[NetBehaviour] Alan Sondheim's Avataurrors / terrae

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Fri Jul 7 09:22:55 CEST 2017

Hi Johannes, Thank you for the detailed commentary! Somehow, the 
difficulty getting through the maze to the show seemed part of the work 
itself - the children of prometheus hampered and extended by the ground 
work of technology.

For me, the smaller pieces in the dark room functioned as community, 
communality; they twitched, rather than move, halfway to the stillness of 
the 3d-printed work; the latter was of and about death, the bodies of 
Pompeii, of mass burials, of the end of the dance. Everything seemed 
still, even with Azure's singing Maya Maya Maya - what remains, and the 
remains were also the remains of bodies, 'what of the remains.'

I am frightened of utter disappearance, at this moment(less) in time, of 
scorched earth, as you know, of annihilation. I'm amazed how everyone, 
every organism, carries a world within it, an incredibly detailed world, 
and then how this can disappear in an instant, dreams and hallucinations 
and art and image and life as well. The amazement is threnody, one of 

Outgrowths everywhere, ingrowths as well.

And it was a delight and resonant to see you and everyone at the talk, 
thank you all so much!

- Alan

On Thu, 6 Jul 2017, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> Here some short reflections, on the work in the Furtherfield show, and 
> the Sondheim talk.
> Furtherfield seemed a small house, an intimate space, I realized I 
> didn't know it well. Finsbury Park a mess, segregated, fenced, prepped 
> for a big rock concert. Secured. I walk in strange loops.
> The wall of the small chamber, white, here are Alan Sondheim's 
> "Avataurror" 3d printed avatars, frozen tiny slimelike creatures 
> (painted green) on gray support or they's tumble off the wall. But they 
> look dead, not wounded, not distorted, just strangely "printed" in my 
> mind, lacking the force and furor that the animated avatar contraptions, 
> these wild copulatedtwised creatures that fly in their colorful virtual 
> worlds emanate.
> The next room is a small darkroom, I stand, and quickly become animated 
> myself by the mellow sorrowful quizzing voice (Azure) that sings, to the 
> first of three short animated VR films (Sondheim), on opposite wall. To 
> the right, five small tablets, with further avataric compositions, some 
> slow, some still, some moving; when I asked Mark about these tablets and 
> how he wanted to curate this, he said they function as small portraits 
> of avataric choreographies, trans-species compostures. I largely ignored 
> them as I kept watching, mesmerized, the larger filmic images of these 
> wild naked centaurs-taurrors, half of the other half, orbiting in the 
> landscape, and later the terrae incognitae tumble too, twisting?  "Maya 
> Maya Maya," sings the voice, "what remains after the filters, what 
> remains after the protocols, what remains after the deluge?"
> indeed. what remains after the splatter?
> the title of the show, "Children of Prometheus," made little sense to 
> me, I'm sorry.  But that is less relevant than what I wanted to ask, 
> namely how to read these small 3d prints, they seem the opposite (ironic 
> sad comment? brittled?) of the dynamic motion world and incessant stream 
> of music and writing with which Alan has given us such rich sources of 
> thinking and sensing.
> In his talk, he delineated a long and consistently impressive history of 
> work and creation-experimentation, and when watching the dances (Foofwa 
> d'Imobilit?) and then the mo-capped avatars dancing, the avatars 
> affecting the human dancers and vice verse, the collaborators helping 
> Alan to twist digital bodies further, stretch combine and contort them 
> (Cunningham would have loved it), into what I consider a perverse 
> extended choreography, alife-forms, obviously richly provocative for any 
> imagination of "bodies" & avatars whirling the mapped data, spaces, 
> architectures, whirling completely out of alignment and anatomical 
> logic, bursting into transmorphic shapes, amazing work really. Alan gave 
> us a deeper insight into how he develops stuff, constantly, writing 
> through and over it, working all the time i guess (who cares about 
> access to institutional labs, Alan, you seem to have these VR worlds and 
> second lives at your fingertips, in your dreams?).
> Then someone today posted the comment about edge space and the audience 
> being annihalated (Furtherfield facebook) by push of button, this 
> disturbed me; so they dropped off? inconsequential game? joke?  there 
> was debate about US politics and neo-populist right wing discourse 
> (something about Nick Terra) which escape me because I don't read these 
> right wing blogs. How did we get to Terra?
> Alan's work of course has a political dimension and is a grim commentary 
> on current obsessions with fluidity (gender, less so regarding race, 
> social class); and yes, genocide, violence, terror. The little 
> avataurrors do not connect me into these larger concerns. But maybe I 
> was just too surprised to see them. On the other hand, all of Alan's 
> relentless work has moved in and out of forms, media, contexts, and so 
> these lively daemonic, nearly formless avatarbodies that fly through the 
> VR words, maybe they become slime, and fungal, they crawl to inhabit the 
> ground, the walls, the ceilings of our nightmares. Outgrowths 
> everywhere?
> regards Johannes Birringer

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