A LITTLE INVENTORY OF SCORES
BY PETRA SABISCH
This article was first published in Maska, Performing Arts Journal, Issue: Open Work, ed. B. Cvejic, Vol 20, Autumn/ Winter 2005, pp. 30-35.
I ask and you answer?
No. Let’s do it the other way round.
What is it that compels you in scores?
Perhaps it is first of all their strange quality of being virtu-real. A score is what tends to be exercised and thus waits latently for actualization, for realization. This latent tendency towards a practice is inscribed in the score itself, for it does not have to be realized in order to become a score. A musical score, for example, which has never been played, is nevertheless a score. And this is no question of given stylistic elements, identifiable codes or a maybe witnessed intentionality. A score is not a genre, but a generator of what escapes from it: its realization. It is in this sense, that a score encompasses all kind of possibilities. At this point, where we can define a score as what proliferates the virtuality of possible other realizations, the score is simultaneously virtual and real. It is the maybe untimely
but con-temporaneity of something, which is always already there and which insists in its practice.
Always already there? What do you mean?
If you characterize scores in a wider sense as a kind of not necessarily intentional programs articulating a real, they are a kind of grammar of the real. Multiple, different, a-logic, discontinous and maybe sense-lacking, but grammars for a real to emerge. Just think of body movements in a supermarket, and the tacit rules, codes, aspects of conduct etc. which regulate them. What interests me in that, is neither behaviourism nor a social analysis of movement regulation. It is the undecidability, whether it is the real real which unfolds itself as being constituted by unknown and manifold scores, or our reading of the real real which submits scores in order to grasp it. Undecidable coincidence between reading (as making sense of) and constructing (as attributing sense to); provoking an infinite quest for existing invariables that may determine the variables of every day life and vice versa. I see it as a blurring picture puzzle, in which a momentary assemblage of variables appears to «make sense», that is to become visible, readable, before it tips over into the perception of another assemblage, which has to abort the first one for the sake of its readability. In this sense, a score is the double-bind of a record and that, what is recorded: the escape of the score. Choré and graph. You can zoom from one to the other, but never get rid of their reciprocal relationship: A pattern, an algorithm or a map might try to organize time-spaces, numbers or matters. Yet, to become readable they have permanently to distinguish between their attributed signification and what is a-signified A little inventory of scores. Self-conversation by Petra Sabisch. in order to expel the latter and have a sense appear: A map full of post-offices is not a map, a pattern is not a pattern when it does not repeat its sameness in front of an otherness, an algorithm is not an algorithm if there is no series of different numbers etc.
In other words, a score produces the hierarchy of score and non-score as condition of its own possibility, as well as it distributes the degrees of it.
Can you give an example?
If you imagine yourself listening to the contemporary interpretation of a written musical score, composed let's say for a cello and a voice, you will be able to recognize it, if you listen to the cello and the voice. Whatever the bird in the courtyard does, he will not be on the level of enabling you to recognize the score, for his omission is part of the specificity of the score. The bird is thus as non-score as you are, mere part of a noisy silence that makes music audible. But at the same time, you might consider the bird and the car crash in the street as being part of the score, just because they are there, realized within the frame of a score. The possibility of them being scored or not, becomes then a question of degrees of probability. Of course, you can always verify by re-listening to other interpretations, since every score is by definition reproducible, repeatable, reiterable. But if the score is indetermined as in Cage's case, including thereby variables, accidents and shifting parameters, its realization might never be the same, to the extent that you are unable to recognize it. (1) The realization of a score can thus not be identified with a unique score. Which is far less banal than it sounds: It means that the relationship between a score and a realization is not unique. It is multiple per se. Scores tend towards realizations, infinitely plural, and score-realizations let emerge the co-possibilities of multiple scores. Just because there might be one single sheet of paper with some notations on it, does not mean that this is the only possibility to record a specific score. Due to their virtu-real, the scores extend their domain towards the possibility of alterity. This is the first aspect: A score is multiples of scores, multiples of realizations.
The second aspect concerns scores, like for example, the imagined handwritten paper with musical notes. When I distinguished beforehand between a score and its realization, I have now to come back to this point: A score is already a realization. But definitely not because it realizes what has been "mentally" anticipated beforehand and now is just represented. A score is already a realization because the "writing" of the score realizes the score in a specific media. The relationship between a musical score as denoted on a paper and its musical interpretation, is nothing else than the translation from one media (writing in a note system) to another (interpreting with instruments). Therefore, the relationship between scores and realizations is not only multiple, but translating and "transmodal" (Joseph Grigely). A score, realization on its own, interpellates its translation into other modes of realization.
When I said above, "a score is what escapes from it: its realization", this has to be refined: A score is a realization of multiple other realizations escaping to it. It is only by realizing what escapes to it, that a score can simultaneously be specific and multiple. And that is by the way, what marks the game character of scores as a kind of metonymics of translation: being nothing more than what is always already there and the urge to realize it again and again in specific modes and different languages.
It is important here to stress the fact, that scores, understood as transmodal translations, do not necessarily refer to an original, a model, or a prior. The idea of the first and the authentic can rather be interpreted as one main score in occidental societies to resolve problems of time: You take a progressive linear system, add causality and get a powerful system, that distributes time. Yet, time is more complicated, and the co-possibility of other scores testifies for its plurality of specific modes of translations. And if they copy something, then this is no longer the re-production of an earlier model, but the multiplication of realizations, which means the possibility to be trans-lated. In this sense of copying as multiplying, scores copy signifying orders, realize infinite doubles of their tendencies and a-signify thereby the order of the real as coextensive differal of the virtual. Scores as realizations copy realizations of scores…
I'm sorry, but I got a little bit lost: Scores seem somehow to be everywhere and in everything. They are the virtu-real two-foldedness of choreography, the undecidability of reading and attributing sense, a picture puzzle, two instruments without bird, two instruments with bird and accidents, multiple realizations realizing multiplicity, a playful translation and transmodation, and they undo signifying orders with a yet unknown and even playful ease. Isn't that a bit much? For it does not qualify the term score to be very operable in a concrete work, does it? Could you perhaps define more precisely, how you use the term score in your work?
I distinguish between cues, instructions, scripts, notations and scores: A cue is what determines and disengages a change (in theatre, the conventional example is the technician changing a light according to a prior agreement often related to time, actions or sound). An instruction is a device, that suggests a (way of) doing, moving, thinking (e.g. "go to centre of the stage"). A script is the often linear de-scription of something realized or to be realized. A notation is an undisclosed system of recording or composing ways of doing, moving or thinking. And a score is a realized composition of articulations, that urges for other realizations, interpretations and translations. It is a "partition" of sensible agencies, that communicates and shares modes of perceptibility, close to what Jacques Rancière calls "partage du sensible".
When did your work on scores begin?
I think my work on scores started with Cartographics. It was one of these ideas, which you cannot get rid off, they always come back and begin to take form. At first, I was very angry about myself, because I finally wanted to be "efficient" and correspond to the needs of the choreographic market, that is to make a short solo piece of 10 or 20 minutes for theatre, in order to try one of these festivals for emergent artists. But I was unable to do that. Every time, I tried to work on this mini-format, I finally ended up on Cartographics. I guess, that this had as well to do with the fact, that I wanted to produce without having the means, and living in a 10 square-meter room in Paris with my minidisc player. By chance, I got then this call for projects from Danças Na Cidade, had a try and got selected. This was in 2002.
Can you tell what Cartographics is? And what the work on scores means concretely?
Cartographics is an audio-choreographed performance, which was conceived for the huge terrace of Chão do Lorreiro Market in Lisbon. I remember, that in the beginning, there was this fascination about mapping, linked to the necessity of questioning spectacular modes of visibility and representation, as well as the paradoxical desire to create a piece, which is at the same time absolutely choreographed and completely open for interpretation. I wanted to take into account, that anyway each spectator produces her own show; yet, I did not want to perform a mere refusal. On the contrary: I wanted to offer a lot. I am not sure now, to remember the reason…
So I thought, that maybe there was a chance to expose my ambivalent role as author by first over-imposing and exhausting it in a kind of absolutely fundamental score, in order to interrupt consequently, in a second step, the functions of this authorship. The spectators should really get the place of co-authors and me, I should become a choreographer, who is completely deprived of controlling time, dramaturgy, the number of participants, existing movements and movement quality.
To be more concrete: I realized, in close collaboration with the musician Frédéric Jean, a cartography of "sound-cards", i.e. recorded CDs, which the visitors were free to choose from a "menu" at the entrance, that is from a range of ten different cards (Idle, Music, Labyrinth, Motion, Birds, Love, Time, Identity, Gender, Little). (You could as well just visit the 800 square meters with an amazing view over Lisbon). Equipped with a portable CD-player, the visitors were then invited to explore the card they had chosen. Now, on the cards, there were choreographic propositions, that everybody could do or not. They were meant to be real propositions (and not this kind of concealed happening, where you are forced to perform acting), since each card was distributed only one time (and then was returned in order to get redistributed again). Therefore, there was not one person among the present persons on the terrace, who could control, whether or not you followed the propositions, whether or not you did it "well". No distribution of a common measure, but possibility of a shared experience. Of course, the visitor could give back a card immediately, if it did not match his expectations, as well as she could re-listen twice or take successively as many cards as present. And as the whole performance lasted nine hours, the dramaturgy was that of duration: you simply take the time you want. My objective was to offer different "maps of perception", rather than visual guides to appropriate space or movement manuals to demonstrate performativity. On the one hand, I was interested in making a piece, whose subject, duration, chronology and realization was entirely chosen by the visitor-performers. And on the other hand, I wanted to inject a doubt in the "rules" at work in order to question, whether the present movements were steered by a choreographic score, the social and cultural codes or by a matter of circumstance, a mere coincidence.
So far, for the plans. What happened?
What happened, was that an always varying number of persons moved on the terrace, some of them equipped with concentrated bodies, listening to a walkman, others equipped with cameras to take pictures. At some moments, there were interactions, at others, postures and movements of everyday life, walking, accelerating, slowing down, laying down or sleeping. Sometimes they were like chains of movements, as if they were related, sometimes I saw slightly individualized ways of conduct, sometimes informal group dynamics. What was really working for me, as well, when we played it in a park in Zagreb (Urban Festival 2003), was a shift in the economy of attention: It was, as if there was no need for a visibility other than the ongoing spectacle of an audience, which was at the same time audience and performer. There was no need for a cathartic and panoptical dramaturgy (you see without being seen). Instead, there was this relaxed concentration while listening to the headphones, which induced a corporeality I still find interesting: aware, individual, sometimes isolated, sometimes related, but never closed to the very tiny things going on. Interesting, not because of its aspect of grace, but rather because it witnesses a mode of visibility, that requires a duration and in which you can never be certain, whether what you see is the object of an observation or the production of visibility.
I would like you to come back to the scores: How are the cards, you are speaking about, composed? What are they proposing? And what is it that makes you associate scores and cartography?
Well, my propositions depend on the subject of the card and are too different, as to give you a short account of how they are made. I can just try to give examples: Whereas the motion card suggests relational movement games, creating an inter-dependency to the other movements on the terrace and to the ambiant or recorded sound, the gender card resembles rather a video game, which proposes performative strategies in order to interact with the story of JOY. The idle card and the labyrinth card, I let you imagine. On the little card, we just created a short sound comic without words, so that it is comprehensible for all those who do not speak Portugese or English. And if you take the love card, whose time is of course potentially eternal and not only 20 minutes as the others, you get an envelope at the entrance, as well as you get explained, how to program tracks on your CD- Walkman. At a certain track then, you can choose among approximately 220 song titles (included in the envelope) the one you want to compose. I say compose, because we realized a love song with Frédéric Jean, whose stanzas are divided in such a way, that you get an enormous quantity of possible combinations, without hearing the same song twice. According to the title and your actual mood, you can thus vary within the whole range from lonesome solo versions in despair to bizarre or happy duet fusions. The movements here are often reduced to a finger tipping on a CD-Player and a listening body. And yet, there is a difference in bodies listening to a love song and bodies, which don't find the entrance of the sound labyrinth. It is however important that this difference never becomes the display of expressivity, and instead remains on a level, where you have to balance questions on interpretation.
In general, Cartographics tries to engender this kind of balancing between the real and the so called fiction. Fiction here, does not mean to fake or to lure. It is, as Jacques Rancière puts it, simply a way of elaborating intelligible structures, that "indistinguish" between the reason of descriptive and narrative agencies of fiction and those agencies, that describe and interpret historical and social phenomena of the world. (2) Maybe it is because I studied literature and history, that I never believed in this distinction between fact and fiction, which is as well the fundamental distinction between science and arts. This is not to say, that there is no real or everything is fiction. It is the other way round: Without tracing sensible agencies and fictional ways to the coordinates of a real, always to be reinvented, we cannot grasp it. A cartographer knows the problem of drawing a map alongside the phenomena and their depiction. And writing, as Deleuze states in his Foucault book, is drawing a map. (3) I would add, that cartographies are scores: plans of the real, plans of the possible.
What were the difficulties you met in Cartographics?
One of the difficulties, are always the instructions themselves: On the one hand, you have to be very explicit and precise in what you want to suggest, (for example the handling of a CD-Player is still not evident to older persons), and on the other hand, you want to escape to didacticism. To a larger extent, this difficulty concerns the readability of scores in general, and in performance, readability goes together with dramaturgy. The crucial thing with instructions is that you have to make elisions, deletions, ellipses and omissions. Yet, it turns out, that what you leave out is as important as what you say. This becomes even more difficult, if you have to anticipate everything and find reliable parameter, without having seen the space (which I chose from a range of propositions by Danças, thanks to a delighting documentation. Thank you Danças!) and without being able to change the score instantly. Moreover it was outside and the weather you never really know. For example: "Go to the balcony" is not the same as saying "Have a look on the Tagus" is not the same as saying "You have to follow the general movement of the persons who come to this terrace" is not the same as saying "move carefully backwards to a point which is at the same distance from the entrance as from the roof". What is interesting in this difficulty, is that you have immediately to think about the parameters you choose and the economies, which are at work within these parameters.
This was exciting in the translation, that Paula Caspão realized. It was extremely important for me to have a Portugese version. Yet, on the gender card, for example, every sentence, that I had carefully freed from gendered clarity, became once more gendered. Which was definitely not a problem of the translator, but of cultural contexts of language: You cannot abstract from the fact, that the linguistic parameters of gendering are quite different from one language to another.
Another problem, linked to the readability of scores but on the re/production level, is the documentation of Cartographics. Although I decided to present Cartographics by three not exemplary but different CDs, I am always requested to send the video. I find this nevertheless a little bit bizarre, since the piece consists of 4 hours sound score, which are not on the tape. Once I was told, that it was a technical problem to listen to the CDs, because producers were only equipped with VHR-players. But besides the whole problematics of documentation itself, it is strange, when precisely those modes and economies of visibility, that I tried to criticize in my work, build finally the frame, through which the work is accessed. And apparently, video is the unique format for denoting performances …
In Contaminated (Atelier Frankfurt 2005), you don't use sound scores anymore and the scores that appear, seem to function more indirectly. Could you explain, what you worked on precisely?
Contaminated has not had the idea of scores in the beginning. It is a lecture-performance that started, when I realized that I have been contaminated, physically, by another lecture-performance. I wanted to understand how this materialization happened. What it was, that made me say, that I have been the product of circumstances of Product of Circumstances. On a larger scale, it is the question, how the so-called immaterialities, such as a speech, a thought or a performance, do materialize in our bodies. Artaud raised this question in the Theatre and the Pest, when he states, that the exterior events, political catastrophes and cataclysms, discharge, while passing to the plan of theatre, in the sensibility of the person who watches, with the force of an epidemic. I thought, that there was no reason, against what occidental history might tell us, to believe, that this should only happen like an epidemic and not as an epidemic. (4) For the protecting fourth wall, was perhaps not that impermeable, as we thought.
In order to find out, I used the same disposition as the performance: a desk, a screen or wall for slide projection and a chair in a white space. I reconstructed the situation, as far as possible to have an appropriate frame for my questions. Then I started to develop theories of how contamination could work, following first biomedical explanations of viral functioning and then those of computing science. But there we are: If I took the viral model, I already believed, that there was a kind of "program" behind, since in computing science a virus is a program. That's why I found myself exactly in that questioning, that I tried to explain in the beginning of this conversation: You observe what already is, in order to find out its ways of functioning, however rational they might be. You begin to attribute sense. Which led me back to the phenomenon, that the performer, Xavier le Roy, had described for his biomedical research on breast cancer: That the observation of a fact transformed the fact. If I took this remark seriously, (and anyway I was obliged to start Contaminated at the point where Product of Circumstances ended), this meant, that "the perception of a fact dissolves the fact or shifts it to something else than a fact, another fact or no fact at all. A fact and shift of a fact, rupture of the fact. Affect and Effect". (Contaminated). In the lecture-part of the performance, I affirm this transformation proper to the perception of facts, by applying different filters to the slides of the reconstructed performance situation. Only by using methods similar to the biomedical research, e.g. contrasting, filtering and staining, my slides ended up to resemble to the representations of oncogene distribution in breast cancer tissues. In other words: you see, what you expect to see. Or to be more precise: the scientific methods and procedures are by definition aesthetic (aisthesis = perception) and their ways to attribute a visibility to phenomena entail a whole range of parameters: Ruth Mayer and Brigitte Weingart show in their book Virus, in how far viral representations depend on body images, gendered depictions of intrusion and war and technological procedures of creating visibility. (5)
The problematic of scores thus re-occurred on several levels: first, as a way to understand the possible mechanisms at work in a contamination, second, as a means to question the production and distribution of visibility in scientific research and performances and third, as a tool to question authorship.
Can you expand a little bit on the relationship between Contaminated and authorship?
Yes. Alike Product of Circumstances, Contaminated tells and shows my autobiographical way from science to performance and choreography. It has to take into account these personal aspects, because a contamination is never more general than a specific body. Now, the interesting thing about contaminations is, that there is no author. You may speculate or believe to know, who infected you, but this "transfer" or "relais" (a person, an animal, a toilet, water, wind, whatever) is not, what authorizes a specific materialization in your body. So, I was contaminated with Product of Circumstances, but could not tell by whom or by what. (How does the raw material know?) It could be the performance situation, the performer himself, a bundle of facts, effects and affects or an exterior event… The incapacity to assign an author is part of the contamination itself: for a contamination is a moment of reversal, in which something im/material unfolds as material and vice versa. What then matters in a contamination, is rather its mechanisms, than its causes, for you have to keep your body open to other contaminations, in order to survive. And in this sense, from the point of view of a reversability, a contamination enables us to shift the perspective from authors and causalities to the anonymity of material effects.
At a certain moment in my work, I remembered that Xavier had published the score for Product of Circumstances. (It is a short introductory note explaining, in which circumstances and how the piece has to be performed, followed by the general score of the piece.) When I re-read it, I realized, that Contaminated still corresponded more or less to the introductory note. That's why I quote and project it at the end of the performance, in order to stress the fact, that Contaminated is at the same time the realization of a score, an autobiographical parcours between science/ arts and theory/ practice, as it is the copy of a performative disposition. Or put otherwise: A contamination is the mutual reversion of circumstances into products into circumstances into products…
On a more general level of production, this becomes of course interesting, because the appropriation, that every contamination is, questions authorship and the status of an original. What is a quote on a corporeal level? Do you need language to mark a quote? When is a quote no longer a quote but a translation? At which moment do movements belong to you and become your "own" choreographic language?
Moreover, there is this phenomenon, that you cannot see Product of Circumstances in the same way, when you have seen Contaminated beforehand. They inform each other. Or as Pirkko Husemann blogged, they are "a dialogue of articulated bodies, that speak the language of flesh". (6) In the first version I showed in Berlin, some persons of the audience were very offended by the fact, that they did not know, if it was serious or a fake. One said that she wished to see quotation marks, in order to know at every moment of the performance, if and whom I am quoting. Some others wanted to maintain the place of what they considered as original. And it is true, that Product of Circumstances has become a classic of lecture-performances, which makes it dangerous to be compared to it. But that's exactly what it is about: contaminations are dangerous. Yet, to deal with them, you cannot simply ignore them, and an absolute protection is neither desirable nor possible. It seems to me, that the only way is, to use them and to understand their ways of functioning. And these ways of functioning do apparently cross the representational regime of knowledge, mimesis and poiesis – but they are of another order.
Could you outline now, shortly, in which way this work on score is different to your new project Program?
Program is the essay to think choreography as cybernetics, that is, as a way of understanding and controlling a "steering" or "engineering". I think, the word cybernetics refers to navigation in greek antiquity, which is more evident perhaps. When Norbert Wiener published his famous book Cybernetics in 1948, he placed cybernetics as a science, which tried to capture the interfaces between biology on the one hand and technological systems without engineers on the other, in order to use the logics of life for technology. In a certain way, Program starts from the same interface, but shifts the accent: It tries to combine the aliveness of the persons I work with, with ways of processing them (technology is nothing else than the logics of a way of proceeding, with other words, a method), in order to understand, the "autonomy" or the "play" within processed corporealities.
The main score of the work, is to develop a program. Somehow, that happens already, consciously or not, in every choreography and every performance. I consider this program as a score, in the sense, that it is a realized composition of articulations, which urge for other realizations, such as usage. The aim would be, and I know, that this is utopian, to develop a real-time-program, by which I mean a score of rules and mechanisms, which are developed at the same time, as they are translated, mis/understood and used. For what makes scores so interesting, is that we already have the simultaneity of reading and interpreting, of perceiving and realizing. Nevertheless the "writing" often still pre-cedes. Pro-gram: the grammar of what follows. Yet, in computing, you can imagine a viral program which is applied simultaneously to its writing. What interests me in that is, that you might comprehend more on the recursivity or feedback problems we already encounter, when we perceive and move at the same time: the movements are permanently informed by what we perceive and vice versa. Recursivity is thus another word to confront problems of time and causality: Is the effect succession of a cause, causing another cause, causing an effect or is the cause what is dissociated by effects? Do we need causes and effects to understand relationships between things? Does the notion of plural time change anything in this complexity? And these questions are of course closely linked to the cybernetic investigations on the observer, as being part of the system or not, and on the problem of self-organization or autonomy. I don’t have the impression, that we have yet begun to understand the era of mechanical reproduction… so why not work on it?
By now, I can just outline the disposition we will start with, in order to be more concrete: One layer will be to define the space as a program, which informs the bodies moving in it (as a kind of environmental program or coordination of a kinetic sphere). The second layer is to inform the bodies via scores, instructions, graphic notations and scripts. One of the problems we will have to resolve, is that of real-time writeability and readability, which asks for intelligible interfaces, that do not reduce your actions to a list of ten options…
This sounds still a little bit confused, although I see a kind of fascination for "in/ formal programs" in your work. But how are they linked to critique? Can you characterize the critical potential of scores, if there is one?
For me a critique is, what captures the nature of a crisis. Etymologically, a crisis means a 'turning point in a disease'. Therefore a critique has to find strategies for capturing this reversability (or contamination), in order to let the crisis tip over to its other side, where its virtual may emerge. But in order to make this reversal happen, (a reversal that corresponds to the Deleuzian diagrammatical function), the critique has to be affected by the crisis, instead of continuing its ephemeral stories of judgment, distinction and censorship. This affect is as necessary as dangerous to the critique, for it is, as Brian Massumi puts it, itself resistant to critique. (7) Which means that the critique becomes a critique, if it suspends its very criticality for unqualifiable moments of affects. Affects, then turn out to be this opening effect of critical practices, a moment where production and reception, or to be more concrete: realization and readability of scores culminate in each other, triggering off discontinuous chains of sensitory modes, multiple thoughts and other destabilizing effects. That's what the atopos of the real-time score in Program is about: to make the representational regime of dichotomies between activity and passivity, consciousness and inconsciousness, practice and theory etc. collapse, in order to have agencies emerge, which are able to articulate another visibility of the sensible. But of course, it is an atopos yet.
I have the impression that there is another aspect to what you said: Scores may be the right place for the unfolding of critical methodologies, since their shifting balance between the real and the virtual entails an infinitude of possibilities. This infinitude is not only due to the multiplicity of scores, but derives from the fact, that you can never accomplish, complete or fulfill a score: A specific realization might be brought to perfection, brilliance, virtuosity or failure, but it can never abolish the score tendency towards other realizations. In other words: scores can't go total, can they? Can you situate this opening effect, this critical aspect in other contemporary practices?
I am not sure, if I can and would rather suggest to discuss some aspects of those I have been affected with. There is for example Schreibstück by Thomas Lehmen, which is the splendid idea of writing a score as a piece and for a piece, that is then to be realized by three other choreographers simultaneously. (8) It is a written score, a writing score, which tries to separate first of all the role of the author from the role of the choreographers. The objectives are to demystify the rules that govern artistic production and to create a transparency. And it explains, that the main interest reveals within the actual interpretations of the canon-like structure and their succession. Yet, there is one aspect, that I never really understood in Schreibstück: The score says that the author gives his approval to the choreographers and that this is not meant as a means of control. My problem is not the control, because I do not believe that there has to be. My problem concerns the several indications expressing a "meant to be", an intentionality, an expectation of the whole, which are in conflict for me with an idea of scores, which are abandoned, once they are written. But at the same time, these objectives of the score are transparent, because they are there, written and open to the multiple usages, which since 2002 have been realized…
Another perspective on the authorship-question is the work of Laurent Goldring, in which the role of the co-author is completely affirmed: The disposition is composed of a nude choreographer proposing movements and a video-camera-equipped photographer proposing images. Now, this work is primary not at all about scores: There is no written score, that precedes it and the subject "score" did never arise during our collaboration. But if we consider scores as being a methodology of a specific practice, it is interesting to realize that Goldring's Bodymades are com-posed of two separate practices within a precise frame. This frame permanently com-poses the disjunctive gap between the articulable and the visible and makes thereby their transversality appear. I see it as a kind of "meeting" between the different and yet inseparable regimes of the articulable and the visible, which does neither resemble to an encounter you make by chance, nor to a "date" you might program. It is a moment in the visibility of an articulated body on a TV-screen, where something operates, which escapes either to the visible as to the articulable. As if the image was simultaneously folded and displaying this fold, or as Goldring puts it, as if there was a temptation of the "inform" to emerge at the very moment of a formation. (9)
Another work I admire, is that of Antonia Baehr. I think here of the pieces Un après-midi, a collaboration with Henry Wilt, and Holding Hands, a collaboration with William Wheeler. In both pieces, her score practice consists for me in a very concise separation of score functions: When Un après-midi deprives the four interpretors of knowing the score beforehand, it separates the cognition of an integral score from its realization. This is not only interesting, because it disenables the audience as the performers of "re-cognizing" what they already know or see. It exposes moreover a consequent tactic of production, which "unworks" the quasi evidential need for rehearsing, in order to perform a skilled technicity. The performers become as audience as the audience, with the only difference that they are exposed. (10)
In Holding Hands two performers hold their hands in the centre of a white space. Unfolded is then a detailed choreography of minor face movements, which are performed in an amazingly perfect synchronicity. The score, in this case trained and rehearsed, consists of a choreography of breathing and facial movements, that exposes a whole range of possibilities which lies between task orientated eyebrow frowning, eyebrow frowning with predetermined successions of emotions to the congruency of movement steered emotions in a play back song of Maria Callas. The realization of the score vivisects that synchronicity of a face as signifier of emotions, that we are used to. Effectuated is thus a refined dramaturgy, that goes hand in hand with the affects of an audience.
There are other practices, for example that of Jonathan Burrows, who emphasizes in the Both Sitting Duet with Matteo Fargion the concertation of reading and playing, in a kind of finger/ hand/ arm/ sitting/ tapping – arrangement.
Or Edit Kaldor, who unfolds in Or Press Escape, the specific temporal mode of a simultaneous writing and reading process, by linking factional and fictional agencies. And, of course, Project of Xavier le Roy and the choreographers S. Berggren, A. Chauchat, N. Cusimano, C. De Smedt, J. Domínguez, G. Garrison, P. Gazzola, C. Pez Gonzalez, P. Husemann, M. Kangro, A. Koch, R. Mägi, K. Matthys, I. Munduate, R. Ponce, F. Seguette, T. Sehgal, M. Spångberg, A. Urra, which superposes the layers of performed game reality, real game performance and playful performed realities. But all of these contemporary practices would need some more place, in order to capture more precisely what their crises are about.
There are several questions open. You always come back to this connection between scores and production processes, whether they concern the production of a piece, the production of the possibilities for an emergence of the virtu-real or the production of synchronicity of production and reception. Could you describe in detail, in what way your realm of productions is distinguishable from those of a nevertheless very productive neoliberalism? And in what sense does the multi-usage of a score-methodology allow the specificity of a critical practice? Could you outline let's say a kind of ideal frame for your work within the politics of production? And how do you contextualize research and experiments nowadays?
Wow. I don't know.
I really don't know all this.
You might use Kleist's score of the successive elaboration of thought while speaking, if you want. I play the sister.
Ok, a try, a blog.
Concerning your first point on production: I think, that artistic and scientific productions are situated within, or if you want, affected by the creative industries of neoliberal productivity. They are not its outside. The interesting question then is rather, if and how they partition differently the production of time, space, practices, products and last but not least labour. That' s what I referred to, when I talked about critique: A critical practice is not what can be undertaken from a safe distance. It has to be affected in order to be effective. But of course, the problem is to know, when the crisis passes to its virtual other side. Maybe performative practices are not too badly placed for this controlling of the dynamics of change, for they are the very practices (besides education) of dramaturgy. And maybe choreography, understood here as aesthetical practice of corporeal im/materializations and other dynamics, is potentially able to keep bodies open for all kind of contaminations and other sharings. However.
It seems important to me to observe with precision, how Rancière's "distribution of the perceptible" operates. (The french title "partage du sensible" connotates the proximity between "partage" as sharing/ distribution and "partition"/ score, as a mode to arrange these distributions). How are the modes of visibility of aesthetical practices distributed? And how may these "ways of doing" articulate different ways of sharing? What does their doing do? Now, these questions are definitely too big to be answered by me and a word document. But what I wanted to say while speaking scores, is that they offer at least a methodology, which may help realize the parameters we use. This methodology is not a meta-knowledge, which can simply be applied to every practice. It is what derives from aesthetical practices, (and theory is part of them), which question established knowledge of how to do. In this sense, a methodology of scores is as specific as their scores. Yet, it is their use, their realizations, their "play", which help specify the operations and functions, that are at stake. And by the way, it is this "play", inhabiting the virtu-real of scores, that makes them escape from a mere instrumental reason. Nevertheless, the question of economy is inherent to that of use.
Now, artistic practices are maybe always in this stretching between on the one hand, taking into account the present production parameters, such as money no money, space no space, collaborators solo, co-produced auto-produced, kindly supported, supported or not at all. And on the other hand, trying to produce new ones, in accordance to what the projects need. That's why I cannot think of an ideal frame as such. It depends on the practice and the project. Yet, what I realize is, that the possibilities for independent research in general are more and more reduced today. Either by the no longer free accessibility of former public facilities, such as libraries, specialized videothèques and databases or by bureaucratic obstacles, privatizations of institutions and the direct exercize of control. This withdrawal of the public is alarming, in particular for independent, non-institutionalized research. But on the other hand, I am sceptical as well of those curatiorial practices, that give you all: the hipness of a laboratory, a cool title, a technological equipment, outstanding international reputation in advance and highly specialized, of course interdisciplinary expert colleagues. With the minor inconvenience, that you never asked for somebody else to decide neither frame nor subject nor method for your work.
One of the consequences is of course self-organization (greetings to the cybernetics). Which is often accompanied by the one million dollar question of how much time you waste for not finding subventions. But this is not only a question of wasting time, but also one of a whatever strange commitment, not to disengage the institutions from their missions. On the other hand, my personal practice today tends towards the idea of multiplying institutions. If those you wish aren't there, then set them up. At least this is one possibility of concretizing the per se of an ideal frame. The summer-academy of Frankfurt is a very good example for that. In this context, it is probably worth to have a closer look at the French institutionalist practices of the sixties, which observed closely the mechanisms of institutions (for example at the University Paris 8) in order to criticize and interrupt their functionings. For institutions are apparently subjected to this strange effect of self-preservation, once they dissociate from their initial objectives. Therefore multiplying institutions or whatever you call them (networks, temporary autonomous zones, collectives, credit-card-libraries, biography exchanges or stockmarket for artistic equipment etc.) means as well to abolish or to quit them, as soon as they are no longer part of a practice. In a way, these minor institutions can be very similar to experiments: a precise frame to set up your questions and make them work…
Yes, see you.
In this way, a score refers directly to problems of cognition: You only re-cognize what you already know. Knowledge is the reproductibility of identificatory and representational systems. That's where indeterminacy has been interesting: As a means to reveal the aleatoric co-extensions of scores and the contingency of knowledge. But scores do not have to be indetermined to encompass this aleatoric aspect. Precisely because they inhere the aleatoric metonymics of being practised differently, they point already towards these complexities of knowing and reading and defy us, to unlearn those identifications and representation that we already know. It is in this sense, that they are able to destabilize economies of representation, when they multiply other realizations of economies…
Jacques Rancière (2000): Le partage du sensible. Esthétique et politique, Paris, Editions de la Fabrique, p. 58.
Gilles Deleuze (1988): Foucault. Trans. Seán Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 44.
Antonin Artaud (1995): Le théâtre et son double. Paris, here: p. 37.
Ruth Mayer/ Brigitte Weingart (ed.): Virus! Mutationen einer Metapher, Köln: Transcript Verlag 2004.
Pirkko Husemann: P.S.: Gedanken zur Aufführung einer Nachschrift,
http://www.unfriendly-takeover.de/blog/node/21 (transl. ps)
Brian Massumi (1996) : The Autonomy of Affect, in: Deleuze : A critical Reader, ed. by Paul Patton, Oxford : Blackwell (Blackwell critical readers), pp. 217-239, here: p. 222.
Thomas Lehmen (2002): Schreibstück.
Cyril Béghin/ Stéphane Delorme (2002): Entretien avec Laurent Goldring, Balthazar, Revue d'analyse du cinéma contemporain, nr. 5, spring, p.77-85, here: p. 78.
Petra Sabisch (2005): Solo for Reading Bodies, On Audience and Antonia Baehr's and Henry Wilt's "Un après-midi", Frakcija, nr. 35, forthcoming summer 2005. (The edition of this text in Frakcija, nr. 33/34 is an unauthorized version, containing unfortunately many faults. Please refer to the reprint).