Re: body economy...

Johannes Birringer (
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 03:31:59 -0600

Richard wrote:

>I have to admit that I have a problem with Stelarc's work largely because I
>see his body as a passive object, a machine, that is being manipulated by
>the host (the technology), rather than the other way around. It seems to
>me that Stelarc's work is rooted not in the physical body at all, but in
>the machines or networks he uses to robotocize his limbs and muscles.

I think the performance, or the matter, is not to clearly rooted. I venture
to say that his dance, or his interface performance, asks precisely those
questions some of us in the dance community care not to ask sometimes, or
ask differently, whatever our investment and beliefs in the "physical body"
are. I am also "basing" my work in physical performannce and the phsyical
body, but I am not exactly always the host of my instruments and prostheses
(technologies), i think the instruments also help me to manipulate myself
and to be altered/rendered, captured, transmitted, effected, driven, slowed
down and spatially/perceptionally impacted. My sense awareness of who/what
I am is altered, and sometimes I wonder.

Inviting being seen, as Deboarh Hay calls her dance, can also mean for us
to invite being seen as an interface or as a technologically mediated
organism that may do things and may be done things to simultaneously. I
value Stelarc's dance because it probes into what we do involuntarily, or
perhaps do under pressure/force, under the impact, or under the
choreography that is designed.

If we design a choreographic pattern or an interactive field of nervous
system, we may assume we work externally, and thus are in control of "our"
movement in space and time (not necessarily of the trigger effects or media
circuits). Well, but we also know times when our body is not in such
control, or when our reflexes or motor systems contradict our volition or
plan. I think Stelarc does the logical continuation of the thought
experiment, literally, hooking the motor-effecting or monitoring or
capturing devices into the fleshbody, the organs, the stomach, the nerves,
the systems. His dance is happening also inside/internally. His dance thus
is in/with the machine that monitors him/himself/itself, or he is a little
more inside the machine being affected, stimulated. I think we need to talk
more about this, dear cyborg sisters.

I have permission to quote Stelarc's letter to me, just coming in, so here
is what he says about his last piece and us discussing him:

>well, it's neat to see the performances in the context of dance (dtz).
>Certainly, the performances for the last 13 years have been about the
>interplay of involuntary, improvised and automated motion- and recently
>the remote access and choreography of the body....

>with this stimulation/actuation system, the remote agent can extrude
>awareness and action into another body in another place. From the point
>of view of this body, it becomes the host for the remote agent's
>behaviour- producing motion of displaced memory and desire. The
>experience of an alien action, producing a split physiology where in the
>same body collaboration is possible between a remote agent and local
>intention and improvization....

I look forward to responses,


Johannes Birringer
AlienNation Co./DDA Studio