Live Sculpture

Live Sculpture is an interactive and performative video-sculpture, built as an auto-poietic and communicating mirror. When the viewer’s body stands in front of Live Sculpture, it is scanned and filmed in real time by a webcam installed behind a Baroque frame and then reanimated and reshaped in a full-size video projection simulating a three-dimensional marble sculpture. The new live image of the viewer-sculpture is entirely built from an ever-changing interactive mesh, which tunes in and reacts to body movements, the environment, light, and the speed of the viewer. My artistic research has always investigated changes in “liquid space” through a variety of techniques, technologies, and devices. The liquid space is unfolded in Live Sculpture by the subject herself, on one side, reshaping the human into something alive and vibrant and, on the other, challenging the notion of sculpture.

As a self-producing structure (Maturana and Varela 1980), Live Sculpture reveals strata, details, and nothing beneath: always in transformation, never reaching another side, never affirming. The interactive mirror—“mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”—gestures to infinity and its “Baroque trait twists and turns its folds, pushing them to infinity, fold over fold, one upon the other” (Deleuze 2006, 3). However, if the viewer might find intimacy in the continuous Droste effect, Live Sculpture remains “a Baroque chiaroscuro, a trompe-l’œil that fools ‘trompe’ no one, yet no one cares to touch its depthless folds. This is the space of the fully accepted, repeated but never shared illusion of unity that is difference” (Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos 2013, 77).

 

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 2006. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Translated by Tom Conley. London: Continuum.

La Cour, Anders, and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, eds. 2013. Luhmann Observed: Radical Theoretical Encounters. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Maturana Humberto R., and Francisco J. Varela. 1980. Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living. Dordrecht: Springer

Re-Notations III: Schumann’s Kreisleriana, I Molto Agitato

What is a score? What is notation? What is the function of notation? These ontological questions assume that we can capture some essence of a particular thing. But essences can transform and thus we have to dismiss the concept of essence, or transform it with difference à la Deleuze. The answer to such questions is therefore an invitation to experiment with transformations.

If we say that a score under normal circumstances has the potential to release a certain sound world through the engagement of performers, then we must say that the Re-notations project does not release an audible world but a visual world of patterns through the engagement of particular diagrammatic relations. Thus, notation has been transformed in the sense of direction, aim, and function. The notation employed by the Re-notations project does not aim for performance and sonification, rather it contemplates the materiality of performance; it looks back on a particular musical situation, a specific musical location, and fuses time and spatial elements. Is it still notation? “Is” is the wrong word. This way of looking (notating) is both deterritorialisational and reterritorialisational. By extracting the specific stratum of the musical situation in question and replacing/releasing it into another notational context, the “music” or certain music forces escape for a moment and we experience the interplay of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation (both of notation itself and the music being notated). At the same time—the multidimensional potential of music is intensified—music is always becoming (even the classics).

Re-notations is a project/machine that re-notates classical piano masterpieces from a specific angle and with an entirely different aim from the original. It is notation that folds itself onto other notations, other scores, other musics, examining their signifier–signified relations with materiality. Re-notations are always in-between, they do not have their own music; they relate, they repeat, they allow escape. Re-notations focus on the materiality and physical context of the works examined and give us a specific perspective on music, a perspective that maps out the activity in space and time of the physical materials involved: hands and fingers on specific locations on the piano keyboard. Through this, the intensity and density of the involved activity is revealed as an overcrowded space of movements.

A pattern emerges, but not from design or from an author but from a specific diagrammatic relation. Music seen from this perspective is constantly occupying the same locations where actions keep folding one another, repeating differences. A performance of spatio-temporal multiplicity is disclosed. Each keystroke (depression) is accounted for as a link between a spatial location on the keyboard and a temporal axis. Exhausted location, excessive quantity, superimpositions, and interpenetration become the subject of this notational act where the relationship between hands and keyboards, time and materiality, are put to the foreground. The “score” is becoming an abstract, virtual, diagrammatic “recording” of the physical and material situation the music demands: a limited number of space-points are occupied and activated in specific temporal order. This order becomes obscure within a multiplicity of condensed locations. This is the escape of a clandestine stratum of a musical multiplicity (a slice). Thus, notation reverses or diversifies its direction and becomes an active post-performance activity, not instructional, not authoritative, but speculative, reflective, and itself performative.

Against Deleuze, Boulez (Music as Oracle)

In his book The Age of Extremes, Eric Hobsbawm notices the curious way the arts and aesthetics demonstrate an uncanny aptitude for prophetic foresight. For Hobsbawm, the avant-garde revolution in the 1910s, for example, took place long before the world whose collapse it expressed actually fell apart. It is for this reason that the cultural historian should pay close attention to the evolving aesthetic modalities of art in the context of particular political conjunctures. What are we to make of Gilles Deleuze’s use of the music and writing of Pierre Boulez in service of a philosophy that reads like an oracle? Against his own philosophy of discipline and punishment, Michel Foucault prophetically suggested that the century to come would be known as Deleuzian. When it comes to the critical reception of Boulez’s compositional aesthetics, the fairly predictable association of serialism (via Webern) with a kind of hermetic totalitarianism (the music’s mathematics as antisocial hyperintegration, etc.) has given way in more recent times to a more empirically grounded critical association of serialism and dodecaphony with the cultural politics of the Cold War. What the latter critique misses (modernism as the false mask of capitalism) is the truly uncanny prophetic resonance (in Hobsbawm’s sense) of post-war radicality with the new modalities of social life produced by the neo-liberal digital information network that emerged at the end of the twentieth century.

The paper demonstrates the prophetic dimensions of Boulez’s oeuvre by way of the politico-musical philosophy of Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Boulez’s music and music theory claims residency in and serves as an important conduit for the writings of Deleuze and Guattari in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, the philosophers creatively adopt serial musical structure as a philosophical trope for thinking identity across strata. The terms they employ are largely borrowed from Boulez’s technical writings on music written nearly twenty years earlier. By situating the philosophers’ engagement with music in the historical context of a romantic-modern tradition (which, broadly, emphasises the critical aspirations of music), the paper assesses the political valences of their central arguments in the current context of postmodern capitalism, to which their work is addressed. The paper demonstrates how the philosophers’ use of Boulezian aesthetics is ultimately prophetic of dominant modalities of techno-political praxis today.

Strata: A Lecture Performance

My first creative gesture, always, is inwards. I look inside; I dive inside. I bathe myself in the numerous, interconnected yet distinct streams of sensations, thoughts, and feelings that incessantly rush through me. I drift upon them; I observe how they intersect, split one another apart, or converge. Amidst the buzzing of inner activities that living appears to be as soon as one suspends one’s project-oriented actions, one sees tentative tropes emerging, heteroclite assemblages forming themselves. Some persist, others vanish quickly to cohere later in a different combination. My work attempts to investigate how we constantly compose our experience from the multiplicity of which we are made. Artistic research too proceeds from an introspective drive: art turning itself toward art in an attempt to question anew its processes and its effects; research as a movement that goes nowhere but insists to be where it is, digging up the very place upon which it stands. Following such a self-reflexive movement, art encounters itself as not self-identical, animated as it is by multiple other practices—craftsmanship, daily life, theory, philosophy, politics . . .

Strata, the online publication on which this lecture performance is based, is an instantiation of such an introspective approach. It is a cross section of my own work, applying my compositional strategies to question my own practice. A collage of images, text, and video fragments on an endless white page, it was created in 2014 on an online platform for multi-modal publications, Oral Site, which is hosted by Sarma, a workplace focusing on artistic research and discursive creation. Although explicit references to Deleuzian concerns do surface in Strata—direct quotations as well as excerpts of an interview with I. Stengers—it is mostly through its rhizomatic mode of composition that it meets the philosopher’s work. With no centre, no end, no linearity, it offers itself as an environment to get lost in. By maintaining their reciprocal heterogeneity, clusters made of distinct documents create a wide constellation, a field of tensions where relationships are endless, yet (or because of this) are never totally effectuated. In this composition, gaps are pivotal and the trade with the non-actualised is constant. It invites the visitor to a diagrammatic experience in which meanings and affects emerge in the midst of invisible trajectories that saturate the page as one’s attention bounces from words to drawings to filmed movement, from personal anecdotes to art history to philosophical digression or political concerns. In its associated lecture-performance series, Strata is screened for the audience and offers itself as a score for a digressive exegesis. We navigate its large plane, unfolding one of the countless ways to think and feel its layering. Live dance and/or drawing extends its constellation into the room as the performer—myself—embodies the particular mythology instantiated by the publication.