In this presentation I will revisit a work I performed in October: a 15-minute video and reading entitled ‘Cross-Referencing the Goddess’. This work was made in response to two Goddess events that I attended over Summer: Bonalu, a South-Indian harvest festival, and the Glastonbury Goddess Conference. The piece combines poetic methodology and ritual framework, shaking between two vastly different sites, spaces, celebrations, with only an abstract object in common. As I worked on the piece I thought it might raise some interesting questions; as I performed it before an audience, I was struck by how problematic it really is. In my discussion, I will be thinking about appropriation, cultural comparison, the use (and abuse?) of essentialism, shock tactics and the performance persona.
Nisha Ramayya is in the third year of a practice-based PhD in experimental feminist poetics. Her thesis considers certain aspects of feminist poetics – acknowledgement of a female literary lineage; the strategy of revisionist mythmaking; experimentation with authoritative texts (specifically dictionaries); and the female body in ritual performance – which are correlated with Hindu-Tantric traditions. She makes page-based and video works, and does occasional readings. Nisha recently contributed to Visual Verse: An Anthology of Art and Words, Chapter 1 (http://visualverse.org/).
People+ : Thoughts and ideas about a work in progress
Using technology as part of our everyday life is a given in our times - at least in the ‘Western’ world. But what about technology being used to predetermine one’s personality, skills, or physical characteristics? What about machines being able to reproduce themselves? What about beings, part human and part machine, forming a new species?
Transhumanism (H+) is a movement that desires “to make good the ‘half-baked’ project that is human nature”, to overcome traditional human limitations by means of mechanical enhancement, genetic modification, and other technological advancements, to make people “healthier, wittier, happier”... Many issues arise in sight of this prospect, and those concerned express themselves passionately for or against. But what about all these people walking down the street with a bluetooth attached to their ear, those employing virtual personas to experience what they can’t in their physical reality, or those being bullied online to the point of suicide? How much do these people, far from happier (in my opinion), can control the impact of technology in their lives? How much do we all?
As a composer who has found herself - after a series of choices and circumstances - working with technology, I am concerned with these issues, not as an expert, but as a simple human being with all my limitations. For my new electronic piece ‘People+’, I have chosen to work with the human voice and with ‘soundscapes’ filled with the presence of people, ordinary people, with their hopes and disappointments, their relationships and their health issues, their smartphones and their Plasma TVs. I will be discussing these thoughts and ideas that contributed to its conception.
N.B. The Seminar follows a Research Skills Workshop running from 2-4pm on ‘Methodology and the Role of Practice’. The workshop will be led by Will Montgomery and Susanna Jones. Students are invited to register via the Generic Skills Moodle page http://moodle.rhul.ac.uk/login/index.php under ‘Faculty Courses and Events’ (next to the picture of the clock tower!) or, if you are outside of RHUL, by contacting the Faculty Manager, Jane Gawthrope (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Zoi Dachri is a PhD candidate in Composition supervised by Brian Lock, exploring polystylism in electronic and electroacoustic music. She has studied musicology, performance and composition in conservatories and universities in Greece and the UK. She has participated in ensembles of classical, popular and traditional music, and has composed for theatre and film.