right before I came to Amsterdam in May, every studio I practiced in had a window. This relationship to and observation of the outside became an important element of the practice in terms of transparency, lightness, blurring the edges of inside and outside awareness and the fluency between the outside world and inside the mind. The discussion with people who were invited in NY to the studio prior to the set was always very natural. The line between colloquial and theatrical, beginning and end, performance and just talking was organically blurred even with the scenography of the table and books and computer. In the theater in Amsterdam, the attempt at creating this blurred line was very forced and contrived for me. The conventions of the theater space, the expectation of beginning, middle and end, the sanctuary of the theater, all this creates history and conventions of distance between audience and performer. I found that most people if not explicitly invited to sit at the table or without prior knowledge of being “allowed” to sit at the table, all chose to sit in relation to the table as a stage, creating distance, a divide between me and them. I hadnʼt felt that before since my prior experiences were always either with people at the table or with very few people in the space. Perhaps the table as a set with its stack of books, computer, camera, and projections on the wall “behind” the table also contributed to this feeling of being untouchable, an installation of sorts and set up a focal point, orientation and direction of viewing.
This divide in some sets became monumental for me and inevitably took on a larger weight and significance in the attempt to cross that divide than I had ever anticipated. The table no longer was an object of relationality but a symbol of power, of knowledge to be conveyed, of authority, of protection, and of territory. These aspects which I became aware of in the midst of it, introduced a whole other dimension to the practice, casting me as the performer with something to “show and tell” and in turn, casting the audience as consumers and passive receivers who either accepted or didnʼt accept, who “bought it” or didnʼt “buy it.”
* * *
Puncture or Collapse
On the morning of June 4th, after the first official public presentations of inging in Amsterdam, I met with the assessors (“external observers”) for the project Sigrid Gareis and Joao Fidiero who both had seen the performance the evening before.
Also there were Jeroen and Sher and Myriam
Here is a part of the transcription from that day:
Joao: The piece had the potential to collapse. One of the dramaturgic lines of the work is the potential for collapse. Are we going to witness the collapse of a person or a piece or the work. By collapse I mean failure and by failure I mean you cannot control any more so the fluxus between thought and movement and orality gets to a level of absence of stability. This tension was very interesting. This tension is what I am expecting. She put herself into this role and letʼs see how far she can go and if she can handle it. I felt that you were always making an effort to not let this happen. To always come back to a comfort zone or security zone. A future perspective would be – if there is a future to this, to let go and see what happens. What happens if you do collapse – if you do lose control? Itʼs really beautiful to see the edge, the tension between the possibility of collapse and the verticality, the holding to the verticality but when it becomes too secure, too vertical then the tension of the collapsing goes away.
Jeanine: Itʼs a fine line within what Iʼm working on – to force that – you are working – you are either in the thing or you are trying to find it so, you canʼt be too far outside of it to construct it. You canʼt be too far into the future and canʼt be too far in the past, so to force or construct or compose a moment of collapse, or to even think of collapse as a part of a score – itʼs not what I am working on. I think the concept of collapse is an aesthetic construction. Itʼs seductive to see someone lose it, to lose control. There is no relief here in this work. If there is relief, the silence has no significance.
Sigrid: I agree with Joao, something was also, had too much control. Made me see the evening as a performance rather than a research. A stage performance. There was so much control with what you had. I was questioning a lot even the formal aspects in my observation of your piece. How does the speaking part relate to the movement part, which is a gesture structure but not a real one. Is there a link, a coherence? You are moving your gestures. Is there a relation between the gesture and what you are saying?
Jeanine: Does there need to be that kind of coherence?
Sigrid: No but do you have a control mechanism?
Jeanine: I donʼt know how to answer that. I mean my control mechanism is my history of and with and in performance.
Sigrid: Control is also security in a way isnʼt it?
Jeanine: No I donʼt see it as security. I think of it as honing oneʼs adaptability to things that are happening in the moment. Thatʼs not secure. When you realize that things are constantly shifting and changing- thatʼs acceptance but not security. Maybe there is security in knowing that you canʼt control the moment. Accepting that. You can hone techniques to become aware and adaptable. I donʼt think itʼs something to fall back on – itʼs constantly shifting and changing and that comes through a history, being in different conditions and material. Itʼs a skill- a craft – a practice. Itʼs not something that Iʼm holding on to, to keep duplicating. For me, itʼs not an intellectual exercise.
Sigrid: Itʼs not an exercise. But the intellectual approach is clear and I appreciate it.
Jeanine: Itʼs an exorcism of intellect.
Sigrid: But was it planned? Is the dramaturgy/structure the same or every time different?
Jeanine: It is different every time but I also donʼt try to make it different. If I am practicing many times in a row and I am “true” to the insistence of non-stop talking, I donʼt have time to concern myself with what material is coming up. Part of the challenge is the history that has and continues to build up over the time of doing and the archive of it. In that way, material does repeat. So in that way, I wouldnʼt be entirely truthful if I said it was completely different every time but Iʼm not concerned in the center of the practice of where itʼs going to land. Part of the insistence is constantly regenerating acceptance of the material thatʼs coming up. So itʼs this balance – this see saw of how much porousness can I be engaged in-inside the flow of my thinking mixed with awareness of external inputs.
Joao: In terms of structure – at the table you push it until you canʼt. And then you put the books to the side and then you get up and then you sit on the books – is this set?
Joao: I was thinking that this moment was set and it felt so structured because it made so much sense.
Jeanine: The overall structure that has been emerging since Iʼve been here which has been about 3 or 4 wks. Something thatʼs been emerging as a structure: is that Iʼm at the table, I get up from the table, I go back to the table. So that has emerged. And then the nsistence on the task of the non-stop talking, combined with the inputs, the external input and feeding back. And the conditions, the room and the people in the room really influence what is happening, and the speaking.
Sigrid: In what sense?
Jeanine: Reactions or not reactions, the perception of connection or not connecting, empathetic response. The formations of people, sitting at the table or not at the table, if there is someone close or far away, how they are framed in the space.There are these sediments or layers that have been emerging from the practice of it: what is happening now, the center of the thing, the now, but also the acceptance of the material that is coming up. Itʼs not a reflection but what material and by material I mean subjects, things, content. So there is a sense of history and memory that is activated. Layers of memory –what has just happened mixed with what has happened to me in the distant past mixed with the imaginative triggers. Things that have not happened. Things that are emerging as thoughts in the moment.
So in terms of structure… this is a retrospective realization of what has emerged. This is not to say- that Iʼm aware of all the elements that keep coming up.
Myriam: I think overall from having witnessed it so many times and in so many occasions, is that it is not the typical improvisational task of composing in the moment. It is not about the compositional mind operating which would mean that I identify something, itʼs said, letʼs keep this in mind and return to it, maybe not, oh this is happening and letʼs see how we can frame it. Itʼs not a compositional mind whose going to work with the material that going to be generated. Itʼs not activated in that way. Therefore if you expand it that the compositional mind is even that strong that it wants collapse to happen and its going to frame it if it happens, you have a super advanced compositional mind who is able to work in intelligent and intellectual and risky ways with collapse. But I would even say that itʼs not that compositional mind. Itʼs not a compositional mind. I think itʼs focusing as strongly as you can on porousness – letting in, letting go, the going, the letting go, whatever…go because that is the task. I set myself to GO – basta. And so all the other elements are the ritualization of frame. Thatʼs where the presentation, performance, research- it doesnʼt matter because every practice has a ritualized so itʼs really about ritualizing your frame in order to be able to say ok from this point on I am at the table, I have these tasks. I want to mention at least once to my audience what that task is so they have enough info about the task and then I go. I thought: you can only do it.
And you set up the frame and youʼve made these decisions along the way of having done it so often and understanding that that frame generates, facilitates or does something and thatʼs a lot. And within that you can say, why have I let in less, why have I
not let go more or what ever but itʼs the doing of it for so long, ½ an hour or whatever – thereʼs not an end bracket to it but if there is then itʼs part of the ritualized framing- thatʼs the level where you make that choice. What then happens – what is happening – why is that so exposing – why is that so mirroring – why is there so much humanity in it- and it has to do with realizing that the task can provide puncture which is not necessarily collapse and recognizing collapse and working with that compositionally in an interesting way with it but you just see thatʼs where it leaks, thatʼs where it bleeds, itʼs IT, the emergence of IT. IT. And there is not much you can do with IT. At some point, itʼs not even a big thing because itʼs not about pursuing the climax of it or the catharsis of it. It is just the moment of itness.
And therefore we call it a puncture because it may not take so long. And in a moment you may think: what was that?
Itʼs a bit of a strange animal. Thereʼs not so much you can do with it. You can only train releasing the compositional mind. I see with Jeanine a very strong compositional mind. The compositional mind can go with language on the level of word, on the level of
phrase, on the level of larger development of thought and a chunk and then it can go into the level of how is it fitting into the situation, how is that going into movement.
I see that your training has brought your compositional mind to a much bigger mastery of navigating within larger chunks of texts. Much more so than before. Before it had more this parataxical structure of being in a sequence, going into another sequence and now itʼs more like you have a mastermind branching off language and development and keep on having all the cords there.
Where I saw the puncture yesterday was when actually I saw that system break down. Because at first you have the narration of it like a big fungus that can keep on grabbing here and there and you feel the motor of development of thought still going on in specific directions and at some point it became parataxical- next to one another- not within that line of thought and it was funny but it was a moment when you went into space. So although these are always the most delicate moments because it is more connoted – how do you move and talk at the same time- and suddenly it leaves its special uniqueness because there are so many frames of reference that come in with that but still I support that you include that and here it was in fact your body doing what it is used to do and being in that situation but your language – you were not in the map any more.
And then itʼs a personal thing. Where do I find the puncture?
The puncture is not an act of compositional will, itʼs an act of what you read into it. And sometimes you can see well my puncture is your puncture is my puncture. How I respond back to it – how I evaluate it are from these places of puncture. For me something happens from this place of puncture.
Of course you are a choreographer and you have that strong compositional mind but for me the piece puts that into serious dilemma. And you need to find strategies to keep it in the dilemma. Itʼs more a place for your entire being actually.
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“What remains in suspense, what dangles in thought? We can only think, in language, because language is and yet is not our voice. There is a certain suspense, and unresolved question, in language: whether or not it is our voice, as baying is the voice of the ass or chirping the voice of the cricket. So when we speak we cannot do away with thought or hold our words in suspense. Thought is the suspension of the voice in language.
When we walk through the woods at night, with every step we hear the rustle of invisible animals among the bushes flanking our path…So it is when we think: the path of words that we follow is of no importance. What matters is the indistinct patter that we sometimes hear moving to the side, the sound of an animal in flight or something that is suddenly aroused by the sound of our steps.”
Giorgio Agamben, Language and Death, page 107
Jeanine Durning, Brooklyn, NY, September, 2010Advertisements