Three Pounds Eighty Five Pence (Harper and Bailie, 2016)

This blog entry outlines our most recent lines of enquiry, exploring the differentiation between the house as site of performance and the culturally constructed concept of ‘home’. Gill Perry, in the introduction to her book Playing At  Home: The House in Contemporary Art loosely defines house as ‘any constructed space or building in which we dwell.’ (Perry, 2013:9) while noting that ‘ ‘home’ can be a shifting notion’ (Perry, 2013: 9) Perry states:

[o]ur relationship with ‘home’ and its material correlate, the house, can reveal complex cultural geographies in which established categories of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, class, and social status can overlap and interact. And it is through these relationships that we usually distinguish an idea of ‘home’ from that of the house.’

(Perry, 2013:10)

It is worth noting at this juncture, for the purpose of this particular research Harper and Bailie are interested in the cultural geography of class and social status and how they are performed within the concept of ‘home’. This will be expanded upon later.   

Cultural historians such as Philippe Aries and Witold Rybczynski both support the idea of the concept of ‘home’ evolving in Europe, from the medieval period to the twentieth century, inferring that ‘the term was increasingly separated from the word ‘house’ ‘ (Perry, 2013: 11) Aries used the ‘home’ to explore family life and ‘an emerging concept of ‘privacy’ from the eighteenth century onwards’ (Perry, 2013: 11) while Rybczynski posits that the evolution of the concept of ‘home’ is ‘enmeshed with developing and culturally specific notions of ‘comfort’, ‘domesticity’, ‘intimacy’ and family privacy’.  (Perry, 2013:11) Before Aries and Rybczynski, philosopher and social critic Walter Benjamin argued that ‘the increasing separation of living space from the place of work in the nineteenth century encouraged the development of our modern idea of ‘domesticity’ . (Perry, 2013:11) The common thought amongst these philosophers is that the concept of ‘home’ has evolved out of a sense of separation from the ‘outside world’ and ‘privacy’. Aries explorations of family life and childhood from the 1960’s led to his argument that ‘the family began to hold society at a distance [in the eighteenth century ] […] The organisation of the house altered in conformity with the new desire to keep the world at bay. It became the modern type of house, with rooms which were independent because they opened onto corridors’ (Aries in Perry, 2013: 37). This argument was centred largely on observations made of the middle-classes in European culture. This separation of private rooms ‘ was one of the greatest changes to everyday life’ (Perry, 2013:38). Aries views summarise ‘that our modern ideas of home and domesticity are tied to the evolution of separate spaces for different social activities.’ (Perry, 2013: 38)  

However, it is not only an increasing sense of privacy that separates the house from the concept of ‘home’, Chinese born artist Song Dong in his installation Waste Not, collected more than 10,000 family objects from his mother’s home which she had hoarded over a 50 year period. The objects included rotting shoes, old cuddly toys, rusting radiators, bars of soap, plastic bowls, empty toothpaste tubes and window shutters. This staged display of objects traced the materiality of his family life. Perry writes of the piece, ‘[t]he chinese expression wu jin qi yong, loosely translated to ‘waste not’ is the cultural mnemonic that haunts every corner of the work.’ (Perry, 2013:33) Sung Dong’s mother had been born into a wealthy family but when her father was accused by communists of being a spy, he was arrested and jailed. The family fell into poverty after her mother died from cancer. As a coping mechanism Sung Dong’s mother revealed her emotional trauma by hoarding her possessions. Perry offers of the work; ‘ it is tempting to read this work […] as offering a kind of voyeuristic insight into a personal history-a memory of traumatic loss.’ (Perry, 2013:36) Perry continues:

The installation positions an obsessive accumulation of domestic junk within a public framework of art and display, applying museum taxonomies and classifications to the most banal everyday objects. Waste Not reminds us of the sheer materiality of domesticity-objects transform the house into the home.

(Perry, 2013:36)

Social anthropologist, Kate Fox, draws attention to the idea of privacy and object in connection to notions of ‘home’ in her book Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. Fox’s book stems from an attempt to ‘understand and define [her own] native culture.’ (Fox, 2008:xi) After moving to America from England at the age of six, Fox found herself reluctant to adopt the accent and join in with American customs such as pledging allegiance to the flag. Fox returned to England at the age of Sixteen and found herself having to ‘re-learn the rules of Englishness.’ (Fox, 2008:xi) In turn Fox, having spent a majority of her career researching various aspects of English culture and social behaviour, wrote her book with the aim of providing a ‘grammar’ of English behaviour. The object of Fox’s research was ‘to identify the commonalities in the rules governing English behaviour- the unofficial codes of conduct that cut across class, age, sex, region, sub-cultures and other social boundaries. (Fox, 2008:2)

In Fox’s chapter, Home Rules, she observes that if one hovered above an English town one principle would become clear ‘the English all want to live in their own private little box with their  own private green bit.’ (Fox, 2008:111) Fox notes that this English quest for privacy is highlighted in the highly discreet way in which house numbers and names are hidden from view from the passing public. Fox says, ‘our house numbers are […]obscured by creepers or porches or even left off altogether, presumably on the assumption that our number may be deduced from those of our immediate neighbours.’ (Fox, 2008:  113) Fox terms this practice of concealing our house numbers as ‘the moat-and-drawbridge rule’. Fox expands, ‘an English[…][person’s] home is much more than just [their] castle, the embodiment of [their] privacy rules, it is also [their] identity, [their] main status-indicator.’ (Fox, 2008: 113)

Fox highlights that the English use the objects they put in their homes as an indicator of their status. Fox identifies an obsession with home improvements amongst the English which not only speaks to notions of territorial marking but self expression, ‘your home is not just your territory, it is your primary expression of your identity.’ (Fox,2008: 115) Although Fox’s interviews and overheard conversations with members of the public would suggest English people view their obsession with home improvements as them exercising their creative talents. Fox’s further research concludes ‘that the way in which we arrange, furnish and decorate our homes is largely determined by social class.’ (Fox, 2008: 115)

Before highlighting a number of Fox’s examples which illustrate this point it is worth mentioning that Fox uses the terms upper-class, upper-middle class, middle-middle, lower middle, upper-workings and proletariat to describe the different class factions in England, although these definitions are appropriate at this juncture, for future research we we will be deploying the terms and rhetoric developed by Mike Savage in his research for The Great British Class Survey.

Fox highlights the difference of opinion between class factions surrounding the condition of the objects placed within the home, saying:

‘Upper-class and upper-middle class homes tend to be shabby frayed and unkempt in a way no middle-middle or lower-middle would tolerate, and the homes of the wealthiest working-class nouveaux-riches are full of extremely expensive items that the uppers and upper-middles regard as the height of vulgarity.

(Fox, 2008:115)

Further, Fox illustrates the cultural implications of objects in the home and their connection to class factions:

Younger lower-middles and upper-working may have less fussy tastes their “living-rooms” are often uncluttered to the point of Dentist waiting-room bleakness (perhaps aspiring to, but never approaching, stylish minimalism). They will compensate for this lack of visual interest with an even bigger wide screen television, which they call the TV or Telly and which is always the focal point of the room (and, incidentally, currently shows at least six programmes every week about homes and home-improvement) and a high tech ‘music centre’ with big speakers. Many upper-middle homes also have big televisions and stereos, but they are usually hidden in another sitting room, sometimes called the “back room” or “family room” (not “music room”: when upper-middles say “music room” , they mean the one with the piano in it, not the stereo).

(Fox, 2008: 116)

It is important to note that Fox makes no mention of the upper-class in this conversation, highlighting that they, unlike the middle-to lower classes may have more opportunities to partake in different social activities in their homes. Their absence in the conversation implies that their social activities may be somewhat more sophisticated than watching the television.

Perry has illustrated how objects can be used to transform a house into a ‘home’, while Fox’s research highlights that these objects, and in turn our ‘homes’ are a display of our social class.  It is in the space between these two findings that Harper and Bailie’s own research interests lie. Harper and Bailie had mentioned previously that ‘home’ (their own and other people’s) can be a site for anxiety and unease. It is important to highlight at this moment an awareness of the slipperiness of words, and that utilising terms such as ‘anxiety’ and ‘unease’ in reference to an arts practice based in a domestic space, between married male and female artists can be and may be read as having connotations of domestic violence. Although aware of this issue it is not something this research is aiming to address.

In order to address the idea of domestic unease that we have been exploring, we first contextualised ‘home’ as a cultural field according to the work of Pierre Bourdieu. Field is the idea that ‘[a] field […] is a social arena within which struggles or maneuvers take place over specific resources or stakes and access to them’ (Jenkins, 1992: 84). These social arenas are many and are similar to social games that humans “play”. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus,derived from the latin for habits or habitual, are the rules by which humans live or “play the game” of that social field. These “games” are being played, like Jenkins says, ‘for specific resources or stakes […]’ (Jenkins, 1992:84) or as Bourdieu terms it capital. Capital would then be “the prize” which one would win if they play by the rules of the game. So, if ‘home’ is the field, habitus is the rules by which the inhabitants of the ‘home’ live and in turn playing by these rules would reward you with the capital of feeling at ease in that particular field. However, it is a sense of unease that may be conjured to both the inhabitants and guests alike that we are interested in. A sense of social anxiety that stems from making social faux-pas for the guest or from guests making judgements of the inhabitants home.

In order to explore these ideas more explicitly we photographed objects/ scenarios within our own house which we would allow to exist in private but that, ultimately, we would tidy away in the case of visitors.


img_2434img_2436The photograph of the collection of plastic bags behind our kitchen door, was the observation that stood out the most. The image resonated with the work of Song Dong mentioned earlier in this text. We had hoarded our bags like his mother had hoarded her own banal everyday objects.

Song Dong’s performance of Waste Not made his mother’s hoarding visible, the discovery of our hoarded bags was reminiscent of Song Dong’s work. We took our plastic bags and covered our kitchen floor, the branding of the bags stood out and acted like a carpet of capitalism on our kitchen floor and we laid it out for all to see. Contextually Waste Not not only tells the story of Dong’s mother but speaks to an entire generation of chinese people. In the wake of the famine in China 1959-61 frugal living was reiterated throughout the cultural revolution. Song Dong recounts, ‘for the Chinese, frugality is a virtue […] [i]n that period of insufficiency, this way of thinking and living was a kind of fabao, literally translated as a ‘magic weapon’ (Dong in Perry, 2013: 34)

Our plastic bags made visible, also engages with cultural politics. In 2014 the British Government rolled out a law to monetize plastic bags in order to stem plastic bags being disposed of and in turn protect the planet. We counted how much the bags were worth,  (£3.85) however, the monetization of the bags are worth more than their value, the environmental impact of plastic bags has been reduced 80%. The amount of money we have spent on plastic bags – £3.85 – although it may be deemed by some as an insignificant amount of money, however, to some it may be quite significant. To us we don’t deem £3.85 as a huge amount of money but that fact alone speaks of an economic and cultural laziness that is directly linked to our social class.

Moving forward we are continuing to explore our house, experimenting and interrogating the use of certain rooms, their cultural function and our own functional use of the space.

The House as a site of performance anxiety- 13/11/16

This entry is a reflexive piece of writing which attempts to articulate our most recent insights as part of a process of critical reflection upon the practical work undertaken last month. The ideas put forward in this short entry are still in a stage of development and so are only partial articulations at this time.

Last month’s practical output was a video documenting the process of  making a cake, the piece was entitled The Cake.The version disseminated onto our blog (see above) includes snippets of audio from the original video, however this was not the only audio that had been considered. We had grappled with the idea of overlaying Charlie Chaplin’s famous speech from the 1940 film The Great Dictator. During Chaplin’s speech he talks about the human race and their responsibilities in kindness to one another and to rebuke hate.  (see below).

As our research explores themes of the performance of class and privilege, the use of this emotive and passionate speech by Chaplin would have been an interesting juxtaposition to the mundane reality and performance being shown in the video. We will return to the need for this explanation later.

During the critical reflection on The Cake discussions about the uncertainty that was felt surrounding  the piece. The concerns articulated were surrounding the difference felt between what the use of audio did in validating the work “as performance”. It was expressed that  the use of The Great Dictator speech may offer the audience more questions and therefore open more lines for conversation surrounding the work, an expectation of what performance “should do”, as opposed to The Cake which “was just a video of us doing stuff”. This embodied response of anxiety surrounding what can be validated ‘as performance’ is one which we are aware stems from a cultural inculcation within a hierarchical system of knowledge production. Although we are aware of these elements at play within our research, for the purpose of this particular piece of writing, they are purely contextual to our main point.

The practice of walking has always allowed ideas to flow between us as a pair. By comparison the freedom of walking highlighted the pressure that is present surrounding the desk/office as a site which has been designated the responsibility of generating and achieving multiple modes of productive activity. This revealed that the desk/office as a site of performance generates a culture of anxiety. Our working definition of ‘anxiety’ at this point in time is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something.

One of our areas of research is ‘The creative potential of the home as a performance site.’ Our explorations until this point were focussed on the comfortability and the quotidian within the house as a site, it had never occurred to us the creative potential of the house as a site of anxiety.

In conclusion, these ideas are not fully formed and this piece of writing is merely an articulation of the process of thinking through. From this point we are interested in researching and exploring the notion of house as architectural site in contrast to the idea of ‘home’  as a culturally constructed concept. Considering the definitions of  the concepts, put forward by French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, of habitus, field and capital. Habitus is defined as a system of:

durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is , as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to attain them. Objectively “regulated” and “regular” without being in anyway the product of obedience to rules, they can be collectively orchestrated without being the product of the organising action of a conductor.

    (Bourdieu, 1972: 72)

Or as Johnson adds habitus has often been described as ‘a feel for the game’ or a ‘practical sense’ (Johnson, 1993:5). According to Bourdieu’s definition of field- the idea that ‘[a] field […] is a social arena within which struggles or maneuvers take place over specific resources or stakes and access to them’ (Jenkins, 1992: 84). If Habitus can be described as ‘a feel for the game’ then Bourdieu’s concept of Field is the game which is being played. A field, therefore, is a structured system of social positions the nature of which defines the situation for their occupants. A field is structured internally in terms of power relations. The hierarchical relationships are established ‘by virtue of the access they afford to the goods or resources, (capital) which are at stake in the field.’ (cite) Capital has been described as ‘a basis for domination’ (Mahar, year: page) Capital could, in turn, be described as the prize that is at stake within the game of field. If we contextualise the concept of ‘home’ as Bourdieu’s field, the ‘home’ is being structured and constructed by the habitus of the inhabitants, much like social fields are constructed and structured by an agent’s habitus. Meanwhile the capital that is at stake is a sense of ease, knowing that you are not going to upset the inhabitants of the ‘home’ by playing by the wrong rules.

Moving forward we intend to research critical theory and performance work that explores similar themes of the house and ‘home’ in order to theoretically underpin, these recent findings.

The Cake

The following supporting statement is constructed as a supplement to the most recent creative output from our domestic performance practice. The creative output is video documentation of an exploration of domestic performance.

The aim of this supporting statement is to engage with and solidify our methodological approaches, our critical frameworks and our making strategies for the practical outcome and how these could be understood through and reflected by, each other.

Although this supporting statement, for the most part makes use of a traditional academic discourse there are junctures where ‘our’ is utilised. In this instances the ‘our’ refers to James Harper and Teri Bailie, between whom this practice as research project is being carried out.

This project seeks to undertake a Practice as Research (PaR) methodology as articulated by Robin Nelson. Nelson defines PaR in Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances as a ‘research project in which [an arts] practice is a key method of inquiry and where […]a practice […] is submitted as substantial evidence of a research inquiry.’ (Nelson, 2013:8-9) Nelson explains that PaR projects must demonstrate ‘practical knowledge which can primarily be demonstrated in practice.’ (Nelson, 2013:9)  

In Research Methods in Theatre and Performance, Baz Kershaw offers his views stating ‘PaR in performing arts pursues hybrid enquiries combining creative doing with reflexive being’ (Kershaw , 2011: 64) Due to the combination of creative doing and reflexive being ‘PaR is primarily method focused’ (Kershaw, 2011: 64) A key focal point of PaR is ‘the use of practical creative process as research methods (and methodologies) in their own right’ (Kershaw, 2011: 64) with this focus on the process being a method ‘Par engages specific aspects of theatre and performance as innovative process’ (Kershaw, 2011: 64) these combinations of process focused research offers performance PaR projects particular use in Universities and HE institutes.

Nelson’s epistemological model for PaR offers an outline of a multi-mode, dialogical and dynamic approach, offering at the centre of the model an arts praxis. Nelson defines praxis as ‘theory imbricated in practice.’ (Nelson, 2013:30) This praxis is constructed from three different types of knowing which Nelson terms as ‘Know-How’ ‘Know-What’ and ‘ Know-That’ (Nelson,2013:37) ‘Know-How’ is sometimes termed as ‘procedural  knowledge’ (Nelson, 2013:40) and is gained incrementally through a process of doing, for example, dance techniques or a set of actions which amount to the completion of a complex task. However Nelson utilises Schon’s example of knowing-in action to further unravel the complexities of tacit knowledge,

  • There are actions, recognitions and judgements which we know how to carry out spontaneously; we do not have to think about them.
  • We are often unaware of having learned to do these things; we simply find ourselves doing them.
  • In some cases, we were once aware of the understandings which were subsequently internalised in our feeling for the stuff of action. In other cases, we may never have been aware of them. In both cases, however, we are usually unable to describe the knowing which our action reveals. (Schon in Nelson, 2013: 42)

Nelson recognises that ‘performative-knowledge’ might only reside in the doing-thinking and that more might be done to make this tacit knowledge more explicit.

Nelson’s ‘know-what’ although not considered an established mode of knowing, it explains the process of gleaning insight ‘through an informed reflexivity about the process of making and it’s modes of knowing.’ (Nelson, 2013:44) Nelson recognises and encourages practitioner-researchers to ‘step outside […]the praxis to monitor and engage with the research inquiry and its articulation.’ (Nelson,2013:44) Nelson suggests the best way to achieve self-reflexivity during a making process is through the use of documentation, e.g notebooks and video recording as this allows the practitioner-researcher to ‘gradually identify what is distinctive about a given practice and the substantial new insights it yields.’ (Nelson, 2013:44)

Nelson describes ‘know-that’ as ‘the equivalent of traditional ‘academic knowledge’ articulated in words and numbers […] drawn from reading of all kinds[…]’ (Nelson,2013:45) This final piece of the model, when interlinked with the previous aspects of the model, marks ‘a dialogic inter-play’ between the different forms of knowing. (Nelson,2013:45)

Nelson’s rejection of the binary opposition established between the mind-body in traditional, scientific models of research allows ‘dynamically interrelated modes of knowing or knowledge’ (Nelson,2013:47) to be mobilized through PaR, aiming to bring out ‘ an academic research context what constitutes substantial new insights.’ (Nelson, 2013:47)

Our collaborative methodology which has been developed in existing post-graduate study is theoretically under-pinned by the PhD research of Joanne Whalley and Lee Miller. The project was the first completely collaborative PhD in the arts. The thesis is comprised of a written element and a practical element, neither aspect claims to ‘give a totalising account of accrued and reverberating knowledges.’(Whalley and Miller, 2003:5) Instead both elements are ‘in dialogue with one another, with knowledge being developed in the interstices in the same manner that is generated between Whalley and Miller.’ (Whalley and Miller, 2003:5) Whalley and Miller employ the theories of Deleuze and Guatarri, paying particular attention to the concepts of ‘two-fold thought’ and the ‘rhizome’, concepts explored in A Thousand Plateaus, in order to explain the collaborative manner of their work.

Whalley and Miller note that Deleuze-Guattarian thought removes itself from modes of hierarchical knowledge production. Deleuze and Guattari liken the dominant thought process within Western Philosophy systems to that of the tree:

[a]rborescent systems are hierarchical systems with centre of significance and subjectification, central automa like organised memories. In the corresponding models, an element only receives information from a higher unit, and only receives a subjective affection along pre established paths 

                                                          (Deleuze and Guattari, 1988: 16)

In order to resist the hegemonic response of binary logic, Deleuze and Guattari generated a system of thought that allows all knowledge and ideas to connect to one another. Deleuze and Guattari termed this a ‘rhizome’. A rhizome is defined in A Thousand Plateaus as ‘a subterranean stem[…] [b]ulbs and tubers are rhizomes.’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004:7) Utilising this definition , Deleuze and Guattari recognise that within a rhizomatic model of thought ‘any part of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be.’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004:7) The rhizomatic approach resists binary logic, instead favouring what Deleuze and Guattari term ‘the principle of multiplicity.’ (Deleuze and Guattari,2004:8) Deleuze and Guattari posit that ‘a multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature.’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004: 9)

Whalley and Miller use Deleuze and Guatarri’s concept of ‘rhizome’ to connect examples from Partly Cloudy, Chance of Rain, the practical element of Whalley and Miller’s thesis, with the praxis of other collaborative practitioners. Thus mapping out creative practices on to ‘the Deleuze and Guattari conceptual framework and extending the thesis from intuitive thinking to a conceptual thinking.’ (Whalley and Miller, 2004: 137) Whalley and Miller discuss the dual knowledge at play in the performance work of Marina Abramovic and Ulay.

Abramovic talks of a ‘third energy’ that was created, independent of herself or Ulay, during their collaborative time together. Meanwhile Charles Green, in Doubled: Five Collaborations, an article for Cabinet Magazine 2004,  writes about this ‘elusive extra identity’ (Green, 2004:unpaginated) that artists involved in sustained collaboration experience. He terms this extra identity as ‘the double’. The double is described as ‘a phantom, superimposed over and exceeding individual artists.’ (Green, 2004: unpaginated) The double is the ‘third energy’ or ‘rest energy’ that Abramovic and Ulay describe and that Whalley and Miller were exploring. An independent energy that is given by and takes from both artists within the collaboration. Green highlights that the double allows for a model of artistic collaboration whereby the ‘parts of the relationship merge to form something else, in which the whole is more than the sum of the parts.’ (Green, 2004: unpaginated). The double is both the process and the product of a sustained collaboration.

Whalley and Miller’s review of  Imponderability (1977), an hour long performance in which a naked Abramovic and Ulay ran across the performance space, crashing into one and other, highlights that the work is reflecting ‘the knowledge process [being] physically articulated […] from Abramovic to Ulay and back again. (Whalley and Miller, 2004: 138)

According to Whalley and Miller, the moment the bodies meet opens up the ‘n-folds’  or ‘the third thing’ and allows the ideas to ‘become independent’ and ‘ able to engage in different shifts and variations.’ (Whalley and Miller, 2004:138) The concept of ‘n-folds’ stems from Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of  ‘two fold thought’.

Charles. J. Stivale writes about ‘two-fold thought’ in The Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guatarrri: Intersections and Animations. He describes it as ‘thinking, reflecting accomplished between “two” Indviduals, yet something more than mere duality.’ (Stivale, 1998:1) Stivale goes onto explain that the “two” of ‘two-fold thought’ actually goes on to produce ‘n-folds’ and that the ‘result of this collaboration has been to produce myriad intricate “folds”’ (Stivale, 1998: xi).

Similar to the concept of ‘n-folds’ and the multiplicity and complexity produced by the intricate overlapping of subject matters and artists alike, Deleuze and Guatarri introduced the concept of Plateaus. Brian Massumi describes plateaus in A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia saying ‘Deleuze recommends that you read Capitalism and Schizophrenia as you would listen to a record. You don’t approach a record as a closed book that you have to take or leave.’ (Massumi, 1992:7)  he continues:

For Deleuze and Guattari, a plateau is reached when circumstances combine to bring an activity to a pitch of intensity that is not automatically dissipated in climax leading to a state of rest. The heightening of energies is sustained for long enough to leave as kind of afterimage of its dynamism that can be reactivated or injected into other activities , creating a fabric of intensive states between which any number of connecting routes could be made

                                                                                                           (Massumi, 1991:7)

As this project is methodologically underpinned by Whalley and Miller’s collaborative methods, which calls for all aspects of any collaborative project to be held between multiple sites of articulation, whether that is the two bodies of the artists, sites of dissemination for the knowledge insights or creative outputs. The knowledge insights generated are always produced and held in a state of flux. The knowledge can never belong to either Harper or Bailie but instead belong to both Harper and Bailie in any given moment. The fluxal dynamics at play in this project can be mapped onto a post-structuralist critical framework.

Roger Jones, writer on philosopher.org describes post-structuralism as ‘the theoretical formulations of the post-modern condition.’ (Jones, 2016: unpaginated) In order to understand post-structuralism, it is important to first unpack post-modernism and modernism.

Modernism is described by Whalley and Miller, in their lecture Post-modernism(s) Post-structuralism(s), as a term to describe certain trends in art, writing, criticism and philosophy. Modernism is based on the idea of ‘loss, something gone that needs to be mourned and a fragmented view of human subjectivity.’ (Whalley and Miller, 2015: unpaginated) however, post-modernism ‘does not lament […] fragmentation, the temporary or incoherent, but rather celebrates this.’ (Whalley and Miller, 2015:unpaginated).

In Ihab Hassan’s essay The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature, he describes a table that explores modernism and postmodernism. Hassan posits if purpose’ is the modernism then ‘play’ is the postmodernism.

Art object/finished work—> process/ performance/happening

creation/totalization—> decreation/deconstruction”

Hassan’ s examples highlights the resistance of a modernist either/or approach and instead embraces a postmodern both-and approach.

Postmodernism in performance is constructed from the following components. Intertextuality; ‘meaning is not transferred from writer to reader but instead mediated through, or, filtered by ‘codes’ ‘ (Whalley and Miller, 2015: unpaginated). Knowingness that acknowledges the audience and gives a metaphorical “wink” to the reader. Postmodern performance is polysemic and hybrid it bears several meanings and can be several things at once.

Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein developed the duck-rabbit thesis in his 1968 Philosophical Investigations. The duck-rabbit thesis is a single line drawing that on the left shows the face of a duck but on the right shows the face of a rabbit. Wittgenstein writes, ‘ I contemplate a face, and then suddenly notice its likeness to another. I see that  it has not changed; and yet I see it differently. I call this “noticing an aspect”’ (Wittgenstein: 1968:193) Once the observer has noticed the face of both the duck and the rabbit, the drawing ceases to be either duck or rabbit but becomes a duck-rabbit hybrid, as the observer can never “unsee” the other.

In their lecture Postmodernism(s) Poststructuralism(s), Whalley and Miller summarise poststructuralism key points thus:

Poststructuralism is marked by a rejection of totalising, essentialist, foundationalist concepts. So rejection of [;] a totalising concept puts all phenomena under one explanatory concept (eg. it’s the will of God). [A]n essentialist concept suggests that there is a reality which exists independent of, beneath or beyond, language and ideology – that there is such a thing as ‘the feminine’, for instance, or ‘truth’ or ‘beauty’. [A] foundationalist concept suggests that signifying systems are stable and unproblematic representations of human experience.

        (Whalley and Miller: 2015, unpaginated)

In Of Grammatology, Jacques Derrida remarks that all meaning is textual and intertextual: there is no ‘outside of the text’ (Derrida, 1998: 158). Inside this text Derrida suggests that everything we know is constructed through signs and governed by the rules of discourse of the specific subject area of the text.  Roland Barthes explains the shift from ‘work’ to ‘text’ in his essay The Death of the Author.  Barthes says:

[w]e know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the message of the author-god) but a multidimensional space in which a variety of meanings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is the tissue of quotations drawn from innumerable centres of culture.

                                                                                                   (Barthes, 1977: 146)

Barthes proposes that the three main shifts  from ‘work’ to ‘text’ occur in the areas of ‘authorship’, in the compositional principles in making the work and the ‘reception’ of the art works by audience/spectators-readers. Barthes proposes that while ‘work’ is created by an individual artist, that is seen as ‘author-god’ with a great message to communicate, ‘text’ can be created collectively, or a single artist re-shuffling fragments of pre-existing works or the authorship could be called into question entirely. The compositional principles of ‘work’ produce an organically unified construct, in which each strand is integral to the whole, yielding a singular meaning that means, or represents something.  Finally, the reception of the artworks by audiences/spectators-readers of ‘work’ aims toward ‘closure’ and the passive spectator receives the ‘message’. ‘Work’ has the tendency to centre subjectivity. However, ‘text’ invites play and openness, while the active reader negotiates meanings and pleasures. ‘Text’ has a tendency to dislocate and de-centre subjectivity. Barthes concludes that ‘the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author.’ (Barthes, 1977: 148)

The creative output which this statement supports has been constructed with both methodologies at play and paying attention to the chosen poststructuralist framework.