Palpation — the laying of a hand on the body to read its state of health — is perhaps the oldest of medical practices. When a physician lays her hand on her patient, however, she is not only reading or diagnosing the patient, she is saying to the patient: “You are my responsibility. I take you into my care.” This touch ethically entangles the physician and the patient.

Speech too is an ethical medium — words spoken can warm three winters or chill three summers, the Chinese say. Under western law, some words can be fighting words, and those who wield language with malice can be charged as if they had hit the victim with their hand.


So ethics comes back to touch.

The choreography in Act 1 is inspired by thinking of two dancers in a chamber as being transformed from one hermaphrodite body into two. The chamber, viewed from above presents an alchemical vessel within which the hermaphrodite, compound body twitches and coils in a fluid medium until it splits into two independent bodies. The energy and momentum of their movement swirls the visual media between the bodies: negative space is itself pregnant with ethical charge, visualized as textures and particles in the gaps between the bodies, rippling in the wake of the dancers’ gestures.

This epochal fission is also the birth of desire, of sexual love, as Aristophanes famously described in Plato’s Symposium, and marks the transition between Act 1, an intimate epoch, and Act 2, our epoch, in which we find ourselves as isolate bodies in a void, seeking one another via the much sparser tissues of language and sign.

Act 2 is shot outdoors. The dancer who emerges shows traces of energetic, now erotic, entanglement with her distant partner. She discovers a (male) dancer already in an open field. The textures and particles trailing behind her lead back to an implied third being, the dancer from Act 1 who remains hidden as the first dancer evolves through her sequence of more and more passionate, elaborated movement with the discovered dancer. We use the word passion in its ancient sense of a primordial force below the level of emotions. The first dancer is multiplied by temporal copies of herself, and plays contrapuntally with her own delayed selves as well as with the other dancers.

This second act closes with the fusion of the dancer with her multiples and the emergence of the hidden dancer as an authentic other.


PEOPLE: Sha Xin Wei, Soo-yeon Cho, Desh Fernando
+ Topological Media Lab
TOUCH 2 a performance :Soo-yeon Cho, Kiani de Valle
Set: Topological Media Lab
Remedios Terrarium