Stockholm University of the Arts publication series: X-Position, ISSN 2002-603X;3
Monsters I Love: On Multivocal Arts
Proposing a ‘multivocal practice’ in the vocal arts, this exposition (documented artistic research project) embodies an inclusive approach to four core categories for the contemporary performance voice: the singing, speaking, extended and disembodied voice. The culmination of a four-year PhD project in Artistic Practices (Performative and Mediated Practices, with specialisations in choreography/film and media/opera /performing arts), it documents artistic research sub-projects through the presentation of multimedia material, interweaving performance recordings with reflective and contextualising texts. Multivocality addresses various models of virtuosity, all of which are informed by a multi-faceted artistic knowledge, whether experimental or experiential, technical or technological, improvisational or compositional. Contemporary vocal performance practices are loaded by questions pertaining to detecting and solving technical issues that span the vocal domains. Through a range of artistic practices—vocal, oral, bodily and technology-related—the research project unfolds what is conceived as a bountiful ‘vocal imaginary’. When voice and body meet technology-related practices that aim at the expansion of the vocal realm by using custom and gesture-controlled live electronics, a performance æsthetics of the in-between emerges. This is explored via the ‘strophonion’, formerly built at STEIM in Amsterdam and, during the course of the PhD, further developed by Berlin-based software programmer Sukandar Kartadinata who created an intricate configuration on the basis of the audio processing application Max/MSP. Through the formulation and performance of ‘The Manifesto for the Multivocal Voice’—a ‘discursive solo performance act’ that aims to provide insights into principles and premises, and to develop the discourse on the politics of today’s performance voice—the exposition attempts to establish a potential theoretical and philosophical grounding for multivocality. Its second major concern relates to the poetics of the voice, investigating the thresholds of highly individualised vocal practices by asking: what are the boundaries of the contemporary performance voice? The exposition (on the Research Catalogue) comprises video and audio documentation of public live performances, lectures and artists’ talks as well as studio productions and rehearsals. The user is invited to study scores and various texts, such as poems, extended programme notes, translations, performance instructions, comments and other reflections. The collection of essays and articles that guide the user through the edifice of ideas that the artistic research project has unveiled remains central to the endeavour.
The poetics of enlivening. Searching for the music drama "Borderlands"
From the librettist’s perspective, the traditional working methods which tend to dominate in the creation of new music drama, often result in a situation where the initial intentions are lost along the way. How can we get away from a rigid methodology, where the different professionals involved in the creation of new music drama have to succumb to a procedure which can be likened to a whispering game? A procedure, where the dramatic content, rather than undergoing an emotional enrichment in its transformation into music, often loses the crucial connections to the initial intentions.
This doctoral project aims to reach beyond the whispering game by seeking alternative working methods in the creation of a new music drama with the working title "Borderlands", circling around the subject matter of flight and borders - inner as well as outer. The research identified cross–border methods which, borrowing from the terminology of Martin Buber, can be seen as an attempt to counteract the “I–It” relationship that often results from the genre’s focus on virtuosity. The results might inspire further attempts to find alternative working methods which could ultimately create a stronger “I–Thou” relationship between the performance and the audience.
The decline of choreography and its movement: a body's (path)way
This doctoral artistic research project (Doctoral Thesis) addresses the possibility of a dance withdrawn from that neoliberal scheme according to which self-performance, entrepreneurship and the production of subjectivity rule. Taking as a starting point the dissident corporealities that have emerged in the last fifty years in Western contemporary experimental dance; the project involves aesthetic, philosophical and socio-political perspectives, carried out on choreographic, performative, textual, audiovisual, curatorial and discursive media.
This documented artistic research project (Doctoral Thesis) consists of three inter-related parts: first it invites the reader to see the performance's video "ECLIPSE: MUNDO". Afterwards, the reader is invited to read the book "To Dance in the Age of No-Future" and get a context regarding the rest of the audiovisual materials located on the same website.
The exposed materials are displayed as an “essay written form” understood in the Spanish or French sense of the Latin word "ensayo / répétition" and its associated meanings such as try-out, rehearsal, practice, study, preparation and experimentation. To this end, the materials show an ongoing migration of concepts, practices and tools, through analogous forms, equivalences and contrasts that invite to see this project's genealogies and continuous iterations in formats such as video, testimonies, audios, scores, tool descriptions and images. Accordingly, it is the reader who –by viewing, listening to and reading these materials– can trace the diverse kinetic, political, aesthetic, discursive and conceptual layers linked to the practices and presentation formats specific to this doctoral research project since its beginning.
About this Doctoral Artistic Research Project
In late capitalism dance's commitment with the future (or its lack thereof) must find alliances with potentiality and nothingness. This is not a nihilistic affirmation, but an attempt to enable an interval: a dance whose value has to be apprehended there, where it is already happening. Kafka said that "one might have a goal, but not a pathway". The pathway involves a decisive cognition such that cannot be carried out without one becoming the path itself; without defying so to speak, the relationship of the dancer with dance itself. It is not about what the dancer can do, say or communicate in respect to dance, but what dance accounts for in itself. In modern's kinetic exhaustion, the latter is possible approaching dance as a presence-in-crisis. The semantic field of the word "crisis" and its associated words, –critical judgment, decision and separation–, defines the moment when something or someone has somehow one foot outside. The moment when one realizes that it is not the world that ends, but the linguistic constructions and the reality systems that had made sense until then. This proposal tries to embody that gap. It tries to reveal the somatic, kinetic, political and aesthetic implications whereby to dance on a limit that is both inaugural and terminal. Decisive. Although “deciding” will always be not knowing what will happen. It is a dance that, although it does not seem to mean anything, it does something. The moment at which dance let's go of being a product (a goal), to become a deposition. "Deposition" is a word that includes both, an abandonment and a position. At the same time, to take on a position implies a becoming: the (path)way through which the dancer coincides with dance's conditions. The moment at which the dancer abandons any intention to communicate, to propose or to interpret dance, to carry out kinetically and perceptually the non-significant, ephemeral, ineffable and impersonal conditions that dance implies as a presence-in-crisis. In short, the coincidence “dancer : dance” implies taking into account an experience of dance freedom that is fugitive. In the theatre apparatus it involves a dancing which ―by lacking recognizable aims, signs and subjects― gives way to an aesthetic paradigm which is not be construed as a particular kind of thing (a performance, a type of dancer, a subject, or even a social or artistic process), but rather as a gap's embodied experimentation. A threshold, a curve. A parenthesis. An eclipse. A void: the encounter with something which doesn't need to be produced, because it is already happening.
This Untethered Buffoon or the Trickster in Everything
This Untethered Buffoon or the Trickster in Everything is a documented artistic research project (Doctoral Thesis) in Performative and Mediated Practices, comprising a series of excavations and vivisections of W(w)hiteness through clowning, making and thinging. This work/play traverses the fields of critical whiteness studies, performance and clowning, visual and cultural anthropology and decolonial critique.
This eclectic mash-up of history, memory and trauma unfolds from my original question: as an actor, which bodies is it appropriate for me to inhabit? Via hyper-disciplinary experiments of the impulse and
what it means to be ‘on’ the moment, the research fabricates a series of clowters, performed entanglements of clown and character passing between various continents, temporalities and situated histories.
SQUIRM is the title given to both the final performance essay as well as to the reflective documentation emerging from this research. As experimentations with auto-ethnography and productive discomfort, the performing essays in SQUIRM document, animate and satirise explorations of W(w)hiteness, privilege and colonial logic. At the intersections of histories, they dig through remnants of collective memory, personal genealogy and shame, in the hope of reassembling new, sharper ways of giving and receiving attention.
From inside the body of this performer SQUIRM is about TONGUE-ING, about licking the future into softness by reinvigorating ancient clown practices to poke at whiteness in the current age. It’s about squirming and laughing through the discomfort of privilege in what feels like a crumbling time.
But mostly it’s about feeling great in a beard.
FAUXTHENTICATION – Art, Academia and Authorship (or the site-specifics of the Academic Artist)
Fauxthentication – Art, Academia & Authorship (or the site-specifics of the academic artist) investigates the means of production of the art that can be created within the boundaries of artistic research.
It explores the factors that constitute its value system, who or what can produce these signs of value, and for what reasons.
The project examines the conditions that expose the flaws of the increasingly standardised higher education industry, which artistic research today is a part of, through the use of institutional critique, critical interventions and site-specific case studies.
In a series of performative stagings, Fauxthentication probes the pressures inherent to academic excellence, leading to the grey economy of the higher education industry, that supports and capitalizes on academic fraud, all performed by a global digital proletariat.
Artistic research is habitually linked to an academised and thus bureaucratised art practice.
This project draws critical attention to the risk of it creating its own branch of artistic research art, or ”edu-art”, as well as its own category of artistic research theory; thus prone to becoming self-referential and codified, coagulating into a new ‘ism’ for the initiated. ‘Edu-art-ism’ grapples with artistic quality assessment, systematically addressing solely the theoretical framing of the work.
The Fauxthentication project acknowledges the complexity of the conditions of artistic research by proposing, through its series of explorative stagings, a challenging new way of viewing and hence transforming the very field that it is a part of.