The paper analyzes the performative-conceptual turn in contemporary art, starting from the idea of two bodies and two worlds – life and artificial or aesthetic – in the media-created reality. The emphasis is on changing the concept of interactivity works which replaces the aesthetics of the event. Language, speech and body are opened as a complex unity of the Biosphere and Technosphere of the situation and the context of freedom of action. From Duchamp to neoavant-garde problem of freedom of human action is shown in the aesthetization of things/objects that replace the originality of the work. Technosphere media art is coming to a radical change in the event of art as reproductive differences. The question of truth in the event of contemporary art is now derived from the distinctive events in a work that requires a new interpretation.
event, difference, contemporary art, performative-conceptual turn, technosphere, biosphere, aesthetics
1. Time without words?
If we try to define a distinctive word of our time we’ll obviously find ourselves in an unexpected problem. Is there a word in spoken language as a real statement of its “age”? If it could be improved, is it possible that language might be in a condition to overcome its epochal boundaries? We are talking about our technological world using ancient languages. But an unexpected problem might be even greater if we are unable to answer the question why “our” age should ever have its own language if we are not sure that we are acclimatized to the atmosphere right there, but on the contrary, we felt like strangers in it, as Hölderlin predicted in elegies for the mythical world of ancient Greeks. To have “own” time doesn’t mean to be governed by it. Join it means to be with it in confidence, and also close to the distances from it. If this should be the “age” of a certain something that transcends trust and closeness, then it is uncanny in its power of destruction the work any attempt to leave it in the presence of trace material. Moreover, the language of our “time” has become a mere technical means of communication, tools, apparatus, machine. In that, we could detect the real problem. Hence, when language becomes a physical machine to write the subject as an actor in the historical drama of identity it should be performed on himself and thereby changes the perception, then nothing is more certain and self-explanatory in the entire world. So, the destruction of language obviously represents a reliable sign of loss of worldliness of the world itself. Undoubtedly, “our” age is determined by the technical reproduction of the body. So, it occurs at the same time and disappears at the time of their unrepeatable singularity. As an event-specific difference between the “living” and “artificial”, “life” and “art”, the body is transformed into a multitude of figures and forms. This Age is the age of performative-conceptual turn of the body. Meaning, thus, denotes a reversal in the aesthetic configuration of science and technology which constructs reality. All that takes time encompasses the presence of features (“now”), instantaneous and virtual. That’s a reason why “our” era belongs to “us” and “them”. Simply, the desire and demand to some other time “when wishing still helped,” as Peter Handke said in his book Live without poetry, encompasses the universe of things related to our joyful thinking as an existential adventure. When there is no more beautiful and sublime, from an event production arises a need for the aesthetic design of the surrounding world. But the claim to transcend its own time as a terrifying experience of freedom of the contemporary man might be also denoted as a need to genuine freedom of life itself, no matter whether it is genuine or something mythical utopian vanishing. Therefore, we could describe that as necessarily emergent aesthetics of the event. It connects all the previously separate forms of contemporary art such as installations, actions, happenings, conceptuality and contextuality. Performative art should be the last possibility of saving life, liberty and living embodiment. The essence of human uniqueness and singularity is shown here in the presence of coherent bodies. When everything becomes reproductive and batch, bare and vital life confronts the reality of things. Can this possibility, despite the apparent overproduction of performance, performativity and performance today, be truly subversive and lead to radical changes in the world of “spirit” of contemporary art, or just sheer aesthetics in a variety of other aesthetics, for example, illusion, perception, atmosphere, digitality? What is performative art in general, if the body makes the real ground of life, its freedom according to the assumption on unassailability?
“Performance art is art without works. It happens in the midst of ‘art’. It creates in the one single act, in the immediate gesture, singular action, in the event. It takes self-reflection of the avant-garde, the art system as meta-art. In its place comes an open process, project, time … /…/ Art becomes a feast of pure emptiness and fullness. So, it appears as a sovereign of Nothingness; her métier becomes an evocation of ‘effectiveness’“ (Mersch, 2002: 245).
Being active and effective means nothing else than to be-in-act, to be in the action in the way Aristotle understood movements ─ dynamis and energeia. Performative art might be the primarily ecstatic activity of the body in the transgression of its borders. They were given the establishment of modern politics and culture as an ideology. Of course, the bodies in the performance of their liberty are facing ideological-political boundaries of the modern era. Instead of the tragic fate of the Greek notion that Nietzsche reformulating as amor fati, then the modern obsession with the representation the world on the stage as a reflexive activity of the subject and its autonomy, the contemporary era has provided temporary and changing situations and contexts. Freedom is quite embodied in them. The term which we used right there implies a situation already existent in social relations. An entity acting in its own performance as an actor in existence with others, while the notion of context should be understood as a diagram of culture with its writing of differences (language-speech-body). Therefore, the body is always contextual encounter with the Other in the contingency of situations – the main feature of the situation we define as a temporary event. The effectiveness of freedom as the feast of the game with “emptiness” and “fulfilment” ─ from the Dadaist provocation and shock ─ determined the experimental stations of the world as an assemblage of language-speech-body. It is a fundamental problem with the definition of performative art in that what it is doing and acting. If performative art did “something” now, or if the event might be “no” because it is the work of a being or object, it would be obvious that the keyword of contemporary philosophy and art in direction of overcoming the being become keywords and concepts of contemporary philosophy and art as well as presentation and symbolic signifying of the world. Between modernity and contemporary age, there exists a feedback relationship. Modernity was from the very beginning based on the cult of making new ones. But it goes beyond because every modern awareness means loss of orientation in the “present”. That could be the reason why contemporary art in its immersion in this “now” performatively embodies /incarnates the mystery of the moment as a flash of eternity. The true beginning was an aim of entire Cezanne’s process of painting: it was still in that moment he reaches the fullness of the painter-emptiness of the world. Therefore, Dadaism in advance has explicitly drawn attention to a-logical (language), aleatory (speech), and performativity (the body). At the time of the historical avant-garde in the 1920s art tends to the self-realization of man as the idea of living in the new society created with modern industry. Paradoxically, the historical mission of the avant-garde was that it simultaneously opened the door to the unfinished progress of science and technology and celebrates the primordial chaos of life. In Berlin Dada in action was the linguistic and musical art of turning images into physical self-presence event (Hans Richter, Hans Arp, Hugo Ball). It seems reasonable, without causing overt actions to reverse the rank of discursive power. Language is established as alienated and reified apparatus of metaphysics of history by the contemporary age to the present in the form of metalinguistic “nature”, or in the form of natural language “stuff”. In Western history, the language has developed to the complex structure of amputation or castration unconscious desires in the name of the sublime object of things. When a language no longer is spoken in its uncanny depths of traumatic history, it remains only to communicate on the market set as the exchange of information activities.
Thus, the criticism of language’s critique of metaphysics means alogical-aleatoric techniques to reverse binary oppositions nature-culture, and their abolition in non-identical Third. When a new Dada artist protests against the legalized system of the rule language in the form of natural Father/Law, then the function of manifest in the avant-garde is represented as a cognitive-critical mapping of inter-mediality in the performative-conceptual turn of contemporary art. Dieter Mersch in his interpretation of the
relationship between language and contemporary art said that the problem is that the structure of the art direction goes beyond the notion of representation of word-pictures. A physical manifestation of the event is thus losing the privileged place of meaningful narratives. The materiality of speech in the historic avant-garde art ─ from the novel Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin to poetry, and edges of the fracture between Being and Nothingness as the poetry of Paul Celan and experimental music of John Cage ─ might be placed in the centre of the performative-conceptual turn. Insanity, infantilism, primitivism, silence, emptiness, nothing ─ these are all hieratical masks of the totally reverse world. Symbolic speech in such a world displays or represents nothing more. Two terms, hence, are arising from the aesthetics of the objet trouvé Kurt Schwitters and Marcel Duchamp’s readymades. Both findings were preexisting in the reality of the modern industrial era and society appropriate this age of science and technology. Things already found in reality of an industrial society are identical to the ready-to-use. So, the pragmatic essence of language corresponds to the status of the instrumental body language as an object/thing. Dadaism in its most radical form of Schwitters and Duchamp appears as the performative realization of ideas, and finally as the conceptual turn of contemporary art. This event denotes a realization of freedom and the difference between the living world (body), and systematic control of the world (apparatus and dispositif). The facilities replace the entities. Instead of raising the autonomy of action, it takes place as a play of differences between language and speech (the body) in a social situation and cultural context (Mersch, www.dieter-mersch.de/…/kunst.und.sprache.mersch; Mersch, www.dieter-mersch.de/…/kunst.und.sprache.mersch; Paić, 2006). Thus, the replacement might be the process of production to the limit of aestheticized performativity object. So, the aesthetic object is represented
as “still-life body”, but only a living body in its performativity can be a true model according to the projection of the object as an entity of fulfilled wishes. Without the desire to possess things and their transformation into objects, it would be truly impossible to perform any kind of political economy of capitalism. Therefore, the digital delirium of aestheticizing capitalism represents simply the last stage of disappearing the difference between life and art (technosphere and biosphere).
If we try to establish an approach to the problem on that way of thinking, then we are faced with a turn in the structure of metaphysics in general. Namely, instead of speaking about the history of symbolic language (art) in all its forms and ways of expressing presentation ─ literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, music, theatre ─ the very physicality of life of freedom requires a revolution in language. This is a reversal of the previous condition of possibility in the world. What some philosophers like Rorty called the notion of “linguistic turn” (Rorty, in Voparil and Bernstein, 2010), or as Habermas’ notion of “post-metaphysical thinking” (“nachmetaphysisches Denken”) (Habermas, 1992), is nothing but trouble coming up with contingency and openness of the body in its relation to Being and Nothing. In other words, the body regains its dignity of speech only when the language of metaphysics in the collapse debris. It continues to follow the universal character of visuality. And they no longer point to anything other than the other characters or other bodies as objects in space and time. Baudrillard proclaimed, from that point of view, the end of semiotics and determine the actual performance of “integral reality” which is established in the biotechnical managed code (Baudrillard, 1998). Death language of metaphysics, therefore, is the beginning of body language as post-metaphysical events beyond the “point”, “meaning” and “referentiality”, beyond the representation of reality, beyond the binary opposition between “nature” and “culture”. Shocking naked body on the scene/stage of the experiment and its transformation into a technical exhibition organized within the machine system of production-consumption links two apparently radically opposed to the “world”: one determines the life of the body as non-subjugated existence of freedom, while others are reflected in the artificial nature of the aesthetic or industrial buildings civilization. Duchamp’s case in contemporary art is paradigmatic for understanding the scope of the performative-conceptual turns. His idea to delineate the entire aporia aesthetic event and all the problems with non-working, artistic (re)action changes the world as language-speech-body situations and contexts of modern and postmodern society. Since this is a radical step into the very life out of art which cannot be done without a radical change in art, and it is not just an illusion of beauty and sublimity in Kant’s sense of purposefulness without purpose and disinterested pleasure, it should be clear that art has to take on the meta-artistic mission to promote ideas of radical changes in the world. We must keep in mind that it seems to be obvious how the avant-garde does not have its own aesthetic. Instead, it has no foundation in the autonomy of art, but rather in the ethical act of ideological-political change the life itself. That is a reason why from Dadaism and related historical avant-garde movement of the first half of the 20th century we are still talking about the totality of life. Consequently, it manifests itself in the event and its difference in reflexive consciousness. The scandal of the arts, which runs on a shocking scene, without meaning to life itself as a chaotic magma being in all its excremental secretions, derived from the contingency of Being. Indeed, the case shows the materiality of reality without the requirement of virtual possibilities absolutely other and different. When Croatian neo-avant-garde artist Željko Jerman in his conceptual act of rebellion against “this” world “here” and “now” had expressed irrefutable credo of all subversive movements of the artistic avant-garde ─ This is not my world ─ then we are immersed into the scopes of art and life without foundation. The scandal does not include a nudity and obscenity in the scene/stage, where one can urinate and rave, cut the mug in the face of the Other as a witness and participant of “this” and not “other” (the world). The scandal, otherwise, designates a conflict between freedom of the living body with its (necessary and inevitable) death in the reproductive event of repetition. Freedom is dying in the living body part as an aesthetic object. This might be the most scandalous case ever-banal tragic fate as the performative-conceptual turn of contemporary art. There are no events without distinction as reproductions of life. To be played as a live art performance requires a third party. This could be nothing more than what the Greeks, namely Plato called by the word techné and attributed to art as a production (poiesis) designating an uncanny assemblage. The new comes into the world first and foremost thanks to the concept of techné known from ancient Greek metaphysics.
2. The meaning of Duchamp’s transformations
In the book emerged from a panel discussion at the colloquium “The performance” of Marcel Duchamp at the University of Milwaukee 1976, philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard at the beginning says that like many others he has difficulties with understanding the word performer. Therefore, he proposes to replace this word with understandable – transformer (Lyotard, 1990: 31) He had found the reasons in Duchamp’s work of 1914 on the fabrication titled Standard Stoppages. They are, namely, the emergence of a new figure thanks to the effects of photographic projections. Apparatus figures derived from the transformation of cinematic energy. In its motion stops light figure in terms of viewer completely changed identity. If there is no apparatus, therefore, there is no possibility of changing the life-world and art. Apparatus should be considered ambiguous: (1) as a set of technical conditions that produce new image object and the object (analogue and digital photography) and (2) as a life-existential complex of diverse activities that advance the action constituting historical discourse in the form of body language and performative practices. This notion is another name for Foucault’s dispositive. So, biopolitical mode of life in modern society supervisory and neo-liberal capitalism is a dispositive power of ideological work, and not merely reflexive awareness of actions. Life itself in the form of the action takes place as unassailability freedom of body and as an ideological apparatus or dispositive power. The secret reveals the ideology of language-speech-body daily performance of entities/actors in class-divided society. So, the secret takes the form of “false consciousness” in the modern capitalist state apparatus, as follows from Althusser supplement known by the classical Marxist theory of ideology (Žižek, 1994). Apparatus is, however, the system of relations established within the whole society, politics, and culture (Foucault, 1980: 2; Agamben, 2009). If you are given more opportunities for the transformation of matter and form it is a more radical change. In both words, performance and transformans, there is already a pre-design, making, the emergence of something different and each other. Performance (performare) as pro-execution (productio, poiesis) is etymologically distinct from the pre-placement (representatio), although each is run but still putting on-holder and presented as a basis of performance (subjectum and substantia). From the period of the Early Modern Age essential to understand the changes being derived from as a man comprehends the subject of pre-being of putting a whole. The image of the world is related to the result of the early Modern Era. In general, the image might be determined to change the world of human thought and action (Heidegger, 2003a: 75-114).
In an attempt to change some things happened in the performance of his body double (semiotic and somatic), it is necessary that only a single body in its entirety in the coming time can open the perspective (future) in this “now” and “here”. Acting in the present moment that determines the performativity of the body in space presupposes something out of them. This point of view and ecstatic language in the performativity of the body as a work of art itself is in the projection of the event. Without screening, the event remains essentially un-represented, un-reproductive, and indistinctive. The basic setting designates a deconstruction of the appendix or supplements. Dissemination of traces corresponding to the polysemy of signs. No substitution or addition of a trace of the representativeness of the text is a necessary event in the disappearance of the black hole of eternal past. Paradoxically, precisely because the action is still active in the present, it could be possible that the language has a performative character changed from the present time to the coming of ecstasy. This point is the performative character of prophetic speech. Not by coincidence, all the art of avant-garde manifestos is beyond discursivity. They reflect the combination of the Messianic language of revelation in the future and the performative discourse of radical changes in the present situation by all means. Meta-discursivity of manifesto requires vigorous action (Puchner, 2006).
Only work through the language-speech-body translates into action constantly moving across the boundary between life and art. That is why contemporary art is a universal code of practice in transgression of society, politics and ideology. The event lies in its projection, reproduces and varies as a singular event from other events as time passes in a single form and single work. Instead of fixed works of originality decide on singular events and the uniqueness of the case as an art and freedom. The paradox might be that the very essence of the play as repetition and duplication of the original concept creates a new original work. It is authentic in its repeatability because the event produces the original time of art-work. Authors, therefore, bestows performative action of the subject/actor. The difference lies between the reproduction, replication, and cloning. But the difference also lies in the notion of language, speech and body. Language is, thus, technically reproducing apparatus or a dispositive power of social and cultural communication. Speech causes replica in the process of communication that relies on information exchange in the dialogue and discourse performance (Kittler, 2002). Of course, the body doubles technological transformation in the different body of Other (plastic surgery). But now the work has the feature of the aesthetic object (readymade). When the body is transformed into readymade it loses to any further extent to distinguish authentic and inauthentic, the primaeval and the secondary. In contemporary philosophy, which is examining the relationship between Being and writing of difference, Derrida shows that a concept of différance opens the notion of events and differences in the condition of possibility of the first and second differences, and primaeval iterability, letters and text. The performativity of language is always already inside track playback font relating to other clues as to other texts, archives, media (Paić, 2011: 317-366).
Projections, moreover, indicates snatch of the essential features of freedom and the future perspective of the image brightness. Freedom bestows the body’s aura, its light of Being. Without such a performative art, it should be a vain effort to retrieve the moon, to use the metaphor of Lafcadio Hearn of the meeting of Westerners and Japanese. Each event could be already in its original events presented as a difference between two worlds might still carry on in advance. It can almost be said that there are two events in their perfect simultaneity. The former happens effectively, while latter is concerning the events in the aspects of work. In addition, the former is the original track and latter encompasses the reproductive trace of artistic differences. Duchamp in his “deeds” and “events” opened a fundamental problem of contemporary art. What is art if art participates in life, but always has something pretty more artificial other than life itself? If, therefore, in-between the two worlds it has to be in-between the one-off and unrepeatable event in the life of man as a physical presence and performance differences resulting from the transformation of bodies into human reproductive circuit works as a transformer, then the real discomfort of contemporary art derives from the fact that it lives in the abyss of different worlds. There is no heaven nor on earth, but always somewhere “in-between” requires the reconsideration. As a matter of fact, the difference between the events of the living and the lifeless bodies of the aesthetic object works takes real possibility to answer the question why the entire contemporary art since the radical faction in Berlin’s Dadaism in the 1920s until present day immersed in the mystique of action as the politicization of the world and the politicization of action as the mystic of world.1 We will discuss this topic much more at the end of this dispute. The only hint that the concept of re-politicization of art from the 1990s to the present condition is represented by the imperative of “ethical aesthetics” as a reversal of action beyond the boundaries of society, politics and ideology. Without any restraints, the body in its performative-conceptual turn causes reactions in public space regarding the surveillance apparatus of power. Re-enactment determined performances by Marina Abramović, for example, shows that forgetting the past is necessarily manifested in the form of physical expression of social amnesia, which operates traumatic to the participants of the new events (Massumi, 2012).
We wouldn’t forget the traumatic experience of loss of historical consciousness, but a traumatic event of the return of the memories in the form of necessary oblivion. Remembering of forgotten traces of events that it could rebuild in a different situation and context as an attempt at overcoming the primal trauma should be obvious one of a solution. This is undoubtedly clear regarding the collective trauma of history as a radical evil of Nazi Holocaust against Jews in the World War II. But it also applies to crimes committed during the reign of the ideology of Communism in postwar age. The condition of memory as opposed to the self-reflection process of remembering (the apparatus of memories as such) is completely unaware of the process of development of matter and form events. In the state of entropy, a flood of images and emotions that accompany them opens the remembering trace of the problem in the temporality of events. Memory, on the contrary, is represented as a conscious reproduction of the event as the upcoming assemblage of interactions and interconnectedness. Language certainly allows all memory traces inscribed in the singularity of the event. Therefore, the memory could be always a visual effect without a cause and purpose. That is what happens as the openness of cognitive and emotional picture, which features we have in movies of Andrei Tarkovsky and Lars von Trier. In accordance with Lacan’s fundamental assumption that the unconscious is articulated as language. Memory, hence, assumes the discursive order of language, memory and visual chaos of events physicality of life. So, the problem of remembering represents the question of performative art according to body trauma in a state of shock caused by violent society, politics and ideology, and the problem of Memory is the issue of the black hole in research in archives and museums interpretation of history. The memory holds an unconscious language of dreams and remembering control apparatus of social power in a strictly structured ideological-political reality. The example might be shown in the conceptual performance of trans-medial Croatian artist Dalibor Martinis from the assemblage of video works entitled Data Recovery (Beroš, 2006). The relationship between Memory and remembering in the contemporary culture of musealization and historicizing history is obvious the relationship between selective memory and chaotic remembering. In the literature, this a quite evident concerning Proust when memory bestows cognitive map grooves and notches in the past (Deleuze, 1964). Unconscious (picture) might be expressed as consciousness (language) on the fractures in the real trauma. Deleuze has attempted to solve this problem by introducing the term ─ immanence of consciousness. It stems from events like the prospects of repetition and difference. The film therefore in visual culture emerges as a modern secular worldview and religion, and not as an aesthetic model of consciousness. However, it occurs in the form of cinematic processes unfolding movement-image and time-image. The time-image produced the dynamism of action and movement stopped during the time-image as a virtual projection of the actuality which is believed as the true picture of reality. All other images, according to this figure are only just simulacra of reality and illusion.
When present, apparently, changing aesthetic understanding by returning the dignity of an artistic observer of events in the figure “emancipated spectator”, then it is primarily on the emancipation from the tyranny of the subject property (Lacoue-Labarthe, 1998). Already Paul Klee opened the possibility of “rebellion of objects” facing the subject, and Lacan in his theory of images sent to the triumph of the spectacle in which the object of desire marks the end of the dialectic of desire and move into the void of any other definition except the desire to give-to-see the Other as an object. The question of the abolition of representation works might not be dismissed merely by replacing the body with the performative act. No doubt, this act no longer needs the concept of understanding and sense of speech in the language of metaphysics but rather uses a system of physical signs of the pragmatic speech code. In the speech of the “two worlds” and the two bodies ─ the events of life and differences of art ─ the body only as a set of existential action and through the body as an aesthetic object that is going to be a line in-between language, culture and life in general theatricalizing, arises the missing-link of modern representation and performativity of language-speech-body.
Overall critique of representation in contemporary art rests on a kind of dogma of “lifelessness” of another event or difference as repetition and reproduction (Groys, 2003: 34). Since Benjamin issue of technical reproduction of art has been placed at the centre not only of philosophical debate. If the technical apparatus, such as the film camera, is a condition able to transfer the work in the event of live pictures, authenticity, or for a single artistic aura of creativity then requires a different notion of the relationship between originals and copies. Of course, the turn in the contemporary media art is that now “aura” does not lie in the original, but rather in the spirit of technological reproduction. The same applies to the bodily presence of living performance in the scene. In fact, the body no longer recognizes the voice of metaphysics theatre, but from the unpredictability and spontaneity of the body in his work on the other. The problem is in using the word performer, as the truth, it apparently sent Lyotard, derived from that the body as machine denotes a construction/deconstruction of events seen by the viewpoint of the language, culture and the media consciousness of corporeality. The body should be, thus, pragmatically opens like parts. As Lyotard argues, the projections produce a change of the object. The projection, in the end, is running transformations (Lyotard, 1990: 31).
In the case of Marcel Duchamp’s performance that transforms the projection of a mechanical camera into a woman, Miss Rrose Sélavy is not at all just about physical transformation of a singular event. Right there we are faced with the simultaneous action of “two worlds”. The separation of the whole life-world and the art-world is the result of modern articulation of science, technology and society. Life and art are separated in modern society due to the fragmentation of labour and production. The totality of life is disintegrating into various sectors of activity or environment. It connects them to the necessity of exchange and communication. From Marx to Debord and further analysis of the fragmentation of life in the system of labour and production lines have always destructive dialectic of history. The apparent autonomy of both science and logic disappears in the modern technology of industrial production. The autonomy of modern art in a paradoxical way, thus, is trying to be defended in the new digital environment of contemporary capitalism, in the spaces of new media. But now, instead of the illusion of freedom fragmentary works, we are faced with the illusion of total freedom of the artist and his audience in creating interactive and artistic events. Of course, it is not, however, the problem of autonomy acts or events. The problem lies in the destruction of body and acts as oversight body/reproductive events in the presence and synthesis of living differences superseding the world as an aesthetic object in the universal screening of radical transformation. Freedom as the body controls the action of universal techno-code denotes quite other contingency. As a matter of facts, the violence against the body in the permissive and narcissistic culture of global capitalism becomes spectacular because of its technical reproduction process, and the massacre in the contemporary world becomes quite uncanny thing of the machine-without-desire, where we have only bodies as corps, in strictly materialistic manner of representation (Guattari, 2009: 207-214). As the images in the digital culture of technically produced images, beyond mimesis and representation, because nothing don’t mimic anything and don’t represent anything, so only the body could be a part of an assemblage in which the body language and visual projection might be a code of contemporary technosphere. The problem of the dismissed by the art world in the new situation could be solved very pragmatically. And that means by using pragmatic logic as it assumes the institutional foundation. No more any kind of metaphysics which pretend to be a final answer to the question of techno-genesis at all. We have quite other problems than our ancestors according to a unique way of thinking related to what’s going on in space-and-time of indefinite and complexity (Paić, 2011).
The body, thus, becomes an aesthetic object (readymade) when it equates its “usable” value in the market as a commodity with an exchangeable value of another body. It is not difficult to conclude that this is a perversity to be a modern capitalist production. Commodity fetishism as a visual representation of the secret of the society of the spectacle lies precisely in the reversal of exchange in instrumental value or the transformation of objects (things) in the aesthetic object (the capital). Visualization of the body in the new mode of production changes the cinematic energy of the contemporary world in the information economy. It is based on the interactive user who appears in the role of recipient of visual information (Beller, 2006; Terranova, 2004). From the pragmatic logic in which everything is becoming an aesthetic object because the data for communication with others inevitably follows that every possible body in the virtual space of real-performative becomes body-for-use (body-to-made). Freedom and the case of the living body confront against the necessity of reproduction and aesthetic object. The paradox is that the latter denotes a condition of possibility of the former. Or, put in other words, expressed in contemporary capitalism commodities as an aesthetic object provides the illusion of freedom of choice between having and being. As for any possible staging of the living body during bio-cybernetic condition setup options medial certain technological method of forming the body itself, so the same happens in real life. Doing cyborg-made body, the preservation of the living body in its transition to another form of bio-technosphere becomes a most important thing in current digital culture. This should be a case with Stelarc’s Locomotor performance and a range of series called Suspensions. Speculative pragmatism at work demotes an opening time of unexplored area of relations between the experience of playing the events and experiences of its interpretation (Massumi, 2002: 89-132).
The turnaround was uncanny and therefore has the power to legalize fundamental contemporary perversion: something that becomes an art object is not directly a product of artistic activity, and someone who becomes an artist does not directly has “nature” or the aura of his genius, but by setting the context of “culture” as a science and technology complex. Instead of essentialism concerning the classical definition of art as a sensible display and performance of metaphysical ideas in their glory,
there is a purely pragmatic turn. Situation and context of art bestow artistic feature, and life itself should be seen as an existential event and the action of freedom within certain situations and contexts. The dialectics is a dialectics of two worlds of non-identical synthesis. For Adorno, this has already meant the impossibility of reconciliation of life and art of aesthetic act of producing reality (Adorno, 1973). One is determined by transforming the world of artistic works in the event of the physical presence of the subject/actor live itself as a staging area in the public gaze, and the second transformation of objects using the aesthetic object with the addition of symbolic value. Two worlds acting simultaneously as two bodies with their own distinctive logic.
The first one belongs to the triad of concepts performances, performative, performance, and the second one to conceptuality, conceptual, concept. Two bodies of contemporary art from Duchamp to Stelarc and thus differ due to the singular event of the vitality of life itself like un-representable staging plays, and the difference in the reproductive repetition of such events signified the presence in the form of the aesthetic object. Regardless of whether the concept of readymades denotes a real or virtual materialization thereof in digital networks, new media, the same might be represented as the logic of distinction. Between the body as a living presence in performance on the stage and aesthetic object placed in the outside world thanks to the design of industrial production, apparently, there is still a difference. But is this really that, indeed? Or perhaps we have a big deal with the necessary illusion of truth that lies behind the form of two worlds? The answer to this question is not only an answer to the question about the essence of contemporary art in general but the answer to the question about its future and the “sense” the world rests on the logic of technosphere. To be able to move on, and not always open old wine in
new bottles, it seems necessary to begin to explain why we can no longer continue to talk about performance as singular and unrepeatable, and event staging and artistic life in the “moment”, but it becomes necessary to take one step back and complete the performative turn in contemporary art to understand the concept of transformation as the body itself and its freedom of action. Well, it simply means to start from the concept derived by Lyotard’s interpretation of Duchamp’s transformation in the projection of the body. A necessary condition for doing so lies in the performativity of language and the pragmatics of speech as a socio-cultural discourse can play in a total time of the reign of techno-science, information policy and media culture. The first assumption is that the performative-conceptual turn in contemporary art happening simultaneously on three mutual interconnected levels:
(1) historical and epochal level of the performativity of language in its effective event of structural differences;
2) structural-genealogical level of the performativity of speech incarnate as a symbolic code of other and different cultures;
(3) the level of the aesthetic and theatrical staging of the body in the singularity of space and time in the media-constructed world.
Language belongs to the universal human discursive activity; speech, hence, determined particular cultural practices in the construction of identities; and the body in its theatrical staging of openness of the world as a self-difference in the event produces new situation. More precisely, the language allows us to change the situation and context of action in society because the language is showing the truth of Being. Language is spoken. As its governor, a man could be embodied subject/actor speaking through his own world. Wittgenstein once said that the limits of “my” language are the limits of “my” world. Without speech and language, there should be no possibility that the body in its singularity can set to stage its own concept of performativity as the only real issue of contemporary art. And it is no longer a question of where and why (purpose and meaning of language and speech performance), but how would be possible that something does happen and it’s going to decide on the feature of contemporary art. Quod or so-being event deciding on a quid or what-ness (Being, substance) (Mersch, 2002: 245-246). Instead of metaphysical questions about the meaning of the narratives, the only question now becomes a post-metaphysical question about the limits of a body showing as a picture in un-representation manner. This threefold scheme seeks to implement quite a significant distinction between the two worlds and two bodies of performative art (Paić, 2006: 215-281).
However, unlike the performative turn of contemporary art, what primarily in their studies and analyzes performed contemporary German philosopher Dieter Mersch and theater theoretician Erika Fischer-Lichte, (Fischer-Lichte, 2004) I would like to elaborate thesis, represented by setting that on the trace of Dadaism and Duchamp the technical transformation of the body (the media) could be screening of a performative-conceptual turn. Each action is, thus, determined by the performative transformation of the subject/actor, the Other and the surrounding world. So, just in time for the digital media, we have to talk about synthetic action to overcome the so-called autonomy of the dual spheres of contemporary art. Conceptual art as an art of activity idea in the world belongs in its essential intention to the performative events. The reason occurs from that whereby the concept of something always acting in the public area or the living world (Alberro, 2003). This is not a mere addition to the vibrant presence of the body as a subject/actor living art event on the scene. Nothing there is compensated or externally added. Mediality as the living presence of the event in its performative event will be open operation. Therefore, the work denotes the conceptual design of the body in the total transformation. As an example, we must keep in mind a queer travesty on stage or an event of the obsessive game by Jan Fabre with the transformation of human-insect simultaneity of the events underlying the emergence of childbearing essentially the difference between language-speech-body like the image created by media projection. This significantly changes the singularity of the event.
“Performer (?) is a complex transformer, battery machines transformation. This is not about art, because there is no object, there is only transformation, redistribution of energy. The world is a multiplicity of interconnected devices that transform the units of energy into one another. Duchamp transformer does not want to repeat the same effects. This is why he must be many of these apparatuses and must metamorphose himself continually“ (Lyotard, 1990: 36).
It should be noted in two assumptions:
(1) there is no art without objects;
(2) the world is a multiplicity of apparatus in mutual transforming the power of unity.
Lyotard’s analysis is represented an extremely important step beyond the still metaphysical framework of the notion the art issues. The framework works and when it reverses the relationship between signifier and signified. Objects as objects ready for use caused industrial production (ready-mades) take on the character of aesthetic objects. This is because through their appearance (form and content), occurs the unfolding drama of two bodies of contemporary art: performative and conceptual. If the object of transformation might be the effect of technosphere, then the
activity of transforming the body in the continuity arises as a result made by the biosphere. Separation is, thus, the illusion of having both a sphere of autonomy of art as a living practice. The complex structure of the transformation involves the performance of the body in constant metamorphosis. It might be therefore already evident that the transformation event as a redistribution of energy assumes the effect of the appliance and its projections. These uncanny transformation things due to what it does will be in-between these two worlds/two bodies of contemporary art lead to the abolition of art as an actual practice. The idea of overcoming the radical art is particularly marked by Guy Debord’s situationist movement in 1950-1960’s. Their dedication to the film was an obsession in the genuine character of the radical conceptual act. This is a pictorial realization of the pure cinematic energy of life. Beyond the division of work and everyday life in a false synthesis of spectacular visualization of global capitalism takes an integrated process enchantment attention of observers (Jappe, 1995). That’s a reason why the film is more than the mystery of life events, re-play difference and the arts. Its reproductive power of the open image stems from the fact that time is the idea of film as the conceptual performative event itself. Who is in the movie at all subject/actor and who is a participant, who is, in addition, an artist and who is the audience? Film as the event is reproductive differences of life and art can be only worklessness events in motion. Not accidentally, Dziga Vertov himself put the cinematic production ─ camera film ─ set in the very heart of the event. It generates the event and produces media reproduction of reality, and real people and their destinies are not transferred from the life of the film.
The work of art that ensures the final result of the work process in four metaphysical causes as understood by Aristotle (causa formalis, causa materialis, causa efficiens, causa finalis) shows that art is understood only in the procession of final acts as subject or object when it comes to architecture and the visual art. Materiality and form are part of its predisposing structural arrangement and the spatial relationships to the temporal sequence of causes and effects. This conception of art as a result of a work of art derives from the traditional metaphysical scheme of early modern science with its key concepts of causality, interactive, purposeful. It is known as a teleological model of action. Even before the real work of art in occurrence what has already been completed in its idea of purposeful process circuit intuition and rationality. When Lyotard comes down firmly on the art objects, then he keeps in mind a model of organization of physical objects in order to make meaningful historical bonds of the original and the semblance in conceptual code as an early Modern Age. In it, the body must make the work within the object as a system of signs. But the body in the procession is a continuous process of transformation of identity. It establishes a body in motion without purpose in entropy model which goes beyond the metaphysical framework of the notion the fact that its stability in space and time required by the projection transformation outside of itself. Being outside means to have the availability of an ecstatic body of the performative-conceptual turn of events in the art of life itself as a performance transformation. In this way one should understand Duchamp’s radical turn: no more drawing pictures and no real art objects as aesthetic objects because it is already a work of industrial production of the world as aesthetic objects of the world. Communication between objects (of art) becomes the interaction between the bodies (of life). Devices or tools that communicate with each other create the intermediate circuit with no signs of its signifier and signified. It is the only single movement in the transformation. It could be noted that machines transform energy into staging different/other modes of action of the body in the event of reproductive differences. In the process of delivery of energy event in advance, there is something uncanny inhuman as such. What exactly? It is about provocation the being of the virtual features according to the uncanny technosphere. In addition, it works perfectly by using the principles of pragmatic-use items, and the language of the display transforms their performing possibilities into a technical circuit. From that viewpoint, the transformation of the body helped projection energy apparatus to allow the transformation of the living body in the artistic event of the emergence of objects which are placed in the scape of absolute virtuality. That’s the way we should strictly follow in advance regarding the assemblage of life, art, and technosphere (Virilio, 1991).
Put in other words, performative language, speech and performance of the body are possible only as a singularity of events due to projection. The body looks at the transformation ─ as indicated by Duchamp’s transformation into a female figure ─ set in space as a conceptual language of images, pictures and voice of conceptuality of concept in the bodily image that remains. The picture above cannot signify the ontological language, speech and body. Without images and visualization of complex post-metaphysical thinking which in its immanence is being replaced, human being, will not be possible a creation of the world from the logic of techno-scientific development.
On the question of how to preserve the work in the presence of a trace event or other words which belongs to Boris Groys, an attempt to document contemporary art, the answer should be in advancing implosion of information as a precondition of the media revolution of the world. Extremely radical and extremely concise said: the idea of the museum of contemporary art as a hybrid machine of visuality, textuality, theatre and music does not exist in any monumental building of the architectural
works. This museum is doing an experiment and structures within the very field of the aesthetic configuration of artificial intelligence. Or, simply, a museum of contemporary art as an idea is equivalent to the idea of biologically obsolete man ─ life crypt and cemetery art, to paraphrase Nietzsche. The memory card is represented as the only intelligent machine that still should have the ability to rescue virtual discursive/iconic distinctions between events and the difference (reality and hyper-reality). Virtual museums are consequently spot-free setup with no spaces or temporality. Their only justification has represented a timelessness in time of social networks that the functions are replaced archive files as giddy past that might be infinitely away from the present time which seeks to revive. Ghostly power of past is constantly underground working. When we are not staged, the past flows into the living openness of history. If we are staged in the history, then occurs the post-totalitarian aesthetic kitsch. Debord’s spectacle at the concentration stage of flows, diffuse and integrated spectacle manifests the monstrous proportions of the aestheticization of the world as orgies state/society in the global age. But the event cannot be preserved in its one-off act in no other way than to simultaneous media projection. The simultaneity of events and its artistic differences preserved in time ─ punctual presence as Barthes defines photographic construction of reality ─ only shows that the condition of possibility of events and therefore its reproduction is necessary and inevitable distortion. Each has a “right” interpretation because the “wrong” interpretation occurs with every event, but still without their originals. This should be not some kind of vulgar epistemological relativism. Nietzsche had already clearly demonstrated that history as a history (a reflection of the event as a science of objects event) occurs in truth perspectives. There is no multitude of truths. On the contrary, the truth is going on the one-time event of a repetition of difference. From this arises the illusion of scientific objectivity of history. The history in this way may not be the history of the human body as an autonomous history of the world, but only the history of the parent body of the sphere (philosophy, religion, art). As there is no history of media, so there is no history of the body (Flusser, 2005). Formation of media bodies in contemporary visual culture denies the autonomy of the media and authorities. Anyway, the media has always the tangible presence of the body in its two forms: (1) technical and (2) socio-cultural. We should be able to conclude that the body as a desiring machine, understood in Gilles Deleuze’s manner, occurs only with the conceptual performative-media complex formation of life, not as a superior system of governing action, which works by the independent spiritual sphere (philosophy, religion and art). When the body occurs in a performative-conceptual turn of the Neo-avant-garde in the 1960s, we might say that almost every single piece of the world has radically changed the meaning of art, and already it is at work at the end of the history of art (Belting, 2002).
3. Mediality as a projection
The event does not happen without a singular-reproductive difference of media. So, the body is only then a body when establishes a living body as the aesthetic emergence of the world. The term means the possibility of the emergence of autonomous and spontaneous events or parts of a whole, however, the complexity of the structure in which there is no determinism-purpose cause, but the uncertainty of the order of one became independent in the development, creating a new order. In other words: a case history is not blind predestination of genotype, but necessarily separate species of the genus in the development of a different phenotype. In this way, it separately changes the structure of the initial substance. Body as a media creation changes the order of cause-effect in the complexity of the emergent order. Whatever, the place of the body is established beyond the traditional image of man as a subject-substance of anthropology and humanism. Performative-conceptual turn in contemporary art radically eliminated boundaries between life and art. It might be said that being between life and art is no longer possible in any other way than by establishing the conceptual difference between the body as a living presence and body art events as media constructed differences. Showing two bodies as the two worlds of life and art takes its place in the singular aestheticization of the world. It stems from the techno-scientific new generation of reality. Therefore, the emergence of a new spirit should be characterized by the bio-technological meaning of posthuman creature/thing (robot-cyborg-android), which transforms the dual nature of human artifice. The event never occurs without the presence of language-speech-body content: subject/actors, performances and interactive participants in medial certain projections of the world. Subjects/participants are artists of performative practices (visual artists, theatre artists, musicians, dancers, fashion models). Interactive participants interim board of viewers, listeners, readers, the viewer (the audience in the traditional sense of the public artwork), deal world as projection concept combines performative acts as an event of artistic action and practice. This triad, however, can be a different call. But it is evident that in contemporary philosophy of art, aesthetics and theory of contemporary art there is always a question of who or what has ontological primacy: the artist, the work or the audience?
Heidegger’s traditional approach to the formal work of art as a self-installing-truth-to-work (Sich-Ins-Werk-setzen der Wahrheit) opened the question of the end of subject/object and contemporary art in the coming time. Moreover, the question about the disappearance of the complex subject-object relations in the wasteland of the nihilism of contemporary art as the art itself was on the blandishments of the worlds: between the body as work and body as an event of art have gone to the primordial art. The drying process performed to match for the art as Duchamp’s readymade aesthetic object dryers for bottles. When art no longer has its essence or substance of the metaphysical Being and time, something uncanny is turning over the entire assemblage. Heidegger in the 1930s in the analysis of the concept of the event (Ereignis) spoke that doing more does not mean giving the possibility of Being in an epochal-historical sense. As performed in a time which has gone away, the end of the history of the condition of simultaneously leading to another perspective of thinking. What remains aftermath might be the appropriation of events of being human by nothing more evidently with a foundation in all reign of beings (Heidegger, 2003b: 1-74); Seubold, 2005).
The artist as a subject belongs to the creation of works of modern paradigm in the horizon of the representation of living creatures. Its role lies in the creation of a restoration of the divine world. In the coming contemporary art and the artist, community that monitors the work itself is no longer active or passive co-creator. Openness itself acts as a truth being spoken at all by the artist and his audience about the time and telling the truth about the being. We might say that it is a work in its “autonomy”, and it was removed from the author and the audience closer and vice versa. In approaching-distancing act opens in hiding in the deepest mysteries of Being and time. Greek temple and a Christian cathedral belong to the space of art-work at the time as a cult festival. The museum as an idea, quite contrary, cannot be anything but the triumph of re-historicism. Collecting and preserving works of art from the past because of the awareness of art historical time realizes its aim by the present into a pseudo-event. New visual art 3D digital images have the ability to visualize the sound of a prehistoric land. In this way, it creates an atmosphere of technosphere as pseudo scenery. Each such event in the film industry today occurs in spectacular empire of emptiness.
Contemporary art, thus, is no longer necessarily assemblage with many great works worthily some plausible kind of eternity, but there are many artefacts from the surrounding world of information and communication technologies. Rather than work, there is an inoperative community of body in interaction with itself. The triad of artists, works and spectators replaced with the audience in a performative-conceptual turn of contemporary art event with a triad of language-speech-body. The openness of the situation and context that are predefined, but also changeable and temporary, the body is always socially and culturally embodied language and speech subversion of the supervisory system of society and culture. Art as an event of truth in speech, body language subject/actors in the community becomes more important than the materiality of images, sculpture, text, recorded music. From Dadaism to Cage’s aleatory music leads the way made up of differences in that very same art events ─ experiment and research, no more blanks or absence of physical presence, but very nihilistic processing one uncanny powerful Nothing. Contemporary art is dancing on the edge of nihilism. That’s exactly why it can be argued that the performative-conceptual turn in contemporary art from the time of Duchamp’s transformations to nowadays with his own body without work in the event as the first and last “truth” of art and life keep in itself something very uncanny and confidential. How and why we should be able to think that event as ecstatic and immanent, but non-event from himself, and not outwardly and vertically as a sign of something else and different? Isn’t this time, paradoxically, from Duchamp’s identity transformation in his body to be the reign of the world as the transformation of the appliance multiplied non-subjugated freedom of life itself? Does not a performative rebellion of the body in contemporary art, ultimately, become merely aesthetic staging without any differences between the two simultaneous worlds ─ technosphere and biosphere?
It is not uncommon, therefore, to talk about the contemporary social and cultural practices in a series of “shift” (turn) and “reversal” (Wende) regarding the performative inversion that occurs in (1) philosophy of language, semiotics, structural linguistics, deconstruction and various versions of pragmatism; (2) sociological disciplines, ethnology and cultural anthropology to social rituals and celebrations to understand the basis of the dramaturgy of community life in performance; (3) dramatology and theater and visual arts in which instead of text, speech and body image only appears in his speech and imaging projection and the other different way of interpretation. Generally speaking, we should conclude that it could be overall a result of the dissolution of metaphysical systems of logos domination as speech and language over the image of the body itself in the present times. Performative society of contemporary global capitalism thus determines the flexibility and fluidity of the network activity rather than a fixed identity. So, a plurality becomes much more significant than homogeneity. In this way, the concept of performance, although the term itself is like the umbrella that links language-speech-body, a variety of scientific disciplines on man and society, applying the pragmatic use of the areas of society and culture, and even includes economics, politics, science and sport. Each performative event in the world takes place as a cultural practice changes in the body in the space of real-time networking. Therefore, contemporary society has become a non-representational performance spectacle. It represents nothing more, no any social role, but takes place in the process of staging and theatricalizing lifestyle experience as the identity of the subject/actor. Since there cannot be more strict separation of contemporary art from society, politics and culture, as it is to be performative-conceptual turn of contemporary art just a radical change in the body itself in performance and projections, it is self-evident that the space theatricalizing and staging of the body refers to the totality of life in general. However, from that point of view, we should make a conceptual distinction between life as a single and unique event in the emergence of the body, or freedom of action and life as a technology play in supervising body freedom. As an analogy, there are two bodies and two contemporary art worlds (biosphere and technosphere), there are also two of their lives. The first principle of existence is biopower body, and the other apparatus or biopolitical dispositive of society, politics and ideology. Biopolitics acts by freedom of the living body of man obey another, aesthetic and political purposes of the supervisory or even totalitarian societies of spectacle. Giorgio Agamben thus defines contemporary politics in notions of performativity theory of new media:
“Politics is the exhibition of mediality; it is the act of making a means visible as such. Politics is the sphere neither of an end in itself nor of means subordinated to an end; rather, it is the sphere of a pure mediality without end intended as the field of human action and of human thought” (Agamben, 2000: 115-116).
In line with the previous distinction between the two bodies/worlds/lives of contemporary art it should be noted that the notion of performance as theatricalizing life within post-dramatic theatre refers to the immediate area of the body itself performativity of speech and visual arts in the staging of the living body as a conceptual setup in the context of extra-institutional and institutional performance of contemporary art. Theatre and museum in modern times as there are areas of the body exposed to interact with other bodies (participant or spectator performance), and not as a place to present and display the body art. What another body, life and the world of contemporary art are performative, conceptual mediality society/government, politics and ideology, which stage the event as a spectacle of non-representation of the world of global biopolitics. Another body, the world and life are fully reifications and reproductive projection power of life itself in the state of surveillance. Paradoxically, allowing the freedom of artistic events running in basically all possible areas because under the surveillance of technosphere as other biosphere or another life is always controlled by global capitalism’s “subversive”. This is outrageous and uncanny. It is also the reason why contemporary art denotes a visual paradigm of the success of global capitalism. Finally, it reflects spectacular architectural buildings such as museums from Bilbao to Graz and readymade digital economies such as new appliances information and communication technologies like the iPod and smartphone, tablet and gadgets. As a performative act of policy the mediality of technosphere world, so it was quite expected that at the time of the end of history (of art), and that means from the original Berlin and Zurich Dadaism to Neo-avant-garde movement of the 1960s and recent re-enactment and trans-mediality, performance art will be characterized by the synthesis of mysticism and re-politicizing the event of transformation of life itself.
What happens in this process of false synthesis of the living body and reproductive power of techno-scientific production of aesthetic objects? First of all, performativity of language, speech and performance as performativity of the body in contemporary art necessarily becomes a discursive concept of action, culturally different speech and conceptuality of the body as an open machine/appliance/dispositive action in the transformation. When we are talking about false synthesis, then is sure in advance that the two bodies of contemporary art (and life-world) are the aesthetic objectification of the body in the form of cyborgs, robots and androids as the ultimate limits of the posthuman body in the digital environment of media consciousness. Language has the power to change the effectiveness of the state of matters only if the body is always already conceptually determined by its uncertainty, or by the emergent properties of spontaneous production of the event. The fundamental feature of the event at his timeline ecstasy “moment” merely lies in the coming uncertainty. This is the aporia of the entire pragmatics of language in the performative arts. Language as a condition of possibility of speech in de Saussure’s structural linguistics, and in the concept of Derrida’s semiological difference (différance) is not there than anywhere else in the world as a stable structure of communication between the entities/actors of the singular event (Mersch, 2010). In other words, language and speech may be of significance as de-corporealized in extreme physical theatre of “blood and tears” to trace Artaud. But it works as a machine-organized order of reality and meaning when it is technically destructed. In the semiotics of new media, pragmatic meaning should be decisive to interactive communication among participants of an event. In addition, destruction of language does not mean anything else than that the body in contemporary art appears as an object, machine perception and projection of the world. Duchamp’s transformation from the cycle of Standard Stoppages credibly demonstrates the limits of this process of destruction of language and objectification of the body as a machine of organized screening.
All performed techniques of Dadaism as a logic and aleatoric are not just methods or procedures of the destruction of works in radical deconstruction. These are concepts that establish a new order of meaning. So, they arise from the assembly language of the body-speech-event in the absolute corporeality of the body. In the performative-conceptual turn, therefore, the body is a machine quite perfectly designed and well organized. In other words, the performance of the body is not only conceptually defined by their gender/sex and the other differential feature. It might be, rather, a specific situation and context in which the only difference exists. To make a difference as the difference was possible, but it is necessary that there is always what makes the difference and products. Therefore, the elimination of “nature” in the performative act, in terms of identity politics of gender/sex and subversion of social roles simultaneously Other means destructing the “culture”. However, the body might not be a cultural formation in the historical situation and the action which changes the context of society, politics, and ideology. Rather, we may have a good intention to reach out the radical form of identity as irreducibly Other differences quite before any possible kind of identity.
Furthermore, a distinction previously provided opportunities of mysticism politicization of performativity because “yes” (quod) and “what” (quid) created a political-ideological context and situation, for example, systematic racial-discursive violence against immigrants which belongs to different cultures in contemporary Western societies. Whatsoever, the body other than his over-determination of speech and language structural power of society, politics and ideology has an existential-ontological feature of the project of freedom. Finally, it is indefinite in the process of performance. And, also, this remains on the fundamental difference between the body and its theatricalizing drama and performativity of the
body and its performance. Everything is clear in advance of metaphysical drama concerning Antigone to the body of Jesus Christ. But nothing is possible to predict the forthcoming when it comes to the performativity of the contemporary event in the very body of the biosphere. If this might be true, then the freedom of the body in the act of contemporary art as the performative-conceptual turn of the coming event as a real future that Derrida’s notion of time has decisive significance at all. Derrida, in fact, makes a difference between the future and the upcoming (l’avenir) (Derrida, 1983). While the former is determined from actuality (the present), and shipment, due, placed in an order that way or should happen, the latter denotes coming of something uncanny or someone who is not really expected. It could not be uncommon to conclude that the future designates the concept of techno-scientific formation of the body as an aesthetic object (body as ready-made), and the upcoming event might be performative-conceptual turn from the body itself and the projection of unexpected. This difference is a matter of life and death in contemporary art. If it’s gone, then there will be nothing more than pure aestheticization of life, or, quite simply – nothingness in advance.
4. Outcomes and transitions
What can be inferred from that? First, the relationship between the two bodies of contemporary art at the same time poses the question of relations between the two worlds (the language and images) from which Duchamp to the present determine the relationship of life and art as a performative-conceptual turn. The difference between the body as vagueness and uncertainty of life itself and the body as an aesthetic object ready for use is the difference between freedom and control over freedom. First place belongs to the living world and the emergence of action during the upcoming suspense. Paradoxically, the performative act grounded in pragmatic events in a moment of “now” and “here” transformed the situation and context as “fate” of a given society, of guidance, policy and ideology. It does so not by creating anything in advance unless it is immersed in a radically changing the present understanding of the actuality. Contemporary art is one that leaves the artist as genius and his audience as the fans in favour of artistic works in the open event. Openly the origin of these settings, of course, Heidegger’s thought that was against “frenzy without consolation” of modern technology, might be the only salvation of the “necessary possibility” of art that comes from the future as the artwork itself works in an event of open just another history. Without the openness of the historical time, contemporary art is left to the mercy of its own, without meaning and without-art (Kunstlosigkeit) in the world, which has gone to the anxious abandonment of man and earth, gods and mortals. Therefore, the performative art can be the last call for “truth” of life as art in the body without structural additions, in the body without the aesthetic illusion of pseudo-transformation, in the body without the spectacle of the world as the medial reproduction event. Instead of transcendent “meaning” language of metaphysics, performative art is not explained by reference to another meaning (symbolic or connotative).
It is simply “there” as a world without the language of metaphysics is just “here”, immanent, though bare and no longer supports the divine in terms of theology and religion. It is simply “does” in its primal vagueness, like those “white eschatology” that Benjamin finds in the inability of Baroque allegory to reach a state of fullness of emptiness. Moreover, it neutralizes any possible gaps identification and definition of her secret past. Performance art does not work anymore, as it is customary to think in an abstract instantaneous time without its supports neither the past nor the future. Quite the contrary, it is a living rebellion versus the actuality of self-installation-in-picture of the aesthetic object which always has the face of media nullity as it is well-known pop art and Andy Warhol. The media projection of the body at the scene of an event in performative-conceptual turn can only think of the transformation of predefined limits, terms, definitions of reproduction, replication and cloning. For the coming or not coming, any more so uncanny than the rule of the machine to produce world as aesthetic object in the form of cognitive memory of event, or coming event that no one can predict it, or think otherwise than as a mythopoetic dream of freedom of disembodied presence of the cosmic spheres, which vibrate in their circularity and flicker like light passing through the crystals. Tertium non datur. Time of contemporary art is an act of Duchamp played a radical transformation in his two fatal body-world-life. What else needs to be transition period in post-Duchamp’s era? The prerequisite for entry into a truly new era is perhaps too difficult for “our” time without words. To be able to think and live true art of the coming needs to totally destroying the aesthetics of each and every event that ethics rests on the illusion of freedom and the separation of body and reproduction apparatus as a machine. Without it, we will, otherwise, witness constantly “new” killing of the dead shadow of Duchamp and his transformation in the guise of “new” language and body image. It may be aesthetically pleasing, even if, apparently, shocking and morbid, as the performance of transgression cannibalism and humanism, and pornographic and eroticism, obscenity and abjection. Performative art in all its forms of an event of contemporary art from life and its transition to a contemporary aesthetic drive where all that monsters exist and, otherwise, we serve as such ─ the capitalist machine of consumption and enjoyment of the body. Behind his mask, there is nothing more sublime nor mysterious.
In the film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker, what is still the only remaining alive in the event of apocalyptic and totalitarian threats to the man on the function and structure of bare life (stuff) should be nothing other than listening to the rain-soaked earth vibrations and mud. Breathing the land and listening to the voice fits beyond this world that is not “our”, not “nobody”, because it no longer constitutes a language rather than its technical devices and tools, because such a world no longer exists in another way than in a performative-conceptual turn of released uncanny body condemned to roam their own wastes and the pit are looking for a sense. Without language, arts no longer make sense and does not need more than a pure consolation, because it was the other side of its historical development of the myth through religion to science. In fact, apart from the sensible view of the absolute idea (God?) would be the consolation of the terrible power to conquer life, survival and emergency chains of boredom of existence. When art is the only one left to be a consolation as such, it is apparent that there was a total time of the reign of aestheticizing the world as a pleasure spending all that remains. Bataille’s sovereign economy challenged this kind of victim. Performative art, thus, arises in its most radical achievements of the sacrifice of the body against any possible mystical re-politicization of art. Whoever enters his holy flesh in the secular order of society, politics and ideology and it’s not comfortable protection of the institutional order of modern art (museums, galleries, theaters) not only risk his life symbolically, but first order of life as art, which rests on the institutionalization of “normality”, “morality,” “nature and culture”. Freedom in our unconditional lack of foundation is anything other than the event in the abyss of freedom itself and requires immediate action in the only single body. This death is represented as immanent limits of performative art. It may be uncanny, just as a conceptual field, the abolition of the world as an aesthetic object only happens as the embodiment of the things in human life. Or, more simply, when things breathe in our life so that someone else breathes a soul as the image/object a conceptual performance by Anselm Kiefer from Stelle Cadente cycles, where gloves yellow colour of gold under glass as a subversive relics invokes the history of a different world beyond the sinister ideology and death. Performative art denotes, therefore, a challenge to the contemporary age, because there is no any valuable comprehension of the sacrifice of life and holiness. However, it encompasses the ideological-political use of victims in every possible secular purpose ─ from terrorism, torture and biopolitical production to all aesthetic objects. For this challenge as an event, the coming mysteries are yet to be appropriately prepared intellectually and experientially. There is no royal road to the last secrets of art that exceed their limits of authority as an epochal work in the event of performance practice. Every single time, making freedom of journey without any pre-known object and any kind of aim and purpose.
Time in contemporary art of performative-conceptual turn seems like a fundamental conceptual problem. This ineffable and elusive event is the moment in which events occur and the life-world of art and perhaps best left to an authentic poet testimony of witnesses to be a reversal of contemporary art. It would be, of course, Surrealist-Dadaist artist and poet Tristan Tzara. In its second phase, when he steps on side of language as such, he sings in the mighty sublime poem To a High Flame:
The thousand and a thousand years go by,
And there was only one
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Žarko Paić is a Professor at the University of Zagreb, where he teaches courses in Aesthetics and Media Theory. He publishes frequently in philosophy, social sciences, and art theory. His publications include Theorizing Images, eds. with Krešimir Purgar (2016), and Technosphere Vol. 1-5 (2018-2019), White Holes and the Visualization of the Body, (2019), Neoliberalism, Oligarchy and Politics of the Event – At the Ege of Chaos (2020), Aesthetics and the Iconoclasm of Contemporary Art - Pictures Without a World (2021).