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'Always Pushing Away the Abstract Child' (working title)

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

An updated project description,
May 2023

This film was created for and used during my, ‘Abstract Child: Only Ever Close' performance.
The work was partly in collaboration with musician and sound artist John Bryden, and visual artist Anna Glantz.

Post–Tinnital project image – on noise & tinnitus

Project Summary

This interdisciplinary art project uses collaborative musical performance and improvisation; reflexive prose (‘fiction-theory’) and ‘performance philosophy’ to create, inhabit and speculate on a character. The project takes as its primary focus a series of talks given by philosopher Ray Brassier at the Performing Arts Forum (‘PAF’), France (2015).


The doctoral project draws on notions of reason presented in these talks by Brassier, as a means for formulating its character creation. This method is employed for questioning how art and performance relate to socio-cultural and political life.


'Conditions of Redirection: A Trialogue', performed at Fylkingen in Stockholm, April 2022.

Question

Q. What insights can be revealed about Ray Brassier’s reading of reason at PAF and its emancipatory potential, by applying his account to a character construction using collaborative performance philosophy, ‘fiction-theory’ writing and philosophical research?


My project will answer its question by building a speculative character using Brassier’s PAF material as its central theoretical reference, to achieve a “coming together” of philosophy and artistic practice similar to that set-out by Performance Philosophy network1.. Brassier states at PAF that reason must be the “engine” which “drives” a truly emancipatory society. He also declares that there can be “no other way” than by appealing to reason for establishing such a radical social project. This work therefore creates its character as a ‘case study’ to examine and amplify Brassier’s conceptualisation of reason at PAF. I do this by…

  1. Establishing a framework for my character’s and topic’s overall construction by focusing on reason in these PAF lectures in order to create this framework, which…

  2. Produces the PhD’s methodology and guides the philosophical material needed for my fiction-theory texts…

  3. And ultimately provide the focus for my character and collaborative performance philosophy.

By practically utilising Brassier’s idea at PAF that, “only reason can affirm existence” to form my character, what will this process and the subject’s embodiment express about reason? What can be learned from tackling this question is the project’s character’s central concern. This is expressed through performance philosophy collaborations, with the objective of bringing together interdisciplinary artistic practice with philosophy. This is the artistic terrain that the PhD critically explores.



These two images come from my Fylkingen performance of ‘Abstract Child: Only Ever Close’ (May 2016); the latter is one of Anna Glantz’s commissioned images used in the project’s inception, visuals and designs.

Context

Brassier’s Background

Ray Brassier is a philosopher whose explorative work is often difficult to define. However, he is best known for his association with the Speculative Realism moniker. Relevant to my PhD is his affiliation with contemporary neorationalism and related prometheanism. Brassier has become a central figure for this ‘platform’ through texts like Prometheanism and its Critics (2014), which impacts on the PhD’s topic as it investigates reason’s autonomy. This autonomy J. P. Caron describes in a blog post on neorationalism, intends to “recover the centrality of reason (…) for the conditions of intelligibility of thought (…); sustaining the most radical possible consequences (…) for the human figure and the reconstruction of the world, from which political consequences can be drawn.”2. By using reason, text and performance, this theoretical process contributes to the ‘drawing out’ of socio-political implications. This is the key intention for my project’s character.


fiction-theory

My fiction-theory practice uses fiction to examine cited theoretical texts. These works constitute written compositions that express unfixed subjectivity. This intention departs from conventional accounts of the subject and instigates the creation of works that question and experiment with forms of reflexive literary practice. The project contributes to philosophy’s tradition of character-based constructions and is conducted using these fiction-theory texts alongside collaborative ‘sonic’ music practices. Performance philosophy subsequently initiates this knowledge exchange. Working in this ‘spirit’ establishes this vital element of the project.


My 'Theme-line' (left) & the constructed 'PAF Map'
My updated project Theme-line (left) & the constructed PAF Map; created from my PAF posit system and research

Mind maps from my project’s development
An additional point of reference here, are two earlier mind maps from my project’s development. These relate to my journalling, which is a key aspect of my research methodology.

performance philosophy

I am bringing together the project’s philosophical material with my fiction-theory practice through analysis and artistic appropriation. These works instigate the collaborations’ engagement with performance philosophy — a discipline that aims to investigate “new forms and formats of thinking, philosophising, performing and doing, in, and beyond, the academic, aesthetic and artistic spheres”3.. These descriptions come from the Performance Philosophy network and Performance Research journal, who both create a “dynamic interchange between scholarship and practice in the expanding field of performance”4., and are insightful research resources for the aims of my performance philosophy.


Consequently, my character is created initially, within the reflexive fiction-theory writing and then fully developed and realised through the project’s performance philosophy collaborations.



'No Expectations' is a sound, 'fiction-theory' and performance composition that samples David Lean’s adaptation of 'Great Expectations' (1946). This composition comes from my research project and adapts audio, various recorded sources and edits them together with two of my text works 'Cover Knowing' (2019) and 'Assured Un-certain Chances' (2020). This writing is part of my PhD's 'fiction-theory' work and character construction.


Methodology

My artistic methodology features improvisational practice, which I utilise in my current collaborations with both, Swedish musicians Två Cirklar (Conditions of Redirection: A Trialogue, performed at Fylkingen, April 2022), and Scottish artist-composer John Bryden and others (musically examining concepts of embodied noise). The expansion of these improvisational and intuitive musical collaborations happens through the methodology’s experimentations with philosophical performance. The focus is on how this collaborative research corresponds with the character and what affects this has on their progression. The implications these collaborative themes have for my fiction-theory writing and performance practice, characterises my methodology. Hence, through our partly digitally mediated collaborations, the works are constructed during regular meetings around the character’s and performances’ manifestations, which focus on selected readings and reflect on shared source materials in various digital accounts (Are.na, Google etc.). This has led us to collaboratively ‘score’ a performance piece in ‘real-time’, using intuitive approaches under specific environmental and auditory conditions. I have also identified a number of other creative-critical practitioners to approach regarding the project’s collaborations. This is fundamental to its multi-participatory ethos.

These last two images are from the front and back cover designs of 'Assured Un-certain Chances' (May 2021). This text was performed as part of my ongoing collaboration with musicians Två Cirklar, at Fylkingen, Stockholm (April 9th 2022).

I am drawn to artistic and philosophical works that are interested in fictions and character explorations, particularly related to literary and performance practice. This allows me to cultivate a self-reflexive and collective approach to my research’s experimentations. Instances that are informing the work in this regard are, Amy Ireland’s dramatised lecture Noise: An Ontology of the Avant-Garde and Annika Larsson’s research project Non-knowledge, Laughter and the Moving Image. My conversations with Amy regarding her direct experience of Brassier’s PAF lectures continue to be vital to this project. Other cited treatments of embodiment within performance and philosophy, and their enthralling character explorations, come from Fred Moten and his epic philosophical book trilogy on African diasporic studies, titled Consent not to be a single being; and, dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty’s ethnographic performance Hard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer. Explorations equally epitomised by Reza Negarestani’s philosophy (an associate of Brassier through neorationalism) can be found in his essay Labour of the Inhuman and his concept of the ‘Toy Model’, where he also explores the autonomy of reason.

My fiction-theory writing responds to reason as it is presented by Brassier. These texts then inform the collaborations and feedback into the practice. By engaging with these fields, my research becomes a record of bringing these forms of art making together. This fluid reciprocal relationship between the projects’s elements is its founding methodological principle and the approach used to contextualise its methodology.


My character-concept is subsequently the ‘vehicle’ I use to explore philosophical characterisations regarding reason’s socio-political implications, improvisation and noise, as a basis for innovative artistic research.


Here is the poster image and link to Fylkingen’s webpage, which contains the texts with more information regarding this event and collaboration.

[FINAL NOTE.] My primary focus for the work’s artistic practice has turned towards my collaborations around tinnitus and the concept of noise, initially alongside artist John Bryden, with the intention of involving other participants. I am equally currently assessing and compiling the work I produced with Två Cirklar, during this pause in our performative output, specifically in relation to our event in 2022 at Fylkingen (April 9th). For this aspect of my work, I am now planning and looking at different options/approaches for how, and in what manner, I will document and present this aspect of my project’s research moving forward.


— My relevant PhD project practice-based portfolio: https://tamhare.com/PhD-APR-2023-Portfolio


Tam Hare, May 2023



  1. Performance Philosophy (2020) About, viewed December 15 2022, <https://www.performancephilosophy.org/about/>

  2. Futuro, L. (2022) Neo-rationalism, viewed December 7 2022, <https://fromfuturo.medium.com/neo-rationalism-6d48982cd60c>

  3. Performance Philosophy (2020) About, viewed December 15 2022, <https://www.performancephilosophy.org/about/>

  4. Performance Research (2022) Editorial Process, viewed December 14 2022, <https://www.performance-research.org/editorial-process.php>


Project Presentation

This is a recording of a recent short presentation on my PhD project, w/ slides; Originally given during the Newcastle University, PG Music Showcase, December 15th 2021, and Revised for Foreign Objekt, June 2023.
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