In the 2010 edition of the annual http://www.edge.org World Question Center, the question for leading intellectuals around the world was “How has the internet changed the way you think?” In his response, the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist spoke for many when he expressed an increasing desire for non-mediated experience, or what he called the New Live.
People today want to get up from behind their screens and be a part of the world around them, in the same space as well as the same time. The virtual chases the real and avatars approach, but despite the spectacle people ultimately become wary, untrusting and judgmental.
If we were truly to wish for a non-mediated experience we would need to go back in time and gradually remove interfaces until we eventually arrived at a moment before words, directly aware and conscious, alone. A moment like a melody or a dance.
When a car alarm goes off we both hear. When the sun rises we both see. Turning towards each other to make love we touch, smell, hear, see: we share something together with nothing in between but a little space. We don’t have to say anything. No word, no image, no recording brings us together, but just a gesture, a movement.
I believe this is where dance began, in something primordial and unconditioned. A time where instances continuously fall away, where we sense an unexpected future without anticipating it. If we really want non-mediated experiences, we need to go back to this.
In a virtual world of tags and links which continually send people off on a chase for context and meaning, I’d like to propose returning to a non-verbal multi–interpretable form, a new live dance, where the perceptions we share are what bind us. No going anywhere else in search of something other than what is right there in front of us – make of it what we will.
In this form perceptual is primary; conceptual is secondary, just as it occurs in real time. We could be given the freedom to contemplate in an open and individual way what we see before us. There is the potential for mutual respect. The dancer is not telling us something; the audience is not just receiving something – we are sharing instead.
The task for those who participate in the performance event becomes one not of linking but of refreshing. This is done by removing the opportunities for interpretation, pulling audience and dancer closer to the unexpected event which is unfolding. No one needs to ‘get’ anything anymore.
The ever-increasing monumental connectivity of the internet represents a new paradigm in human communication – two billion souls peering into a cloud, busy sharing links and flattening the world and everything in it. But who needs these links anyway? Who needs flat? We need volume. We need to hit the refresh button instead – over and over. We don’t need yet another story, another link, another excuse to go somewhere else. We need the opportunity to create our own version of nowness, just by means of our own perceptions.
We need the new live dance.