Recent Work

The Banff Centre, Photo by Sally Lee


            According to performance theorist Peggy Phelan: “Performance’s only life is in the present.  Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented… Performance’s being… becomes itself through disappearance”[1].  Jose Muñoz offers an alternative to considering performance in terms of loss. He uses the term “surplus value” to describe that thing in the aesthetic “that exceeds the functionalism of capitalist flows....enacting a ‘preappearance’ in the world of another mode of being that is not yet here”[2].  This tension between ‘disappearance’ and ‘preappearance’ is a productive space in which I locate the work of documenting performances by le/the SensoriuM.  While it is impossible to recuperate the event, through translation it can live in many forms, each telling a different truth about what happened and how it all played out.
            In May 2012, I participated in an artist residency at the Banff Centre to create a limited edition handmade artist book, as a means of documenting the first year of this project.  Because le/the SensoriuM engages participants primarily through sensory-affective registers, it was important that the book be very tactile and appeal to all the senses.  I chose printmaking because of its handmade qualities and sensuous textures.  The completed artist book will also include an audio component on an accompanying disc.  My challenge in the production of documentation for this work involves re-framing and translating the live performance.  I have drawn on theorist Jane Bennett’s notion of a ‘political ecology of things,’ to highlight what she calls ‘vital materiality’, as opposed to dull matter, as a means of transmitting the sensuous qualities of the live performance.  In addition to the artist book, I have produced three series of prints based on Jon Cohrs’ Artificial World Tour, presented by le/the SensoriuM in February 2012.
            Silkscreen printing involves a process of spreading ink over a fabric mesh screen (stretched over a frame), to create an image on a sheet of paper placed below it, made of tiny dots.  The images you see here were made by first creating a photographic collage, then isolating each colour channel (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and printing each as a grayscale image onto acetate.  Using an exposure unit, these images were then transferred onto a screen coated with light sensitive emulsion.  Ink passes through white areas of the image, while black areas block the ink.  Three and four colour separation silkscreens with this amount of detail are laborious, requiring great mental and physical strain and, some might say, a certain kind of crazy.  The body faces the impossible challenge of meeting what the digital printer has already attained.  Why take up this futile contest to become the human printer? Evidently, the errors and limitations of the human body maintain some degree of preciousness in this digital age.  If monetary value be the guide, it seems a careful balance of consistency and flaw is what we most prize.  Just enough precision to demonstrate mastery, and just enough error to betray the hand.

“What is a work? Of what elements is it composed?...
How can one define a work amid the millions of traces left by someone after his death?”
- What is an Author?, Michel Foucault

“We  can  only  have  a  very inadequate knowledge of
the duration of our body. 
 We can only have a very inadequate knowledge of the
duration of particular things external to ourselves...
Every particular thing, like the human body, must be
conditioned  by  another  particular  thing  to  exist  and operate in a fixed  and  definite  relation;  this other particular thing must likewise be  conditioned by a third,  and so on to infinity. From this common property of particular things, we have only a very inadequate knowledge of the duration of our body; we must draw a similar conclusion with regard to the duration of particular things, namely, that we can only have a very inadequate knowledge of the duration thereof.
Hence it follows that all particular things are contingent and perishable.  For we can have no adequate knowledge of their duration and this is what we must understand by the contingency and perishableness of things.”
- Baruch Spinoza, Ethics, Part II

[1] Phelan, Peggy.  Unmarked: The Politics of Performance.  Routledge: New York, NY. 1993. 146.
[2] Munoz, Jose Esteban.  Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity.  NYU Press: New York, NY. 2009. 147.