AccueilSyncope in Performing and Visual Arts
Publié le vendredi 04 décembre 2015 par Céline Guilleux
Presence and absence being at the core of the state of syncope, it is not surprising to see the neo-platonician philosopher Marsilio Ficino including it among the seven states of vacatio in Book XIII of the Theologia Platonica along with sleep, melancholia, temperance, solitude, stupor and even chastity, among the seven possibilities for the soul to escape the materiality of the body. This book project is precisely the third part of the vacatio series in the collection Via Artis after two books on sleep in visual arts. Ficino’s categories are used as impulses and here what we are particularly interested in is not the spiritual aspect of syncope but precisely its materiality, how does syncope manifest or does not manifest itself in performing and visual arts? What is the intention of the artist when representing the syncope? Is it to show who experiences it or what is seen when there is figuration? Or is it above all, to make those who do not experience it feel what is experienced in a state of syncope?
Organised with the CRAE (Centre de Recherche en Arts et Esthétique) - Université de Picardie-jules Vernes
In her seminal book, Syncope - The philosophy of Rapture, Catherine Clément defines syncope as an escape from “an unbearable collection of belongings to”, from “an enormous flesh made up of constraints and customs, of conventional gestures and paths taken.” (1994: 251) Syncope evokes groundlessness and Clément mentions leaps of love and faith. There are also the leap of the dancer/performer as outburst or escape, the militant’s leap of faith and countless leaps across blanks or void in architecture/painting/sculpture.
This book project seeks to elicit a collective philosophical and creative response to Clément’s book in the form of a dialogue between art historians, theorists of theatre, and performance scholars around the spectacle of syncope.
There are several types or degrees of syncope: swoon, faint, collapse, torpor, blackout, ecstasy perhaps - as many vacant states most of the times triggered by an intense sensation or emotion, implying an abandon but not necessarily in the sense of a defection or a surrendering.
In medical terms, syncope is generally described as a brief cognitive trouble caused by a sudden drop in blood oxygen supply in the brain with a slowing down and sometimes interruption of the pulse. Most of the times, the return to consciousness is spontaneous, fast and complete. However, the syncope or fainting is something most people fear as the induced fall bears an intimate relationship to death, an abandon of the body that has become inert. The syncope seems to be a first airlock, an uncanny ‘living image” of death so to speak, a death feint. A brief vacation of consciousness and an uncontrolled body hit by the natural law of gravity and yet as stressed by Clément, “the syncope will always make a fuss: it cannot be discreet, it demands to be seen […] syncope is spectacle, it shows off, exposes itself, smashes, breaks, interrupts the daily course of other people's lives, people at whom the raptus is aimed.” (1994: 251)
“I disappear, I am no longer there, I am elsewhere — where, you will not know.” (1994: 251) Clément keeps questioning “Where I have gone?” a black-out feeling, the impression to pass out towards an unknown and indeterminate elsewhere of which remains no trace in mind, no memory. The eyes roll over, looking inwards, reaching a cataleptic state sometimes called rapture or ecstasy. It is impossible to precisely know what happens. Time out, contretemps or ellipsis?
Like a contretemps, in music the syncope is perceived by the listener as a displacement of an expected accent or emphasis. It is a rhythmic element in conflict with the tempo, the measure. In his book On Representation, Louis Marin remarks that the syncope is a music repetitively interrupted then pursued, hence the creation of a rhythm, a repetition that would be “the simultaneous intensification of presence and absence as in the dazzling Autumn Rhythm by Jackson Pollock, or in another fashion, the rigorous formal and colourful geometry of Gran Cairo by Frank Stella in the series Colored Squares” (2002: 371)
Presence and absence being at the core of the state of syncope, it is not surprising to see the neo-platonician philosopher Marsilio Ficino including it among the seven states of vacatio in Book XIII of the Theologia Platonica along with sleep, melancholia, temperance, solitude, stupor and even chastity, among the seven possibilities for the soul to escape the materiality of the body. This book project is precisely the third part of the vacatio series in the collection Via Artis after two books on sleep in visual arts. Ficino’s categories are used as impulses and here what we are particularly interested in is not the spiritual aspect of syncope but precisely its materiality, how does syncope manifest or does not manifest itself in performing and visual arts? What is the intention of the artist when representing the syncope? Is it to show who experiences it or what is seen when there is figuration? Or is it above all, to make those who do not experience it feel what is experienced in a state of syncope? In any case, Marin’s conclusion will need to be questioned:
“Ruptures, interruptions, and syncopes are by no means individual accidents that would strike a given representation in a random or contingent way so as to compromise, at some particular moment, on one particular point, its substantive continuity, its syntactic coherence, the regularity of its system, the logic of its organization, even the “rhetorical” articulation of its discourse. Ruptures, interruptions, and syncopes have to do on the contrary, with the very conditions of possibility, of effectiveness, of legitimacy, of representation: they play on their own aporetic features, which are the very features of the general regime of mimesis to which representation belongs.” (2002, 386-387) However, in light of Clément’s book, it is legitimate to ask whether the “blanks of representation” to use Marin’s expression could resist the opacification process and “semiotic, pathetic, and aesthetic effects that will turn out to be historically and socially invested by all present and future intellectual, religious, political and social powers”? In this respect it will be interesting to look at how spectacles of syncope might displace or dissolve the self and thus deploy strategies of resistance against norms through disappearance or renouncement.
We aim to bring together a number of co-researchers with a mutual interest in exploring how this notion of syncope might be thought through performing and visual arts in relation to performance-philosophy, sociology and politics.
Some possible themes to explore (but not only) are:
- Syncope within or versus representation
- Syncope as interruption, beat, rhythm
- Memory lapse, non-consciousness
- Syncope as death feint or rehearsal
- States of grace/gravity, groundlessness, vertigo
- Body’s exhaustion, failure or refusal
- Syncope as political protest
- Other possible topics could include:
- Ecstasy in contemporary arts
- Erasing processes in performance
- Dazzlement in visual arts
- Mystical raptures
- Film editing and syncope
Clément, Catherine ( 1994) Syncope, The philosophy of Rapture, University of Minnesota Press
Marin, Louis ( 2002) On Representation trans. Catherine Porter, Stanford University Press
Details of submission
- Chapters will be between 4,000-6,000 words length in either English or French
- (We also welcome shorter creative texts)
- Please send us an abstract in the first instance that does not exceed one side of A4.
Deadline for submission of the abstract: Friday 16 October 2015
- Please include a title for the chapter, your name and institutional affiliation (if you have one)
Anticipated chapter deadline: 1st March 2016
This book project goes hand in hand with an exhibition on the notion of Syncope we are curating for the FRAC Picardie (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain) in March 2016 and contributors will be invited to participate to a symposium for the launch of the exhibition.
- Véronique Dalmasso (enseignant-chercheur à l’Université de Picardie Jules Verne)
- Stéphanie Smalbeen (Maître de conférence associée à l’Université de Picardie Jules Verne)
- Stéphaniie Jamet (professeur d’Histoire de l’art contemporain Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Franche-Comté),
- Frédéric Dalmasso (professeur à Universté de Worcester, Angleterre)
- Carl Lavery.(professeur à l’Université de Glasgow, Ecosse)
- mardi 01 mars 2016
- jeudi 15 octobre 2015
- syncope, performance, visual art, political protest, ecstasy
- Véronique Dalmasso
courriel : dalmasso [dot] veronique [at] wanadoo [dot] fr
Source de l'information
- Véronique Damasso
courriel : dalmasso [dot] veronique [at] wanadoo [dot] fr
Pour citer cette annonce
« Syncope in Performing and Visual Arts », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le vendredi 04 décembre 2015, http://calenda.org/349418