Revolutions in sensory relations
In a 1980s article, media theorist Derrick de Kerckhove argues that dramatic theatre in Ancient Greece developed in close connection to the invention of alphabetic writing and served as a space to explore what he describes as ‘the revolution of sensory relations’ brought about by writing. His observations resonate with those of Walter Ong, who, at about the same time, proposed to understand literacy as a ‘mindset’ brought about by writing and print. Writing is part of what media theorists and philosophers of technology call technogenesis: the human co-evolution with technology. From this perspective, human modes of understanding, thinking, and imagining result from histories of interacting with the non-human: with things, tools, and technologies. Whereas Ong describes literacy as a ‘mindset’, De Kerckhove draws attention to the sensory and corporeal dimensions of how these interactions affect how humans make sense, think, and imagine. This presentation explores what dance may help to understand about these corporeal dimensions and how dance provides a space for exploring the emergence of new corporeal literacies brought about by technological innovations like cinema, television, and digital media. These innovations foreground the fundamental role movement plays in how we come to know the world and the deep connection between movement, abstraction, and embodiment.
is a theatre, dance, and performance professor in the Media & Culture Studies department at Utrecht University. She is the director of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) at Utrecht University and served as President of Performance Studies international (2011–16). Publications include Doing Dramaturgy: Thinking Through Practice (Palgrave, forthcoming), Visuality in the Theatre: The Locus of Looking (Palgrave, 2008) and the (co)edited volumes Thinking Through Theatre and Performance (Bloomsbury, 2019 and Transmission in Motion. The Technologizing of Dance (Routledge, 2017).