Last week I attended the 24th International Conference CICOM, “IMAGEing Reality” at University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. I was exceptionally nervous to present my paper at such a prestigious conference, especially because my work is somehow outside the general context of what is a current tendency in the field of media studies. But the organizers were really good in programming and they had an amazing balance between experienced and significant, established speakers – stars ( Roger Odin, John Corner, Richard Kilborn etc.) and young, upcoming scholars. The conference setting was comfortable and on a small scale, so everyone had a chance to hear everything and to have a go at the amazing Navarra tapas food!!! No parallel sessions, no key note speakers, and excellent discussion after every session.
I would like to highlight that actually despise my main fear that my interdisciplinary research can be somehow out of place, it turn out that my paper is significantly contributing to what is currently stirring and changing the field of media studies. Although my research is slightly inclining towards performance, I must say that the media scholars have more understanding for the problematic that I am tackling. Especially interesting was the presentation of Prof Roger Odin from Université de Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle, in which he tried to articulate something that I am pinpointing in my research as well. He named this tendency “making of” mode and tried to articulate with a humouruous reflection on Secret Knowledge by David Hockney. Odin was above all concerned with the current impression or fascination with the market driven technology, and how it is used to produce media. The content is more often disappearing and everything/everyone is concern how they can use the tool, rather than what they can do with the tool ( “making of” rather than “making what” ). He outlined a number of examples of uncritical use, starting from mobile phones, to installation works in which the viewer is only concerned whit how actually the work is working, rather than what is the content of the piece. When I was writing of Golan Levin, I mentioned that sometimes his installation work is redundant because it becomes boring after you finish understanding the “play” part. On the opposite, the work of Blast Theory, especially “Can you see me now” is pushing this boundary and although it seems at the beginning as a well-known computer game format, it reviles creatively into a direction of exploring the virtual, reality and how the tools that we use every day are changing our perceptions. The focus on “making of” in a range of technologies and applications has not increased the importance of sensory engagement so much as made it more apparent. Here is where performance art gets into the scope. The relationship between the performance and technology is often framed as oppositional; performance engages the body, while technology supersedes it, each being defined and positioned in relation to the human physical body. Although they are commonly placed in opposition to one another, both performance and technology explore the interaction between the body (the person) and the environment by challenging the parameters of what the body can do and experience (human potential). Moreover, both operate within constantly shifting contexts, which assume that embodied experience is itself constantly shifting and cannot be frozen. Do we need to freeze our embodied experiences and become slaves of “making of”…Well, that is a question that we all have to answer!