Re: interactivity

Johannes H. Birringer (
Sat, 17 May 1997 01:54:25 -0500

> Guy wrote:

>Cyber-butoh will teach us the qualities of these
>deaths. Is a slowly seizing mechanism admiring La Argentina?

Yes, quite. I think Kazuo Ohno dancing him/herself as his mother or as La
Argentina is an amazing example (a "solo", or duet?) of evocation.

I thought about that solo, Guy, after you reminded me, and I also remember
how Chico MacMurtrie unpacked his Tumbling Man from an old suitcase, last
week in Cleveland at the festival, while we were upstairs setting up our
machines. The tumbling Man looked tired, and a little rusty.

Mark, published texts in contemporary theory are hard to read, and
frustrating. I agree. Whatever meaning unravels when we unravel the
languages - they may lie more in what we experience when our thoughts wander
and get moved; I admit to be moved by the practical experiment Abdel made in
the lower courtyard of the Anthropology building (outside) with his
construction/staging of the "Market From Here" (a fiction of a Venezuelan
popular marketplace, with hundreds of small daily objects, things, stuff
that defies incorporation into ordered language (design)........, cot, many kinds of plastic wrapping, cords, furniture, shelves,
continuous sound recordings, live rooster, trapped dove, religious items,
adding machine, old vinyl records, bags of clothing, signs, texts, ripening
fruits, chicken wire, ethnographic accounts, inflatable toys, photos,
maquettes of structure, nutcracker, boxes, floor, voices, cutting board,
healing herbs, notes, odors, baby carriage, bottles, confetti, balloons,
animal carvings, vending stalls, shrines, rain drops, ribbons........

Abdel, invited by Tyler to "perform" this fieldwork, tells me that the
scenography of the "market" is not a scenography, nor an object, or
collection, or conceptual artwork, or performance. That elusiveness
(ethereal-ness) that Ohno can dance, cannot be precisely theorized, and I
think Tyler does a damn good job avoiding to classify rigidly, pretending to
pinpoint efficiently, and explaining polyphony sufficiently formally.

You quote the passages:

> Myths and folktales are authorless
>>texts too, examples of the form of polyphony, even when related by someone,
>>even though we must think in that case of a collective extended in time
>>whose participants never convene to compose the work.

I liked this because it reminds me of our futile but helpful dialogues
here/there, which are not just folks sitting around talking, I think, but
there are many efforts going on to move across or extend distance, veer off,
retrace steps.

> the field "is sensitive to the issue of power."

Oh yes, if you think of white men going into colonized territories to
collect fieldnotes and information from the "locals." That field, I argue is
here/ constituted also by relations between wielders/sellers of technology
and users (and the digitally homeless).

>Is this stylized language itself the performance?

You ask yourself, no? You know it is, and it is not only. Cyberspace talk is
a kind of babble, so is postmodern stuff, so is our dance language, it's
babble all right (for sure, David). If we perform it in a specialized form,
it's stylized, no?

A point of the "Market from Her" is that it will be read, by many people
differently, but often as an "artwork" or a "sculpture" or something
"exotic" from a "primitive culture." Why is that so?

For users of popular markets, it's not an artwork, it in fact has no
aesthetic connotation whatsoever. It smells and sometimes smells bad.

That's not the same as abjection (Guy's reference), but the mercado itself
is not "it" - I believe what it can do is evoke something that it is not,
and that - dialogue process - is something that cannot be
programmed/designed, because it's intersubjective and fluid.

In my rehearsals on interaction, I would like to move/dance beside the point
that there is a point (i react not to a score or program or carry it out,
the field is nervous, it doesn't know the taste of grit in my teeth when I
swallow the earth, I am nervous since I have efficiently brittle machines
near me, and a brittle space with folks I don't know listening, and Chico
downstairs has now unpacked the Tumbling Man and I hear the clunky noises,
and I noticed, during the afternoon, how difficult it is to find a bag-full
of soil in downtown Cleveland's concrete urban design. As we warmed up, I
looked out of the window and saw folks arriving to watch the "Indians" play
baseball next door in the stadium. Our stuff went up in the "Colonial
Arcade, Grand Ballroom." I felt at home. Afterwards, the audience sat
silently for a while, not knowing that our piece had ended. Later a young
man, Yuji Sone from Australia, came to talk with us and invite us to work
with him. I have no idea what happened that evening.