Drawn into DrawnOnward

Concepted by Jeremy Wade DrawnOnward is a collaboration with the choreographer Juli Reinartz, musician and co-performer Marc Lohr, writer John-Erik Jordan, costume designer Grzegorz Matlag and dramaturge Maximilian Haas.

Jeremy Wade - DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin
Jeremy Wade – DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin

Or according to the acceleration from the leaflet:
DrawnOnward is a possibility engine, an everything you need kind of machine. Drawn-
Onward is a process of un- and re-becoming what we are.
DrawnOnward is NOW on crack, a stroboscopic disco in the excess of code. DrawnOnward
is two assholes in a room. And sexually explicit.
DrawnOnward is a corporate corporal coping mechanism for the things that did not
change in the future.
DrawnOnward is an operator and a test subject.
DrawnOnward expresses a shared passion for innovation, design, aesthetics, and utility
in an environment that inspires people to discover.
DrawnOnward is a limitless borderless, a happy convergence of ideas. DrawnOnward is
drawn onward, it is what it does.
DrawnOnward is a palindrome, no matter from which angle you approach it – it works!

In short, DrawnOnward is a Sci-Fi corporate world making piece and/or machine that integrates and absorbs the body and turns it into a techno-living system. Well, that seems ambiguous and cuts short the complexity the works claims to have.

Jeremy Wade - DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin image: Dorothea Tuch
Jeremy Wade – DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin
image: Dorothea Tuch

That the piece’s overall intentions not always became apparent without explanation can be drawn from a comment made during the after-show talk by an audience member, which interpreted the beginning scene that might be described as a gay lick and sing to what fucks you, as a moment of torture. On my way out I overhear the same group from which the question came in saying good-bye to each other with “.. luckily we don’t need a sexmachine” and wonder what makes them so sure to believe that they are not already part of one. Though certainly not in a way that literal as they took it.

Science fiction, Wade says, works as an emancipatory diagnostic tool. Citing William Gibson with “Science fiction is a tool with which to pre-program the present” Wade decided to use the lens of the future to channel impossible outer worldly situations that can be a catalyst for the hypersensitive, technical supernatural and super charged energetic exchange that already occurs between us1 . This quite complex description emerged during the development process – but is it in the piece?

Let’s continue the abstract route and recall the piece’s description as a ‘corporate coping corporeal mechanism’, a corporatization of life that draws onward and on and on in a fictive ongoing now. The flow is marked by the big circle on the dance floor with gradient colors from blue to green and vice versa. An endless self-fulfilling symbol as is the palindrome of the title – openness or influences from the outside are not considered to be relevant here.

Jeremy Wade - DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin
Jeremy Wade – DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin

DrawnOnward oscillates between Tradeshow, Therapy and Ritual and if this order seems to be just turned around, it is the way it is treated here: a tradeshow scenario that becomes therapeutic, and thus turns into a corporate ritual of the ever-present future-now. The design is cool and antiseptic – anticipating the future as sterile. We desire through reminiscences of the past hipness as the latest trend, though it should come without traces of use or real affective impact. Same here: stimulation to an excess, but things have to be kept under control. The piece replays our own ‘manufacturedness’ and how we manufacture ourselves continuously by being drawn further onward.

In a culture of steady self-optimization we became/are consumers of our self. Like the children of helicoptered education adjust to permanent observation we abandon our desires to the mechanics of machines – or shall I say the algorithm of the implemented ad that tells me what I want to buy next. Thinking has shifted towards the forecast of ‘knowing what will be’ without realizing that the algorithm, which seems to predict the future, is based on current calculations of mainstream ‘swarm intelligence’.

Resistance, as Wade points out in the public discussion, is eaten up by the habits of adjustment. What is left is the desire to at least get something out of it, some feeling of flow within the flows:
Somewhere in the so called developed world, in a future not so far from now: The global problems that kept us busy for centuries weren’t solved nor escalated dramatically. Basically, everything is still the way it was at the beginning of the 21st century, but much faster, harder, more intense, much much MORE. The human ego is not the master in its own house anymore, but a nexus of flows: flows of data, commodities, and consciousness, viruses, crises, euphoria. Everything is in everything and everything is fucking close. The flows traverse the human being on every level: body, feelings, thoughts and will. It is a material thing, an animal, a child, a machine and its operator at the same time, but in a way it is not really, not fully human anymore.2

Jeremy Wade - DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin
Jeremy Wade – DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin

That the world has no longer an outside did not come to us as a philosophical insight, but as a seduction with the promise of further control and options. Connections can be made anyway – and all will be easy. It is the premise that you stay in your comfort zone no matter what – stay safe and clean. Somebody cares – so give up thinking. But you will need stimuli and intensities that make you forget the nice pleasures of unknown experiences your brain and body experienced throughout very early learning. Best, if these corporeal ones can be substituted with corporate exchange patterns. Ways that help you to fit in better – improve yourself, fulfill your desires. Tradeshow performances become therapeutic add-ons in ritually induced corporate frameworks!

So what did we see: some dance, props, a speech, a lot of physical play – more performance than dance. A smart piece, the movement in parts closer to Butoh’s originally seemingly uncontrolled and unaccepted moves, than to contemporary postmodern dance. Especially moments of unrestrained but hyper-controlled motion recalls the resistance of Butoh through the body, when it was invented in times when resistance was not an option, especially in a society as conform as the Japanese. The resistance Wade described as no longer being possible, nevertheless became apparent in the strained excess of the body – the inarticulate, or/and the not totally readability of a gender-hacked body.

Jeremy Wade - DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin - public talk
Jeremy Wade – DrawnOnward, HAU Berlin – public talk

The piece had some undeniable specific moves, which did not come from a ‘the body knows’ attitude, but from a resistance of the body, from the moment of learning. In fact all learning is resistance and we desire it. Desire thus is not just pleasure. Desire falls into pleasure when it hits its grounds – to address the not-yet-known. Indeed we like the challenge, but we are increasingly trapped within our own, not inventions, but notions, that define how to look at these. The world we contrived is still seen as objective and not as intra-actively conceived.

DrawnOnward is not a bad experience, in fact be ready to be draw in. It is even better when understood as an example that not much might change overall, if we do not manage to understand the circle we create and crack it open.
DrawnOnward is the massage of our nervous system in the earlier years of the 21sth century in which not that many technological machines are needed as the affects are created by the effects of the system.
DrawnOnward ends with a dance on/in shaving creme almost similar to Melati Suryodarmo’s great butter dance from the year 2000 .
The ground is still slippery!

1) Wade, Jeremy at Tanzlabor 21: http://tanzlabor21.de/en/projects/internat-summer-lab-2015.html
2) http://english.hebbel-am-ufer.de/programme/schedule/jeremy-wade-drawnonward/
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