'Being Made': performing disciplining bodies
Publish Date: Tuesday, 28 April 2020
'Being Made': performing disciplining bodies

Ruth Myers - School of Screen and Visual ArtsRuth is an artist and tutor at Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill. She has a Masters in Art and Design from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and is currently working on her doctoral thesis in the School of Art and Design at AUT. Her PhD project explores encountering the disciplining and gesturing body as shared performance in early film and contemporary video art. Ruth is particularly focused on the temporalities of display where the present tense, and modes of interruption, situates participants in forms of shared performance.

Ruth presented her paper ‘here and now, this and that, Exploring Temporalities of Display and Interruption in Encounters with the Filmic Body’ at ACTION & DELAY, a symposium on temporality in performance and media arts hosted by AUT in May, 2014. ‘My paper takes as its setting the early films produced for the Kinetoscope, an individual peephole viewing device developed in the late nineteenth century, which, while only prevalent for a couple of years, provides some of the first encounters with the filmic moving body’ says Ruth.

‘These technologies of early film were developed to record movement, and are inherently tied up with a physiological analysis of the moving body, contributing to normative work of measuring, regulating and controlling moving bodies by revealing unseen processes of bodily movement and providing the ability to replay and scrutinise. These very short films of body performances, such as dancing, acrobatics, and sneezing are not about stories, but rather, focus on the momentary acts of display, which are governed by a temporality of immediacy film theorist Tom Gunning describes as “here it is, look at it”,’. Ruth explains this present tense is fraught with disruption and dislocation, a complex exchange between viewers and screen bodies that is affected by the viewing apparatus and the social space it occurs within, ‘addressing and implicating the viewer’.

In her research Ruth is experimenting with present tense temporality and forms of interruption to explore a reflexive encountering of gesturing disciplining body as predicament both in the temporality of body display, as a continual ‘happening now’, and in the viewer encounter, navigating viewing apparatuses that require to be contended with, to hold, to bend over, to share. Filmic body performances of labouring gesturing body as disciplining efforts, remain in an insistent momentary act. These modes, Ruth suggests, promote and situate forms of embodied viewing and require the attention of the individual viewer within a social setting. In this, Ruth is interested in exploring encountering the disciplining and gesturing body as shared performance, in which we contribute, and are implicated in. Ruth’s artistic practice will continue to explore these concepts as her doctoral study develops in the future.