[NetBehaviour] Talking Balking Out Badly

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Tue Sep 13 21:40:28 CET 2022

Talking Balking Out Badly


I was thinking of where my own work came from and who influenced
me and how that influence worked . And one of the things I
thought about was the work of Vito acconci who I've written on
before. It was his voice and the resonance in his voice which
was normal and intense and deep and straightforward then anyway
created his work particularly his earlier work. Who is the voice
connected to the body and I wrote about it in terms of second
person art because he always used the pronoun quote you UN quote
you. In other words the pieces were directed to the spectator
who is no longer a spectator not even complicit but instead was
part and parcel of the work and his or her body was part and
parcel of to work and I thought this was amazing. It used almost
no technology dash the earlier work dash almost none at all . It
wasn't theater it was direct. (At one point I knew Vito and
Laurie (see below) well.)

At the same time I was influenced by Laurie Anderson. This was
very different. Laurie used very simple technology lights and
mirrors for very simple tricks that were immediately understood
. For example she ran a projector facing the ceiling that was on
her stomach and as she moved and breathed lying down the image
moved I remember all of these early works so strongly. The
audience would move out of a Vito Acconci performance as if
there were nothing more to be said in the world. After one of
Laurie Anderson's performances however the audience would stand
up and clap and it would create a bond it kind of social network
occasions by Laurie's performance in her loft .

I couldn't do either of these. I was far too neurotic far too
skittering from subject to subject far too unsure of myself.
When I was surrounded by other artists I went silent or became
awkward. I've been awkward like that most of my life. At one
point as I mentioned Vito called me up on the phone I said I
realize one thing Alan that you're not a real artist either the
same day or the day after Laurie Anderson called me up and said
I realized something Alan you're a real artist . I didn't belong
anywhere except in and out of a hall of mirrors . I used every
bit of technology I could to establish myself to make myself
grounded in one thing or another. I remember all the time my
father screaming at me and I always felt destitute of a family
that my brother and sister were distant and far from me and in
fact they still are. My mother was somewhat supportive but
didn't understand anything I was doing and a great deal of the
time wasn't even around. She was political and was working in
Israel and in other countries around the world in relationship
to Jewish issues. My parents sent me money from time to time to
keep me going; this was my mother's idea.

My own past, the path that I found was one of wandering . I
would read a little bit of a book and think that I understood it
well move on to another book I think I understood that I had
some devastating social and emotional relationships with people
I was no good with people I am now estranged from my family for
the most part. I am out on my own along with Azure and I am
working somehow to suture to bring together what I've done in
the past . There's a huge amount of it and it goes in and out of
archives . I keep thinking of my archives and in some of the
collectivities I tried to do. I early on published the work of
Vito and Laurie and Adrian piper and any number of other artists
in a variety of magazines. In a variety of catalogs. I did one
of the earlier collections called Being Online which was about
people who are living one way or another online as part of their
daily lives . This was about how the Internet was With bodies .
There were more entanglements and nothing was as clear as it
seemed between the real and the virtual. I go over and over all
of this in my mind . I do this every night and every day with a
sense of dread and sorrow awkwardness and guilt. I don't think I
ever learned how to behave. I do think I learned how to
manipulate equipment and to grasp concepts quickly . I began to
feel more and more that the concepts and philosophy particularly
ones dealing with ontology were faulty and just interfered in
the appetition of the world. I began to look for diffusions . I
began to look for scatterings for partial objects for things
that were only adjacent near one another unconnected except for
that nearness. I wrote about the difference between fissures and
inscriptions. I still think that way . I think only mathematics
can supply articulations and connections that matter, and I
think mathematics only deeply connects perhaps on the quantum
computing and annealing level, that the rest are structures
within the same coherent ontology.

O this is all wrong.

When I go back to the clarity of Vito acconci's early work I am
astonished. It makes no claims but it makes And demarcates
fields of behavior. It's something about that I connect to the
world and connects to the body in an incredibly deep way. Body
art need not be involved with incisions or amputations it can
mean something else entirely. How are we in the world? How are
we in the world when we are in it in the lightest form of
adjacency? How in the world with its life forms is over 3
billion years old can we possibly possibly have anything to say
or understand in relationship to its being or to its inscription
or description? I am speaking as simply as possible. It is late
at night . It's four in the morning. I can't sleep. It's going
that way. I keep going away as far as possible from artificial
intelligence and meta verses and more and more towards the
fundamentals of what being the world is maybe Schutz his
relevance theory for example . It's a different way of
approaching it's pushing epistemology and ontology to the
background. It's no longer thinking of textimony but thinking of
testimony, or the reverse. It's the testifying of creatures on
this planet, all creatures on this planet. It the testimony of
bodies past, bodies passing, genocides, birthings. It's clarity
and cacophony. But there are always these inscriptions, these
adjacencies, these proto-structures, these whispers, these
coincidences and not so coincidences, these integrations of
differential calculus, these differentiations of integrations,
these breaks, these sutures, these moments, and among which,
philosophy has failed, its generalities in the sense of similies
or metaphors, its reifications and dissections, its operations
upon operations, something soon generated by metaverse AI,
flawless in its own way, always increasing the domain of
autonomous speech, the narcissism of the society of the
spectacle, o they are not on the streets, not on the streets we
see here where we are now.

Vito acconci brought all of this home for me . Vito acconci
would work with this with the body and the space with his hand
pointing epically direction saying I will kill you I will kill
you I will kill the person I am facing well he was rotating
slowly blindfolded and the audience would move out of the way .
That's all there was to it there wasn't anything more Laurie
Anderson took all of this all of the machinery of the real and
the virtual all the way back and turned the image into something
so intimate and personal that is the same thing with the mind
that video did by means of by way of physical movement in an
empty space in a second person . I think I learned whatever I've
learned from both of them and obviously from any number of other
people who are doing related things but it's just that tonight I
was thinking more and more about this , trying to fall asleep ,
wondering how we relate to the war in Ukraine at the moment ,
how we relate to anything at the moment when everything between
us and the world is a screen and the screen is everywhere. It's
no longer an addiction. It's our way of being in the world . And
Davidson even tonight I'd go elsewhere but I have no idea where
that would be or why I would want to go there or what would
happen when I was there if I were there at all .


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