The Figure of Vibrating Affinity is one of several ‘figures’ identified and named during a sustained period of collaborative live exploration (involving various studio-based improvisatory and performative practices) within the frame of the artistic research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line (2014 - 2017). This ‘figure’ is recognized as the experienced intensity of ‘vibrating’ attunement with another within the shared field of collaborative exploration, the sensitivities and sensibilities of being-with.


Drawing on the shared experience and examples from the process of collaborative artistic research, Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer and Mariella Greil engaged in the practice of conversation-as-material to ‘flesh out’ a language for describing the Figure of Vibrating Affinity. This involved a process of corroborative dialogue, where conversation was oriented to collectively arriving at a vocabulary for expressing both the what-ness and how-ness of this specific figure, its particular essence and ‘mode of being’.


The recorded conversation was transcribed (See extract from partially edited transcript below). Selected fragments of the original transcript material (bold in the text below) were then rewritten / reworked into a dense poetic description for the figure (See right). The inclusion of the transcript below attempts to 'show' the relation of the original conversation and the resulting vocative text, alongside indicating something of the 'attitude' practised within the conversational practice itself. As such, the invitation to the reader is to glimpse or scan rather than necessarily read the transcript material in its entirety.



Extracts of transcript (partially edited)

[…] Attunement … tuning into the other’s intensity. So attunement is this quality, like being at one? […] A kind of mirroring principle or a quality of intimacy. Shared intimacy in a way, so shared vibration … (not) shared vibration as publicly shared as a mass vibration […] much more to do with an intimacy of encounter. (B)etween two, a one to one encounter with a quality of intimacy. (A) quality of self-enclosure even within a space where the two persons are spatially distant, there is still a quality of intimacy or absorption in what they are doing. (A)n attention that creates a strong bond between two actions … It is a form of communication, of exchange … of having antennaes so you can tune in to the frequency of the other. (M)agnetism … there is a pull …. you lock into a particular kind of dynamic with someone. (T)here is a quality of magnetism with someone. (Not) necessarily attraction, but something that holds you or keeps you together  there is a togetherness. It is not like I am paying attention and then my attention is drifting. It is a held or sustained quality of attention. It does not feel as if it has a fleeting quality although it might pass. It has to do with a connection that is held and sustained in a particular kind of way. (A)ttunement more on the affective level rather than in terms of doing the same thing. The rhythms of the doing are in tune with each other, are shared […] (N)ot just a shared movement that but a shared vibration. So I am curious whether the specificity of the figure is that there is a vibratory quality in the movement, or whether it just describes the nature of attunement as vibratory. This sense of oscillation, quivering, trembling, tremoring […] Vibration  a sense of an emotional feeling that one has with another person or place, and also a vibrational motion, oscillation or quiver …. You have to be able to listen to this shared vibration, to become aware that there is something there or sent which excites you - otherwise you would not share it, no? Is the shared vibration also able to do with materials? […] Can the shared vibration also happen with material? Or is the empathetic with materials the figure of ‘becoming material’? Because you could have a shared vibration with material but it would be more like a collapse of the object/subject. It feels as if materials are involved in the figure of shared vibration but they almost are the conduit or the means through which you make a reach to somebody. So it is often through the materiality of something that a vibration is struck between two subjects […] (A) dynamic of following and leading. So one person doing something and the other following and that is an almost conversational, dialogic model – there is the idea of the synchronicity. This shift from follower and leader to then producing the shared vibration and the way that the materiality mediates that relation […] So by the end of it is almost like becoming one  the collapse between two and one is something, or between subject to subject to intersubjective. (T)his inbetween of subjects  the vibration seems to exist in the sphere of the inter- somehow, or makes tangible the sense of the space between, the connectivity between […] (A) dynamic of inclusion and exclusion, where if we were thinking in terms of the particles as we were before … when two particles connect, there is this strong connection between two, but then also a weaker connection with others. In becoming connected, there is also a lessening of a bond with the other things happening. There is a honing in, or a tuning in. Could the shared vibration encompass more than two? As in different fluctuating couplings … yet, the distinctiveness of the shared vibration is that it doesn’t  it has a strong connection, it is different to fluctuating coupling. Fluctuating coupling is not just shared vibration, but involving more than one person. It has a totally different dynamic. (I)n fluctuating coupling the dynamic is that the strong connection between two is always being interrupted and pulled in other ways, whereas the magnetism of the shared vibration is that it remains maintained or sustained in a sense […] The property of the shared vibration is that it can happen within a field of other energies but there is a intensive intimacy connecting between two subjects, or an intersubjective intensity created within a field of other energies. Would it also be interesting to think how does this differ from the figure of consonance and dissonance? Intimacy also comes from this tuning in, this zooming in to the thing, the meeting point. If I think of examples of it, the figure is taking place within a field of other activities but there is this heightened sense of a meeting point but within an expanded field […] This sense of micro-meeting. So shared togetherness, the togetherness of sharing something […] this attuning is also something that happens between two cells. They meet and they share. So this is a very basic principle of life organization where two things come together […] And then it could also be that you are not finding the vibration. And I think it is intimacy, it is communication … it is all these kinds of forms of two things coming together but they have to be animated. (T)hey have to be alive. Whereas the other figures are also talking about other non-animated, and also non-human forms … the empathetic figures, all of them are different grades or graduations of basic principles of how living matter is organised? […] Maybe there is something about shared vibration as the most micro. The nucleus. It establishes the vibration as a living principle. We could also say shared vitality in a way, where vibration is a manifestation of a certain vitality. There is also this mutuality that you are bringing into play … like a super basic form of intelligence, a basic form of perception […] What is the basic of life that you can recognize as something and react to that, to have the ability to do so … With shared vibration, if you are vibrating at a different frequency to the other it can be antagonistic. Interference is something else. So maybe there is something to do with wave-lengths, tuning into someone’s wavelength in a way. Or their frequency. It is the elementary school of life forms […] This is also where every organism, every living organism started  attunement […] It has a relational quality, it is creating meeting points. Attunement. Dependency also. Or interdependency. Interdependency, yes. I think that inter- is the word for this […] Spontaneous affinity. Affinity … it is an arising, of shared vibration — it often emerges in a surprising way. It wasn’t so easy to seek it out. If you are seeking a shared vibration ... you are too eager to find a connection and it becomes a bit contrived. This sense of something arising in an unexpected fashion ... it also happens when you fall in love when there is suddenly something matching. But in relation to affinity, this might be seen to be connected to similarity. And it may be that although the thing is similar, it is possible that there is a shared vibration … where you are tuning in but with a different thing. Doing a different thing but the vibration is still the same. A compatibility … affinity  an attraction of force between particles that causes them to combine. The attraction between an antigen and an antibody. So with this idea of the spontaneous  there is the liveliness to it. This is really central, in terms of living matter, the liveliness or even the pulse of the thing. Pulse and impulse. There is something inherently living about that. Impulse  a sudden involuntary inclination towards action. Or in physiology, a progressive wave of excitation over nerve or muscle fiber […] Empathetic precision. So it was to do with tuning into the micro level within the shared vibration. Not just mirroring or copying but rather an affective attunement or empathetic attunement with precision. Spontaneous  at one’s own free will. Willing of one’s own free will, of one’s own accord. A sense of arising, arising, surprising. Tracing affinitus back to the Latin word affinis  the border, or the boundary. I am understanding it as something that goes beyond the border … Maybe this is also where inter comes in, in the sense of it being this space between, or connection between. Inter- the prefix, mutually, reciprocally, together. Interest, inter-est, shared inter-est. Between. I think of this strength of connection, a connective tissue in a way, the thing that is holding. Also captivation, to be captured or held by something. Like a spell in a way. There are also these two forces  adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion. Cohesion. Would the opposite be repulsion? Adhesion. Captivate is to attract or hold the interest of. Cohesion state or act of cohering, uniting, sticking together. A process of momentary unity. I think that inter- and co- are important. Co-emergence also because we need to both acknowledge the moment so that it can emerge. Jointly, mutually. And again, this notion of the ‘in common’. Co- coming from the prefix com- meaning with, or together or in association. Occurring in lone words including commit and commitment. Collaboration. Mingling. Coalescence. It would also be interesting to think about the difference between co- and con- in this. And the con- of the figure of consonance and dissonance. Whether the consonance is more fleeting in that figure. This describes the most intense, small and intense intimate connection. And then they become more complex, but also maybe more dissipated or fleeting […] A psychic vibration […] What the medium tunes into … and also frequency, there would be a whole other level of vibrational frequency that are imperceptible to most … It gets more and more complex, and in complex you also have the co- and com-. So you have co-, com- and plex comes from plectere, to weave, to braid, to twine, to entwine. It is similar to plait. Interwoven … so it is to weave […] the pattern of togetherness, of interwoven-ness, intertwining. Interwoven-ness, forms of relationality. Twine and intertwine  you have the sense of weaving but also the capacity for something to knot or entangle.

Above: Textual-visual description of the ‘Figure of Vibrating Affinity’, in Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, pp.184 - 185.

Text: Distilled/reworked transcription by Emma Cocker, based on recorded conversation between Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil. 

Drawing: Nikolaus Gansterer

Design: Simona Koch


See ‘Figure of Vibrating Affinity’, in Choreo-graphic Figures: Scoring Aesthetic Encounters, Journal of Artistic Research, Issue 18, 2019 [link here] for an assemblage of audio-visual ‘documents’ showing some of the singular examples of this figure in action, the live(d) experiences that the practice of conversation-as-material attempts to reengage, distil and enliven through language.

Below: The video below is a screen recording of an exploration of the ‘Figure of Vibrating Affinity’ within the online exposition Choreo-graphic Figures: Scoring Aesthetic Encounters, in particular to show how the textual distillation generated through the process of conversation-as-material becomes presented as part of a wider assemblage of research documents. Click on the image below to play the video, and in the bottom right corner to enlarge the view.