The recent Almost out of sight festival at Weld as well as the works Observatory (MDT) and The Infinite Conversation (Magasin 3) has proposed a discussion on the concept of darkness in performance art. What happens to the artistic means and the aesthetic sensibility when they are deprived of visual expressions and representations?
The sensory deprivation of sight is suggestive and full of potentiality. It creates a new sensibility for sound as well as touch, smell and an experience of the inner workings of the body.
The sixth sense
When listening one can hear the sound of the heart beating, the lungs breathing and possibly the blood passing through the vessels of the inner ear. But there is also a sense of the inner body, this “sixth sense” called proprioception or kinaesthetics, the perception of ones own body. Without it we would not be able to walk or move through complete darkness, because we could not organise our bodies. A simple way to try out the capacity of this sense is to close your eyes and try to make your index fingers touch each others tips.
The aesthetic experience thus shifts to new senses and the use of the senses are redefined. E.g. listening is used to aproximate the size of a room.
Desire in the dark
The darkness is also interesting because it veils the social roles of the participants to a large extent. Name, age, class and gender is potentially invisible, allthough the voice can tell a lot about those properties. And the voice turns important, especially in the work of Lundahl/Seitl, where it’s used for instructions or converation.
When you touch someone in the dark you can not tell if you think the person you are in touch with has beauty, education or a proper social status. The qualities of touch differs from the qualities of visual representation. This is of course a threat to the predominating way of organizing our desires. The gaze is so toxicated by capitalism and commodity fetischism and in the darkness we can repudiate the desires of appearance.
Darkness remains an intimate sphere. It withdraws the public as well as the private.
Loosing the world
When we can’t see anything we loose the sense of world, it disappears in the void. There are no distinct feeling of inside and outside, you can not kn ow for sure where your subjectivity ends and the organization of objects in the room can not be understood before you actually feel them. In the darkness the world cease to exist.
To me that is a hopefull experience and I sometimes wish that a new world will emerge from the dark void.
The Infinite Conversation starts on thursday in Stockholm
I will be in there and you are very welcome to come by and join the conversation
The acclaimed artist duo Lundahl & Seitl have created a performance that invites visitors to immerse themselves in total darkness at Magasin 3. After the much talked about performance at National Museum in Stockholm last year, there is now another opportunity to experience an entirely new work for four days only in May.
For The Infinite Conversation, Lundahl & Seitl completely darken one of the galleries at Magasin 3. Visitors are led by the hand into a pitch-black room where they then drift in and out of conversations held between disembodied voices. Each new voice is projected out into the space, where it forms a dialogue with others. The gallery, like the dark caves of Lascaux, absorbs and stores this information in its own inherent memory–every visitor leaves a trace behind for the next person.
Thursday May 5 12-19 pm
Friday May 6 12-17 pm
Saturday May 7 12-17 pm
Sunday May 8 12-17 pm
3 thoughts on “Notes on darkness”