Feedback on MIDAS Symposium and Performance

Author: Anna Xambó


The MIDAS: Symposium and Performance event took place on 18th July 2014, led by Professor Sue Broadhurst. It was hosted by Brunel University, held in the nice and spacious Antonin Artaud Building AA001. This was the third MIDAS event this year gathering about 30 practitioners interested in body, digital, and methods from the arts and the social sciences. We had presentations by Professor Stelarc, Dr Camille Baker, and Dr Olinkha Gustafson-Pearce. There were also performances by Dr Dani Ploeger. At the end of the event, we had a closing discussion. In particular, participants were provided with blank cards and were asked to give feedback on the 2 following questions:

1. What methods did you see from the day?

The answers on methods included: “design but often hard to see research methods”; “Perhaps digital practitioner should aim at a more strictly phenomenological approach and not …… the ‘exact’ science”; “Sharing questions, motivations”; “Play & anti-disciplinar….. Building new worlds → highly personal/communal”; “Connections, Networks, Expansion”; “Cartesian Mind, Space Transfer, To?”; “Hacking as a material practice. Performing w/ (broken) and breaking mobile technologies”; “Discussions of nebulous data ownership, Digitally inaccessible, All the research touches on some bind of physical/material interaction, Can we truly understand disembodied data this way? eg physiological big data”; “Prototypes, But I didn’t see one today!”; “Possibly a way to convey disabled experience through the avatar, Autism & avatars”; “is the virtual take over the real become more real than real?”; “research to a highly questionable but nonetheless seductive humorous image of the human body in a symbolic/religious contexts”; “Software Engineering Knowledge, Data interfaces → Different types of data → create metadata → knowledge from AI”; “Performance as practice using practical methods, Interdisciplinary, Localised”; “What are the meanings of quantification of artefacts and phenomena?”; “Physical Digital Interaction, Multiple”; “Postmodernism of the digital; The obsession of meaning; That you might or might find in data”; and “Body → Data → Consciousness → Sensing → Meaning, Everything feeds into data, but does it feed into everything else?, Methods: → hacking/repurposing tech/body, Making hands-on, → taking on a new skin, → interrogating through your own body, → augmentation of the body”.

2. How today’s experience has made you think about body?

The answers on body included: “Ownership and the body, Augmented Body, Why is this important? How does this relate to performance? How is this interesting to an audience?”; “Body, Virtual body foregrounded, Ideas of body in ‘virtual space’ contrasts with ideas of prosthetics and extensions to body in a physical sense (Stelarc) and role of digital in changing our sense of body (gender)”; “Talk of information about the body still review (?) the old Aristotelian division into matter and form. Material reduction and information thereon does not address formal (and that includes dynamic) interaction”; “Stelarc referred body to multiplicity of agents, What is the relationship between extended possibility of interaction and intimacy? How can these possibilities enhance, How distant have these possibilities, Fear of Human Interaction – [Psychological Needs], Self deception How are we not all avatars in this circle in a virtual reality, How distant are we from each other?”; “In terms of society (as a bigger body), what are the implications of a new bodily hierarchy? 1st world utopia vs 3rd world reality”; “Body, R/L digital and genderless, Body – persistence”; “The importance of interfaces and materiality/physical, Physical movement triumphs in early telepresence, We try to relate to existing norms?, Pointing gesture being re-appropriated”; “I heard the term ‘ordinary people’ a bit too often, What are the implications and impact?, ‘Digital ideologies’; “At what point does an object transcend being a tool?, Does it then become part of the body/prosthetic?”; “A third dimensional digital performance occurring simultaneously in reality increasing reach and the way the performer could interact with their digital self within that performance”; “Is wearable body sensor/device become an instrument in Digital Performance?”; “The body exists/articulates in a socio-political environmental context, Digital technology exists in the same environment, The however – that is the ways of it, the body that is, … with it a range of common inferences – which are essentially negated by the internal processes/data which has been highlighted/explained today”; “Blurring of definitions of physical and virtual, Political dimension, Ownership + ………, Digital + gender, ? new …… reception, ? reconfiguration of perception”; “Beauty, Biology – Genes, Technology – Code, Particle Physics – Quantum Particles, Phenomenology, The Body, The World•••••••••••••••••••••Media”; “real/truth/presence – body self – I/i, The narrative of selfhood online, Repressive desublimination = second life”; “Behaviour based analysis”; and “There are some questions around flesh being separated/deconstructed made into new bodies. If our consciousness and our constructions of embodiment lives in and through the body → if you amputate all of the parts of the body → where is the consciousness and embodiment situated?”.

We wish to thank all participants, and special thanks to Naomi Buneman for transcribing the notes. 


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