Alien Intimacy, 2019
collaboration James Batchelor
Supracolor metallic, two green yoga mats, yellow iPhone, Nintendo 3DS, game engine-rendered outer-space
Zander Porter and James Batchelor, in duet fashion, perform an interrelation in Alien Intimacy. The performance speculates on the movement of an interpersonally constructed alien sensibility where the visible and the invisible or the physically embodied and the virtually disembodied intertwine. The distance between human and alien (or body/self and object/other) expands and contracts as the performers locate themselves in a nearby, inter-netted spacetime when “alien” recalls and navigates away from imageries more essentialized, such as the cinematic extraterrestrial. A speculative choreography proposes new landscapes from console gaming scenography and low-res NASA images. Remembered as a microscopic gravitational force and a magnetic repulsion over the illusory notion of a direct contact, “touch” is macroscopically proportioned in Alien Intimacy, giving over to new senses of (non)touch-touch, the “almost-touchable,” or a “space-in-between.”
The performance premiered as part of Art, Not Apart at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. (Documentation images © Martin Ollman [NFSA], Nick Hynan [Fierce Festival], Charlotte de Bekker [DeZIM-Institut], and Darja Lukjanenko [Studio ALTA].) Alien Intimacy was researched further in residency in 2020 at Cité internationale des arts and re-premiered in video form for Dancehouse at Melbourne Fringe 2020 (with additional support from Broadtree Foundation and bbk berlin), where it was awarded the Up! People’s Choice Award.
“For the fourth and final conversation of Revis(ualis)ing Intersectionality, we will probe intimacy as an unfolding form of oppression and/or togetherness with the increased inclusion of digital technologies in our daily experiences. Digital technologies promote hypervisuality of our bodies which shapes our relations. Where we might mutually recognize a shared togetherness within the digital sphere, we might also discover a feeling of alienation, or even seduction. We are intimate with algorithms themselves too: with targeted ads, bots, or Alexa. We are the seductive objects that attract and train these algorithms. Some questions we [with Shaka McGlotten, Zander Porter, and James Batchelor] might ask are: How does the growing implementation of digital technologies in our daily lives, and the inescapability therein, shape our encounter(s) with intimacy? How does virtual or digital intimacy fabricate how the body, our bodies, are displayed visually? Does mutuality as a form of intimacy within the digital plasticize and build into something else, or does it refuse intimacy and force us to ask what intimacy actually is anymore?”
— Dr. Tiara Roxanne, coauthor of Revisualising Intersectionality