Staging of Experience 1: The Genealogy of Performance and Pragmatism(2021A)

Staging of Experience 2: The Birth of Investigative Aesthetics (2022S)
After Trump got elected and did everything in his power to stir things up and down, one consequence of which was my having to leave the US, I became fundamentally unsure of what "performance" is and where its potential lay. I had been engaged with this term and the kind of practices it addressed both as an artist as well as a scholar, but suddenly I had lost track of what it was that I was doing. I stopped making performances and felt I needed to find out where this term had come from and how it had gained the prevalence and power it appears to have.

One key insight came from seeing my one-year-old son trying to manipulate my body to do things he can't do—feeding him, or reading a book to him—in order to stage a certain experience that he enjoyed or wanted to reenact. From this experience, I began distinguishing two phases of performance: the staging of behavior, which everyone can see, and the staging of experience, which only you can enjoy. Although most performance theories were concerned about the former, it seemed to me that the basis of performance actually lay in the latter, that the staging of behavior was a means towards the staging of experience.

In order to explore this relation of performance to experience, I began researching the history of empiricism, with a special focus on pragmatism in the US along with its many repercussions in different fields. In the course I taught on this topic, we looked at the connection between earlier history of empiricism (John Locke, David Hume, etc) and pragmatism, the influence of pragmatism as radical empiricism on later developments of behaviorism, the philosophy of Frank Ramsey or Wittgenstein, and cybernetics and instrumentalism, all the way up to the prediction of experience through new technologies of machine learning (which derives some of its force from old discussions in empiricism such as the one between Hume and Bayes) combined with a curious rebirth of behaviorism in the world of internet.

Alongside this historical exploration, I am also looking at and translating the works of Forensic Architecture and Investigative Aesthetics as one important example that shows what performance can be in the world today.