The Snark Dance

collaborative choreographies of collective memory

Dancing with the dead May 11, 2008

So I have been thinking more and more about what graveyards means to media ecologies (which just seems like a new way of explaining society or networks).  There is a long history relating machines and ghosts and the supernatural and technology is definitely an interesting area to explore.   Should this be viewed as being more than just a translation of the enchantment produced within us when faced with the finesse of impressive technical achievement?

My project for the Laurie Grove Bath House in November was an installation dedicated to the building’s ghost who was affectionately called Charley as he whistled the Charleston by James P. Johnson. For my installation I recorded someone whistling the Charleston and played it from the top of the stairs in order to lure people to a step, that when stepped on, projected old footage of people dancing the charleston on the walls accompanied by an old big band playing the song. The following video is nice cause it shows the ghosts of Al Minns and Leon James dancing the Charleston to daftpunk:

Also footsteps to the charelston were lit on the ground so you could dance with the figures.

The point I was trying to make with dancing with the dead was about the history of space and how media is actually able to capture the spectre. As cinema and the phonographs are mediums of disjointed time. Disjointed time is key to hauntology so that these media enable us to see and hear the dead. Due to this I think it is no wonder that phonographs and radio have been used to talk to the dead.

I now see the snark dance as an elaboration of this recognition for the ghosts which inhabit us and who we inhabit. My understadning of psychogeography is a practice in which I may hunt for the spirits encrypted in space that are just as responsible for the active production of space as the living, as the dead are written in the living. Our identities are both breathing and haunted. Furthermore, seeing our own apparitions might be the process that Lefebvre describes in the production of abstract space.

In Nadja by Andre Breton, considered by many as the first psychogeographic novel, Breton answers the question of Who am I? with Whom do I haunt? This I think is important to the interactivity involved in my project as well as the camera with which I implement in this production. In order to escape the colonialist discourse i must commune with the dead and know that the ultimate other to myself is the apparition of my nonbeing. And even this polarity must intersect. Rituals put this pace of in betweeness into action where we dance in th footsteps of our ancestors and our bodies become allegories of the past.

If the camera is the technology of the gaze and therefore in the habit of othering can we not reinterpret the gaze of desire stemming from the void and the mirror as the confrontation of our own apparition? If hauntology is the inversion of ontology then through the looking glass is the realm of hauntology, the spector. And so in complicating the gaze we enter the realm where we are not fragmented but inhabiting many places at once as we haunt through our traces and the inversion that inhabits the spaces of reflection. Ritual is about reenacting the traces of our being in order to bring together one’s being with one’s nonbeing. Ritual creates a space for authentic expereince because it thrives in this entanglement. For more haauntology fun see here.

To conclude i have included a photo from an old newspaper of my late grandmother when she was young. In it I see my own apparition as hauntology finds relationships in encrypted patterns as it uses similarity to create binaries and not difference. In this picture I understand that it depicts a ghost of myself. A piece of myself has died with her and in turn a piece of her lives in me. In our interactions we haunt each other so to ask whom do I haunt? is to ask with who have I invested with my spirit. Our exchanges shape who we are. This is the fabric of spacial production and the essence of place. By experimenting with the fabric of ritual maybe we will find some clues in discovering place through the crypt and how it might be decoded. This is the soul of art and how I can think more deeply about the poetry inherent in media, movement and dancing with snarks.

Picture of my grandmother at far right, courtesy of Florence Morning News,

Florence, SC (Oct 20 1955)

THE FUTURE:

Reform the ritual in graveyard and possibly a night walk in the country side utilizing constellations

Divination practices in order to find ways of moving in a decoding space

Look into how the hauntology of the internet and the digital medium. If internet is a place then what are its ghosts? Myspace pages of the diseased come to mind.

Also how can the web andinteractive technologies allow us to understand the multiplicity of the gaze or the spector in the production of space. I am thinking installations that utilize mirrors and other technologies of reflection or recursion. How might the phantasmagoria influence the way in which footage can be presented? How can these shows be recreated?

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Magic and allegory May 7, 2008

One of my favorite reads so far in the study o finteractive media was words made flesh by Florian Kramer. In this essay Kramer discusses, the cultural imagination, the history of software and the history of computation with examples from the occult sciences. The relationship between the occult and technology is a fascinating subject. Thinking about culture in terms of calculations is very fruitful for the mechanical allegories I have been thinking about. Also, are rituals not methods of calculation, at least of identity?

zodclock

These are all really huge questions but rather than ignore them I want to make a breif note here. I have currently been researching astrology and ancient treatments of the heavens. I am very interested in how I could use constellations and the zodiac in interactive art and psychogeography. Furthermore I find the occult distinction interesting as it seems to suggest that these sciences are irrational others. The surrealists’ mission to enchant the mundane is very much about questioning dangerous logics which make accusations of irrationality, thus mechanizing the human condition. I suppose the irony in the surrealist project, when thinking about magic and the othering gaze, is that surrealism also fell into the traps of its own critique.

I recently went to a discussion on the serious side of magic and the stars with Peter Forshaw and Nick Campion that was part of the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art at the Barbican. Forshaw and Campion are academics who specialize in astrology and other aspects of the occult. I found this discussion very useful as it spoke about the obssessive categorization of the ancients in order to understand the universe. Things on earth were reflected in the heavens and this takes me back to the notion of the allegory. The allegory can be seen to represent the paridigmatic pattern between large and small bodies. Can our own technologies also be seen to mimic these patterns? For example, can the architecture of the computer be an allegory for the architecture of the city?

DISCUSSION, FUTURE PROJECTS:

I kept the occult discussion brief because I personally do not know enough about it. I will keep up the research and keep it posted here at a later date.

For now I want to think about how the body can be used as an allegory. I want to do walks that transpose the macroscopic and microscopic through the paradigm of the bodies and address the following themes:

  • The cosmos: using astrology?
  • The Earth as a body/ the elements
  • The political body: National museum as setting, using traveling networks such as hospitality club
  • The human body: Hospital or hygienic walks like cleaning the city
  • Microbes/atoms

I have been thinking about settings like the British museum or a country field at night where i can expirement with constellations.

Treasure hunt: to go back to the hunting theme…The goldbug hunt got me very interested in the science of cryptography. One method of cryptography is transposition codes. I wonder if a transposition code could not be worked out through the body allegory in order to create an interesting space for expressing relationships between the macrocosm and the microcosm. The process of decrypting is why I enjoy the hunting poetic very much as it puts you in the position to suspect everything and create strange relationships. I want to develop a hunt that enables the surrealist technique through the relationship between objects and ideas in the creation of clues. Again a big challenge to the snark hunt is creating a context that enables automatic clue formation.

Also, one project I have started working on is creating zodiac poetry. this is a collaborative poetry project based on the exquisite corpse game of the surrealists. However I have been experimenting with ordering the poems in terms of the participant’s zodiac configurations. So for example I will order the participant’s astrological relationship to the alignment of the planets to inform the sequence in which each verse is placed.