A Soft Focus for Breathing Machines – Jay Tan

Me and my closest far away friend were messaging about who sees who. We wonder about witch-hunty-ness; cutting to expose, separate and name the non-conforming. Hoist it up above the surface into known form. Let’s see everything clearly. The ciliary muscles contract and the lens fattens. And what about those who “turn a blind eye”, or “look through their fingers”? Things could happen so long as we don’t articulate too much in the open, don’t pull focus. Here things are underneath, still violent but maybe brooding with possibility.

I had a moment at the weekend where I consciously gave up on the muscles in my eyes. I was too tired to focus. My body said let go of all this identifying of forms and outlines. I came home and listened to blurry videos of eye surgery. Video. Eyes. Surgery. All technologies? All tissues? I wonder about the divide/relation between apparatuses and substances. The blade/the lens. That which forms, that which is formed. pre-formed, per-formed. I wonder about the surgery before European doctors sensationalised their “repairing of the defects of nature” into theatre.

Bhanu Kapil helps by proposing performance as a diasporic technology. We move. Relations shift. Yuk Hui opens the door to the (mostly) boys club. Come and see… Bergson is worried about the Mechanisation of Spirit, Lyotard is making destabilising shows full of computers in darkened rooms. Are we hypnotised by the “the immaterials”? How did art fair in all of this? Who relates to landscape painting as technology? How, and when, to focus my body as a lens? Maybe more than the visible light spectrum can be focused? Maybe more is held than seen?

Texts and art works by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Giorgio Agamben, Legacy Russell, Chen Qiufan, Yuk Hui, Jean-François Lyotard, Bhanu Kapil, N.K. Jemisin.

A Soft Focus for Breathing Machines takes place on January 17, 24, 31;
and February 7, 14, 28, from 17:00-18:30 at Rietveld/Sandberg Library

Places are limited and, in principle, your participation concerns the entire series. Sign up by sending an email before Jan. 16, to: studiumgenerale@rietveldacademie.nl