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THE DANCE(s) OF THE INDEXED PERSON(s) Helena Katz – UFBA and PUC-SP Resumo: A pergunta que Heidegger fazia em 1953 sobre a diferença entre a mão que escrevia e a que datilografava se renova na nossa prática atual de comunicação via ponta dos dedos-tela. Não somos mais cognitivamente os mesmos. O tipo de sociabilidade praticado nas redes sociais escorreu para a vida off-line e produziu um novo habitante: o sujeito indexado – um sujeito permanentemente público. Que dança ele faz? Ainda não sabemos identificá-la bem porque perdemos a capacidade de estar presentes ao que se apresenta. Estamos cegos para o acontecimento (BADIOU, 2005). A dança do sujeito indexado nasce das novas formas de subjetivação e relacionamento que hoje nos constituem. Chamando Ela Sem Eles, espetáculo realizado por Sheila Ribeiro (2012) realiza artisticamente este novo mundo. Palavras-chave: sujeito indexado, online/offline, hábitos cognitivos, Chamando Ela Sem Eles, acontecimento. Abstract: The question proposed by Heidegger in 1953 about the difference between the hand that writes and the hand that types comes again in our digital form of communication. We are not cognitively the same anymore. The kind of sociability practiced online slipped into the offline life producing a new type of person: the indexed citizen – one that is permanently public. What dance do they make? We cannot identify it yet because we have lost the ability to be present at what is presented. We are blind to the event (BADIOU, 2005). The dance of the indexed person emerges from the new forms of subjectivation and relationships that constitute us nowadays. Chamando Ela Sem Eles (2012), a show by Sheila Ribeiro, artistically builds this new world. Key words: indexed person, online/offline, cognitive habits, Chamando Ela Sem Eles, event.


“Dad, when you hug me, I think that I am an iPhone and you are the case” – Statement from Catu to her father, in 10/12/12 (@Neto).

The practical circumstances in which we live point towards an important transformation: we are now different types of people, with forms of sociability that we had not practiced yet. Predictably, we have already developed a proper language for this practice and, as it is known, every change in vocabulary has consequences. Since the subject is always a construction (and not the protagonist of an imaginable ‘human nature’), one is always a ‘subject of’ something. At the moment, the ‘something’ that has been constructing us as new subjects is the fact that on and offline lives are continually spilling into each other and creating situations that deserve our attention. These situations are the substantial changes that make us different from what we used to be. We attribute new meanings to words (friend, add, shoot etc), we invent verbs (to twit, to google etc). We specialise in performing at least two tasks simultaneously. Sprinkled by ever-increasing speed, we cannot stand the feeling of losing time. We must have our wishes fulfilled immediately. We delete whatever displeases us. Our impatience has increased (and what has decreased is our tolerance with the time it takes our machines to perform a commanded task). We spend so many hours communicating through screens that we have been invaded by the typical modes of behaviour of the virtual environment. We started to practice offline, in real life, the intolerance of the online world. Today, we are a group of spoiled adults who cannot help thinking critically about this new way of being.


If this is our new existing mode, its rising art is not immune to such transformations. Hence, it is worth thinking about the dance practiced by this other person that we are now – and that will be here referred to as ‘indexed person’1. To be a subject (individual), it is necessary perseverance. If the screens have become extensions of our bodies, if our perception is pierced by cognitive habits produced in the online life, we can update the question posed by Heidegger in 1953 about the difference between the hand that wrote and the hand that typed. The digit starts to take control of the situation. We are not cognitively the same, and our adaptive capacities point towards changes in communication, ethics, politics and culture. Evidently, art is part of this set of continuous transformations. Strained by technology, communication discourses promote new ways of living and irradiate a false conception of equality, as if everyone had access to the same system of possibilities, as if the condition of those many permanently connected could make an egalitarian democracy that inhibits the fiercely competitive offline world. Even if we have expected a solidary society, we have organised ourselves in a series of islands-of-the-self. We set up a society of selfauthorisation (each and every one authorises his and herself to speak, write, dance, teach, sing, act etc., according to his own will), and we must face what has been thus produced.

The world of the indexed persons 1

The indexed person has been produced during the many hours daily spent in front of screens. It is the new inhabitant of a world crossed by the technologies of contact and mobility, a person that has no ability to control information once it has been sent. This information may be used by the receivers in ways and with purposes that are unknown to the sender, who is permanently traceable, permanently public, with no right to privacy.


What are the dances of this type of world? What are the dances of the indexed persons? On 23rd October 2012, blogger and digital activist Bogomil Shopov, one of the presidents of the Pirate Party of Bulgaria, declared he had bought data (e-mail, full name and also the profile) of 1.1 million Facebook active users (divided in 12 Excel spread sheets) for US$5. (http://talkweb.eu/openweb/1819). It is still a prototype, but it is already the announcement of a time when equipment of the most varied functions is connected, transforming aloneness into a rare kind of spice. If we are what we eat, our waste can provide information about ourselves. Thus, an e-latrine equipped with sensors and reagents can transform each flush in material for the analysis of data related to diseases,

deficiencies,

diets

etc.,

grouping

users

in

population

segments with equal characteristics and setting statistics that will feed prophylactic programs. The

list

of

similar

facts

would

be

extensive

and

would

demonstrate what has become increasingly clear: the years to come will be dedicated to the cross examination of existing data. Therefore, it is important to reflect on our use of equipment that may register, search and combine information. The loss of our privacy is a fact well known, but to most of us the extent of this loss has not been clearly defined. Manuel Castells (2007) identifies a new means of social communication which he calls “mass self-communication”: ”it is selfgenerated in content, self-directed in emission, and self-selected in reception by many that communicate with many” (CASTELLS, 2007, p. 248). In the industrial society, communication was distributed from


one to many. In the connected society, it happens from many to many thanks to computer networks and the digital language shared by users interacting all over the world. A new way of being has been established and, along with the blessings of communication and mobility new technologies, new ways of power and control have emerged. Anyone who uses a mobile phone and computer lives in the crawler2 world and has lost what was known as privacy because the information they have once typed from their computer may have disappeared from their screen, but it continues to circulate without their authorisation or knowledge. Public and traceable beings develop processes of subjectivation which are proper to this situation and, quite possibly, ways of making art that do not ignore such conditions of existence. A piece of research commissioned by Time Warner has shown that the ‘native digitals’ (those who have never lived without internet and/or mobile phone) switch media 27 times by hour (D’ELIA, 2012). Such behaviour produces a cognitive habit that is likely to make it difficult for the practitioner of frequent switches to, for example, sit down and watch a performance (dance, play or movie) that is not composed by a quick sequence of short actions. Chamando Ela Sem Eles In the project Chamando Ela (“Calling Her”), Sheila Ribeiro works with João Milet Meirelles and Tiago Lima. In this performance the body exists as a happening in dance, fashion, architecture, consumption, advertising, communication, and culture. These images 2

Crawler is a generic name to any computer programme with the function of a spy who navigates the web and indexes whatever they find. It is a species of “robot” for searching information.


of a bodyhappening are as astonish as astonishment can be. Line organiser, Ebony Goddess, geopolitics at Pelourinho, dress-sea-natureculture, Guarani tribe, doll made of tar, graffiti, airport, Iemanjá festival, shopping centre, boat, pier… Compositions with unequal doses of four types of insistence: desire, illusion, fetish, fantasy; Salvador bouncing back to São Paulo bouncing back to Salvador bouncing back to you and me. We enter the theatre: Olido Gallery, downtown São Paulo City, 4th November 2012. This is the venue of the 5th Contemporary Dance Festival. We sit in a known familiar space, but it disappears. Chamando Ela Sem Eles establishes a strange transplace that keeps on increasing as long as you can stay in. It is impossible to cross it, for it does not exist as a path to be followed and it has dropped the orthogonal conventions of stage-proscenium-auditorium-walls-chairs. A few minutes are needed to recognise that we are on a flying carpet of the crawler world. And a few more to identify the experience of a happening, in Badiou’s sense (2005). This happening cannot be represented because it lacks an external referential to be mirrored. The happening, as it is singular and cannot be understood from knowledge originated by habit (BADIOU, 1995), is like a cut in the search for meaning logic; the happening exists only in the present. Chamando Ela Sem Eles, crossed by many media, elegantly entangles them, piercing one with another and revealing a type of mediation, a way of looking into the crawler world, a way of making art out of it. You identify one of its constructions, transform it in speech; another one emerges, and for this one you do not have a speech. It is a portfolio of potencies that are drained among themselves, leaving you aside and giving you one last chance: to live


the experience of a flanêur that wonders from an image (sonic, visual or both) to the next, accepting a succession of unique happenings. The chosen space is a seamless white studio, riding a Moebiusian circuit with high speed and undefined track which displaces spatiality. It spreads itself and curiously does not have an ending. It could continue to happen forever and in different ways. However, these are not rearrangements or remakes of anything it has already shown, for its situations are flashes-drafts-happenings that dismantle as soon as they are ready. This is an inset of digital thinking in analogic situation, producing a kind of freshness that cannot be identified yet. Words are lacking and intelligence abounds. On 29th April 1937, Virginia Wolf took part in the BBC series Words Fail Me: her speech was published in 1942 in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays.3 She stated that words are not separate entities, they belong one to another, and that of all things they are the freest, irresponsible and non-teachable. She said they can be captive in the alphabetic order of a dictionary, but they hate to be confined to one meaning, as they are of changing nature. Wolf also said that their very survival is due to the fact that they manage to have different meanings, from one to another. She finalises stating that probably there is not in her time a great poet, author or critic because all of them refuse to grant liberty to words and stick them to one useful meaning, the one which help us to catch the train, pass the exams… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8czs8v6PuI). Chamando Ela Sem Eles is a dance of indexed persons who belong to the crawler world. Add a pinch of Homer Simpson’s line:

3

Thanks to Wagner Schwartz for introducing me to the last recording of Virginia Wolf’s voice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8czs8v6PuI


"The fault is mine and I blame whoever I like". Remember it is a language itself, pictographically digital and filled with what we thought we already knew. The projections stop, but we are still in the Moebiusian circuit. With a little luck, something like “I need to continue over there” starts to appear. Bibliographic References: BADIOU, Alain. Being and Event, trad. Oliver Feltham, Londres: Continuum, 2005. BADIOU, Alain. Ética. Um ensaio sobre a consciência do mal. Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumará, 1995. CASTELLS, Manuel. Communication, power and counter-power in the network society, em International Journal of Communication 1 (2007), p.238-266. D’ELIA, Renata. Cara, cadê meu foco?, em Folhateen, 21/05/2012, p.E4, jornal Folha de S. Paulo. RADFAHRER, Luli. A privada pública, em Folha de São Paulo, 07-012013. WOLF, Virgínia. The Death of the Moth and Other Essays, 1942, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8czs8v6PuI


Chamando Ela - The Dance(s) Of The Indexed Person(s)