Giorgio Agamben’s “Notes on Gesture”

June’s Reading: “Notes on Gesture” by Giorgio Agamben
Thursday June 16 2011
VIVO Media Arts (1965 Main Street), Vancouver BC
7pm Salon Free
Facilitated by Alex Muir

For June, we will be looking at “Notes on Gesture” by Giorgio Agamben. This particular text is available in english via two different publications, Infancy and History (1993) and Means Without End (2000). It was originally written in 1992. It begins, “[by] the end of the nineteenth century, the Western bourgeoisie had definitely lost its gestures.” This idea of was taken up by our former programmer Kika Thorne, and used as a curatorial frame or theme for many of the works we showed at VIVO during her time at the centre. The text takes in the physiological studies of human motion done by Gilles de la Tourette, in parallel with early cinematographic experiments being conducted by Marey and Muybridge. It speaks of the cinematic project within the context of recuperation and loss. It attempts to make distinctions between gesture and image, as well as ethics and aesthetics, with respect to their relationship to the cinema. The text is useful to us as a means to potentially discuss previous works exhibited at VIVO, as well as a means to approach the idea of “old forms”–the return to the antiquated that forms the thematic for the upcoming edition of the Signal + Noise Media Arts Festival.

Please note that the date of this event is different than that which is posted in our seasonal pamphlet.

Giorgio Agamben is an Italian philosopher/cultural theorist. He has written extensively on sovereignty, biopolitics, the state of emergency, monasticism, language and history. He draws from a diverse set of figures and histories including Aristotle, the Roman Empire, Robert Walser, St. Francis, Walter Benjamin, Aby Warburg, and medieval Gypsies.

No Reading After the Internet is a monthly opportunity to gather and read a text aloud in hopes that it might provoke theoretical illumination on particular art works, or the broader scape within which such work exists. This program departs from Cineworks’ Thought on Film series, conceived by Cheyanne Turions. Whilst still very interested in cinema, the focus of this incarnation is softened to accommodate the more broad (and ever expanding) scope of media art.

The idea of a reading group isn’t new. No Reading nonetheless poses itself as an experimental learning and discussion space. Simply put, we are suspicious of our own reading abilities, and the extent to which our readings are conversant with one another. No Reading means to offer a slow space within which to retrace oursteps in the hopes of discovering individual and collective ways through the realms of language and interpretation. The strategieswe have at our disposal are twofold: through the yoking of our discussion to a text; and inducing conversation, where possible, between text and specific, local, contemporaneous art discussions and happenings.

Participation in No Reading After the Internet is free and open to everyone, regardless of his or her familiarity with a text or its author. Texts will be handed out at the gathering. No pre-reading or research is required. Those who wish to access the text in advance can contact traffic@videoout.ca


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