Performative lecture for Transmediale 2017, as part of the Singularities panel, curated and moderated by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke. Joining us on this panel were also Dorothy R. Santos and Rasheedah Phillips.
The bomb, singular,
Is hurled at us, plural,
In timed steps
In rhythmic explosions
We scream, plural,
We hit back, too,
We can remake singularity, singular
Into singularities, plural,
To make room, to make space
For ours, and those of others
Living under the same roof.
If we are to become fragments
Let these fragments be shrapnel.
In this performative talk, we discuss the tensions around hyperdense gravitational pulls and acts of resistance. We see hegemonic models of singularity as narratives of and for consensus, enacted by the forceful movement of bodies towards a fabricated – and ever-elusive – “common goal.” Conversely, we see in the fragmentary and pluriversal condition of the colonised body possibilities for re-organizing reality, reframing the present into different political orders, and in so doing, carving provisional paths towards other realities. Our talk focused on one specific device as its narrative thread: the so-called “non-lethal” bombs – teargas and stun grenades – which are manufactured in Brazil, to be exported and deployed all around the world, from the violent Military Police of Brazil to the Turkish police, all the way to the Israeli Army.
Photo by Adam Berry, CC BY-SA 4.0
For us, these bombs are disciplinary devices which enforce the policing of bodies, restricting their movement while at the same time pulling them to a condition of “sameness,” realizing a desire to domesticate dissenting bodies towards isonomic ontologies. The moment of explosion is the moment of imposition of this hegemonic order; the moment when the bodies it affects are pulled toward an imposed model of singularity. At the same time, we can also misuse this metaphor and understand the colonised body as a space for ontological fragmentation; through these lenses, the explosion marks a moment of re-assemblage of multiple and contingent identities that become hypervisible. In observing these designs, we subvert the logic of the bomb as a device that creates distance; instead, we look towards a narrative that sees fragmentation as a possibility for resistance, a way of re-configuring reality towards a weirder future.
The performance consists of two parts: spoken word and live coding. While the text is being read, the screen displays a regular web browser with the following links open:
In the meantime, a blank patch in Pure Data is put in the foreground; the performance proceeds by slowly patching and designing the sound of a bomb explosion. The coding follows the pace of the spoken word. Towards the end, the level of the patch is put to the maximum; but rather than detonating the bomb the computer is closed at the very final moment of the performance.
Our performance starts at around 31 minutes in. However, staying for the whole video as well as the Q&A is highly recommended.