I thought I’d post a footnote of sorts to yesterday’s item on Professor Caroline Guertin, she of the limpid prose and limitless expertise. Here are a few short extracts from Guertin’s essay, Wanderlust: The Kinesthetic Browser in Cyberfeminist Space, published in 2007 by the Online Journal of Embodiment & Technology.
The shuffling and unfolding of the information of her body in sensory space is enacted across a gap or trajectory of subjecthood that is multiple and present. Subjectivity is the lens and connector through which the spatio-temporal dislocation gets focused and bridged. The gap is outside vision — felt not seen — and always existing on the threshold in between nodes. Like the monster’s subjectivities, all knots in the matrix are linked.
Think about that for a moment. Ponder its majesty.
Nudged into motion, the meandering subject in cyberfeminist space is a comet in orbit around her own story, around her subjective experience of a text that keeps changing, spinning off into an uncharted future. According to Paul Virilio, we are no longer beings who inhabit a temporal plane. Instead, in Open Sky, he argues we have become passive agents who are acted upon like film — exposed, underexposed, overexposed — and are nakedly subject to the effects of light speed.
We inhabit our bodies differently when we are out of phase, oscillating in the turbulence of dynamic space, that space where the textual body is written as contextual knot. The ways of moving in virtual space are directed and mapped by the knots that span spatio-temporal rifts. Without movement, we cannot cross the space-time divide.
The textual voyage is alive and kinetic, fractal and in flux, birthed as she travels through its fullness.
I suppose one could view the extracts above, and the essay from which they’re taken, as a sort of extended Zen kōan, insofar as they defy rational understanding and all known aesthetic criteria. More sceptical souls may wonder if these passages are in fact the results of some kind of seizure or medical condition, of which we must not speak.
I should, in fairness, point out that the Online Journal of Embodiment & Technology does feature more substantial aesthetic and intellectual works, including Courtney Stricklin’s Yawn, a written variation of a video piece that invites readers to record the number of times they yawn while reading it. (Stricklin has, helpfully, punctuated the text with marks indicating how many times she yawned while writing it.) Stricklin’s biography informs us,
While Courtney would never have guessed that her future would be in the arts, it came as no surprise to her highly artistic family.
No less impressive is Thrash: Physical Responses to the Bush Administration, by Andrew Simonet and Headlong Dance Theatre, a company which creates
award winning experimental and experiential dances with/for the entire body, including the face, the voice, and the mind.
Readers will be thrilled to discover that Thrash is an ongoing project in which members of the public are welcome to participate:
No performance experience necessary. Here’s the idea: you listen to speeches by George W. Bush. Then you move in front of a video camera for four minutes. No movement too strange, too ugly, or too crazy. Whatever comes out is part of Thrash. I edit the results into [a] short compilation, a cathartic DIY video, a belligerent home movie of an infuriating time… Don’t worry about being (1) good, (2) original, (3) interesting.
A video of the results is available here. Go on, watch it. It’s a thing of beauty.
Over at University Diaries, The Myth attempts a rather heroic translation of Guertin’s prose.
Feel free to compensate me.