Our latest multimedia work, PROXIMITY, has been released by Interim: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics for their Body Issue. This issue has been carefully curated by Autumn Widdoes, who took the opportunity to integrate her background in dance, performance, and poetry, to actively include works which “require the presence of the body.” We are so pleased to be part of this expansive approach to poetics and we are eternally grateful to the artists who made this work with us: movers Danilo Andrés, Tereza Silon, Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau, Bishop Black and ROC and cinematographers Jo Pollux and Raja de Luna.
Proximity, we might say, underlies everything–and nothing. A measurement of distance, an exactitude that defines a broad range of emotional perspectives and access to privilege. Birthright. Mobility. Trust. Community. Family. Language. Safety. Neighbor. Care–if one cares and how one cares.
But then again–does proximity bind? And what, if anything, is modified in the exchange of touch, skin contact? At the point of acceleration–what’s the thing that draws us together? That motivates care? And in the absence of touch, of proximity–what then? Do digital proximities fill in the emotional gaps, does VR substitute skin contact? Is Proximity, then, a hallucination? A necessary hallucination?
Building on the previous methods we developed for our work BINARIES, we utilized techniques and forms of attentiveness to create a work of A/V poetry: frames as syllables, seconds as stanzas, text merged with image, bodies merged into other bodies, subjects merged into objects.
Proximity attempts to represent not answers but questions, questions which are more often felt than articulated because their formation escapes both everyday and specialist academic vocabularies. They are questions posed by the skin, by orifices, by a gaze that mediates recognition or its opposite, care or its opposite across a room, across a skype call, across a Guardian front page.
These questions are suggested but not wholly contained by the video’s text:
do you recognize me my your sovereignty / I am not close to you / I am not there / it is not me / I make better contact with your ghost / how much of my body could I lose / does our proximity bind us / I am afraid to touch / I might get a sense of you if you were within / reach / the further away you are the easier it is to ignore you / are we close / even though we touch / I you can’t hear my your voice / proximity
These corporal questions are multiplied by the encounters that proliferate as a consequence of hypermediated thought and speech acts. Ultimately they form a territory for experience. Other bodies, present in their absence, or absent in presence, disturb my relations to my own body enmeshes my body in ever-multiplying exchange practices – of money, of fluids, of goods, of glances exchanged.
Each of these interlocutors is a singularity in and of itself. The other that is the subject/object of my gaze/desir/touch, or in whose gaze/desire/touch I am objectified/subjectivised, this other deserves its own question that is not subsumed in meta ethical questions like “how should others be treated?” Yet the work of asking this question for all the entities with which we are connected exceeds the limits of expression.
Proximity does not seek to ask the question for every body present to consciousness but to identify the necessity of seeing each relation we have — even those we have to invisible others via media, geopolitics and global systems of manufacturing and food harvesting — as worth questioning, as worth raising as a form of potential intimacy.
PROXIMITY is the first in a series of singles, associative mixed reality performances and audio visual installations that interact with the conceptual origins of the auditory process, entitled Foreign Bodies. The work has been developed through the practice of learning from individuals and communities who move in resistance to, in spite of, and as a result of the management and control of bodies by states and other authoritarian actors.