Inspiring SMRN Meeting of April 2020
SMRN had an inspiring and warm meeting on April 30 with members joining including: Mansoor Behnam, Carol Bier, Delinda Collier, Siying Duan, Farshid Kazemi, Jessika Kenney, Somayeh khakshoor, Laura Marks, Minoo Moallem, Narjis Mirza, Katya Nosyreva, JR Osborn, Sheila Petty, Kalpana Subramanian, Yvan Tina.
Our member Yvan Tina is mostly interested in theatre and the notion of theatricality and how it is affected by the use of artificial life in performance art and installation. In this presentation, Yvan shared his new research, “Forging a third orality: exploring writing technologies in the African context,” acknowledging that the context of Africa is very complex due to its variety of traditions, art forms, ethnicities, languages, and beliefs and a history marked by successive foreign influences. Drawing from Walter J. Ong’s idea of “second orality” (oral culture mediated by technology, as in radio and TV), Yvan proposes a “third orality” that goes beyond audio and visual field. He looks to African artists who are exploring African systems of writing and using new media to reappropriate their cultures and arts. With this idea, Yvan investigates how the meeting between endogenous technologies and new media technology could contribute to the reinvention of language. Yvan’s inspiring presentation stimulated enthusiastic feedback and discussion. For example, traditional African medical practices could expand the bio-art performances that Yvan has researched.
The second part of the meeting was a warm and beautiful group conversation based on Khalvat, Practices of Self Isolation, on the suggestion of Narjis and Jessika. Narijis links our current self-isolated situation with the Persian idea of khalvat, which means that I distance myself from certain things (in Persian, كناره گيري kinara giry). The idea has many cultural, social, spiritual, and religious histories. During the conversation, Jessika led an exercise of Zoom sonic composition. In this exercise, the horizontal plane of the Zoom grid is taken as masaj, or sensation, and the vertical plane is conceived as mazami, or linguistic communication. Through these two connected planes, we vocalize our bodily sensation on the horizontal axis and our words on the vertical axis, and pass it on to other members. We hoped the exercise would connect us all in a living lattice, but through a strange quirk of Zoom it did not quite work out, though it was sweet to try. And then our members shared their thoughts and experiences of Khalvat and self-isolation.