EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Ultra-sensing : moving beyond ‘work’ and ‘venue’ in intermedia art

Simon Atkinson, Kerry Francksen

Simon Atkinson and Kerry Francksen, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
satkinson@dmu.ac.uk, kfrancksen@dmu.ac.uk


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Drawing upon Vivian Sobchack’s notions of “ultra-hearing” and “ultra-seeing” (a re- interpretation of Bachelard’s sensory hierarchy), this paper explores the possibility and nature of moving from the ‘work’ (in electroacoustic musical and contemporary choreographical senses respectively) to an intermedial conception of a multisensory and ‘live-digital’ ‘event’ which moves from, through and beyond the ‘concrete’, towards a rhythmical space that is, in the words of Don Ihde ‘a deliberate decentering of (the) dominant tradition(s) in order to discover what may be missing’. The authors’ investigation into the taxonomies between sonic worlds, image generation and movement making, in a recent and on-going collaboration, therefore engages in the imaginative potential of an ‘event’ (in Massumi’s terms) where the modulation of acousmatic sound, image and movement becomes enlivened beyond the fixed dimensions of each respective discipline. Moreover, besides exploring the potential connections between sound, image and the body, the authors have been searching for a way to create environments that stimulate poetic relationships beyond the normal compositional opportunities afforded by each of their respective areas. This has encouraged a situation were technological and technical processes leads one to respond to the qualities of things, which in turn has encouraged an epistemology of materiality – not fixed in form – but open to the nuances that flow between them. Indeed, in terms of the integral nature of ‘fixing’ movement and image qualities in determining the nature of the ‘live’ or ‘performative’, there have emerged some interesting connections with post-Schaefferian musical practice. As Hansen describes, “At the heart of this endeavor is a conviction that today’s microtemporal digital technologies do not simply impact human sensory experience from the outside, but rather materialize a potentiality that characterizes sensory experience from its very origin...”. In consequence, a central concern has been how each of the constituent parts of the unfolding ‘event’ can then remain in flux, or better said remain un-fixed (the term ‘event’ and not ‘work’ is used purposefully here to avoid the idea that what is created is a fixed piece of work) in order to tap into sensory experience proper. Parallels relating to affect, interpretation and meaningfulness between electrocoustic and live-digital dance practices and audience experiences will be drawn. Notions of intimacy, central to this ongoing work, will be explored in relation to the conference theme; that is to say, between ‘live’ and digital, between eye and ear, between movement and digital image, and between performance and intermedia ‘environment’ and audience. Given the centrality of space as well as temporality in this endeavor, the authors continue to explore where such practice should happen; it seems already not in the concert hall or traditional dance venue...

EMS14 Proceedings