Open limit: field as witness

Lyons, Marcia
Jackson, Mark
Johnson, Rosser
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This PhD project is undertaken through a creative works process, culminating in a series of experiments produced during candidature, polyphonically named Open Limit; field as witness. A polyphonous textual, folding practice and critical engagements, the textual investigates in ways that refuse writing as commentary on practice or practice as counter-point of theoretical plaeaus. The PhD ‘dissertation’ is presented as an active processual encounter where sound and image fuse, and in this refuses an orthodox containment of research to the stasis of the book, or to the geo-fixity of an exhibition architecture.

“...Language is a virus, oooooo” — Laurie Anderson, O' Superman (1981)

Desert: Untitled (2011-13) is the latest in a series of prescribed investigations, born out of the performative uncanny in which the human body — with its psychic drives and physical thresholds — is exposed to actual site energies, inspired by John Cage's description, as the telepathic in live media. Unfolding across a series of geographical realities (ice, deep sea, desert), over the span of three years, the work explores site as an entity with its own psychology and momentum (wind, temperature, seismic, sonic), introducing the notion of a subtle alchemy: field as witness. This is an intro-ducting into different kinds of analog and networked situations in which an audience and a site's energies are in play, fusing more with the contemporary environment in the moment. Within a dynamic sense of standing -in, -with or -among remote and local energies, I invite viewers to access a living presence within their own improvisational moves. Remote frequencies become a kind of character study, suggesting a porosity, awaiting entry and passage, as well as the 'wide open,' as an endless metaphor for field. Each geographical circumstance has its own field of intensity. This idea of a site voicing is formulated in relationship to the increased complexity and intensification of a field witnessing, prompting more intricate forms of site development. Exploring forces in live performance, the desert coordinate, takes this principle as a governing sensibility. In this sense, Desert: Untitled, is a live field study excerpt of Open Limit: Field as Witness.

In my research trajectory, Open Limit has developed a more recognizable character, that is, a vision and voice that fuses endurance in live-site performance, and incorporates ‘physicalized’ projections and sometimes text. I regard it as participatory—a ‘brew’ inhabiting the live-worlds and traditions of the public art and witnessing sphere, but thickened with cross-pollinating performative disciplines — film, sound, theatre and live media — that help weave a context for developing a system of activated viewing. The desert coordinate is the culmination of three years of research expeditions (geo- psi- tele-) in which a fundamental questioning of ‘encounter’ thematically explores the performative nature of site/nonsite – narrative/non-narrative. I use the notion of activated-cinema to give a name to this inter-relating of media structures. Each site position is ‘blocked out’ as one might block out a location for performance:

Desert: Untitled on site field study Scene Block: White Sands New Mexico (long takes – fixed camera) Time/Space: Sunrise–Sunset Local/Global: WGS84 32° 30′ 2.52″ N, 106° 36′ 30.96″ W32.5007,-106.6086,UTM13S 348882 35970

Algo-cinematic performance involves an open non-linear , activated, transitional system (if...then else-operation). Cinematic and telematic sequences are shot on location and triggered by proximity-based sensors as viewers move. Creative interference in actual networked situations, feedback as ‘actants,’ energetics entangle with site. An intermixing, generative sensation of field is recorded through a series of performances that like geometry live algo-cinema describe a liminal space that doesn’t exits in real space but only in an idea of perfect space. Or like swarming molecules, describe an invisible realm that is real, and yet, is the smallest representation of a chemical reaction. Open Limit: field as witness concerns per-formative forces, considered as frameworks, mappings, skeletons, bodily gestures in real-time and in virtual time. Open Limit structures its engagements as three plateaus of encounter: situation; on, condition; liminal, and production; pulse, punctuated by (;) a parallel post-studio work flow. Modality, what I think of as modifiable and modulated, is an intermingling of a telepathic performative continuum—remote site, performance, live-cast. As a new critique on activated performance, Open Limit: field as witness explores just how these tele-pathies, these persuasive signals incite participation and illuminate nuances of another kind of fleeting and conditional dimension. The critical discussions reference the writings of artists: John Cage, Robert Smithson, Roy Ascott and Samuel Beckett among others in an attuning discussion to something essential in questioning aurality itself, visuality and the phenomenal. Critical engagements open to philosophies of immanence, particularly with the writings of Giorgio Agamben, Michel Serres, Brian Massumi, Slavoj Žižek and Gilles Deleuze, but also the work of Douglas Kahn and other media and dramatic theorists. The modalities of the works and their tonal resonances discern a moving from observed phenomena to participating subjects, from observed sites to observing systems. This is a swarming, on-air streaming— a zero vanishing point where the Infobahn is a ‘reflective' operating system, a no-man's-land, connecting the full sensorium—earth/atmosphere/media/human—becoming geo-morpho-psi-genetics. Between televisual/performance/sonic and environmental networking, the ‘work’ is an (in) substantial pulsing — interval — imperceptibly ‘airing.’

Telepathic , Wild-track , Algo-cinema , Field-as-witness , Live-media , Network-fiction , Method-writing , Augmented reality , Performance Art , Digital media
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