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Sunday March 17 | Session 13:15 - 14:45 (10 min)
University Theatre Building | University Theatre

We propose to explore the form of audio essay for philosophy, by embodying multimodal approaches to John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing. Cage's lecture exemplifies multiple aspects of a musical piece, and was written to be performed and listened to, rather than for silent reading. We focus on a radiophonic, bilingual presentation as a reference to audio papers, its interplay with spatial choreography, and creative strategies of Social Sculpture.

Our chosen modalities aim to unearth philosophical components of the text, rather than offer a theatrical experience. The simultaneous audio presentation of Ernst Jandl's congenial German translation in stretto with the English original, explores the spoken word as both musical sound and a carrier of semantic information. The physical disappearance of the body in radio play will be intermediated by symbolic choreography.

A further intervening capacity of this format hints at Cage’s notion of response-ability juxtaposed with that of Shelley Sacks'. Opposed to a (Kantian) responsibility which is thrust upon us from the outside – by the state, family or institution, the ability-to-respond, Sacks holds, truly enables us to explore and choose a certain course of action. Awareness of such response-ability can institute intervention.

Embodying the poles of art and imparting knowledge, text and its sound, space and its exploration, in short: lecture and performance, we ask: what modalities of media, bilingualism, audio-visual and corporeal spatiality, expand the scope of response-ability and intervention for both the audience and the performers?
Janhavi Dhamankar is an Odissi (Indian classical dance) performer and teacher, trained under the rigorous Guru-shishya tradition for over 20 years. She completed her Bachelors and Masters in Philosophy from Pune University and her MPhil from K. U. Leuven, Belgium. Building on the ‘empathic performer’ from her MPhil, she will now explore the role of empathy in integration of minorities through her PhD at the Vienna University. Having presented at many international conferences and been awarded residencies in India and Oxford, she explored the ‘Philosophical underpinnings of Social Sculpture’ under Shelley Sacks, Head of Social Sculpture Research Unit, Oxford. Her recent publications include “Empathy-in-Practice: A Method for Artistic Research?” and a collectively authored piece “What is Refugee” Performance Philosophy, special edition.
Martin Rumori is an artist-researcher in the field of sound installations, performance, and auditory environments. In his explorations, he frequently consults field recordings, semi- narrative speech, and anecdotal residues of everyday life. He studied musicology, computer science and philosophy at Humboldt and Technical Universities of Berlin and received his PhD at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria, with a work on the aesthetics and technology of binaural audio. Martin works at the Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics Graz and lives in the region of Styria, Austria.

Janhavi and Martin first collaborated to stage John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing during their residency in arts-based philosophy at BASE, Kodaikanal, India and will perform on 12th October in “Exploring Formats, Enriching Practice. A research event” in Graz.
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