[iDC] Some things about performance

Khan, Omar omarkhan at ap.buffalo.edu
Thu Sep 21 18:53:18 EDT 2006

Hi John and Sergio,
John I agree with your sentiment that embodied experience is a necessary component of learning but I don't think that you have to personally experience something prior to conceptualizing or theorizing about it. This would suggest that we can't really know anything that we haven't experienced. I can know things through others' experiences as well as through reasoning myself or following other's reasoning about those things that I will never experience. By privileging one form of knowledge over another we foreclose the vitality of exchange, back and forth, that reason and embodied experience go through to create knowledge.

>'perform or else' is not a tyranny created in and exported by the united >states - 
>it is the lifeblood of every performative condition around the world
>any and every action requires enacting 
>you do have to perform 
>to just do it 
>(to live, to try to live) 
>or else

I think you miss the point of the "or else". This is a directive that has been given, but by whom? It may be the zeitgeist of the age but it hasn't always been the case. You say it is the "lifeblood" of living. But even as you try to remove the performative politics ("tyranny") of "or else" your own language betrays you: "to just do it, (to live, to try to live), or else."

or else what! Or else I will lose my job, my health, my freedom, my life. Life is not performance... Performances dictate. What are you dictating?

>women birthing babies must perform somehow 
>babies themselves must perform 
>and as they grow they learn first to 'act out' 
>and then to 'act up' 
>and lastly to 'act their age'

What if a child doesn't act his age. Does he/she not perform? 
What if a woman can't birth or has a miscarriage. Does she not perform?

>What does performance have to do with distributive creativity? with >technological situatedness? with 'things'?

Performance is an embodied action, by an individual, a community, an institution (people and things) for a particular purpose (entertainment, education, protest, winning etc.). The type of body a performance works through can be corporeal (my body) and/or conceptual (a group, a building, a nation). Duro3 is engaged in a performance with his intended audience. Sounds like he is a great performer and well rewarded. Is his performance creative? cool? marketable? maybe all three. Good for him.

This is where I think what Sergio says
>Because "performance", for me, relates in a lot of ways to productivity, >efficiency, and the demands of a production system which expects us to >perform as fast and precise as machines; and "installation" relates to the >imposition of a technological, calculated and planned reality over the one >that was there before. 

Very much resonates with me. I also want another word but having come up with one will that also go sour. Maybe "performance's" ambiguity, its normativity and its queerness is still useful?
From: idc-bounces at bbs.thing.net [mailto:idc-bounces at bbs.thing.net] On Behalf Of john sobol
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 12:12 AM
To: IDC list
Subject: RE: [iDC] Some things about performance

performance as knowledge motor 
as enacting 
performance as normative category 
as metaphor 

performance as practice 
performance as theory 

it's my opinion 
that you can't learn about the latter without living the former 
and that performance praxis must be the epicentre of performative wisdom 

what do people actually do? 

do people actually communicate? 

* * * 

i really liked Trebor's short list of situated technological behaviours in his recent post 
a bunch of samples from his life 
a sequence lifted from experience 
and performed in print 

(Anaïs Nin called print "the second tasting") 

I'd like to learn about situated technologies that way 
about emerging technologies that way 
as an accretion of incremental observations of local behavioural changes 
rather than barking ahistorical bafflegab, like: 

"At the crack of millennia, performativity guides innumerable processes 
ranging from the intricacies of class, race, ethnic, gender, and sexual 
identification to the large-scale installations of technologies, 
organizations and cultures."Perform- or else" is a challenge made in the 
USA and now restoring itself worldwide through innumerable circuits... 

'perform or else' is not a tyranny created in and exported by the united states - 
it is the lifeblood of every performative condition around the world 

any and every action requires enacting 
you do have to perform 
to just do it 
(to live, to try to live) 
or else 

and it's not a macho thing 
women birthing babies must perform somehow 
babies themselves must perform 
and as they grow they learn first to 'act out' 
and then to 'act up' 
and lastly to 'act their age' 
and then they're fully grown 
each of us acting 
performing our lives 
aware of the narrative 
the narratives 
utterly dependent on them always 

the important question for this list has to be: what does this have to do with distributed creativity? with technological situatedness? with 'things'? 

i think that what matters is exactly the things we do 
the acts we perform 

sure words are important 
because words can be acts 
especially - always in fact, - when they are spoken 
but not at all always when written 
many written words are the opposite of acts 
they are defenses against acts 
against action 

Trebor's literary derive described encounters with 'things people do' 
his vignettes felt situated 
even tho i couldn't tell you where any of them happened without checking the post 
but i experienced them as connected to real places 

like, to me, this is the epitome of a certain kind of complex contemporary performance: 

my good friend, the hardest of the hard, Duro3 
gets paid to go to the slickest clubs and to photograph partiers 
i watched him move through a club one night like a magnet 
glammed up guys and girls preening at him 
not that Duro3 gives a shit about any of that 
but they pose and the flash from his 10 megapixel camera blinds us 
Duro3 whips his camera around in that instant 
and the partiers open their eyes into a fat LCD screen 
displaying their own image 
Duro3 deadpans as the partiers stare 
if they like it he keeps it 
if not he deletes it without a thought 
and takes another 
til its right 

it knocked me out 

they are performers 
at each other's service 
maybe not a stretch for the libidinous partiers who are there to perform anyway 
but Duro3's kinetic approach utterly subverted the traditional power dynamics of photographic portraiture 
all in a moment 

and of course the shots are online the next day 
on one of the club's online photo galleries 
locating the ongoing (via message boards, forwarded emails, myspace or facebook links to friends, selves, strangers, etc.) 
in a locale, a business, a brand 
successfully performing a cross-platform strategy 
hybridity for profit and fun 

so what is that? 
something to talk about maybe 
maybe even some kind of distributed performative situated public creativity 
i make no claims 
it's just some thing i saw 


bluesology * printopolis * digitopia

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