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TEDxBuenosAires - Rafael Spregelburd - 04/08/10

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Good Morning and thank you very much. ¿Why do we need to be so blatantly lied to? And if not, ¿Why is it that TED Buenos Aires invited an actor to give a lecture? In the 12 minuted I have I will be lying to you, -at least I am telling you beforehand- that is the only difference between theatre and politics. I will speak about one of the least important things in the world: theatre. But in order not to bore you more tan necessary I will speak about something wider than theatre, which is representation. Personally, I am fascinated by this issue. And I consider it is sort of an abuse to be giving a lecture about specific contents because contents are something that, when in the hands of biologists, scientists, and even lawyers, become more o less objective, become true or false. In turn, when we are talking about an artistic discipline, and I want to make clear that everything I am saying could be exactly the other way around and having said that I already got myself into the first one of the problems, which is that no matter what I am doing here, I am always representing. Even though I do not have to interpret any part, I am still representing. Representation is something which occurs unwillingly. To respresent also means to displace: if I am here it is because there is an entire theatrical community behind me, and I would be something like the tip of the iceberg, and unwillingly, it seems that all of you are going to return home thinking you have heard something about theatre, or worse, about the future of theatre, because someone who belongs to the theatrical community has spoken about it. Well, bad news. No one voted for me in the theatrical community so I would come to speak in the name of others who are doing more o less the exact same thing as I am. These are some of the main problems we encounter when trying to objectify something we do, which should remain in a subjective territory. I did not bring any technology, nor images, for theatre is somewhat of an enemy of technology, al least mine is, every time I tried to use technology in the theatre I ended up badly, but I prepared a few plates, I did a few things because what I want to talk about is the end of the world. And I have a few things to scare you... take a look a this... you can´t see it, don´t you? I will save it for later.... Is there a new theatre? I don´t know, in any case there is as much a new theatre as there is a new science, I mean, I believe that the problem when we talk about...yes, we are going to the theatre though we know it is a lie, or we go to fictions because even though we know it is a lie it is good for us, we want to be told stories, above all because we know they are a lie, there is a certain pleasure, a certain magical pleasure in this, and actually many of this narratives or many of the ways of confronting this have become sort of anachronistic. But that problem goes beyond theatre, and actually has nothing to do with theatre. I belive that problem is called reductionism and that it is rooted in the area of sciences, and not to the area of representation. Sciences, and I belive that any of the other speakers will be more qualified to speak about this matter than me, have divided, not so long ago, in two: the ones who consider that science has been reductionist throughout its history call it newtonian science, and they poorly term the new science: chaos theory, or more appropriately science of wholeness, which assumes the world is extremely complex and that the formulas that served for newtonian relations (and some still do) I mean, the most basic things which occur in the realm of science, and maths, are insufficient to explain catastrophes: everything which occurs outside the cause-effect procedure, for instance. The new science came to show that there are more complex forms of causality, and I have always wondered why these more complex forms of causality are not translated into a richer theatre, into a more interesting theatre, a more interesting film, a more ineteresting literature. Actually they are translated, but generally when one thinks about theatre, he usually thinks about some sort of anachronistic thing, something similar to the Altamira cave man, who paints a Bison and thinks that because of it he will now be able to hunt a Bison. I chose this example because I don´t consider it innocent at all. I believe that in any sort of representation, in displacing, the Bison displaces the hunting, I displace someone else who could have been speaking here about theatre, a congressman from Formosa displaces the people of Formosa to act in their name, in any sort of representation, I was saying, there is a magical component that is extremely appealing. There are studies that pose that the Altamira cave phenomenon is a lie, that the Altamira cave men knew perfectly that a bison was not going to appear on the family table only because he painted it on a rock, but he still did it, beacuse it was nice. I mean, they were able to enjoy it as a fiction, they could enjoy that lie and not only that, but it seems they needed it desperately, just like many other things. I will try to explain why, I believe, this need arrouses. For this I will borrow a philosohical theory that has been extremely useful for me and that belongs to Eduardo Del Estal, a thinker that, if I am not mistaken, must be present in this room and who can raise his hand and scream phoney if he considers I say something which is not exactly right. Del Estal is a paintor and a philosopher, and he assumes, that perceptions follows a trail... that thought, above all, the way in which we conceive the world by means of a doubtful mediator which is language, follows a trail which is similar to the eye. The reason he must be saying this is because he is a paintor but he says that our thought is ordered by means of a reality pattern which is our sight: we think the way we see. Then, he says, the laws of Gestalt, the laws of perception would fulfill as general thought laws. How do we represent ourselves in the world? I have prepared a few plates to try to explain it. They are homemade...yes, that is my technology. What do you see here? ... A square. Yes, there are rethorical questions, you don´t have to answer any of them, I will ask the questions and I will answer them as well, I believe it will be easier this way, because maybe someone will answer no, that he can´t see a square but what I have actually drawn, that are 4 lines which -on pourpose- are not touching exactly in their vertices, I mean, I see something and I represent myself a square, which is an abstaction, something that only exists in Euclides´ head, squares do not exist in real life, what I see is the idea I already have and I correct what I am seeing so that it will look like that which I already know, this is the main problem: I see what is more similar to what I already know. But there is a bigger problem, which is the law of the figure-background, which the one that interests me the most. When I asked you what you were seeing, and some of you shyly answered a square, I think, but how, dont you see a brown piece of paper which has a square drawn on it? Well, yes, of course, I can choose to see the paper, I mean, the first one of the rules, is that I see the figure over the background, and actually in order to decide seeing the square, or in order to decide knowing the sqare, which is what you are actually doing, you have decided not to see the paper. Then, the cardinal rule in any representation is to now what is being displaced, what am I choosing no to see, to be able to see, and this is what Del Estal says, not me, so it must be right. But there is something much more interesting, I mean, now that you have seen the paper, because I warned you about it, Can´t you see a guy who is holding it,along with his best face of I am not afraid of anything? I mean, sure, to be able to see the paper you decide not to see me, to see me you decide not to see the screen in the back, seeing is always a recursive function in which I must constantly rank over what I am seeing. Del Estal makes his best poetic trap and calls this, meaning, and this other, sense. ... a poetic trap is to assume that meaning is that which I understand, which has a formal shape, which can be lexicalized, something I can talk about while sense is that invisible part of the representational phenomenon, that which is in the back, and its blank, it must necessarily be blank because if not, the meanings could not appear. When I discovered this theory I realized, that all the really interesting questions are part of the sense: death, desire, infinite, everything we can not answer, and desperately seek in fictions, to learn something from death, from our own experience of death, etc. But you can not work with the sense, the sense is aniconic, it is formless, it is not mimetic, it does not look like anything, and therefore I can not work with it, I can only work with meanings. The key to a new theatre, to a theatre that resembles the complexity of real life, that resembles that chaotic -non newtonian- science, would be to begin working with fiction that would increase our feeling of the sense behind the things. there are some plays that work like this, that have this structure, right? a square ... when I say square I mean something we more o less expect, something we know, a housewife, a policeman, a repressor, I look at a play and I can say... I can more or less say, it is the kind of play where, if someone coughs on the first scene is because he dies from tuberculosis on the last one, no one coughs because coughing is the cause of expelling a foreign body, no, no, he coughs to die from tuberculosis on the last scene. What I mean is that there are plays which have this structure: a square, another square, the guy goes through this and this, what is expected from someone suffering from tuberculosis, right? and when I see what happens as the action moves foward I get a little depressed, because I understand what is going to happen here. Another square and another square. This kind of plays are more or less what we call costumbrism, some sort of realism that lead us through familiar paths. Then there are other kind of plays who tried to do something like this, there is a square and then there is anything...anywhere, this could be associated with some form of avantgarde, something that was very strong at a point in time, something we learnt a lot from, the avantgarde movements at the begining of last century and else, are also somehow anachronistic because as I can not expect anything, there is no possible expectation, and therefore the sense behind it also reduces itself, because it doesn´t matter what happens, a flying horse can enter the screen, or the guy can cough or not, it is all exactly the same. But there is, in turn, a different kind of play, one which interests me particularly and one I can see in the new fictions which is something like this: There is a square, I can follow it, oh! look, the guy is coughing, I guess he must have tuberculosis, but maybe not, because in the new plays there are people that cough and that sometimes does not have tuberculosis, and that is a good thing, because it resembles our own life experience and perception, a guy goes through this and this... this is a play by David Lynch, for instance, where this that occurs here is totally unexpected and precisely because of that, my idea of sense increases, the unexpected increases the sense of void, the unexpected segregates the elements I was able to know. Yesterday, while I was at home, trembling out of fear thinking I had to come here and explain this, which I can barely speak about, we heard a dreadful noise and realized that this had broken, this is a piggy bank, only, life was giving me a very clear sign that something was about to happen, the piggy represents, simbolizes, displaces luck, and as it was in the bookshelf, a few books fell off with it, I didn´t even wanted to look at their titles, because....this fell into the ground and broke, look at the tip, through which the coins go in, this represents....and if I wasn´t a grounded person I would be inclined to think that reality is trying to tell me something, and generally, I would be a bit crazy if I thought that this only broke as a way of predicting my posible failure, something that more or less is happening now, but there are people who are a bit crazy, seeing signs in reality and not in fictions, the consult astrologers, don´t they? I mean, they try to explain things beyond their reach, what is the ultimate sense, what is that which can not be said what can not be lexicalised and needs new structures. To finish, there is something very disturbing Del Estal says and as it is pressing me, I want to share it with you, so we can all assume it together. He says that man has tried to give eveything a meaning...this responds to a deseperate desire to signify, to transform every sense in meaning, to constantly increase the spectrum of what is explainable and he says, that when there is no more sense, when there is nothing left in that sort of forest, that is being chopped in order to transform that which I don´t know what it is, into something that looks like a square, it will be the end of the world, or the end of thought, which is the same thing, because I won´t be able to differenciate, I won´t be able to think, I won´t to represent anything. Thank you very much.

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 45 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: Argentina
Language: Spanish (Spain)
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxBuenosAires
Director: TEDxBuenosAires
Views: 159
Posted by: martigrzmot on Jun 5, 2010

El ocaso del significado

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