Possible Bodies

About Possible Bodies

Possible Bodies is a collaborative research on the very concrete and at the same time complex and fictional entities that "bodies" are, asking what matter-cultural conditions of possibility render them present. This becomes especially urgent in contact with the technologies, infrastructures and techniques of 3D tracking, modelling and scanning. Intersecting issues of race, gender, class, species, age and ability resurface through these performative as well as representational practices. The research is concerned with genealogies of how bodies and technologies have been mutually constituted. It interrogates corpo-realities and their orientation through parametric interfaces and looks at anatomies that are computationally constrained by the requirements of mesh-modelling. It invites the generation of concepts and experimental renderings, wild combinations and digital and non-digital prototypes for different embodiments.

Inventorying as a method

The two year inquiry operates along an inventory that contains a mutant set of artworks, scripts, documentation, manuals, guided tours, interfaces, vocabulary, performances, software-demos, tools, physical objects, animations, mathematical concepts, games, renderings, etc. This travelling collection is a shared context to pay attention to the dimensional, notational, scalable and organisational apparatuses that make so-called-bodies appear and co-relate.

Possible Bodies settled for inventorying as a method to give an account of the structural formations conditioning the cultural artefacts that capture flesh and co-compose 3D polygon “bodies”. It is an attempt to think along the agency of these items, hopefully widening their possibilities beyond pre-designed ways of doing and being. Rather than rarefying the items, as would happen through the practice of collecting, or pinning them down, as in the practice of cartography, or rigidly stabilizing them, as might be a risk through the practice of archiving, inventorying is about continuous updates, and keeping items available.

Among all of the apparatuses of the Modern Project that operate on present world orderings, naming and account-giving, the inventory is chosen with a critical awareness of its etymological origin. It is remarkably colonial and persistently productivist: inventory is linked to invention, and thereby to discovery and acquisition. The culture of inventorying remits us to the material origins of commercial and industrial capitalism, and connects it with the contemporary database-based cosmology of techno-colonialist turbo-capitalism. Even so, feminist technoscience points out the potentials embedded in modern apparatuses of designation and occupation, and how they can be put to use once carefully unfolded to allow for active problematisation and situated understanding. In the case of Possible Bodies, this means to keep questioning how "bodies" co-habit and co-compose with technological and scientific practices, historically sustained through diverse axes of inequality. The project is motivated by an urgent need for research practices that go through axes of diversity.

The temporalities of inventorying are discontinuous and its ways of being, pragmatic: it is about finding ways to collectively specify and take stock, to prepare for eventual replacement, repair or replenishment. Inventorying is a hands-on practice of readying for further use, not one of account-giving for the sake of legitimation. As an "onto-epistemological" practice, it is as much about recognizing what is there (ontological) as it is about trying to understand (epistemological). Additionally, with its roots in the culture of manufacture, inventorying counts on cultural reflection as much as on action. This is how as a method it links to what we call 'disobedient action-research', it invokes and invites further remediations that can go from the academic paper to the readme, from the narrative to the diagrammatic, from tool mis-use to interface re-design and from bug-report to the dancefloor. It provides us with inscriptions, de-scriptions and re-interpretations of a vocabulary under development.


Possible Bodies iterates its research during Rotations in different contexts.
Pictures: http://possiblebodies.constantvzw.org/album


Researchers involved include software performers, raw artists, somatic developers, sensitive activists and disobedient academics. They activate the inventory through guided tours, on-tool-discussions and experimental publications.

Initiated by Jara Rocha [jara at riseup dot net] and Femke Snelting [snelting at collectifs dot net]

With contributions by Sophie Boiron, Ona Bros, Emile Devereaux, Sergi García, Xavier Gorgol, Gijs de Heij, Pierre Huyghebaert, Maike Klein, Sara Lafuente, Phil Langley, Maximilian Lehner, Nicolas Maleve, Jorge Luis Marzo, Mar Medina, Simone C. Niquille, Tirso Orive, Paula Pin, Helen Pritchard, David Ricart, Sina Seifee, Sophie-Charlotte Thieroff, Kym Ward, Peter Westenberg, Wendy Van Wynsberghe, François Zajéga, Adva Zakai and many other companions.


Possible Bodies is made possible with support from Akademie Schloss Solitude, Constant, Bau Design College of Barcelona, Hangar and the Flemish Government.