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REPEATING SILENCE

REPEATING SILENCE

COMPANION CURATOR > David Cross

RESPONDENT > Jondi Keane

MORE > www.christopherbraddock.com

Braddock stands stationary, with eyes closed, slowly turning his head from side to side.

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For Repeating Silence, Chris Braddock carries out four one-hour public performances in and around Melbourne’s CBD. For each performance, Braddock stands stationary, with eyes closed, slowly turning his head from side to side as if surveying the ‘scene’. The gesture of closing his eyes accentuates Braddock’s stationary silence but also troubles one’s expectations of public mobility and visibility. This gesture is the simple but profound key to appreciating these performances, and operates in different ways for the public and performer. With eyes closed, the body of the performer is transformed into an object for the scrutiny of passers-by; they come close, stare and photograph, disturbing what would normally be a subtle, spatial zone of privacy. For the performer, such a lack of visibility increases other sensibilities including sound. Accordingly, a hierarchy of the ear over the eye suggests a phenomenology of acoustic space.

These performances punctuated the Performing Mobilities ASSEMBLY symposium by live video feed. This relay between live performance and live video projection introduces another public audience, who witness both the solitude of the performing figure as if ‘from above’ and a dramatised close-up experience of the performer’s face as it slowly turns from side to side. Through this close-up cinematic view, the passivity of the face remains intensely active. It is not a simple antithesis of action but, rather, reveals discreet and incremental levels of mobility. As a kind of face-to-face encounter, Repeating Silence endeavours to explore a radical passivity of sensibilities beyond vision, mobility and touch.

Watch the Repeating Silence ASSEMBLY symposium performances online.

Mark Hansen, Feed Forward: On the Future of 21st Century Media, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2015.
Thomas Carl Wall, Radical Passivity: Levinas, Blanchot, Agamben, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 1999.

  • Repeating Silence, 2015. Photography: Zihan Loo.

  • Repeating Silence, 2015. Photography: Zihan Loo.

  • Repeating Silence, 2015. Photography: Mick Douglas.

  • Repeating Silence, 2015. Photography: Mick Douglas.

  • Repeating Silence, 2015.

S (H)   IFT  

Respondent > Jondi Keane

As a performer sifts through that which enters a shifting membrane of a public performance, the public sphere can be made to flicker and multiply the number of thresholds that cradle presence, intensifying the inter- and intra-actions laid bare. The public, of course, can hold steady to their intended course, pause to consume that which is offered by a performance or choose to participate in the coursing anticipation that flows through the veins of an emerging event such as Chris Braddock’s work, Repeating Silence.

The vulnerability that emerges from Braddock’s careful placements of technology is modulated by the specific constitution of the performance membrane. That is to say, the way each iteration of this particular performance is constructed – the camera pole armature, the live feed to another location or screen within view, the selection of the spot around which the circulation and flow affect the tempo and porosity of the public event.

The pace and the scale of the performance images distributed through a live feed on the armature or to nearby screens and tablets, are not wildly out of sync or size with human scale. The speed is just slowed and the scale is neither huge nor microscopic. The technology in Repeating Silence momentarily conjoins interior space with the not-yet-collective space bursting the flickering bubbles of attention and inattention, interest and care, impatience and eagerness to learn. The technology nuances the movement of one sphere into another in opposition to a spectacle of sheer size or speed.

The silt of encounters, as a function of Braddock’s sifting and shifting from live action to mediated event, present an opportunity to enhance the connection of the passers-by to each other and to the material environment, inviting infinitesimal adjustments of sensory engagement and attenuating the rush to judgement. Repeating Silence petitions persons, again and again, to behave in different ways – subtle enough to shift something, strong enough to sift the affected from the affecting.

The dynamic spatial and temporal flickering of this work turns the event into a point cloud. The atmosphere becomes hyper sensitive. Its animate qualities, in part, depend on the self-affecting system Braddock sets up through and with the technology. The feedback is designed to exceed itself, feeding outward – or ‘forward’ as Mark Hansen suggests – expanding the membrane of a constantly enfolding/unfolding shared event.

The technology prompts the performer. The life of the technology asserts itself in the radical passivity Braddock maintains by resisting the impulse to direct action or attention and instead welcoming all comers. The radicality of this approach shifts the encounter away from passivity as non-action by prioritising multi-sensory slowness over fleet-footed visuality.

The work is a peripatetic. The performer, the mediated spaces and amorphous attention of passers-by circle around a small slowly slower point in time and space. This system, gently held by the performer, is a bubble machine that with each breath and movement of the head, emits fragile spheres of collectivity that break on the hard and soft edges of the shape of passing awareness.

Mark Hansen, Feed Forward: On the Future of 21st Century Media, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2015.
Thomas Carl Wall, Radical Passivity: Levinas, Blanchot, Agamben, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 1999.


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