The Thing and the body

… or the difference between entanglement and entrapment.

It starts with a blue lit up mesh ball, first just sitting there, then softly animated through the movement of a breathing body. This thing seems to be even livelier than the laying figure of the dancer below it. Everything is black, the floor, the surrounding and confining curtains, the dancer’s dress, and also the space due to the almost overall dimmed down light, except this self-lit moving ball, and a focusing spot on the figure. Behind both, in the shape of a square field – again blue – loops of wire or clothes line are laid out forming a square field. In front of it the shining blue ball, not solid in its structure, but fragile with cut out forms, hard to tell from distance which material is used here.

Luo Yuebing, “The Mesh Work”, SoDA Works 2016

In this performance lightning and light is part of the play and so the turning off the lights marks the beginning. When the light turns on again we see the stretched out body, face turned away, in front of the blue wire, i.e. mesh field. The ball with its fragile spherical form is placed on the belly. Slightly moving with each breath, which manifests rather the mesh ball as animated than the person. This literally moving and breath(ing)taking scene works not by any sudden rupture, but subtly hints that things might be different than they appear in our established consciousness.

Luo Yuebing, “The Mesh Work”, SoDA Works 2016
As initial scene this sequence sets out the understanding we will experience in watching Luo Yuebing’s work. A well planned body / thing encounter as the leaflet points out, where ‘choreography is considered “as a space of abstraction and process of intensity […] an exploration of planes, edges, and openings contained inside” a concurrence “between a human body and a thing body”.

Luo Yuebing, “The Mesh Work”, SoDA Works 2016
time the light turns on we see the figure standing and now seeking to get entangled with the curly field of loops. Interestingly in this first attempt it looks for moments like it would be not too easy to get into real intertwinement, which means to avoid that the bodily collected loops of wire not just stick as a surface or solely to one side of the figure. The dancer nevertheless works herself into the field, being part of it, having the wire like an ornament draped around her body. But though as it is an ever changing clutter of string it becomes part of her or she of it, which displays in its indistinguishability an ambiguous beauty. She, the dancing body, starts to turn ever quicker around her own axis, now becoming the mesh’s turning point, writing rotational forms from the patterns of movement into the space. Clearly animated by the dancer’s movement both forms, the body and the thing, appearing now as deeply interweaved.

Luo Yuebing, “The Mesh Work”, SoDA Works 2016
Stopping then, tumbling, she gets to the floor again, rolling back and forth. The wires now clump around the feet. In a form of somersaulting backwards the dancer seems to try to get rid of it, but obviously no result as much as she tries to throw her feet and with them the mesh package away from the upper body. Later when finally separated she will use her whole body to flatten the wire loops. Battering with the lower back, rhythmical hopping on the back, stomping with the feet, every movement seems to have just one aim – to stomp the wire flat. And thus it becomes another thing, an object. Almost a 2 dimensional painting she tries to make it stand on its thinnest side. Then performing a sort of duet with or more likely for the thing moves in front and aside of it. In a last action the dancer rolls up the thing, the mesh object again and wears it as a huge headgear. It is not clear who dominates whom here. Does the thing direct the moves, or is she the one who owns and attributes to it the thing like a precious crown.

Luo Yuebing, “The Mesh Work”, SoDA Works 2016
This parts ends with some more light on and off scenes. In any case both are interactively influenced. The entire scene we had seen so far were a crossing of borders of agency between the dancer and the thing several times, I would like to say even intra-action. It could have ended here.

After a few short moments of pausing though a second part followed. The dancer now came out in a short blue body, the string on a new hand-held device orderly rolled up. Starting to unroll it seemed like an introduction a making of. But it turned out to be not too different from the first part, just attempting in different steps to get into entanglement again. Now often wearing the hand-held device as a shifting crown, though it remains an action she does not an intra-action (Barad). Rather entrapment than entanglement. Lesson enough that what was performed in the first half is not that easily reached and replayed. Still nice to watch, though certainly the applause would have been as intense as the first part was, would the second half would have been shortened.

Luo Yuebing, “The Mesh Work”, SoDA Works 2016

This text appears to be a critique, but is none, as what Luo Yuebing tried and achieved to convey in the first part of her work made it already a singular piece. One that is very much up to date, and actually looming into current debate by articulating things so difficult to be expressed in a unique anyway. Hopefully there will be more.

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One thought on “The Thing and the body

  1. For the determination of movement seems always to come about from the moving body’s being propelled—to depend on the kind of impulse it gets from what sets it in motion, or again, on the nature and shape of this latter thing’s surface.

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