net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

What is and Why Agency Art?

murcia_largeEvery hour we move, we relax the body – Exercice during the online intervention.

18/06 2017 11h.
Networked performance art and engagement – What is and Why Agency Art?
Internet, Arte y Compromiso, Centre Culturel Puertas de Castilla (Murcia). Invitation Veronica Perales.

Download the document prepared .pdf

“Where can agency art be online nowadays in the time of social media, in the time of not choosing, but consuming, scrolling, being fed and harvested? In conversations, building trust and attention.
Examples : Third Space Network and Furtherfield.”

prepaMurciaPreparation for the event – exister en double – quadruple ….

More on Agency Art

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Agency Art II

collectively made, refusing hierarchy, a knitting together of artists and performers in the moment of the event, erasure of the artistic ego, practice, changing rules, choices, connecting, accepting the unexpected, responsive, shared, collaboratively authored, open to all, working with temporal behavioral phenomena, healing, enactment, improvised, including environmental conditions, attentional strategies, instructions, protocols, apparatus, meeting, embracing the ordinary, rehearsing alternatives, re-hijacking therapy, exercising our relations to others, our social (in)capacities, exploring rituals, being together, participatory,
concerns individuals and politics

aa3

Agency Art seems to be a difficult term: too much bad feelings go with the word (NSA) ; too similar sounding to Art Agency, and so it triggers thoughts about commerce. Still I want to persevere. For years I used silently the term “behavioural art” to think about what I was doing – silently yes, because for someone trained in biology “behavioural” is a stained word. It turned out that for others “agency” is just as stained. But for me it’s  an empowering word, referring to Butler, ANT theory and Karen Barad.

Agency Art is beyond disciplines. It’s a point of view, an anchor point from where to think critically about (my) artistic practices.

Let me try, while forgetting temporarily all the theoretical implications, to mention a few projects, I would like to name of Agency Art : Darren O’Donnell‘s social theater works and his book Social Acupuncture which argues for an aesthetics of civic engagement, Miranda July‘s work Somebody, where text messages are delivered by a real person. Félix González-Torres Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) a 175 pound-pile of candy, from which visitors are encouraged to take samples, Eduardo Kac’s Darker than Night and Teleporting an Unknown State 1994/96, Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present and 512 hours, where the public became the performing body, Yoko Ono‘s Cut piece, Gego‘s work on networks and space and a lot of Lygia Clark‘s multi-sensory participative work.

gegoretiulareafg-01126-ao-700x372 Gego, Reticulárea. 1981.

To find keywords for Agency Art I choose some specific examples (from fine art, dance, theater, music, performance, digital art and electronic poetry) : Deufert&Plischke’s work, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner’s HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US, Building Conversation by Lotte van den Berg, Deep listening by Pauline Oliveros, Poietic Generator by Olivier Auber, Lingua Ignota by Samantha Gorman and Walking Practices by Ienke Kastelein. (more info on each piece at the bottom of this post)

Why didn’t I include a relational aesthetic artists as for instance Rirkit Tiravanija who initiates ways to enable the public to be a part of the art-making process?
Because the public can’t make choices in his work – it is like a staged environment, which needs these people to make it alive, but does not give them any agency – they are not challenged to make choices besides being there or not being there.

Agency Art is art that makes it clear to the receiver via his or her body what is at stake, where opportunities for action lie, and which virtual* behaviours he or she can actualize. It demonstrates how choices work, and how to create patterns that retain their coherence while you remain part of them and transform when you move within their field of action. (* virtual understood as potentiality, not as a quality or in a re-presentable way) Mulder 2012.
(This refers to my first post on Agency Art.)

Agency Art is made of interaction, but should be constructed, looked at with intra-active glasses.
(This refers to a post on inter-intra-action.)

I still need to read a bit on Latour :) before I can write something about the many definitions, different, but related, takes on agency. Gell, Barad, Spinoza, Butler …

Read the rest of this entry »

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inter – intra – action (fr)

Depuis quelques temps j’essaie de réfléchir sur un nouveau concept: Agency Art, que j’ai découvert dans un texte d’Arjen Mulder de 2012.
J’aime beaucoup cette notion, parce que elle ne prend pas un medium, ou une technologie comme point de départ, mais met en avant ce que celles-ci rendent possible. C’est un art qui s’ancre dans les choix comportementaux, dans les gestes. Son sens est les actions rendus possibles. J’ai écrit un billet qui en parle plus amplement. (en anglais)

interintra

Mulder intègre ses idées dans l’histoire. Il remonte vers des penseurs comme Spinoza, Shannon, Wiener, MacKay, McLuhan, Cassirer, Langer, Gell, Latour, Heidegger, Derrida, Badiou, Rancière, Danto, Whitehead, Steiner, Rolnik et encore d’autres.

Dans mes tentatives de mieux comprendre ce que ce concept pourrait apporter à ma propre pratique artistique je lis des entretiens (en anglais) avec Karen Barad une physicienne et féministe américaine qui parle d’un autre concept nouveau pour moi: l’intra-action.
Dans les années 90 du siècle dernier le mot interaction était un mot clef pour analyser mes œuvres en hypertext. Peut être aujourd’hui l’intra-action peut m’aider à mieux réfléchir mes travaux de performance collaborative où il n’est pas vraiment clair ce qui provoque quoi, où se trouve l’agence – ne pas entre les entités clairement distinctes, mais venant de l’intérieur d’un tout, où les conditions du serveur, les ordinateurs individuels, les différents webcams et périphériques sonores, ainsi que les voix et les images des co-performeurs, les conditions d’éclairage locales et les situations familiales sont toutes enchevêtrées dans ce que Barad appellerait un phénomène.

L’intra-action (en opposition à interaction), un néologisme introduit par Barad, représente un profond tournant conceptuel dans les métaphysiques individualistes. Pour Barad, les choses et les objets ne précèdent pas leur interaction, mais plutôt, les « objets émergent à travers des intra-actions particulières ». Source Wikipedia.fr

Ce n’est pas simple du tout de comprendre les idées de Barad. J’étais contente de trouver une vidéo qui semblait l’expliquer simplement et puis je l’ai transcrit et j’ai essayé de traduire ce texte en français. (voir en bas) Tout ça pour me rendre compte que je n’en ai toujours qu’une compréhension superficielle. Ce n’est pas grave. Barad se base sur la théorie quantique et des pensées de Bohr, Butler, Harraway et Foucault. Je leur prendrai des  termes comme phenomenon, agency, apparatus et intra-action. Ils vont ré-apparaître.

Video Written & Created by: Stacey Kerr, Erin Adams, & Beth Pittard

La transcription / traduction du texte de la vidéo: Read the rest of this entry »

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Agency Art.

trustattentionbis

Agency Art is art that makes it clear to the receiver via his or her body what is at stake, where opportunities for action lie, and which virtual behaviours he or she can actualize. It demonstrates how choices work, and how to create patterns that retain their coherence while you remain part of them and transform when you move within their field of action.

I have been reading Arjen Mulder‘s* article THE BEAUTY OF AGENCY ART, and I recommand it strongly. (You can download the article on academia.edu, read it in the book Vital Beauty, V2_Publishing (2012) or download it here.)

Often, when I talk about my artistic work I tell it’s using behaviour as it’s material and builds on an aesthetic of trust and attention. Sometimes people ask me what I mean by that.

I then tell them that in Being Human / Etant Humain (1997 / 2007) I was more interesting in creating the field, the network of choices in the  html page, than in the multimedia side of it. I told them I saw the works as low-tech mood mutators and interrogations on communication. I didn’t want the work to be immersive. And in my later online performance art projects (Huis Clos / No Exit, Angry Women, besides,, Distant Feeling(s)) I use strict protocols, which strangely leave a lot of freedom to the performers, so we – and they also – can reflect on their behaviour.

Attention and trust are requisites for this to happen and necessities when taking distance of the feelings provoked to appreciate its aesthetics.

Agency Art gives me a new terminology that might help me think these ideas further – I like the word because it doesn’t take any technology or medium as it’s starting point, but puts what these make possible in the foreground. It is art that has behavioural choices, gestures as it’s anchor points. Its meaning is the acts made possible.

The significance of Agency Art is related to a concept called “virtual behavioural space”. This concept is an extension of the concept of “virtual feeling” that Susanne K. Langer in Feeling and Form (1953) introduced. Each individual art medium evokes, manipulates and investigates “virtual feelings” in its own way.
A painting calls forth virtual depth with lines and colours; a sculpture constructs a virtual volume around itself; a novel constitutes virtual memory, tracked through virtual time. Dance follows virtual forces of attraction and repulsion. All the experiences that are part of this “feeling” are spaces of possibility, virtual feelings waiting for actualization; their nature, allurements and dangers must be studied, and art is where this investigation takes place.

See also Agency Art II

.
Why no-one else took to using Agency Art? Mulder embeds his ideas in history, goes back to thinkers as Shannon, Wiener, MacKay, McLuhan, Cassirer, Langer, Gell, Latour, Heidegger, Derrida, Badiou, Rancière, Danto, Whitehead, Steiner, Rolnik and others.
Maybe because his writing was too diffracted at the moment of publishing?
.

Diffraction is meant to disrupt linear and fixed causalities, and to work toward ‘‘more promising interference patterns’’. This can be practiced by reading texts through one another, and rewriting. It disrupts the temporality of a piece of writing, transverses boundaries such as discipline, and can change meanings in different contexts opening up meaning. Iris van der Tuin on wikispaces.com.

More on diffractive reading and writing in Matter feels, converses, suffers, desires, yearns and remembersan Interview with Karen Barad by Rick Dolphijn and Iris van der Tuin (2009).
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*Already in 2005 I read Understanding Media Theory (2004) a book by Mulder (also available on academia.edu). I was influenced by his thoughts. Ik heb ook zijn boek De vrouw voor wie Cesare Pavese zelfmoord pleegde (2004) gelezen. Ik ben ook een fan van Pavese.*

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Upcoming

* 12/10 18h Qu’est-ce et pourquoi agency art ? conférence, festival Mèq, hTh, Montpellier.
* 28/10 L’entrelangue à trois, Espace o25rjj, Loupian.
* 2-5/11 Distant Feeling(s) #4, Mobile Utopia conference, Lancaster University.
* 4-9/12 Qu(o)i <=> agence <=> Quand Résidence Labo NRV Subsistances Lyon.

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Annie Abrahams
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