Maaike Bleeker also makes the argument that the objective world is an illusion that even the deconstructing performance modes of the postdramatic theatre cannot reveal. In her lucid “Showing What Cannot Be Seen: Perspective on the Post-dramatic Stage” (available free on line) Bleeker uses perspective as seen or “used” in painting, as “a model, a conceptual metaphor, or a ‘searchlight’ that helps me to ‘see’ vision in the theatre in a new light.”
In her comprehensive analysis Bleeker debunks Lehmann’s argument that in postdramatic performance the guiding, totalizing “frame” through which meaning is made in the dramatic theatre, is replaced with a muliplication of frames that paradoxically grants the spectator, through the confusions and ambiguities, the ability to see what exists in that moment for “what it is.” Instead, she uses Evelyn Fox Keller’s analysis of modern attempts to make-invisible the subject’s subjective perspective and the invention of an objective or the perspective-less reality. Because no discourse can be engaged without engaging a unique perspective, the subjectivity inherent in any arguement or representation of reality was hidden, made invisible through a myriad of techniques:
“The effect of these strategies is the disappearance of consciousness of representation qua representation as perspective and point of view become invisible. This invisibility, and not the absence of any point of view, according to Fox Keller, is constitutive of objectivity. It also produces the dilemma of subjectivity that we can see at work in notions of vision in which what is seen is equated with what is over there, that is, independent from any particular observer.”
That is to say, Bleeker uses Fox Keller’s arguements to suggest that any identification of the world or its objects “as it is” is an illusion and that this is critical in how we understand seeing in the theatre. Wile perspective may be hidden but it is not absent. Therefore while Lehmann is correct in identifying the fallacy inherent in the unifying vision of the world represented in the dramatic theatre- this is an artificial perspective- the world revealed through the multiplied frames of his postdramatic theatre, which shows the world “for what it is,” is equally illusionist or “secondary.” That the objective world- that reality- is revealed, either through a sophisticated construct that imitates nature to the hilt or the deconstraucted naval-gazing modes of postdramatic forms is an impossibility. And any presence supposedly unleashed, revealed, shared or experienced in this theatre is merely an “effect”:
“Both artificial perspective, and its subsequent deconstruction of visible frames, she argues, is constitutive of our notion of the world as objectively given, of the world ‘as it is’. This suggests the possibility of a different reading of drama as perspective and its subsequent deconstruction on the post-dramatic stage as well. A reading in which deconstruction is not understood to give access to some metaphysical plenitude as it was always there yet blocked by the dramatic frame. Instead, seen this way, both drama and its deconstruction appear as constitutive of presence as effect, as a phantom.”
Here Bleeker responsibly accounts for postmodern arguments against any totalizing account of reality- or any account of reality, for that matter- and the impossibility or re-presenting it. Rightly, presence is acknowledged as a deeply problematic concept. As she writes early in the essay “the already constructed” is a realm impossible to escape. There is so much written on the body already always. And yet this is just what postdramatic theory attempts to do- it suggests that there might be a way to represent the real, the authentic, and that more than the materiality present can be considered. Some kind of metaphysical plane can be accessed through the revelation of the “true” subject, unmediated by social constructions (such as the dramatic theatre’s “frames”) that hinders the spectator’s experience of the real. But in maintaining the “conceptual oppositions,” Bleeker tells us, “like representation and presence, meaning and materiality- and all the others that come with it…” the postdramatic stage aligns itself with the modernists who also wanted to reach/touch/access the “real world.” Both seeking an objective plane free of the subject’s whim and passion. Where contingency is masked.
However, there is Fox Keller’s rereading of the possibilities of postdramatic model. She suggests that by juxtaposing the “real”, this thing that is starkly contrasted to the illusionary, make-believe of the dramatic form with all its mediating “frames”, the whole meaning of “perspective” is brought to bare in the minds of the spectator. The explicit inquthenticity of the dramatic “world” throws into relief the matter of authenticity of what is seen- naturally a question that then colours the reception of the “real” or what is being passed as authentic. The seer questions the seeing when all is understood to as “secondary” representations- all as unreal; begging the seer to ask, what else is there?
“…as Fox Keller’s deconstructive reading of perspective suggests, it can be de-naturalized by showing what seems to be ‘there to be seen’ to be as secondary as what clearly manifests itself as sign.
As Fox Keller points out, the objective world as seen from no particular point of view is just as much constructed along lines of human needs, projections and desires as is the more obviously constructed perspectival image it seems to oppose to. Not because it is intentionally framed as such by means of a construction that overlays what is actually there to be seen. But because to appear as natural, objective, just there to be seen, implies a particular point of view towards it, a vision within which this is the world as it is. The model of perspective as a definition of the ambiguous relationship between what is seen and the point from where it is seen as such can help to expose this relationship.”
So…where is the object in this. This is, after all, meant to be a blog dedicated to the exploration of emerging dramaturgies of theatre of animation. Where are the damn puppets? Well, that is hard to say. Currently they are being transferred from the back burner to the front burner of my analysis. I’m am developing an idea that gives the animated object a status that the performer can never achieve- hence their popularity in contemporary performance that de-contextualizes the performing object from its traditional domain (the puppet theatre, for example) and it’s formal techniques. That is, the object is authentic. More soon…