Accepted Paper:

Making a mess of dance through Feminist STS   


Margaret Westby (Metropolitan College of New York)

Paper short abstract:

Dance plays a significant part in the imaginings and manifestations in STS theories; how could a focus on the moving body in art practices provide alternative methods into STS interventions? To unpack this question, I make a mess of dance through feminist STS in an analysis of three artistic works.

Paper long abstract:

In STS theory, dance and the term "performativity" operate as liberating concepts to destabilize hierarchies and to create more openness in entangled systems between human and non-human phenomena. From my position as a female dance practitioner, digital artist, and scholar, I explore affective and material processes of mess-making, trust-building and negotiation of space within transdisciplinary research and performance creation practices through three previous artistic works, Two Mirrors (2015), hold (2015), and Orbital Resonance (2014). These works speak to the different ways creativity, improvisation, and the processes of developing collaborations come into play in the act of performing works involving the moving body and technical apparatuses.

Additionally, the techniques developed through the process and performance of these works offer up different strategies and modes of working that can contribute to STS scholars growing interest in embodiment (Myers 2015; Myers and Dumit 2011; Munster 2006), sensorial knowledge (Puig de la Bellacasa 2009; Haraway 2008), and material agency and performativity (Barad 2007; Pickering 1995). In adapting the term of performativity so widely used in STS, Historian Rebecca Herzig offers a provocative critic, "must all intra-actions be generative?" (Herzig 2004, 138). Dance practice and performances offer alternative methods to disrupt problematic notions of productivity, innovation, and notions of value. To provide a practical component to embody such methods, I also offer up a performative gesture of trust building through engagement with a brief movement exercise to be conducted by all.

Panel T019
Science and Technology through Critical Art Practice