The Snark Dance

collaborative choreographies of collective memory

Spaces of loss and ritual May 9, 2008

Filed under: magic/divination,the gaze,theatre/performance — danceswithsnarks @ 5:53 pm

escher mirror

M.C. Escher (1935): Hand with Reflecting Sphere

To aid my research I attended the Material Theatre/ Theatre Materials Conference held at the Central School for Speech and Drama. The conference was dedicated to how performance could be inspired by materiality. I found this conference extremely useful in thinking about how the material environment might help me to develop projects, especially a hunt which requires interacting and reinterpreting the environment. I was surprisingly uplifted by the conference even though I had just lost a dear relative just before it.

One of the talks that really inspired me was the keynote speaker Anne Bogart of Columbia University. I really enjoyed her speech as it reflected upon in the theatre as a technology of memory and understanding desire.

One thing she discussed was James Joyce’s distinction between Kinetic art and art that makes you stop. For Joyce art that made you stop was superior to kinetic art as it made you ask questions. Bogart explains that this is due to the fact that kinetic art deals with desire. The trouble with kinetic art is when it manipulates the audience in order to direct their desires. This sort of art is indeed fascist. Commercials and Spielberg films, deploy such methods. However art which allows its audience experiment with movement allows for spaces in which to understand the complexities of desire. Spaces of authenticity are created by invoking the past and the future into the breath of the present.

If theatre is the art of ritual then it finds itself attached to tradition. This presents a challenge to how new technologies should be used. ew technologies should be used to accentuate the soul of the art and not take it over. I take Hegel’s side in where I believe that art should marry the intellectual with the sensual. Too much technology or conceptualizing defeats the soul of the art form. Furthermore I would like to argue that art should also strive to reinterpret tradition in order to recreate spaces and the dynamics of desire therein.

Why should expirementing with space allow for us to reflect upon our desires? What is the correlation between space and desire? Here I think of a paper I have recently read by Derek Gregory on Lacan and Geography which is essentially a comparison of Lacan and Lefebvre. Lacan’s project defines desire in terms of a lack or the empty signifier. Desire transposes the lack in the subject on the object. The symbolic order or the distinction between signifier and signified in Lacan’s system is how the human makes sense of the diruption between the fragmentation of the real and the imaginary whole through the self’s reflection in the mirror. Lefebvre’s critique, however, understands the mirror image in reverse. It is the mirror that abstracts the experience of the body from its natural rythm as the domincance of the visual takes over all other aspects of experience. The mirror becomes a site for the production of abstract space via the gaze where experience undergoes scotimization. Abstract space is then replicated in the landscape producing architectures of alienation where are desires become subject to violence. In abstract space everything becomes textual and therefore fragmented as experience is politicized through the symbolic order which produces binary distinctions.

DIscussion/ Future Projects?

What i see as interesting in the politics of space and the abstration of space is how textuality can be exchange for intertexuality in order to create new spaces. I believe this is what good art tries to acheive; the third space. How can reinterpreting the gaze ritual server to reinterpret spaces that produce social rather than anti-social behaviours.

Also if theatre is an area for realizing desire is it not also a place for realizing loss? If desire is something that is derived from an empty source rather than an empty object then how does getting lost confront issues of loss and death? I actually think that the poetic of the snark reveals the absurdity in politics to evade death. Does entering into the mysterious help us to create a meaningful ritual in which to defamliarize from abstract spaces of alienation?

For future projects I want to conduct walks in cemeteries. Also I know some ghost hunters I contacted for a project from last year, I wonder how they might be able to help me correlate the kinetic poetic with loss and understanding the traces of the past which the spaces we inhabit now have inherited.


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