The working session gave rise to budding collaboration. We discussed and tested forms of interdisciplinary cooperation. In doing so, we identified three key areas in which to investigate the relationship between gesture, its perceptibility and its representation. It became clear that:
1. the description, and thus verbalization, of gestures is a particularly relevant field for us.
2. we will focus on various forms of techno-medial representation, particularly in video and recognition processes.
3. with regards to gesture analysis, the moment in which a gesture is experienced is essential. Accordingly, gestures have a double existence: they are bound to something akin to an “inner” space of experience, as well as an “outer” space of perception and representation (seen from the viewpoint of the gesticulator).
For two days, we worked with Elke Utermöhlen and Martin Slawig of blackholefactory on the subject of the “im/perceptible gesture”. Building on Eugenio Barba’s theatrical-anthropological approach, we inquired into the transition from everyday gestures to their symbolic forms – as handed down in different theatrical forms.
We subjected the relationship of the formalized gesture and its individual execution to critical consideration. The theoretical discussion was accompanied by practical experiments: Laurie Young used her artistic method of “giffing” to break down typical gestures of media use into granular movement steps. In the group session, we performed these steps as a distributed sequence of movements and described our individual experience with the respective sequence.
The use of Kinect’s depth-finding camera shifts the question of the formalization of gestures, insofar as they are represented as a temporal succession of point clouds, but they can also be accessed for mathematical operations in the form of matrix sequences. As regards im/perceptible gestures, we have begun to relate motion sequences to the specific spatial data and formations that they generate via digital measurement and signal processing. These representations enable us to analyze spatial and temporal details as well as to compare them to other forms of presentation. The focus on chains of translation and operation suggests another tool, Leap Motion.
We will continue to study hand gestures and body gestures in relation to their technological transformations, both practically and thematically. Leroi-Gourhan’s model of the co-evolution of technique(s) and symbolic forms served as the basis for our initial theoretical discussions, as did Tomassello’s communication model.
We were once again faced with the issue of communication, control and gesture: how are gestures translated into words? How are descriptions of gestures and instructions on how to act implemented? What role do rhythm, emphasis and atmosphere play? This debate spills over into the topic of political gesture, dealing with the point of transition from individual to intersubjective constellations and addressing the relationship between experience, expression and communication.
The rhythm of movement in public space, minimal gestures of interaction and highly symbolic gestures in various protest movements are important phenomena within the scope of this topic. Timo Herbst’s filmed material and an experimental presentation at the ICG Dome of the Institute for Computer Graphics at the TU Braunschweig raise the question of how public spaces are generated, particularly via (minimal) gestural interaction, and how can they be observed and represented.
On the one hand, the relationship between movement, the media and the public should be questioned using differentiated concepts of the political sphere. On the other hand, it should be contextualized in a media-historical perspective. From the perspective of the political, it is always a matter of perspective and the possibility of expression, but also external ascription and self-exclusion (see, inter alia, Didier Eribon: Return to Reims. 2016). In the process of historical contextualization, it becomes clear which forms of representation and discursive spaces become stabilized and how. In addition, it is possible to discursively differentiate how phantasmagoric excesses and symbolic capital are transformed with the introduction and stabilization of technologies.
In closing, we presented our approaches, case studies and discussions to the public at the HBK Braunschweig in the form of an “open studio”, in which our consolidated interests and the case studies and constellations to be investigated became discernable.