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Response 27 - Embodied Vice


Dear Alan,

Thanks for task 27 – Don’t You Wonder Sometimes in which you ask me to respond to your videoessay in-progress. It was a stimulating and intriguing task to consider, I only found myself resisting it because, admittedly, I do not quite follow your excitement for the film Inherent Vice(2014). I do find it a bit bloke-ish, yes, but if I try and dig a bit deeper, my feeling is also that I tend to resist films (and other art pieces) that do not immediately speak to me and… it provokes me when I sense your enthusiastic love for them and that we do not share the same aesthetic. I am embarrassed about this admission. It also makes me wonder whether I’m simply not ‘intelligent enough’ to see the beauty or power of the film that you experience.

I decided to overcome my own resistance towards the videoessay/film and respond as openly as I could and follow the parameters you set out. You specifically said to orient myself in relation to the ‘dislike and exasperated perplexity’ I feel about the work and this helped me being more relaxed about responding to it: it was not ‘liking’ or ‘understanding’ what you’re up to (compressing the film into four screens) that determined how I should engage with it. As your task required, I worked with the videoessay by responding with movement to the images/sound.

Here is my response:


When you talk about your work-in-progress ‘Immanent Vice’, I sense that it is particularly the juxtaposition of colours, framing, long shots and close ups that intrigues you about the videoessay. It was perhaps an obvious choice to copy the exact same format, by compressing my own sequence of movement into four screens, but I was interested that playing around with this layout in my own footage revealed similar features:contrasting colours between background/my clothing/skin and echoes of movement between screens.

My obstruction for movement in response to your work was to try and embody the formal ‘squareness’ of the four images and to use the close-up and ‘long shot’ in relation to the camera. I could only move in straight lines and I had to stay mostly visible within the camera  frame. The soundtrack from the video motivated how I moved within those parameters allowing a more improvised approach of hands and upper body. The sound I generate in the short video is mostly faint sounds of friction between my body and the floor and I haven’t touched the sound from the camera in my editing. I like though that by layering your videoessay soundtrack four times I quadrupled your own four tracks!

Interestingly your work grew on me as a result of working with ‘Immanent Vice’. I think responding to it in with my body without trying to decipher it, detached the videoessay from the original film which shifted my perspective. My impression is that this is precisely what you have been trying to get at with your work: to disregard the continuous narrative of the film and instead see images and movement working together and in opposition.

Does my response produce or express a critique of you work? I am not sure. I think I will leave that for you to decide. 


I want to leave a comment about your Response 26 – A Path of Greater Resistance. I am provoked, fascinated and humbled by your writing and wanted not to leave your reflections go acknowledged. Privileging the body in my work and dismissing thought as ‘book learning’ is a tendency I do have. I think I overcompensate in order to defend my choice to work with the body. (I grew up in an environment where studying and formal education was taken for granted and with parents who took the scientific route). My assumption that your way of embodying your work is not as ‘valuable’ as mine, reveals my narrow definition of this concept and your reflections have given me food for thought.

‘Improvisation seems to me the path of least resistance’ you say. Hmmm. I feel my blood begin to boil... I know that improvisation is not your thing and you have often expressed exasperation with my improvisation work because you thrive on formal parameters, which it seems you feel is not present in (my approach to) improvisation. That improvisation equals ‘easy’ is rich coming from someone (you) who will do everything in his power to avoid it! If I wanted ‘easy’ I would have chosen to stay on the path of being a puppet-dancer with no agency and no power to be a decision-maker in the creative process. Being able to stay present and embracing the ‘not knowing’ aspect of improvising is what makes it challenging and what provides the most obvious obstruction to this practice.

There is a lot more to say about your post and I hope the content will continue to feed future tasks and responses. It will certainly inform mine.

See here for next task.