Considering the past of performance is equally problematic. When operating on fragments, traces, and leftover forms after performance processes and actual moments, the central issue lies in the shift of status: the origin, the primary works, or the objects possess infinitely densely intertwined or enfolded multitudes of relationships, significations, and effects that are not present anymore in the trace. The primary artwork’s virtue is that it generates a compact, singular entity, but its descendants, the traces, echoes, and secondary emissaries, do not possess this power. It is necessary to make explicit and present in a ‘tangible’ way those elements that would form the new narrative and thus ‘retrace the transformational relationships’ (Schwab 2014: 37) to their original.
Linear argumentative language is one way of effecting such a translation. However, to become an appropriate rendering or approximation, the lines of intersection and connection, the lines of flight, merely function in a loose association and do not let a single rigid form emerge. The multiple intersecting planes, vortices, slightly decentred spheres, and circles (Merleau-Ponty 1968: 138) demand an entangled, enfolded, shifting, and continuous rearrangement of elements, a reading or transection that can only be one of many attempts, a fortuitous choice or random occurrence that generates meaning from the intrinsic connections and inherent potential of the elements inherited from the original source of the primary work.
The activity of finding or defining paths across an accumulation of materials, territories, or planes (Deleuze and Guattari 1988: 512) always constitutes a map. In concrete terms, the present exposition on the weave of the research catalogue is a map of elements that are all related to the project at stake. Since ‘a map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness’ (Korzybski 1994: 58) or Magritte’s ‘ceci n’est pas une pipe’, the discrepancy between the signifier and the signification is evident. If the territory in our case is the fleeting, ephemeral ‘actual’ of a performance and the map is a reading of more solid traces, artefacts, and resonances of this intangible object, the relation between map and territory could even be considered to be inverted. It is important to avoid reifying the map at the expense of the ‘actual’. De-multiplying readings and continuously rearranging the map provides a promising if impractical solution. Nevertheless, if additional communication outside the place or time-space of performance is intended, engaging in a process of continuous re-readings and rearrangements of the assembled traces is necessary. Consequently, in artistic practice if not research through art, the process of map making is always occurring. The critical questions then are what possible forms can the maps take, how accessible can they be, and how well can they communicate that to which they refer?
The connecting and establishing of relations between trace elements of a performance and the manner of reading a performance from the vantage point of the partaking audience constitutes a type of diagram. The web of interpretation can take a multitude of forms, some visible as sketches, or graphical diagrams, or juxtapositions of blocks of text on the page, some invisible as understanding of relations through recognising repetitions, commonalities, and parallelisms. This exposition as a whole attempts to function as a diagram, a symbolic representation and laying out of elements with their connections. From low-level local juxtapositions that sometimes even look like diagrammatic drawings to the highest level of layout, which is only visible through the navigator, the significance of elements and their relationships is important. The groups arranged on the page with their individual lines of flight denote their dependence and the slipping relationships among one another, which in an alternate, less fixed form would be rearranged fluidly with every new reading.
Even without extending into abstract signification (the concept of laying out heterogeneous objects side by side to form an assemblage), the value of such an unordered and non-hierarchical procedure becomes clear. It is precisely through the equivalences of all elements, through their juxtaposition rather than ordering by dependencies, that an open field, a malleable pool of materials, is generated that is essential for navigation, reading, and drawing of connections, if not conclusions. Assembling does not mean fixing; the grouping may shift, dissolve, and rearrange itself at any moment. This malleability is crucial for constructing a second-order art object from the ruins of the primary work. Assembling as an activity rather than assemblage as a state is also appropriate to the time-sensitive nature of the performing arts context. In the same way that a partaking audience member co-performs with the musician or dancer during a show, the reader co-assembles the exposition with the author. In that sense, the translation mechanisms, the method of salvaging and rebuilding, are art practices in themselves, but only to the limited extent afforded by the fragmentary nature of the mere traces and impressions upon which they are based.