Body As Place: Thoughts on A Mediatized Society

“The pitcher cries for water to carry,
and a person for work that is real.”

–Marge Piercy

Beware that dance as…performance art in the theater,
is a minute fragment of dance in the true sense of the word.”

–Min Tanaka



All across the modern world, the human being is malnourished.  In Western nations, the bodies of the obese, the rich, and the over-privileged betray obvious signs of starvation, both physical and spiritual.  We certainly have no lack of stuff to fill ourselves with, yet spiralling consumption of things devoid of nutritive value only whets our hunger.  Wasn’t  ‘consumption’ the 14th Century name for a disease of wasting away?  Today we are not so different: consumption is consuming us.

The bland fare of modern pop culture is as empty of soulful nutrition as bag of Cheetos, and about as addictive.  In the frenzy to sate our cravings, we often forget that this hunger for performance is an ancient one, a deep human need for ritual and ceremony, for meaning-making, for cultural transformation–the original purpose of the arts.

Cut to our contemporary scene:  legions of the culturally anemic, voraciously consuming lonely performances on iPods and laptops, Youtube and Twitter, capturing minutae on our cell phone cameras, gasping for for the nutritive value of the arts .  Yet, because we can never be “virtually” satisfied, the cycle of addiction rambles on. Performance scholar Baz Kershaw wonders:

Is drama now an unconscious addiction, a programme so deeply ingrained that we do not even recognize it as a need?  And is performance becoming an addictive matrix of consciousness, a new kind of paradigm crucially inherent to human ecology?…It arrives in a very personal guise through anxieties about our own performance–in career, lifestyle, love…Or we become fascinated by the peformance of people we will never meet–in the media, sports, politics.  Or we are drawn to more abstract domains of performance—the FTSE, the GNP, the RAE, the hundred best of everything, the ten worst…? The perfusion of performance through public and private arterial networks then generates various pathologies of perception of social process.

Baz Kershaw, Theater Ecology (2007)

Perhaps the massive proliferation of performance in our is trying to tell us something about what we truly need?  I believe that we can remedy the addictive mediatization of society by returning per-form-ance to its roots—giving tangible and actual form to the sustainable and healthy culture we so desperately need. My own work as a embodied artist seeks to renew a performance tradition which truly nourishes, truly transforms our people and our culture.

The above words are an excerpt of a multimedia “paper” which details the Bcollective’s site-specific performances.  In these performances we are invited outdoors to physical connection with people and place.   We recover the art of meaningful work in the landscape,  the art of honoring the body, the of art of actively building and sculpting a vision for the healthy, modern village.

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2 thoughts on “Body As Place: Thoughts on A Mediatized Society

  1. looking at the “time” with technology as an investment of ourselves. Like sowing seeds. Do we grow from that time or help our community to grow etc.? Really asking our self if it is necessary and is it helping us?
    So much of our personal creativity gets sucked so to speak into that black hole. Do we use it as a stuffer or as a tool?
    The more we befriend our own selves the more AT ONE our lives are…. I think it’s so cool when we can really treat our selves to the nourishment of listening to that “still small voice”. With all that we we do and all that we choose!!!
    Thanks for the post….

  2. I would love to create dialogue about the big white elephant in the room: our addiction to hard-tech, especially digital technologies…Anyone out there have any strategies to share about how to create healthy boundaries with technology? Anyone else suspect this has to do with artmaking?

    –>>nala walla | Bcollective Integrative Arts and Ecology

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