Situated Knowledge, Transmissions of Practice and Parasitic Endeavors 

Jessica Foley, Vicky Hunter, Karolina Kucia, Helen Palmer


           This paper presents an exchange between four practitioners from distinct disciplines of site dance, performance art, philosophy, and experimental writing and pedagogy. It presents responses to provocations that position these practices as containers of Situated Knowledge. Drawing on practical inquiry it illustrates particular practices and approaches to the transmission and reception of practical knowledge, and employs the notion of ‘parasitic endeavor’ as a lens to facilitate discussion of how disciplinary specific practices and emerging knowledges might traverse from one discipline to another. The practitioners include Jessica Foley, Karolina Kucia, Helen Palmer and Vicky Hunter.

Helen Palmer is a writer and performer whose work explores the matter of language and the queering of concepts through dynamic embodiment. She writes poetry and prose that manifest the concepts explored in her theoretical work, for example queer defamiliarisation, new materialism, invariance, diffraction and a critique of binary thinking. She performs as part of the queer clowning duo Le Tomatique.

Vicky Hunter’s work explores site-based dance and movement exploration through which she explores human connections to space and place through corporeal means. Often this work results in choreographed performance work, more recently however she has developed a movement based research approach that focuses on subjective body-site interactions facilitated through score-based movement tasks and improvisation.

Jessica Foley is a writer and scholar exploring how situated processes of writing and conversation can both stimulate and theorise critical, creative and ethical relationships between different academic disciplines and creative practices. To this effect, since 2013 Jessica has been devising and facilitating a writing workshop called Engineering Fictions with engineering and art researchers in the context of telecommunications research at CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Future Networks and Communication at Trinity College Dublin. These workshops explore the power of fiction, poetry and improvisation to foster and exercise creativity, honesty, diversity and ethical courage in Science and Technology research.

Karolina Kucia is a visual and performance artist. She is a doctoral candidate in the field of artistic research in Theatre Academy in Helsinki. She combines group processes and performances with creating devices for performing. She investigates occurrences of lapse, error and stutter and their possibility within the social organisation. Since 2011 she works with parasitic and monstrous models for cooperation in the context of precarization of labour in the current form of art institutions. She is sharing her research with several collectives and organisations.

Informed by Bennett’s notions of ‘vibrant matter’ (2010), Barad’s conception of agency and intra-action (2003), transversality (Guattari, 1964 and Dolphijn and van der Tuin, 2012) and J.J. Gibson’s theory of affordances (1986) the paper explores how embodied knowledges become activated and mobilised through human-material-world intra-actions and how interdisciplinary engagements facilitate the articulation of such knowledges. This article emerges from shared discussions of artistic working practices arising from the authors’ engagement in the COST action working group 3 that focussed on New Materialisms and the creative arts. The notion of parasitic endeavor was proposed by performance artist Karolina Kucia as a provocation to facilitate the group’s thinking around artistic processes and situated knowledges and acted as a starting point for creative exploration. These experiments therefore aimed to provoke and challenge habitual creative processes and enable each practitioner to reflect, through new materialist perspectives on the knowledge situated within their own ‘home’ practice through a process of re-evaluation and re-discovery invoked the introduction of new methods and approaches. The aim of this exploration was not to produce new work or new artistic products per se, rather to stir up, problematise, challenge and provoke. The notion of parasitic endeavour employed here therefore alludes to a temporal process in which theoretical and practical paradigms from one discipline are employed within or applied in another for a required period of time to facilitate the articulation of complex intra-active and diffractive human-nonhuman entanglements.

This paper illustrates how distinct practices transmit knowledges beyond disciplinary boundaries, and in doing so prioritises first-person experiential perspectives that articulate complex theoretical notions through embodied inquiry. It is not the job of this paper to engage with theoretically dense discussion but to alternatively illustrate how each practitioner’s engagement with new materialist perspectives informs modes of thinking-through-doing. To this end, each respondent designed and offered a ‘score’ to provoke and support intra-active practice. Each score frames a set of instructions, rules or constraints for fellow authors to explore and reflect on their experiences in relation to their own, customary modes of ‘doing’ practice and research. In the collated outcomes presented here, each author presents their response to one of these scores, drawing on their own disciplinary methods and working practices to consider how the specificities of their discipline engage creatively with these alternate actions and actors. In this scenario the notion of ‘parasitic endeavor’ is positioned as prodigious and facilitatory; we move through and beyond disciplinary silos, borrow and compare, creating new theoretical and disciplinary entanglements, through which new/augmented modes of thinking/doing emerge.

Parasitic Endeavors

Introductory Provocation by Karolina Kucia:

Parasite. The prefix para- means 'near', 'next to,' measures a distance. The sitos is the food. In this open mouth that speaks and eats, what is next to eating, its neighbouring function, is what emits sound. Para measures a difference between a reception and, on the contrary, an expansion. The latter makes one’s own what is in common and what will soon be even more one’s own, the living body. It already eats space. (Serres 1982: 144)


What if we imagine that in knowledge production, there are no communal meals? What if, with the flow of nutrition, there is not a common that is produced but an undeniable power structure of one directional growth on one side and decrease on the other? As not only one meal is served, many of those one directional flows, where one chews on another, become a complex system - the network of a network, relations to relations itself, the system of relations, the labour structure and body/mind of the labourer. Becoming self after self, myself, yourself, ourselves and themselves is a life-long assignment and constitutes a production of collective responsibility that, potentially, results in exhaustion and inadequateness (Ehrenberg 2010). Or, might we conceive a cultural omnivore self, engaged in forming an aggregate, propertizing time, accruing knowledge, mobility and multicultural otherness to refashion and re-tool itself (Skeggs 2004: 144), producing a monstrosity of some kind, that has no idea who speaks while stating I. The one who makes the sound? The one who casts the content or the one who is produced as the result of that relation?



What is the act and medium of receiving and what is an act and medium of expansion?

I would propose one more act, situated in the middle, the act of inhabiting.


Reception, inhabitancy and expansion: these are three terms, which I propose are central to approaching each other’s instructional ‘gifts’.

Responding to the Provocation: Parasites in Action:


Score by Jessica Foley, response by Helen Palmer:

Take a walk

and find some stairs


stairs with lots

of steps


walk up the stairs

and down


walk up again

and all the way down



along the way


what was it

you wanted to say


when you said nothing?

say it now


with the spirit

of the stairs

in your lungs.


(Jessica Foley)


The score above inflects the process of movingthinkingspeakingwriting with a sense of ascent and crescendo. It was enlivening to receive such a provocation in light of our collective provocation: in this case, a written provocation to move. The movement in this case is not the kind I most regularly deal in, however: not the movement of syntax or of concepts, but a specifically vectored locomotion: an ascent.

And so I begin to step and climb. The spirit of the stairs triggers a series of physiological chain reactions. The heart rate increases. This is a variable dependent on cardiovascular fitness. Stepping up the stairs immediately the skeletal muscles contract which exerts pressure and squeezes the veins which are near them, which forces the blood towards the heart. These muscles contract and relax.

In the hormone symphony there is no conductor. Stepping up, using the legs, the legs using us, the stately dance of pleasure/unpleasure located somewhere unlocatable inside.  Neurotransmitters pass along signals from one neuron to the next, as a response to the pleasure/unpleasure. The pituitary gland. The spinal cord. The brain and nervous system. They are musical instruments, each playing a part in the hormone symphony. A contrapuntal pattern between the endorphins and the receptors in certain brain cells. There is a conversation happening here between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. My own personal ‘critical splanchnology’ (Wilson 2015, 43).

What does it mean, to increase? Or shall we rephrase: what does a multifarious increase enact? A crescendo is an increase in decibels. An acceleration is an increase in tempo. An ascent is an increase in height. The UP and DOWN cognitive metaphor plays itself across these variant symphonies. It is neurally embedded in us (Lakoff and Johnson 1980). An upswing. A downward spiral. To be suffocated by depression is to be weighed DOWN. Higher UP is closer to Heaven. As we ascend we cast off whatever is holding us DOWN as our bodyminds LIFT. As we climb UP the stairs we are no longer feeling DOWN.

We start to feel our progress is metaphorical. It is all uphill from here.


My calves are burning. My mood is scratchy. I feel a sense of annoyance; at myself, for getting tired so quickly; at the steps, for their precise steepness and inflexibility; at the nature of this transdisciplinary project, which requires so many more levels of engagement than sitting at a desk reading some books, gathering thoughts and words and herding them up like dutiful sheep. This scratching at the corners of consciousness is the unpleasure. I know this feeling and I am addicted to it. I increase my speed.

At the top there will be an orgiastic flood. We are not there yet. The endorphins reach the opioid receptors of the limbic system. I can see the edges of London. What was it I wanted to say? My serotonin levels have been depleted for two years due to an injury that has prevented me from doing this and now I can do it. I need to say: nothing. This act in itself is a shout of defiance.

When this happens you have reached a point where the pleasure entirely overrides the unpleasure. This is the sweet spot.

Score by Vicky Hunter response by Jessica Foley

'Two forces rule the universe: light and gravity.'


Simone Weil, ‘Gravity and Grace’

(Weil 1947, 1999)


I – The Gravity Score

Find a lawned or grassy area

Take off your shoes and feel the grass beneath your feet.

Take time to arrive


Feel the ground beneath your feet

Through your feet, feel their rootedness to the ground below

Close your eyes

Feel the weight of the body in the feet and imagine / turn your attention to a sense of the weight and gravity of the earth below

Gradually, play with sending your weight forwards, backwards and side to side through your feet

Play with being off balance

Explore, fall and recover

Allow your exploration to develop, falling off balance and recovering

Allow the exploration to take you off the spot

Play with the earth's gravitational pull experienced through the body

Allow yourself to fall and recover and play with the sensation of falling

As the practice develops allow yourself to open your eyes but remain focused on the practice

Fall through different parts of the body- how might the head, arms, legs, rib cage lead the fall, how might the rest of the body follow these moments of gravitational pull

Play with the ebb and flow of falling and recovery, where might it take you?

Allow yourself to play and explore this practice


Find your own way to end

I received my score on the 7th June 2017 from Vicky Hunter. We had shared conversation about the transdisciplinary affordances of choreography, both as a practice and methodological metaphor and discussed the exchange of scores across different practices as an experiment in communication and research-creation.. New Materialist Scholars draw upon physics and dance for metaphors and analogies to think about and analyse how knowledges are situated and produced (Barad 2014, Hickey-Moody, Palmer, Sayers 2016). As a creative writer and collaborator, I have aligned myself with choreographic practices as a way to inform and understand how I produce research questions and experiments in the context of engineering research (Foley 2016).


I was excited to receive a score from Vicky, because of her deep engagement and practice within the field of dance, choreography and collaboration. I was keen to learn what the score would make happen in me and whether it would support further research-creation in the context of my daily work as writer-in-residence at a telecommunications research centre.



The Gravity Score instructed me to find a grassy area in which to play with body weight, working with and against the force of gravity. The score invited me to become aware of the forces at work upon my body, gravity, the ground below, the air, the interior workings of my own embodied cognition. I was invited to play with balance and explore the possibilities of falling down.

It is a venture into areas that can no longer only be comprehended in terms of controllable and operationalized knowledge – the field of the unforeseeable, the unknowable, the uncontrollable as a challenge for a different experience and a different political commitment. This is where the publicity, the visibilities of such scenographies of knowledge is perhaps most demanding and most significant – on the boundary of knowledge, a different knowledge about non-knowledge.


(2007: 47)

In this sense this parasitic practice shares similarities with Haraway’s consideration of earthworm endeavors (2016:125)–invoking a process of turning over the earth, re-visiting and removing, re-working a pathway that is both same and different. This particular parasitic endeavor outlined in this discussion has unearthed a new way in or process for Staying with the Trouble (Haraway 2016) within my own site-based movement practice involving negotiating with and addressing the material components of the event. Articulating the complexities of this particular disjointed intra-action and the relations between conversational components both divergent and convergent at any one time leaves me to contemplate further the potential and possibilities offered when challenged to ‘stay with’ and (at times) grapple with the creative or experiential ‘trouble’ at hand enmeshed within this type of human-non human material entanglement.

From this perspective and drawing on the movement practice outlined in this discussion I am proposing an extended conception of Haraway’s situated knowledge to encompass a perspective of ‘un-situated’ knowledge or ‘un-situated’ knowing. Within this construct, knowledge production is conceived as processural, emerging as a form of knowledge-in-motion, or knowing-through-doing that arises in the interstitial exchanges between human-non human and human-world interactions. Emerging from this proposition, the potential for dance knowledge to disrupt and challenge conventional, linear modes of thinking, doing and knowing arises and the political implications of this proposition offer new challenges to dominant epistemological discourses and ‘scenographies of knowledge’ as Brandstetter observes;

A different kind of knowledge from what we generally accept as rational, technical or discursive knowledge. The scene for this different kind of knowledge is set in the moving body. The knowledge that becomes apparent and is transferred in dance and choreographies is dynamic; physical, sensuous and implicit knowledge. It is conveyed in a kinetic and kinaesthetic manner.

 (2007: 40)

The small scraps of paper became, through this process, word objects, material entities in themselves with clear shape, form and edges and with a sense of spatiality arising from their position on the stone floor, in relation to the other scraps of paper and in relation to my dancing, moving body as it worked through the word scores in real time.


Reflecting on this exercise and its impact upon my customary practice it became apparent that this form of instructional score worked to interrupt the flow of certain movement generation processes and, through doing so effectively expanded or opened up the scope of the conversation. Additionally, it challenged my customary method of locating and working in a pre-existing site delineated through its architecture or natural resources and physical location and engaged me with an ephemeral site-world constructed through the material and metaphysical ‘presence’ of the words themselves.This approach introduced a third element to my customary body-site explorations and challenged me to engage with a three-way intra-action between body, site and word-matter thereby diffracting or troubling further the potential for human-centric dominance over the conversation and its outcomes. I found this process exposed and presented to me the dynamics and various components of the intra actions in a tangible manner and challenged my movement habits in terms of flow, movement choice and directional preferences. As opposed to producing a (seemingly) organic or sequential pattern of events, this process produced a striated pathway pocked with doubling back, reiterations, hesitant gestures and dead ends. In terms of my habitual practice this was no longer a comfortable or familiar journey through the space of encounter but one in which I had to work hard to retain focus and respond to and with the many diverse material elements entangled within the intra action. This challenged my movement habits patterns and flow, requiring attention to the moment as it unfolded from within the encounter, producing a faltering, juddering dance at first which then became more comfortable as material relationships were negotiated and co constitutive outcomes emerged.


Tearing something up to fashion something new is not a novel concept or approach in contemporary dance making; renewing, deconstructing and reconstructing are key components in postmodern dance practice and site-based approaches. However, in my own work I might, more commonly, take a position of assimilation as a starting point – gathering information about a site and its material elements and atmospheric components for example – to then later deconstruct movement outcomes into non-sequential movement phrases and episodes from which audiences might piece together key components of the wider site-dance narrative or theme (see Hunter 2015). In this parasitic word-dance process however I found myself negotiating with fragments of a whole from the outset and assimilation as an end goal did not appear to be an important or significant outcome of the intra-action. Dwelling with the fragmented material became, over time, a welcome and novel experience that forced me to slow down and in Haraway’s terms to ‘stay with the trouble’ and aspire to be ‘be truly present’ (2016:1). In this state I became observant and tolerant of the process of struggle, re-tracing, and negotiating relational ‘problems’ with renewed insight and knowledge. The type of knowing that emerged therefore constituted a form of (un)situated knowledge of the situation, the temporal site and of the event that emerged and evolved with each movement iteration, revealing the situation as one of perpetual motion, change and evolution, unfixed and unstable. Through this state of unfixity my experience as a dancing, moving body inexorably brought me closer to the instability of the site-event and its material actants.


When considering the moving body’s role as the mode or apparatus of research employed within this type of inquiry and its associated epistemological implications, Haraway’s call for the valorising of less dominant modes such as; ‘situated and embodied knowledges’ (1988: 583) to be valorised proves useful. She accepts in her essay that this position poses a threat to notions of relativism and, in particular to; ‘totalizing versions of claims to scientific authority’ (ibid. 584) and alternatively proposes a more fluid model of engaging with the world.

Dance theorist Gabriele Brandstetter posits dance knowledge as a form of knowing-through-doing that emerges from and through the physicalized act of moving in spacetime that produces a distinct form of knowledge;


Track three engages me in an exploration of positionality and location, moving in relation to the paper installation and the wider, general space as I move around, beside and between the paper scraps and repeat and develop a simple stepping action in which I place one foot against the opposite foot, calf, knee again and again and again…

Score by Helen Palmer, response by Victoria Hunter:

Word Score


Cut /tear a piece of paper into thirty pieces,

Write one word on each piece – an assortment of word types.

Collect up all the words. In a space of your choice, distribute the words around the space devising a strategy: either random / chance based (throwing the words up in the air in one go) OR methodically (placing words in an order or shape arrangement as you choose)

Observe the words in the space.

Produce a series of word ‘constructions’, perhaps arranging them in different orders or arranging them in lists, poems, word diagrams or word dances…..



(Helen Palmer)

Track two invokes more energetic actions and dynamics as I run through space, and roam around the edges of the paper objects and their demarcated spatial zone.

I begin to move up and down the ‘tracks’, eyes scanning, body moving, responding to words, shapes and the resonance of previous actions and subsequent words / instructions yet to come.

Exploring track one, my body responds through movement as I fall into space, hide from my own actions and surprise myself through sudden pauses, shifts and changes in direction, interrupting the organic pathway of the previous action.

These ‘word tracks’ became scores for movement generation and exploration, functioning as ‘word dances’ in a sense enacted through abstract dance movement that, once performed removed or untethered the words from their literal meanings. The following narrative captures some of the performative experience recounted from a first-person perspective;

My score-based task or challenge drew on creative and experimental writing practice and challenged me to experiment with methods and approaches outside of my ‘home’ discipline of site-based dance and movement work. In conducting this experiment I was interested to explore how this way of working might inform the pace, timbre or general nature of the ‘conversation’ between body, material and site. The notion of a conversation in this context positions the emerging movement content as an articulation of the ‘conversation’ occurring between material body, material site and the unfolding body-site intra-action  (in Karen Barad’s terms) unfolding through a real-time, embodied ‘utterance’.

Exploring how this conversation between human and non-human elements might unfold led me to question; how might the particularities of my discipline engage with creative writing / written word strategies, how might written / language material content inform the materials of dance (such as time, space, weight, flow and motility) and how might the movement ‘conversation’ between body and site expand to encompass this further element / component / material? The following discussion outlines the practice in which the ‘site’ of performance was constructed through my physical interaction with the written paper / material installation and demarcated by the body’s physical journey through the surrounding space.

Track 1





















The accompanying images illustrate my approach to this task (see figures 1 and 2). Having written a series of words on the thirty pieces of paper distributed randomly on the floor I then proceeded to arrange them into a series of ‘word tracks’ (see the illustration below) that laid out a sequential plan from which my movement exploration could emerge as I began working my way ‘down’ each track working from top to bottom in a vertical line.

There are not many steps left. I want more. Enzymes in the opioid receptor break down these endorphins almost immediately once the exercise ceases, and the rush should very quickly ebb away back to an even keel. I know this and yet I feel this is read differently in my body than it should. The high works more like an opiate than it should. The rush from endorphins brought on by exercising the muscles suffuses the body so intensely sometimes the entire dermis raises itself involuntarily. The muscles at the base of each hair contract and the hairs stand on end.

Track 2






















II – Making the Score Work


I used my back garden at home, in my rented accommodation on the North Side of Dublin’s Inner city, as the place to enact the score. I waited for such a time when I was at home alone. This choice was made in part because I felt I might have been somewhat inhibited by the casual presence of family, but more so because I wanted to pay attention to the experience so that I could swiftly transition from movement into writing practice without a break in concentration. Therefore, I set up my laptop in proximity to the grassy space where I carried out an interpretation of the score. My intention was to alternate between enacting the score with the body in space and responding through writing.



The following section offers the raw text produced through the enactment of the Gravity Score.

A twinge in the left medial malleolus on the descent. A familiar echo of a well-known motif. This time last year the stairstepping would have looked very different. Long term injury and surgery creates different orchestrations. For the past two years, steps have been a challenge. More of a challenge than steps usually are. Not at any point did they become impossible, because ways can often be found. Alternative stair-climbing methodologies developed, in the engagement with mobility aids: the stick, the double crutch, the single crutch, the plastic moonboot. The double-hand-bannister-grab-one-leg-hop. The bum-on-step-upshuffle/downshuffle. The double-crutch wooden-hill challenge. The temporal shifts in crip theory have been well documented (Kafer 2013). These ascents are slow, deliberate, hyperconscious feats. They pronounce their own solid and declarative statements.

I am an addict. The stairs give me a small fix. I think longingly of treadmills, of wide open grassy spaces, of loping.

A space has been opened up in the body. It is not clear where the space is, but it is there.

Keep stepping. There is a sensation of transcendence; of leaving the body. The endorphins keep on going, reacting, undaunted, unbroken. The highs get higher. There is music playing even when there is no music. The eyes screw themselves shut of their own accord. There is passion here, and ecstasy, and surrender. There is something being chased which has nothing to do with the gradient of spatial extension. Tidal waves of emotion tumbling out and over arid plains.

What was it you wanted to say when you said nothing?

Perhaps it is less a question of what you wanted to say but what has been said without uttering a word.

Track 3






















III – Enacting the Score


11:05 to 11:12am Sunday 31st July 2017


It is a hot day in Dublin. I take off my rings and watch in the kitchen, leaving them on the counter. I slip off my sandals. The back door is already open, tied with an old shoe-lace to the outdoor tap fixed to the exterior pebble-dashed wall of the cottage. I step from the rough brown hair of the doormat to the dusty outdoor mat and onto the warming concrete path. One more step and I am on the grass. It was cut the evening before and loose clumps of damp pulp are quick to slot between my toes as my weight shifts into the garden. My weight shifts into the garden. The air is a mix of cool and hot. The sun is strong and bright. I feel my skin readying to defend and burn. There is birdsong. The traffic on the main road offers its slow rhythm against the chirping and chattering of the finches and blackbirds. I move onto the grass, feeling my weight shift through my body, and the ground push back at me with a steady gaze. It looks up through me, this garden. The grasses explore the gaps between my toes.


I slump forwards, a little too swiftly, over my hips. I feel pain. My left calf muscle is sore in a way that suggests some tear or damage. The collateral of this is that my left hip and pelvis feel painful and tight, as if bolted by some metal  strap. I cannot move in the way gravity intends me too. My body resists the fall in a way I am not happy with. I place the palms of my hands into the dense grasses and dandelions. My blue nail varnish looks electric against the matted greens. The smell is warm and heavy, the sweet musky smell of fermentation. In the fields around Dublin perhaps there are farmers in their machines cutting grasses now. Perhaps they smell this smell. Readying the fermentation of grasses for some winter.


My body feels stiff but glad of the space of the garden. My first fall brings me to my knees, and I keel sideways, splaying my arms out wide, making a cross shape with my knees up, like a tiny mountain. I only feel the impact after. The impression of contact with the ground ripples gently through my bones, and flesh and skin, in a small tennis ball shaped zone around my knees. How hard. How heavy. How much me, body, and how much gravity? A body on body. The garden seeing through me. I try again, folding myself upwards onto me knees from a sideways push. Clumsy. Heavy. Holding it together. I stand again. I sway my weight from foot to foot. My eyes are closed, and through the lids I see a glory of gold and orange. I hear the air alive with songs of animal, bird, human, machine, plants. I feel the wind. I hear my own swallow. I feel the saliva move through my throat. I wonder where it goes and what happens then. How much does gravity have to do with peristalsis? And the persistence of the pumping blood, raging against any force other than its own.


The bells from the church next door break through the bright thoughts of my body, on the grass, and I submit again to another fall. This time I don’t remember the direction, but the land. The release of arms wide, the smell of grass, the sense of relief, the gladness of ground. I feel how she pushes into my back, that so-called small of my back where the metal strap has taken grip. There is no metal. Only muscle and acid and bone. All the chemistry of a body in denial of itself. The lactic stuff that creeps into cavities and evades the busy intellect. Body senses that I ignore. Those ones that the world sees no purpose for. My hip is speaking for itself these days, and I am beginning to listen. My shins may have given up on me, as I approach my 35th birthday. The bells toll. I spend 7 minutes falling into the grasses and pulp of my back garden. The sun beats down, and gravity has its way with me. I begin to wonder. I begin to wonder...


As I type now I see my blue nails flash in the dark-light of the screen. I see my skin dappled with sunlight. I see my lips pursed and jaw flesh slackened.


Falling, I felt the ground gazing through me, knowing all my arches and tensions and non-contact zones.



Embracing my body’s own gravity score, I begin again.


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Rogoff, I. (2013 [2006]). ‘Smuggling’: An Embodied Criticality. Abstraction. M. Lind. London and Cambridge, Massachusettes, The MIT Press.

Serres, M. (1982) The Parasite, trans. Lawrence R. Schehr. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Skeggs, B. (2004). Class, Self, Culture. London: Routledge.    

Springaay, S. and S. E. Truman (2017). ‘On the Need for Methods Beyond Proceduralism: Speculative Middles, (In)Tensions, and Response-ability in Research.’ Qualitative Inquiry1(12).

Truman, S. E. (2016). 'Becoming more than it never (actually) was: Expressive writing as research-creation.' Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy13(2): 136-143.

van der Tuin, I. (2011). ‘'A Different Starting Point, a Different Metaphysics': Reading Bergson and Barad Diffractively.' Hypatia26(1).

Wilson, E. (2015) Gut Feminism. Durham and London: Duke.

Weil, S. (1947, 1999). Gravity and Grace. London and New York, Routledge.

Conclusion: A response to the Opening Provocation by Karolina Kucia:

When reading Serres’ Parasite translated into English, one may miss out on one of the secondary, one might almost say parasitic, definitions of the word parasite in French: this is what we call static, or an interruption in the transmission of a message. Serres defines the parasite variously as "an abusive guest, an unavoidable animal, a break in the message" (Serres 1982: 8). It is this ‘break’ that we have perhaps attempted to redefine in our cyclical provocations to create across disciplines. The powerful and lateral leap of a flea is required for an idea to travel from the host of one conceptual body to another. The provocations themselves are static, in the sense that they interrupted the normal transmission of our practices. The parasitic endeavours here have engendered shifts and tributaries in the linear channelling of ideas through practice: diffractive creativities. Barad, following a thought on the “enabling of responsiveness” continues [It is] “Not through the realization of some existing possibility, but through the iterative reworking of im/possibility, an on-going rupture." (Barad, 2010: 265). However minor this allowance of disruptive static in transmission was in this process, it enabled us to lurk into “playing with impurities” (Holmes, 2016, p 27), not as they emerge out of darkness, but as a process of fluidity, as if “monstrosity already interferes with the conceptual framings of quality, holding within it, the delights of threat, decomposition and erosion” (Holmes. 2016: 2). The rupture inevitably brings a bit of noise with it, an element of trespassing in an action of crossing.

Do you feel the warmth? The warmth comes as the remnants are falling into each other, dissolving, fragmenting, and breeding in time.

IV – Insights


The text above was produced through one enactment of the Gravity Score. This mode of creative free-writing, as Sarah E. Truman argues, is not 'a reporting of events but a creation' that involves 'mutual interpenetrating material processes of thinking-feeling-writing' (Truman 2016: 138). This initial and immediate text can be understood as a vital form of movement, emergent from instructions in the score and the context of its performance. Pre-writing happened through repeated acts of falling down, of losing balance, of succumbing to gravity and the limitations felt in my body. Conceptualised as a vital process, this mode of writing resonates with new materialist theories in that it is ‘not solely author centred but includes the author’s environment and a multitude of other factors that combine in the writing act’ (Truman 2016: 136, Gibson ).


Following the enactment of the score, which included a period of writing, a second text was produced in response to the first. The second text involved a deeper process of reflection through writing, as I worked to make sense of my embodied experience of falling. This text is more personal in nature, taking on the quality of a confession ritual. It jumps between different memories, offering a number of insights on problems and tensions present in my creative research practice. It is through this text that a sense of my purpose as a writer becomes more legible, what James McNab McCrimmon describes as 'the controlling decisions a writer makes when he determines what he wants to do and how he wants to do it' (McCrimmon 1973:8).


In the following paragraphs I offer a creative summary of the most useful insights produced through my engagement with the Gravity Score. Excerpts from the second text are in italics. I understand these as threads of research-creation, rather than an explanation or theory of the effects of the Gravity Score. In other words, the Gravity Score works as an analytic instrument that helps me to see that my purpose as a writer is bound up with a desire to understand and respond to how power operates in my life as a social and political being (McCrimmon 1973, Dreyfus and Rabinow 1982, 1983: 185):


The Gravity Score helped me to realise some things about myself. I realise that I tend to associate falling with failing, and that I link failing with negative moral judgement. The one who fails is a bad person. The score drew out of me an internalisation of a divisive hierarchy between body-sense and mind-sense. In my immediate notes after enacting the score I wrote the following: My mind is always getting in the way of easy-going pleasures. I ask myself do I deserve this, or, just as I am getting into the flow of, say, playing music; is this right, is this good? I realised, through the Gravity Score, that perhaps the only time where my flow is really operative, without this nagging, is in writing, which I feel is a very bodily practice.


The Gravity Score gave me a new perspective on my educational history. My body told back to me a story of how my education was fragmented, from an immersive, bodily, soulful, emotional, intellectual, pragmatic, crafty experience to that of a body moving through an academic system, under the scrutiny of examiners watching for correct answers. The Gravity Score reminded me of the attraction, emotion, joy and pleasure of opening up relationships with others, and the difficulty and distress when relationships, reciprocity, trust and solidarity break down. I was also alerted to a habit of mine: I never make claims for my own well-being. And I am reminded of the difficulty of communicating embodied, non-verbal distress.


Enacting the Gravity Score reminded me of my enjoyment of bodily communication and touch: I have always loved hugs. I loved dancing with other bodies. Feeling the weight of others pressing into me, working upon each other as grounds. I became aware that I naturally think with my body, yet I pretend not to.


Through the score, I was reminded that the body is an advanced instrument of argument: My body has great arguments, that are well in advance of my intellect. When my body argues with the world it can flare up as a great burning seething fire under my rib cage, and this burns all around my back and up into my ribs. It’s a scorcher…. What if pain is a form of argument? Pain is a form of argument. This line of thought makes me challenge myself: If I was as generous as I claim to be, I would listen and attend to this argument. Working it out with my body. Maybe resting. Maybe sleeping. Maybe moving gently. Maybe not sitting and typing as I am now.


The Gravity Score shows me that I seek solidarity, communicative openness, and non-possessive relationships. I think of my work, as writer-in-residence within a telecommunications research centre, and formulate an analysis of my purpose in this role: I wanted to enact the kinds of relationships, bodily and soulful relationships, that I feel are necessary for community and creative life. I wanted to model non-linear, distributed reciprocity in research through conversation and collaborative writing. This is a practice where ideas and values and learning can be shared and diffracted in solidarity, but not necessarily with agreement or consensus around content or meaning. I imagine this as an expansive, embodied and experimental science of communication. Modelling a way of learning other than an instituted hierarchical separation between soulful, bodily education and academic, acceptable education. The Gravity Score therefore worked to open up a line of critical thinking around instituted education systems and the values they prioritise and reproduce.



Importantly, the Gravity Score helped me to think through an instance of my habituated relationship with failure: The best example I can give is a project I enacted with an artist and architect to create a seating system for the community of researchers I work with. It was a simple enough idea. I wanted a seating system that would afford space for people to gather in a less formal and more conversational way. But my intellect (and the academic pressures of preparing a PhD Thesis) really clouded my artistic judgements… I lost the ability to move in this project. Everything became quite static and linear. And I became quite paralysed. And the result was a seating system that on paper was flexible, but in reality was quite the monolith! I’ve been so upset by this result for such a long time now. Such a long time. But, it really just boils down to a case of neglect. I was not listening to my body. My body told me, again and again, to stop, pull back, to cease. In other words, to fall. To let gravity take its course. To let ‘failure’ happen. And then, to begin again.

Sit next to ‘me’.

Sit in ‘me’.

Sit on the relationship between ‘you’ and ‘me’.

V – Reflecting on Live Writing


Enacting the Gravity Score gave me insight on the purpose and value of my creative research practice of writing in the context of telecommunications engineering research. The score made space for me to gain access to personal internal biases in relation to failure, and helped me to let go negative moral self-judgement.


Despite my training in critical thinking as a designer and scholar, I came to realise that I have continued to carry an internalised hierarchical separation between mind-sense and body-sense. This raises questions of how body-memory plays a part in the reproduction and perpetuation of epistemic injustice (Fricker 2007). The Gravity Score offered my body a way to externalise this bias and render it less dominant.



Additionally, it was deeply gratifying to make a meaningful link between writing and body movement, and to acknowledge writing as a bodily practice of cognition and emotion in and of itself. The immediacy and spontaneity of writing as part of the Gravity Score, in correspondence with the movements of the body and the environmental affordances of the garden as a stage, proved to be a powerful way to access embodied biases and doubts and to open them up to processes of situated knowledge making (Haraway 1988).

The score has coupled with my life, sneaked in without asking and without being asked, yet producing just one tentacle of a shared body of response, a partial, minor form, that would only maybe make sense in convergence. This partial and multiplied body and intimacy have created a somewhat surprising outcome, instead of the hybrid connection amongst the co-authors, the process became more of a multidirectional monstrous process of inhabitation and embodiment. The parasitic endeavours became a monstrous formation of trespassing, placed in a moment of life, with other unwritten consequences, without the rest of ‘us.’ These parasitic actions, a static noise between agents is forming into an autonomous body. It is not a hybrid, not merely connective junction of common points. It is the inhabitation of a score, a necessity to embody, to ‘mate’ with a request in a form of a letter from a friend, creates a limb that operates in my, now your, life, yet, does not belong to either. It gets rather closer to a form of monstrosity, an actionable body that moves on its own.

If the parasite model is a conflicting one, the monster, on the other hand, can embody all kinds of conflicting interests. Parasitism is a structure of transforming common to private, through introducing a bodily gesture - a saliva, a sweat, a smell of one’s own. This necessary profanity paradoxically opens a private, corporeal reality that can then either turn towards the realm of the certain idea of ‘public’, by the gesture of purification, introducing a system of values. Or towards monstrosity, which dwells rather in the double realm of partial and combined bodies, science fiction or speculative future. The monstrous can still live, animate and mutate pre-given representation, remaining unable to represent itself. Perhaps this could be a beginning of what Maggie MacLure calls it a “clinical practice” when it does not only approaches the innovative angle (a monster) but tries to see what the monster could become within the given institutional framework. The practice that “demands both care and recklessness,” “dogged and respectful attention to the ‘object’ of analysis; and on the other a loss of ontological security as a result of refusing to allow oneself to be carried to a place of safety by dogmatic thinking or the comfort of methodology.” (MacLure 2015:18). The question is: can one allow oneself to really commit to both a monstrous process and the constraints of the requirements of research, without considering those requirements as already monstrous? Perhaps enabling them to first mutate, would allow us not to normalise the object of research.

Thank you. 'You' can stop reading loud now.

While you were reading, what has happened? Did ‘we’ happen?

Can I ask ‘you’ to be a little bit excessive in that reading? Please, Can I ask you to use your voice, and read it aloud, regardless where “you” are and any awkwardness it can cause?


The one, the sound of your voice, will, therefore, be at the end of that Serresian cascade of dependencies. It will be that voice, which will allow ‘us’ a connection by displacement and dissonance, a weird awkward, unwanted inhabitation.

The parasite is never a single actor. It is a set of at least three. It is a swarm of actors in an always dependent system. A chase. It is a systemic network of utility, where the one who occupies the relationship of last is that one that wins. There is no other option.

‘’I' received the score. It accompanied ‘me’ in coldness for three following days and this text is an outcome of that encounter. It is a text to be read. It is a text to be read by ‘you’.

"Who are 'we'? That is an inherently open question, one always ready for contingent, friction-generating articulations. It is a remonstrative question" (Haraway 2004: 106). The actor disintegrates in the act. Inhabits partial relationships. There is a beast in the room: a collective, we live in. A minor being able to inhabit the productive relation of the major beings. It is a being that lives and eats on their sides. What Haraway means by sympoiesis, the "making with", "worlding-with, in company"? (Haraway 2016: 68) What is that making and unmaking and being? The enactment of monstrous relationship in form, which enables and allows response-ability: attention to affect, entanglement and rupture; an affective ecology (Haraway 2016: 111).



        I received the score from Jessica in June 2017. It accompanied me in coldness through the three following days in September the same year. I knew there are Helen, Vicky and Jessica doing their scores and writing. I did not know their scores, nor have I seen their writings when approaching that received gift. This text is an outcome of that encounter. It took time. It is February 2018 now and it is not yet completely ready. It shall be finished soon, to be published, to be read by you, now. Where are you? When are you? An odd cooperation, isn’t it? Intimate yet distant. A junction of provocations and responses, awaited, agreed, unwanted at times, yet voluntarily joining the process of searching for an ability to respond. Karen Barad writes: "Responsibility is not an obligation that the subject chooses but rather an incarnate relation that precedes the intentionality of consciousness. Responsibility is not a calculation to be performed. It is a relation always already integral to the world’s ongoing intra-active becoming and not-becoming. It is an iterative (re)opening up to, an enabling of responsiveness." (Barad, 2010: 265).

Performing Jessica’s score became a making, un-making, performing and unlearning to perform. Finding an ability to respond and to be responded to as a shared process, a technology almost: a devised process of collective writing and composition based on the exchange of scores. This medium, coming from the Fluxus tradition of sharing instructions for performing, was perhaps familiar enough in each of our practices to see it as a simple organisational strategy or a format of work, without further deliberations. However, in the combined set of trespassing from one form of writing to another, through corporeal practice and the plurality of correlation, the seemingly simple method became not as it would seem: a functional way to organise work on the text, but a negotiation. This score based method of mediating carries in its form an ability to differentiate and repeat, invent and quote, distribute and situate at the same time. It is from the start, the form at work. “Intra-actions are constraining but not determining. That is, intra-activity is neither a matter of strict determinism nor unconstrained freedom. The future is radically open at every turn.”(Barad 2003: 826). The distant but intimate meeting of enactment of a score, private inhabitation of others’ words, making it my own, by mediating the instruction with the body and the given condition, at work in my very own 15m2 studio, at home in the kitchen, in the bedroom. These very isolated moments are as private and unconstrained in the experience and as intentional and disciplined in what preceded and followed them, the process of production of this text. In addition to the very personal experience somewhere, next to it, there is a constant sense of a different situation(s) assembled to that ‘I’ am in. There was Jessica writing her score on a summer day in Dublin and others, in other places, and then you. Perhaps it was that sense of difference that led me to repeat the enactment. Was the sense of difference accompanied by the feeling of inadequacy or just following the permission for multiple existences given within the form of a score, or was it just a curiosity, or a longing in solitude? I believe there was also a form of blindness, of not being aware that there will be another, textual body for inhabitation of all those and another encounter and insistence that something must happen right now. An anxiety.

Try 1 (partial, in passing)

        I move my hands to the pockets of my trousers, with not much thinking. My hands feel stiff and insensitive. I start to feel a fabric under my palms and through it the warmth on my tights. I would not think there is so much warmth there. I feel micro pulsation, or imagine feeling so. My palms feel the movements of the legs, impatient, somewhat in intention to walk, but I stop now. I stay like that for a while, standing, breathing. I can feel my feet pressing towards the ground and I get conscious of elbows, back, ass, and legs. Suddenly I feel in my body, the slow inhabiting of something that was rather unseen. The ‘I’ that feels cold, the reason which knows the solution for it, a thought that resist the reason, the sensation which dwells into the situation, the resistance of doing so, the hands that are cold and do not warm up and the tights that are warm. Who is unsatisfied? Running thoughts, forming patterns.


Then, watching the place around me, unseen as well just while ago.

Try 3

I see a body lying next to mine. I move towards it. That body was asleep. Now waking up because of this interruption. The warmth is radiating, I could feel it before touching it. It is still immobile. The sensation, which was there but not here, is unspeakable.

Try 2 (alone in the room)


I am cold. I can spot a blanket. I know that could be warm, but I choose to follow the instruction in another way. It says. Move to a place where there is some warmth. I look around trying to spot a source of warmth. The source of warmth that a tick would locate? Where is the warmth for me? How can I spot it? I move towards the walls, I find one spot that must have been warmed up by the sun. It is slightly warmer. I glue myself to it by curling up, touch it with my side. It is only slightly warmer. I try to increase the surface, pressing harder, trying to flatten myself, increase the surface. All those operations are indeed warming me up a little or at least distracting me from the sense of cold. I touch the wall with my face, my cheek. The warmth feels more present. Pleasant, but unsatisfying. Trying to spot other sources of warmth in the room. A phone. Warm in my hands for about 20 seconds, until they cannot feel the difference anymore, computer, sticking my hands under it. Slightly… but no. I give up. It is cold. I choose to disregard it. Just do something else, but then return to the score and just feel it. Tight neck, hand wonder towards the armpit or between tights, I look through the window observing a bright but stingy light. It feels distant, quiet, and anxious on the surface and inside the skin, irritated with coldness, tight, cramped. A thought is irritated too.

Score by Jessica Foley, response by Karolina Kucia


When it is too cold for your body,

move to a place where there is some warmth.


What does your skin feel/smell like when cold?

How do you feel in your skin?

What does your skin feel/smell like as the warmth begins to work?

How do you feel in your skin?

(Jessica Foley)

VI – Reflecting on Gravity Score and New Materialist Methods


This experiment involved enacting a score devised by a practitioner from the field of Dance and bringing it to bear as part of my own writerly practice. It was an illuminating exercise, demonstrating the power of different disciplinary techniques to activate thinking and embodied knowledges in a transversal way (Genosko 2014). Enacting the Gravity Score served mainly to open up questions, to activate embodied concerns in relation to power and knowledge, and to nudge biases out into the open for critical consideration and creative purgation.


Already I am imagining how I can bring this score to bear within my own transdisciplinary context, in order to open up conversation and thinking around failure and instituted dichotomies between fields and practices of knowledge making. As an instrument of research-creation, the Gravity Score has activated and helped to clarify my purpose as a writer working alongside and with researchers from an array of scientific, artistic and technological disciplines. As Springaay and Truman have argued, the use of scores ‘needs to be understood as speculative eventing’ that enables researchers and participants alike to ‘become attuned to ethicopolitical matters and concerns’ (Springaay and Truman 2017:2).


In this way, the sharing of scores can be understood as intersecting with new materialist philosophies as a mode of diffractive pedagogy (Hickey-Moody, Palmer, Sayers 2016) This approach is particularly important in helping researchers to re-imagine and re-engage with values and priorities of educational and creative practices in emergent and unstable transdisciplinary contexts. As Karen Barad has shown, diffractive approaches to thinking and learning, such as through the exchange of scores, can operate as an analytic tool to help generate ‘dynamic, non-linear method(s) of reading and writing in which stable epistemological categories are challenged, temporalities are disrupted and disciplines are complexified’ (Hickey-Moody, Palmer, Sayers 2016: 217).



I found that the Gravity Score worked as a ‘tool of creativity’ and research-creation which forced me to articulate and question ‘multiple forms of repression and dominance’ latent in my creative practice (Barad 2014: 169, Truman 2016). The score operated as a powerful instrument self-awareness, critical thinking and catharsis. It highlighted an area of vulnerability in my practice as a creative researcher. The Gravity Score forced me to engage with a ‘twilight’ process of embodied criticality (CTLcasts 2011, Rogoff 2013 [2006]) Minh-ha describes twilight, entre chien et loup, as a time when identity becomes transformed, and I think this sense of time articulates the diffractive power of sharing and enacting scores as 'a way of leading you to an elsewhere' (CTLcasts 2011). In this elsewhere of movement and free-writing, the body conjures ways, as Audre Lorde has said, to ‘name the nameless so that it can be thought’ (Lorde 1993: 37).