full name / name of organization:
[call for papers for parallax 46]
Installing the Body
The act of installing something requires not only a particular something to be installed and a particular place for this something to be installed, but also a purpose. What is installed is assumed to be a specialized and ultimately useful apparatus or machinery. We want to think about how the body functions as this kind of apparatus in divergent disciplines. Over the past years, the body has been established with a certain prestige in a variety of fields of theoretical, artistic and other inquiry. Now that the body has been set into a ‘ready-for-use’ position, installed as it were, this issue of parallax reflects back on the job. ‘Installing the Body’ approaches these questions from the intersection of three fields of enquiry and their overlapping as well as diverging investments into the apparatus of the body: dance studies, installation art and cinema studies. In different ways and to different ends, in each of these fields the body has been successfully installed as a
central theoretical issue that brings into view the relational aspects of experience and meaning making.
Within Dance Studies, the focus on the moving body informs this field’s current trajectory to further flesh out of the dynamic character of meaning making. The dancing body as active agent performs theories of embodiment through practices of ‘know how’ and ‘how to.’ The relationships between these bodies dancing and the bodies watching them create sites where desire installs present, though moving and moved, bodies. For a long time the pleasurable – and therefore dangerous – commingling of the dancer-audience body gave reason for dance to be rejected as a serious and meaningful practice, much less a field of study, whereas today, dance is more and more considered a relevant way of reading, or even of thinking.
In installation art, the interaction between work and viewer, which results in a specificity of place, time and situation, points to the performativity of meaning making. Experiencing installation art involves installing ones body, being installed as body and being installed in a particular way. Seducing, teasing or confronting its audience by means of works that turn this audience into the performer of the work, installation art (implicitly or explicitly) proposes theories of the body that happen here and now through the body. With a booming market for installation art, how might we understand the seeming desire to experience this kind of ‘instant’ embodification?
Starting with the cinema of attraction, Cinema Studies has long investigated the body’s desire for moving-images. Founded as a discipline to take account of cinematic aesthetics and the production of aesthetic experience, the body is designated as the place where images are collected, stored and worked out; where experience and meaning making are performed. The body in Cinema Studies is also a projection screen for desire, often articulated as the passive recipient of ideology. The dominant psychoanalytical, semiotic and phenomenological traditions in this field each try to explain the body’s desire to relate to media and make meaning. The recent role of affect in cinema seems to unseat earlier bodily issues relating to the subject. With a decisive turn to the ‘body genres’ of weepies, horror and pornography, for instance, what is at stake in changing the focus from desire to affect?
Using meta-discursive perspectives, then, and a fine-toothed comb, ‘Installing the Body’ seeks out the histories of the contemporary body and aims to critically understand the multiple desires that have given it a form and proper contents. What micro-theories are embedded in the ways in which the body has been installed? What about the relationship between the body and what seems to be its twin concept: desire? What desires inform ‘all this fuss about the body’ (Caroline Bynum 1995)? What kind of bodies are the subject and object of this desire? How does the fuzziness of the term ‘the body’ affect employing a body that is composed of movement, thinking and sensation, in comparison to theories that install bodies of language, subjectivity and identity? Which kinds of bodies are installed? For instance, are they gendered, queer, disabled, migrant, ethnic, pornified, transgender, grotesque, hybrid, viral, sick, drugged, excessive, trained or dysfunctional bodies? And what is
it that makes these fields currently so sexy, so desirous?
We welcome contributions in these directions as well as perverse routes to ‘Installing the Body.’ Theorists and practitioners are invited to submit scholarly writing or artistic forms.
Submission deadline: 15 July 2007
Potential contributors are encouraged to contact the guest-editors:
Eliza Steinbock and Maaike Bleeker
ASCA (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis)
University of Amsterdam
Oude Turfmarkt 141
1012 GC Amsterdam, NL
Drs. Eliza Steinbock
ASCA : OudeTurfmarkt 141 : 1012 GC Amsterdam : NL : +31 020 525 3878
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Received on Mon Mar 05 2007 - 15:57:29 EST