After the question part, the participants were asked to take off the headphones and project a mental image of this machine of theirs onto the opposite wall, in other words to imagine how this machine looks, feels and smells. After a short period of time, I stepped into that area of projection and ‘became’ a subject of their projections of machines. Following this change, I asked them to give me directions, how they wished or desired a machine to function, serve or command?
”I am your machine. You can direct me; tell me what to do, ask me to control you. I am your machine.”
They started to direct me and I would repeat them, following the manner of performance as described previously about schizoanalytic performance practice. There was no logic of imitation but only affective association in my responses to their directions. In a similar way to the performance in Tomar, I felt clumsy, tense and the performance seemed too fast for my state of mind. My actions resulted in the participants following some questions more than others. Occasionally the results were humorous. I felt that the situation was ‘hypnotic’ and compassionate. Since the participants had invested one hour to answer my interview questions, they really projected their mental images onto me, and as such I ‘became’ their technical device. After a period of experimentation, the session was over.
When I had asked people to describe, if they had an intimate relationship with their bicycle, smart-phone or toaster, such a question seemed to amuse people, at first. However, each participant took the task seriously, and from the comments that I heard afterwards, their relationship with the machines had altered and shifted. It changed their attention with the device such as a toaster and the transindividuation process was transformed. A rupture had occurred between multitudes of technological devices. Machines and humans either produce deadly repetitions, which are automatic projections of desire on the device, or rupture may result in a process of transformed relationship with the milieu.
This performance was part of a larger project called "Life in Bytom". From the beginning of 2012 I visited Bytom for several times – usually for a week or less. These visits comprised of workshops, interviews, field trips and other events. In between the visits I worked with the material gathered. My starting point was to ask, how life has changed in the past twenty years in this particular context of Bytom – a post-industrial town in Upper Silesia, Poland. I encountered many individual and singular stories and events, which revealed things that are not particular only to Poland, but a general feature of neo-liberal Europe. My approach was at first theoretical, circling around the problem of economic transformation, which I call the mess of capitalism. It is a state of no certainty or centre – which is in straight dissymmetry with the previous, state controlled socialism in Poland. However, my approach was merely theoretical, with very little grounding in this particular place in Poland, Silesia. From the first meetings with the curator of Kronika Contemporary Art Centre in Bytom, Stanisław Ruksza, one aspect of the state of Bytom became clear, when he called Bytom the “Detroit” of Poland. These places are not going through a controlled transformation period, but a series of arbitrary changes. There is no straightforward answer, ideology or roadmap, but a mess of collapsing buildings, infrastructures where no one knows what the duration of this process is or what forms it will take. It is the precariousness of this mess, where my endeavour took place. In this context, what can a performance do?
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