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From left to right >>> you will encounter (1) Transciption: The original conversation transcript (partially edited); (2 - 4) Distillation: Documentation showing the process of marking/hightlighting followed by distillation/selection from original transcript to performance reading script; (5 - 6) Presentation: Documentation of performance lecture and further reconfiguration of the textual script.


For those readers with time and inclination, the conversation transcripts presented can be read at length, revealing something of the nature and tone of the conversation itself within the practice of conversation-as-material. However, inclusion of the transcripts is more an attempt to reveal the connection between transcript and textual distillation. In this sense, the invitation to the reader is to glimpse or scan rather than necessarily read the transcript material in its entirety.

 

Context: This first iteration of Re— provided the initial context where the practice of conversation-as-material was first conceived and tested. The recorded conversation became the basis for generating the content of a performance lecture where the focus was on ‘not knowing’, exploring how the new, the unexpected or unplanned for arises within the process of (art)writing. The performance lecture was commissioned as part of ‘In a word’, curated by the York-based curatorial agency Writing Encounters, to mark the launch of the publication RITE at PSL Gallery, Leeds, 26 March 2010. Published in 2009, RITE was the result of a nine-month collaboration with Critical Communities, a New Work Network and Open Dialogues project exploring the practice of critical writing on and as new work (interdisciplinary and live art). 

 

Re (Iteration 1) 

 

 

Not knowing … how can something … how can something new be provoked […] (T)his is the space which is generative … generating something. And I don’t quite know what that is, and I would hope … if I have a hope for it  …  it is that I hope that that something not known, or not previously known is somehow produced. I am interested in the idea of not knowing theoretically, but what if something came about which really genuinely addressed that idea, rather than simply regurgitating ideas about not knowing that I already know. If that makes sense? (S)o there is a kind of newness in not knowing, but is this a newness due to that fact that this is a new situation … Would it be new for you, that? […] (P)erformance is a way of not knowing because the work is always contingent. Ultimately it is a question of form for me and that is why I am drawn to performance, because it is … an open endeavor […]  It is … contingent and dependent upon interventions from other people, the audience. In terms of whether you can genuinely create something unexpected or new, the danger perhaps or the potential perhaps, is that you bring forty people into a room who have all got their own expectations. Rather than being able to open something out, it is contained by forty peoples’ expectations. Forty peoples’ responses … none of which are necessarily every truly improvised, but all already drawing on their own experiences, things they have done before. Maybe that is the collision between these many already known territories that creates a different experience? How you unlearn is a really open question. How you come to new things? To me it is external … how I pick up things? How I reuse words? It comes to me from the external world. Which isn’t to say that I am a blank, or that I don’t have agency, but that I think the new thing is not necessarily people’s knowledge but the bringing of something together in a collective moment. The hesitation and uncertainty and the moment of being really unsure. […] The moment of a struggle. Like if I said to someone, as a proposition “It is certainly taking the shape of words” … and just let that hang. And they knew they had to do something with that. It might not necessarily feel significant to them […] Would people respond? And if they did respond? How would I respond? Perhaps, I wouldn’t be able to … Well, there is that, and that is a response. An inability to respond. Would I be able to inhabit the not being able to respond … would it be flat, a nothing? How would that sound though … how do you feel about the ground? I am sorry I can’t answer that question. Or just Urrr. But I think that when you string those together, that for me is where you get a real structural pattern between proposition and response […] Then you could build up some sort of pattern of not knowing […] (W)hat you are referring to is a certain kind of struggle or hesitation or endeavor or unknowingness. I think it is really important to stress that there is no right answer. These are not questions, and I suppose that this is the difference. They are not questions but conditions […] Conditions might relate to a set of conditions, but it also refers to the action of conditioning. It conditions. This could prompt a list of conditions or of what conditions […] The nature of the invitation is to invite a set of thoughts to occur … as a response, as a re-sponse. Maybe we could take some now […] It is all here, all at the top of your head … This is a really interesting place, in terms of improvization, because it’s shallow. It’s light, but there is often something in that. I suppose my reluctance, I guess, is that what this would do for me … what I want it to do, what I want it to provoke is something new or a different way of thinking about something, and I am conscious that my immediate response might be to try to recall, to re-call the context. Those thoughts I have had before. I know what those words might be […] (T)his is the thing about collaboration, or about having a totally new encounter with an audience member … There is room for the boring response as well, the response that doesn’t work […] As a live encounter or coming to the invitation that would be used in a different way. (I)t is in the moment of interaction, of interacting with someone [...] the relationship of producing the new or creating a rupture. (T)he live interaction and the promise of improvization is one of rupture of how you thought about things before. I guess, though, I wonder whether this only presents the rupture and not the new. Someone asks you something or presents you with something incomprehensible, or that you can’t get your head around. Is this interesting to present? (D)oes the new train of thought require space and time and a different kind of attention? […] (T)he encounter of an impasse, or a rupture, or ‘I don’t know’. Perhaps there would be no sense of something new, I would not be able to generate something […] I think it is less about thinking the new, rather than just opening yourself up to the event. Opening yourself up to the possibility of something just being interesting […] Less whether it is new, because the newness will come out of doing it … Doing is a mode I find myself in. (I)t has taken time to cultivate a sense of not trying to criticalize everything in advance of it being made […] for new things to come into being. The thing you said about not knowing, the thing of trying to genuinely apprehend an idea without falling back on things that have already been said or known … There is already a rhetoric of not knowing. It would feel interesting to do something that is not simply rehearsing the rhetoric. The rhetoric of not knowing. You mean that this is somehow dealing with the rhetoric of not knowing already […] There is already an emergent, even established set of theoretical ideas, around or about the idea of not knowing. To find a way of doing without simply rehearsing an existing rhetoric. Would it be useful for you to articulate what that rhetoric is? Not knowing in writing is a particularly interesting phenomenon, but I wonder where your research has taken you and what are the parameters so we know that we are not falling into them. There are writers and thinkers exploring the idea of non-knowledge […] I come into these ideas through a sense of the endeavor experienced within a practice, and my own struggle [...] Researchers interested in knowledge and various epistemological structures might often also be interested in non-knowledge or not knowing. It is the dark side of the encyclopedia, of knowledge … Who is exploring non-knowledge? It could be philosophers […] I think about hesitation and the way of exploring that sense of hesitation … something about focusing on that moment that relates to those narratives but does not come from that place […] Are you just being seen to not to know, or being unknowing, or are you actually … perform(ing) the spectacle of not knowing? Is it a pantomime version of hesitancy … becoming farce-like. In the same sense that in performing failure, does it become a farce? If you aim to fail, then fail, it is not failure that is being performed but success, for you have succeeded in your intent to fail. I wonder if the same can be seen with hesitation, if your intent is to hesitate you are not hesitating in your intent. It is intentional hesitation … Hesitation is unexpected to some extent […] Hesitation … the difference between stopping and pausing … hesitation is a mode of pausing […] Moving into something … I am creating obstacles? … Maybe I have got reservations about the privileging of the spontaneous … which goes back to your thoughts about improvization. My reservation or question I guess is whether the spontaneous or improvized action produces anything more unfamiliar than other modes of working? I feel very fond of thinking from the front part of the brain … I feel like that this is useful experience to go through. So, what do you mean, simply trying to articulate what comes into your head at a particular moment? It is not an over-thinking of what might be, but is just a gesture of putting something out there. It is not analyzing what is good or bad in that moment but just putting it out there to be seen, and to be experienced. […] The point, to point at something … it is a non-verbal gesture and it is just a finger … there is something going on. I am open … I like the idea of not having it tied down. Not privileging the spontaneous … It is just that there is so much that we don’t do  or rather there is so much that we do that isn’t spontaneous and maybe there is something to be said about working in that way here […] It is a proposition and a proposition about a writing practice. It could be taken as a proposition on writing practice in general … a live struggle, or a present struggle, or the moment of trying to find the words. What this does, or what it attempts to do in parts is to address the live struggle, the live struggle that is hidden […] Is there a sense that you are attempting … trying to find the words for the live struggle? I don’t think I am trying to find the words. I think that the words have been there in other things, but I think that the gesture is looking at something that is already there, rather than trying to produce something … Rather than trying to find the words from scratch, the words are already there, they have already been seen. The words when they were written were articulated from an attempt. They weren’t, they weren’t ever writing about writing. None of this was written about writing  […] Writing is always to do with the self … it is always about the writer  but I would hope for me it is not about the writer in an autobiographical or psychological sense. I don’t think that these are problematic things as such  but that is not what I am interested in. I think one of the things that performance writing does is  … I don’t have to hide the ‘I’. It is there … but the points in the text which seem as though they are talking about a very distinct position, a distinct subject position, aren’t even always referring to myself. They probably are referring to something else. The subject position is cast adrift […] A subject position that has been cast adrift … It is by association that certain meanings gather […] There is a proximity of things where they shouldn’t really go together but become hard to pull apart […] I don’t know whether this is important, what the importance of this is? I do not know where I am going with that […] Picking and transposing and retyping … If you altered any of the punctuation … Are they beginning of sentences, or from the middle, or did you have to re-capitalize. Did you give yourself permission to re-write some of them? It is a fresh text … If you are an artist it is perfectly acceptable for you to rework things, and the slightest modification has the capacity to make something into a new work […]  Reworking the same text … reworking in the same productive way that an artist would […] Which maybe comes back to the ideas of the re- and the re-enactment, and the repeat […] Or the idea of the experiment is interesting, if the text could be thought of as an experiment, you want it to be re-performed. […] It could bring in a different way of looking at what is already there. I think that is probably what I mean by new, I don’t mean new as in frontier knowledge, or that there is some fantastic discovery, just a different way of looking. That way of thinking about the permutational quality of writing … where you put the words and the order of the words and how this changes the meaning radically. As soon as you start editing sentences the possibilities escalate in terms of what it is capable of and how different meanings are produced […] The same line with only one word removed has the capacity to mean its opposite […] There is a definite play in here […] This is very pared down, it is not overtly theatrical. We are not performers. We will just manifest something in the space; we will wear our same clothes. We will talk in our same voices […] We are just trying this out. What is there to lose if it is an experiment? That is how I am thinking about it. An experiment to see what we might be able to do with the material … the idea of things falling out of control. Hesitation […] I am not saying you have to discount all those reservations … We will find our own way through it if we keep talking about it […] The sense of reservation about something … reservation can also be to do with something being at stake … We have to trust in that […] To try to build in spaces that are more speculative you have got to build in spaces that are more speculative […] (M)aybe the openness is something to be explored. But it is a difficult space to be in […] (T)hinking from the front of your brain has to happen as part of a writing practice, in the same way that dithering, hesitation, doubt, obstacles, endeavor are a part of practice […] There is a hierarchy of doubts […] but it is more how. Even the struggle, the struggle to find the right words. The thing of the endeavor, and the thing of the struggle and the thing of the struggle to find the right words […] Where is the gesture of writing … it is not so much to do with the struggle to find the words verbally, although I do struggle to find the words verbally, as the struggle to find the word on the page, and the way that a text fluctuates, and shimmers and disappears and comes back […] The way it changes its order … rather than the idea of being at a loss for words verbally perhaps. Not so much an absence as a practical working with words. Which is, which is a thing I experience with writing where there are the wrong words and the wrong words are there for a long time and then there are the right words, which click. Then it is as though you have not written them or that they are no longer in your voice … of course they are in your voice, but it is not like your words, it is this thing. Maybe this corresponds more closely to an art practice where you make something which exists autonomously of you […] The writing works when I can’t see myself in it anymore, almost […] I might do a gesture that corresponds. Then fold it over and then it might be blank … doing or pointing to a phrase without closing it down but in a very physical non-writing way. Maybe slower. These things existing as separate things. This could be a structure that we work within, within which improvization might happen. I have been thinking about the hesitation and the words being small. […] I like the idea of a diagram, an attempt to do something with that [...] It is almost like I am restaging your gestures [...]  It is collaboration, but one person is doing something very different to the other. There is a difference in role. Transitions. It is probably self-evident […] The struggle to keep up or anticipate what comes next … how else could it go […] There is a rhythm to this and it is definitely … a kind of syncopation. Maybe it is just a place to start […] The structure lends itself to doing something. They are almost paragraphs … changing them around is like writing to me. There could be something there […]  It is getting a bit dark  the light is going. It is getting dark. I am intrigued by this word  “? mark”. And the movement between and the struggle to read it. The close up of the finger on its own gives it a curious kind of agency. The index finger, indexical […] The thing about that is that the finger is not belonging to a person, a finger pointing, not your finger pointing. It seems as though the framing of that is key. What takes place within the frame? This is similar to writing really, what takes place within the page and what is left out […]  In other ways it is really open, it doesn’t really mean anything […] There is a difference, there is a difference, there is a sense of what you choose to focus on, there is also the way that it is re-framed […] Maybe there is something about keeping it small […] There is this point of friction between two quite different systems of working in a way. Not an unpicking, but a pointing, a pointing of the finger. Point of practice. Index, indexical. Some of those tensions, we both work very differently it seems. It seems to be important to retain a sense of there being an embodied writer. That the writer is a live thing, a physical thing. You are here, and I am here […] And the hesitation, the struggle, the endeavor, finding the right words. How to start and how to end … Knowing when to end … I am not sure how to begin and not knowing when to stop. That pattern of how you are doing something … Beginning and end gestures and repetition […] The idea of blanks and a finger coming in on that … Being conscious of your own hand […] A questioning of the pre-planned and the rehearsed  […] It is just really open […] The finger points and one of the things it points to perhaps is … just a space to test out a few different things … Two people’s practice coming together […] It doesn’t always have to have an evental quality. There is a still a dialogue. […] You don’t have to have correspondence … something that has been left unsaid … There is an unknown element. 

 

 

 

 

1. Transcription

Click images above to enlarge

2. Marking/ Highlighting

3. First Distillation 

In order to progress we have to just go with the idea. 


This is the original script, which we kept […] (;) there were strategic silences as well.

 

(T)his is (a) space which is generative […] and I don’t quite know what that is  (but)

 

If I have a hope for it  it is that [] something not known, or not previously known is somehow produced []. Ultimately it is a question of form [] (and of) an endeavor.

 

(T)o build in spaces that are more speculative you have to build in spaces that are more speculative.

 

The finger points and one of the things it points to perhaps is [] just a space to test out a few different things. 

 

(T)he writer is a live thing, a physical thing. (I)t seems to be important to retain a sense of there being an embodied writer.

 

[] You are here and I am here.

 

[] These are things that are taking place. Texts and numbers (and) [] live performance.

 

(And) what takes place within the frame (?) 

 

Conditions might relate to a set of conditions, but [] also refers to the action of conditioning []. This could prompt a list of conditions or of what conditions.

 

Does this invite a list of thoughts you have had before?

 

They are not questions. (T)he nature of the invitation is to invite a set of thoughts. 

 

There is room for the boring response [], the response that doesn’t work. (R)eservation can also be to do with something being at stake [].

 

(A)n inability to respond (and) [] being able to inhabit the not being able to respond.

 

[] (B)etween proposition and response [] some sort of pattern of not knowing.

 

(T)his is the way I see this [](;) we are not performers. We will just manifest something in the space.

 

Being conscious of your own hand []. (T)he finger is not belonging to a person – a finger pointing, not your finger pointing. 

 

It is almost like I am restaging your gestures [] I might do a gesture that corresponds then fold it over and then it might be blank.

 

(A)nd the words being small [] (T)here is something about keeping it small [].

 

(A) diagram – an attempt to do something with that. 


It is a proposition and a proposition about a writing practice []. (T)rying to find the words for the live struggle [] (;) (and) the struggle to find the right words []. (N)ot so much to do with the struggle to find the words verbally [] as [] to find the word on the page, and the way that a text fluctuates and shimmers and disappears and comes back.

 

There are the wrong words and the wrong words are there for a long time and then there are the right words.

 

I don’t think I am trying to find the words []. The words have been there in other things [] (;) the words (were) already there.

 

(T)hey are probably [] referring to something else []. It is by association that certain meanings gather.

 

(T)here is proximity [] where (things) shouldn’t really go together (but then) become hard to pull apart. 

 

You don’t need to know []. I don’t know whether this is important (or) what the importance of this is.

 

One person is doing something very different to the other [] (;) (w)orking away but not away from one another []. (T)his point of friction between two quite different systems of working [].


There is a difference []

 

It is probably self-evident.

 

Doing is a mode I find myself in [] Trying not to criticalize everything in advance of it being made.


The difference between stopping and pausing [].

 

(I)t is very latent [] (;) moving towards something.

 

I feel like it is a useful experience to go through []. (T)here is so much that we don’t do. 

 

Possibilities escalate in terms of what it is capable of and how different meanings are produced […] There is a definite play.

 

In other ways it is really open […] I’m not getting anywhere.

 

Maybe it is just a place to start […] The structure lends itself to doing something […] They are almost paragraphs […]; changing them around is like writing. There could be something there.

 

[…] It is more how. 

 

It is getting […] dark because the light is going. It is getting dark.

 

It doesn’t always have to have an evental quality […]. There is a still a dialogue (;) an unknown element. 

 

Taking the hands away and there being nothing there […]

 

 

This exposition shows the distillation of conversation transcript into a poetic, vocative text. However, within Re— the text itself has been presented visually, graphically, temporally, relationally, performatively, through performance lectures, moving-image installations, and various kind of scores.

 

SCROLL RIGHT to view documents and artifacts >>>


4. This PDF shows the layout for the textual ‘script’ used within the performance lecture. The script is a direct distillation from transcribed conversation.

 

5. Documentation of the performance lecture. The actual performance lecture comprised two parts: Part 1: Two distillations of a conversation were presented side by side. One mode of distillation involved a live reading of the textual distillation that was ‘condensed’ from the original conversation transcript (See 1 for the script). A second mode of distillation involved a visual-diagrammatic tabletop performance – a diagram drawn, a finger pointing – that was simultaneously filmed/recorded and projected live. In turn, this projection was presented adjacent to a series of textual fragments – creating moments of connection and disconnection with the spoken and shown components. Part 2: Following the live-performed section, the recorded material from the live performance was re-presented directly, but where the material was encountered without the spoken word component. The documentation presented is from the second part of the performance lecture, as documentation was not made of Part 1.

 

6. Text-work 'reader' comprising diagrammatic elements and text. Designed in collaboration with Marit Münzberg. This text-work was subsequently exhibited in conjunction with future iterations of Re—.

 

 

Click on above for full PDF of script

4. Second Distillation / Presentation

5. Presentation (Version I)

Click on above image for PDF score

6. Presentation (Version II)