The Snark Dance

collaborative choreographies of collective memory

Messy Reflections: snarks, dialectics, surrealism and mirrors May 7, 2008

Here I would like to speak about the difficulty Caroline and I encountered in reflecting upon the snark hunt and how we wanted to take our psychogeography further.

We found the absurd, circular-like logic of the snark dance as something useful. We loved absurdity in so far as it made thoughts move in messy directions so that ends could not meet. Even still there is something in this movement I find very meaningful. I think this makes a mess of dialectics and I am pretty sure this is what the surrealists had in mind in their use of strange juxtaposition as a creation of new spaces for thought to roam freely from the fascism of linear logics. The cycle of absurdity is very interesting especially when we look to how this can apply it to the space between polarities (which might be understood as the gaze) in relation to recursion or the application of the absurd to reflection and the infamous gaze.

A side project I had been working on was a documentary or ethnography of a pie and mash shop in East London. A major challenge to this project were the many mirrors within the setting that kept revealing the camera in our footage. This made me very aware of my own Western gaze towards East London. Seeing myself behind the camera and in front of the camera made a maze of my thoughts in determining where I could situate myself in a responsible representation of this project. I reconciled the situation by juxtaposing the mechanics of my cinematic project to the mechanics that were in the shop. The winding sound of the machines used to make pies echoed the sound of a film projector. Using the allegory of mechanical production was actually a very interesting technology with which to confront the gaze. I think that allegory is a useful device in which to make some sense or meaningful experience within the labyrinth created by complicated modes of reflection.

In thinking about the history of cinema in relation to the history of anthropology and this thing called colonialism I began to think about the surrealists. One thing Caroline and I loved about avant-garde cinema was its creative use of the mechanics of documentation in order to produce surreal content. One major critique of surrealism is the feminist critique as the surrealist movement has a very sexist undertone. For example the ubiquitous objectification and disfigurement of the female body in surrealist painting (think Dali). The surrealist manifesto was not signed by a single woman and female contribution to the surrealist project is severely marginalized. Leonora Carrington (a contemporary of Breton) has produced writing and paintings that blow many surrealists out of the water! But I bet even some of the biggest fans of surrealism have never even heard of her.

Magritte (1929): Je ne vois pas la (femme) cachee dans le foret meaning I do not see the woman hidden in the forest. A great example of the surrealist objectification of the female, it depicts prominent figures in the surrealist movement. This image was found in a fantastic article on the blog: Letters from a Librarian.

Now I would like to argue that the objectification of the woman in the surrealist project stems from the movement’s relationship to the history of cinema. The camera is the technology of objectification as its very mechanics are the gaze hatis higly gendered. The cinema allows for the audience to see as flaneur not flaneuse (the prostitute).

Now I do not want to go into this much further. But why the gaze whether it be gendered or colonialist is important to this blog is that it presents something for the interactive project to think about. The gaze should be complicated in interactive based projects and media. The potential for reflexivity in these projects could compromise the simplicity of the gaze and therefore the process of objectification. If the gaze is reflected upon itself it was in my recent experience then what is then objectified?? Does this not echo the complexities of the digital postcolonial age. Do internet networks do the work of multiple reflections opening up passages for the gaze to be distorted?

Using the mirror or echo allegory has really helped me in my filmmaking but I also hope for it to challenge my research for the creation of interactive activities. I think part of role playing is our individual rituals of gazing… Who are we allowed to gaze at and in which context?

Returning to the snark… how does an empty signifyer affect this discussion? What happens when a hunt is for an object that does not exist? This is something that caroline and I did not take into enough consideration before hand. I think in order for this to work we would have to really implement our theatrical skills. Maybe our acting abilities just arent up to par for such a task. However until then, I think something to take a away from this experience is this rethinking of the dialectics that I believe the surrealists were aware of in their praise of the absurd. Through the absurd I think we are able to fill inthe gaps of strange juxtaposition in order to form a new space for synthesis. I am not saying that the surrealists advocated the unraveling of absolute spirit. However, I think there is something to be said for this process.

Also the Surrealists were able to create a playful atmosphere for our thoughts to roam. This is something I really love about the genre. So what I ultimately would like to do is to take surrealist technique and exorcise the gaze. I think this has to come from reflexivity from all sides.. the technology of recursion could underline the labyrinth of our being inorder for us to escape modes of othering. Now if this soundslike a complicated mess, I think it is supposed to be, but maybe such a mess can be magical.

FUTURE PROJECTS?

I think that putting absurd cycles into movement would be great. Maybe tryingto walk in a perfect circle around the city. Or playing with the circle line. Implementing different typesof cycles in these walks…The moon cycle, the day cycle, a bicycle?

circulation as allegory: This again approaches my interest in documentation. Circulation of products, the body, etc. Reproductive cycles and the digital age.

Using mirrors in order to create interesting film projections or installation.. This is something I have been thinking about using besides editing for film experimentation.

recurssion in programming and networking…messy feedback loops to reflect the messy dialectics

the technique of absurd juxtaposition in networking

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One Response to “Messy Reflections: snarks, dialectics, surrealism and mirrors”

  1. danceswithsnarks Says:

    Well well, I am really finding happy hunting inspiration in the blog ritual and the like!!! I have been looking into things like delicious and twitter and I am especially excited about how twitter could be used to set up a hunt. I think I have officially fallen into geek land but I just cant resist…i really am excited about the creative potential here….I think that twitter or something like it could def complicate the gaze in so far is it might describe a space over time…hmmm tons of possibility!!!

    Also someone suggested that I look into digg.com. I think this is a really interested space as well.


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