This issue dedicates itself to the intersections of new materialist theory and artistic or practice-inspired research through a sustained conceptual focus on intra-action and via a wide variety of previously not presented projects. The distinctive main focus of the issue is the intra-active implementation of the notion of intra-action itself. Instead of taking this concept as a theoretical given, the issue's contributions aim to work with, enact, test, expand, and modify it within diverse intra-active settings comprised of highly varied artistic processes, research questions, disciplinary fields of action, and analytical and political concerns.
Some works and their afterlife
In this exposition I present a cluster of works with regard to their subtle interconnections, often not consciously constructed or intended in any particular ways at the time of their conception. The afterlife of these works, however, enact aesthetic intra-actions of their ensemble. Shedding light on some parts of this cavernous network of pressing matters I make an attempt of explicating the ways in which artistic thinking might get "diffracted" into many part-processes that are both divergent and entangled. In the course of my presentation, I try to be sensitive towards the fact that these strings of thinking are distributed in a complex manner across the divide of sensibility and intelligibility. In terms of the chosen approach this implies avoiding the use of discursive explanations as the main medium of explication. This "method", if it can be formalized as one, involves priorizing the material circumstances of particular articulations, both verbal and non-verbal, over content-oriented gestures of translation.
Ornamenting Vocality. Intra-active methodology for Vocal Meaning-Making.
Elisabeth Laasonen Belgrano
This exposition departs from the silence of a non-existing voice. A voice about to touch the ears and eyes of both author and readers/listeners. A voice already sounding in the head of the author - sounding as thoughts, words, letters and sentences. A non/voice being part of a never ending development of new materialities. An onto-epistemological voice diffracted through a singer's process of making sense of a lesson from a 17th century vocal manuscript. A voice as a mattering method for the art of singing through new materialist theories, vocal and discursive narratives and somatic awareness.
Environmental forms, from a theoretical perspective to concrete case studies in urban planning
Nathalie Blanc, Frédéric Barbe
Intersecting Environmental Humanities (HE) and the New Materialism (NM), this article proposes a specific approach to forms, metamorphoses, and uncertain futures. We favour an approach incorporating aesthetic dimensions, as well as theories from the NM, to propose the conceptual expression of “environmental forms”, in order to renew the often techno-centric environmental analysis and research in the field of humanities and social sciences. We intend to focus on the process of “environmentalization”, considered distinct from a usual definition of humanity as ontologically separate from other living beings, and ascribed in a traditional opposition between nature and culture. This process of creating environments means to build a system that unites the stakeholders with variations in time and space.
In the first section, we will discuss the question of forms, whose history is strongly associated with the history of art and aesthetics (Goethe Kant, etc.). Secondly, we will try to highlight the contributions of Karen Barad’s theories on intra-agentivity regarding the issue of environmental forms. In a last section, we will highlight how spontaneous environmental forms such as community gardens, or animals in cities, as well as contemporary “green” urban planning is a way to take into account environmental forms as a way to co-produce “natureculture” in cities.
Materialising the Social
Anna Catherine Hickey-Moody
Socially engaged arts practices make new forms of sociability. They are intra-active, diffractive methods through which we are able to craft new social faces. Quantum literacies are the modes through which socially engaged arts practices occur: they are at once critical, performative, intra-active. Quantum literacies enable us to examine generative intersections between artistic research and academic research regarding life and matter, nature and culture. Taking into account the multiple processes of material-discursive production, translation, transformation, and diffraction that constitute socially engaged arts practice, this paper considers the material-discursive space of socially engaged arts practice as a way of re-assembling and re-making multicultural urban spaces currently fractured by differences in belief. The transversal line of socially engaged art practice with interfaith youth zigzags across, and brings together, a diverse selection of bodies, beliefs, knowledges, skills, and creates a material-discursive documentation of group subjectivity. Through an excavation of my recent arts workshops with interfaith children, I will examine the ways aesthetic practices perform a group subjectivity created through collaboration. Such a bringing together of nature and culture, of different races and beliefs in urban environments, is urgently needed. The British Government spends 40 million pounds on an annual basis on The Prevent scheme. For those unfamiliar with the scheme, Prevent is just one strand of the UK government’s counter terrorism policy which has 4 strands – to Pursue, Protect, Prepare, and Prevent.
Through prevent funding, local UK police forces have specialized Prevent officers, and both teachers and children are trained to identify radicalised children. On the southern side of the Globe, between 2015-16 Australian budget committed $22 million to ‘countering violent extremism’. This financial commitment reflects the fact that the everyday atmosphere of Australian life, in addition to British life, is characterised by implicit and explicit relationships to 'terrorism' prevention. This emphasis, indeed this atmosphere, and the financial investment it requires, has not reduced the quantity or severity of terrorist threats. More than anything, increased securitization has inspired a corresponding increase in violence and anxiety. The atmosphere of Islamophobia at the heart of such national imaginings that are mobilised to justify funding ways of ‘countering violent extremism’ is increasing. Taking these nationalizing cultural atmospheres as a point of departure, I look to establish transversal strategies for changing public culture and crafting interfaith belonging in Australia, and in the UK, through arts practices and public aesthetics. This paper reports on the early stages of a trans national art project that is designed to intervene in Islamophobic cultural imaginaries through socially engaged art as a vehicle for relationship building and social cohesion.
Situated Knowledge, Transmissions of Practice and Parasitic Endeavors
Helen Palmer, Victoria Hunter, Jessica Foley, Karolina Kucia
This paper presents an exchange between four practitioners from distinct disciplines of site dance, philosophy, experimental writing and pedagogy. It presents responses to provocations that position these practices as containers of Situated Knowledge, it interrogates the transmission and reception of practical knowledge, and employs the notion of ‘parasitic endeavor’ as a lens through which to facilitate discussion of of how disciplinary specific practices and emerging knowledges might traverse from one discipline to another and how this knowledge might be articulated and communicated to wider audiences. Informed by Bennett’s notions of ‘vibrant matter’ (2010), Barad’s conception of agency and intra-action (2003), transversality (Guattari, 1964 and Dolphijn and van der Tuin, 2012) and J.J. Gibson’s theory of affordances (1986) the paper explores how embodied knowledges become activated and mobilised through human-material-world intra-actions and how interdisciplinary engagements facilitate the articulation of such knowledges. The notion of parasitic endeavor employed here alludes to a temporal process in which theoretical paradigms from one discipline are employed within or applied in another for a required period of time to facilitate the articulation of complex intra-active and diffractive human-nonhuman entanglements.
This paper seeks to show how distinct practices transmit knowledges beyond disciplinary boundaries. Each respondent will offer a ‘score’ to provoke and support intra-active practice. The score frames a set of instructions, rules or constraints for fellow authors to explore and reflect on their experiences in relation to their own, customary modes of ‘doing’ practice and research. For publication, each contributor will present a response to one or more of these scores, drawing on their own disciplinary methods and working practices to consider how the specificities of their discipline engage creatively with these alternate actions and actors.
In this scenario the notion of ‘parasitic endeavor’ is positioned as prodigious and facilitatory; we move through and beyond disciplinary silos, borrow and compare, creating new theoretical and disciplinary entanglements, through which new/augmented modes of thinking/doing might emerge.
Surface Tension: Material Intra-Actions within Photography
Jane Vuorinen, Rebecca Najdowski
How does photography materially intra-act with other material phenomena and how do these interruptions, entanglements or comings-together reveal new qualities of photographic materiality itself? In this exposition, we use the concept of intra-action to think through and problematize photographic practices by looking at two cases: ‘photo-embroideries’ and ‘landscape photography’. Through these perspectives we propose a new materialist approach to thinking about photography, one that considers and appreciates photographic materiality.
Enacting Agential Cuts - Notes on the Untitled 1-3 (2014)
The exposition is a visual-textual essay in which I explore Karen Barad’s agential realism in conversation with my installation “”Untitled 1-3” consisting of three interactive artifacts: knitted dress-like objects, responding to touch. An installation is understood here as an ongoing process of materialization which assumes different instantiations over time. I will approach these in dialogue with Barad’s concept of the “agential cut”, inquiring into three “cuts” in which the installation is enacted in three different configurations.
Aesthetics of inhuman touch: notes for 'vegetalised' performance
mirko nikolić, Neda Radulovic
The article aims to develop the notion of posthuman/ist performance art, drawing from and continuing the line of work developed by Karen Barad. Starting from the critique of anthropocentrism of performance studies, we try and apply the notions of affect and intra-action to account for interspecies entanglements in the context of performance arts. The article will tackle several main issues in attempt to acknowledge more than human agencies participating in the event of performance: how do we understand and reconfigure the notion of body in performance? Whose bodies count as present and who gets the credit as the subject/creator of the performance? As the territory to investigate these questions we look at the vegetal-human co-performances, especially through touching intra-actions. We try to figure what a desiring-touching between these radically different embodiments and modes of being would entail, and, through this critique of performance studies, we make steps towards 'vegetalising' both affect theory and agential realist theory of intra-action.
Trans-becomings in Western classical singing: An intra-active approach
Milla Kristina Tiainen
This exposition is an attempt to think transgender existence and experiences in relation to voice and the particular practices of western classical singing. A key source of inspiration for this voice and music-bound line of exploration is our collaboration with Finnish singer, voice teacher and trans man Demian Seesjärvi. Thus, the propositions presented here are meant to take form in-between Seesjärvi’s vocalizations, his spoken and written reflections on his body/voice and artistic activity, and the research interests and concepts that we bring into these encounters.
The exposition explores the interrelations of trans existence and vocal art practices through Seesjärvi’s distinctive practice in classical singing. Our accompanying theoretical aim is to participate in recent discussions about how materiality - or better, materialities - matter a great deal in trans ways of being or becoming and the unfolding of trans selves.
In particular, we engage with Seesjärvi’s activities as a classically trained singer by asking how his artistry and perhaps the music-cultural field of classical singing more generally prompt important insights into the co-formations of body, voice and sex/gender in trans ways of being. How do material, cultural and discursive aspects interrelate - or, in the terms used in this exposition, intra-act - within these formations? How can new materialist ideas concerning the emergent, instead of passive or predictable, character of matter, and the intra-active occurring of materialities and other phenomena, (e.g. Barad 2003; 2007) advance understandings of materiality, voice and sex/gender in vocal art practices and trans studies of music?
GEOART AS A NEW MATERIALIST PRACTICE. INTRA-ACTIVE BECOMINGS AND ARTISTIC (KNOWLEDGE) PRODUCTION.
Situated within a new materialist philosophical framework and inspired by its posthumanistic, postdualistic, and affirmative orientation, this article looks at instances of geoart, understanding it in terms of intra-active knowledge production processes. I look specifically at the artistic projects by Jim Denevan and, by doing so, I intend to examine the concept of a non-academic artistic practice with an aim of exposing that a detailed inspection of the processes involved in the artistic production sheds an altogether different light on the nature of all research practices. As such, it lets us engage more thoroughly with the “how-question” of generating knowledge, highlighting its processual material-semiotic character. As instantiated in my case studies, an inquiry of different relationalities involved in the process of artistic (knowledge) production enables a study of how subject and object emerge as a result of “intra-activity” (Barad 2007).
Using his own body as both a tool and an active corporeal entity merging with the surrounding landscape, a geoartist Jim Denevan rhythmically and in a dance-like movement creates ephemeral gigantic drawings on sand, soil, or ice. They emerge out of a dynamic assemblage of the artist’s body (and his tools) and the local geophysical situation (with different sorts of matter or forces present there). The natural environment operates as an agent actively engaged in the whole process of artistic creation—of both making and unmaking of the drawings. When finished by Denevan, his works of art remain dynamic; they are being gradually modified and eventually erased by the undulating waves, tides, gusts of wind, the working of erosion and weathering, until they completely disappear. Focusing on the engagement of the artist with the environment and the random audiences present on site, I want to make clear that such eco-sensitive creation may serve as an illuminating example of what forms the entanglements of art and research could take and what material-semiotic effects such creative activities produce for all actors involved.