I'VE SEEN MY BODY ELECTRIC  or  How subcultural is my Body Intelligence?

by Nina Stuhldreher 2004-2005

 ++++++++policefilm/ intro++++1:10 min+++++++++++

I think in clusters (as maybe we all do). I think in clusters, and even if it´s not sure, that this preverbal cluster-thinking can already be called thinking at all, it is a method which allows me to imagine the single elements or even the whole structure of argumentation of this performance in a split second before my inner eye. It is based on an extremely visually oriented proceeding, so the best means to make this visible to you would probably be a computer animation.

But I´m not a computer. I´m a human interface. And so, using such oldschool means like sound and gestures instead, it would approximately look like this  [handmovement] :


                   Hm                                                                               hm

                                               hm                        hm            


What I would love to do at most is to make the same movement with my hand as the witch called Prue from the TV series 'charmed', in order to simply  transplant the complete content of this lecture into your heads.  [handmovement]

But that is impossible. Unfortunately also to express everything that I see with pictures. And also to express everything I want to say in words. Therefore a lecture performance.

+++  +++

Every work, every piece of art, every idea has a story. Every story in real life has a beginning beyond definition. Temporary states of matter - finding each other, building clusters, drifting apart again - impossible to tell how and when it started or even why, through which impulse one molecule approaches another one, exactly that one and not a third one, why at that certain speed, and at that certain point in time.

But as i am a scanner, a psycho-biological scanner made for filtering incoming information, I come with a certain set of adjustments. My design includes information capture units that are preset for a certain number, size and rhythm of stimulations. Therefore, and only therefore, the central control unit in my brain has the possibility to construct the idea of origin and beginning.

Let´s try to apply that phenomenon.

++++++++hypnogenderfilm++++++3:50 min.+++++++

After in the late 90ies all of a sudden everything was Pop and a bit later everything punk; after the Munich Kunstverein had celebrated the 15th annivesary of 1980; after the Berlin love-parade had attracted more than 1.5 million so-called ravers and the banks at latest at that point had realized that also casually dressed individuals have considerable financial power and make up excellent customers; after between 2002 and 2004 at least 12 exhibitions had taken place in the germanspeaking art context concerning the encounter of art and music or popculture; after the commercials had discovered dancing, singing and the founding of a band to be the hippest and thus best-selling scheme of identification; after the TV-shows "Starmania", "Starsearch" and ("Germany is looking for the Superstar") had managed to implant the "I deserve sth special"-feeling completely into list of seemingly realistic career dreams; and after finally I myself had founded the band that I had longed for already all my life - -

After all this I participated in a panel discussion on "Gender and Music" taking place during the exhibition "Music Didactique" at the Shedhalle Zurich. Sitting there in the quite illustrious company of Terre Thaemlitz, Thomas Meinecke and Kevin Blechdom, all of a sudden I realized how a big fat "No" was shapening up in my head. It was not a "no" concerning the exhibition which had been beautifully arranged by curator Frederikke Hansen dealing with the question what could be the contents of nowadays popmusic after techno; neither was it a "no" concerning the interesting reflections of my co-panelists about the music scene as a huge trade center for codes and role models - especially regarding gender aspects. However, I began to wonder why we would only talk about that part of the information transported by music that is attached to the rather visual field; why only talk about music as a socio-cultural phenomenon, its emotional potential as a mere social deal. I came up with the idea that if already using the probing of the Gender clichés consciously as a framing of the panel, whether it might be possible as well to demonstrate such classifications through a more immediate analysis of sound and musical conditions themselves or their physical effect on the human body. So to speak I asked myself the trivial but provoking question if there exist rather "male" or rather "female" kinds of music. Or at least of dealing with music. Thoughts crossed my mind which tried to transfer TO the field of sound and music Rosi Braidotti's well known cyberfeminist reflections whether the "metal to flesh"-formula equals "masculine to feminine". So in my mind I went through sort of a virtual trial on a "theory to music"-version of this question as an ironic repeating of the oldschool contrast of emotion and intellect, intuition and logics.

Well, as you can imagine, I failed in spontaneously explaining this intellectual -> rule-of-three calculation, especially as I was supposed to say it in English. -- Seems like I am an artist after all and no good for genious flashes on panel discussions, after all I'm a rapper, and they are known to talk and think at a snail's pace when lacking the beat of music or other shape taking structures (as for example this carefully prepared text); after all I am a product-artist and not a performance-thinker (and mentioning this by the way is not mere coquetry but it is relevant to the subject of this lecture performance as you will see later on). No matter -- what I wanted to point out is the following: The idea of intuition which traditionally is attached to the female principle is about to undergo a tough genderchange in the near future. Intuition more and more will be replaced by the so-called body intelligence, a term borrowed from the field of science and technology, usually identified with a strong masculine connotation.

And this is indeed encouraging, being a real chance to level out the age-old mistake that intuition and sensibility automatically must be attached to anything female.

The exciting thing is, that a world in which body-intelligence is highly esteemed and worshipped will not only soon experience a crucial Update in which concerns existing gender-roles. It also gives rise to great hopes that finally radical changes in criteria catalogues for economic efficiency and scientific methodology will appear.

+++++++medializationfilm+++++++++ 4 min.++++++++

When I'm going by train I exist twice: one part of me is sitting inside the train, squeezed into the seat, immovable. The other part of me is outside, running next to the train all along the horizon, jumping the numerous obstacles crossing my way, swiftly and sometimes hysterically like a nuts jack´o´lantern in order to keep pace with the speed of the express train. Houses, trees, cars, electricity poles, furniture-warehouses - across all of that I easily jump as that cheeky little figure outside there, while I'm watching myself through the window glass from the inside of the train. Mario Brothers, 1989 version, a two-dimensional video-game. I had endlessly played it at the age of 15, at my first encounter with the boring winter afternoons in the American Mid-West, which imprisoned you inside the house and turned your body into redundant technology.

Also some kind of capturing architecture by jumping it, an apparent bending of firm concrete into the soft acceleration of a Hiphop-Beat in the videoclip about the 2nd generation migrant kids in the Parisian suburbs: by re-evaluating their nearly transhumanist surroundings into sort of a playground, they establish a video-game-like setting which turns its protagonists if maybe not into humans, so at least into superheroes.

And so, while the whole well educated art world is helplessly talking about the consequences of the so-called disneyfication of the cities, a small group of youngsters at the outskirts of Paris is carrying out the astonishingly resistant act of recartographing their neighboorhood - an act of enormously demanding physical energy, but yet completely non-violent.

Possible is, what can be imaginated. At least there where one´s personal filter of perception can be spread upon reality like a tentsquare. So far this works only with architecture and space - living bodies, at least the non-protagonists ("Nicht-Ichs"), unfortunately only appear as potential targets so far. Possible is, what can be simulated. And so I guess that some day the interfaces will be complex enough for maybe turning also -> those videogames into the "perfect kick", that feature social role plays. And who knows: perhaps it´s gonna be the social issues as well, which are then going to experience a structural innovation of an extent, which we can hardly imagine so far.

Technological development indeed is damn fast at the moment. As a result of this, one redefinition of what is regarded as "human" is meant to be is followed by the next. And so this most beautiful contemporary dance performance, that we´ve just seen emerging in the  Parisian suburbs, won't be the end yet to the ongoing process of medialisation and technologization of the body.

... I don't remember, when it started with MINE. But at some point i couldn´t ignore the signs anymore. My sudden interest in cooking soups, and the fact that at the sight of the vegetables in the cooking-pot I thought  "ingenious, these multi-compatible nourishing units". I got suddenly aware of the idea that educating children is like a first row seat in intelligence-research. I began to watch people doing barbeques in the park as I would do with lowland gorillas on a safari. When I had sex I had to think of burning data on external memory disks. Or sort of vice versa, when seeing the lush sprout of explosion-like growing nature in spring, to my own surprise I actually had to think of human reproduction activities. For the first time in my life, I suddenly was willing to accept the idea that emotions have biochemical manifestations, if not even triggers. I had become receptive to the idea that structures once inside our body and mind, also want to be used - and that it is extremely hard to resist to that with your so called free will. And I suddenly had to notice that I started fancying the thesis that neurochemical processes might not only influence our individual urge for motion activity, but even that what we call "personality".

Are these just the quite late findings typical of a daughter of left-wing academics that raised her with the believe that "anything is text"? Just the easy-to-expect results of the cultural shock that I suffered from, as a former inhabitant of an industrial area moving to such close-to-nature-towns like Munich and Vienna? Are these just the urgently needed but still overrated attempts of a 1973-born artist to broaden her horizon and liberate herself  from the influences of her teachers, still being unconsciously bound to the so-called "linguistic turn", desperately seeking to finally arrive at its "performative" counterpart?

Or is this just typical of a thinking mind in its thirtees, discovering with astonishment that there is a body connected to it which is finally pleading for attention, including all its health related peculiarity aswell as mediocrity concerning its sense of biological mission?

Not only.

+++++overallanalysisfilm+++3:50 min +++++

"With Love from Munich" this performance lecture could have been called aswell. Munich is a town in Bavaria, Southern Germany, where I used to live until short ago, and of which I know, that it´s not exactly popular in the rest of Germany and Austria, mainly due to its perfect surface, its picture book-like intact appearance and its non-ambiguity. In Munich the world still is just alright, at least each time that a couple of socio-critical, left-wing and rather conceptual young artists have left the city for heading towards Berlin and its more contemporary art scene. In Munich people still have a healthy colour of skin; you don't have to get worried that the chicque high-tech-look of the new city-express-train might discredit its passengers´ -> outfits as sloppy disturbances; and there you vote for the green party motivated by love of nature and not by love of protest. In Munich the term "music" will still evoke ideas of harmony instead of punk, is its relation to Mathematics still common knowledge and even the golden cut still a favorite topic among its 21st century art historians.

In short: In Munich the invention of seemingly perfect artificial realities means no insult to good old nature. The term "bionic" could also be a new word creation describing the average feeling of life there.

But inspite or maybe even because of my superambivalent relationship to this town, it made me aware of something:

One shouldn´t overestimate the new biometric possibilities. Analysis is everywhere. It´s anyway permanently taking place, always, everywhere, even there where we don't expect it, and is certainly not a threat especially typical of futural worlds where anything is digitalized. Any feeling we have is nothing but huge amounts of compressed experience shrunk down to a data size compatible for quick retrieval. A computer programme designed for a certain purpose is no different from what we humans do when in the process of feeling or thinking, we unconsciously work with methods like grouping and clustering.

It´s largely comprehensible that a machine is able to detect toxic gases or might even one day read immediately someone´s identity from the blood by DNA-examination (like the female Terminator is able to do). Also the measuring attempts concerning the looks of a woman  suggest themselves, as even though individually we might not agree with the results, in a media society we´re all pretty much used to be confronted in daily life with supposedly objective beauty ideals.

The calculability of music, though, is much more puzzling. With music being sth poetic, sth beyond logics to most of us, it seems much harder to make up criteria for its evaluation. Therefore everyone regards his taste in this field as unpredictable, highly individual and liberally chosen. But since the advancing of brainresearch and the possibility to digitally record large amounts of data, emotions and free will have to be regarded in a completely different light. When just before entering the shop I have decided to buy a bottle of wine, dish-washing liquid, corn in a can, a chocolate bar and 6 eggs, how is it possible then, that the central computer of my favourite supermarket has already calculated this in advance? Might it be, that after the idea of the free will couldn´t even be swallowed by the predisposition-plus-background-theory from developmental psychology so far, it may now become a victim of the possibility to be interpreted as a statistic quantity? How is it possible that emotions - which are usually the epitome of what makes up the feeling of "me myself", an individual ego - once that they can be represented as chemical processes, suddenly seem to be located beyond my decision access zone? Is it possible that rebellious behaviour is really only caused by a lack of dopamine, as it has been found in people with the so called ADS (Attention Deficit Syndrome)? Is it possible that my urge to rebel against the nazi way of thinking of my grandpa & my passionate researching for philosophies offering counter-arguments for this, are in truth damn similar to the structures which supported his seducability by the Nazi-regime? Is perhaps the cause of the issue I'm rebelling against, identical with that what is rebelling deep inside me?

(Can you still be sure of yourself regarding all this? Still believe in yourself? And if not, would that be so bad at all? Or perhaps a nice little liberation? Am I me? Who the fuck am I? Who am I anyway?) 

++++BodyElectricFilm++ 0:45 min.++

Many teenagers nowadays long for something, which might be called Z(!)appiness and which the rest of the world mostly tends to see as an indication of laziness or the increasing  disability to communicate. I remember a 20-year-old art student who when presenting his portfolio in the class made the following comment : "Buttons, I'd love to draw buttons onto all of my paintings. For I can switch them on". Clicking, switching, remote-controlling: As someone being infected herself, I certainly can´t let myself being carried away to some kind of cultural pessimism. Maybe these are only new abilities, which are developed in nowadays´ old world so to say, but don´t yet have a chance to be contributed here in a productive way. That´s also what I think at sight of those thousands of "Starmania" candidates, who again and again emphasize, that all they want is simply one thing: dancing. Respectively singing. Or maybe justfeeling? At least concerning this point I absolutely can´t join the negative opinion of some contemporary cultural scientists who keep criticising the "economy of sentimentality" as for instance Katja Diefenbach puts it. But of course my defending them doesn´t mean, that I´d automatically consider the Starmania-candidates as artists. Still hoping for participation in the mainstream, their pressure of suffering apparently is not yet big enough to compete with the acrobats from suburban Paris - which by the way appear like an almost cynically contemporary ideal of an artist, who as s.o. unemployed, forgotten by society, completely left to himself and released from any kind of hope is finally free enough to focus his very senses on the appearance of the world around him.

Zappiness as a warm button to elsewhere?

Meanwhile they are a shadow army, the Starmaniacs, millions of young people who are willing to report to a front desk that doesn´t exist yet. I´m itching to know how much the non-allowance to realize their needs will be itching them and where it will take us before society will be able to provide a set of serious tasks for the talents it accidently created. Concerning this there is no pessimism on my side.

Instead of this I'm dreaming of a world, in which the common daily use of technology doesn't mean being locked away to a cramping keyboard and the dull stupefying screen of a computer. I dream of a sensually satisfying way of operating with interfaces involving my whole body and surrounding space. As we already know it from "Minority Report". Or have seen it in "Lost in Space". Two Hollywood Sci-Fi-Movies - and our near future anyway.

So of course I´m more than just a fellow fighter for certain technological achievements.

What´s really flashing me is the fact that it´s exactly the world of technology - usually supposed to be cold & impersonal -  which helps gradually discovering the uniqueness of every single body. Due to its permanent search for the perfect interface and new possibilities to simulate reality, it is examining things scaringly closely. The intention is to find generalizations, similarities. These are found disillusioningly often. But also quite a number of unexpected peculiarities are turning up. Which is great.

We won´t get away without a few little sacrifices, though. For instance that of the artist as a genius, the future career of which will probably end up by a classification as subform of the so called Asperger- or at least Attention Deficit Syndrome. Not as degenerated, of course, but simply relatively non-spectacular considering all the other exciting peculiarities of the body which will be discovered. But art anyway is going to look quite colourless compared to the upcoming most fashionable HipTopic: Health. And the new complexity of the subject will drive the health system-makers completely mad - exactly as it´s nowadays happening to the poor art theoriticians courageously carrying the tough burden to struggle with the non-definability of art. But that actually is a price we should happily pay. At least if all this in return gives us the chance to tear down the border between the so-called disabled, "handicapped" people and the rest, the so-called healthy ones.

The american poet Walt Whitman composed the poem "I sing my body electric" in 1855, which more than a 100 yrs later served as model for the theme music of "Fame", a popular dance-movie and TV Series, that I´ve loved so much in my childhood days. If all what I´ve just said sounds like betraying the hopeful sentimentality of the seemingly transcendental philosophy of Whitman; - If this sounds at the same time damn similar to certain far-east philosophies and religions, which declare every single human being to be the centre of the universe - against the current hype of which I used to rail in former times, as I took them for a much too compatible canon-fodder philosophy for neo-capitalism. If this is so, it does make sense. At a closer look, these ideas turn out to be extremely experience and performance based and thus show themselves to be interesting contributions to the media and technology discourse. And we mustn´t forget that even the conception of our world according to the findings of physics, the leading discipline of all western sciences, has been already providing for about a hundred years a similar theory: after all it´s the quantum mechanics and its spectator´s interference ability which is directly leading to the idea of a participatory universe.

So let´s stick for a final moment to this macroscopic approach and carry on some dry sociological evolution theory. Regarding the current development with its countless TV-stations, surveillance cameras, docu-shows, neuroscans and mobile video phones, it´s easy to conclude that mankind is just passing through a state of extremly visualized self-exploration. One format has had a striking comeback within the art scene in the last few couple of years: young female artists dancing all alone at home, fixing their searching narcistic glances on the camera, as if it was a truth machine. What has mostly been interpreted as a side-effect of those Starmania Shows, or simply underestimated as results of discourses that have already had their peak in the 70ies and 90ies, might in fact be an accurate present-day reflection of our society: What is humanity right now if not most of all a teenager dancing in front of the mirror?

Dance to your own beat, ethologists would recommend. Love your own beat like you love yourself, the philosopher Slavoj Zizek might add. And I myself don´t wanna push for grand word endings. But if it´s really as nothing but a graph that we´ll all end up after all, I think we consciously have to treat ourselves with the power of socio-ecologic sentimentality: So if it´s nothing but a  graph as what we´ll end up after all, make at least sure it looks like the tail of a comet.

++++++++++++BodyRockFilm+++ 3:50 min.++++++++