Bojana Kunst "The Last Territory" [excerpt]

Posted by Rhizome | Mon May 5th 1997 1 a.m.

by Bojana Kunst*

[This article was first published in Frakcija (N.4) April 97 (Zagreb,

Translated by Frakcija

Couple of years ago, at the sculptural biennial in Australia, the guru
of contemporary performance-art, Stelarc, presented his sculpture named
Stomach Piece. He slowly lowered the micro-camera through his mouth and
esophagus and it transmitted the precise picture of the content and the
surface of his pulsating esophagus onto the big screens. Camera
travelled through his body, lighting up the landscape of his stomach: it
turned his body inside out. The picture that we saw on the screen was
reflection of the view of the miniature sculptural structure, as Stelarc
called his micro-camera. The inside of his body offered itself to the
artefact which transmitted the picture of the internal spaces of his
body with a help of video technology. So, there are no secrets left any
more. However, the secrets were actually unveiled long before that.


We could say that there are less and less secrets about the body or that
those few remaining ones are becoming increasingly shy (by this I don't
mean the current ethical debate provoked by the latest successes of
genetics technology). The body has become obsolete (Stelarc) or invalid
(Virilio). In order to be able to tele-communicate - like any other
information - or to be transported by tele-kinesis, the body needs a
great number of helping devices and still remains more similar to the
body of an invalid. Movements, or order of movements, have become
superfluous, even the voice is no longer sufficiently effective; the
latest technology shows that our body is slowly transforming into a
linear code, which we shall soon be able to read by scanner. So, in
order to be able to act globally, to act at a distance, we are gradually
equipping ourselves with devices which are totally crippling our
mobility. "Everything is happening in such a way that there is no need
to move or to go somewhere" (Paul Virilio). And because the movements
has ceased to be effective, because it ceased to be dependable, because
its function has been reduced to a minimum, we can oserve the gradual
establishing of distrust toward its models also within the contemporary
artistic genres.

In a number of performances it is already possible to start by computer
a preprogrammed motional or choreographic connections, like for
instance, in Stelarc's performance piece Obsolete Body in which his body
moves according to commands of our "mouse" and performs the
preprogrammed choreographic segment, regardeless of physical laws of
space (we can start him into motion from another part of the world). The
current stage in internet technological development makes the invalidity
of the body even more zable, since in spite of its many fascinating
possibilities, the modern internet technology is still unable to produce
effectively moving pictures, so that it seems as if the pictures on the
net are, in fact, reflecting our own immobility in front of the monitor.
The situation is rather paradoxical: wandering through the net gives us
a feeling of motion (surfing), athough we are constantly surrounded by
immobile or very awkwardly moving pictures (moving in their "frozen"
state) and although we ourselves are totally immobile.


Since for quite a long time already the body is devoid of any mystery, a
beautiful body exists as marketable goods with its market value and its
place in the hierarchy. That's, of course, the preparatory area for some
of contemporary net projects and performances, structured as continuous
revealing of the obscure beneath the surface of a beautiful body. The
obscure is expressed in the endless plastic surgery which the feminist
performance-artist Orlaine is conducting on her face in Paris, the
obscure relationships between ideal bodies are being revealed in the web
art project Bodies INCorporated, which allowes the visitor to the
project to construct their own body, which later act through proportions
and relations of the preprogrammed corporation. On one side we have
criticisms of the general idea of this corporations, and on the other
side, the exhibition of virtual bodies that can be wiped out with one
move of the hand, should they break the rules or if we wish to have a
new body.



1. Barbara Maria Stafford: Body Criticism, Imaging the Unseen in
Enlightenment Art and Medicine, MIT Press, 1993.
2. Paul Virilo: Liberation Speed, SOU, Ljubljana, 1996.
5. Mark Tribe: Postmodern Time, RHIZOME INTERNET.
6. Jean Baudrillard: Corps muscules, Les Saisons de la danse, 1994.

* atricles by Bojana Kunst:
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