WHO: Evolving since 2014, Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line was conceived and developed by three key researchers: writer-artist Emma Cocker, artist-performer Nikolaus Gansterer and dancer-choreographer Mariella Greil. Along the research journey, the key researchers worked closely with critical interlocutors Alex Arteaga, Christine De Smedt and Lilia Mestre, alongside guest collaborators Werner Moebius and Jörg Piringer. They were also accompanied by different ‘wit(h)nesses’[1] including video-grapher Victor Jaschke, who generated much of the photographic and video documentation of the project (including much of what is encountered in this exposition[2]), and artist and designer Simona Koch, who gently supported the transformation from an embodied, experiential enquiry into different publication formats, including the page-based form of a book alongside this online digital format.[3]

WHAT: The research project Choreo-graphic Figures stages a beyond-disciplinary, inter-subjective encounter between the lines of choreography, drawing and writing, for exploring those forms of ‘knowing-thinking-feeling’ produced through collaborative exchange, in the slippage and deviation when different modes of practice enter into dialogue, overlap and collide. Central to this enquiry is an attempt to find ways of better understanding the how-ness — the qualitative-processual, aesthetic-epistemological, and ethico-empathetic dynamics — within the process of artistic sense-making: those barely perceptible micro-movements at the cusp of awareness, the dynamic movements of decision-making, the thinking-in-action, the durational ‘taking place’ of something happening live. We ask, how can we attend to the process of artistic sense-making from within or inside, that affective realm of energies, emergences, and intensities operating before, between and below the more readable gestures of artistic practice? How can we articulate the instability and mutability of the flows and forces — especially within collaborative exploration — without ‘fixing’ what is inherently dynamic and contingent as a literal sign? How can we develop systems of experimentation and notation for becoming better attuned to this often hidden or undisclosed aspect of the creative process, and moreover, for sharing the experience with (and communicating to) others?

HOW: Choreo-graphic Figures unfolded through a series of intensive ‘Method Labs’ where the key researchers and invited guests came together geographically in one place — in a studio-rehearsal space, usually for a period of one to five weeks at a time — to engage in collaborative exploration with each other. The Method Labs are conceived as a unique methodology that we developed for activating research in-and-through practice. A hybrid of the studio and the rehearsal room, a research residency and a retreat, the Method Lab is a testing site or laboratory for experiential knowledge production, a space dedicated to playful and performative experimentation, to embodied processes of thinking-through-doing. ‘Method Lab’ describes both the facilitating environment (the milieu) and the activities taking place, together creating the conditions for new research assemblages formed through the collision of divergent approaches[4]. 


Method: a procedure, the manner in which something is done: a course, path or road, or else literally the act of ‘going after’. Drawn both from the Latin methodus (mode of proceeding) and the earlier Greek methodos (pursuit). Methodos: the ‘pursuit of knowledge’, from meta- (expressing development, or perhaps even the sense of being ‘in the midst of, in common with, by means of, or in quest of’) and hodos, ‘a travelling, way’. ‘Method’ originally referred to a way of doing anything, without the inference of systematic order, logic or regularity that the term has since acquired. Lab: short for laboratory: a place, situation or set of conditions conducive to experimentation, investigation, and observation. From the Latin laborare, ‘to labour’, as well as laboratorium: ‘a place for labour and for work’, a workshop for practice and testing, for experimentation, for working something out.

WHEN / WHERE: The project enquiry developed through a series of intensive Method Labs taking place between 2014 and 2017 (funded by PEEK), with subsequent workshops and performance lectures staged from 2017 onwards for sharing the research with a wider community of practitioners. Prior to the official beginning of the PEEK-funded part of the project (2014  2017), we also staged the pilot projects Beyond the Line I (December 2013), WUK, Vienna, and Beyond the Line II, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham (April 2014). These pilots were then followed by Summer Method Lab I within the frame of ImPulsTanz, Vienna (July — August 2014); Autumn Lab at PAF: Performing Arts Forum, St. Erme, France (September 2014); Spring Lab, at Tanzquartier, Vienna (March 2015); Summer Method Lab II within the frame of ImPulsTanz, at AILab, Vienna (July — August 2015); Winter Lab at Tanzquartier, Vienna (December 2015); Summer Method Lab III as part of Visual Arts X Dance, a research / workshop programme curated by Tino Sehgal, Louise Höjer, and Rio Rutzinger, ImPulsTanz, at AILab, Vienna (July — August 2016). Throughout our research process we have shared and tested the potential of our practices and ‘scoring systems’ through a series of workshops providing opportunity for live exploration with a wider international community of artists, choreographers, and writers, including a research workshop and performance-lecture hosted at a.pass (advanced performance and scenography studies), Brussels (February 2015); at Independent Dance, Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, London, UK (November 2017); and at the SALON FÜR ÄSTHETISCHE EXPERIMENTE, a cooperation between UdK (the Berlin University of the Arts) and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, co-funded by the Einstein Foundation, Berlin (June 2018).

RELATED PUBLICATIONS: Research findings from the project have been tested through previous publication including: ‘Choreo-graphic Figures: Beginnings and Emergences’in RUUKKUFinnish Journal of Artistic Research, On Process, 2015; ‘Notion of Notation >< Notation of Notion’, in Scott deLahunta, Kim Vincs and Sarah Whatley (Eds.), Performance Research, ‘On An Notations’, Vol. 20, Issue 6, Winter, 2015; as well as at conferences/sympo­sia including: Operation on the Open Heart, University of Applied Arts Vienna Society for Artistic Research, Vienna, 2014; Parenthesis: An Un / conference, Swiss Artistic Research Network HEAD, Geneva, 2014; Tongues of Artistic Research, Tanzquartier, Vienna, 2014; Art as a Medium of Thinking: Art­ist-Philosophers — Philosophy as Arts-based Research, AILab, Vienna, 2015; PARSE Biennale Research Conference, Time, University of Gothenberg, Sweden, 2015; Plague of Diagrams, ICA, London, 2015, Please Specify!, Society for Artistic Re­search University of the Arts, Helsinki, 2017; and the Society of Artistic Research conference, University of Zurich, 2019 on the theme of Enhanced Dissemination Formats. The publication Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, (eds.) Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil, (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017) presents page-based documentation of our research project alongside a theoretical-conceptual account of its enquiry, including contributions from invited wit(h)nesses.[5]


Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line was funded (2014 – 2017) by PEEK (Programme for Arts-based Research) made possible by the FWF (The Austrian Science Fund); hosted/supported by the Uni­versity of Applied Arts, Vienna, as well as receiving support from Nottingham Trent University, UK.


[1] We use the term ‘wit(h)ness’ to describe those individuals who have spent time with us either in the Method Lab itself or through conversation: Arno Böhler, Catherine de Zegher, Gerhard Dirmoser, Karin Harrasser, Adrian Heathfield, Krassimira Kruschkova, Brandon LaBelle, Erin Manning, Dieter Mersch, Alva Noë, Jeanette Pacher, Helmut Ploebst, P.A. Skantze, and Andreas Spiegl. Each was engaged with our research in its unfolding and provided contributions to the book, Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line (2017). Further ‘wit(h)nesses’ engaged with our research process within the Method Labs providing critical feedback, including Gabrielle Cram, Susanne Valerie Granzer, Lisa Hinterreithner, Sabina Holzer, Peter Kozek, Anat Stainberg and visiting guests Philipp Gehmacher, Jack Hauser, Martina Hochmuth, and Vladimir Miller. Our research has been tested through numerous workshops: special thanks to the workshop participants at a.pass, Brussels: Elke van Campenhout, Nicolas Galeazzi, Joke Liberge, and Michele Meesen for hosting, and to workshop participants Marcella Carrara, Jim Clayburgh, Robin Creswell, Veronica Cruz, Christophe Dupuis, Ulla Hase, Hector Mamet, Ruth Noyes, Jeremiah Runnels, Mavi Veloso, as well asthe workshop participants of the Visual Arts X Dance ‘intensives’: Emilie Gallier, Asher O’Gorman, Maite Liébana Vena, Mayson Fung Mei Sheung, Dawn Nilo, Inge Gappmaier, Pedro Henrique dos Santos Risse, Olga Lukyanova, Emily Kessler, Heike Langsdorf, Anna Stamp Møller, Alice Heyward, Ioana-Laura Gheorghiu, Irina Lavrinovic, John Hoobyar, Samira Elagoz, Nami Miwa, Amanda Hohenberg, Liliya Burdinskaya.

[2] Additionally, Julian Hughes produced the photographs from the pilot project Beyond the Line (Nottingham, 2014), and Tim Tom produced the video documentation from the first Choreo-graphic Figures Summer Lab (Vienna, 2014).

[3] Simona Koch worked with us to develop the publication Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil (eds.), (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017).

[4] Whilst our own Method Labs evolved a distinctive form of different practices and figures (organised through an innovative score), the general principles are shared with other experimental ‘laboratory style’ precedents. Cf. Henk Slager, The Pleasure of Research (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2015), on ‘experimental laboratories’, ‘critical autonomous spaces’ and ‘temporary autonomous research’ (TAR) zones. Our research process also resonates with aspects of the ‘research creation’ process developed at SenseLab, founded in Montreal in 2004 by Erin Manning [https://senselab.ca/Cf. also Derek McCormack, ‘Thinking Spaces for Research-Creation’, in Inflexions,Vol. 1, No. 1. https://www.senselab.ca/inflexions/htm/node/McCormack2.html

[5] See also http://www.choreo-graphic-figures.net/







We have developed this exposition for ‘scoring an aesthetic encounter’ with the multimodal — visual, textual, sonic, performative — findings from the artistic research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line. We have modelled the exposition on the experimental score system developed within our research project, for organising our process of aesthetic enquiry through the bringing-into-relation of different figures and practices. In this exposition, our aim is not to present an exhaustive account of the Choreo-graphic Figures project[1]. Rather, we seek to test the specificity of this online context for extending our investigation through the following questions. How can we create a digital archive capable of reflecting the durational and relational aspects of the research process, a mode of online dissemination that enacts something of the liveness or vitality — the energies and intensities — within collaborative live exploration?

Beyond the limitations of the static two-dimensional page, how can an enhanced digital format enable a non-linear, rhizomatic encounter with artistic research, where findings are activated and navigated, interacted or even played with as a choreo-graphic event? However, our research focus is not one of trying to capture and communicate the live experience as it was, as it happened — for the document always, inescapably mediates the live experience, is always ‘something other’[2]. By sharing our research through its various documents, our intent is not to undermine the experiential encounter with the live process itself, but rather to consider how the performing document could have a liveness of its own, always evolving, always in transition. Less an indexical record of ‘being there’, the performance document is approached as a malleable material that can be dislocated from the originary historical context, to be brought into new configurations, re-encountered each time anew[3]. The research catalogue is approached as a collaborative tool, its limitations and possibilities enabling us to share our research in different ways to other publication formats, creating the conditions for an alternative experiential encounter with our work, other than through live participation in or engagement with the actual research process itself. 


Our exposition is not just documentation — not simply the evidencing of what ‘has been’. Neither is it an iterative account of our evolving methodology, nor solely a discursive rationale. We respond to theorist Dieter Mersch’s call for artistic research to show, to reveal the “ ‘work in the work’, the ‘becoming’ of the processes themselves”[4].  We ask, how can we show our research rather than just tell? How can we present rather than just represent  how can we perform, enact, and activate our research findings within this online context? Our exposition tests how the permutational score system developed within our project as part of a process of live exploration might be translated within an online environment, as a device for endlessly (re)organising our research materials to reflect the contingency of the research process itself.



The score and its ecology of figures and practices were developed gradually over a number of years (2014  2017), through a series of Method Labs that involved us — Cocker, Gansterer, Greil — working collaboratively, often closely with our critical interlocutors (Alex Arteaga, Christine De Smedt and Lilia Mestre) and guest collaborators (Werner Moebius and Jörg Piringer), alongside videographer Victor Jaschke and designer Simona Koch. Whilst not sequential, our research process can be conceived as a tripartite enquiry involving three core phases with different foci:

[i] Figuring > < Figure: our enquiry into the processes of artistic sense-making has involved the conceptualisation and exploration of the relation between the event of figuring (a term we use for describing those small yet transformative energies, emergences, and experiential shifts which operate before, between and beneath the more readable gestures of artistic practice, that are often hard to discern but which ultimately shape or steer the evolving action) and the emergence of figures (this term is used to refer to the point at which ‘something happening’ — figuring — coalesces into a recognisable form). Through the process of live exploration, our enquiry involves the identification and naming of different figures, alongside a collective attempt (through the ‘scoring’ of live exploration) to create the conditions for a figure’s arising; as well as for giving rise to unexpected interactional constellations of figures through live activation and play. Our intent is not only to observe and identify, but also to amplify and refine the specific qualitative vitalities of different figures through repeated testing and experimentation. Within our investigation so far, we have been able to articulate the qualities and constitutive conditions for nine named figures out of a list of infinitely more. In turn, these figures have been grouped into three different qualitative categories: Elemental, Empathetic, and Transformative Figures (→ Introduction to Figures, → Index of Elemental Figures, → Index of Empathetic Figures, and → Index of Transformative Figures).

[ii] Practices: in conjunction, we have developed a set of practices for sharpening, focusing or redirecting attention towards both the event of figuring and the emergence of figures (→Introduction to Practices, →Index of Practices, →Practices of Attention, →Practices of Notation, →Practices of Conversation, →Practices of Wit(h)nessing).

[iii] Score: our research process has further involved the creation of an innovative permutational ‘score system’ — which forms the basis of this exposition — as a research tool or apparatus, for bringing-into-relation the various figures and practices that we have developed during the Choreo-graphic Figures project, a device for foregrounding the process of artistic compositional decision-making as a live event.



The score was used during our Method Labs as a tool for organising our live exploration, helping us to focus attention towards the relation between the event of figuring and the emergence of figures. Within the process of a live exploration, the score is played thus: prior to an exploration, we select which figures and practices we want to explore, making a visible note of these on a series of blackboards. We then enter a designated time period of shared exploration, where the invitation is to ‘call’ (→ Practices of Notation: Calling) different named figures or practices into play. You could begin like this: let’s say someone calls for the → Figure of Becoming Material. Since you and ‘fellow explorers’ all know the qualities of this figure, you can collectively begin a process of exploration in the hope of giving rise to its emergence. Continue to explore together — in time, maybe the figure shows up, maybe not. Perhaps a → Practice of Attention would help to refine your collective sensitivity to the material transformation inherent within this figure: someone calls for the → Practice of Touching. Haptic awareness now heightened, you could collectively return to exploring the arising conditions of → Becoming Material. Alternatively, another figure or another practice might be called. The process continues until a decision is made to stop. Within this exposition, the blackboard score used in our live explorations is translated into a matrix of figures and practices (visible at the top-left of each online page), whilst the act of ‘calling’ for shifts between different figures and practices is approximated through the use of hyperlinks within this matrix.



The development of our ‘score system’ has enabled us to closely attend to the relational conditions for the arising of specific named figures, where live exploration is focussed through the prism of various practices. Whilst we are interested in the specific form that the score takes, our research focus has been towards better understanding the score as a ‘research tool’: how it operates within our enquiry as a device for a bringing-into-relation through live composition[5]. We ask, how can we create the conditions for the improvisational self-organisation or organism-relation that emerges from within the process itself, where the organisation of live exploration is immanent rather than imposed from above or from outside? How can we develop a score that activates thinking-in-action, where the ‘vitality contour’ of live exploration evolves through attending to the emergences and vitalities therein[6]? In developing our score, we have focussed on its capacity for both organising and reorganising our process of aesthetic exploration. Counter-intuitively, our desire for bringing-into-relation the different aspects of our research has meant that we first needed to clarify or even categorise the various intensities, energies, and experiential emergences therein, by defining the qualities and attributes of differentiated figures (→ Figure of Clearing & Emptying Out, Figure of Spiralling Momentum, Figure of Temporary Closing, Figure of Vibrating Affinity, Figure of Wavering Convergence, Figure of Consonance and Dissonance, Figure of Ventilating Meaning, Figure of Becoming Material, Figure of Translational Flux) and establishing the specificity of each of our various practices (→ Practices of Attention, Notation, Conversation, Wit(h)nessing).


Yet, the attempt to create these different categories  whether of figures or of practices  is not one of order or control, for fixing or limiting the contingent process of creative exploration through labels and names; rather, we conceive the act of separation as a precondition for reconfiguration and reconnection. Likewise, we consider the act of hyphenation evident in the choreo-graphic as an act of separation, in order to conceive a new relationality between the constitutive parts. Our practice of categorisation operates first as one of wilful or even subversive disorganisation, a means for de-stabilising or unsettling those habitual processes of  often imperceptible or undeclared  organisation that structure our ways of doing things (both within artistic exploration and our relations with others), so that we might observe how they organise us and, in turn, how they might be reorganised. For philosopher Alva Noë, art is a “strange tool” through which we might engage, “with the ways our practices, techniques, and technologies organize us, and it is finally, a way to understand our organization and inevitably, to reorganize ourselves”[7]. He argues that art and philosophy are “really species of a common genus whose preoccupation is with the ways we are organized and with the possibility of reorganising ourselves”[8]. Noë outlines various ‘everyday practices’ by which the temporal and relationship-building dynamics of our lives are organised through the interplay of attention and negotiation, listening and responding, focus and distraction, action and inaction. These organising practices are those habitual activities  often implicit rather than necessarily explicit  that shape and structure our ways of being and behaving at the biological level of embodiment.

To a certain extent, many of our own practices might be conceived in such terms: walking, breathing, voicing, sleeping, touching, reading, naming, conversing, watching, listening, translating. However, within our enquiry such activities are ‘offset slightly’, so that they become disentangled from their everyday use or function, and instead have the capacity to be tested and explored within the frame of aesthetic exploration. Likewise, Noë uses ‘choreography’ as a ‘stand-in’ for reflecting more broadly on how art practices “seek to bring out and exhibit, to disclose and to illuminate, aspects of the way that we find ourselves organized”[9]. Choreography, a term through which Noë invokes all art, is that which makes visible or attends to the system of organisation itself; moreover, it remains ‘bent’ on its reorganisation. By bringing our figures and practices into the score, we interrogate how they organise us alongside how we might activate them in a new relation.



Our score is one device that we have developed for deepening our attention towards a level of vitality operating below a ‘structural’ level of organisation, and for providing a framework for bringing-into-relation different figures and practices as a means of re-organisation. Yet, beyond attending to the qualitative sense of how-ness, our research also asks, how else?[10]. How does artistic research support the production of our subjectivity — our being-with others, our being-in-the-world? We anatomise and separate the practices and dynamics that comprise the processes of collaboration and artistic exploration, in order to test how they might be diagrammatically reconfigured in a different, even unexpected way. We also test how we ourselves might be configured differently in and through this experience. In this sense, our use of the score also seeks to constitute new, experimental ways through which we can become re-organised as an ethico-aesthetic practice. This experimentation with a diagrammatic paradigm (or praxis) for ethico-aesthetic reorganisation can be conceived as a practical articulation of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of the rhizome, that “is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation”[11]. 


Within a rhizomatic diagrammatic model, there is no centre; all parts have the capacity to be connected to all parts, any of them can be broken off and reattached to another[12]. Likewise, we consider our acts of separation and categorisation as a means for activating new connections. Here, we conceive our score and the milieu constituted through its very activation in ecosophical terms. Guattari outlines an “ethico-aesthetic aegis of an ecosophy”, comprising the ‘three ecologies’ of “environment, social relations and human subjectivity”[13], involving the cultivation of an ecological praxis, “specific practices that will modify and reinvent the ways in which we live […] it will be a question of literally reconstructing the modalities of ‘group-being’ [l’être-en-groupe], not only through ‘communicational’ interventions but through existential mutations driven by the motor of subjectivity”[14]. This notion of an ecology — or even an ecosystem — of practices resonates with our conceptualisation of the score: we conceive it as a living organism more than a system of organisation. It pulses with a sense of liveness and aliveness; it has the potential to develop and grow.



Significantly, within our diagrammatic system of scoring, the form that a figure takes is not predetermined at the outset, but rather emergent. It only becomes recognisable through the arising of its qualities in and through the process of exploration. As Alex Arteaga argues, “In the case that a figure becomes explicit it always remains at the edge of its own explicitness. It is fragile, subtle, contingent, dubious, shady  in the shade of the objects and subjects that enable its presence”[15]. Whilst previous ‘examples’ of a figure might help to indicate the conditions needed for a figure’s arising, or give clues to its atmospheric signature, they do not define what the figure is, nor do they guarantee its return. The ‘call’ for a specific figure involves an invitation for the researchers to collectively strive to generate the qualities associated with that figure, to strive to create the conditions for the figure’s arising.

We ask, how are the conditions that give rise to the emergence of a figure? How does the figure come into being, how does it become? What conditions are prerequisite? Moreover, how might the figuring figure require conditions that are contingent and unpredictable, which cannot be diagrammed in advance? In one sense, our enquiry is one of exploring the germinal conditions for the arising of specific figuring figures, refining and amplifying the qualitative vitality dynamics emerging therein as a means for shedding new light on the process of collaborative artistic exploration. Here, as Lilia Mestre asserts, “the score operates simultaneously as a way to practise and to observe the practice”.[16]  


Yet, herein lies a dilemma, for how do we revisit and reactivate the qualities of specific figures, whilst also retaining or returning a sense of their dynamic vitality? How do we prevent, as Alva Noë cautions, our figures from becoming empty ‘symbolisations of an idea’ — at worst, a ‘hollow shell’ dispossessed of its aliveness?[17] Whilst we have been able to articulate the qualities of a figure and even identify concrete examples of its articulation, how can we avoid fixing the specific form that a figure should take? How do we let go of our preconceptions of what a specific figure looks like,    and instead deal with how it feels? As Arteaga reflects on the figure, “We cannot move straight forward to it  it is not an ‘it’”[18]. Significantly, the live process of activating the figures through the use of the score requires a radical letting go of the original form in order to per-form it again. In Erin Manning’s terms, “to begin is to begin again, differently, impossibly, impractically. It is to begin not with the form but with the force of the more-than as articulated by the welling diagram the event calls forth”[19]. In attempting to re-meet a named figure, one must re-find a way of finding it again in its vitality: this is not simply a case of repetition. For as Manning elaborates, “No movement can be cued, aligned to or performed in the same way twice […] What emerges as a dance of attention cannot be replicated. It is not a thing, a form”[20].  


Here, as Manning suggests, “The diagram does not pre-exist its shaping […] The diagram that may have seemed to be an individual form now reveals itself to be an emergent multiplicity”[21]. So, how does one reactivate the embodied diagrammatics of the scored choreo-graphic figure, so as to re-encounter or re-find the experience in its dynamic vitality? For Manning, what is required is the ecology of a ‘diagrammatic praxis’ where “Spacing and bodying transindividuate, fashioning a multiple singularity: a body-diagrammatic. The body-diagrammatic is a procedural ‘I’ that stands not for the subject but for individuation … making felt the merging of topological registers of co-constitution: space-bodying, time-spacing”[22]. She uses the term biogram for describing a ‘becoming-body’ that “has no fixed form”[23], that “makes itself felt in the intensive passage from one intensity one series to another. The biogram cannot represent anything because it has no pregiven form. The biogram propels a process of determining that always resists final form”[24].  


Our figures are not re-presentational diagrams: they are not outlines or instructions that define or describe a set of predetermined actions or operations. The qualitative descriptions of our figures and the documentation of previous examples within this exposition are not conceived as a ‘how to’ guide  as instructions or ingredients — but rather as the diagramming of possibility. In the process of live exploration, all previous iterations of the figure must be unlearnt or forgotten so that the figure itself can be transformed: a deformation or defiguring of the figure that necessarily prefigures figuration, an emptying out so that it can be re-filled with life. For Dieter Mersch, “The figure in the sense of figuration consequentially ‘keeps’ itself in persistent ‘transience. On the whole it is a movement without state”[25]. He argues that the “reciprocal dialectics of figuration and defiguration” involve a process of  “continuous transfiguration, processuality in itself” focussed on “the permanence of a ‘formative’ that is formation and flux in one”[26]. Whilst the concept of  or even previous iterations of  a given figure might pre-exist (→ Index of Figures)the process of figuration is always immanent to its per-forming.



Whilst figure is the term that we use for referring to a ‘local’ instance of figuring incarnating as content modality — the point at which figuring becomes recognisable, even nameable  — our intent has been towards the production of choreo-graphic figures within which there is more than one arising of a figure-figuring. Choreo-graphic: the hyphen is a deviating line, holding two terms in proximity whilst also keeping them apart. Choreo: more than one or in relation to another, as in a chorus, as in a group, always a communication between. Graphic: the possibilities and sensitivities of inscription (of moving, drawing, writing, and the modalities in between), not just for describing — representing or reproducing that which already exists — but also for a dynamic happening, capable of bringing about, constituting, transforming. Here, the specificity of this online exposition has enabled us to construct possibilities for the choreo-graphic figure that were not possible through the process of live exploration alone. Specifically, within this exposition our figures can truly appear as multimodal, multidimensional, durational intensities, the performed entanglement of visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic sensibilities.


The online exposition format enables us to bring into relation multiple articulations of a figure from different spatio-temporal moments in our enquiry, enabling us to better express the signature of the figure (in atmospheric terms) rather than the specific form that it should take. It allows for the temporal co-inciding of material fragments that could not co-exist otherwise, performed actions distanced by years can be choreographed into new relations through a virtual weave. Whilst our actual live explorations took place within the linear chronology of time passing and through the vehicular language of per-forming, within this exposition the different modalities of drawing, writing and choreography intermingle at their different registers of speed. The reader can linger with things for longer than the live performance affords. Loops and repeats bring materials into chance relations. Fragments of sound and spoken word can be built up in overlapping layers. The acoustic reverberations of one exploratory fragment seeps into the frame of another — it is not always immediately evident where the sound comes from. Yet, the sound signatures of each figure video are diegetic (whether source-connected or source-disconnected), emerging directly from the live exploration itself and not artificially generated through post-production. Drawings can be zoomed into, revealing a universe of detail that emerges gradually. The reader is plunged in, arriving in the middle of things. Hyperlinks are used to create different points of ‘landing’ or arrival on a ‘page’, enabling different connections and proximities to emerge. New pathways are created through the material by the individual reader deciding when to look and when to listen; when to read and when to watch; when to zoom in (+) and when to zoom out (-). It’s an experience between glimpsing and dwelling — how long to stay with, when to leave, when to activate certain materials (video or sound) or when to stop or make them silent. Find unexpected connections. Allow time to get lost. The route through the materials will probably be different each time.


The format of the exposition allows us to better attend to the rhythmic interplay of heterogeneous durations in the constitution of ethico-aesthetic relations, revealing a sense of polyrhythmic or even idiorhythmic micro-temporalities operating between and below the more ‘readable’ temporal dynamics of chronological — perhaps even anthropocentric time[27]. Here, as philosopher Henri Bergson asserts, “In reality there is no one rhythm of duration; it is possible to imagine many rhythms which, slower or faster, measure the degree of tension of different kinds of consciousness”[28]. Indeed, it is not a case of just zooming into different durational intensities, but rather a gentle practice of attending to  or at least acknowledging  their simultaneity. Here then, the technological possibilities and limitations of the exposition format open up new approaches for exploring the performativity of the research document itself. In these terms, the research catalogue is considered as a ‘strange tool’ that has helped facilitate the ‘scoring of aesthetic encounters’ with our artistic research, a device for both organising and also reorganising our research materials as an experiential event.



[1] Indeed, the theoretical basis and a methodological exposition of our enquiry have already been outlined in the publication, Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, (eds.) Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil, (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017). For example, see the chapters 'Becoming Undisciplinary', pp. 37 47; ‘Figuring > < Figure’, pp. 69 81, and ‘Embodied Diagrammatics’, pp. 315 331.

[2] This reference to ‘something other’ draws on feminist scholar and performance theorist Peggy Phelan’s oft-cited cautionary against the attempt to capture the experiential, ephemeral nature of performance, in which she argues that documenta­tion is a flawed project: “Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance”, in Unmarked — The Politics of Performance, (London and New York: Routledge, 1993, p.146). At the same time, the provocation of this ‘something other’ can be seen to operate as an investigative impetus for enquiry. Cf. the online project Something Other, a collaboration between performance writers Maddy Costa, Diana Damian Martin and Mary Paterson [http://www.somethingother.io/#/]

[3] In this sense, the project of ‘scoring an aesthetic encounter’ for re-activating research documents through an online exposition can be situated within a wider context of research practices and theory engaged in complicating the relation between liveness and the document/recording. An historical precedent for this can be found in the work of media theorist Philip Auslander who argues how the concept of liveness itself is a product of ‘mediatization’ and that since the early twentieth century ‘live performance’ has been mutually entangled with and coexisted alongside recordings, non-live media and various forms of technological reproduction. Cf. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture, (London; New York: Routledge, 1999). More recently curator and writer Bridget Crone identifies numerous practices that, “have already radically disrupted these neat separations between the live-ness of the body and the not-live status of the image” where, “staging becomes a means for re-thinking and re-configuring the relationship between body and image, between immediate experience and mediated information, between projected image and performed body”, The Sensible Stage: Staging and the Moving Image, (Bristol: Picture This, 2012), p. 6. She argues that many contemporary artists are now “interested in articulating a sense of separation … between the ‘live’ unfolding performance and the quoted or re-enacted material” (2012, p. 6). She further outlines how the “instability of the feedback loop — of performance into image, image into performance and so on — also acts to undermine the fixities of time, reminding us of the relational nature of time itself” (2012, p. 10). Alternatively from 2011 – 2015, the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Performing Documents: Modelling creative and curatorial engagements with live art and performance archives (hosted by the University of Bristol in partnership with Arnolfini and In Between Time), involved investigation into the problems and potential of performance and its documents, exploring artists’ re-use of their own archival materials. Cf. also ‘The Alternative Document’, Special Issue of Journal Studies in Theatre and Performance, Volume 38, 2018, Issue 3, (ed.) Angela Bartram, specifically the article by Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, ‘The Italic I — Between Liveness and the Lens’ pp. 238 — 250, for further exploration of ‘performing documents’, an examination of the forms of temporality and performativity that emerge in the interval between live performance and lens-based mediation, between event and document. In parallel, we also consider Senselab’s conceptualization and practice of ‘anarchiving’ and the ‘anarchive’ where they argue that: “The question is how what moves an event into taking form can be archived, as opposed to documenting the content of the event. Can traces of the event’s liveness be captured, in a way that might set the stage for a next event to occur in its wake? […] How to make operative that which resists pinning down? How to activate this surplus share of previous events without committing to a full capture of their potential?” [http://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/anarchiving/]. Further elaborating the notion of anarchiving, they state that, “the anarchive is not documentation of a past activity. Rather, it is a feed-forward mechanism for lines of creative process, under continuing variation" [https://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/anarchiving/anarchive-concise-definition/].

[4] Dieter Mersch, Epistemologies of Aesthetics, (Zurich and Berlin: Diaphanes, 2015), p. 11. Mersch differentiates ‘aesthetic thought’ from the “classical philosophical ideas about thinking thought, in particular equating thought and concepts or, since the linguistic turn, the appropriation of thought by language” (2015, p. 8). He argues how discursiveness  “making a statement or formulating an ‘argument’ in the form of sentences” (p. 8)  and methodology  based upon a “scientific, i.e. methodological, research process” (p. 9)  have “advanced to become the main criteria for the production of episteme”, neither of which he claims are “particularly suited to artistic practice”  (ibid.). Against this context, Mersch asks what “thought in other media” might mean, where “thought is understood as a practice, as acting with materials, in materials, or through materials… or with media, in media or through media” (pp. 9  10). Interestingly, Mersch is keen to avoid “favouring tacit knowledge as is the trend in science studies and the history of science” (ibid) in an attempt to differentiate an artistic or rather aesthetic mode of thought beyond a vocabulary of linguistic discursivity and process methodology, where the specificity  even alterity  of an aesthetic epistemology is made explicit. Moreover, he argues that the “decisive epistemic modus” through which art performs, presents and exhibits its ‘work in the work’ is always one of showing: “we are dealing with ‘showings’ that in equal measure reveal something and show themselves while in showing, hold themselves back […] their métier is not representation, but presence” (p. 170).

[5] For example, the influence of Fluxus scores is evident in our Practices, as well as the work of experimental composer Pauline Oliveros. See Pauline Oliveros, Deep listening: a composer's sound practice, (New York, NY, iUniverse, 2015) and Software for People: collected writings 1963-80 (2015). Lisa Nelson & Scott Smith’s Tuning Scores offer the tools and a framework for communication and a model of collaboration constructed in the act of doing. Drawing on philosophies of the event, choreographer João Fiadeiro’s conceptualisation of ‘real time composition’ (RTC) involves the radical rethinking of how decisions are made within live improvisation and performed composition, where the performer is invited to ‘let go’ their role as ‘creator’  along with the ‘interference’ of habits and patterns of behaviour  to become the ‘facilitator’ or ‘mediator’ of ‘what happens’, conceived as a co-emergent process. See http://www.uniarts.fi/uniartstv/online-jo%C3%A3o-fiadeiro-real-time-composition.

[6] The term ‘vitality contour’ is borrowed from Daniel Stern, Forms of Vitality: Exploring Dynamic Experience in Psychology, the Arts, Psychotherapy and Development, (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

[7] Alva Noë, Strange Tools — Art and Human Nature, (New York: Hill and Wang, 2015), p. xiii.

[8] Noë, 2015, p. xiii.

[9] Noë, 2015, p. 16.

[10]  In seeking to get close to the how-ness within collaborative practice, our enquiry largely took place within the relatively ‘closed’ and ‘protective’ environment of the ‘Method Lab’, an experimental time-space where we could actively control and amplify the conditions that were conducive to a nuanced exploration of our key concepts of figure and figuring. The expansion of the enquiry from how-ness to how else could involve staging the Method Labs beyond the gallery or rehearsal rooms, in situations which might not be so receptive to the concerns explored therein. In our project publication we invite future ‘players’ of the score to ‘set the parameters’ thus: “Decide on a space, location or envi­ronment within which to undertake your live exploration. This could range from a closed space such as a studio or rehearsal space, to an open space in the public domain — a park, a plaza, a promenade, or else perhaps a forest, a mountaintop or beach”, Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017, p. 382. In parallel, we also acknowledge that new ways of being and behaving don’t always emerge in unfamiliar or even antagonistic contexts. Indeed, this can inadvertently result in a retreat towards familiar ways of doing things and the safety of habit rather than an expansion of practice into uncertainty. For example, curator-theorist Adrian Heathfield argues that what doesn’t happen when “one is polarised with the other, is the fluidity, multiplicity and complexity of a conversation. As soon as you establish an antagonism, seven or eight other positions or possibilities have fallen away. I don’t think that is the optimal situation for transformation and change to happen”, ‘Trialogue: On Sedimentations of Sensitivities’ in Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017), p. 218.

[11] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, (trans.) Brian Massumi, (London: Continuum, 2004), p. 12.

[12] As Deleuze and Guattari assert, “A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines.” Deleuze and Guattari, 2004, p. 10.

[13] Guattari, The Three Ecologies, (London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), p. 8.

[14] Guattari, 2014, p. 22.

[15] Alex Arteaga, ‘Researching Aesthetically the Roots of Aesthetics’ in Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017, p. 259.

[16] Lilia Mestre, ‘Score It!’ in Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017, p. 304.

[17] Alva Noë, ‘Fragile Figures’ in Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017, pp. 374 – 376.

[18] Arteaga, 2017, p. 259.

[19] Erin Manning, Always More Than One: Individuation’s Dance, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), p. 147.

[20] Manning, 2013, p. 134.

[21] Manning, 2013, p. 142.

[22] Manning, 2013, p. 134.

[23] Manning, Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy. Technologies of Lived Abstraction Series, (MIT Press, 2009), p. 125.

[24]  Relationscapes, p. 125.

[25] Dieter Mersch, ‘Figuration/Defiguration’ in Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017, p. 117.

[26] Mersch, 2017, p. 117.

[27] Roland Barthes uses the term ‘idiorhythmy’ to refer to a state where each is able to maintain his or her own rhythm of existence, combining periods of being-with along­side being-apart. See Roland Barthes, How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013); Henri Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time, and Everyday Life, (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).

[28] Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer, (New York: Dover Publications, 2004), p. 275.


The research project Choreo-graphic Figures attempts to find ways of better understanding the qualitative ‘how-ness’  —  the qualitative-processual, aesthetic-epistemological and ethico-empathetic dynamics — within the process of artistic ‘sense-making'. Our research enquiry into the ‘knowing-feeling-thinking’ within artistic process has focused on the reciprocal conceptualisation and exploration of the relation between the event of figuring (those small yet transformative energies, emergences and experiential shifts which operate before, between and beneath the more readable gestures of artistic practice, that are often hard to discern but which ultimately shape or steer the evolving action) and the emergence of figures (the point at which ‘something happening’  —  figuring  —  coalesces into a recognisable form).

Through the process of our 'live exploration'  —  and its related 'practices'  —  we have been able to re-cognise and qualify different shifts in vitality, intensity or affordance which we have named as specific figures. Whilst some of the proposed figures can be recognised visually as particular movements, gestures or postures within the unfolding of artistic endeavour, others operate beneath the register of visibility, at a more corporeal, sensorial and affective level of awareness. Furthermore, whilst some figures might be consciously activated within the arc of artistic enquiry (for example, for getting started), others refer more to inner states. Indeed, some figures become recognisable only through their kinetic dynamics, through the register of their force, power or even affect rather than through their form. We use the score system as a collective apparatus through which we agree to collectively work towards creating the conditions for or seek to give rise to specific named figures. Practical examples — specific iterations — of a select number of these figures can be encountered throughout the exposition.


Within our investigation so far, we have been able to articulate the qualities and constitutive conditions for nine named figures out of a list of infinitely more. In turn, these figures have been grouped according to three different qualitative categories. The Elemental Figures diagram key moments within the arc of creative exploration or endeavour, address the opening up and exposition of process. The figures we present within this grouping are indicative not exhaustive, referring to just three moments within the arc of practice: the process of beginning (→ Clearing and Emptying Out), of generating energy in the midst of (→ Spiralling Momentum), and for drawing towards resolution (→ Temporary Closing). The Empathetic Figures involve the diagramming of relations, drawing attention to the ethics of collaboration, the sensitivities and sensibilities of being-with. The three figures presented (→ Vibrating Affinity, Wavering Convergence, Consonance / Dissonance) articulate a shift from the experienced intensity of being-with one to the many, or rather from the experience of the one (that is already the many) to the multitude. The Transformative Figures each involve an explicit shift, change or even transformation in property, quality or state of being. Connected through the prefix trans- (indicating movement across or through, the act of ‘going beyond’), the three figures presented (→ Ventilating Meaning, Becoming Material, Translational Flux) each involve the dissolving or destabilising of fixed meanings by collapsing the lines of distinction between activity / passivity, animate / inanimate, subject / object, self / world.  

Our enquiry has also involved developing practices for attending to and marking the event of figuring; i.e., the identification, qualification and naming of various figures, alongside the distillation of the qualitative properties of key figures (→ Elemental, Empathetic, Transformative) so that we might seek to re-activate them with intent. Central to this has been the development of an experimental ‘score system’ through which we practise ‘calling’ for (→ Notation: Calling)and attending to the conditions of specific named figures. This process of live aesthetic exploration is focussed through the prism of various → Practices of Attention, Conversation, Notation and Wit(h)nessing. Within the Choreo-graphic Figures project, the conceptualisation and aesthetic exploration of the relation between the event of figuring and the emergence of figures has been focussed, deepened and sharpened through the development of different practices. Through the use of a ‘score’as our research tool, we have been able to test how the various practices impact upon the process of artistic exploration through a process of live composition (Play the Score). 








Within the Choreo-graphic Figures project, the conceptualisation and exploration of the relation between the event of figuring (those hard to discern yet transformative energies that often steer the evolving artistic activity) and the emergence of figures (the point where the undifferentiated awareness of ‘something happening’ [figuring] is recognisable through a name) has been focused and sharpened through the development of different Practices. Whilst many of these Practices have an instructional or even demonstrative quality, and could be practised automously, their research function is specifically for deepening, widening and sharpening our aesthetic enquiry towards the event of figuring and emergence of figures


Each Practice has a different function or emphasis: (A) Practices of Attention — for sensory heightening, for cultivating perceptual awareness, increased alertness, vigilance and receptivity; (N) Practices (or Modes) of Notation — for noticing and marking the event of figuring and the emergence of figures; (C) Practices of Conversation — dialogue as a verbal-linguistic means for reflecting on the process of our live exploration; (W) Practices of Wit(h)nessing — different tactics for being-with, for blurring the division between participant / observer, for inviting another’s perspective.

We provide an outline for each of the four practices, specifically in relation to how the practice is performed or played within the context of a scored live exploration. Each set of practices is outlined here in terms of its core characteristics. The practices themselves— including practical exercises and variations combining concrete instruction and poetic invitation — are encountered either through the playing of the score itself (→ Play the Score) or through the → Index of Practices. Whilst these individual practices have been developed and tested within the frame of our Method Labs through intensive collaboration — specifically with our critical interlocutors and guests — the ‘writing up’ of each singular example has been undertaken by oneor two individuals, allowing for a diversity of both voice and approach.



The Practices of Attention perform a vital role within our artistic research process, creating the germinal conditions for experimental aesthetic enquiry. They enable us to access states of increased alertness, vigilance and receptivity, in turn augmenting (heightening, deepening, widening) and nuancing (sharpening, refining) both our individual and our collective sensitivities to the vitality dynamics and affects within our live exploration. Related to — though significantly different from — warming-up activities, there is a preparatory function to the Practices of Attention. They have a re-set or re-tune task, clearing the ground in order to see things differently[1]. They involve a process of letting go or emptying out — activating a level of awareness beyond the utilitarian, instrumental, or judgemental; the temporary suspension of will or self-led agency towards increased receptivity, even passivity. Here, passivity does not lead to inaction, but rather gives way to a truly spontaneous mode of intentionality; intention without a predetermined direction or destination. Not yet towards something. Freed from conscious expectations or goals, these practices invite a quality of defocussed focus akin to a state of ‘evenly suspended’ or ‘hovering’ attention[2]. Attention practices are radically non-creative, or rather they wilfully constrain self-expressivity, opening up a‘gap’ for creative attention, for the immanent and open-ended vitalities of creation to arise[3]. Whilst these practices increase our capacity for noticing, the invitation is to not (yet) follow the impulse, nor is it to mark this event as such (→ Practices of Notation). Just attend. In this sense, the key modality of these practices is re-generative non-productivity. 


Stretching attention; increasing one’s range; extending perception, sensation, and awareness; activating new realms of experience beyond the habitual… There is an exploratory quality to the Practices of Attention, opening up new zones of encounter. Be curious, practise horizontal shifts — widening one’s horizon, expanding awareness towards the peripheral, the limits of one’s perceptual reach. Yet this is not just about the navigation of frontiers, or the adventurer’s fascination with limits. Attend to the shifts of attention, intervals and gaps, thresholds and interstices. Qualitative overrides quantitative; practise with ever-subtler precision. Practise vertical extensions, centering one’s attention, before heightening. Then, deepening. Deep listening. Deep seeing. Deepened proprioception. Sustaining in-depth practice through dedication to regular, repeated action-perception-reflection cycles. Repetition builds capacity: however, exercise not to discipline, not to order and control, not for the improvement of skill through drill and obedience. Rather, to sensitise — to endow with sensation, from the Latin sensus, past participle of sentire: feel, perceive. Repetition increases sensitivity to difference, to the proliferation of multiplicities. It is a practice of modification and variation, for working-through a set of propositions that unfold each time anew[4].

Beyond developing various singular modalities of notation (the colloquial sense of note-making), our research process has involved the evolution of an agreed and shareable ‘notation system’[1] of signs used for noticing and marking the event of figuring and the emergence of figures, shifting the notion of notation (in general terms) towards the notation of a notion[2]. We ask, how can we develop systems of notation for identifying, marking and communicating the barely perceptible micro-movements at the cusp of awareness within the process of collaborative artistic exploration without fixing that which is dynamic and contingent as a literal sign? The Practices of Notation function in close proximity to thePractices of Attention: increased attention augments one’s capacity to notice; in turn, the principle of noticing underpins notation. Furthermore, the relation is reciprocal — notation can further enhance one’s capacity to notice. However, whilst the events of noticing and notation operate symbiotically, notation involves more than noticing. It is a practice of both noticing and marking. Marking is the criterion for notation. Notation involves the production of marks or symbols, the generation of signs relating to a sign-less experience. It operates within a semiotic field: what or how is the relation between sign and signification? Notation has a reflective function; however, in contrast to the Practices of Conversation, its modality is not discursive, not reportage. It just marks — its task is one of making visible or tangible the event of noticing (something). 


Within our enquiry, the Practice of Conversation is not something that takes place after artistic exploration as a means for reflecting on practice. Conversation is a language-based, relational and participatory practice, a site of shared voicing happening aloud within a collective situation. Rather than simply a record or a dialogic archive, we consider our conversational transcripts as live material for playful appropriation and reworking. Within the score itself, there are four different Practices of Conversation or conversational re-organisations.These can be encountered if you Play the Score, or through the → Index of Practices. Each Practice of Conversation is conceived in direct relation to our aesthetic exploration, for further opening this up through linguistic means. Each has a different imperative or atmosphere, creating different dynamics and rhythms, different ways of being together. For example, whereas → Dialogic engages in the creation of intimate (often dyadic) meeting points through conversation, → Keywords involves the participation of many others, including wider publics. → Upwelling involves the dampening of the speaking ‘I’ to become a conduit for the ‘situation’, whilst → Wild Talk channels the spontaneous excesses of an over-enthusiastic, babbling subject. The Practices of Conversation operate in close proximity to the Practices of Wit(h)nessing, providing a context through which we, alongside critical wit(h)nesses and invited publics, feedback our reflections and observations directly into the process of an unfolding live exploration. Our list of practices is not exhaustive and could be added to: it is just a start. Silence is also always an option.



For Alva Noë, conversation is “an organized activity”, furthermore, it organises us — like other activities including dancing, reading, cooking — at the level of embodiment[1]. For Noë, conversation involves the “complicated activity of listening, thinking, paying attention, doing and undergoing […] conversation is a fundamental mechanism of relationship building and joint living”[2]. In these terms, to ‘stage conversation’ arguably exposes the ways in which we are organised by it, whilst the use of specific rules, constraints, or even obstacles becomes a device of re-organisation, short-circuiting habitual patterns of conversation towards the production of unexpected vitality affects. In one sense, the arc of complication or convolution as the Practice of Conversation shifts from the dyad, to the triad, to the many, and echoes concerns explored within our → Empathetic Figures[3].


[1] Alva Noë, Strange Tools — Art and Human Nature, New York: Hill and Wang, 2015, p. xiii.

[2] Noë, 2015, p. 7.

[3] Indeed, conversation contains the prefix con- (indicating between-ness, with-ness, together-ness), which we also associate with the → Empathetic Figures. 



Rather than modifying existing notational forms (musical, choreographic, cartographical, computational, or even scientific notation systems), our intent was to develop an undisciplinary system capable of operating between the lines. Initially, we developed a process of ‘clicking’ for marking the event of figuring, where we each make an audible sound (a vocal ‘click’) to acknowledge the experience of a qualitative shift in awareness or affordance, identification that something is happening at the level of vitality or emergence (Clicking). On occasion, this process of ‘notated’ live exploration was recorded on video: the function of video being indexical, to simply capture the ‘clicks’ in the context of their production. By watching the video documentation, re-collecting and reflecting on the experience of notation, we were able to identify, qualify, or even name the shifts in awareness, vitality or affordance marked by each ‘click’. Whilst this process has enabled us to expand our list of potential figures, we still wanted to develop a system of notation that could be activated live as a mode of thinking-in-action performed en acte. Within the score system (Play the Score) of this exposition, there are four different notation systems presented as used (scored) within the context of a live exploration. In principle, our notation system has few rules: we can elect to practise our process of live exploration in a notated or non-notated form; we can practise undifferentiated or differentiated notation. 

To render sensitive — means to augment one’s mental and emotional sensibility, become more readily affected by external forces, aware of and responsive to the feelings of others. Beyond cultivating elemental awareness of vitality affects (→ Elemental Figures), the Practices of Attention also heighten states of empathetic attunement; radical receptivity with shared spontaneity, even the arising of communitas (→ Empathetic Figures). Sensitive to the weakness of collectivity, yet still striving towards it, the attention practices support an opening up of self to others, they increase one’s awareness of one’s capacity to affect and be affected[5]. Moreover, they reveal the myth of one’s interiority and self-containment — self is porous, always in relation, already ‘more than one’[6]. Let go of individual will, become willing, increaseyour availability. Trust is a precondition for openness and vulnerability; moreover, the relation is reciprocal. In turn, trust enables risk, the conditions for ‘hospitable incautiousness’[7]. Surrender of authorial agency creates unexpected forms of mutuality (→ Transformative Figures), dissolving the lines of dichotomic distinction between subject / object, between self / other, between self / world. In these terms, the Practices of Attention support a radical aesthetics, an unmediated (re)connection between body and surroundings, a revelation of interconnection or coherence. Their radical potential is one of re-orientation and re-alignment; furthermore, their re-connective function is religious in the etymological sense, drawing on the Latin religare — re- (again), ligare (fasten, bind, connect). Indeed, many of our attention practices echo monastic, spiritual, even shamanic rituals, directed towards aesthetic enquiry[8].

In principle, a Practice of Attention could be anything, however idiosyncratic — but not whatever[9]. Our list is not prescriptive or exhaustive. Whilst sharing a certain somatic grounding, our practices seek to address different modalities, reflecting different bodily-kinesthetic, visual-spatial, or verbal-linguistic sensibilities. Each attention practice can be performed in its purest form — just breathing, just walking — however we also offer variations. Here, play comes into play. Practices can be combined — as pairings, e.g. breathing-voicing, shaking-touching; as multiples, e.g. breathing-touching-walking; or performed in explicit relation to particular figures;or else, activated with different speeds or vectors of intensity. They can be practised with hot Dionysian exuberance or with Apollonian coolness — emptiness can be reached both by burning and calming, via heightened states of saturation or by paring things back. Some examples can be read aloud as instructions, whilst others are poetic, evocative. They can be played by one or many, individual or collective.

The notation system unfolds through a gradually evolving logic: it begins with the attempt to notate the event of cognition — the marking of an undifferentiated, unqualified, or as yet un-nameable ‘something is happening’ (Clicking). As we have identified a list of potential figures through our research (Figures), we have added further differentiated forms of notation for marking the event of re-cognition, the re-meeting of a recognisable figure (Affirming, →Naming). Additionally, as we have become more familiar with the figures, the notational system has further evolved to have an active operational role within the ‘scoring’ of our live explorations  (Calling, → Play the Score).  



[1] “A system becomes a notation system when it has a working inner logic using a set of abstract representations (vocabulary) of aspects of potentially universal experience deemed relevant to be differentiated between, preserved or communicated about,” in Simone Boria, Tim Boykett, Andreas Dekrout, Heather Kelly, Marta Peirano, Robert Rotenberg, Elisabeth Schimana (eds.), On Turtles and Dragons and the Dangerous Quest for a Media Art Notation System (Linz: Times Up Press, 2012), p. 9. They elaborate the criteria for ‘notation-system-ability’ thus: “Is there an inner logic? … Is there a vocabulary? … Are the notations potentially accessible to at least one entity/person? … Are other aspects intentionally left out?”, p. 9.

[2] Cf. Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil, ‘Notion of Notation >< Notation of Notion’, in Performance Research, On An/Notations, Vol. 20, Issue 6, 2015, pp. 53-57.








[1] The Practices of Attention share qualities with the Figure of Clearing and Emptying Out.

[2] These are psychoanalytical terms originating in Sigmund Freud’s ‘Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis’, 1912. Cf. James Strachey, Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth Press, 1975). They refer to a quality of direction-less listening, which Theodor Reik describes as “listening with the third ear”. Cf. Theodor Reik, Listening with the Third Ear: The Inner Experience of the Psychoanalyst (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, [1948] 1993).

[3]  Simon O’Sullivan notes that this productive ‘gap’ is “what Henri Bergson calls attention; the suspension of normal motor activity which in itself allows other ‘planes’ of reality to become perceivable (this is an opening up to the world beyond utilitarian interests)”, in Art Encounters, Deleuze and Guattari, Thought Beyond Representation (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 45. Cf. also Matter and Memory.

[4] Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition,trans. by Paul Patton (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014).

[5] Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, trans. by Robert Hurley (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988).

[6] Erin Manning, Always More Than One: Individuation’s Dance, Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.

[7] This phrase was used by P.A. Skantze during the Summer Method Lab, 2016.

[8] Though our project draws conceptually on a tradition of largely Western philosophy, the influence of Eastern thinking is tangible in our actual practices. Whilst a detailed exploration of non-Western genealogies of practices was not the specific focus for this project, our practicesdo draw variously on our individual interests in different lineages of moving, breathing, voicing: Buddhist mantra and the mindfulness of the body (kaya) through breath and posture as described in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta; yogic prāāyāma (breath control); the sufi walking meditation of Nazar bar Kadam (Watch Your Step), or the spinning of the whirling dervish. The practices also draw on various Somatic Movement and BodyMindCentering techniques. Cf. SOMEX — short for SOMatic EXtasy — which is a collaboration project (founded in 2007, and of which Mariella Greil is a member) whose shared enquiry explores the relation of ecstatic movement practices and performative art, by creating research experiences based on somatic techniques of touch and imagery at the interface of these two fields of practice [https://www.wuk.at/somex-group/]. 

[9] Alternatively, Giorgio Agamben’s philosophical conception of “whatever singularity” calls for a form of being that appropriates ‘being to itself’ (beyond identity or belonging), which resonates with our conscious ‘undoing’ of discipline, delineations and categorisations. Cf. Catherine Mills, The Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben (Stocksfield: Acumen, 2008). For Agamben, “Whatever (quodlibet) — ‘being such that it always matters’ or ‘its being such as it is’. The Latin always already contains, that is, a reference to the will (libet). Whatever being has an original relation to desire,” in Agamben, The Coming Community, trans. by Michael Hardt, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, [1993] 2007, p. 1.




We use the term wit(h)nessing (a conflation of ‘witnessing’ and ‘being with’) within the ‘score’ to refer to the different ways in which an individual might engage with the unfolding process of live exploration, other than through direct performative participation itself[1]. In the score pages of this exposition, we outline three Practices of Wit(h)nessing, though undoubtedly there are many more. Watching is engagement through the eyes, viewing what comes, is done, or happens. Listening means to open up the ears and tune in to the acoustic space. Translating equates mediation or interpretation through the different modalities of drawing, writing, forming, and moving. Whilst watching, listening and translating all take place within the process of live exploration, when activated in the key of wit(h)nessing they are practised from a position outside or beyond the frame of direct action, from the edge or side[2]




Wit(h)nessing is an individual practice that can re-sharpen attention or focus, should one’s energy or concentration lapse. Here, the act of withdrawal or taking to the edge is not one of separation or disengagement, but a means of reconnection, the revitalising of one’s engagement through the perspective of a different angle of view. Wit(h)nessing is an enabling activity then, for re-activating heightened states of alertness, vigilance and receptivity in turn, related to the event of noticing (→ Practices of Attention). Within our project, the role of the wit(h)ness has also been occupied by various ‘outsiders’; individuals who were not directly responsible for the research enquiry itself, but who have offered us different perspectives on our process, providing critical feedback as to the veracity of our research claims[3]. Indeed, our research approach seeks to collapse or render porous the boundary line between performer and audience, hoping to activate Practices of Wit(h)nessing — a call to be present, to be there — partly in resistance to the normative conventions of spectatorship[4]. However, our intent is not about  the practising of relational aesthetics[5] — too often predicated on the coercion of interactive relationships between art, artists, and participants. Rather, we seek to cultivate a complex relational ecology or ‘relationscape’[6] supporting the potentiality of polyrhythmic — even idiorrhythmic — intensities and durations of engagement, of being-with as well as being-apart[7]


Furthermore, taking oneself out or being apart does not always require a physical move or relocation, but rather describes a qualitative shift of attention from spontaneous contribution to the process of aesthetic play towards receptive observation of. It’s a move towards the active inhabitation of the — potentially radically passive — role of the wit(h)ness[8]. Drawing on Spinoza’s Ethics, Gilles Deleuze names the power to affect other forces ‘spontaneity’, and the power to be affected by others ‘receptivity’. To wit(h)ness is to become open to the potential of being affected, an ethical practice inandof itself. Our Practices of Wit(h)nessing echo the empathetic and relational aspects of our enquiry, foregrounded within those Empathetic Figures underscored by qualities of between-ness, with-ness, together-ness. They strive towards a condition of receptive involution, folded entanglement of wit(h)ness and wit(h)nessed. Likewise, we acknowledge the entanglement of references that shape our use of the term wit(h)ness. For Jean-Luc Nancy, the experience of ‘being’ is always one of ‘being with’, where the concept of ‘I’ is not prior to that of ‘we’: the nature of existence is one of co-existence, where “being cannot be anything but being-with-one-another, circulating in the with and as the with of this singularly plural existence”[9]. For Daniel Stern, the specific ‘vitality affects’ generated through being-in-relation can generate an event of “affective inter-subjectivity”[10] with the potential to irrevocably alter or re-organise our “implicitly felt inter-subjective field”[11]. Indeed, as Bracha L. Ettinger states, “the question of wit(h)nessing arises, where the I reattunes itself in co-response-ability with the non-I’s traces within a shared psychic space … where we can talk about co-response-ability and asymmetrical responsibility and coemergence-in-difference on a transsubjective level, as the time-space of encounter-event is shared by several borderlinking I(s) and non-I(s) […] Here a copoietic jointness evolves, only inasmuch as it is transfused with compassion”[12]. The being-with of wit(h)nessing has epistemological as well as ethical and empathetic implications. For Vilém Flusser, the gesture of “ ‘pure’ research” or “scientific method” (“the gesture of the transcendent subject”) is predicated on “the difference between subject and object, human being and world, I and it”[13]. In contrast, he advocates a research paradigm less concerned with “a hypothesis on one side and an observation on the other”, but rather emerging, “from a concrete, full, living experience of being-in-the-world”[14].







[1] We are grateful to critical wit(h)ness Dieter Mersch whose reflections on the complex histories of witnessing (Summer Lab, 2016) prompted our differentiation of the role of wit(h)ness from witness. In Epistemologies of Aesthetics, p. 47, Mersch specifically references the ‘discourse on witnessing’ — e.g. Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘Un souffle / Ein Hauch’, in Nicolas Berg, Jess Jochimsen and Bernd Stiegler (eds.), Shoah. Formen der Erinnerung. Geschichte, Philosophie, Literatur, Kunst (Munich: Wilhem Fink, 1996), pp. 122-129; Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (New York: Zone Books, 1999)

[2] In this sense, wit(h)nessing might also be differentiated from self-witnessing (→ Self-Reporting).

[3] Alain Badiou “employs a distinction between le veridique/veridicité and le vrai. Veracity, veridicity and veridical are employed, as distinct from truth”, trans. note by Oliver Feltham, Alain Badiou, Being and Event, (London and New York: Continuum, 2005), p. xxxiii. 

[4] Cf. P.A. Skantze, Itinerant Spectator/Itinerant Spectacle (Brooklyn, New York: Punctum Books), 2013.
[5] Cf. Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Dijon: Les Presses Du Réel, 1998) and a critique by Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells, Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012).
[6]  Cf. Erin Manning, Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy (Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press, 2009).

[7] Cf. Roland Barthes, How to Live Together (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).

[8] Cf. Thomas Carl Wall, Radical Passivity, Levinas, Blanchot and Agamben (New York: SUNY Press, 1999).

[9] Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural (Stanford,: Stanford University Press, 2000), p. 3. Luce Irigaray elaborates a model of ‘being with the other’ where “human becoming is considered as a relation-with: with oneself, with the world, with the other.” (The Way of Love, p. 87). We also draw on a Heideggerian sense of “Being-with” (Mitsein) (Cf. Being and Time, New York: Harper, 1962); Martin Buber’s formulation of an I-Thou relationship in which the other is not separated by discrete bounds (Cf. I and Thou, New York: Scribner, 1958); Erin Manning and Brian Massumi’s “withness of worlding” (Cf. Thought in the Act: Passages in the Ecology of Experience, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), and Jacques Derrida’s ‘being-with beyond fraternalism’ (Cf. Politics of Friendship, London and New York: Verso, [1994] 2005).

[10] Daniel Stern, Forms of Vitality: Exploring Dynamic Experience in Psychology, the Arts, Psychotherapy and Development (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 172.

[11] Stern, 2010, p. xvi.

[12] Bracha L. Ettinger, Intimacy, wit(h)nessing and non-abandonment, http://jordancrandall.com/main/+UNDERFIRE/site/files/q-node-562.html. Cf. also Ettinger, The Matrixial Borderspace, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

[13] Vilém Flusser, Gestures (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, [1991] 2014), p. 155. 

[14] Flusser, [1991] 2014, p. 156.