Text 12 – To Gest


‘To Gest’ takes performing’s relation to language as its recurring concern. The outcomes of performing’s infinitely varied gestures are offered as ‘gests’ that are cast towards a region  –  Art’s Body  –  where such a variety might just find ways of surviving techno-representation’s means.

In modernity’s nascency it was Alfred Jarry who recognised that art’s survival under techno-representation would depend on the performance of gests that confronted technoscience’s ever-expanding rule over performing’s venture. Here Jarry’s ’Pataphysique becomes a key for opening out performing’s complex relations with technoscience’s machined metamorphoses-without-end.

Making-for-art is offered as a perverse two-in-one that has to search for what makes the search itself a ‘problem’. A range of terms in support of understanding this search and the challenge to performing of living-on within the machine are explored. These include ‘performing-as-machination’, ‘ex-cepting’(and other –cept-rooted words), ‘transliteration’ (contrasted with translation), and ‘almost-transliteration’.

The discussion’s focus is on the process of poiesis as necessitating a ‘leap’ out of taken-for-granted conventions of representation and language towards the elsewhere of Art’s Body; its hope is to perform the ‘differing’ (the idiosyncratic and ungroundable particularity) that each gest hopes to disclose.

The paintings of Dumas and Luc Tuymans are considered as they make manifest some aspects of the relation between ‘almost-transliteration’, the machined appropriation and representation of the visual image, and the gest’s relation to ‘allegory’.

A range of other voices is called on in the course of this focus on the gest, including, Deleuze and Guattari, Agamben, the Zukofskys, Steiner, Heidegger, Kwesi Johnson, Celan, and Bourgeois.