.::..Nicholas Sagan..::. …:.::..artworks and experiments…::.:…nicholassagan@gmail.com

The Phasing Tapes

Working title: The Phasing Tapes (or phase tapes)
Setting: lecture hall
Scenario: First public “phasing” event.  What?  An “experimental thinker”, as will be defined throughout, has been meditating on phasing for a couple of years now.  Always in private until now.  We come to the public event.  No one knows what is going to happen; there is no mention of it in PR materials.  An audience of a couple hundred show up.  The thinker talks about how s/he has been meditating on phasing in an out of reality (think the traveler a la TNG). The tricky thing is controlling where you end up when you phase out of here.  S/he tries it once and flickers and kind of surprises the audience, who at this point think it’s a projection/hoax, etc.  No, thinker is physically there, people touch, etc….finally after some noise dies down because they all see the thinker at another attempt.  This time it is a complete phase.  Like tuning a radio or uhf signal, the thinker just phases out.  Audience is silent.  Minutes pass.  Audience murmurs, gets worried.  Finally, thinker phases back in with blood dripping from ears and nose, eyes black and blue.  body limp and collapses.  DOA.  Keeping away from any X-Files bullshit (because this is about post-human identity/thought/mediation, etc) a team of investigators looks into this event.  They find journals and documentation of the meditations, very detailed lines of thought that lead to certain qualities of phasing, etc.  They set out to recreate the event.

This is where the development of content, media and performance all come to a crashing apex.  Some of this has been sparked by a collaborative project from last fall where we created a faux hologram portrait.  The technology was fairly simple but had mesmerizing effects.  People who reacted negatively to it didn’t really get the commentary on “hyper-” or “tele-” portraiture, which in some ways wasn’t really the point.  It’s really more of an exploration of post-humanism, extending the thought experiment into where thought itself can take us.  By using methods of mediation of the performers (computer vision, projection and video) I think it is possible to recreate this fictional phasing event.

To being this process more thought must be given to the theories behind post-humanism in regards to disembodiment and the media.  N. Katherine Hayles describes the process of moving into a  post-humanism happens as soon as one enters a “cybernetic circuit that splices will, desire, and perception into a distributed cognitive system in which represented bodies are joined with enacted bodies through mutating and flexible machine interfaces”.  Furthermore, one of the bodies of work that we can look to for at the very least historical background and theoretical context is Merce Cunningham’s Biped works in which computer vision was used to track and recreate the movements of the performers/dancers.  Some have said that the work had both very haunting and distancing effects while at the same time being present enough for the audience to derive a highly subjective meaning.  Also, Troika Ranch works almost entirely with computer vision systems to highlight similar issues of post-human identity, although in a way that is more performative than “dancerly”.

Some experiments that might be helpful in developing these more refined “phasing” experiments have already begun.  I mentioned the collaborative piece a little earlier for a starter and I’ve been working with computer vision as a sound generating system.  The next step in the CV process will be fine tuning the control of video pieces to react to a performer’s movements.  I was also thinking that I could begin the process of creating this fictional event and process by doing video journals of the phasing.  Might be kinda fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *