Exposition

Silence Ensemble (2018)

Petri Kaverma, Kirsi Heimonen, Anu Vehviläinen

About this exposition

This exposition describes collaboration between three artist-researchers (Kirsi Heimonen, Anu Vehviläinen, Petri Kaverma) and respectively three art genres (dance, music, fine arts). The incentive for this collaboration stemmed from the notion of ‘silence’. On the one hand, silence offers a conceptual umbrella for this interdisciplinary praxis; on the other hand, using silence was an important methodological solution throughout the collaboration. The artists consider that through their collaborative praxis they have created a specific, practice-based artistic research method. This exposition describes that method by using both individual and shared thinking: the exposition is written partly individually (three columns: ‘silence’, ‘praxis’, ‘writing’), partly together (‘discussion’). In the ‘discussion’, the artists meet each other and reflect their understanding of the idea of artistic research through the notion of silence, within the art institution. The active collaboration entailed seven sessions during the period between Jan 2016 – May 2016, as well as a few preparatory sessions for two conference presentations during the fall of 2016. In March of 2017 the group spent a two-day writing period in Järvenpää to write this exposition.
typeresearch exposition
date07/03/2017
published29/08/2018
last modified29/08/2018
statuspublished
licenseAll rights reserved
urlhttps://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/340581/340582
doihttps://doi.org/10.22501/ruu.340581
published inRUUKKU - Studies in Artistic Research
portal issue8.


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RUUKKU portal comments: 2
Mariella Greil-Moebius 28/09/2018 at 11:13

The exposition “In Between Silences” explores perspectives on conditions of sharing research in the interdisciplinary artistic field through exploring silences - or more precisely an agency towards exploring the weight or lightness of silences - by a series of encounters between three art forms (dance, music and visual arts). Therefore, the proposed exposition directly responds to Ruukku’s Call “Conditions of Sharing”, with an emphasis on making transparent collaborative processes and testing of a three-step-method.

 

Their enquiry has a focus on practices that emphasize resistance to speaking as the first modus operandi of exchange. Instead the research places value on acts of being-with1 each other and particularly an interest in acts, which emerge from figurations of the ‘non’2 (non-speaking, non-improvising, non-belonging, non-knowledge), opening towards and insisting on the gap of silence and resisting the cultural hegemony of language.

 

But what does it mean to be silent or be silenced in common and how is silence manifesting in the various modes, disciplines, forms? They ask: How can we listen to shared silences as artistic research?Profound questions, and the authors turn to their artistic practices to explore the condition of those issues, exploring the condition of ‘acting as resistance’ as they phrase it.

 

Furthermore, I would like to draw attention to the question articulated in the call: How can (…) ways of knowing be more widely disseminated and made useful (…)? So, something about usefulness? Definitely, in my view, the exposition takes a stance for the singularity of collaborative encounters, arguing for the resistance to categories, it challenges aesthetic identification, and explores a range of forces (transgressive, subversive, attentive, supportive…) entangled in the micro-politics of shared silences and stillness, sounding out their methodological potential.


In Between Silences” there might be the potential to be precisely vague, articulating and differentiating what happens in those purposeful silences, which all three writing approaches (phenomenological, auto-ethno/bio-graphical, contextual) try to tackle. The differences in articulation, tone and distinctness among the three artist-researchers are striking and it is enjoyable to discover the deviations between the three narrations. Poetic, empirical, provocative in varying shares, we get to know personal stories, beloved routines and recurring themes, as they mutually emerge in the openness of the encounter.


Conclusively, to answer the two questions: it is a double yes, nevertheless there is potential for deepening and elaboration in terms of visual richness as well as enwrought contextualisation (I especially appreciate the reach for the philosophical aspects of their research, i.e. Bataille’s thought on desire and the impossibility of silence). Especially focussing on intentional “non-discursivity” might be beneficial and might possibly unearth profound praxeological and methodical findings.


Conceptual clarity in terms of the structure of the exposition holds and anticipates the affirmative potential of the various layers of the exposition.

 

I find the exposition courageous and appreciate how this research is making efforts to link intangible silences in artistic practice to insightful use of references, discourses and concepts, which support the artist-researchers in articulating their experiences and cultivate a sphere of praxeological reflections, ways of working together and exchange. Though unique in their approaches, I can see that they each bring the ability to reflect the ontological aspects of their research findings in diverse ways that will – in the mutual (positive) contamination and braiding together of the three voices – generate new understandings of creative-nonverbal and collaborative processes with a focus on the role of silence as agent in those litigations. I enjoy the sincere proceedings and variables, but would be curious to know more about collaborative decision processes and then particularly to find out about the parameters the decisions are based on (institutional or personal practicalities, artistic-aesthetic choices, collective or individual desires, mood, conceptual considerations, theoretical implications, …?).

 

Also, I am interested in the rub/potential between composition and improvisation that was obviously at stake in the encounter (especially articulated in Anu’s practice section).

 

I appreciate that the exposition addresses the dimension of time and intensities – i.e. sliding time frames (the decision for a legitimatising of felt time) as resumed in the description of the session format (Silence 10–20 min, Praxis 30–40 min, Writing 20–30 min). – This has obviously been practiced and there seems to lie dormant the possibility to unravel the issue of time3, specifically how the group works with time and what that means on a conceptual level – which has so far not been discussed in detail.

 

I value the dedication to praxeological research as manifest in the testing of a sequence of practices (silence – praxis – writing), that was repeated in seven sessions, where attending to the gap, trusting the unforeseen and working without apparent aim, were rigorously implemented.

 

Silences capability for resistance seem to not yet be fully articulated in the exposition, but shines through (mainly in the reflections and process notes in columns), though that might not even have been of primary concern to the three artist-researchers. From my perspective, this seems to orient the research to a promising and brave (potentially transformational and inventive) path. However, resisting language, for sure doesn’t mean to refuse communication. Letting silence speak (I think of Erdem Gündüz “The Standing Man”, 2013 at Gezi Park) sounds like an oxymoron, but is the bold exploration into power and freedom in/through acts and language, deeply scrutinizing how we share. Or in other words, it is an interrogation into the conditions, the ways in which we participate in situations and form the world through our interactions, quietly, (non-)violently, ongoing.

 

This exposition is clearly research-oriented and artistic practice as well as the practice of silence are the main tools for generating knowledge, and culminate in a shared discussion.

 

There is a grid structure established

 

-----I------I------

-----I------I------

-----I------I------ (reminding of the children’s game tic-tac-toe)

 

three horizontal planes: silence – praxis – writing cross with the three artistic (personal) practices of a dancer, a pianist and a visual artist established as columns in the vertical dimension.

 

This simple structure can hold the intricacies revealed in the process, but I wonder, if a somewhat less Cartesian scheme would respond more closely to the eddies and circular movements in some of the writing? The artist’s statements perform a fragility and “humaneness” that contradicts the monolithic format of the stabilising columns of an edifice of ideas. I would like to underline that the striving for the correspondence between content and form would be sensible, and appears even more weighty as dealing with elusive matters, still retaining simplicity and clarity of the exposition’s structure.

 

I wonder whether the relation between audio and video coming together in the 3:22 video file is yet fully resolved, and – given the importance of this entry point – responding to the question “What is this project about?” – it seems quite useful to review the timing and connections between visual and text. The textual fragments are read rather fast (especially towards the end of the video) and it seems necessary to give enough time for resonance – for continuing a thought – for (exactly) the silences in between. Also, I am acutely aware that the question asserts a mode of thinking or assumes that there would be “one”, “the right” or at least “the possible” answer, suggesting that the video would serve that purpose. Of course, it cannot and doesn’t want to close the question, instead the video (thankfully) stirs up all kinds of complicated queries – fragments of text floating by but stretching beyond words. The inquisitive reader will thus further explore and search for another access point for understanding…Still, I recommend to consider the option to include visual silences or insert textual pauses in-between the read fragments, to make the video experience most accessible.

 

Although the role of artistic practice is of prime importance in this exposition, the 3-phases-methodology could be more explicitly connected to the activities we witness in the visual material and the recorded text. From this material, it emerges most clearly that the strategies used to explore the potentials of silence, moving beyond the disciplinary boundaries, involves focused attention, acts of care and privileges improvisation.


In their quest for engaging in shared silences afforded by the space in-between, the theme and method were introduced and conclude in a discussion on Artistic Research Criticizing Institutions based on their fundamental research, exposing the tensed relation between institutionalised labour, becoming and artistic process. The research is centred on the value of unconditional welcoming and is an investigation on practicing silences (quiet and loud ones) while co-inhabiting an interdisciplinary artistic-research environment.

 

The exposition exposes a paradox quite vividly and rigorously: Even though there is a conscious suspense of word-based language in the first two sections of the applied triad-method - namely the practice of silence and also the practice of praxis4, which actively seeks out exactly the potential of nonverbal practices (dancing – playing the piano – visual art), this exposition’s documentation relies on and is predominantly based on verbal accounts. This has so far only been addressed rather briefly (by Kirsi), nor was it made productive for the exposition as it could be.

 

The hesitation in claiming their findings, is real (they write “Maybe we found something (…)”) - because the estrangement and awkwardness that comes with the temporary construct of a “we”, that welcomes the other unconditionally and where “everyone is allowed to be different in equal measure”5 is strong. It attends to a promise or vision of another future, making “communities to come”6 tangible, which are not yet put into effect for society. It seems, they have seen the glimpses of a possible pluralistic future through their praxeological endeavour, dedicated to the reflection of affordances and conditions of sharing. They manage to drift as much as they stay anchored in their core questions, means and methodologies. Maybe they address in their discussion the academies custody to provide spaces for noise as much as silences, for developing practices and for moving on together in resonance with Nancy’s ideas of being singular plural, striving for an alternative, deterritorialising culture of knowing – a potential that artistic research might hold?

 

I personally like “a kind” before the words meditation and ritual purification, both words often related to esoteric grounds – in this context – they are concrete forms of articulation that could as well be called practices of attention (admittedly this sounds somewhat demystified). ‘A kind’ persuades us that, not even the researchers themselves, will take a stance on something as processual, transformative or intangible, because there are and probably will have been remnants in artistic research that can and need not be fully verbalised or pinpointed, as immanent to their praxis.

 

Conclusively, there is a descriptive, introductory part, explaining the setting and situating the project. The research is not necessarily developing innovative methods, since the tools are known since long, but innovative potency emerged in terms of rigour in articulating affective intensities, finding poetic condensations and boldly daring to approach personal thresholds. Artistic technique is applied in this research but seems to consciously refrain from discussion of “positions” (their own as much as those of other artist), since they aim to tune into processes rather than results. Furthermore, they convey a comprehensible re-narration (again i.e. the hyperlink to Kallio-Kuninkala is ostensive). Methodically, there is a promising outline that holds the potential for further differentiation and elaborations. The direction of impact of this research I see mostly in the close alliance of practice and theory, rooted in and affecting the field of collaboration, ethics and ecologies of practices7.


I slightly miss the emergence of chaos, organic, eruptive, erotic or visceral qualities – which probably informed the practice. The form (structure and design) of the exposition are neat and tidy, which for me somewhat counteracts the messiness of affects and turmoil I assume and associate with the method described, especially since silences can be quite noisy.

The exposition is composed from written (process notes & discussion) and two visual components, first a short video (3:22) and the attentive reader will find a slightly hidden button leading to the session drawings, the second visual component8. Assumably, there exists a myriad of accumulated materials, but a carefully selected, homeopathic selection is currently on display, which only partially manages to trace the unfolding of the research process. Footnoting has been well resolved and is visually an attractive feature for a more indexical orientation of the reader. However, the hyperlinking needs to bridge from the highlighted word to the annotation – so the reader can follow. Sometimes there are jumps, odd connections i.e. check method to oxymoron or interconnectedness et al.) Also, there are inconsistencies in the use of referencing9, that need to be amended.

 

In the further theoretical as well as practical steps of the research I see the need to tackle the concept of collaboration, a search for forms of working together, still keeping to one’s artistic integrity10Situating key terms (i.e. method, praxis, medium, institution etc.) would facilitate to anchor this research in a broader context (beyond personal practices).

 

The core ideas are clearly articulated, so far there is only a slight tendency towards developing an interweaving or braiding together of the distinct voices. Attending to the complex sociality inherent in artistic collaboration it might be interesting to follow through and would clarify how the shift from singular artistic positions towards a shared voice in the discussion has come together (currently the conclusive discussion floats a bit).

 

The attempt to expose what happens “In Between Silences”, trying to touch on affective intensities, fleeting moments of encounter, discussing that “writing (…) feels like a betrayal of silence” is intriguingly bold. Of course, they enter slippery terrain, as the area of research is vast and the three artist-researchers need sharpness, consistent reflection on the significances of actions, returning to research questions after each drift and a scrutinizing eye on the language found for articulating the milieu, the habitat of both – the in-between and the silences. They manage this complicated task in their various ways and frame the 3 practices x 3 artists grid with a short video-statement (as introductory note) and on the other end with a shared discussion and the researcher’s treasure – the collection of sources (unfortunately currently incomplete).

 

Presumably, their shared methodology will increasingly become nuanced, if extensively examining the complexity of affective micro-processes (obviously more impactful than pre-set time-frames and tasks, though not independent from these), which will support a profound differentiation based on attention to affordances and conditions. They manage to drift as much as they stay orbiting their core questions, means and methodologies.


Their affirmative doing – is rubbing against a form of canonised criticality that is attributed to institutions, but we cannot forget that any institution is constituted by the human beings working in them. Their epiphany that each embodies an institution, luckily also works in reverse, a kind of intertwining. I feel a hesitation to affirm their conceptual movement towards “the becoming of an institution” or more pointedly “institutionalized artists” as I refuse to think of human’s as institutions, though in our bureaucratic, over-administered and hyper-managed cultures that might be a timely diagnosis.


Silence as a pause or hold, interrupting flow, has the critical potential to scrutinise fluidity as prevailing currency in semiocapitalism, or physically speaking – silences or stillness reveal uncomfortably the underlying currents of neoliberal thinking that continually strive for flow of money, capital and signs11, inevitably affecting the meaning of movement and respective dance as an art form. Still, fluidity, flexibility and mobility are taken as given and good values, rarely reflected or challenged. However, concise clarification, differentiation and reflection on the relation between silences and stillness especially in relation to the wider political sphere would seem exciting.


The paragraphs starting with Perhaps and Maybe reveal a tentativeness that is true to the researches current phase full of potential, looming for future12 encounters of the Silence Ensemble to continue their research into practicing, questioning, archiving of embodied forms of tacit knowledges and non-verbal communication.


Footnotes:


1. I would like to share a reference that was not made in the exposition, but that might be useful for further explorations: Jean-Luc Nancy, Être singulier pluriel, 1996.

2. Cf. Constanze Schellow, Diskurs-Choreographien, 2016.

3. Cf. Bergson’s, Time and Free Will, Deleuze & Guattari’s ideas of Becoming-Intense in A Thousand Plateaus, Heathfield’s discussion “Impress of time” in Out of Now, et al.

4. None of the protagonists bases their artistic practice mainly on words as i.e. actors would do.

5. Cf. Krassimira Kruschkova, Dance Aesthetics as Politics of Friendship, in the booklet “Crisis? What Crisis?” – at the Life Long Burning Symposium in the frame of ImPulsTanz Festival, 2017, p.5.

6. Cf. Giorgio Agamben, 1990.

7. Cf. Stengers, 2005.

8. Contextual information would probably be helpful: who was making the drawings/video, how was this selection made, collaboratively or not, and following which criteria? Is there a chronology revealed (seven meetings = seven drawings)? And additionally, maybe a statement on how to frame what can’t be articulated in words?

9. I.e. we can find those (and more) varying formats: Kûle (2002, 108–110); Emmanuel Levinas (1996), Etikka ja äärettömyys.; (Ellis & Bochner 2000, 739.) Please rework for academic consistency, which will assist fluent reading.

10. I remember the sentence “I want to work with you because I can speak for myself” in resonance with a paragraph in the text “No matter how much you love me, I do not want to belong to you” by the Bolivian activist Maria Galindo (https://fabricoftrust.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/video-skype-session).

11. Cf. Bojana Kunst, Prognosis on Collaboration, 2009.

12. The general observation is that negotiation processes of collaboration, points of decisions, dissent or other dynamics of working together while bringing different personalities, histories, cultures and ecologies of practices to the studio, remain silent. Questions for future iterations of this research project, counteracting blind spots, might be: How to address the potential of aggressive silence, a form if silence that provokes, is stubborn, insisting or not welcoming the other? How to articulate and frame that which resists words? What kind of aesthetics are emerging? And how can conditions of sharing, the affordances of being-with be traced and speak to an audience or is it a self-sufficient studio-practice that doesn’t address a public? What kind of performativity does that generate and what is its meaning and contemporary relevance? Was the predominant mode of documentation through writing, and if so, why? Is the aim of this research to develop a methodological tool box and if so, what are the parameters interesting for such a focus? How is the research going to articulate its intentions (why, what, for whom) especially in resonance of “working without apparent aim”? What does it mean that “nothing was silenced”? What kind of “alternative conventions” have been established among the group? How (if at all) were those agreements to be silent together negotiated? How to deal with impulses that were going against silence, harmony, togetherness or tolerance? And what does it mean to speak up in silence? Noise composer Merzbow says” I want to make silence by my Noise” – is this research a reverse attempt to make noise by your silence?

 

Emma Cocker 26/11/2018 at 13:46

What are the ‘Conditions of Sharing’ involved in the publishing of reviewers’ comments? The thematic frame of this issue prompted me to reflect on what is at stake in the ‘making public’ and sharing of peer-review commentary. Whilst I support the principle of this ‘making public’ as a way of expanding the critical exposition of artistic research, there are still questions that remain for me in relation to what and also how this ‘feedback’ is shared.

 

Specifically, how is the difference between the critical but still formative peer-review feedback and commentary - offered to researchers to support the development of an exposition - and a public review which might instead operate more as a précis, evaluation and analysis of an exposition? Is this distinction to be made – between formative and summative, between private-supportive and public-evaluative - in the ‘making public’ of reviewers’ comments? To whom is the reviewer writing? How does the shift from private-formative to public-summative shift the mode of address?

 

Is the sharing of reviewers’ comments intended as the ‘making visible’ of the research process and the dialogue that often happens behind the scenes, or does it operate more akin to criticism – as a means of judgment?

 

Does the sharing of reviewer’s commentary - intended as constructive criticism towards the ‘making’ and development of a research exposition - undermine the ‘voice’ of the researchers, the decisions they have made in the final exposition of their own research? What is stake in the sharing of comments that ‘show up’ what the researchers chose to act upon alongside what they chose to ignore?

 

Is there risk that the reviewers’ précis and analysis eclipses the exposition itself - stands instead of – much as a ‘review’ in art-world terms is often the means by which the remote viewer comes into contact with an exhibition, the means by which the success and failure of the work is judged?

 

How does the reviewer avoid ventriloquizing another’s research process, speaking on their behalf, filling in the gaps? How much does one share? When is it best to remain silent?

 

The exposition’s focus on ‘silence’ also prompted me to reflect on the form of the invited commentary itself – textual, discursive; in fact, arguably the very modus operandi that this specific research exposition seeks to critique or seek an alternative to. How does the sharing of the review process add to and enrich an existing exposition? When does it simply create more discursive ‘noise’?

 

Whilst my inclination leans towards allowing the exposition to speak for itself (in its advocacy of silence), in the spirit of ‘sharing’ an edited version of my comments follow:

 

The exposition focuses on a collaborative project involving three individuals, from three different disciplinary backgrounds – dance, fine art and music. The prospect of an interdisciplinary project for exploring the conditions of silence between a dancer, musician and visual artist seems very rich. Over a series of months, the three researchers met together within a studio situation as a means for sharing praxis, a process which evolved into a ‘methodology of sharing’ based on three related phases of activity: silence, praxis, writing. The notion of silence is proposed as an overarching thematic for framing and focusing this period of exchange: how is it to share in silence? What does silence afford? Specifically, silence functions as a preparatory practice within this research project; a means for ‘clearing the ground’, or ‘tuning in’ prior to beginning the process of praxis-in-proximity. The practice of writing together in silence is also explored as a means of creating the conditions of solidarity, a sense of shared focus on a specific task. The idea of exploring silence as a ‘condition of sharing’ feels timely and intriguing: the exposition seems to offer the conditions of embodied, corporeal silence as an alternative too – even in critique of – the more instrumentalised modes of ‘sharing’ within the research cultures of academia (and its privileging of loudest argument, voicing one’s opinions, logos).

 

Whilst this exposition does not respond to the questions outlined in the call ‘Conditions of Sharing’ explicitly, it has the capacity to contribute much to debates around the sharing of research (specifically – what are the conditions of sharing produced in silence, and how might this operate as an alternative to conventional research pedagogy and practice). Still, there seems to be much that is not shared in this exposition – the focus is on describing rather than necessarily sharing the research process, which against the central argument of the enquiry, privileges textual explanation. How else could this research project have been shared via an exposition? How could the silence and the praxiscomponents of this project play a stronger role in the exposition? I would have welcomed an encounter with more of the research process – including through documentation, image, video, sound – rather than just being ‘told’ about itHow do I encounter the praxis? Given the interdisciplinary multimodal nature of this project – involving sound, visual as well as movement vocabularies – could this be better reflected within the exposition through other means of documentation alongside writing. Why does language – writing – form the central means through which the research experience is shared? Could elements from previous performative presentations be integrated into the exposition?Rather than describe the process – could it not be better shown: through what other means could the practice be exposed, translated, transformed, performed, curated etc. as research? Through what means other than textual description could the artistic practice or praxis component of this research project be communicated? In fact, this could also be extended to the experience of silence within the project. How could this be communicated other than (or additionally to) words? Whilst there is some attempt at a more poetic, evocative form of description, could the exposition benefit from the inclusion of other kinds of materials – images, video, sound/silence etc.? How might silence be explored visually, spatially, acoustically as part of the exposition?

 

The focus on silence as a ‘condition of sharing’: Interdisciplinary collaboration is now relatively commonplace however the potential distinctiveness of this research project lies in its focus on silence as a specific condition of sharing. Reflections on the critical affordances of silence weave (rather subtly, at times perhaps too quietly) through the exposition – including some comment on the relation between silence and not knowing and non-knowledge “silence means an orientation to something that cannot be known”; “Does this silence wipe off names and definitions with a white brush?” Silence is often associated with a solitary practice, yet this project addresses it as a shared practice, as a means of solidarity. The question of how silence foregrounds a sense of corporeality or of embodiment within the research process is also touched upon.

 

Silence as pre-condition for object-oriented approaches: whilst not overtly declared, a thread that runs through the exposition seems to be related to how silence affords a different relationship not only to fellow collaborators, but also to the space and to objects – how silence supports different modes of both human and non-human engagement, and also how space is organised to “make more space for silence to enter”. Again, while not stated, this seems to resonate with various debates around new materialism and philosophical writing around object oriented ontology, and a wider engagement with materials and objects within contemporary choreographic practice.

 

Silence as critique/resistance: a persistent undercurrent within the exposition relates to how silence offers a different way of working to the usual pressures and constraints of academia, where the emphasis is often on goals and achievements. Silence is proposed as a means of operating against efficiency, “an oasis away from haste and accomplishment”. The project asks: “Is it possible for this lived silence to spread to other circles of life, and not to stay only as a brief relief?”. Silence is conceived as part of a set of wider tactics – including stillness, ‘operating without a clear aim’ – through which the researcher might resist the pressure to do more and more, louder and louder. Whilst the differences between silence, stillness and ‘working without aim’ are not fully explored or put under pressure, there is still a contribution made to both artistic- and artistic research pedagogy in terms of rethinking the institution and its conventions of sharing.

 

What does open-ended interdisciplinary research enable?: Whilst not specifically related to the conditions of silence, the exposition does contain many moments of reflection on how interdisciplinary collaboration can both open up one’s practice to new experiences as well as shed light on or draw attention to those habitual patterns and conventions which structure how one works. It does offer some personal insights into the ethical aspect of collaboration: how to create conditions which are conducive for one’s own practice without destroying the conditions that are conducive for another, the sense of how silence supports a practice of care is touched upon.

 

What is the enquiry?: At times the focus on silence (as both subject and methodology) lapses – for example, at some point silence seems to be conceived as a purely preparatory practice – for attuning and clearing the mind – and in the end is actually let go of as a practice. Often, the notion of silence is eclipsed by a more general investigation about working within interdisciplinary collaboration, where silence simply becomes a means of attunement/reflection taking place before and after the praxis component. This seems a shame because I think that the strength of this project/exposition is its focus on silence, without which it risks becoming just another description of the early stages of interdisciplinary exchange. I think that the specificity of silence could have been put under more pressure – what is at stake within silence for each of the three practices; what does shared silence afford, what is the wider context for addressing the condition of silence?

 

This exposition focuses on the conditions of sharing within silence, which resonates with existing concerns of two researchers’ practice: silence of corporeality in dancing, the silence and disturbance of art. I wonder what was the motivation for this project: how did it arise; what is at stake in exploring this through an interdisciplinary approach, how is silence different and similar for these different practices, how is solitary silence different from shared silence?

 

What is the praxis investigating? From the description of the process, the research enquiry was underpinned by and progressed through artistic practice: the three researchers – from different disciplinary backgrounds – came together over a number of sessions during the period between January 2016 – May 2016 to share ways of working. It is evident from the session ‘score’ of Silence, Praxis, Writing, that artistic practice of some kind was undertaken as part of the research. Whilst the Silence (a preparatory practice, for attunement, arrival etc.) and the Writing (a reflective practice, for capturing the experience) practices have clearly designated functions, I wonder what was explored during the Praxis component and how? What is the praxis investigating? What/how/why are you doing? How did the praxis sessions explore silence? Is silence just a preparatory practice? How is silence experienced differently for each practice? One phrase struck me: “We need to make some noise to see behind the silence” – is this part of the function of praxis?If silence wasn’t being explored through the praxis, then what was? There are moments when the exposition drifts from its research-oriented direction (that is, its specific epistemological enquiry) to become rather more open-ended in general terms: “free to do anything we want”. Certain named approaches are involved in this research project for specific individuals: a phenomenological approach, auto-ethnographic method. More could be said about how these approaches are relevant for the theme of silence, what do they yield as methods? Could the exposition demonstrate more confidence in terms of artistic research itself?

What are the ‘Conditions of Sharing’ involved in the publishing of reviewers’ comments? The thematic frame of this issue prompted me to reflect on what is at stake in the ‘making public’ and sharing of peer-review commentary. Whilst I support the principle of this ‘making public’ as a way of expanding the critical exposition of artistic research, there are still questions that remain for me in relation to what and also how this ‘feedback’ is shared.

 

Specifically, how is the difference between the critical but still formative peer-review feedback and commentary - offered to researchers to support the development of an exposition - and a public review which might instead operate more as a précis, evaluation and analysis of an exposition? Is this distinction to be made – between formative and summative, between private-supportive and public-evaluative - in the ‘making public’ of reviewers’ comments? To whom is the reviewer writing? How does the shift from private-formative to public-summative shift the mode of address?

 

Is the sharing of reviewers’ comments intended as the ‘making visible’ of the research process and the dialogue that often happens behind the scenes, or does it operate more akin to criticism – as a means of judgment?

 

Does the sharing of reviewer’s commentary - intended as constructive criticism towards the ‘making’ and development of a research exposition - undermine the ‘voice’ of the researchers, the decisions they have made in the final exposition of their own research? What is stake in the sharing of comments that ‘show up’ what the researchers chose to act upon alongside what they chose to ignore?

 

Is there risk that the reviewers’ précis and analysis eclipses the exposition itself - stands instead of – much as a ‘review’ in art-world terms is often the means by which the remote viewer comes into contact with an exhibition, the means by which the success and failure of the work is judged?

 

How does the reviewer avoid ventriloquizing another’s research process, speaking on their behalf, filling in the gaps? How much does one share? When is it best to remain silent?

 

The exposition’s focus on ‘silence’ also prompted me to reflect on the form of the invited commentary itself – textual, discursive; in fact, arguably the very modus operandi that this specific research exposition seeks to critique or seek an alternative to. How does the sharing of the review process add to and enrich an existing exposition? When does it simply create more discursive ‘noise’?

 

Whilst my inclination leans towards allowing the exposition to speak for itself (in its advocacy of silence), in the spirit of ‘sharing’ an edited version of my comments follow:

 

The exposition focuses on a collaborative project involving three individuals, from three different disciplinary backgrounds – dance, fine art and music. The prospect of an interdisciplinary project for exploring the conditions of silence between a dancer, musician and visual artist seems very rich. Over a series of months, the three researchers met together within a studio situation as a means for sharing praxis, a process which evolved into a ‘methodology of sharing’ based on three related phases of activity: silence, praxis, writing. The notion of silence is proposed as an overarching thematic for framing and focusing this period of exchange: how is it to share in silence? What does silence afford? Specifically, silence functions as a preparatory practice within this research project; a means for ‘clearing the ground’, or ‘tuning in’ prior to beginning the process of praxis-in-proximity. The practice of writing together in silence is also explored as a means of creating the conditions of solidarity, a sense of shared focus on a specific task. The idea of exploring silence as a ‘condition of sharing’ feels timely and intriguing: the exposition seems to offer the conditions of embodied, corporeal silence as an alternative too – even in critique of – the more instrumentalised modes of ‘sharing’ within the research cultures of academia (and its privileging of loudest argument, voicing one’s opinions, logos).

 

Whilst this exposition does not respond to the questions outlined in the call ‘Conditions of Sharing’ explicitly, it has the capacity to contribute much to debates around the sharing of research (specifically – what are the conditions of sharing produced in silence, and how might this operate as an alternative to conventional research pedagogy and practice). Still, there seems to be much that is not shared in this exposition – the focus is on describing rather than necessarily sharing the research process, which against the central argument of the enquiry, privileges textual explanation. How else could this research project have been shared via an exposition? How could the silence and the praxis components of this project play a stronger role in the exposition? I would have welcomed an encounter with more of the research process – including through documentation, image, video, sound – rather than just being ‘told’ about it. How do I encounter the praxis? Given the interdisciplinary multimodal nature of this project – involving sound, visual as well as movement vocabularies – could this be better reflected within the exposition through other means of documentation alongside writing. Why does language – writing – form the central means through which the research experience is shared? Could elements from previous performative presentations be integrated into the exposition? Rather than describe the process – could it not be better shown: through what other means could the practice be exposed, translated, transformed, performed, curated etc. as research? Through what means other than textual description could the artistic practice or praxis component of this research project be communicated? In fact, this could also be extended to the experience of silence within the project. How could this be communicated other than (or additionally to) words? Whilst there is some attempt at a more poetic, evocative form of description, could the exposition benefit from the inclusion of other kinds of materials – images, video, sound/silence etc.? How might silence be explored visually, spatially, acoustically as part of the exposition?

 

The focus on silence as a ‘condition of sharing’: Interdisciplinary collaboration is now relatively commonplace however the potential distinctiveness of this research project lies in its focus on silence as a specific condition of sharing. Reflections on the critical affordances of silence weave (rather subtly, at times perhaps too quietly) through the exposition – including some comment on the relation between silence and not knowing and non-knowledge “silence means an orientation to something that cannot be known”; “Does this silence wipe off names and definitions with a white brush?” Silence is often associated with a solitary practice, yet this project addresses it as a shared practice, as a means of solidarity. The question of how silence foregrounds a sense of corporeality or of embodiment within the research process is also touched upon.

 

Silence as pre-condition for object-oriented approaches: whilst not overtly declared, a thread that runs through the exposition seems to be related to how silence affords a different relationship not only to fellow collaborators, but also to the space and to objects – how silence supports different modes of both human and non-human engagement, and also how space is organised to “make more space for silence to enter”. Again, while not stated, this seems to resonate with various debates around new materialism and philosophical writing around object oriented ontology, and a wider engagement with materials and objects within contemporary choreographic practice.

 

Silence as critique/resistance: a persistent undercurrent within the exposition relates to how silence offers a different way of working to the usual pressures and constraints of academia, where the emphasis is often on goals and achievements. Silence is proposed as a means of operating against efficiency, “an oasis away from haste and accomplishment”. The project asks: “Is it possible for this lived silence to spread to other circles of life, and not to stay only as a brief relief?”. Silence is conceived as part of a set of wider tactics – including stillness, ‘operating without a clear aim’ – through which the researcher might resist the pressure to do more and more, louder and louder. Whilst the differences between silence, stillness and ‘working without aim’ are not fully explored or put under pressure, there is still a contribution made to both artistic- and artistic research pedagogy in terms of rethinking the institution and its conventions of sharing.

 

What does open-ended interdisciplinary research enable?: Whilst not specifically related to the conditions of silence, the exposition does contain many moments of reflection on how interdisciplinary collaboration can both open up one’s practice to new experiences as well as shed light on or draw attention to those habitual patterns and conventions which structure how one works. It does offer some personal insights into the ethical aspect of collaboration: how to create conditions which are conducive for one’s own practice without destroying the conditions that are conducive for another, the sense of how silence supports a practice of care is touched upon.

 

What is the enquiry?: At times the focus on silence (as both subject and methodology) lapses – for example, at some point silence seems to be conceived as a purely preparatory practice – for attuning and clearing the mind – and in the end is actually let go of as a practice. Often, the notion of silence is eclipsed by a more general investigation about working within interdisciplinary collaboration, where silence simply becomes a means of attunement/reflection taking place before and after the praxis component. This seems a shame because I think that the strength of this project/exposition is its focus on silence, without which it risks becoming just another description of the early stages of interdisciplinary exchange. I think that the specificity of silence could have been put under more pressure – what is at stake within silence for each of the three practices; what does shared silence afford, what is the wider context for addressing the condition of silence?

 

This exposition focuses on the conditions of sharing within silence, which resonates with existing concerns of two researchers’ practice: silence of corporeality in dancing, the silence and disturbance of art. I wonder what was the motivation for this project: how did it arise; what is at stake in exploring this through an interdisciplinary approach, how is silence different and similar for these different practices, how is solitary silence different from shared silence?

 

What is the praxis investigating? From the description of the process, the research enquiry was underpinned by and progressed through artistic practice: the three researchers – from different disciplinary backgrounds – came together over a number of sessions during the period between January 2016 – May 2016 to share ways of working. It is evident from the session ‘score’ of Silence, Praxis, Writing, that artistic practice of some kind was undertaken as part of the research. Whilst the Silence (a preparatory practice, for attunement, arrival etc.) and the Writing (a reflective practice, for capturing the experience) practices have clearly designated functions, I wonder what was explored during the Praxis component and how? What is the praxis investigating? What/how/why are you doing? How did the praxis sessions explore silence? Is silence just a preparatory practice? How is silence experienced differently for each practice? One phrase struck me: “We need to make some noise to see behind the silence” – is this part of the function of praxis? If silence wasn’t being explored through the praxis, then what was? There are moments when the exposition drifts from its research-oriented direction (that is, its specific epistemological enquiry) to become rather more open-ended in general terms: “free to do anything we want”. Certain named approaches are involved in this research project for specific individuals: a phenomenological approach, auto-ethnographic method. More could be said about how these approaches are relevant for the theme of silence, what do they yield as methods? Could the exposition demonstrate more confidence in terms of artistic research itself?

 

 

 

 

 

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