This is a video I took using my iPhone whilst meandering along the beach in Wollongong, Australia, yesterday morning. There are no thoughts. Just a soft, rhythmic pull of the tide’s intrinsic motion. The sand sank and crumbled ‘neath my feet. The sea soaked them, pulling back the crunchy pink and beige crystals, leaving my toes wet, cool and salty. The salt in the sea tinged two of my toes (which had been rubbed raw with blisters from walking around all day in heels). This pungent pique–not quite pain, but sharp, stinging perception–disinfected them. There was a purity of touch in the euphonious fluctuation between the sea, the sand, and my feet. I tried (but failed) to walk in time to this.
I was here to do a performance at a conference called ‘Provocations’ in Wollongong. The subject matter pontificated here was provocative in a theoretical sense: sex, pornography, the volatility of normality, doing and undoing our bodies, vibrant and vibrating materialities, all sorts of genders, technologies and politics, class, narcissism and fat (my own as well as activists’), migration, nomadic rhizomes of thought (and action), pathological wound cultures, social and structural injustice, and the rest (which circulated like a drone around the delegates, arousing and questioning).
My own part of this Happening was to provoke in a literal sense, by performing in a TRANCE in front of these pontificating intellectuals. They raved about their Queer and queerer theories. Then I did my pseudo-dance. Not really dancing at all, but responding to my own heartbeat, enveloped by the rhythmic sound, I splodged around the foyer, quasi-elastically. Listening to my core, which was retching emotions of anger, fear, impatience, but also joy, shame, elation, I wrenched the corpuscular molecules of muscle and (mostly) fat that comprised my massive corpus, and moved across the floor and up and down the walls. Not particularly delicately. No where near grace.
And yet. Yes. There were moments of connection between myself and my body which fulfilled the said intentions I had proceeded with. Some of the voyeurs found it hard to articulate what they had seen. Others found it titillating. More still (at least) provocative.
Performance complete (see https://lornacollins.com/trance-⬇%EF%B8%8F-under/ for documentation), I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of my flying visit to Australia. At the conference, I was particularly impressed and stimulated by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi’s interventions with the Sense Lab. Erin and Brian are superstars in the world of creative theory and cultural studies. At the conference they elevated thought into play, by encouraging delegates to use their imagination and creativity to contribute their own interpretations of texts, problems or suggestions. I got going on this, particularly on the last day of the conference, and started delicately ripping up bits of cardboard (my intention being to make a fractal snowflake) and declaring suggestions and questions (written in fragments, printed on pieces of paper, flung around the room) to other participants. Hampered by an immediate and hypocritical restraint by a member of the Sense Lab, I retreated. A few minutes later, I played cat’s cradle with Erin, and elastics with someone else. At a serious conference this was novel. I wondered what kind of knowledge these activities were disseminating, what was the point (or telos), and without it, what was going on? We use these sorts of activities to teach Foundation art students at Cambridge Regional College. With much fun and games. Pure, unrestrained creativity. Except at Wollongong I was restrained, which spiked my sensitivity.
I had to leave to return to Sydney before this session was finished, so I did not see what happened. I wish I had done. I am a major fan of Erin and Brian’s work with the Sense Lab, and I wish I had the chance to really engage with their work, make things, critique them, and construct decisions that pertain to understand the world from a Sensual point of view.
On the way back to Blighty I had the fortune to stay with my brother Edward’s oldest friend, Sam, in Sydney. He took my to Bondi Beach for dinner, where I ate the most exquisite piece of salmon I have ever eaten. This morning we went to Manley to say hi to his parents and I fell in love with their gorgeous sausage dog Daphne. Now I’m at the airport waiting for my plane. I miss the horses and can’t wait to get back home.
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