The Resonance of Language and Movement: Exploring the Intensity of Thinking-Feeling through Performance and Exhibition

Language and movement meet in the thinking-feeling. In thinking-feeling, both are notional in analogous fashion: at the immanent limit of their ownmost centerpoint, wholly and only in their own mode. Each is a thinking-feeling after its own fashion. It is here, at the extreme point of their incommensurability, that they resonate. It’s, like, they mimic each other. Each any-point, as immanent limit, twists around into the middle. In the middle, the immanent limits are in abstract superposition. One, two, one, one-two one-two, in many a multiple. Gestural, visual, aural, linguistic, in reciprocal transduction. Thinking-feeling is the transversality of all planes of experience in the immanent twist. It is, like, life. Of the moment. (Manning and Massumi 2014, 42)

Manning’s and Massumi’s thoughts on thinking-feeling stress the multi-layeredness of sensorium and how language and movement meet in this lively moment of incommensurability.

Language and movement seemingly function very differently, I was also struggling with how to place the text and movement in the performance and text and images in the exhibition. It is worth noting that language, movement, and images work at different registers and levels of our perception. Massumi (2021) also discussed the relationship of image and language in Parable for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation and writes that “language doubles the flow of images on another level, on a different track” (Massumi 2021, 28). This is how I see that language functions in the short film Broken Bike, it adds onto the layer of cinematography. Yet for the performance, language does not seem to be the subject of doubling the intensity but rather movement plays a central role in intensifying the emotions conveyed. While language is often used to articulate content, Massumi also suggests that the strength of affect is not necessarily linked to content.

It may be noted that the primacy of the affective is marked by a gap between content and effect: it would appear that the strength or duration of an image’s effect is not logically connected to the content in any straightforward way. This is not to say that there is no connection and no logic. What is meant here by the content of the image is its indexing to conventional meanings in an intersubjective context, its sociolinguistic qualification. This indexing fixes the determinate qualities of the image; the strength or duration of the image’s effect could be called its intensity. What comes out here is that there is no dependable correspondence or conformity between qualities and intensity. If there is a relation, it is of another nature. (Massumi 2021, 26)

While the text and content are essential to my performance, I recognize that constructing a linear narrative can be limiting. To break free from this constraint, I utilize movement to transcend and intensify the spoken words. By relying on multiple sensory channels, movement enhances the emotional impact of the performance beyond the articulation of language. My text itself is a discursive and disjointed connection of different times and spaces, weaving together past and present events. However, when situated within the performance frame, it can still feel linear. This is where movement serves a crucial role in expanding the ways in which the audience can engage with the piece.

Manning (Agamben 1999, 22 as reported by Manning 2007, 8) references Agamben’s suggestion that gesture is “that dimension of language that is not exhausted in any communication of meaning and that, in this way, marks the point at which language appears in its mere capacity to communicate.” Manning sees gesture as a movement reaching toward, the potential of gestures is that they always slip outside the grids, resisting containment. My understanding of gesture is that it requires a sensing body, it seeks for a moment where human-taught logic and intellect stop so that we can listen and sense with all of our organs. In this sense, the experience of the movement and aerial bungee in my performance required a pause from the logical spoken words and it is through a shift toward the circular and antigravity motions that one enters the “ephemeral realm of the unsayability of words as completed thoughts”.(Manning 2007, 8).

In quite the early stages, I structured the performance to begin with a monologue and then transition towards pure movement, within the framework of the dramaturgical attempt to understand the mediums. I have received some feedback on why not to interweave the text and movement together. To be honest, I have no answer, maybe it will work better as a performance itself if the text and movement are merged together. However, in terms of my research in understanding the various mediums, I came to realize that the text does not call for the movement I have created and the movement doesn’t want to utter any words from the scripted text other than its breathing and rhythm. In this sense, the text suggests its own gesture and movement suggests to be accompanied by its own sound. It is like how Manning and Massumi portrayed that language and movement resonate at the extreme point of their incommensurability. The text is a text of questioning, through telling my personal story, I invite the audience to ask these questions with me:

Does my life belong to me?

[in the context of the pandemic prevention measure and expanding to policy in general] Is it moral or just to follow whatever the government asks us to do in the name of the benefits and safety of the majority?

Does my life belong to myself, my friends and family whom I choose to share my life with, whom I love, or the country which I am “born with”?

I end the text with quite a strong political touch.

The promised “One country, two systems” will end in 2047. In 24 years from now on Hong Kong - my home - will eventually be “just another city in China”, the clock is ticking. If I choose to stay in Hong Kong, eventually I must become or admit that I am already a Chinese national. Do I have to? By then, it will probably be a taboo to call myself a Hong Konger. But taboo or not, in the end even the government cannot forbid me to kill myself, perhaps the least sovereignty I can have.

Although I initially wanted to express more of my frustration and anger towards the Chinese and Hong Kong government, I realized that it wasn't necessary to convey everything through the text. Instead of simply persuading the audience that the government is bad or that my life is terrible, I found it more intriguing to express my emotions through movement, which allows for open interpretation. Towards the end of the performance, when I am suspended by the bungee, viewers can interpret it as a moment of surrender, a brief pause due to physical exhaustion, or even a sense of relief from the chaos. My dramaturgical structure for both the performance and exhibition consists of various "spiral shapes" that may appear disjointed and tangential, but are all interconnected in their intensity. By juxtaposing these shapes next to each other, they can interact, influence, and collide with one another. The spiral shapes I refer to are not meant to be taken literally as visible patterns, but rather as a metaphorical shape. They represent the cyclical nature of my emotional journey and the intertwining of my experiences. Each spiral represents a different aspect of my emotional state and by arranging them in a way that allows for interaction, they create a dynamic composition that showcases the complexity of my feelings. It is through this structure that I hope to convey the nuances of my experience and offer a space for viewers to interpret and engage with my work.

The final video Broken Bike is with a written script and especially made for the exhibition with the concept of using moving images to tell the same story that I present in the live performance. Although with the same narrative in mind, throughout the process I was informed by the qualities of the medium and facilitated the cinematography and text very differently from the live performance. Take the example of the discussion on pandemic and the prevention measures, I use the DV camera and capture the lives of people in a neighborhood. The sportyard was transformed into a test center for Covid and I wrote the dialogue between Vincent and I discussing whether the policies are really made with the well-being of the citizens in mind. There was also a direct mentioning of suicide and death in the conversation while it was somehow discussed separately and with different link during the live performance. The majority of the video materials, excluding Broken Bike, were produced prior to the exhibition without regard for their presentation within the specific exhibition space. Consequently, the curatorial process focused on arranging the materials in a manner that would be conducive to the viewer's experience. For instance, in the case of the vertical projection, although the audience are welcome to watch the lengthy 14-minute footage, the viewing space was not very welcoming and comfortable. Therefore, a selection of footage was curated to create a particular mood, which was further enhanced by the adjacent fishtank imagery, providing both real-life and video representations of fish. The exhibition was designed to weave a narrative that seamlessly integrates each video material and spatial arrangement, creating a rich tapestry of information analogous to the live performance.

Art, or the graphic translation of a culture, is shaped by the way space is perceived. Since the Renaissance the Western artist perceived his environment primarily in terms of the visual. Everything was dominated by the eye of the beholder. His conception of space was in terms of a perspective projection upon a plane surface consisting of formal units of spatial measurement. He accepted the dominance of the vertical and the horizontal-of symmetry-as an absolute condition of order. This view is deeply embedded in the consciousness of Western art. Primitive and pre-alphabet people integrate time and space as one and live in an acoustic, horizonless, boundless, olfactory space, rather than in visual space. The graphic presentation is like an x-ray. They put in everything they know, rather than only what they see. A drawing of a man hunting seal on an ice flow will show not only what is on top of the ice, but what lies underneath as well. The primitive artist twists and tilts the various possible visual aspects until they fully explain what he wishes to represent. Electric circuitry is recreating in us the multi-dimensional space orientation of the ‘primitive.’(McLuhan 2008)

I am fascinated by McLuhan’s thoughts on medium and media. In the current social context it is probably very sensitive to describe people as primitive, but if primitive means what McLuhan described as the ability to live in the integrated sensory time and space, I would love to be a primitive artist. He also foretold of digital media becoming a means to recreate this multi-dimensional space orientation of the “primitive”. This space-time orientation is however cultured and socialized, we are trained to focus on and ignore certain senses in constructing our spatial awareness in modern society. Anthropologist Tim Ingold (2004) has suggested how the modern pedestrian path and design of footwear has affected our feet and claimed that “locomotion, not cognition, must be the starting point for the study of perceptual activity” (Ingold 2000, 166). Cement walkways and footwear is just one example of how our sensorium is shaped by the cityscape. However, the pandemic experience has deeply shaken our experienced world and what I am constantly trying to propose with my creation is: how this seemingly traumatic experience of the pandemic that everyone simply wants to forget about can be an opportunity for us to view the human-human and human-nonhuman relationship a bit differently and start to genuinely care for each other? Instead of striving for a “multimedia performance” finely incorporating text, movement, aerial bungee, and digital media, I intentionally separate them at least into the two forms of performance and exhibition to investigate their unique materialities and let them speak for themselves. It is interesting to notice how they can invoke different registers of the spectators. The setup for the exhibition required for the locomotion of the spectators, along with the requirement of removing shoes or putting on shoe covers, audiences have reflected different interpretations on it. Some responded that this rule echoes with the concept of a sanitized clean space during the pandemic. The intentional differentiation of media enables a non-linear narrative structure that demands an active engagement from the spectators, urging them to participate in their own spectatorial experience.

I have placed my trust in the emancipated spectators to actively engage with a collage of diverse topics, ranging from the pandemic to politics of interests in the global situation of pandemic, suicides to identity struggles as a Hong Konger. These are my lived experiences, but why include them all? What is the focus? Throughout the research process for my MA in Comparative Dramaturgy and Performance Research, I have been both alone and surrounded by inspiration, drawing from a wide range of academic reading materials and non-academic social media updates which might seem irrelevant when doing a research, on the contrary, they are the most inspiring to me. Through observing how documentation can be performative and how people around the world react to social issues, how people have different opinions on vaccinations, how people from China tried to send their messages past the firewall and censorship. I began documenting my dance and daily life. While initially not intending to incorporate them into my final thesis project, these experiences gradually intertwined into a complex world map and informed the structure of my work. I discovered that different mediums were more "suitable" for different materials and contexts: text for direct discussion, movement for ephemeral connection with imaginative space, moving images for transporting the spectators to different spaces, and installations and objects for tactile and interactive experiences. This solo work allows for a non-linear narrative and the proactive participation of spectators. Despite working mostly alone, I am surrounded by the support of cinematographer Vincent Ip and dramaturg Marleen Wengorz who have contributed a lot professionally but also through personal interaction and even empathetic connection.

Navigating Digital and Analog Media on Cultural Artifacts and Artistic Practice
— Use of mediums in “how are we still alive here? what about there?”

When I was 15, our English teacher was so angry at us for playing around in class and said that our world is the size of our belly button, maintaining that we lack perspectives in life. Now I am 29, and I guess she was right. My world is still small, perhaps not the size of a belly button but the size of a computer screen. Advanced technology is definitely a tool that expands the digital world into virtual reality and enables us to experience media and mediated content with much more complexity and in ways that feels much more “real” than before. The mediatized world is so prominent that I have forgotten about the beauty and importance of exploring the actual physical world. It was not until the pandemic that I realized how important it is to have a bodily relationship with others and the bigger world around us. When I situated this work in the context and impact of the pandemic, it became clear to me that the original idea of using AR was cool but not what we need at this moment of time. The deep despair from distance and distrust that the pandemic made many of us experience urges me to find a way for reconnection with others and a reconciliation with the pandemic experience. This urge contributed to the choice of using technologies from the old days: a blackboard, an old bulky TV, a cassette recorder etc. In my artistic work, these tools are all presented to be interactive to a certain degree, the spectators are able to choose what chapter to watch, able to write on the blackboard and listen to and record their own thoughts in the cassette recorder. They are presented as a reminder that technological tools are means for us to connect with each other but not to separate us.

During the construction of the exhibition, my focus was on creating a loose narrative and spatial setting that would provide enough headspace for the spectators to share their thoughts and leave traces in the temporal community. I opted for communal empathetic resonance and chose to use technologies that evoke a sense of nostalgia, as they are relational and depend on previous experience with them. The interactive elements of the exhibition have different interfaces, such as a TV with a screen and remote control, a cassette recorder with buttons, and a blackboard with chalk, which inform the spectators on how to perceive and use them. The exhibition serves as a safe space for expression and allows the spectators to participate through leaving a message or having a conversation. Following the example of guns by Ihde, the interactive objects of this exhibition allows for a safe space to express, the spectators are not just given a window to peek into my life and thoughts but rather the options to leave a message or have a conversation. As discussed earlier, my concern for the spectator's experience is deeply embedded in my creative process, shaping not only my corporeal movements but also the construction of the exhibition and performance itself.

Why should humanists, social scientists, media scholars, and cultural critics care about software? Because outside of certain cultural areas such as crafts and fine art, software has replaced a diverse array of physical, mechanical, and electronic technologies used before the twenty-first century to create, store, distribute and access cultural artifacts. When you write a letter in Word (or its open source alternative), you are using software. When you are composing a blog post in Blogger or WordPress, you are using software. When you tweet, post messages on Facebook, search through billions of videos on YouTube, or read texts on Scribd, you are using software (specifically, its category referred to as “web applications” or “webware”—software which is accessed via web browsers and which resides on the servers). (Manovich 2013, 2)

Manovich has observed how software and webware have shaped our modes of perceiving, organizing materials and communicating, leading to a transformation of our comprehension patterns. This effect of media on human behavior and comprehension extends beyond a mere shortening of attention span, and instead entails a significant shift in how we perceive and understand the world. This observation is particularly intriguing given the common phenomenon of people being able to scroll through their phones for hours, yet struggling to focus on a book or endure a lengthy theater performance. As an artist, I have also noticed my own difficulties with prolonged focus, which has inspired my use of multiple mediums such as dance, text, videography, installations, and soundscape, especially during the pandemic when I was unable to work with others in a studio. This experience has led me to conclude that, in addition to the influence of artistic mediums, social circumstances and external factors can significantly impact the spectatorial experience. By utilizing various materials and media, I strive to create a narrative that stimulates different registers of experience for spectators.

The video materials are in different styles and facilitated differently in the exhibition. Vincent Ip—the cinematographer and I called the first video projected on the white dance mat Dance and Film Diary @Merihaka, Helsinki. This video was made with a loose concept of interplaying with the aesthetic of the snowy weather, the costume and the movement of performer and cinematographer. We called it a diary because we considered it to be a spontaneous work documenting our thoughts at that very moment.


Vincent’s cinematography, facilitated with professional equipment, is however very distinct and of high quality which offers no such resonance as a homemade diary video does. While there are other videos played on the TV which are also made by Vincent, the videos are remediated by the properties of the TV setting. The ratio is changed and they are more pixelated. The videos that are on the TV, although also made with Vincent with his strong aesthetic presence, are much more “retro” through the medium—the particular TV. There was also a vertical video projection of footage of an aquarium that I shot with a DV camera, some black and white pictures by analog camera and black and white footage of me with a seashore and in nature.

Liveness and (Re)mediation

At first, my curiosity lies in approaching the phenomena of remediating and virtualizing contemporary dance performances. Shall I insist on the virtue of the liveliness/liveness of live performances or join the band of digital remediation? At the beginning of the research, I wanted to incorporate Augmented Reality(AR) and programming into the performance. The initial idea of the artistic thesis performance was to create an immersive environment that emphasizes the interplay of reality and virtuality. I planned to design an AR app so the audience could walk into the space seeing the virtual objects through the electronic gadgets in their hands. Such would have been, however, expensive to execute. I did not have the budget and resources to seamlessly utilize these technologies in a ”lively” way that I envisioned. But the concept of liveness and mediation are still at the core of my research. I am interested in liveness in performance theory and in an existential sense of how to be alive in a mediatized society.


Auslander (2011) has discussed liveness extensively in Liveness: Performance in a mediatized culture with examples from theater performances and rock culture. He argues that the concept of liveness has undergone significant changes in the modern era due to technological developments and changes in the way we experience and understand performance. In a sense, Auslander's perspective on liveness can be seen to contrast with Phelan's perspective of liveness through performance’s disappearance. While Phelan (2001) argues that live performance is unique and irreplaceable because it is ephemeral and cannot be fully documented or reproduced, Auslander (2011) challenges this notion by pointing out that technology has made it possible to record and reproduce live performances in a way that was not possible before. He argues that the aura of liveness is not necessarily essential to the experience of a performance, and that there is value in exploring the ways in which recorded and mediated performances can create their own forms of affective and aesthetic impact. Phelan's argument, instead, is centered on the idea that the experience of live performance is irreducibly different from any kind of mediated or recorded experience, precisely because it is ephemeral and dependent on the presence of the performers and the audience in a shared physical space.

Although Auslander and Phelan's concepts of liveness and mediatization may seem contradictory, I don't believe they should be viewed as polar opposites. While I personally lean towards Auslander's argument for the importance of mediatized forms and their aesthetic impact, Phelan's concept of the ephemerality of live performance is still valid and compelling. It's clear that Auslander's intention is to blur the lines between live and mediatized forms, but his example of the ephemerality of media is not entirely convincing. He argues that the deterioration of recording media and the process of playing them alters them, supporting the idea that "disappearance is not an ontological quality of live performance that distinguishes it from modes of technical reproduction" (Auslander 1999, 49-50). However, this argument is problematic as it suggests that the liveness of performance is simply determined by the disappearance of the media, which could be easily challenged by advances in technology. In my opinion, a more practical approach to liveness is to explore ways in which both live and mediatized forms can be utilized in the creative process. In so doing, also looking into what disappears and deteriorates and what appears and is amplified when relying on conventional live performance and technologically mediated performance. It's important to appreciate the contributions of both Auslander, Phelan, and other scholars and to view their concepts in a relational perspective rather than as opposing views.

Phelan's view on the ontology of performance can be summed up by the phrase to document it is to kill it. She argues that performance only exists in the present moment and becomes itself through disappearance, and that attempting to document it is an act of destroying it. It's worth noting, however, that Phelan's definition of disappearance doesn't mean death; rather, it refers to performance disappearing from sight and existing only in the memories of the audience, remaining ephemeral and fleeting. In her opinion, trying to capture and document it through other media would spell the doom of performance. Documented or mediated performance, lives in the moment by those who experience it with images of the work varying greatly for each spectator and being different from the actual live performance conveyed through its mediations. This demonstrates that the ontology of performances is never generic; even restaging it won't produce an identical repetition, but rather a unique experience.

While I'm not against documenting live performance, my concern is how and why to record it. Is it simply for archival purposes? To what extent can it represent the original work? In archival contexts, adjustments, like taxidermy, must be made to prevent decomposition and preserve the specimen for display. This involves a kind of reworking or remediation, resulting in something different from how the animal was perceived in live interaction. What's the reason for this taxidermy? Is it to preserve the memory of a beloved pet or for educational purposes in a museum? Once it takes form and enters public view, it can be observed, considered, and scrutinized. The moment of encounter is an alive and lived experience, even if the object is dead. So where exactly does performativity lie in documentation? Can liveness only occur through enactment, or can displaying a dead object be considered an enactment? The object is enacted in the mind of the audience once it comes into view.

Phelan's resistance towards documenting performance is strongly based on disappearance as a force of resistance, resisting capitalism, binaries, biased representations, and so on. But what if the remediated display is also a form of resistance? In the case of performing taxidermy on a beloved pet, it resists the capitalistic approach of replacing the pet with a new one, preserving the unique and precious memories. It resists the commodification of the pet. What are the properties of documentation, and where does its performativity lie?

Many of the footage that I used in the exhibition are diaries or documentations of my life and dance practices, I had no intention to put them in the exhibition when making them, but with the dramaturgical frame of the intertwined lived experience of myself, this footage became relevant in the work and the next question was how to remediate them to fit in the frame in consideration of spectatorial experience of liveness.

Ontology of Tools

At the first instance in discussing the digital era, we might quickly try to research how human beings react to related technological tools by analyzing the topic the realm of cognitive science and viewing the technological tools as mere objects or neutral tools. Ihde (2002) has discussed the inter-relationship we have with technological tools by taking as his example that of guns:“where the primitive unit is the human-technology relation, it becomes immediately obvious that the relations of human-gun (a human with a gun) to another object or another human is very different from the human without a gun.”(Ihde 2002,93) In Ihde’s insights into the agency of the subject—human and object—machines and tools led to his discussion of the middle ground which he concluded to be still “muddy”. The agency of the non-human is likely to take a new turn with the development and advancement of AI technology. However, in my discussion below, I would like to make use of Ihde’s point that the object suggests an inherited way of handling and of interaction through our understanding of it, and that understanding is also embedded in our culture. With the example of the guns, it does not only change the position of the one holding a gun, but also those in the surrounding without a gun. It becomes important to me through the experience in the pandemic that the possession of vaccines and masks changes the equilibrium of power dynamics just like the presence of a gun. The technological tools are developed with certain human agency in mind in order to enhance our quality of life or to make things more convenient, but by acknowledging the nature and (other) possibilities of the tools we can always try to change the way we interact with them.



Livessness and Intimacy

Perhaps the reason we are so indulged with liveness stems from our need to be close and intimate with each other and cultural objects. Auslander writes that

Since the late 1940s, live theatre has become increasingly like television and other mediatized cultural forms. To the extent that live performances now emulate mediatized representations, they have become second-hand recreations of themselves as refracted through mediatization. This historical dynamic does not occur in a vacuum, of course. It is bound up with the audience’s perception and expectations, which shape and are shaped by technological change and the uses of technology influenced by capital investment. As Jacques Attali (1985) shows, an economy based in repetition and the mass reproduction of cultural objects emerged when the production of unique cultural objects was no longer profitable. Analyzing audience desires when mediatized culture was in its infancy, Walter Benjamin (1986 [1936]) concluded that audiences were responding to the perceptual possibilities offered by the film medium. What this new mass audience wanted, in Benjamin’s view, was a relationship to cultural objects defined by proximity and intimacy. He saw the desire for reproducible cultural objects as symptomatic of these needs. Building on Benjamin’s analysis, I have suggested that our current concepts of proximity and intimacy derive from television. The incursion of mediatization into live events can be understood as a means of making those events respond to the need for televisual intimacy, thus fulfilling desires and expectations shaped by mediatized representations.(Auslander 2008, 183-184)

Benjamin and Auslander have emphasized the universal human desire for relationships defined by proximity and intimacy, which has been amplified by mediatization. The taxidermy example that I provided above is an example of this desire. This desire existed even before the mediatized society but was amplified by it. We fantasized about the possibility of certain immortality of connection, an everlasting intimacy. The use of media technology is the last resort for us to keep ourselves together and retain the connections that we once had before isolation and lockdowns. We capture moments with digital media and remain hopeful that one day we can reenact these moments with our loved ones. Whither we cannot fly, we must go limping. The tools to capture moments in life are a means of resistance, be it in media format or written words- They are our attempts to go against the restrictions of life. In this action of resisting, we are as lively as we could ever be. By using various mediums in artistic creation, we can create a sense of liveness and intimacy, regardless of whether the medium is considered "lively" or not.

In my artistic practice, connecting with the audience through a shared living moment is paramount. This is why I was initially drawn to contemporary dance performance and its unique ontological liveness. Even within the same choreography, the mental and physical state of the performers creates a distinct expression, resulting in a one-of-a-kind experience for both the audience and performers. For me, what makes dance performances so powerful is the shared time and space they create – it is a process of touch. The movement of the performers portrays the surfaces of the space, and their skin glistens with sweat as the air shifts with the rhythm of their breathing, evoking a palpable tension in the room.

The concept of touch extends beyond literal physical contact, encompassing all the senses - visual, olfactory, aural, and more - in a shared time and space. During performances, both performers and audience members become entangled in a realm of touching and being touched. This visceral and sensual experience allows for a deep and unique understanding of the world, similar to how babies interact with and learn about the world through constantly reaching towards and touching everything around them. Touch is universal, beyond words, and essential to human existence. In dancing, touch takes on a visual form, allowing both performers and spectators to bodily understand themselves and each other.
In the context of a dance performance, movement creates images as well as sensations through its spectacular elements. It is imprinted in the retina of the audience but also sensed through our ears, noses, and skins. Through the construction of time and space, we are touching and being touched at the same time. The information touches contain is beyond capture. It is spontaneous and fluid, the touched moment would transform once it becomes a memory and would take a different form everytime the memories are recalled.

The most powerful touch is the one that lights up the deepest part of your inner feelings. Once you are touched, the touch is no longer external, you are teleported to somewhere out of your expectation, somewhere deep within you. The interior and exterior pass into and affect each other. At that moment, the exterior world also continues, and you experience a different sense of time and space within yourself.

Touch is powerful, but it is also tricky as it seems to have an ontological gap with any form of documentation. During a live performance, it expands in multi-directions as it involves all the senses and could take a drastic turn once something else becomes more prominent. Touching is the reason for the messiness of one’s mind, of the complexity of the stream of consciousness, of immediacy, subjectivity, and the relationship between the individual and the world around them. However, in this sense of touch being the core of live performances, all performances are actually just a frame or construct for touch to take place, the essence is then is the interaction of the present moment. If touch is the essence of a live perceptual experience, then a mediatized artwork such as a film can also be alive. It is just that the way these mediatized works touch the audience is different, it happens through different registers. Imagine looking at a picture of a lost loved one, it triggers your memories in a way that it is no longer just a picture to you, it contains the love and moments from the past. It touches you, in a way in which the other is both present and absent in different degrees.

So how does digital media touch?

As humans, we are dependent creatures who have a natural urge to understand and be understood on both interpersonal and intrapersonal levels. Artistic practices and performances play a crucial role in fulfilling this need. They provide us with a means of expressing ourselves and connecting with others through shared experiences. Each artistic genre and form offers a unique framework for these connections, which is why we continue to create and consume new and diverse forms of artistic expression. Different artistic genres and forms such as theater, dance, film, and painting each have their own distinct modes of presentation, framing of time and space, and ways of touching the audience and creating new opportunities for encounter and new realities. The five characteristics proposed by Packer and Jordan - integration, interactivity, hypermedia, immersion, and narrativity - distinguish new media as a unique medium, just as liveness distinguishes live performances. Our pursuit of newer, better, and more "real" media is an attempt to create a better framework for these touches to take place and connect. However, my curiosity lies in exploring how to touch through different mediums, knowing that they have different properties. For instance, I created both an exhibition and a live performance, situated around the same themes, but uniquely different as stand-alone works, which can also complement each other and offer new perspectives on the entangled narratives.

In my artistic thesis, the deliberate inclusion of "live" elements such as monologue, dance, and aerial dance in the performance, which are then remediated and documented in the exhibition, highlights the notion of integration as a means of creating a hybrid form of expression. While the act of integrating live dance performances with digital media is becoming increasingly common, it requires careful consideration beyond a mere mathematical equation of 1+1=2. The ontology of the forms affects how the artistic works are perceived and must be taken into account. For example, while it may be tempting to propose homemade videos in a cinema setting for a larger audience, such a relocation may not be successful due to audience preconceptions and expectations of specific venues. Similarly, simply relocating theater performances to online platforms without considering dramaturgical integration may result in unsuccessful outcomes.

Within the exhibition, the spatial complexity of integrating various media and materials is also considered. For instance, the use of old TVs and DVD players as a means of displaying footage remediates them with a sense of nostalgia and personal intimacy. The spatial design of the corridor leading to the narrative film's display creates a sense of closure and encourages spectators to sit on the sofa for a good amount of time and engage with the work. In both the performance and exhibition, the intention is to connect with the audience and remind them of the shared experiences that exist despite physical distance.

Given the sensitive topics addressed in the exhibition, such as the effects of the pandemic and discussions of suicide, a darker and more private space was created to foster intimacy and privacy. Although privacy is penetrable in a crowded space, the possibility of intimacy is still present when the exhibition is less populated. Ultimately, the interactivity of the performance and exhibition is designed to touch the audience and foster connections based on shared human experiences and vulnerability.

According to a monitoring report of cultural participation, although the number of audience going to the theater has seen a constant increase after the hit of pandemic, “most people expect to attend art forms less in future than they did before the pandemic, rather than more, with the exception being outdoor events”(the audience agency 2022). This statistic definitely provides an initiative into putting more resources into developing online productions. As a believer in live performances, I am more curious to know why, especially the statistic also show that dance is one of the performance genres that has the least number of audience members. The research process does not provide an answer or solution to the decrease in audience member number but rather an account of personal reflection and suggestions for future artistic practice.

Dance/Theater performances are all about time and space but not only the time and space taking place in the theater but also the time and space of the social world, of the zeitgeist.

The hit of the pandemic is right in the face of everyone, no one is given the privilege to turn a blind eye to it. The inability to adopt and move to online platforms tells something about the ontology or essence of dance and theater performances. The contingency plans to move online during the pandemic are executed without detailed consideration. In many cases, it was simply about utilizing resources to record performances and put them straight online. But who were and are the target audiences? Are the target audiences the regular theater goers or potential audiences who didn’t have the time to go to the theater before? Is there a plan to continue the development of online performances? Without a clear plan, the effort of digital production would always remain just a “contingency plan”. Richard Misek, of the University of Kent, who carried out a survey with Adrian Leguina of Loughborough University on the continuation of digital productions of theaters in the UK, pointed out the accessibility potential of digital production for geographically remote and disabled audiences but also mentions the financial difficulty in continual development of such production (Sherwood 2021). With the financial difficulties, only bigger theaters have the ability to continue productions online. “Most of the theatres and theatre companies continuing digital activity this autumn are large, which provides further evidence of a digital divide between large, well-resourced organisations and small and mid-sized ones,” Misek said (Sherwood 2021, n.p.).

As an independent under-resourced art maker, I do not think I should just give up on the digital development of my artistic practices. What is important to me is to think through the features of the online world and adopt them as best I can. What is the difference between perceived time and space in the controlled space of theater and the online world? The online world is a reflection and simulation of the current mediatized society that we live in, blast of information at every second, instant updates and constant stimuli. Taking the example of walking on the street, even if one has a clear intention of heading somewhere, the surroundings have a way of catching one’s attention. Some of the attention seeking is non-intentional such as the loud noise from a construction site, some are intentional such as the eye-catching commercial on a billboard. The online world also has its way of directing our attention with the use of visual stimuli and design of the interface. It informs us to experience and perceive this mediatized world. The interactivity in perception is crucial in daily experience as well as media performance. According to Packer and Jordan (2021), there are five characteristics of new media: integration, interactivity, hypermedia, immersion, and narrativity. They explore how these characteristics are amplified and transformed in the digital realm, and how they shape our experiences and interactions with new media. It has led to my interest in the interactivity and non-linearity of narratives in theater and dance performance. While the way these five characteristics are realized in the context of new media is unique and significant, they are not concepts solely existing in the state-of-the-art new media, which can also be found in daily life and various forms of performance. I would like to think through these concepts with the performance and exhibition of “how are we still alive here? what about there?” asking whether and how dance performances shall adopt these perspectives and expand the online practice of dance.

Liveness and death drive in my artistic practice

The concepts of the life drive and the death drive are intertwined, as the recognition of life's fleeting nature and our ultimate journey towards death prompts us to contemplate the meaning of existence. As a performer, I approach each moment on stage with the mindset of Ichigo Ichie, or the belief that every encounter is unique and irreplaceable - from the audience, to the space, to my own body, and thoughts. While dance performances can be physically taxing and even painful, the knowledge that it will all come to an end provides me with a sense of solace when things get tough.

During the tough moments in the performance, I thought to myself, If this is the last meeting before my death, I would really want to be close to you.

In my view, the inherited death drive is not solely a fixation on our own mortality, but rather an impetus to make the most of our time and to create a lasting impact through the tools available to us. When I perform, I feel an urgency to connect with the audience and leave a lasting impression - to be remembered and to make a mark on the world. There is a deep desire for proximity, intimacy, and connection, as we strive to forge meaningful relationships and experiences that transcend the boundaries of time and space.

Ultimately, the goal of utilizing the tools at our disposal to capture and preserve fleeting moments is not just about resisting death, but also about experiencing time in a more profound and meaningful way. By recognizing our own mortality, we are able to fully appreciate the present and strive towards creating something lasting that will endure beyond our own lifetimes.

Spectatorship, Mediums and Media

a test on Augmented Reality application

three layers of videos that will be shown through the digital gadget once it detect a target object, the testing target object is a poker card of the queen of hearts.