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talk | theme: Research Experiments

Relationally responsive, dialogically structured understandings

Two texts by John Shotter were used in this practice: James, Dewey, and Mead: on what must come before all our inquiries and Wittgenstein and his Philosophy of First-Time Events. Four THIRD members were asked to read one text and another four to read the second. The participants were put in pairs so that each person had read a different article. The four pairs were asked to speak through the texts, while engaging in a thirty-minute dialogue, knowing that they had each read a different text. The term through was used so that participants did not feel they had to speak about the texts, which is at the core of Shotter’s argument. As the essays focus on ‘what comes before all inquiries’ and ‘first-time events’, the participants were given an opportunity to embody the situatedness that Shotter brings our attention to.
The conversations were video recorded on Zoom. Each person also audio recorded their side of the conversation. A group video and audio composite were fabricated out of these dialogues.

About the video: Unfinished dialogical responses
This video artifact is a collection of the four dialogues combined into one. In each conversation, the main speakers were removed. What remained were the parts when the zoom recording function switches from the speaker to the listener. The main feeling when watching the video is that of absence and absurdity, as the topic-less dialogue unfolds. The authentic, relationally responsive expressions capture your attention in their sincerity. As the listeners attend to the line of thought that their partner is expressing, their everyday utterances reveal what is being said.

About the audio: Entangled Thoughts/Entangled Texts
In this audio artifact, the eight recordings of one-sided dialogues were cut and rearranged together. All speech is taken out of context, and throughout the entire track the proceeding speech is never from the original conversation partner. One tactic that was used to arrange the fake conversation was to sense the mental imagery that was being evoked through the speakers’ words. These cuttings were then arranged in a sequence so the imagined lines that were pictured brought the foreign statements into proximity.
In these two projects, my PhD question, ‘how can movement be a method to research lines?,’ finds extreme breadth. What are the qualities of a line of text, a line of thought, and are these the same qualities in a line of sound? Through these practices, listening as a line was also discovered as a proposition to consider. In editing, the felt sense of imagined lines was used to bring movement to the dramaturgy and compositional choices. The reading, creating and perceiving practices could also be said to create a diffractive experience— to break apart in different directions. Quoting Haraway: “Diffraction is a mapping of interference, not of replication, reflection, or reproduction. A diffraction pattern does not map where differences appear, but rather maps where the effects of difference appear” (1992, 300). These works propose using interference as a strategy to bring distant and multimodal lines into proximity whereby new effects through entangled reading, listening, and speaking are produced.

Mike O'Connor is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He works at the intersection of cognitive science and movement. His artistic work utilises aspects of human perception as performative tools.

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Mike O’Connor