PSI#21 Fluid States - Greece, Aural Lighthouses,

Day One – Greece

by Agnese Cebere

16 March 2015

PSi#21 Fluid States – Greece: Aural Lighthouses

PDF available here

What does it mean that I am a correspondent? What is my mission? I imagine my task to be in many respects an extension of my own artistic practice, which is based on performance and the moving image. By recording events in a range of different media - video, audio and through writing and diagramming, I will highlight the resonances between them and map out a topography of the PSi#21 Fluid States event, Aural Lighthouses. The recordings are also a response to the call of the work presented and the site itself.

This afternoon, Salomé Voegelin very aptly put it that performance is itself a refraction through the own body. Whatever you as a performer want to present is transmitted through you. And so, as I report on this event it is through my own interests and focal points of visual scanning through camera work, the body and performance, touch and the landscape. Concept and material are both part of the equation. I act as field recorder, collecting samples of sounds and images to be posted together as an assemblage of parts, much like Salomé’s own practice of creating performances. She starts out with an abstract that is the catalyst for gathering materials from different sources. They are then assembled into a score, requiring delimiting choices, which must be made in the presentation of any work.  

The experimentation of Salomé’s method comes from within the listening to the work itself, not from a priori theoretical knowledge. The experience of creating the work has a crucial bearing on the meaning produced within it and shapes the course of the research.

My aim here in Santorini is to create responses and draw parallels between the different events and activities, and their location in this specific site. The different talks and excursions reverberate beyond their allocated time slot and influence each other.

Just this morning at the Santozeum, before departing for the boat trip to the volcano the chirping birds caught my attention. They were scuttling around in the palm tree placed squarely in the sightline of the volcano, or Nea Kameni. In and out of sight their song was constant. Later in the afternoon we were invited to experience Alyssa Moxley’s and Ramona Stout’s artwork ‘Still Here - Radio Receiver Bird Cages’, in which bird cages are used to house little receivers hidden inside wooden boxes. The cages themselves apparently come from the local practice of catching songbirds and keeping them in the house. The eight cages are situated in a circle in a small cove-like room, where the sound fills it. Rather than bird song however, the sound emitted is a fluctuating drone-like sound based on the historic seismic activity of the region. The artists have considered the perceptive sensory systems of migratory birds using the Earth’s magnetic field. This same ability also serves as a warning mechanism in natural disasters. The birds can sense catastrophe and flee before the event has surfaced. Caged, the birds may sing beautifully while in fact anticipating disaster. This, along with the unpredictable and varied, low drone creates a sinister atmosphere. The small room feels like an engine room, but trying to find a pattern to the sound, it keeps escaping anticipation.

In the same way catastrophe unfolding cannot be anticipated. It remains unknowable in its becoming. Mute and explosive. As Raviv Ganchrow pointed out in the discussion with Salomé Voegelin and Rustom Bharucha, ‘fate’ or ‘future’ is what the present already contains, and by fetishising the future we are paralysing the present. In the present state of future-shock we are unable to fathom the catastrophe of our own extinction, unable to address global issues.

In Raviv’s example of the perception of a volcanic eruption the observer’s fear spills into the refractive gap created between seeing and hearing the explosion - between knowing and sensing. It is the distance from the event, a fore-knowledge and anticipation of the sensory/bodily impact to come that jettisons the body/mind into a state of petrification.  

The anechoic is not only the lack of interference, it is also the absolute overwhelming of signal - it is one and the other simultaneously. A cacophony of sounds, or a droning like in ‘Still Here’, and silence, both contain a terror of homogeneity. A lack of discreetness that makes evaluation and explicit knowing impossible, inhabiting a seemingly never-ending continuum.

Catastrophe is not a sudden event, but rather an emergent occurrence, in Salomé’s words - “a silent anxiety that becomes a detectable warning”.

Copyright –  Agnese Cebere  (2015) “Day One – Greece”, PSi #21 Fluid States: Performances of UnKnowing LOG, ed. Marin Blazevic, Bree Hadley and Nina Gojic, Performance Studies international (PSi), 1 January 2015-31 December 2015, available

Tags: Media Technology and Performance  Mobility Travel Transport and Performance   Performance Studies in Europe  Performance Studies in Languages Other Than English  

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