Performing Processes using algorithms

At several occasions I (Annie Abrahams) have been using an adaption of Deufert and Plischke's methodology for shared performance writing through transmission and reformulation.

Deufert&Plischke : "our work processes are circular processes of continuously passing on and transmitting materials without discussion. We clearly position these practices as an aesthetic and political alternative to processes based on discussion and consensus." (no reference)

For instance in the workshop “being with ... performance as research as experiment as tool in the frame of the conference The Politics of Performance and Play. Feminist Matters , I used it to to think about what is left when you research performing a non-functional relation with an object, without falling into storrytelling.

The process in the transformation and reformulation methodology is iteratif.

Deufert&Plischke : "It is a way of working together that is not based on consensus, but on passing on material, spending time with it individually, making the necessary decisions with it, transforming and reformulating it without the need of immediate negotiation or justification. This is when a plurality of voices comes into the work and personal competences for an activity can transform into shared responsibilities for the material: handing over material, taking it seriously, spending time with it, contributing to it." (no reference)

During the workshop in Leiden we were not allowed to talk, to discuss, to explain, to negotiate. We were only writing. All participants were writer, observer and performer.
This was our schedule:

15 min. of exploration of an object.
15 min. to write an instruction for a 5 min long performance.
5 min of execution of a written performanc and 5 min of observation of another performance.
15 min reformulation of the performance one watched.
5 min execution and 5 min observation. Etc. etc. till the end of the workshop.

Realted to :  Autorama / Exposition et automatisation OUDEIS.




Performing Secret Alchorithms

performing secret alcho
  Performing Secret Alchorithms. Dec. 8 2018 Final Alchorisma event. Photo Peter Westenberg.

Performing Secret Alchorithms was part of Alchorisma.
Alchorisma alludes to the relationships between algorithms, charisma, rhythm, alchemy and karma. Alchorisma is a Constant worksession which looks at integrating cosmogenetic views with the charisma surrounding technology. We look at ways to infect existing algorithmic models with positions that acknowledge the importance of co-existence with non-human entities.

The Alchorisma worksession took place from 2nd - 8 December 2018 at Z33, House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium.

During alchorisma, we, Annie Abrahams and Marika Dermineur decided to try to test if we could capture the transformation and reformulation methodology in an algorithm. Would it be possible to create an algorithm that included human behaviour?, that would evolve over time and in the process integrate aspects of the personnallities of all the participating individuals?
Because we had to do it in an indetermined timespan and had no dedicated time from the other participants we made it a secret process interfering through the other projects going on. We knew we could only test a simple version of what could have been possible.

We spend at least three hours optimising our initial idea.  We decided to use two sets of meta-instructions - Alcho 1 and 2 - to propagate the performance instructions written by Annie. After we started propagating we realized we had lost important elements from our alcho's: - care for the where - the intention that the alcho would be ameliorated – and whether the alcho was meant to be a performance or a ritual?

Two original performance scripts.

It was shocking and amazing that in our happiness about succeeding in making something that could work we had quit naturally left out the most essential elements.
Lesson: before implementing anything always check what is left out.
Optimisation has pitfalls..
We had to rewrite the protocol. (Alcho 3)

Alcho 1:

- meta-instructions printed
- instructions on a piece a paper (never to be talked about)
- a virgin piece of paper
- a pen
- your stone(s)


I read the Meta-instructions (on this paper).
I (a) read the instructions to perform.
I keep these instructions as a secret till Saturday – I don't discuss the instructions in any way, nor my intentions during the execution
I find someone (b).
I ask (b) to watch me attentively.
I perform these instructions.
I ask (b) to write down what she/he saw as a new set of instructions.
I ask (b) to pass the new set of instructions + this meta-instructions to another person (a’).

* If it is difficult to find a new person immediately, try again. If after three trials it is still difficult to find a person, find Annie and/or Marika and execute the instruction set.

Alcho 2:

Watch my performance
Write it down as an instruction set
Find someone else :
Give him/her your instruction set
+ this paper and ask him/her to read the verso

Verso :
Read my instruction set, and keep it secret
Find someone alone :
Give him/her this paper and ask him/her to read the recto
Perform my instruction set

Two intermediate performance protocols we recuperated.

Alcho 3 (not tested yet)

- meta-instructions printed
- instructions on a piece a paper (never to be talked about)
- a virgin piece of paper
- a pen
- your stone(s)

Watch the performance attentively
   Discover what is essential for you in what you saw
Write it down as an instruction set
   a translation of [what you saw] to [what you want the other to experience when she/he executes]
Find someone else
Give him/her your instruction set + this paper and ask him/her to read the verso

Verso :
Read the instruction set, and keep it secret
   Discover what you think is essential in this instruction set
Find someone alone
Find a quiet place together
Give him/her this paper and ask him/her to read the recto
Perform the instruction set
   Follow the instructions with attention for what you think is essential

our process

- writing phase
* objective: propagate the performance from one to the next one
-> instructions and meta-instructions
* how to simplify

- propagation phase
* start with 3 different paths (one was lost in the process) and performances to test what is working, what not
-> ça nous échappe, we loose trace of what is happening
* we dont know how many people "hosted" the performance, nobody knows, there is no visibility on the paths they took.
* we dont know how it was transformed from one interpretation to the next.

- debugging phase
we ask the group in an alchorisma plenary meeting:
* where the 3 performances are, who host one right now, just to see if it moved
* to give back the "performance" paper to Annie / Marika if the propagation is stuck.

- rewriting phase
in the meta instruction, we need to specify that the description of the executed performance is a "rewriting" - the point is not to see the degradation of the "message" through the process of propgagation, but to see the transformation of the performance through the subjectivity and interpretation of the writer AND the performer.
We need * to reintroduce intention ( to avoid the literal description )
* to include interpretation in the writing phase
= is a way to "ameliorate" the performance, by introducing something from each person participating.

We re-introduced intentionality in the process by using words as “essential, want, experience”. We introduced care for conditions of the transmission by using the words “quiet place.
We call it a performance.
Maybe we should talk about it as an evolving ritual through performance - this depends mostly on the initial instruction set which in this case were all about the relation between the person and his/her stone.


Annie Abrahams, Marika Dermineur 01 2019.

performing processes using algorithms