Rights of the articles on No Man’s Land are reserved to the original authors or media. No Man’s Land is authorized to reproduce and distribute the articles freely. Users may distribute the articles on No Man’s Land accordingly to the above terms of use, and shall mark the author, and provide a link to the article on No Man’s Land .
Please fill out your information to contact No Man’s Land .
The information you supply will only be used by No Man’s Land .

Subscribe No Man's Land
Please fill out your email to get the latest from No Man’s Land .
The information you supply will only be used by No Man’s Land .
Unsubscribe No Man’s Land
ISSUE 14 : Why Don’t People Move?
Postures Between 0 and 1: Comment on Mannet Villariba’s “Type: Zero”
0與1之間的身體姿態-談維拉里巴與李柏廷的〈TYPE: ZERO〉表演
May 13th, 2014Type: Performance
Author: Shih, Min-chieh Editor: Rikey Tenn
Quote From: 《藝外》no.56
Note: Surrounded by the echoing voice of Michio Kaku(加來道雄)'s speech about human's future, the forms of technology and performer's body kept shifting with each other. It was the projection of the future, and it immediately turned around to highlight his anxiety which came from being unable to describe our social structure. All that forced us to try to reflect this reality.
Mannet Villariba, "Type: Zero", collaborated with Lee, Po-Ting; photo courtesy of 蔡欣邑

“Type: Zero” is a collaborative work by Taiwanese artist Lee Bo-ting and Filipino artist Mannet Villariba who participates in the “Project Glocal.” This project seeks to bring artists from different cities together to create more possibilities for dialogue through their diverse backgrounds and contexts of creation. Instead of producing a grand narrative beyond national borders, this project aims at challenging the boundaries among different issues. Villariba employs the theory of macro-evolution developed by Japanese American scientist Michio Kaku as the context of his performance, namely “Type: Zero.” The theory identifies three types of civilization. The first is a “planetary civilization” that controls the energy of the whole planet. The second is a “stellar civilization” that controls the energy radiated from its own star. The third is a “galactic civilization” that utilizes the energy in its own galaxy. Humanity is currently in a state between type zero and the first type. Michio Kaku claims that there are two divergent attitudes in the transition from type zero to type one. The first is a pluralistic culture that emphasizes the boundlessness brought by technologies. The second is terrorism that underscores the reactions made by technologies. Villariba attempts to symbolize the borderless fluidity through specific objects and unusual body gesture, that is, combining his body with technological objects.

The whole performance is a series of interactive processes between the artist’s body and technological objects. Performing like an animal in face of a new environment, Villariba interacts with objects and experiences curiosity, trepidation, contact, conquest, control, recognition, purification, and thereby formulates technological objects with his body. An object is by no means something to be identified, but is created through its interaction with actants. According to Latour, objects and actants together weave the social network. At the beginning, Villariba treats common technological objects as ordinary “objects.” Then he makes us feel curious and astonished when we realize that these objects may lead us to a whole new world. We wonder to where we are taken and fear that our own purity may be compromised. In the conquering and accepting processes, we create new perceptive forms and observe a kind of perceptive power generated by technological objects.

In addition, the discomfort and awkwardness caused by the artist’s performance in which he uses gummed tape to wrap printed circuit boards (mainboard) around his head directly reveal a desire and anxiety for the relationship between technology and body perception. Perhaps the artist derives this idea from Marshall McLuhan’s concept of “the extensions of man.” That is, technologies not only determine the nature of times by transforming the environment, but also change people by shaping their particular perception. When the subject tries to observe its own perception through technologies as the interface, the situation resembles Villariba’s head covered with mainboards, namely a black box. In other words, “if technologies determine our perception, we can no longer observe the medium per se when we observe through the medium.” As a material assumption, the mainboards wrapped around the artist’s head can only veil this paradox temporarily.

At the turning point from type zero to type one, do we encounter the foregoing dilemma? Or, how do we deal with the invasion of homogeneity as the artist points out? Perhaps we can phrase this question in a different way. How is this presentation form or thinking position possible? In other words, how can we on the one hand imagine the situation of our body in the grand narrative and on the other hand explore our perception through observing others’ bodies?

Mannet Villariba, "Type: Zero", collaborated with Lee, Po-Ting; photo courtesy of 蔡欣邑

The newspapers and mainboards scattered on the floor symbolize the explosion of information in this performance, while the conveyor belt under the performer’s feet implies that we are forced to migrate ceaselessly in this era. Villariba’s performance demonstrates the process of evolution in which animal-like desire evolves into the desire for controlling information, and the interaction between body and media technology offers us perceptive experiences in the technological structure. Rather than inquiring the artist’s standpoint or fighting position from which he chooses this theoretical discourse, we should investigate how the artist “performs” the proposition in the art space. At first, the artist provides the performance with a “soundscape” background through a pre-recorded voice-over. The space contains two rooms. While the artist performs in the left-side room, the voice-over is broadcasted in both rooms by different loudspeakers. Besides, the wall between the two rooms creates surrounding and flowing sound effects. Such an arrangement not only corresponds to the theoretical proposition of flowing modernity and the background connection of this project, but also lays the foundation for the subsequent superimposition of sensory perception.

If we temporarily concede our own power of discourse to the flowing discourse surrounding us, we can therefore focus on the situation of our body in this discursive context. At the moment, the body becomes a body to be identified by the viewers who can easily typify the state of the body, be it anxious, excited, or oppressed. Perhaps the body represents an accusation of technological oppression, unveiling a cyborg world in which technologies dominates the planet. Michio Kaku abstracts the energy of the whole planet with the very androcentrism. Or, the body symbolizes the transition from the animal-like curiosity demonstrated by the performer at the beginning, the attempts at controlling and recognizing technologies, to the celebration of the cyborg body in the end. The whole process presents two facets of technology. On the one hand, the technological objects, such as conveyor belts, papers, or mainboards that carry flowing information, serve as an interface for body perception. On the other hand, they exist as material instruments that collide with, rub against, penetrate into, and even combine with the body. More importantly, the viewers can connect the meaning of actions with their experiences through the relationship between the performer and the media. However, such a relationship also limits the switch of perceptive power in the field of art.

Once we recognize technological objects as technological media that are able to signify forms and be present in the form of specific objects, we can therefore determine the position of the performer in the process. In particular, when we observe the fact that “media technology determines sensory experiences,” we simultaneously differentiate between consciousness and perception. For the viewers who are in the space, such an observation implies the differentiation between consciousness and body, because we can observe the body only by specifying it as externalized perception. Based on the very foundation, we can reconstruct the corporeality through observation and determine the position of the artist at the turning point of the grand narrative. The viewers can identify the meaning of actions by observing the interaction between the performer and the media. For example, when the performer keeps piling up the scattered newspapers and risks life and limb for climbing up the top of the piled newspapers, do these actions imply the unpredictable risks we must take when we try to control technological media? It is another story when we shift our focus onto the technological objects by detaching from the performer. At the moment, we do not typify the meaning of body, but allow the body to present itself.

Accordingly, the meaning of body can only be presented and therefore offer feedback at the present. Rather than being arbitrarily inferred by theorists, the turning point of a civilization can only be grasped when it is embodied in the present situation.

The multiple shifts between technology and body in the audio narrative represent a projection of the future. It not only highlights the anxiety of unable to correctly describe the contemporary social structure, but also forces us to respond to such kind of reality. The paradoxical forms of contemporary technologies and technological objects have been proposed in the field of art. They entail multiple technologies for observing perception. The artist actively externalizes perceptive narratives and embodies them in his body gesture. He introduces Michio Kaku’s presumptions, produces an excess of symbolic connotations, and erases the perceptive blankness left by the multiple technologies. Our projection of the future in fact complements the present structure that we cannot appropriately describe. Perhaps we must further explore these veiled forms in order to create more possibilities for the future.

See Also
"Will Mankind Destroy Itself?" (The birth-pains of a new civilization) ,加來道雄
Project Glocal Taipei