|10:00am - 12:30pm
Panel IV: Pose and Expose
An analogy between dancing and writing deals intrinsically with the question of embodied fantasy. Dancer and spectator create together an image of dance as a radically ornamental and therefore opaque figuration of moving letters and ephemeral lineaments, existing neither merely on the stage nor simply in the perception of the spectator, but rather in the complex interdependency that arises between them. Thus, the notion of dance as an écriture corporelle —which has a history dating back to the 17th century— is too often discussed in a phenomenologically oversimplified fashion which neglects the interweaving of fantasy and corporeality by focusing only on the materiality of dancing and the passive gaze of the spectator.
In order to properly examine the highly complex interweaving of fantasy and embodiment in dance I ask: where exactly does the figuration of pré-écriture-like forms take place? How does the Gestalt of a spatial writing suddenly emerge in the perception of the spectator as a fantasy always already embodied in his mind? And how does this impression vanish within the next moment, leaving a perceptual afterimage of the bodily movement that then becomes part of an imaginative diagram of lines or a phantasmagoric spatial calligraphy?
I will address these questions in regard to The Dance Sections (1987) by the Flemish choreographer Jan Fabre dedicated to the exploration of the analogy between classical ballet and calligraphy. By focusing in particular on the figuration and de-figuration of the bodily shapes of the dancers I will argue that their movement blended with the constantly shifting imaginings of the spectator, create a synaesthetic and kinaesthetic vision of dance as an embodied form of writing.
This paper focuses on the changing meaning of "masquerade" in our global age, and on the ways in which self-expression through the body, using gestures, costumes and social references, has become a linguistic currency, a form of exchange and understanding linking young artists all over the world.
This paper is part of a larger study that explores the work of Matthew Barney - from the early work of Ottoshaft, through the Drawing Restraints (1987-∞), The Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002) and into Ancient Evenings (2007-) in relation to philosophy, particularly the radical ontologies (i.e., anti-Cartesian or what Avital Ronell calls "the debilitated subject") of the pre-Socratic philosophers (Xaos and creation myth), Nietzsche (eternal return, affirmation, will to power) and Bataille (base surrealism, pain/horror as revelation, informe), Bergson (duration) and Deleuze (counter philosophy and art as sensation not representation). Barney's work raises questions about the nature of Being (all living beings not just human). In this talk Elizabeth Grosz's Chaos, Territory, Art, Deleuze and the framing of art (2008), will be used to set up a discussion of Barney' current project Ancient Evenings, in relation to The Cremaster Cycle.
Suzanne Anker: Moderator
|3:30pm - 6:00pm
Panel VI: Shadowing Fire
"All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act." (Marcel Duchamp)
What is the substrate from which ideas grow? What is the basis of the image that passes so vividly before the mind's eye?
By retracing the development of my installations with laser light as a case in point, I would like to look at what factors stimulate the development of ideas from the first notion all the way to its physical realisation within a structure of extant conditions —and to the individual transformation by the viewer's perception. ...The rigorous lines of drawing by light contrast with the emotive potential of the glowing red, pulsating laser light. What impulses emanate from the "paradoxical materiality" of this light?
At the same time the characteristics of the architecture, with all its sensual impressions, will also act as stimulators of ideas for my inner draft of a light installation. Then, additional factors come to bear: the darkness, which robs the viewer of orientation, not to mention the synthetically-generated sound-scape which both emotionally and physically amplifies one's perception of the scene. The parameters of action in terms of composition for an indoor installation are defined by the specific architecture at hand.
To realize my idea, I rely necessarily on an inspection of the site, on photographs and on technical ground plans, to conceive a situation in the mind which I will only be able to vet once it is constructed and shortly before the private view!
Added to which, there is a very rational set of conditions regarding safety and this restricts the feasible variations of ideas. Not least in this complex web of circumstances, there is the viewer who is confronted with the laser light and who perceives the installation with her or his own fantasies.
What part in the process of creation in the imagination does the viewer play, involved and, for a short time, also able to manipulate the installation in real terms? What are the factors that determine how that viewer perceives and interprets? How do visitors' perceptions change during the time they spend in the installation? What part does my anticipation of the work's reception play? Last but not least, how is reproduction through the media —an ever more crucial feature in our world of secondary realities— altering the potential perception of these installations?
My paper deals with the question of how pictures relate to mental images and vice versa. Seventeenth-century obscene parodist literature focused this crucial question of art theory and philosophy by using art theoretical terms such as "imitation," "form," "figuration" and "chimera" to describe the effects of sexual desire. Moreover, they discussed the bodily consequences of popular image concepts by taking into account the effect of fantasy on the body and its relation to images. Thus, obscene literature provides an approach to early modern image theory that concentrates on the questions of bodily perception and reception. In 1644, the Italian writer Ferrante Pallavicino published a misogynistic parody of the Jesuitical fiction, Whore's Rhetoric (La Retorica delle Puttane).
On the basis of an ontological image concept, this book offered an explanation to the question of why men frequent whores: whores suggest being ideal lovers. Reflecting the man's desire mimetically, they represent this imagination in a creative process modelling their own bodies.
The promise of the fulfilment of an ideal, erotic vision is justified by the whore's pictorial quality: the whore as professional seductress becomes the subject of the whore as a creative artist with her body as a malleable form. Thus, creating and mirroring the desire of her client simultaneously, she is both agent and expression of masculine fantasies.
Pallavicino's text was adapted in English bawdy literature in the second half of the seventeenth-century, where Pallavicino's approach was combined with ekphrases that described whores as pictures, pictures in brothels and their effect on the brothel's clients and turned the questions of embodiment on the recipient.
Likewise, Pallavicino's critic on the mimetic qualities of the whore shifted to a critique of the perceptual qualities of clients and viewers, or, in other words, the question of the relation of mental images, pictures and the perception of the visible world.
My artwork is grounded in the belief that certain kinds of knowledge can best be accessed through an embodied engagement —a kind of improvisational dance with objects and materials where one cannot predict the next step, where that which is there but which cannot be succinctly described manifests itself in a physical state by what is felt.
Psychologist Christopher Bollas calls this "the un-thought known," something felt in the body sometimes related to traumatic experience, or at other times emerging from unconscious ancestral inheritance or parental projections. It is a way of knowing that challenges cognitive understanding because it emerges from experiences that cannot be processed by thought. These experiences can only be felt as dramatic intensities and for this reason they cannot be subsumed into a mastered narrative.
This talk follows the development of my work over the past year as I have transitioned from working as a film director and choreographer to working as a sculptor. My practice incorporates a filmic method through my use of assemblage, which is akin to film montage, and a choreographic method through my use of gesture, rhythm, and movement.
My primary concerns center around the following questions: How can something that is present in the body but not visible, not thinkable, not narrate-able, be reproduced in a physical, visible form? Why is my body's engagement with the materials and objects that surround it able to tell me what I am thinking before I can articulate it?
The work I create attempts to question so-called reality-based knowledge though a fantasy-based approach that emerges from the body's ability to move towards something without an intention founded in cognitive processes.
I use mirroring in my work, either through mimicry or actual mirrors, to suggest a type of production and re-production without narrative closure —a moving, cyclical, re-articulation of objects, problems, and affects. The work then proposes objects that are in part recognizable but that through their treatment challenge our desire to comprehend and classify things in neat categories.
Prompted in 2004 by a string of natural disasters and the on-going media focus on global warming, I turned my attention to developing a second "look" at nature with the hopes of better understanding how we perceive and encounter it today.
The scientific discoveries of the Renaissance that revolutionized our understanding of the shape and location of our planet in the solar system also dramatically altered our path of development in science and society. In the centuries to follow these advances in science eased our fear of the sublime horror of nature, and with new technology the expansion and progress of mankind is seemingly everlasting. Artists well aware of this fact created a romantic landscape ideal, with a sublime outlook on nature, telling the tale of destruction and problems ahead of us. This landscape ideal is burned into our subconscious and is utilized by a range of actors attempting to attract your attention, money, patronage, etc.
Where previously nature had been within the realm of the philosophical, it ultimately fell under the purview of science. This shift seems to have suspended any update of our own responsibilities in living and dealing with nature. As along as nature was viewed as belonging to the realm of science it could only be scrutinized and understood under the microscopes of scientists. While science has enabled a tremendous change in society and managing our world, it also has brought many problems to this seemingly ever expanding need of resources in order to maintain and run this machine. Only in recent history we have changed this paradigm on how to look on nature, a discussion which is still in an ongoing struggle.
In 1968, there was yet another shift in imagery and technology. The Apollo Missions transmitted the first pictures back to the earth with the blue planet floating in the universe. We were once again back in the focus of the camera; we were once again the center. This shift along with information technology seemed to boost the renaissance society's understanding of the self, to a full circle. The single person is now the central node of communication with others. The surrounding realm of social reality is slowly disappearing on a computer hard-drive or stored in cyberspace ready to be shared with the world.
"Staging Nature" will present my artwork and related research, which aims to provide a new reflection and examination of our western landscape ideal, some of which only exist in our blurred memory, but overrides our day-to-day perception. It seems this longing for the sublime landscape and the sublime horror of natural disasters has doubled in our reality and created a man made sublime places, as well a man made sublime dystopian landscape horrors. Advertising and media are well aware of that fact and use those fantasies to sell us more fantasies.
Arthur I. Miller: Moderator