Friday, 22 June 2012

Symposium update

We will shortly be posting the draft programme here. In the meantime we would like to update this blog with confirmation of key-note speakers. We will be having three joint key-notes:

Deborah Dixon and Carl Lavery

Claire Hind and Gary Winters

Mercè Saumell and Josep-Anton Fernàndez

Deborah and Carl will be discussing the case of Hashima, Japan

For those interested in the urban, the term 'topology' has come to denote a 'stretching' and 'folding' of space that brings points into proximity, thereby allowing connections to be made between people and things. Yet, what is missing from such accounts, we want to suggest, is an 'ontology of touch' that might account for and simultaneously 'ground' topological geographies, lest they become one more imaginary spatiality. By its very name, an ontology of touch would focus on the material connections among mobile bodies. Its topological counterpoint are the various materials and forces that rub up against each other, interpenetrate and reassemble at various speeds and intensities, such that diverse proximities and distances, contacts and connections are made and remade.

Here, we take Hashima, Japan - once the most densely populated site in the world, now a 'ghost island' -- as a site of 'contagion'. That is, as offering an opportunity to speculate on what such an ontology of touch might feel like. The touch that we are interested in exploring is variegated: the touch of matter, the touch of an image, the touch of language - a call, a refrain, a rhapsody. For us,
Hashima Island is akin to what Antonin Artaud called the plague, an interstice, a contact zone, a way of becoming monstrous, of dissolving. To go there is to enter a no-man's land, to encounter a past made future, to lose oneself in the toxic effluent of plastic rivulets, broken silicon, discarded children's shoes - the  ecological sublime, one might say. Hashima is a synthetic Saturn, a  dark star of waste. To actualise the monstrous touch of Hashima -  its toxic topography - the good sense of academic language, with its  dream of measured communication, break downs, prey to a viral  entropy. The only response is to write monstrously, to embrace its  molecular abundance. To do this, we write postcards from the island,  addressed to performance artists, film-makers and geographers, in  the hope of transmitting an 'aesthetics of contagion', a dosage of monstrous affect.

Claire and Gary will be presenting KONG LEAR

Claire and Gary collaborate as writing artists on live performances for the city their collaboration encounters the relationship between writing, play and performance and the possibilities of slippage between the self and character. Claire Hind is a performer, researcher and lecturer at York St John University and Gary Winters is the co-artistic director of the internationally renowned company Lone Twin a company with a 15-year history of performance making practices.       

The artists will offer a talk illustrating their practice and sharing footage of the 12-minute Super 8mm silent film of Kong Lear that Claire Hind and Gary Winters made during the Gorilla Mondays tour: Gorilla Mondays are performance walking tours remapping a city through the merging of the two stories of King Kong and King Lear where the public can join the character Kong Lear on her tour of different city sites that playfully psyche-map the streets of our imagination and call upon our dreams. 

Kong Lear as well as a play on words, is a humorous and touching film referencing King Lear’s madness upon some mythologised heath. We re-imagine Kong inside Lear’s psyche wandering the streets of York. Kong Lear is played by a female performer who comes with her own story - Freud would have a field day! We celebrate alternative interpretations in art making practices through the use of old technologies. Kong Lear slips, occasionally, into a narrative about the material quality and the aesthetic of super 8mm film with silent movie intertitles revealing a hint of what is hidden inside the character’s and the performer’s unspoken thoughts and desires. 

Mercè Saumell and Josep-Anton Fernàndez:

will be presenting a panel relating to the performance of monstrosity in Catalonia. We will post further details here shortly.