Research title: How to stay alive?

“Whither we cannot fly, we must go limping.
The Scripture saith that limping is no sin. “

-Rückert in the “Makamen des Hariri.” (quoted by Freud)

“‘The goal of all life is death‘, and, casting back, 'The inanimate was there before the animate‘. “

-Sigmund Freud(1920: 30)

This poem and quote of Freud perhaps captured all the essences I would like to discuss in this artistic research. It relates to the death drives within the interiority of a psychological subject inherited in our bodies. It also relates to the transcendent potential of one’s corporeality in its attempt to fly but settles with limping to carry on. Through both perspectives, this artistic research is an exploration on how we come to terms with our temporal liveliness through movement and the constant reaching towards.

Between the years of 2019-2023, I have experienced a deep existential crisis. I struggled as an artist, a dancer and a being which was strongly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The outbreak of the pandemic shifted my focus to life and death from the political unrest in Hong Kong. My life is full of protests and political discourse during 2019 in Hong Kong, I was pulled between the concern of my safety from my family and my own political standpoint. The outbreak of Covid-19 happened right at an interesting point of time when Hong Kong just established its anti-masks law. The Hong Kong people started wearing masks even before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic because of our fear of the virus and distrust of the Chinese government. Which is quite a funny thing as we were all breaking the anti-masks law at one point before the mask mandate was introduced. In the face of the Covid-19, we are all fragile and scared. Yet, it turns out to be an opportunity for me to reflect on myself in a global situation. The gesture of wearing masks and social distancing has a deep historical embeddedness in my experience in Hong Kong from SARS to Covid-19 and interwoven with socio-political-cultural context. It connects with my thoughts on my corporeality, my identity, my psyche and even my understanding of the mediatized society. The Covid-19 reminded us of our transindividuality, my following discussions are all framed within the pandemic landscape.

Drawing from Gail Weiss'(1999) discussion on embodiment, Lisa Blackman’s(2012) Body Studies and Affect Theory and Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty(1968), the focus of this thesis investigation is how this struggle comes from both internal and external conditions. Internal as in a death drive within, happening on the level of thoughts. However, I would also argue that it is not only taking place in the interiority of my psyche and completely isolated from my corporeality. It is also paralleled with my physical experience and perception of the surroundings. External influences include the constant changes in body image, the effects of technology in the frame of originary technicity, the effects of social phenomenon. Coming to terms with this latter, the external view even expands into the discussion of liveness of Peggy Phelan(1993) and Philip Auslander(2008) in relation to spectatorial experience. The body and mind are not distinctly separated, and so are neither the presence of a being and the world perceived by the being. The role of technology in this capitalist-driven society is inseparable from my research, references will be drawn from Don Ihde’s(2002) Bodies in Technologies, Steve Dixon’s(2007) discussion on digital performance and perspective on new media by the edition from Randall Packer and Ken Jordan(2002). Ultimately I would like to address the marginalization of contemporary dance and how I can contribute substantiating it with a dramaturgical consideration of liveness and remediation through the discussion of touch inspired by Erin Manning’s(2007) Politics of Touch. The literature review in this thesis is not merely a compilation of various sources but is an exploration of how different perspectives and disciplines of knowledge intersect with my artistic research and related art practice. The interdisciplinary nature of this topic and its relevance to our human experience may make the literature review appear complex and challenging to follow. However, by drawing on a variety of disciplines and perspectives, I hope to offer a nuanced exploration of the themes and ideas that have informed my artistic work. The reflections and insights gained from the literature review serve to support or challenge my thinking and inform the development of my artistic work. It is my hope that readers will view this writing alongside my artistic work, "how do we stay alive here? what about there?", which consists of a live performance and an exhibition.

Throughout the process, I have found myself drawn to a particular shape: the spiral. The spirals act as a metaphorical dramaturgical structure in both my performance and exhibition. I hope to convey the cyclical nature of my emotional journey and the intertwining of my experiences. Through this structure, I aim to showcase the nuances of my struggle and offer a space for viewers to interpret and engage with my work. I believe that this metaphorical shape captures the essence of my artistic research and serves as a powerful lens through which to view my exploration of embodiment, technology, liveness, and touch. It is very difficult to capture the complexity with my limited linguistic skill, but I will put my greatest effort into trying, please allow me to dance with you by writing.




The drawings accompanying this exposition serves to provide a visual stimuli along the discussion, it is not intended to be an illustration but perhaps highlighting the nuances. The drawings are generated by myself and DALL-E 2.