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Thumb and Index Mode : Performance, Digital Art, and the ORLAN Network

Title data

Ernst, Wolf-Dieter:
Thumb and Index Mode : Performance, Digital Art, and the ORLAN Network.
In: Foellmer, Susanne ; Schmidt, Katharina ; Schmitz, Cornelia (ed.): Transfer in the Performing Arts : Moving Between Media. - Abingdon : Routledge , 2018 . - (Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies )
ISBN 978-1138574014

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Abstract in another language

Orlan is one of the few body artists who continued working with her body in digital media alongside live performances and traditional exhibition projects, whereas other fellow body artist oft he 70ies and 80ies, such as Valie Export, Carolee Schneeman, or Sophie Calle, decide to move their bodies from the centre of their work and often turned to new media instead. As Eiblmayr remarked, a certain gradual disappearance of the female artists’ body was and still is at stake, once the artist has turned forty.
Yet, Orlan’s body of work shows various strategies to remain visible. Interestingly, she seems to circumvent the traditional order of the embodied event, it’s historicity, and its remnants. Drawing from a Duchampian notion of indexical art, one can pursue the idea to think of an Orlan-network rather than to try to approach it with post hoc reasoning.
One of the interesting aspects of the Orlan-network is, that the spectator navigates guided by the artist’s indexical finger, if I may say so, which, of course, marks a difference to a common understanding of the digital world, which would rather prefer the thumb as its pivotal point.
Here, the question arises, what does digital mean in this case and how does it relate to the event and its remnants in Orlan’s network? As ‚digital’ etymologically refers to ‚digitus’ = finger, number, one can distinguish at least two opposing ideas, a more interactive thumb style, which seems to grant access to the remnants hidden origin and an auctorial index style. In referring to ‘thumb culture’, Orlan constantly triggers the viewers desire and encourages them to emotionally engage with what is depicted and what it refers to. Her intensive use of catholic mythology and its metaphors such as the relic and the Saint adds to this understanding of the digital as a way to something else. Yet, what remains disturbing is the index finger, or, more bluntly, the fact, that Orlan in performing herself becomes her own index. The way the index finger would intervene, leads the viewer to moments of delay or, to the contrary, to precipitousness, and suspends the referential order.
In this chapter, Wolf-Dieter Ernst proposes to better understand this dynamics of access and withdrawal within Orlan’s (digital) network in reading especially the late hybrid portraits against the backdrop of earlier radical performance art.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a book
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Performance Kunst; Medien; Digitalisierung
Subject classification: Theater- und Medienwissenschaft
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Professor Theatre and Media Studies > Professor Theatre and Media Studies - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Ernst
Profile Fields
Profile Fields > Emerging Fields
Profile Fields > Emerging Fields > Cultural Encounters and Transcultural Processes
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Professor Theatre and Media Studies
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 700 Arts and recreation > 700 Arts
Date Deposited: 23 May 2018 12:49
Last Modified: 23 May 2018 12:49