In their ‘Performance Paper Text[ure]’ Korsten & De Jong build a wall-veil out of the audio of the ‘Participatory Performance Text[ure]’ and theoretical material (the ‘text’) from the ‘Proposal Text[ure].’ The wall-veil refers to Ruskin’s famous example of the Matterhorn, which he uses to explain the wall-veil as symbolic of the relationship between massing and texture through interdependence. Korsten & De Jong’s wall-veil is a mutable subject-object-complex with quotes from different theoretic fields, different eras and different theorists, in which positions shift continuously. Time is seen as a form of simultaneity in which layers fuse to form meaning. Korsten & De Jong regard this process of simultaneity as a middle position and seek it as an opportunity to question existing paradigms artistically.
Keywords: simultaneity, layering, interdependence, process, wall-veil
Korsten & De Jong conduct Artistic Research as a duo. In their ‘Body of Works’ they regard and use theory as material. Every separate ‘Body of Work’ consists of a ‘Proposal’ out of which ‘Paper Performances,’ ‘Participatory Performances,’ ‘Presentations,’ ‘Performance Papers,’ ‘Postludes,’ and forms of ‘Pedagogies’ spring and which together come to form a ‘Body of Work’ under the same title.
Performance Paper Text[ure]
In their ‘Performance Paper Text[ure]’ Korsten & De Jong build a wall-veil out of the audio of the ‘Participatory Performance Text[ure]’ and theoretical material (the ‘text’) from the ‘Proposal Text[ure].’ The wall-veil refers to Ruskin’s famous example of the Matterhorn, which he uses to explain the wall-veil as symbolic of the relationship between massing and texture through interdependence.1 Korsten & De Jong’s wall-veil is a mutable subject-object-complex with quotes from different theoretic fields, different eras and different theorists, in which positions shift continuously. Time is seen as a form of simultaneity in which layers fuse to form meaning. Korsten & De Jong regard this process of simultaneity as a middle position and seek it as an opportunity to question existing paradigms artistically. Writing about literature, Hayden White makes a distinction between the temporality of the active and passive voices and that of the middle voice, where ‘actions and their effects are conceived to be simultaneous; past and present are integrated rather than dirempted, and the subject and object of the action are in some way conflated.’2
- Text[ure] refers to texture being an expression of constitution pushing the skin outwards and as an imprint of erosion working on the skin, continuously constituting its ‘now-appearance.’
- [Ure] refers to ‘-ure’, defined as time-space, where the interdependence is what interests us. The suffix – ure forms nouns denoting an action, a process, like pressure or closure; these are words indicating an action taking place now in time and space.
- [ ] (square brackets) are often used to point out where material has been omitted and are inserted in a quote to specify where an original text has been modified. In the breach, which the insertion of brackets generates in a text, a bridge is created between the earlier, original author and the later, quoting author in one and the same sentence at the same time, connecting different time-spaces.
- In the Postlude, the exclamations ‘uhm…’ and ‘hmm…,’ in the transcripts of a dialogue between Korsten & De Jong, are preserved as utterances of reflection, uncertainty or hesitation and are regarded as performative time-elements inside the text. These exclamations represent the relation between the different pasts of those uttering them in the conversation, the person transcribing them, the person writing them in the Postlude, and their present and future readers.
What if we consider ourselves as one of Flusser’s black boxes, so that meaning enters us on one side and exits out the other, while the operation itself – happening inside the ‘black box’ – remains obfuscated?3 According to Guattari this would necessarily lead us to re-examine the relation between the individual and subjectivity.4 Heidegger has already argued that an ‘attitude’ is a relation to objects in which the conduct [Verhalten] is absorbed.5 Via Spengler, Heidegger goes on to state that that ‘which disturbs us is the same as that which is disturbed.’6 In his famous example of the Matterhorn, Ruskin explains the wall-veil as the relationship between massing and texture through interdependence. Forces operate from the inside out (constitution), and from the outside in (erosion), to press the wall-veil out of the mountain, so to say. The mountain’s texture (the wall-veil) is ‘not merely draped but also encrusted, covered with its own material, in a self-draping, a self-adornment.’7 To conclude with Belhaj Kacem’s exclamation: ‘I can’t even eat any more without confusing myself with the very substance of the food.’8
Participatory Paper Text[ure]
In their Participatory Performance ‘Text[ure]’ for the seminar ‘Time Matters,’ Korsten & De Jong invited the audience to partake in building a wall-veil out of the Proposal for Text[ure]. The Participatory Performance was a re-enactment of Paper Performance Text[ure] executed in 2018. Two performers built a mountain out of rope and held it upright while standing inside it. Meanwhile, the lines of text from the Proposal were remixed via a sample machine. In the Participatory Performance, the participants used their voices to speak the lines they were given. They could alternate the loudness of their voices to build this dynamic audio wall-veil. The audio of the Participatory Performance became part of the building of yet another (textual) wall-veil in Performance Paper Text[ure].
Short instructions for participants:
- When you feel a tap on your shoulder, please speak your sentence
- When Korsten & De Jong raise their arms, please speak your sentence at will
- When Korsten & De Jong lower their arms sideways, please be silent
The following applies to participants with a corner position:
- When you are given the rope, please make sure to keep the rope tense
- When Korsten & De Jong lower their arms sideways, please be silent
The marked sentences for the participants:
- The two performers:
001 Text[ure] 002 by Korsten & De Jong
01 I can’t even eat any more 02 without confusing myself with the very substance of the food. 03 What if we consider ourselves as one of Vilém Flusser’s black boxes 04 so that meaning enters us on one side and exits out the other, 05 while the operation itself – happening inside the ‘black box’ – remains obfuscated? 06 According to Guattari this would necessarily lead us 07 to re-examine the relation between the individual and subjectivity. 08 Heidegger has already argued that 09 an ‘attitude’ is a relation to objects in which the conduct is absorbed.10 Via Spengler, Heidegger goes on to state that that 11 ‘which disturbs us is the same as that which is disturbed.’ 12 In his famous example of the Matterhorn, Ruskin explains the wall-veil as 13 the relationship between massing and texture through interdependence. 14 Forces operate from the inside out, and from the outside in, 15 to press the wall veil out of the mountain so to say. 16 The mountain’s texture is ‘not merely draped but also encrusted, 17 covered with its own material, in a self-draping, a self-adornment.’
- Corner participants:
18 I can’t even 19 I can’t even eat any more 20 without confusing 21 without confusing myself
Transcription ‘For Publication Text[ure] 12 July 2018’
Korsten & De Jong in the car from Diepenveen to Enschede
Total duration: 00:49:38
Guattari says: ‘We should perhaps not speak of subjects, but rather of components of subjectification, each of which works more or less on its own account’.9 That way we might be assemblages of subjectifications and one component of me can have a relation with one component of you.
The individual is considered as a terminal by Guattari: ‘The individual would appear in his/her actual position, as a “terminal” for processes involving human groups, socio-economic ensembles, data-processing machines: a terminal through which, of course, not all the vectors of subjectification necessarily pass’.10 The individual sort of holds all the components in one place… hmm…. While Belhaj Kacem drops the idea of the individual and stimulates the disintegration of this terminal, so to speak. He says: ‘I’ve become, in the strictest sense of the world, unlivable. I can no longer live with(in) myself, although this was indeed the original objective of my experiment. I can no longer limit myself to the persona I have been assigned, I feel forced to live in on-going expansion which was my idea in the first place, but still remain trapped in the left-overs of some former Mehdi’.11
And: ‘I cannot even escape from my thoughts which bog me down in the muck of these uncontrollable metamorphoses’.12
What is it that we do, building this temporary man-sized see-through mountain as a rope figure held up by our own bodies inside it? And we drape this mountain with auditory quotes. We are building a temporary terminal for components of theory. We use quotes that belong to certain individuals and we strip them of their context and even from their ‘owners’ and place parts of the quotes in different positions. This happens either through audio, when we orchestrate persons speaking certain parts of the quotes and let this end in a cacophony, or via sample machines that are programmed to mix elements of text and deform the recorded human voice into different and machinic voices.
Before we constitute the mountain, the components of text are structured but when the mountain is erect, forces from the outside (the texts being mixed and remixed) operate on it in order to form a crust on the outside. But the texture works at the constitution and makes it fall apart eventually. Paying homage to Belhaj Kacem, filleting his line: ‘I can’t even eat any more without confusing myself with the very substance of the food’.13
So, in our case Guattari’s terminal is the mountain?
Yes, but a temporary one.
Guattari goes on to state that ‘[p]rocess, which I here counterpose to system and structure, seeks to grasp existence in the very act of its constitution, definition and deterritorialization; it is a process of “setting into being”, instituted by sub-sets of expressive ensembles which break with superseding the referential totality from which they emerge, and manifesting themselves finally as their own existential index, processual lines of flight’.14
Maybe it is a process then?
Yeah, and a bit before, coming to his notion of process, he spoke about non-reversible duration, which holds a connection to our notion of [-ure] in text[ure].
A bit further in his text, Guattari explains a process of creative assemblage which I relate to our way of working. ‘But when expressive rupture takes place, repetition becomes a process of creative assemblage, forging new incorporeal objects, abstract machines, and universes of value. At this point, the existential event which gives rise to these new assemblages becomes invisible: they confront us as having been ‘always ready’ in existence’.15 Is this what we generate? Such an expressive rupture or a creative assemblage? And is this why our remixed text still sounds logical. This is probably the reason why we are able to couple Heidegger to Guattari. Together they become something new.
Hmm… On page 143 he explains the difference between empty repetition and living mechinisms. ‘By which I mean “living” mechinisms, not mechanisms of empty repetition’.16 When you simply repeat something, it is empty but if something else springs from the repetition, it becomes a living mechinism. And mechinism comes from a term that Deleuze and Guattari came up with together as an amalgam consisting of ‘engineering’, ‘a machine’ and ‘matter.’
Intuitively, I sense that Guattari’s ideas on events, processes and subjectifications are somehow related to Heidegger’s notion of the theoretical attitude. Heidegger says: ‘I direct myself only to the matter, I focus away from myself toward the matter. With this “attitude” [Einstellung] the living relation to the object of knowledge has “ceased” [eingestellt]’.17 Zwier et al. add, ‘Here, having ceased means that this relation becomes an attitude in such a way that it is no longer considered as a relation. It becomes, to borrow an example from Aristotle, transparent like water for a fish’.18
We might have to read this again… this is about the relationship with the object of knowledge. Of one stands outside of this object and figures that one’s own position is considered as something that can be left out of the equation, then the living relationship stops. One sees the object as a fixed entity frozen in time and apart from oneself. But it is actually within a living relationship that the object of knowledge is shaped.
To conclude… with the theoretical attitude, the process comes to a stop.
It stops time
Just like taking a picture
And this brings us right to Flusser
Flusser states that taking a picture is far from a neutral action…
The camera is an apparatus functioning as a black box, programming us to take pictures the way the apparatus is designed to do it.19
Hmm, hmm… I was thinking about something else… Oh, yes, about freezing time. In Text[ure], we actually put the texts in time rather than freezing the quotes in their everlasting same connotation. We use the remixing process to bring the quotes in a new duration. And by placing ‘-ure’ in texture in brackets like [-ure], we refer to rules in academic writing that allow one to alter parts of a quote, and that mark your own presence within these quotes with these brackets. By adding the process of remixing, we add time into the configured text of the Proposal.
Ok, ok, now we are getting close to a Performance Paper…
Uh, no, yes, hmm, there is also an adding of time in a more conceptual sense by bringing these quotes from theorists from different eras into a ‘lively’ dialogue. We ‘make them say’ what others have said at completely different times, or will say some years later, by deliberately misplacing parts of quotes to match others.
In our abstract we say, ‘What if we consider ourselves as black boxes, to press the wall veil out of the mountain, so to say.’ And then: ‘This would necessarily lead us to an “attitude” as a relation to objects in which the conduct is absorbed.’ That means that we are the black-boxes that push Ruskin’s wall-veil out of the mountain. So the wall-veil, the constitution and texture of the mountain in one, come out of a black-box? We also say: ‘While the operation itself- happening inside the “black box” – remains obfuscated.’ Does this mean that the operation of the co-operation between constitution and texture is obfuscated?
On the contrary, this is probably exactly what is revealed in the transparency of the constitution within the rope figure and the material for texture being auditory.
The conclusion can be found in a transcription of the conversation we had the night before our drive to the conference.
Transcription ‘Preparation Text[ure] part 3’
Korsten & De Jong, 25 June 2018 – Diepenveen
Total duration: 00:08:54
We became like fish for the water?
Or water for the fish?
Whatever, it doesn’t matter anymore. Following Belhaj Kacem it can be both…
One question remains, ‘is it still necessary to explain the Wall-Veil?’20
Nah, I don’t think so. We can do that in our Performance Paper.
Why should we explain it anyway?
We are doing it! It is as we say: ‘[w]e build a Wall-Veil out of a subject-object-complex with recorded, transcribed, manipulated and performed dialogues in which positions shift continuously. Time is seen as a form of simultaneity in which layers fuse to form meaning.’
Hahaha, we do exactly as we say in our Proposal!
- Flusser, Vilém. Een Filosofie van de Fotografie, translated by Marc Geerards. Utrecht: Uitgeverij IJzer, 2007.
- Guattari, Felix. ‘The Three Ecologies,’ translated by Chris Turner. New Formations, no. 8 (Summer 1989), pp. 131-147.
- Heidegger, Martin. The Phenomenology of Religious Life, translated by Matthias Frisch and Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004.
- Belhaj Kacem, Mehdi. 1993, Auch: Tristram, 2007.
- Spuybroek, Lars. The Sympathy of Things: Ruskin and the Ecology of Design, Rotterdam: V2_Publishing, 2011.
- White Hayden. “Writing in the Middle Voice,” in The Fiction of Narrative: Essays on History, Literature, and Theory 1957-2007, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2010, pp. 255-62.
- Zwier, Jochem, Vincent Blok and Pieter Lemmens. ‘Phenomenology and the Empirical Turn: a Phenomenological Analysis of Postphenomenology,’ Philosophy & Technology 29 (May 2016), pp. 313-333. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-016-0221-7.
Lars Spuybroek, The Sympathy of Things: Ruskin and the Ecology ofDesign (Rotterdam: V2_Publishing, 2011), p. 80.
Hayden White, “Writing in the Middle Voice,” in The Fiction of Narrative: Essays on History, Literature, and Theory 1957-2007 (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2010), pp. 255-62.
Vilém Flusser, Een Filosofie van de Fotografie, trans. Marc Geerards (Utrecht: Uitgeverij IJzer, 2007), p. 16.
Felix Guattari, ‘The Three Ecologies,’ trans. Chris Turner, New Formations, no. 8 (Summer 1989), p. 131.
Heidegger, The Phenomenology of Religious Life, pp. 32-33.
Ibid., p. 33.
Spuybroek, The Sympathy of Things, p 80.
Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, 1993 (Auch: Tristram, 2007), p. 205.
Guattari, ‘The Three Ecologies’, p. 131.
Belhaj Kacem, 1993, p. 205.
Guattari, ‘The Three Ecologies’, pp. 135-6.
Ibid., p. 136.
Ibid., p. 143.
Heidegger, The Phenomenology of Religious Life, p. 33.
Jochem Zwier, Vincent Blok and Pieter Lemmens, “Phenomenology and the Empirical Turn: a Phenomenological Analysis of Postphenomenology,” Philosophy & Technology 29 (May 2016), p. 323, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-016-0221-7.
Flusser, Een Filosofie van de Fotografie, p. 33.
Spuybroek, The Sympathy of Things, p. 80.