|1||Janina Arendt||Emancipation and Subjection of the Virtual Self – The Fetish of Vitality||Justus Liebig University Giessen|
|2||Dieter Brusselaers||The Spectacles and the Automaton, or Optics and Mechanics in a Nineteenth-Century Opera: Media-Archaeological Allegory in Offenbach’s ‘Les contes d’Hoffmann’||University of Antwerp|
|3||Kyle Bukhar||Considerations and Uses of Non-Meaning in Dance||University of Roehampton|
|4||Anna Buskens||The presence of an artist||University of Groningen|
|5||Elvira Crois||On sensitive theatre, perception and interaction||University of Antwerp|
|6||Floor de Meyer||The Intrinsic Intermediality of Film: Fried versus Pasolini||University of Antwerp|
|7||Georg Döcker||Force – Ideal – Death: On Diderot’s Paradox and the Production of the Aesthetic Subject in Theatre||Justus Liebig University Giessen|
|8||Angele Donskoi||No Image Without Language||University of Antwerp|
|9||Romana Fennema||Fabre: Theatrical or Not?||University of Groningen|
|10||Hamish MacPherson||Between Intuition and Analysis||University of Roehampton|
|11||Julia Ostwald||Appropriation as an Approach to Intertwine Theory and Practise in the Production of Dance||University of Antwerp|
|12||Charlotte Poos||Contains Art: Unpacking the Politics of Theatre Through the Aesthetics of the Container||University of Utrecht|
|13||Ryan Rockmore||Subverting the Masculine Aesthetic: Male Flamenco Dancers and the Embodiment of the Feminine Style||University of Roehampton|
|14||Emma-Louise Roessling||Thanks for Sharing – A Performative Exploration of the Gap Between Spectator and Sponsor||Justus Liebig University Giessen|
|15||Daphne Smets||Sophie Calle: an Artist in Search of a Narrator||University of Groningen|
|16||Ursina Tossi||We’ve Got to Get in … to Get Out||Artez institute of Arts|
|17||Leen van der Meiden||Invisible Theatre and Objecthood||University of Groningen|
|18||Thom van Duuren and Bram van Leuveren||From divination to theory of mind: second person interaction in “Both sitting duets” (2002)||University of Groningen|
Janina Arendt: Emancipation and Subjection of the Virtual Self – The Fetish of Vitality
Coming from the field of visual arts as a formerly trained artist, I have been busy with processing the static and eternal of imagery. However, as my main medium became video my attention shifted towards the performative and ephemeral in front of the camera as well as to staging in time. At Groningen I would like to give a 20min talk on my topic, which currently underlies my theoretical and practical thinking experiment.
I have come to focus on the virtual of self–depiction that emancipates itself from the actual by exceeding time. What is fragile and semi–artificially produced suddenly reins perception and scope of action. It produces time itself and therefore power. But there is another aspect in this, which interests me even more: It is our relationship to vitality that has transformed with digital perpetuation. Here I claim to find fetishism in the installation of virtual selves, not only in the producer but also in the viewer. As Robert Stoller, a psychiatrist of the last century once said, A fetish is a story masquerading as an object. I am interested in the story of our fetish with living and how it shows in artistic video production and popular media. In Post-Fordism our relationship to things has reified ourselves. This subjection to things plays an important role in my research since the subject is bound to what it is surrounded by. May we have become ourselves the object of our fetish? What exactly triggers this fetish with being alive? I am fascinated with these ideas and I would be happy to share them with my colleagues in theory and practice in Groningen. I aim to accompany my talk with visual examples that I have gathered as well as with introducing my own practice from which my interest in the virtual staging of the self has initially derived.
Dieter Brusselaers: The Spectacles and the Automaton, or Optics and Mechanics in a Nineteenth-Century Opera: Media-Archaeological Allegory in Offenbach’s ‘Les contes d’Hoffmann’
In Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera Les contes d’Hoffmann, we find a scene in which an automaton designed to look like a flesh-and-blood woman performs an aria for a host of spectators – at least one of which is equipped with special glasses which seem to enhance her humanity. While this moment has received some attention from a psychoanalysis-driven point of view (drawing, as I will argue, quite misguidedly on the idea of the uncanny), I propose to reconsider the automaton/glasses-unity as an interplay of two kinds of theatre-bound media brought before the opera’s audience in a mise-en-abyme of the theatrical performance. Framing the two components of the “real woman”-illusion (optics and mechanics) as imaginary devices tied up with real-world media crucial to the theatre-goer’s experience – the opera glass (as suggested by Brianna Wells) and the stage apparatus specific to the commercial theatre of late- nineteenth century France – allows for a media-archaeological approach of the scene, eliciting awareness of previously “invisible” processes of technological mediation in the actual performance, and, moreover, revealing a contemporaneous concern with these processes. The “excavation” of media scrapped from the discursive contextualization of Les contes d’Hoffmann therefore simultaneously connects the production to the “baroque” aesthetics which Nicholas Ridout (2012) has argued to be characteristic of operatic productions: it shows itself to be a patchwork of media, and part of the audience’s delight derives from this flawed illusionistic transcendence of the theatrical form. Pushing the idea of the baroque patchwork one step further, the possibility arises to distill a (Benjaminian) allegory out of the performative automaton. As an imaginary conglomerate of media, it acquires the status of a figurehead, not only for the operatic performance, but also for media archaeology as such – an academic non-discipline claiming primarily that media do not take precedence over one another.
Kyle Bukhari: Considerations and Uses for Non-Meaning in Dance
At the end his blog post for New York Live Arts entitled “Parasitic Noisification,” Andre Lepecki proposes that: It is crucial to consider the parasite as model of (non)communication so we may develop non-semiotic, non-expressive, and non-creative theories of dance making … which prompt instead affective and active modes for theorizing the making of dance, and for making dance theorize its own actions, away from the ideal model that art is made for communication (Lepecki 2012)
Lepecki’s notion of the “parasite” is drawn from Michel Serres’ book of the same name, which examines the polysemous meaning of the word parasite in French. It shows how communication theory and semiotics presuppose a space devoid of interference, orparasitic and disturbing “noise.” (Serres 2007) For aesthetics, this goes against the grainof what we might traditionally think the arts do, and Lepecki’s provocations raise questions for both dance practice and theorization. Where Serres gives us “the parasite,” Derrida shows how Hegel’s master/slave dialectic is transformed by Bataille to reveal a “unique interval that separates meaning from non-meaning.” This may be a way into the terrain that Lepecki indicates. Derrida argues that wit-induced “laughter” breaks into the “non-meaning from which the basis of meaning is drawn.” (Derrida 1967) Where the parasite interrupts communication, and lets the non-meaning intrude, the burst of “laughter” explodes the shell of reason to translate the unknown. What does it mean for dance if we lose the transmitter and receiver in production and reception? Is theorization even possible without communication? Is the re-appropriation of the disavowed expressivity of the postmodern dance of the 1960’s an appropriate aesthetic stance for today? Is laughter the lynchpin that unlocks the mechanism of reason? I will engage with these questions in a lecture/performance format that will synthesize the act of speaking, dancing, and the projection of writing that I will type on the computer.
This presentation has developed out of a collaboration with New York based choreographer and dancer Jodi Melnick in 2012.
Anna Buskens: The Presence of an Artist
The documentary Marina Abramović, The Artist is Present is about Marina Abramović and her exhibition at the MoMA. This exhibition is mostly known for the premiere of her work The Artist is Present. The performance of three months shows her sitting on a chair with across from her another chair, where the audience can sit and watch Marina (do nothing).
From a philosophical standpoint this performance fascinated me: how could it be possible for Marina to be present continuously? What does it mean for her to be present: is she present as an actor or as ‘herself’? Even though Cormac Power states that “it seems difficult to pin down coherently what ‘presence’ means in a theatrical context: what is presence and what is present?” I will try to answer these questions. On this topic Derrida states that presence is not possible because “presence, in order to be presence and self--presence, has always already begun to represent itself.” Also Philip Auslander will be discussed, stating that Stanislavsky, Brecht and Grotowski “assume that the actor’s self precedes and grounds her performance and that it is the presence of this self in performance that provides the audience with access to human truths.” Auslander himself says the opposite, namely that the self is created through the performance and thus is not an autonomous foundation. This lecture will try to answer if it possible to state if a performance artist is present. In order to state an answer, it is necessary to look at Auslander’s idea of the created presence of the self, and if it is possible to support his view. Furthermore the meaning of presence will be discussed and how it differs from present and representation. This will be illustrated through The Artist is Present of Marina Abramović.
Elvira Crois: On sensitive theatre, perception and interaction
Since the nineteen sixties we notice a turning point in the history of theatre: the focus on text shifts towards a fascination of the body and it isn’t expected any longer from the spectator to take on a passive, observational position. Today we see all sorts of new theatre forms pop up, wherein the active attitude of the spectator from the postdrama is radicalised. Did the beholder of postdramatic theatre pieces regularly keep the position of viewer? Nowadays often the audience doesn’t sit any longer in a seat with a view on the scene, but is integrated in the performance as an active component. There’s place for the spectator to shape his own piece, not only through thought, but also through ‘act’. The spectator becomes spect-actor. We find this new position in a theatre form that I call ‘sensitive theatre’. This is a kind of theatre form that doesn’t stop at taking the spectator out of his comfortable seat, but also takes a great interest in the story and emotions of the spectator. The theatre maker is rather interested in the experience of the piece than to tell a story itself. Questions as “In what way do the new forms still stick to the postdramatic paradigm and do they distance themselves from it?”, “What is the main reason to put the spectator in the position of spect-actor?” and “Why the focus on the senses?” will form the basis of the research. To answer these questions, there’ll be made a lot of connections between theatre practice and texts of philosophers and art critics like Ernst Gombrich, Giorgio Agamben, Antonio Damasio, Hans-Thies Lehmann, Marshall McLuhan, etc.
Floor de Meyer: The Intrinsic Intermediality of Film: Fried versus Pasolini
Michael Fried (°1939) has already pointed out that theatricality is not only present on the theater stage, but in other art forms as well. While Fried focused on theatricality in paintings, ﬁlm too is a medium closely connected with the theatrical. The origins of the ﬁlm medium lay in theater, and, moreover, throughout the twentieth century ﬁlm directors have consciously reverted to their theatrical nascency. One often used theatrical mode is the deployment of tableaux vivants in ﬁlm. In La Ricotta, which he made for the multi-director portmanteau ﬁlm RoGoPaG (1963), Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922 – 1975) repeatedly and knowingly employs tableaux vivants to underscore the tension between theater and ﬁlm. Pasoliniʼs ﬁlm project can be used as an instance to demonstrate not only the close interrelation between theater and ﬁlm, but also their involvement with painting as such. While Michael Fried in fact reacted against the intermingling of different media – according to him, each medium had to pursue its own speciﬁcity -, the case of the tableau vivant in ﬁlm is a demonstration of contemporary artists embracing intermediality. RoGoPaG is a ﬁlm project that was conceived in the period Michael Fried was writing his inﬂuencial essay “Art and Objecthood” (1967). Frieds negative conception of theatricality in this essay obviously emanates from his opposition against this tendency towards intermediality. In this presentation these two opposing viewpoints will be questioned. And ultimately I want to state the intrinsic intermediality of the ﬁlm medium, in its synthesis of performance, visual arts and music. In this respect, in case of the ﬁlm medium, Michael Frieds critique might be invalid.
Georg Döcker: Force – Ideal – Death: On Diderot’s Paradox and the Production of the Aesthetic Subject in Theatre
Diderot’s Paradoxe sur le comédien is certainly one of the most outstanding poetics of the discourse on acting in the 18th century. Far from being reducible to a sole system of rules for acting, it is far more, as Lacoue-Labarthe pointed out in Diderot, le paradoxe et mimésis, a study on the nature of mimesis and its renewal in modern philosophy. Lacoue-Labarthe argues that the specific paradox of the Paradoxe is the very nature of mimesis itself: the actor has to become nothing in order to be able to play everything. Only in a state of complete denial of his self he could serve as the mediator of a force of nature and hence with this force of nature fulfil nature itself – but as a paradox, this accomplishment must always remain impossible.
Referring to Lacoue-Labarthe, I want to argue that Diderot’s Paradoxe implies a theory of the mimetic subject as the aesthetic subject of modernity. The subject of the Paradoxe is produced by a threefold difference: it is not only, as Lacoue-Labarthe says, driven by a force. It is equally constituted by the difference of what Diderot refers to as the modèle idéal, an ideal state towards which force should strive in order to fulfil nature. However, there is a awareness in the Paradoxe that the subject and its mimetic process of perfection is in constant danger of failing due to the temporal nature of the subject and its acts: its finiteness, its potential death. Only theatre as the paradigmatic art of ephermerality can provoke such a conception of the aesthetic subject, since every action of the actor immediately disappears after its execution and leaves the actor with the awareness of his mortality. We therefore encounter in the Paradoxe a theory of the modern aesthetic subject constituted by a triangle of force, ideal and death. Diderot’s ultimate answer to the smoldering threat of death is that the subject, the actor has to surpass the finiteness of his performance by way of seemingly endless repetitions in the rehearsals, exhausting his body until it would become identical to the abstract modèle idéal. Rephrasing Lacoue-Labarthe’s definition of the paradox, my thesis is that in Diderot the subject has to kill itself in order to become immortal.
Angele Donskoi: No Image Without Language
The research that I have in mind will focus on how the visual culture (in performance and contemporary art) needs language to get a meaning, to be understood, to get a relation with the beholder. It is a tough subject, when it comes to deciding whether art is about experiencing the visual or the representation of something beyond it.
On the other hand I want to question if something can überhaupt be defined as art when it represents an ideology or narrative. Because, if everything in life that functions as a symbol for an ideology is called art, then our whole system, political and social, is a big art work on the move.
Although, when looking at it from another perspective like the avant-gardists and contemporary art makers, anything that doesn’t refer to another ideology or statement is art. The abstract and minimalist art is a good example of art that doesn’t need a language or sign-system to be understood. It remains a work on the surface structure that shouldn’t build up a relation with the subconscious of the analysing beholder. Abstract art in other words doesn’t need to be understood. That is why I will use works of John Beger (Ways of Seeing), Michael Fried (Art and Objecthood), Walter Benjamin (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction) and look at some cases in the contemporary art world and performance studies to draw a conclusion.
Thus I would like to research the ambiguity of whether arts need a language and sign-system to be understood, or that they can merely exist, be present, without referring or meaning. Performance is art on the move and doesn’t have to be understood, however there are cases were the artist is trying to make a statement. In that aspect it does refer something. The ambiguity is striking, so that is exactly the reason why I want to make it more concrete and understandable.
Romana Fennema: Fabre: Theatrical or not?
This research encounters the theatre play of Jan Fabre ‘Het is theater zoals te verwachten en te voorzien was’. The play fascinated me, because it represents actions of the everyday life, but what is theatrical about these actions? This play is constructed like a working day of eight hours and it lasts eight hours. The actors are representing repetitive actions what will lead to complete exhaustion. There are several objects on stage like chairs, candles but also film projectors. These objects are referring to some famous art objects. In total there are 18 actions like licking yoghurt of the floor or jump so many times that it leads to exhaustion. What is interesting in this play, is that it represents all theatre is not. It isn’t a world of willing suspension of disbelief, like Coleridge said. Every action is real and the actions really lead to exhaustion, so everything is self-referential. But how does this break with the conventions of theatre if there is a break with the conventional theatre.
The main question will be: What is theatrical about the play of Fabre and how can we distinguish the real from the simulacrum?
Through literature study I will examine the subject simulacrum and what theatricality means. I will use texts of Baudrillard, Colerigde and other writers.Like Baudrillard has said that ‘representation tries to absorb simulation by interpreting it as a false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum’. Michel Corvin, writer of Dictionnaire Encyclopedique du theatre, explains that theatricality is a representation of the simulacrum, that was has been simulated. So the representation implies that it is a lie and not a reality. But everything on stage is a simulation, what role does reality play in this part?
Hamish MacPherson: Between Intuition and Analysis
Philosopher Henri Bergson, in An Introduction to Metaphysics, makes a distinction between two forms of knowledge: intuition “by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible”; and analysis “which reduces the object to elements already known”. Subsequent and diverse fields such as Social Choreography (Andrew Hewitt), Existential Anthropology (Michael Jackson) and Non Representational Theory (Nigel Thrift) however point towards a third, intermediate, form of knowledge that is experienced from within yet points towards to things beyond the immediate experience. Such embodied knowledge is exemplified by dance, performance and choreography. This paper, and the accompanying practical-workshop, suggests how these theories of embodied and performed knowledge might sit within Bergson’s original conception of analysis and intuition. And with reference to my own emerging practices as well as those of Michael Kliën and Guillermo Gómez-Peña it will suggest how choreography can then be applied practically as a mode of political thinking and action.
Julia Ostwald: Appropriation as an Approach to Intertwine Theory and Practise in the Production of Dance
In my contribution I would like to discuss the meaning of appropriation in the production of contemporary dance in reference to practical as well as theoretical works I have been dealing with during my studies. Traditionally making a dance piece is about creating movement material through improvisation. This means diving into one’s own bodily movement archive and memories, experimenting with different movement principles or images. To put it briefly: creating dance very often is about inventing movements. In this notion resonates the idea of the artist as an inspired, tremendously creative subject. A complete different approach offers appropriation: starting with something which already exists, stealing from it, incorporating it, evokes a totally different process of production which has much more to do with re-ordering, revisiting, digesting. While the most common form of appropriation in dance concerns the use of movements or whole pieces of dance of other authors, I here want to concentrate on the appropriation of existing cultural practices or artifacts which are not primarily linked to dance. For instance the appropriation of formats of the (re-)presentation of knowledge, their specific mediality, the appropriation of “zeitgeist” or of codified signs of identity. My assumption is that this kind of appropriation not only is a tool for intertwining theory and practice in dance but furthermore it contains a subversive dimension. Appropriation in dance thus is politically charged because it denies the role of the dancer as the embodied capitalistic logic, the ever creative, healthy, moving individual.
Charlotte Poos: Contains Art: Unpacking the Politics of Theatre Through the Aesthetics of the Container
Political performance might manifest itself in making pressing political issues visible or by opening up a space to discuss these issues. This paper investigates the critical strategy in three political performances and does so in relation to the aesthetics of the (intermodal ) container. The performances Ceci n’est Pas… (Dries Verhoeven, 2013), Bitte liebt Österreich – Erste europäische Koalitionswoche (Ausländer raus) (Christoph Schlingensief, 2000) and the activist act ‘Sans Papier zingen de Brabanconne’ (Thomas Bellinck, 2009) took place at city squares of Utrecht, Vienna and Brussels. Although the performances are considerably different they all share the use of containers and a theme of xenophobia and transnational migration.
Through the performances I will explore the points of intersection between theatre, the materiality of containers and philosophy. Much like the theatre, the container in these socially-engaged performances functions as a stage for the distribution of visibility. But the theatre, at least since the 1960’s, has been involved in a process of de-containerisation, aiming to be political outside of the box (Handke, 1969). The intermodal container, on the other hand, has been – according to the standard account – a major factor in containerisation and neo-liberal globalism (Parker, 2012).
I want to know how re-staging containerisation, as I argue takes place in these performances, reflects on “the return to theatrical concerns”(Bayly, 2008) in the discourse on contemporary political art (Bourriaud, 2002 and Rancière 2004). I argue that re-staging containerisation repeats the gesture of the separation between art and life by making the theatre itself into a spectacle that can be looked at, but cannot be entered. I thus hope to show that the critical strategies in these performances, through an aesthetics of the container, provide a perspective on the politics of theatre and an argument for how art can contain politics by means of the theatre.
Ryan Rockmore: Subverting the Masculine Aesthetic: Male Flamenco Dancers and the Embodiment of the Feminine Style
At the initial stages of my artistic training as a ﬂamenco dancer, my teachers often demanded that I “dance more like a man,” insisting that without a hyper-masculine character, forward-thrusting pelvis, and other characteristics, the likelihood of a professional career was doubtful. However, through my past training in Seville and Madrid, with predominantly female teachers, I acquired a movement and style vocabulary that made me, the dancer, feel more comfortable by integrating the femininity of ﬂamenco dance into my masculine style.
In her foundational text, Gender Trouble, Judith Butler posits that gender identity is simply the “stylized repetition of acts through time” (2007: 192). Using this as a foundation, I would argue that the same applies to gendered acts, styles, and movement within dance performances. Dancers, in essence, perform the performance of gender. Using theories and concepts from gender, performance, and dance studies, including philosophical frameworks by Foucault and de Beauvoir, this presentation focuses on the intersections of dance and gender in ﬂamenco.
We not only perform gender through dance, but gender performance also informs and shapes our choreographies.Through the lens of ﬂamenco, conference participants will be able to question and critique gender stylization within their own dance forms. To achieve this, I will analyse my own process of embodying gendered movement and style. Further, more cross-disciplinary areas of exploration include the contemporary vs. the traditional, changes in art forms through government censorship, and the embodiment/performativity of gender in dance.
Emma-Louise Roessling: Thanks for Sharing – A Performative Exploration of the Gap Between Spectator and Sponsor
I plan to do a lecture performance focusing on the different positions that the live-present spectators inhabit in comparison to institutions, which are involved in funding and realising a piece of performance.
The artist often finds herself in the position of a solicitant; of someone asking for help, space, time and money. But is this power of providing these elements within the power of the audience or of someone else, who in the worst case is completely removed from the artistic practice? And if so, how does the influence the audience holds over the artist differs from the power of the institutions which enable the performance?
I am submitting a lecture performance, which will explore these notions of power structures and ownership, drawing on works of Roland Barthes and Jacques Rancière. The piece will consist of a 10 minutes lecture which will include a task-related approach to performance. The task will consist of the act drinking water. In front of the podium is a table full with plastic cups filled with water and within the audience’s reach. During the talk I will take cups and drink the water. At first, this action will be very subtle and slow but it will become more frantic, showing that there is a need to finish within the timeframe of the performance. The 1 audience, too, is encouraged to take some of the water. The idea here is that the present audience can help completing the task if each audience member finishes one or two of the plastic cups. Thus relieving the performer of the burden to drink an excessive amount of water alone and emphasising their role in creating this piece. Eventually questioning who is to thank most for the performance, the artist, the audience or the platform provided by the conference.
Daphne Smets: Sophie Calle: An Artist in Search of a Narrator
The performative quality of the work of conceptual artist Sophie Calle is evident. Most of her workhas at its core artificial encounters with other people triggered by quotidian events from her own life. Her autobiographical experiences are exhibited for the gaze, and especially response, of others. For example in Take Care of Yourself (2009) she asks a group of women to respond from their professional vocabulary to a break-up e-mail she received from her lover. While for her work Exquisite Pain (2003) she sets up conversations with people to talk about their moment of most pain while she repeatedly tells them her recent, painful break-up story. What she does is invite her audience to see the theatricality of everyday life experiences and the way people deal with them. At this point Paul Ricoeurs’ hermeneutic anthropology comes into mind, with his theory of narrative identity. He states that in life we have to give meaning to the intersections between ourselves and what is external to us. We do so through language and specifically through narratives, both important instruments for conceptual artist Calle. His elaborations on same(ness) in relation to other(ness) and the ethics of responsiveness he propagates (165-168), open up a frame to consider Calle’s act of bringing together responses to an ordinary event that could happen to anyone of the participants and the audience. What the spectator is confronted with are ways to get access to an experience and through that, access to a self, a subject, an identity. In the period that apparently comes “after the subject” (Nancy) and where there is no ‘self’ anymore (Auslander) this quest ‘is a challenge’. So what ways of getting access to a ‘self’ are tried out in these works? And what ‘self’ are we actually talking about then? What is reached for, what is eventually reached and what slips through the fingers?
Ursina Tossi: We’ve Got to Get in… to Get Out
“We’ve got to get in … to get out” is one of three philosophical lecture dances dealing with form giving processes on the level of the body, perception, movement and choreography. “We’ve got to get in … to get out” explores hierarchical structures understood as stabilizing forces related space, form and our being in the world. It is a bricollage that offers starting points for philosophical thoughts and movements by connecting the moving body interacting with video images.
How do we experience something as form? How is a form itself forming us back? How do words and images pre-structure ones perception? How do we use form within the “dance world”?
I’m interested in system theory, constructivism and autopoietic processes. I use theoretical text as material to generate virtual architecture in which I can move physically.
Visuality and observation of movement and choreographic images and the construction of “world”, the construction of political motivation are fields I want to experiment further. How could I inspire people to interact with the proposed material? How to make them participate within my world of symbols and open it up to a larger context? How can I stay in the state of posing the question without answering it? How can I sample things that normally would not be associated?
Leen van der Meiden: Invisible Theatre and Objecthood
The Brazilian theatre director and founder of the theatre of the oppressed, Augusto Boal was in many ways a man of politics. He created a didactical way of making theatre and his ideas on that matter are still widely used across the world. One of his ways to create such political and didactical theatre is his invisible theatre. A preplanned, theatrical act takes place without warning or alerting an audience. This kind of performances turn out to be a mixed reality between audience and performers. The audience members start to react on the actions from the performers and, by doing so, turn, unknown by themselves, into actors of the performance. The way Boal constructs this kind of works makes people think of the situation which is presented to them, without knowing that they are in fact forced to think of it. This results in a very honest and organic way of making theatre that can never be arranged in a traditional theatre setting. I will share my thoughts on the following question:
How does this invisible theatre relate to the objecthood?
Michael Fried’s ideas on the objecthood are about relating to an object. Are you absorbed by the object or are you creating a distance? According to Fried we, as humans, are always observing objects in our life’s and are, by doing that, literalists who are creating distances. How do this ideas relate to the invisible theatre by Boal whose works can make people think and react to a wide range of actions, but the audience can also choose to ignore the performance or, even worse, run away from it. So how come the audiences are in fact reacting to the real life happenings around them? Therefore I will also focus on the following question:
Has Boal found the perfect way to let people lose the distance or is the overall effect the same considering the people who try to leave the scene?
Thom van Duuren and Bram van Leuveren: From Divination to Theory of Mind: Second Person Interaction in “Both Sitting Duet” (2002)
The aim of our paper is twofold. First, we wish to explore the seldom admitted similarities between contemporary neurocognitive research on second person interaction and the German hermeneutical tradition of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) and Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), whose work on comprehending other people’s minds and intentions still proves to be useful today. More fully, we will make a case for the ways in which insights achieved in late eighteenth century hermeneutics can contribute to twenty-first century neurocognition and vice versa (cf. Gallagher; Korthals Altes). Second, we intend to illustrate our observations with a few seminal moments from the Bessie-award winning production Both Sitting Duet (2002, Kaaitheater et al.), created and performed by the English choreographer Jonathan Burrows and the Italian composer Matteo Fargion. We will show that the piece’s non-verbal choreography epitomizes as well as reflects on the understanding of others ininterpersonal communication.
Recent neurocognitive studies on second person interaction – usually covered by the umbrella term “Theory of Mind”, that is, the understanding of other people’s mental states – have found scientific evidence for the existence of interpersonal “brain coupling”. The latter term denotes a spatial and temporal coupling between the brain activity of both speaker and listener (Stephens et al.; Hasson et al.). Although these and other experimental investigations may offer valuable insights into the complex nature of Theory of Mind, most neurocognitive research arguably enters into older hermeneutical debates about the experience and understanding of human intentionality. Consider, for example, Schleiermacher’s conception of Divination or Dilthey’s explanation of the process of meaning-making as a “circuit of induction-deduction” (Korthals Altes, 49), on the one hand, and widespread concepts in cognitive sciences such as “frames” (Anderson ), “prototypes” (Lakoff), or “inferences” (Dennett), on the other. Our understanding is that Both Sitting Duet perceptively foregrounds some of the communicative aspects of second person interaction. It thereby calls attention to the inference mechanisms one employs for making sense of a person’s character, the actions he or she performs, and the setting in which the interaction occurs. In our discussion of the performance we will indicate the epistemological territories where the objectives of traditional hermeneutics and contemporary (neuro)cognitive research might meet.