Session 9

Presenters: Blake Johnston, Eric Lemmon

04:00pm: Blake Johnston rise: a metaperceptual design approach case study

This paper discusses the design and implementation of the kinetic sculpture Rise. The work is informed by a metaperceptual design approach which seeks to create artworks that use the perception of the audience as its artistic materials. These metaperceptual works provoke their audiences to direct their attention back upon themselves, inviting audiences to observe the nature of their perception and the subjectivity of their experience.

This paper discusses the creation, design approach, and refinement of a new metaperceptual artwork, Rise. Through the careful control of the rhythms and dynamics of four mechatronic units, Rise produces a ‘Risset rhythm’ – the auditory illusion of a rhythm that appears to accelerate in tempo indefinitely. There is a rich history of creative explorations of these illusory phenomena in sound art and music. Rise is unique in that its production is physical, which changes the ways in which the audience can engage and investigate the creation of the illusion, and in doing so, the veracity of their experience.

04:30pm: Eric C Lemmon Post-Politics and the Aesthetic Imagination Proposal Dissensus

Participatory art has come under criticism recently—notably by Claire Bishop in Artificial Hells—for its often-unintentional incorporation of neoliberal features that intersect with notions of post-politics. Indeed, participants ostensibly self-organize and connect within participatory works of art, and the local space in which participatory art is produced can be seen as encompassing a consensus-based political space that acts as a simulacrum of the Habermasian public sphere. The productive processes of participatory art can therefore be argued to be formally negotiated within this artist-constructed space through a politics of aesthetic preference (not to be confused with Rancière’s politics of aesthetics). However, the politics of aesthetic preference that shapes and organizes the production of a participatory artwork are complicated and deserve further scrutiny within the context of post-politics and critiques thereof that have followed in its wake.

With a focus on the time-based and WebRTC networked, participatory computer music work, Crowd in C by Sang Won Lee, I will draw from theories of refusal and Rancièrian dissensus and apply them to the formal and localized space of participatory music. There, I will show that the Rancièrian gesture is complicated by participants’ potential disruption, absconsion or non-participation—all of which have grave aesthetic consequences. On the one hand, interrupting a participatory musical work, breaking the codified rules of the participatory ‘happening’, and mangling or purposefully misinterpreting the intentions of the ‘creator’ fissures the common space and repositions political power away from the artist’s hegemony of the poietic process towards the assembled public actor(s). On the other hand, instead of inspiring the rupture necessary for a Rancièrian style of politics within participatory art, where common spaces and common concerns are contested, refusal hands local political power over to those who adhere to the common. In exceptional cases, though, mass refusal can also usurp the aesthetic, social, and ethical dimensions that ground participatory works—reflexing back away from an abdication of power towards a negation that collapses the post-political, participatory art space. Through the excavation of these moments within select participatory music, I will put post-political critique and cybernetic systems in conversation with the aesthetic consequences of rupture and refusal.