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Countdown to Gala 2017, Day 31: Excerpts from Issue #20 of the Movement Research Performance Journal

The 2017 Movement Research Gala on May 8 will celebrate 25 years of Movement Research at the Judson Church and 50 Issues of the Movement Research Performance Journal. As we count down the days until the Gala, we’re posting #50DaysOfMRPJ with Editor’s Notes and excerpts from each Performance Journal.

Movement Research Performance Journal Issue #20 was released in Winter/Spring 2000. You can view the full Table of Contents here.

*The Movement Research Gala will take place Monday, May 8 at 6pm at Judson Memorial Church. For more information, to volunteer or to purchase tickets, click here.

#MRGala2017 #50DaysOfMRPJ

MRPJ#20: Technology and the Body, Millenial Issue

Editor’s Note

Editors: Sarah Michelson and Kathy Westwater

Mystified, awed and terrified still by the concept of the telephone, I fall into a lazy, dull acceptance of the technology that is offered to me. I want more. I have a deep need to understand it and be on top of it…move into the sexy world of — I don’t really know what to call it, but you know all those shaved headed DJ boys….spinning discs…walking around with finger size camera-looking objects that contain moving images that they will later plug in and digitally alter (I think). I want to be one of those boys with those sexy machines…I want to digitally alter things and then spin on my head…be at new media central…even know for sure what new media is….I want to have to sample my life or experience it through headphones….know what DVD means or HRD or TIFF…but am terrified…cannot find the way in….not sure if I am terrified of the language, of the apparatus, of the void of virtual reality itself or if the fear stems from the deep legacy of my mother who fears machines to such an extent that she will not leave a message on an answering machine, nether will she pump her own gas, driving sometimes as much as 20 miles out of her way to find a small man in a small garage who still, in 1999, offers a service like that.

We fight about it my mother and I…perhaps because I feel it is a gender referential stance, that she as a woman depending on a man to pump her gas is pathetic…I would never allow that. Here I am though allowing those Techno boys to pump my virtual/digital gas every day. And how would it feel if my father were the one who couldn’t pump his gas?

Now we need to do almost nothing with one finger to achieve a huge result…we don’t need the car, the plane. Soon machine will enter the body, rejuvenation will happen constantly and internally; we will not need face creams or plastic surgery or blood transfusions; we will think our phone calls and we won’t need the phone. Certainly the messy procreation problem will have been solved in a Petri dish or in a digital reality somewhere. So will we need the body carbon or silicon…and what will my mother do when we disappear?

P.S.: A woman said to me in a bar last night “We are looking for the Martians but we are the Martians. Adam and Eve were Martians.”

–Sarah Michelson, Guest Editor

When first considering the content of this issue I thought one could distinguish between artists using and artists not using technology, and this issue would center on the users. Over the course of editing my assumption shifted dramatically. The earliest evidence of technology dates 2.5 million years ago with the first recognizable stone tools — that predates both cognitive thought and language. While technology has been around since before homo sapiens, the advance of computers/telecommunications has focused our perception of “technology” on the more recent manifestations. A similar line of thinking was common at the end of the last century, when industrialization supplanted the agricultural/mercantile paradigm (remember the Luddites?). Yet technology has always been inextricably linked to how we exist, how we perceive our existence, how we make art. The writings contained here are from artists/writers consciously questioning wand exploring the potentials of technology as related to our embodied lived today.

–Kathy Westwater, Guest Editor MRPJ

Technodelux

by Dean Moss

Since the Renaissance, the Western artist perceived his environment primarily in terms of the visual. His conception of space was in terms of a perspective projection upon a plane surface consisting of formal units of spatial measurement… [“The native”] and pre-alphabet people integrate time and space as one and live in an acoustic, horizonless boundless olfactory space, rather than in visual space. Their graphic presentation is like an x-ray. They put into it everything they know, rather than only what they see.

Welcome to the unforeseen.

So rich and thick and choc-colate that you caaaan’t drink it slooow cause its quick, oh de doh.

I’m talking on the phone, just talking and they had come home or were home from some place or meeting together where they had been but now they were here at home but downstairs and my sister was downstairs too but my brother wasn’t…he was gone somewhere.

The method of our time is to use not a single but multiple models for exploration — the technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century as the technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth.

I arrive, stupid tired taken with predatory civility into Dakar. to a room at the Hotel du Marche that smells of sewer waste and fear. My fear: of stains on the sheets, of bugs, of sounds, of being consumed by the night. Against the early morning darkness I lie awake dressed in a soft yellow light till cocks first crow.

In a multimedia theatrical presentation the casting of shadows provides a visual visceral link between the physical action of performance and the projected or screened imagery.

The effect of technology, whether it’s the wheel or the internet, shrinks our perception of time and space while simultaneously expanding the separation between actions and the senses.

Communication technology is interesting because of the scale of its interconnectedness, hence the scale of its effect.

It is not that “the native” is so warm, it’s that we’re so numb.

The Hotel du Marche is a brothel and like rented sex, it’s often loud, abrupt with short intense exchanges. Which is unlike Mona, who lives there. on air, “comme ca” so she tells me. She doesn’t tell me she’s a refugee from Maryland, Liberia and has left her husband and child. She doesn’t tell me she’s traveled, speaks several languages, that once on the way home from Europe she’s held hostage, robbed and raped: that she’s had an American boyfriend named Fred and met the American politician Andrew Young. She doesn’t tell me “It’s not always for the money”, until after she uses my room to wash her face and rinse her mouth. She says “Senegalese tell good stories”. I say “We can’t be lovers”. She says “No problem”. Together we go for drinks, dinner, we see an old dubbed Chuck Norris movie, “Terror dans la Ville”. Returning she takes my arm. At my room she lies on the bed kicks off her shoes and…smiles. I chatter, I pace, I fake my confidence. She says “No problem”.

So rich and thick and cho-colate that you caaan’t drink it slooow cause its quick. oh de doh.

Where a visual space is an organized continuum of a uniformed connected kind, the ear world is a world of simultaneous relationships.

But I’m here talking on the phone and listening to it hearing voices their voices the noise of their voices arguing downstairs and I can hear them here over the talking on the phone I can hear them here they’re loud.

Environments are invisible.

Technology forces us to live mythically, but we continue to think fragmentarily, and on single, separate planes.

Technology quantifies. Anything quantified is commodified. Digitalization is a means to more, better, faster quantification. More, better, faster means less noise in the system. Less noise in the system means more homogeneity.

The natives” are right, replication reduces.

Life is short be vain.

Before media there used to be a physical limit on how much space one person could take up by themselves. People, I think are the only things that know how to take up more space than the space they’re actually in, because with media you can sit back and still let yourself fill up space on records, in the movies, most exclusively on the telephone and least exclusively on television.

But me, I’m just talking on the phone just talking and I’m hearing not listening to the screams. My sister’s screams. Her panicky hysterical screaming screams, screaming uncontrollably screaming a siren, screaming her world crashing to an end like she’s dying screams. And I’m saying, “I have to go know”.

Pain is great inspiration for technology’s development.

Myth is the mode of simultaneous awareness of a complex group of causes and effects.

Kill your darlings.

I want you to know African reality” says Moussa, a musician, who sings for tips and makes me cry, Now he invites me to meet African Reality, I go with him, out far from the city to where charcoal scents the air and goat shit peppers the sand: to suburbia of cinder block and corrugated tin. We file through working, dancing, praying people in segregated formality, in mixed company, in families and alone: passing he crippled, the diseased. His parents dead, I meet his uncle, his brother, his son and his wife who adores him. He ignores her. I see their windowless room packed with possessions, no toilet and a bed: a propane tank for cooking. I’m served rice and yogurt with peanut sauce by her in whose eyes the shock of my face once reflected. She won’t look at me now. I feel shame. I feel resentment. I leave money. I leave and go shopping. I buy gifts. I buy laxative. I buy a large open room.

The effect of technology on the “the body” is often violent.

So rich and thick and choc-colate that you caaan’t drink it slooow cause its quick, oh oh de doh.

*author’s note: Technodelux” has 27 steps, some of which are stolen. The sources for these steps are as follows: 1, 5, 13, 15, 16, 23 — from THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, produced by Jerome Agel, published 1967 by Bantam Books. 20-from THE PHILOSOPHY OF ANDY WARHOL, by Andy Warhol, published 1977 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 2, 24-from CREDO by Britta Sjogren, published in The Independent-January/February 1999. 3, 12, 27-from commercial product advertisement copy. 4, 14, 21 — from “phone poem” 1996 by Dean Moss. 11, 25-from “5 journal entries” 1998 by Dean Moss.

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