Landscape of Liveness ; Re/telling Plant-human Stories through Live Performance

Emily Welther

2019-2021

This research, that I carried out as part of the Master of Arts Program at Home of Performance Practices, ArtEZ, the Netherlands, looks at ways to re/imagine plant and human bodies, and asks: what stories emerge through the re/enmeshment of natureculture, and do these stories bring me physically, metaphorically, and/or virtually closer to the vegetal world? The urgency to find solutions for current and future climate crises, and to de-centralize the human from its self-appropriating position within the natural world propels this research to zoom-in and amplify micro-moments of human-plant part-nership. Imagining the plant, the human, technology, and language as larger bodies consisting of micro-moving and intra-acting fragments, this research reveals the unknown to be irremovable parts-of them. Methods used were practice-based research, multimodal storytelling, digital experiments, reflection, and literature review which informed the trajectory of the research, and led to both the Phenomenological Inventory and the digital documentations of my encounters with plants. Culminating in a multimodal, live performance, the re/telling of stories begins in the moment of performing and re/membering, and continues as a changed and re/discovered artistic practice. Major findings revealed that the human is inextricably entangled in an environment it curates and operates within, and that attempts at amplifying the periphery are themselves not enough to change its positioning. To further explore such concepts of de-anthropocentrism and re/entangling, the amplification of peripheral bodies/technologies/languages needs to happen not only by focusing on their parts but by approaching their unknowns.

Supervisor: Daz Disley

External Mentor: Sol Rezza

Keywords: posthumanism, storytelling, dance, de-anthropocentrism, technology

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