[dance-tech] Re: Sensordance, etc........The language of technology - the technology of dance

  • From: Simon Biggs <simon@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <mpgough@xxxxxxxxx>, <jaimedelval@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2006 16:31:01 +0100

On 06.10.06 14:40, "Matt Gough" <mpgough@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>> Someone else interested in giving us feedback? I wonder what the others
>> think of the debate!

I think everyone is being very cautious about entering this debate. It has
all the signs of a nascent flame-war. Perhaps I should stay out of it too.
But I am always a sucker for a good fight ;)

It seems to me that you are speaking to one another from very different
places. Jaime is using language in a romantic and florid manner, using its
associative potential as much as its capacity for specific meaning. He is
also writing as a non-native English speaker and from rather outside
academia. This puts him at a disadvantage in this context.

Matt is placing himself firmly within an academic context and its strict
discursive forms. I am not aware of his academic credentials but his
position appears safe. Of course the purpose of much academic discourse is
to be safe, to ensure that mistakes are not made. The objective of academic
discourse is not necessarily to establish truth but it is completely
concerned with the "rightness" of its methods and discourses. The academy
(peer review) is both the instrument and product of this.

As has often been said before, scientists, engineers and many other
academically oriented disciplines cannot afford to be wrong. This can lead
to bridges falling down or, on the other hand, revisionist histories
("common knowledge") becoming "knowledge". Artists, on the other hand, are
not concerned with being right or wrong. They might treat these issues as
subject matter, they might even appropriate the methods associated with
academic rigor, but artists are not concerned with knowledge in the same
manner as an academic. They seek to be free of such constraints in order
that they can play around with stuff and see where it goes. This is why many
artists are attracted to the more exotic, nee "unsafe", language of certain
post-modern thinkers. They are not interpreting these texts as academic
inquiry but more as poetic envisioning. The phenomenological gap that
insists that nothing is real, that nothing is a priori, is the artists
ultimate "high ground". That it often resembles a "last-stand", a hideaway
in one of those dead-end canyons in bad American westerns, adds extra
piquancy, lending the artist the lustre of doom (e.g. Rimbaud). When
confronted by the this the rigorous academic can only respond with impotent
rage, much to the artists delight!

Given the above I would say the two positions Jaime and Matt have been
developing here are irreconcilable, not because either of the positions are
right or wrong but because they are not equivalent. They exist in parallel
universes. I doubt that they even understand each other's basic positions. I
don't see this debate going anywhere useful.



Simon Biggs

AIM: simonbiggsuk

Research Professor, Edinburgh College of Art


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