A Non-Conclusion

11:00-11:15 Introduction to the project
1. What is the project about?
•    How do we respond to the crisis condition we’re in, as well as the events and developments it is manifesting through?
•    How do we approach these events experientially rather than mentally and rationally?
•    What kind of relations and ways of being do we want to initiate?
2. Who is involved and how?
3. What have we done this summer?
4. Where are we at the moment and where are we heading?
5. What are the main themes we’ve been working with so far?
•    Human awareness and perception – what are its limits and how can we move them?
•    Hypersensitivity, responsiveness – what happens to us if we sensitise ourselves to what happens around us instead of blocking it or alienating ourselves from it? How do we sense into the effects we create with our own actions?
•    (Inter)connectivity – what happens to others also happens to us (it’s the same thing)
•    How do we live together with other beings and things?
•    Affect and materiality – how do we encounter and respond to things we don’t know? How do we go beyond functionality and user-value? How do we meet things “as they are”, from their point of view rather than ours? > post-humanism
•    Alienation, otherness and foreignness
•    Weakness and non-colonization
•    Hospitality

11:15-11:40 Hospitality
1. You can begin from where you are at the moment.
2. Notice the degree to which you are a guest, or a visitor, in this space. The foreignness may manifest in various ways – notice what they are.
3. Move around the space as a guest. How do you feel? How does your gaze move, how do things and people appear to you?
4. You can look for a spot where you feel the most foreign, or where your guest-ness manifests itself strongly.
5. Gradually, begin to shift you orientation from that of a guest to that of a host, or a native – one who is at home in this space and identifies it as his or her own. Can you find a way to welcome or invite yourself into this space?
6. See how your way of moving or seeing things and beings changes. Where and how do you wish to be? How do you relate to others if no-one here is a guest?
7. Look at other people. Is there something in them that feels foreign to you? Is there a way for you to welcome it into the space?
8. Now you can share your experiences and observations.

11:40-12:00 Discussion
Why do we work on hospitality?
1. Crisis. There are many things happening around us, and to us, at the moment, which feel unwelcome or foreign to us, such as perpetual violence, destruction, the disappearance of species and life forms, the depletion of resources, etc. We are violent towards each other, and also towards ourselves. The situation produces fear, resistance and alienation. How would our way of relating towards these things change if we tried to welcome or integrate them?
2. Inalienability. Violence emerges from alienation, fear and hostility. What happens to us if we move away from alienation, towards inalienability?
3. Conditional and unconditional hospitality (Derrida)

12:00-12:10 Structure
1. Introducing the structure of the day: lunch, workshop, discussion
2. Introducing the structure of the following days

12:10-13:00 Lunch

13:00-14:30 Seeing is Receiving
In this exercise, we will explore the ways in which we see things, and how our way of seeing affects the way we perceive, receive and respond to them. Even if I will only be talking about sight, you can include and work with the other senses as well. Seeing something fully involves the whole body and affects our being on various levels.
We will concentrate on two main ways of seeing – you could think of them as two different gazes. The first one is a gaze that sees everything at once, without categorizing that which it sees. It is an all-inclusive, deconcentrated gaze. The second gaze is a devoted gaze: it sees only one thing at a time, but is devoted to seeing and receiving it fully. It looks deeper and deeper into that which it encounters.

Part 1: Intro/Mapping
1. Choose a spot that feels inviting to you at the moment. Look into the horizon.
2. Begin turning around to either direction. As you turn around slowly, notice what kind of objects and things appear in you field of vision. You can consider this as an initial mapping of the surroundings.
3. When you’ve arrived at your original location, turn around again. This time, try to see that which you excluded or did not notice the first time around.

Part 2: Seeing everything – an all-inclusive gaze
1. Map out the borders of your field of vision. You can use your hands as a tool: locate them at the edges of the field and move them slightly backwards so that you can no longer see them. Do the same with the upper and lower edges of the field.
2. Once you have a sense of the full width and height of your field of vision, try to see and include everything in it equally, so that nothing pops out or becomes more important than the rest. You can allow the contours of things dissolve, so that they begin to merge with each other. You do not need to distinguish between gestalt and background.
3. Once you have a sense of this way of seeing, you can turn around again. Notice how your perception of the environment has changed.
4. Gradually, you can let go of the exercise.

Part 3: Zooming in – a devoted gaze
1. Choose a single focus in your nearby surroundings. It can be anything.
2. Begin to zoom in on it. You can go physically closer and closer to it, if that helps. Try to become aware of every single detail, and include them all.
3. Once you feel like you’ve seen it all, look closer. See if you can go even deeper.
4. Begin to distance yourself from the thing you are perceiving. As you zoom out, you can become aware of the context the thing is embedded in, and the relations and networks it is a part of. You can perceive it from different angles and perspectives and see if its appearance changes.

Part 4: Shifting the gaze
1. Now, your task is to move in the surroundings on your own. You can shift between these two modes of perception and see what kind of movement this shift produces.

14:30-16:00 Including the (non)human in us

Part 1: The human
1. Pair up with someone.
2. Sit or stand facing each other.
3. Decide which one is the host, and which one is the guest.
4. The task of the host is to receive or include the other as fully as possible. The guest can focus on being received or included.
5. The host can see to what degree she/he is able to include the other, and whether there are things that feel difficult to include fully.
6. Change roles.
7. Both can let go of the roles and see what emerges. Notice how your being-with the other is affected by the exercise. If one needs to, one can change position in relation to the other.

Part 2: The nonhuman
1. Go for a walk in the surroundings (limited).
2. Find a being or a thing that feels foreign to you.
3. Position yourself next to it or facing it.
4. See how and to what degree can you receive or include it.
5. See how your being is affected by it.
6. When you move away from the being, see how your movement or way of being is still affected by the inclusion. Can you keep the other with you as you move?
7. You can stay with one single being the whole time. If you feel that the process of inclusion has come to an end or that nothing new emerges anymore, you may move from one being to another.
8. When I ring the bells, you may return to the place where we started. But keeping the beings still with you. When everyone has arrived we may let go of the exercise.

A Non-Conclusion

CARPA 4

The Performing Arts Research Centre (Tutke) at the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki welcomes artistic researchers at doctoral and post-doctoral levels to take part in the fourth biannual colloquium on artistic research in performing arts:

The Non-Human and the Inhuman in Performing Arts: Bodies, Organisms and Objects in Conflict
11th – 13th of June 2015

The fourth Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts (CARPA4) asks how different practices and techniques in performing arts face the contemporary critique of anthropocentrism. How do they participate in renegotiation on the role and the limits of the human and what kind of critique does the involvement with the non-human entail?

Vision Statement

Since the end of the past century, the growing consciousness of the limits of the planet and the biosphere has highlighted the need to widen the scope of our cultural understanding towards the non-human: animals, plants and the material processes of living organisms other organisms, as well as non-organic and inanimate agents, objects, machines or “hyper-objects”. Academically, generic terms for research focusing on the non-human relation have been “post-humanism”, “new materialism” or “speculative realism”, but this research takes place simultaneously in various fields and is not necessarily unified field. What is common to all of these orientations is their attempt to make us better aware of the ways the existence of human culture is interwoven with different kinds of technological, material, biological, geological, meteorological or even cosmological processes. The revelation of the complexity and interdependence of these processes challenges the everyday logic and the principles of common ethical, economic and political argumentation.

According to the working hypothesis of CARPA4 in performing arts, this type of questioning is reaching a certain critical limit, after which it starts to encounter a new kind of resistance. The reason to this is not only the obvious fact that these arts are to a large extent dependent on the performing human bodies and their material and immaterial reincarnations. It is also true that in the post-Holocaust and post-Hiroshima era, the artistic experimentation with corporeality in theatre, dance and performance art has been extensive. This experimentation has stretched out towards the non-human levels of existence and experience, but it has equally often been a witness to states that should rather be called inhuman. We ask, to what extent does the inhuman constitute a limit to non-human aspirations? What significance has the “inhuman” in the post-humanist world?

Human bodies which previously may have been considered either as objects or as means of liberation, today constitute a source of resistance, the political or ethical meaning of which nonetheless remains uncertain or obscure. Are not the immigrant bodies swarming at the gates of Western civilization or packed in refugee camps treated in an inhuman way, as “non-“ or “less-than-human” creatures? Let alone the bodies killed, tortured and humiliated in numerous conflicts all around the world? “Humanistic” values are not a prerequisite for considering the state of these bodies as “inhuman”. But how can this ethical stance or experience be connected with the aforementioned claims concerning the non-human? Why are not all “peoploids” living under the (Western) criteria of humanity considered as the heralds of the new non-human world order? Is there finally any difference between the inhuman and the non-human in the neo-liberalist world founded on the accelerated circulation of labor, production, and capital?

It is in the performing body that the ecological question of the non-human intersects the ethical, political, pedagogical and juridical questions concerning the inhuman. But how should this intersection be understood and articulated? What consequences does it have for our ways of making, teaching and enjoying performing arts?

CARPA 4

LAPSody 2015

We have been invited to participate in LAPSody 2015, taking place at the Theatre Academy 27-30 May 2015. Below is the proposal I sent to them in the application process. The actual event will be co-composed by those of us who are willing and able to participate in it. If you have any suggestions or questions concerning the proposal or the event, please comment on this post.

The BodyBuilding Project: An Assemblage

The BodyBuilding Project is an attempt to figure out what kind of subjectivities and relational capacities we, as beings and as a species, would need to develop in order to survive the future. It encourages us to reimagine the qualities and modes of being currently identified as human, and to begin building bodies capable of incorporating forms of knowledge and existence beyond our immediate experience and understanding.

The project consists of a perennial artistic research process and a series of public events. Both are done in collaboration with a varying group of theorists, practitioners and other creators, human and nonhuman.

At LAPSody2015, we propose sharing the current stage of our research in the form of a durational event consisting of several parallel sessions located in a single space. The sessions suggest a multiplicity of approaches to the topics of the project (as well as those of the festival), ranging from embodied practices to reading circles to freeform play and being. In the course of the event, these different modalities will gradually begin leaking and merging into each other, thus creating a mesh of emergent relations and incipient forms of co-existence between human, nonhuman and nonliving entities. The idea is to create an environment, where various forms of being, living and exchanging knowledge can not only co-exist but also constitute unprecedented assemblages and manifestations of life.

The visitors can enter, exit and circulate in the space as they wish, each finding their own way of participating in the creation of the event. The doors will remain open throughout the entire time.

Working Group
Anniina Ala-Ruona, Saara Hannula, Ilpo Heikkinen, Robert Kocik, Satu Palokangas, Tommi Vasko, Carmen C. Wong

Duration
Minimum 180min (negotiable)

Space
White Box or Black Box

Technical Requirements
Mixer and a sound system, 4 loudspeakers (negotiable)
Lighting board, 5-8 spotlights (negotiable)

LAPSody 2015