A Singing Orna/Mentor's Performance or Ir/rational Practice (2019)

Elisabeth Laasonen Belgrano

About this exposition

This exposition is an orna/mentor’s doing, an attempt, an essay, a performance, a line-of-thinking, a series of relations, a performance-research-model, a beginning of an orna/mentor’s manifesto. It might appear chaotic for some, and inviting for others. Its aim is to allow for the visitor to dive into the ‘orna’ (as in ‘urn’ meaning: an ornamented vase) mentored by a vocal performer. The exposition performs the raw and asymmetric intimacy of a research process searching to penetrate into (while at the same time radically opening up) that-which-is-yet-to-be-known. The performative caring has created an endless amount of philosophizing figures/sounds-in-themselves, as ornamented variations of an original musical score; a translation of one doing of another doing of another doing. Included in this exposition - as yet another ornamented variation – is a ‘peer-review-dialogue’ (a Q & A) between the orna/mentor and a Chorus of Unknown Reviewers. This dialogue has been included to clarify (or perhaps confuse even more) some of the questions that might arise in the mind of the visitor while moving through the exposition.
typeresearch exposition
keywordsOrnamentation, mentoring, Voice, voice studies, 17th century, french baroque, performance, Performance studies, Doing, Effects, production process, methodology, diffraction, Agential realism, intra-action, Acting Intuition, Nishida Kitaro
last modified23/05/2019
share statuspublic
affiliationInter Arts Center, Malmö / Lund University
licenseAll rights reserved
published inRUUKKU - Studies in Artistic Research
portal issue11. How to do Things with Performance

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id name copyright license
402492 Lesson 6 Jeudi EB2017 All rights reserved
402493 Lesson 6 Jeudi s.2 EB2017 All rights reserved
402498 Acting Intuition EB2017 All rights reserved
402503 Haga 6 Nov 2017 second Attempt aleph EB2017 All rights reserved
402504 Haga 6 Nov 2017 Third Attempt Aleph EB2017 All rights reserved
402505 Origine EB2017 All rights reserved
402506 Origine EB2017 All rights reserved
402512 Cotgrave 1 EB2017 All rights reserved
402513 Cotgrave 2 EB2017 All rights reserved
402514 Cotgrave 3 EB2017 All rights reserved
402515 Cotgrave 4 EB2017 All rights reserved
402516 Cotgrave 5 EB2017 All rights reserved
402759 Barad_2017_43 EB2017 All rights reserved
477167 sachsen3 EB18 All rights reserved
477182 JewishMemorial2 EB18 All rights reserved
477190 sachsen8 EB18 All rights reserved
477198 ShadowOslo EB18 All rights reserved
477205 shadowoslo_480 EB18 All rights reserved
477218 Sach EB2018 All rights reserved
477227 sachsen13 EB18 All rights reserved
477293 Kulturtemplet 2018 EB2018 All rights reserved
496983 IAC Logo IAC All rights reserved
496986 lund-logo LU All rights reserved

RUUKKU portal comments: 2
nimetön/anonym/anonymous 21/05/2019 at 12:24

The following peer review was presented to the author during the process and has influenced the final exposition. It is here presented in a slightly edited form.


Anonymous Reviewer


The questions this exposition explores and the approach it seeks to provide have a clear relation to the theme of the special issue, “How to do things with performance?”. The topic into which the author inquires is precisely what kind of an action – or intra-action – the vocal performance of music, particularly 17th-century vocal music, is. Put differently, the exposition makes an attempt to investigate how the “doing” of vocal performing is entangled with the surrounding, unfolding world in its different dimensions, and what it, in turn, does to or as part of the moment, materials and multi-layered contexts of the performance. Thus, the exposition is well linked to the concerns of the special issue.


The main strength of this exposition is the abundance of fascinating and promising ideas it provides. These include the exposition’s titular concept of “orna/menting” and the other idea figuring prominently in the exposition, namely voice as nothingness, but also notions of touch, otherness within oneself, acting-intuition, the orna/menting performative practice as ir/rational, diffraction and the ways in which this concept can inform artistic or practice-led research and its methodologies, and more.


It seems clear to me that the new concept of orna/menting coined by the author has significant potential to advance understanding of the mutually constitutive relationship of the performer and the materials, situations, ‘worldings’ with which she/he works in her/his practice. The concept is evocative, and it already manages to grasp something of the iterative, varying, open-ended, surprising, and relationally developing nature of the vocal performance of particular musical materials, signs and traditions – perhaps especially with regard to older historical music that carry more ‘strangeness’ or ‘otherness’ for the contemporary performer than maybe some other materials.


However, in its present form the exposition does not achieve its full potential, as the rich and promising ideas it evokes do not cohere into a whole in which the different elements would clearly relate to and illumine one another. At the moment, the elements remain somewhat disconnected and also somewhat too initial and vague, at least for this reader. In the later sections of the review, I will make some suggestions as to how the author could aim for a stronger linking of the exposition’s concepts and ideas.


The exposition is very clearly related to experiences and reflections elicited by artistic performative practice. The author is undoubtedly passionate about the acting-intuitive processes and questions stemming from this practice, which are explored in the exposition.


The key underlying questions of the exposition – what does it mean to touch and be touched by a particular artistic material, to become-with it, and how can these processes be engaged with conceptually and methodologically – are without a doubt relevant research questions, as they touch upon concerns that are central to the whole field of artistic research. However, because of the only partially developed nature of the exposition’s propositions, the methodological possibilities and conclusions it seeks to offer remain uncompleted and somewhat opaque. I will elaborate on this assessment below, and propose how the author might address the issue.


The research problems explored in the exposition are articulated clearly, and the exposition includes references to many theorists (Barad, Nishida, Krummel, philosophers who have reflected on touch) who appear to be important interlocutors of the approach the author seeks to flesh out. As I stated above, the concept of orna/menting proposed in the exposition is fascinating and can potentially lead to a valuable new understanding of how an artistic performance/act comes to be, or at least to an interesting elaboration on existing accounts of such processes of emergence.


Yet what is currently missing from the exposition almost entirely, or at least for the most part, are links to previous research on the performance of so-called early (vocal) music as well as a more detailed documentation of the actual artistic processes of working with specific materials, which inspired the author toward the conceptual reflections offered in the exposition. These connections and frameworks are among the aspects that would need to be developed further in order for this exposition to become a more fully-fledged piece of artistic research.


This exposition constitutes an engaging and pleasing textual and multisensory whole which is mostly easily readable. There were a couple of boxes that didn’t seem to work properly in that I could not scroll their content, and a few places where parts of the text almost overlapped, which made the reading experience a little bit tricky. The author could check the design again in order to identify these minor issues.


Another and somewhat more significant issue, which I will discuss in more detail below, is that the exposition currently includes many links to lengthy theoretical texts or videos with theoretical content, which the author does not really elaborate on in their own words as part of their exploration.


The exposition is mostly written in good and clear English, but there are occasional typos and (possibly just accidental) grammatical errors. Thus, the exposition would benefit from light copy editing or at least from proof reading.


This exposition offers a range of interesting and highly promising ideas, and the author has clearly engaged broadly and deeply with theories that lend support to the approach they are in the process of developing.


However, at the moment the exposition still comes across more as a rich ensemble of notes – however engaging and thoughtfully drafted those notes may be – than as a fully developed contribution to artistic practice-related methodological and theoretical debates. It is not yet clear from the exposition how exactly its different conceptual elements or lines of exploration interrelate. For example, what is the relationship between the concept of orna/menting and the idea of voice as nothingness, the latter of which is central to the kind of musical material the author has been working with? How does the idea and praxis of orna/menting relate to 17th-century vocal music: does it have a specific relation to this type of repertoire and the kinds of questions, challenges or possibilities it offers for the practitioner, or what is the concept’s scope of applicability? Further, how do the ideas and/or practices of acting-intuition, translation and diffraction contribute to the mix? The exposition surely includes glimpses into how these different elements do, or might, inform each other and work together, but the author could make this significantly clearer by explaining the connections explicitly. There is nothing wrong with a ‘work in progress’ or with the evocative poetic language the author deploys, but at present the main points the author wishes to make simply remain somewhat too opaque.


As I mentioned above, the exposition would also benefit from a more careful contextualisation in relation to studies of vocal/musical performance (concerning especially early music, where possible), and to the author’s own artistic practice.


Another key thing that would also increase the clarity of the argument and make the whole exposition more convincing, would be a more careful unpacking of the many quotes and links in the author’s own words; that is, their more fully elaborated weaving into the author’s own, original, approach.

Taina Riikonen 21/05/2019 at 12:25

The following peer review was presented to the author during the process and has influenced the final exposition. It is here presented in a slightly edited form.


Taina Riikonen:


The exposition fits to the call very materially: it actually is a performance itself, it includes temporality and space and it enacts in its own realm.


The reflecting of the performer’s practices and the relation with the score is interesting.

The most interesting features in this exposition are the choices of the material, and the rich use of them. The hand-written scores are treated almost as diaries of embodied intra/actions (of singing), the exploring of the process of ornamenting.


The exposition is interesting as an artistic research outcome, but as a research I would like to read more about the process itself. The process of thinking, analyzing and arguing could be more visible and denser. Also, am thinking about the role of the individual, separated sentences – they work as aesthetic material, and they invite to thinking, but as research they would need more interpretation and contextualization.


The impact of this exposition for the artistic research and performative studies on art practices is encouraging and inspiring: it will probably encourage to multi-material exploring of the embodied and cultural practices.


As said, the space for the evaluation of the artistic research, the elements of analysis, interpretation and contextualization should be highly present also in artistic research. The key issues in sister disciplines (here as studies on vocal practices, musicianship, vocality etc.) and the argued use of the selected theories are the core practices in a high-quality artistic research. Here, for example, Derrida’s theorization of touching could have been operationalized more, and integrated into a tight intra-action with the presence of the tactile score.


The horizontal lay out is enjoyable to navigate, and there is a sense of moving along with the scores and the written description of singing (like the emanation of music with lyrics can be imagined as proceeding horizontally, linearly), but the rich amount of diverse material also requires constant checking if everything is perceived.


I like the three-dimensional sense of the exposition, but am a bit exhausted to pop up to the hyperlinks, especially if they have a long insert (as in the case of the theory of intra-action). However, the general sense of navigation is good and the lay out invites to explore. Also, the navigation supports the element of rehearsing and practicing when doing music.


The exposition has an inviting and rich general resonance in it. It seems to be alive, an actual performance situation, a moment of diving-into-vocal-becoming, and that is unique.

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