Sevenstepsaway

Interactive video installation,  2009

Conceptual Description

The video addresses the issue of political and social censorship. In response to audio commands activated by the movements of the viewer (via 7 sensors), a woman begins to cover her “senses” with a black bandage. As she covers herself with the bandage her image becomes progressively lost in the black background, referencing the Kokken dressed in black who depict absence on the stage in Noh theater . The woman’s slow, mechanical rhythm in the sensor-triggered video mirrors the rhythm of her thoughts, which are outside of day-to-day space and time.

Technical Description

Sevenstepsaway requires a hidden projector, in front of which there will be a structure made of wood or metal (2 m. X 130 cm. X 50 cm). The back of the structure is covered with a retro projection screen and the front is covered with one-way mirrored glass (through which video will be viewed). Visitors enter the space one at a time: the footsteps of the visitor trigger simultaneous changes in both the audio and the video projection, by means of seven sensors (of distance or proximity, programmed with max/msp) installed in the area between the entrance and the structure. When the visitor arrives at the final sensor, at approximately 50 cm from the structure, a light turns on outside the structure, and the glass becomes a mirror. In place of the projected image the visitor sees him/herself reflected in the glass.

Required space: 8.5 m (min 6 m.) x 3m x 3m

Technical Requirements

One way mirror (190 cm x 130 cm) with a structure made of wood or metal 2-7 proximity/ distance sensors, sensor box, audio interface, 5+1 system (or a sound card) , Macbook, hd video projector Software: Max/ MSP 5 – Jitter (or Pure Data)
(sensor programming for amber 2009 by bis production)

Exhibitions 

August 2010 : International Arts and Performance Festival , curated by Nenad Bogdanovic , video installation “sevenstepsaway”, Mas Gallery, Odzaci/ Serbia. November 2009 : AMBER 09 International Arts and Technology Festival “(un)cyborgable” curated by BIS: Body-Process Arts Association, interactive video installation “sevenstepsaway”,Istanbul/ Turkey.

November 2009 : Dörtyüzsaniye, curated by Difuzyon- Association of Arts and Technology, presentation of the interactive video installation “sevenstepsaway- incorporeal body” , Roxy Club/ stanbul/ Türkiye. June 2009 : ART BREAK Party, curated by Paola Bortolotti, video installation “sevenstepsaway” and artist book “ Clean hands”, Contemporary art center, Luigi Pecci, Prato/ Italy. May 2009 : Start point , video installation “sevenstepsaway” and video installation “la follia”, Casa della creativita, Florence, Italy.

Chapters

Incorporeal body

This work is about the “body”. But we have to ask many questions in order to understand which body it deals with and in which physical space that body is located. Is it plural or singular? Is it the “leib” (living body) or the “körper” (1) (physical body) or an “inorganic” body free of behavior? Are we trying to free the body or to free ourselves from the body? But the main question is: ”Is the body subject or object?”

(1) Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Il corpo vissuto, a cura di Franco Fergnani, Il Saggiatore, Milano, 1979

Stabilizing the “sats” (2) (dynamic immobility)

This work originated from the idea of absence understood as presence. The space that was recently occupied by a presence becomes the absence of that presence upon its dislocation. Absence as confirmed presence; as its extension; as its negative cast; as its absence- diverse from the empty, insignificant or -better yet- as neutral space, as the visible that has become invisible. As energy or the physical manifestation of thought, as its way of existing, its “behaviour”. In Noh theatre, the second actor, the “waki” (2), frequently represents the un- presence, that which renders absent the action. His work consists of the capacity of depersonify the body with a complex technique outside the realm of everyday movement. The Kokken, also dressed in black, with their presence which neither expresses nor represents but rather draws directly from the sources of the performers’ energy and life, depict absence on the stage in Noh theatre. (2) The Noh theatre actors, because of the the cautious way in which they drag their feet when walking, loose their capacity to perceive space. It is also difficult for them to maintain their balance because their masks block their view, forcing them to develop a new modified sense of balance, pre- expressive, outside of everyday space; as happens to people who loose their sense of sight.
In fact, the “shite”, the principal actor, dances within himself even when he appears immobile to the spectator. This technique is called “action of silence” or “dancing with heart”. ”Sats“ means dynamic immobility but it is not connected solely to dynamic immobility: in a sequence of actions, a small change in energy changes the course and intensity of an action or suddenly suspends it. A similar unmovement is also present in Artaud’s reversed dance, which declares that the body exsts only without its organs.(3) In Noh theatre unmovement exceeds movement. Actors “kill” breath and rhythm using a counter-force to create a resistence, slowing down or holding the exhalation (which is relaxation) in order to discover their “ma” their “jo-ha-kyu” (resistence- break-acceleration) (2). To find the rhythm, the rhythm of the invisible, because when the visible, the external (the body) does not move then the internal (mind) must be in movement. It is not a coincidence that Pina Baush, in her performences, often immobilizes her “performers”. Sats is not something which belongs only to the sculptor who sculpts the body from the inside, and jo-ha-kyu is not a rhytmic structure but rather a pattern of thought and action, the dilation belongs to leib (living body), not to körper (body). This is the reason why I chose to slow down the movement of the performance.

(2) Barba, Eugenio, La Canoa di carta, Il Mulino, saggi, Bologna ,1993.
(3) Artaud, A. “To Have Done with the Judgement of God, a radio play (1947).” In (S. Sontag, ed.) Antonin Artaud: selected writings. Berkeley etc.: University of California Press, 1988: 570-1.) ( Man is sick because he is badly constructed […]When you will have made him a body without organs then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true and immortal freedom… Man is sick because he is badly constructed […]When you will have made him a body without organs then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true and immortal freedom… Man is sick because he is badly constructed […]When you will have made him a body without organs then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true and immortal freedom… “

everything is gonna be alright & purification

*Sarpedonte : (…) “son” he said to me, “this is a trick and the treason: first they take away all your forces and then they become angry if you are less than a man (…) (1) With all this visual bombardment, between all the possible methods for communication at high speed, we have access to all possible information: until we get used to it and become insensible against the pain, burn our retinas and go blind. The information overload creates a kind of amnesia in which everything is reduced to a reality show, that ends up posseding us. (2) Multiplying a reality that becomes more simulated each time it is multiplied drugs the senses, judgement, and conscience. While exchanging the “bad” for the “good” (3) they put us to sleep; they talk about the famous freedom of expression wanting us to believe that we have freedom to looklistenspeakfeel touch but, with the overload of imput and constant manipulation, every command, ironically, functions in reverse. They are taking away our senses in order to “multiply” us as they do the reality; to reduce us to nothing but cloned- corpses: power is always productive. And if by mistake, someone allows himself to wake up, he will be forced back to sleep again for his own good, as happens in all fascist homicides, in pogroms against “the other”, and in violence against women’s bodies. Everything is possible -with one condition: it has to be done in the right way. We have to be perfect; if we are expert in all of the techniques of persuasion we can keep our hands clean and the spectators sleeping. We certainly won’t tell them what we have planned, – to make them “human”. All we need to do is fill their eyes with visual overload, plug their ears with publicity and promises, sew their lips together to keep them safe, cover or even cut their genitals to remove their shameful “animal” instincts, bind their hands to keep them from touching someone else’s wound. It is all for their own good; to free them from their primitive state. If we make them “human”, if we make them all “human” by educating them with “little punishments for their own good” we will be able to accomplish everything while keeping our hands clean.

(1) Pavese, Cesare, Diaolghi con Leuco, “Chimera”, Einaudi, Torino, 1999. (2) Mirzoeff, Nicholas, Introduzione alla cultura visuale, Meltemi, 2005. (3) Baudrillard, Jean, L’agonia del Potere, a cura di Marcello Serra, Mimesis Edizioni, Milano- Udine 2008

“that accident which pricks, bruises me”(4)

As the consequence of the “absolute “ velocity (5) , we have increasingly less time and less capacity for empathy. We choose to passively observe the situation rather than challenging ourselves or trying to follow the traces of the unspoken, of the invisible, forgetting that, depending on the point of view, we ourselves might be the punctum.

(4) Barthes, Ronald, Camera Lucida, Reflections on Photography, Hill and Wang, 1981 (5) Virilio, Paul, “La velocita assoluta” ,Paris, European IT Forum, 05/09/1995