Text 18 – To Confront Technoscience’s Mutation Of Embodiment


‘To Confront…’ explores some of the possible implications for making-for-art of the fate of ‘embodiment’ under the rule of technoscience. The text focuses particularly on those performers gathering themselves around matters/materials/processes other than written/spoken words. How might the technoscientifically re-modelled ‘body’ be brought (if at all…) into a hopeful relation with Art’s Body?

Alongside everything else, performing and Art’s Body are caught up within and drawn onwards through continuous mutations induced by technoscience’s body-transforming machinery. As knowledges do not provide us with a definitive sense of embodiment’s ‘properties’ (of what ‘the body’ just ‘is’), making-towards-Art’s Body has to make its ways while adrift in this short-fall between the ‘proper’ (known/accepted) and the improper (not-known). It is thus the conditioning of this abjection of Art’s Body that performing has to confront and seeks to make patent.

Lyotard’s discussion of technoscience’s ‘complexification’ and the becoming-telegraphic of the human race is drawn on to elaborate what performing is up against. Its challenge is to find ways of interrupting representation’s conventions (the steady filtering down of technoscientific constructions of embodiment (the body as a machine with separable parts and functions…) into the languages of everyday life) while taking on, aside from representation, the thoughtfully sensuous multiple that living-on now might still become (as other to the techno-body…).

It is surely this strange unsayable unfixable multiple that puts performing under the sway of a synaesthesia that is experienced differently to the synaesthesia of audience response. It makes distinctive demands on performing. For the leap away from culture towards Art’s Body entails the suspension of medium’s traditional hold over performing and embodiment’s attachments to specific media. Medium is opened out, displaced, and shaken out if itself.

Some consequences of this displacement for performing’s sense of its own movement and ‘telos’ are considered. The tense relation of the visual arts to commodification and valuing is touched on along the way.