a companion chapter to Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance
Stern › In Production (A Narrative Inquiry on Interactive Art)

Four years later

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 It’s more than four years later as I write this section. I passed my viva with no revisions – and this chapter was a highlight for my reviewers, both external and internal. I’m tenured in Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Nicole teaches part-time in the graduate program, and is working on her own writing. Nonie is six, totally made of awesome, and still likes broccoli. We ride bikes and roller coasters together.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Although all of the thinking and ideas for my PhD have been expanded and refined since I first wrote them (the book is a very different beastie, after all), they have become part of who I am and what I do. Experience and practice, understandings of reciprocity and movement, are not only what I try to highlight in my moving-thinking-feeling with art and writing, but also what I aim for in my teaching and the ways I engage with friends and participants and collaborators. In my current research, more than 60% of the work I make is now in equal partnership with other artists and thinkers.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 My approach can best be summarized via the spiel I usually start my ‘artist talks’ with:

I believe that artists no longer simply make images, objects, or even processes; they make discourse – both sensual and conceptual. They help to produce what Jean-Luc Nancy would call a ‘corpus.’

Artists ask us not only to ‘look,’ but to ‘look again,’ or, with all our senses, to re-examine. The best of art invites us to re-think and re-make what is.

Art is always dialogical – I mean, simply, that it is in dialogue: with history, with other art and artists, with current events, politics, pop culture, materials, and more. And it is in dialogue with people, with real people.

This is not the same as the en masse, people-powered, Internet – the supposedly democratic, vote yes or no, argue over at Wikipedia, Facebook ‘like’ this, re-Tweet, intelligence of crowds we keep hearing about. Because while I appreciate LOLcats as much as the next guy, I’m interested in more depth. I’m interested in speaking to one another on a powerful and personal level, working together to create and change ideas, matter, and matters, working together to make things, and to make things different.

I believe in the artist as public figure, as both engaging and engaged; because the only things I appreciate as much as beautiful and provocative works of art, are the discussions and transformations that can grow out of them.

Given that, I also believe that generosity is key to contemporary practices of art. If art is a conversation, you’ve gotta make people want to talk to you; you’ve gotta be nice, you’ve gotta ask questions, you have to not only be interesting, but interested – in other work and what others say and do.

We are all always already implicated across each other: in experience and practice, in production and research, in our very being (-with).

I believe in chit chat, in agency, in studio critique, in humanity; I believe in art karma, in goin’ around and comin’ around, in sending folks to see things and meet people, and in sharing my tricks and my code and myself. Teaching is a part of my practice, and a part of my work. Writing is a part of my practice and a part of my work. Collaborating is always implicit in what I do, and often explicit towards the materialization of a given piece…

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 … And I go on from there to talk about trajectories of making and thinking not dissimilar to how I do for much of this chapter. You can probably hear Nicole’s influence, the subtleties of fatherhood, the desire and hope for art and what is at stake in how we experience and practice in its situation – and then again, with the rest of the world.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 As I finish what I hope is the last draft of my book in early 2013, I’m producing eco-art, sound art, and multimedia installations with The SenseLab, kinetic and choreographic sculptures with my friend Yevgeniya Kaganovich, social media projects with Scott Kildall, and some new print and video works with Jessica Meuninck-Ganger (among other little projects, of course). And, probably because of the manuscript I’ve just completed, I’m revisiting interactive art in my studio for the first time since 2004. I’m updating enter, elicit, and stuttering, re-writing their code, and packaging them with a fourth installation I’ve recently conceptualized, as a suite of interactive installations called – of course – Body Language.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Tentatively titled scripted, the last, in-progress installation suspends, amplifies, and intervenes in the embodied activity of writing. Here a ceiling-mounted camera (a Kinect) uses head-tracking to follow participants’ movements below, and the software draws slowly fading, charcoal-like lines of their actions on screen. If and when any of the shapes they create resemble a character from the English alphabet (using Palm Pilot ‘graffiti’ gestures), that letter will be temporarily overlaid in the projection in a standard font (such as Times New Roman), accompanied by a John Cage-like oral recitation (‘Aaaaah,’ ‘Beh,’ ‘Kah,’ and so on). Not all 26 letters from the English alphabet will be possible – since many contain echoes of others in how we must move – and so the work is less about accomplishing specific gestures, and more about encountering and rehearsing textual movements at large.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 scripted asks participants to investigate Jean Luc Nancy’s concept of exscription, how the activities of writing and embodiment require one another. Nancy says that while we may not be able to produce any successful language or discourse that is ‘embodied’ as bodies are, we also fail to produce any writing without the body already in it. Inscrip- tion and exscription, language and bodies, are implicit in every-thing, every constitution, every action, every communication, every meaning and every text (Nancy, 1990). Here writing becomes more than an abstraction, created by a hand and an eye. Writing is one site of the incipient and active body, and the body always takes part in writing its own discourse.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 scripted (2013)

Download as mp4 (1:59, 109MBs)

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Taken together, the suite creates situations for the practice of four specific relations between body and language: elicit invites viewers to perform the continuity between text and the body; enter effectively asks its participants to investigate how words and activity are inherently entwined; stuttering provokes its performers into exploring the labor and intimacy of embodied listening; and scripted asks us to remember how the activities of writing, the shape and sound of language, are forever a part of both the corporeal and incorporeal.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 With Body Language, participants can investigate the complex and emergent relationships between embodiment and meaning-making. These pieces involve bodies and language in various ways, enabling in-depth and stylistic explorations of how the two are always implicated across one another. Here we experience and practice the reaches and limits of bodies and language, together, in order to better understand how they are formed, together. I pose a challenge to how bodies are mediated and re-mediated in contemporary culture, by putting embodiment and signification on the same plane of existence. And I implicitly ask what is at stake in how we perform our bodies and our media.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Body Language (2000 – 2013)

Download this video as mp4 (2:03, 112MBs)

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 *

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 I suppose the narrative arc of this chapter does get a bit jumbled at points, going between proof of academic rigor, my questions as an artist, the production of work, and family experience. So let me summarize: inquiry is always academic and personal, generous and dialogical, rehearsed and made. To make it (a) narrative is just another way to ‘make sense.’

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24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 ‘In Production’ main page

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Source: http://stern.networkedbook.org/four-years-later/