Zoe Scoglio: Re-visions

20 minute presentation for AEROPONIC ACTS  - growing roots in air, DAI's 3 day marathon of lecture-perfomance acts, May 2019.

This is an exploration of alternative optics through which to see, study and be present with current conditions and planetary metabolisms. What sensorial and linguistic tools might assist to make visible the forces, histories, and values that shape western worldviews and imaginaires?

Ana Teixeira Pinto, Rachel O’Reilly, Laura Harris and Hypatia Vourloumis responded to the question:

How to see from within?

Report by Ayesha Hameed:

The artist considers the ways in which vision is created through the materiality of text, paper and the time it takes to write. Within a circle of chairs, the audience sits in a circle on the ground. The artist slides and moves across the floor half-seated. There is no sound. She looks at everyone in the room and estimates the number of eyeballs. She moves again, and keeps talking, now about the quality of sight. She reads from a script on yellow paper that she pulls out and says: ‘this is an ongoing exploration into the practice of seeing and to make visible things not visible with the eye. What is made visible in the Western world.’ She moves into different postures of sitting while reading about this exploration and then puts the script away to address people standing above on the top balcony. They slowly drop sheets of paper in different colours to the ground level. The frequency of paper-dropping increases. On it are theoretical texts – her thesis. The audience is invited to read the texts on the floor. She reads aloud pages out of sequence as they have fallen and then crumples them up and stuffs them into her shirt. A bell rings louder and louder as she moves across the room. Her torso, stuffed with paper, becomes more and more distorted. 

Hypatia Vourloumis said the artist’s reading of the room at the beginning related to the alternative optics suggested in the presentation that invested in and refused discourse. ‘Dropping the paper down from above animated the room and really changed it,’ she said, struck by the reveal of the thesis. ‘It was an unruly vision (following Gayatri Gopinath),’ she added. ‘Many unexpected things were happening like the thesis being performed, then read out (not as interesting) and then grafted onto the body.’ 

Laura Harris said it was a playful, poetic and at times parodic performance of theoretical thought that turns the thesis into garbage and padding. ‘This augmentation and disfiguration, accompanied by the sound of bells evoke Quasimodo,’ she said. ‘The text reads as a colonial project of the visual; it made it visible and tactile.’

‘How theory deforms practice – a reconfiguring of the course’s question of what to do with theory,’ was presented here, said Ana Texeira Pinto. ‘This is connected with desire for an inner vision to escape the regime of opticality, which resonates with Cartesian dichotomies in the texts read. Maybe the distinction between opticality and the visual could be explored further.’ 

Rachel O’Reilly saw two different performances – one with an optical question, and another of performance and discourse. She asked: ‘How do processes of destruction take place that writing does not solve?’ The invitation to enter internal vision didn’t work at the beginning of the performance, she said.