Inquirers. PhD series: Dovilė Tumpytė. Embodied Art as a Black Box

2014 11 25
Author Echo Gone Wrong
Published in Events in Lithuania
Myriam Lefkowitz, Ėjimas, rankos, akys (Bylis) / Walk, Hands, Eyes (Biel/Bienne), 2013.

Myriam Lefkowitz, Ėjimas, rankos, akys (Bylis) / Walk, Hands, Eyes (Biel/Bienne), 2013.

Immediately after the intense simultaneous experience of physical and mediated realities in the Ghost Machine (2010), a physical cinema piece at Hebbel Theater in Berlin by Janet Cardiff and George Burr Miller, that lasted for half an hour, I could not understand what has just happened with me. Before the artist Marcos Lutyens made the monument of Frank Zappa in Vilnius “vanish” during the hypnosis session (Zappa Project: a case study for Active City Cancellation, 2012), the curator Raimundas Malašauskas said that he treated the brain and the mind as any other medium in the arts. After which, I thought: ‘right, indeed…’. When the artist Myriam Lefkowitz introduced me to her only rule – that it was a walk in silence, asked to close my eyes and took me for an hour tour in Venice (Walk, Hands, Eyes (Venice), 2013) guiding me by touch, which unclosed the city to me in a way I would never expect to experience it (and myself), I had no doubts: such art practices possess something exclusive that should be discussed in art theory and wider cultural context.

Knowledge from neuroscience and consciousness studies stimulate the expansion of art practices: artists discover and develop new ways of making art, with an attempt to “conquer” still unexplored subjective, liquid and intangible medium – the human brain and consciousness. The 21st c. witnesses the emergence of ultimately performative participatory art form. Art is being created by means of physiological and psychic sensations of a participant. I would suggest a term embodied art to name such practice. An exceptional feature of such practice is the synthesis of usually separate components of an art work (media, technology, materials) in participant’s consciousness in a form of subjective and thus unique experience. Not the material object but the experience becomes the final piece of art. The human body performs a function of a liquid “storage” or a medium of a piece. An artwork that is possessed only by the memory of a participant, cannot be properly recreated or reproduced by any means. Embodied art that metaphorically might be named a ‘black box’ emerges out of the interplay between science and the arts, and should be considered as a new way of exploring the life forms in the arts. These are the propositions that I will try to explicate in the presentation of my research.

Dovilė Tumpytė, PhD student in Art Theory (since 2013) at the Vilnius Academy of Arts

Inquirers. PhD series. 

Inquirers is a series of lectures, readings and conversations organized in order to have a look at the ongoing research of Lithuanian contemporary art. Conceived as such, it is concerned, first of all, with processual nature of insights and hovering-like state of hypothesis put forward by both academia-related and independent researchers. In this sense, Inquirers is interested in the very process of contemporary art research and, in turn, the challenges it produces: the nowness of the objects of inquiry; the problem of naming, generalizing, and guessing when it comes to artistic tendencies; and, at last, the necessity of yet again novel theoretical approach. Inquirers will draw attention, in an attempt to emphasize its processual origins, to both focus and results of the research, and the omnipresent significance of the conversation to analyze this always already changing scene of contemporary art. 

The first series of the Inquirers include Dovilė Tumpytė (Vilnius Academy of Arts), Giedrius Gulbinas (Vilnius Academy of Arts) and dr. Lina Michelkevičė.