Video 1a: new islands

Video 1b: new islands

Video 2a: Double Vortex II

Video 3a: Moving Music

Video 4a: one hand clapping

Video 4b: one hand clapping

Video 4d: one hand clapping

Video 5a: trans-form

Video 6a: sonozones

Video 6d: sonozones

Video 1d: new islands

Video 6b: sonozones



Performing with Bodies and Technology

Transecting is the act of cutting across projects along the same categorical axis. After the comparative operations carried out between or within single artistic practice modules up to here, in the trans-sect, each key-aspect is used to draw a swift line across all six artistic modules. In the following sections, the intention is to find in each artistic module one trace/moment that connects strongly to a keyword, instead of identifying in each module as many hints as possible. This produces a narrowed down chain of six instances for each of the five keywords and should make comparison across all modules feasible.

• For details on the topics of Body-Object Relationships and Instrumental Technicity refer to Chapter 3: Affordances: Body-Object Relationships.

Body-Object Relation/Instrumental Technicity
The first key-aspect focuses on the relationship between body and instrument, or in more abstract terms between body and objects and the object's technicity. The issue is how the nature of the instrument, tool, or object influences the bodily disposition and the movement language that is derived from it.

— In `new islands', in Video 1b, between 03:44 and 03:47, the combination of woodblocks and the wireless headset microphone generate a low-tech versus high-tech tension, that is exacerbated by the use of sensor gloves. In Video 1d at 03:05 that use of a hand-held sensor-bearing instrument creates a direct link between handling of the object, movement and the resulting sound. The fact that the instrument is unknown, but clearly technical, increases the tension between physicality and instrument.

— In `one hand clapping', the same applies in Video 4a, between 08:35 and 09:08. Again, the hand-held sensor staff motivates movements, but does not disclose itself immediately to the viewer, if not through the sounds that are clearly the consequences of the instrumental gestures and actions. In Video 4b at 11:25, the use of objects and materials as instruments grounds the musical actions in the physical domain. In Video 4d at 21:46, the double-bass changes its role from musical instrument to object, which is used as a prop for a situational moment, by enabling the perception of the juxtaposing between the performer's with the instruments body.

— In `Double Vortex', in Video 2a, between 06:49 and 07:03, the swinging of the instrument and the corresponding body movements produce air-sounds across the microphone and feedback with the speaker. At 10:13 the action of bending over with the trombone passing underneath the body and pointing towards the back without producing any sound generates a inverted hierarchy between body and instrument.

— In the documentation for `trans-form', in Video 5a, between 08:20 and 09:13, we see the process of drawing onto the body by using traces captured form the body itself. The spatial, visual, and movement domains are caught inside the algorithms expressive scope and limits and puts the body into a submissive relationship with the technology that is generating the projection.

— In `sonozones', in Video 6a, between 01:40 and 02:21, the cone functions as a listening instrument and influences the way the position and posture of the performer in the action. In Video 6b, between 01:07 and 01:22, the speakers and the sound they produce generate an installation, intervention, and a stage for performance. In Video 6d from the beginning until 00:47, the microphone/headphone serves as instrument or tool for auditory perception of the scene. The artist is seen listening through the microphone, and after the shift in camera perspective, the microphone is seen by itself. Here the recording devices create the document and at the same time generate the focusing environment that enables deep listening in the first place.

— In `Moving Music', in Video 3a, between 00:51 and 01:02 and again between 10:47 and 11:05, the bracelet can be perceived as instrument, whereas the camera can only be perceived through the consequences of its usage in sound. The performer is clearly influenced by the sonic feedback that the focused movements capture in the fields of the two sensor produces.

The influence of instruments, materials, and technical tools is perceivable in all projects. They form and inform, through their use as sound-generating or modulating devices, the performer's physical space for action, sometimes constraining it, sometimes opening up forms and possibilities that would otherwise be illogical. The agency of the instruments can be seen in the corporeal domain of the artist's actions, as well as heard in the sonic domain of the music that is being generated by it. A range of technicity of the objects and instruments opens up in these projects. It is constituted by the primary woodblocks and metal materials, by conventional high quality instruments such as the double bass or the trombone, by technical devices such as cameras and microphones, and by unknown hybrids and sensor based instruments that might even be invisible. In all cases they are chosen with a specific use in mind, be it through an aesthetic or a practical choice. An in all cases the instruments or objects fundamentally determine the artistic activity and the sounding outcome.

• For details on the topic of the Phenomenal Body refer to Chapter 3: Performance: Presence and the Body in Performance: The Body in Performance.

Phenomenal Body/Body as Substrate

From the perspective of the phenomenal body and the body as substrate for subjectivity, the issue investigated is the visibility and presence of the body proper, before or underneath the actions, intentions, subjectivities that are projected. In this regard, only the performer perspective can be taken into account, since from the spectator viewpoint the performer's body is always already seen as object and as carrier of the artists subjectivity.

— In `new islands', in Video 1a, between 07:53 and 08:05, we see a gestural sequence that appears to be working on the invisible body of the sound with a clear engagement and feedback through the phenomenal body, the transparent as well as the performative body.

— In `Double Vortex', in Video 2a, between 10:01 and 10:20, there is a silent movement with the body, bending under and to the back, where heavy breathing makes the body sway with tension. The body becomes central and contains the resonance of the sounding actions, as well as the tension of the entire piece. The body is the source and target of the performer's concentration and his focus on the space and timing, rather then sound.

— In `Moving Music', in Video 3a, between 10:16 and 10:18, the dancer is crouched on the ground n a position of tension. The body is in possession of all key elements, because action and sound are suspended. The corporeality changes its quality in the moment and the focus is absorbed by the body in this role. Furthermore, the dancer's agency and personality is momentarily suspended.

— In `one hand clapping', in Video 4a, between 00:55 and 01:05, the performers move underneath the lights, in an attitude of opening exploration. The action of putting an outstretched hand under the light exposes through that body-part a relation with the body that is explicit and aimed at experiencing a corporeal phenomenon,through looking and feeling.

— In `trans-form', in Video 5a, between 13:07 and 14:26, the phenomenal body shows up in the dancer's body that is caught in a shrinking beam of light. The amplified sound of intense breathing generates a strong sense of the body's presence and constrained state, and puts an emphasis on the primary body relationship of this situation, which in this case is also visible for the audience.

— In `sonozones', in Video 6a, between 03:02 and 03:13, of all four videos of the project, the situation of the artist walking along a street with a listening cone is the one closest to making the body come to the foreground. But here, as with the three others, the action of perceiving and immersing in the environment prevents the phenomenal body to become central

With the exception of the project where the performative is located in the public domain in the street, it is always in moments of suspension of activity that the body as such comes to the foreground and can be perceived as phenomenal body by the performers. The crouching, waiting position, the null-point between two musical or movement arcs, the detachment from focusing on the action allows paying attention to the body itself. The type of works assembled here exhibit a considerable amount of constellations and situations, where the body's presence is freed from the demands of actions. In these moments it manages to appear as the phenomenal body with its own presence and significance, which goes beyond the artistic creation at hand and shows the body in a primary state.

• For details on the topic of Performative Awareness refer to Chapter 3: Body Awareness: Levels of Body Awareness: Types of Body Perception.

Performative Awareness

The performative awareness occurs below the threshold of perception in a pre-cognitive awareness of one's own corporeal presence. Transparent body awareness expresses itself only indirectly as a foundational condition of perceiving the `world'. The question is how the transparent and performative body-awareness types can be seen in performance, how they differ from plain bodily presence, and what the markers of performative awareness may be.

— In `new islands', in Video 1b, between 05:54 and 06:00, the performer, in the midst of the performance, visibly pulls back from the action, in order to give attention to the tension in the body, before moving to the next musical idea. The impulses to move are corporeal rather than musical and influence the voice as well as the weight and the tension of the body.

— In `Double Vortex', in Video 2a, between 00:19 and 03:55, the entire opening sequence is about body awareness and a focus on body presence, tension, and control. This attitude serves to make the body performative as well as the focal centre of attention.

— In `Moving Music', in Video 3a, at 12:21, the dancer reaches a stopping point, and explores a physical position, bodily tension and shows an occupation with the body. In open-form practices, in particular improvised dance, these contingent situations that are not choreographed in advance have the potential to bring the focus onto the transparent or performative body-awareness. In this case, body awareness is performative because the situation and position emerge form the flow of the action, and together with anatomical characteristics, the body's attitude is produced by situational as well as physical constraints.

— In `trans-form', in Video 4a, between 10:59 and 11:13, we see a duo situation, where both bodies become the primary material for a topographical or geometrical situation. A strong physical and corporeal presence is felt through the stillness of the bodies as objects and props on stage.

— In `trans-form', in Video 5a, between 02:23 and 03:03, the dancer's body is present in the light-field and underneath the projected moving lines. It becomes therefore, from the beginning, not just a subjective presence, but also a projection surface. This is an engagement with the stage as a performative body, a transparent body for the dancer, but also as the element that generates the significance of the entire scene. In this configuration the perception of personhood or subjective self is pushed to the background until the next willed action shifts this relation again.

— In `sonozones', in Video 6a at 01:21, the figure of the performing body is juxtaposed with a pedestrian, whose path the performer is crossing. This situation is intersubjective as well as performative and shows the difference in awareness between the two people in that situation.

In each of these cases, the inner focus of the performer is seen in a difference in state. The mastery of transitioning into and out of this state is perceivable, and indicates a pre-reflective, sub-personal embeddedness in the act of performing, that does not depend on instrumental or bodily skills, but rather on removing focus form action and letting body-patterns emerge that are not willed. Remember that ``explicit consciousness of and attention to the outside world would hide the pre-reflective experience of the “performative body” ... in between “body invisibility” and “body opacity”, [this is] characterized by a pre-reflective experience of the “performative body'' (Legrand 2007).

• For details on the topic of Inter/Subjectivity refer to Chapter 3: Phenomenology: The Focus on Perception: Embodied Subjectivity.


The key-aspects of subjectivity and inter-subjectivity form one of the fundamental states in performance. What are these states and how do they fluctuate? Inter-subjectivity can be claimed for performer--audience relations, but also between performers. What determines inter-subjective relations, how and why do they fluctuate?

— In `new islands', in Video 1a at 01:38, a change of attitude is visible. The performer is addressing the audience with a whispered `listen', which creates a stronger intersubjectivity, which creates a contrast to the attitude of indecisive wandering around visible during the first minute of the piece. The change in attitude goes form passive exploration to an active subjectivity, from incidental to deliberate presence, which as a subjective state increases with the first musical action at 01:02.

— In `Double Vortex', in Video 2a at 03:58, the first sound action creates an impression of subjectivity, perhaps because agency is directed at making sound and thus fulfils the expectation of seeing a trombone-player on stage. Intersubjectivity with the audience or the other musician is less visible, but a direct rapport is established with the speaker, as if the speaker (and the electronic sound processing emanating from it) was its own figure and subject (see sec:subjectivities).

— In `Moving Music', in Video 3a, from 0:10 onwards, from the moment of stepping onstage and facing the audience, the performer generates the strong impression of a subject. From then on, the viewer follows her as the agent in the piece, always attributing her intentionality and decisions. Intersubjectivity is thus present, also in the relationship to the other musician at the edge of the stage, but it is not modulated in noticeable way, until the very end, when the performer is turning away in a very definite manner, thus rupturing the bond.

— In `one hand clapping', in Video 4a, from 00:22 onwards, after the initial stillness, both performers become active and are perceived as acting subjects. Intersubjectivity between the two artists fluctuates, depending on the state of interaction or relationality they choose to perform (see interactionModels). The focus on the intersubjective link is distributed not symmetrically between the two, the role of leader or follower, or the balanced state equal and independent interaction changes considerably throughout the piece.

— In `trans-form', in Video 5a, between 09:20 and 10:42, the performer caught in the game of lights becomes the subject submitted to a situation, in relation to the machine-like music and image processes. These processes have an agency that create an intersubjective feel of tension and conflict between body and media. This generates a strong contrast between the amplified breathing noise, the slow and tense body movements, the mechanical rhythms and abrupt changes in lights. The two types of agency are juxtaposed in a broken intersubjectivity.

— In `sonozones', in Video 6a, the entire sequence is about representing a subjective experience of listening. An intersubjectivity emerges from the situation in the urban public sphere, where the performative intervention has a signalling function and thus becomes highly intersubjective. In Video 6b at 00:35, we see the hand-held camera moving in the entryway and showing the situation. This produces the sensation of an authorship behind the camera as well as in front. The artist that is visible in the frame in a listening position also marks the perceiver of this sonic intervention in this semi-public space. In Video 6d, from 00:08 onwards, subjectivity can be ascribed to the listening artist who is present inthe frame of the video. After the camera move that changes perspective, this impression shifts towards the unseen author located behind the camera.

In the performance-based modules, the `subjective' is an underlying state that emerges as soon as performers step on stage. Nevertheless, the intensity of subjectivity is modulated, depending on the perception of agency, intentionality of actions and the relationship to the immediate situation. This is where subjectivity becomes intersubjective, located in the rapport to the `other', be it performer, audience, space, sound, or instrument. In the performative interventions in the public sphere, subjectivity originates from the same basic state. The difference is that inward attention and outward attention create two different perceptions when seen from outside. Intersubjectivity, in these cases, depends largely on the relationship established with the environment and the others that are present within it. Acting in the public domain through intervention, be it sounding or listening, establishes a relation to passers-by that demonstrates the shifted or intensified presence of the artists.

• For details on the topic of Presence refer to Chapter 3: Performance: Presence and the Body in Performance.


The intensity and the subjective impression of presence is not always the same across the artistic modules, but it forms one of the basic states of performance, as well. How does that state change and what characteristics distinguish between stage presence and performative presence, also in the urban public sphere?

— In `new islands', in Video 1a, between 05:44 and 05:56, after an active shaping section, a stop and holding of position increases the focus on presence, the pointing gestures and the front facing attitude declare a intended intense presence.

— In `Double Vortex', in Video 2a, between 07:34 and 07:51, the swinging of the instrument and intensity of the action produces a presence, which is not primarily subjective but simply given be the physical energy of the performer.

— In `Moving Music', in Video 3a, between 04:34 and 04:42, the focused, concentrated attitude of placement and preparation for the next action generates an impression of presence that is more intense than during the moments with a high level of activity.

— In `one hand clapping', in Video 4a, from 02:26 onwards, the close interaction and synchronisation of actions creates an increased sense of presence, possibly increased by the close relationality of the movements between the two performers.

— In `trans-form', in Video 5a, between 06:46 and 08:16, the interrelation with the stage setting and light's behaviours creates the impression of tension, attention, and therefore presence. The decisiveness and relationality within the situation and the game of hide and seek increases the notion of physical presence, as well as performative presence.

— In `sonozones', in each of the three videos, the artists are present and paying attention, creating attention and thus creating a heightened performative and formative presence. The situational configuration sets each artist into a deliberate relationship with the environment, which can be seen by others, thus giving weight to the fact of the physical presence of the agents.

Most of the time, the perception of presence is implicit and given by the mere physical attendance in the same space of performer and audience. The conscious modulation of presence is part of the act of performing and thus informs the performative presence, the affective and effective impact that the physicality of the artist has on the perceiver. The two complementary perspectives result in different experiences, the performer perception of presence depends on awareness of body, intensity, agency and creating and maintaining an intersubjective link, whereas the audience perception can be of the performer's corporeal and personal presence, that generates the perceived subjectivity, but not necessarily a perception of performativity. A distinction can be made between perception of performative awareness and perception of presence: the former is an inner perception in relation to the own body and its physical presence, whereas the latter concerns outward effects and is in relation to presence in front of an audience.

all materials © 2011–2017 by Jan Schacher