framework: abstract


"Brotherly love is love between equals;
but, indeed, even as equals we are not always 'equal';
inasmuch as we are human, we are all in need of help.
Today I, tomorrow you.
But this need of help does not mean that
the one is helpless, the other powerful.
Helplessness is a transitory condition;
the ability to stand and walk on one's own feet is
the permanent and common one."

—Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving












Not a performance, but a perpetual rehearsal.


Life is not a dress rehearsal.








Something freeing in the reiteration, the possibility of repetition. Everyday life interaction as wide ritual incantation. An urban aesthetics of incantatory rites, invoking invisible spirits in the urban fabric through the repetition of rehearsed performance.

Caught up in webs of ritual habit repetition that bind us to stuck activity, imposed interactions and modes of behavior. We cling to familiar habits; the everyday congeals around cliché, around concealment of instinct, desire, emotion.




This is the city.

This is me standing in the city, moving in the city, walking in the city.

A warp, a deformation, a mutation multiplying.


The aesthetic of performance, of everyday life as site of intervention, disruption, transformation, through performance—


(But how to deal with the sense that the “real” performance is deferred to some future moment, when circumstances allow for the kind of “performance” that I wish to carry out? When I have become the “character” who is able to perform in the way that I envision?)

Spirit and material, transmission of code on multiple channels of information








The city’s DNA suturing to mine to spirit to constant movement:

Exponential repetition.











The problem becomes one of temporality.

In the space of a given performance, the moment implodes with the weight of pressure to perform.

I am aware that the current moment involves a particular performance, BUT:

It is not the performance that I wish to be doing, because I am not yet the character that I wish to be. My current performed self finds itself at odds with my future performed self, hyper-conscious of its inability to perform to envisioned standards, to live up to the current moment.

The result is another form of paralysis in the moment.

“I am supposed to be performing. I am supposed to be performing. This is a moment of performance, this is my shot, the curtain has gone up, I am on stage, on display—unprepared, not even on-script—more like no script, no chops..."

An intertwining overlap of temporal selves.

(Question: Where does the past self fit into this model?)

-Free up present self in the present.
-Put future self/performance at service of present self/performance, rather than the other way around, rather than always being paralyzed as a slave to my imagined (New and Improved) future self.




The repetition of the game mirrors the repetition of rehearsal. Game-over; start a new game; same structure, same “rules,” new situation, new play, new per







The liberating potential of performance is thus subverted by a form of temporal paralysis that disrupts improvisatory action. The problem, then:

How to take this sense of deferral to some future moment when I will have supposedly positioned myself in a set of circumstances in which I can more freely perform the identities/selves/behaviors that I wish to, and push through the paralysis and stage fright that it creates.


One approach—see the self as
perpetually in rehearsal:


-Every day/moment then becomes an opportunity to practice who I want to be.

-It is all practice; there is always the potential for repetition, for “do-overs.” A gaff, a missed opportunity, a lapse into ossified behavioral patterns, habits, and performances, is not the end of the world.

-This opens the possibility of circumventing the pressure of “Performance” and the stage fright and paralysis that arises from the perceived inability to perform as desired within the particular constraints of the present moment.

-A performance of the performance emerges, a playful détournement of this temporal glitch in which the intersection of Present Self and imagined Future Self creates a kind of looped snag.

Take this temporal overlap of selves, of imagined and “real” performances, and use mimicry of self in rehearsed performance to warp the loop into a spiral…
movement / shape / form / force—

The expressions on these faces are usually frozen in place, mostly limited to a handful of permutations. So much that we could convey with these complex muscular interactions. The rest of my life for you in a wink and a grin, the universe through a raised eyebrow, my lips curving, a night of sin. Yet these dull faces move so predictably from one to the next, the repetition of masked mimicry. The majority of the time it is a nonexpression, most moments coagulating around eyes, noses, mouths, the opposite of both love and hate, an empty face. But once in a while, a smile slices like a blade, a blink cuts like razor, and the world between us bleeds.


















[the DNA spiral. a movement, transmission, information in motion across space and time. propulsive force. relational force]







I met him at at the corner of Parkman and Sunset Blvd. “When I was young,” he said, “I knew things. I could still remember. There was ugly but there was amazement too. Everywhere is amazement. Inside of us is amazement, but most of us don’t see it. Everything is amazement but nobody remembers anymore. But I do. I still remember when I was young. Now I am a person of extremes. Sometimes I engage in wickedness but sometimes I am good. I don’t hurt anybody but, you know, I go back and forth. But, the important thing is, you gotta remember both parts.” “When I was young,” I said to him, “we used to crawl into the cracks in the sidewalk and disappear for hours or decades. It was a whole other universe down there. Back then, you still knew exactly where you stood in the world of quicksand and mud. I can still taste gasoline in my mouth. I can still smell it on the backs of my hands. You dip your hands in gasoline and it seeps deep into your pores, a kind of urban plating, a protective coating. Above us the sky was sliced by telephone wires and helicopter blades. Below us the sidewalk crackled and sparked in the sun. When I was young the air was saturated with greed. It carried a meanness. You learned to duck and keep low to the asphalt in an environment like this. You learned to skate below the congealed haze of spectacle, violence, pollution, hate. Things I remember: Pockets jangling with quarters. Pac-Man. Dig Dug. The cadences of Donkey Kong. Pixelated retinas. Detached, dangling. My dad, drunk. My dad,
wailing. My dad in a Members Only jacket; in a prison cell; in a maze...” “There are embodied souls among us who judge me for the wickedness I engage in. But I’m just another person trying to get through, and all my ugliness is out there for the whole world to see. That’s the difference. There are embodied souls who try to hide their ugliness. Husbands cruising for prostitutes, Internet addicts, stuff like that. Not me. Me, it’s all out there. The good and the bad—” “The amazement and the ugly—” “Yes, the amazement and the ugly, it’s all out there for the whole world to see my struggles. There are embodied souls who try to hide their struggle. They’re afraid of judgment. They’re afraid of rejection. But when they were young they didn’t hide it. Before they learned to be ashamed. Before they learned to be afraid. You know, there are people lying in the street who have more power than somebody with a big house or a fancy car. Only, we just don’t know how to see it. Only, we just don’t open ourselves up. You have to open yourself up to receive. You’re sick, ése. You have to open yourself up to the ugly and the amazement. You have to open yourself up.”




We seek, then, to develop scripts to rehearse every day.

Skeleton scripts, sketches, brief scenarios that open improvisational possibilities.

A gesture toward scenario, the sketched outline structuring of the jazz “head” of repeated harmonic movement over which improvisation opens and flows between opening and closing set melodic structures.

These scripts must reflect the targeted behaviors, habits, and interactional modes, that arise from and perpetuate entrenched preformance performances learned through compulsive ritual.


The repetition of ritual, the repetition of rehearsal, repetition as a propulsive force, a new ritual of rehearsal.


Some are designed to respond to specific familiar scenarios, recurring situations as well as situations that might be familiar but that arise unexpectedly in the theater of the urban everyday (greeting an old friend, asking a stranger for directions, interacting with fellow bus riders, flirting with someone in a public space, going on a date, conducting an economic exchange, exchanging greetings with an acquaintance, exchanging greetings with a stranger, walking with someone, navigating oppressive, violent behaviors / words / actions by others/oneself).











The performance as permutation of preformance through playful rehearsal.








I am watching the young woman rake her black-painted fingernails over the asymmetrically shaved back of her head, over and over, a slanting pattern of parallel lines shaved into the fade like claw marks swirling down toward her right shoulder. I try to read between them from behind, I try to read my future and my past in one gesture, they remind me of the New Wave 1980s and my adolescence, a time long before she was born. I can’t stop watching the movement of her hand over her hair, though, over and over. The haircut is obviously fresh and she is still adjusting to the newness, and I wonder, is moving forward and backward at once the same as being stuck in place, or is it a more effective present? The tactility involved—a swirling and blurring, a fading—I imagine it in my own palm, my own hand running softly over this fine, light brown hair, the buzzed fade and the grooved lines tickling my palm and reading my future, her neck and shoulders exposed, that part of the neck that you cup when one face meets the other in kiss.




Some are designed to provoke specific scenarios and situations in the theater of the urban everyday (purposefully engaging a stranger on the street with unnecessary questions or conversation, spontaneous storytelling to transmit specific knowledge and interpret information in a given situation or context, saying unexpected, odd things, engaging in slightly strange, unsanctioned behavior in public spaces, using one’s body in interesting, unexpected ways that may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar—to oneself as well as others).


All scenarios are designed as GAMES.




I want to build the earth up into curving shelter over our heads. I want to lie at night with you on hardpacked mud, walls radiating warmth gathered and stored from the day. These are the stars we will know by heart, we will not need to see them there above to understand how they move or where they are. But we will lie there and stare at them for hours anyway. I do not regret that I will probably live to see it all collapse; I only wish that I could live several centuries more through the decay, to play with our descendants when it has long been swept away. I see them there waving, far down our paths, beckoning us forward with human grins and human gestures. The ever-present forward/backward movement, the push and pull between future and past, insistent and persistent, this lifeline stretches seven generations each direction. Beyond that, sight fails but even then we know the presence of what we cannot see. We must operate on faith. Hand over hand, face pressed to face. Here are my lips, my tongue, my teeth. Here is my offering.




















"These past few months, the oscillation growing wider, more distinct, uncertain, mood swings wilder, wheels sliding off axle...opposite directions...a bipolar wobble—"







A more general mode of consumptive existence?

The (neo)colonial experience? The same old/
new colonial wound?

A 21st century blues?

The result of repeating the obsessive-compulsive habits built into spectacle existence, spectacle consumption, spectacle desire and manufactured desire, false desire, false emotion? built into the inescapable desert of the hyperreal urban everyday? all of us wobbly, all of us bouncing back and forth between these walls / freeways / traffic lights / surveillance cams / concrete glass smog haze, caught up in the crossfire of (others’) desires at odds with our own? Often unaware of our own?

Bouncing from one illusory representation of desire to another?

Mimicking excitement, creativity, joy, desire?

Mimicking sadness, pain, loss, anger?


All emotions mimicked, all interaction pre-scripted preformance mimicry, the preformed performance of everyday life as a repetition of what we think “happy” and “sad” look/feel like (media representation, regulation, panoptic surveillance, ubiquitous economic relations, permeation, a seamless suturing, digital "interaction," socially networked isolation, twit-tered templates, LOL!!!!, hi!!!!, texting, sexting, emoticon identities—

8-P <3 (-:

—slippages between digital (self) and (digital) avatar, rhetoric of exclamation point pointlessness,
u c how happy I am!!!!
u c how excited we all r!!!!
u c how much u mean 2 me!!!!!!! !!! !)—


meanwhile, real emotions, real desire, real needs, real hunger, real pain, real loss?


—must go somewhere, must channel, must make self known, expressed, explicit?


Authentic? “Real”?






The back and forth slithering wave of the serpent.


Gloria Anzaldúa’s serpent movement. The Coatlicue state.









The (re)generation of movement through oscillation, through the same
oscillation that keeps us locked
into the bipolar





















On the Gold Line train in the middle of an amazingly beautiful and sunny May Day, I witness a moment of distrustful exchange: The young brown man reads the situation correctly and responds accordingly, the young black woman is chastised and backs away, a public humiliation, her deceit exposed, the towel pulled on her game. Then the young man shifts, empathetic mode, and I watch another potential unfold. “A lot of my friends get kicked out by their parents,” he says, and she nods enthusiastically. “That’s what happened to me,” she says. “Yeah, but you’re not homeless, that’s different,” he says. “Everybody is broke these days, even the rich people are in debt,” he says. “We’re all struggling.” He tells her how to get to Venice, which bus lines to take, but of course, she is only half listening, it’s not really where she was trying to get to in the first place. They continue to spin the narrative out anyway, the story they really tell is something else, and everybody knows it. The young woman is very large, her face is beautiful and symmetrically perfect, fully made up, flawless, glowing skin, and she wears a glorious brown satin dress with gold trimming, and lots of jewelry, something that looks like a prom outfit—in fact, with her hair and makeup, it looks like that is exactly where she’s headed. The rail-thin young man, first angered when she approached him with her broken Spanish, wears standard Chicano youth revolutionary gear—black Chucks, military green cap, slogan t-shirt, a Che Guevara beard. I picture them posing together like this with a 1980s charcoal gray backdrop behind them—fake plants, shimmering satin fabric, soft lighting, her head cocked slightly, their arms at strange angles. His hands awkward on her hips, her hand, a corsage. “Some of them end up doing really bad stuff to survive,” the young man is saying, as I exit the train at the Heritage Square/Arroyo station.



["(de)Colonial Bi-Polarity Inter-play":

cosmopolitan center / marginalized periphery]




How to take the movement and force of this destructive, debilitating psychological and emotional energy, and use it against itself?


This bipolar movement, this back-and-forth loop, this wobbly oscillation, this vascillation?


Not an escape—there is no escape—but a push through / beyond,

a spiral up and out of the loop,

a spiral into multidimensional movement out of the two dimensional static of the binary loop?


"The deployment of a kind of back-and-forth bipolar social relational mode"















How to help each other, through such movement, as friends / partners / fellow Chicana/o community members? How to engage in a propulsive, creative social dynamic built on this
































In working to help each other, in working together creatively in such a propulsive, creative social dynamic:

How to navigate the power dynamics of relational habits—struggles for dominance, habits of hierarchy, trust issues—that would easily jam such a dynamic?

How to develop models for collaboration that turn these unavoidable power struggles into a game?

How to take that inevitable back-and-forth struggle for power, and use it against itself to push through and beyond those attempts to establish dominance in a given social situation / context / interaction?


(Every day she paints her fingernails a different elaborate, complex pattern in which I lose myself immediately, deliriously, without fail. She shows me and my homeboy her latest, a kind of turtle shell swirl—cerulean, eggplant—and my homeboy is suddenly an expert on All Things Armenian—culture, art, history, whole Armenian language phrases even. I sit back and watch him, thinking, This motherfucker. He impresses her, of course, and makes me look even more ignorant than I really am. Outshined, chumped, confidence undermined in those key moments of initial contact. For a while, I am furious. “Oye, ¿pero que onda, 'mano? ¡No manches! ¿Así les ayudas a tus amigos, güey? This is how you help your friend?” I say. “Competition, or cooperation?” Later, he laughs and apologizes, and eventually, I can finally laugh about it, too. Yes, yes, of course I know Arshille Gorky, how could I not? Do you like the films of Atom Egoyan? He has always been one of my favorite directors. What patterns are you wearing today? Let me see, give me your hand, where are you going? what will we say?)













—"to grow, develop, transform, love."




2 – 3 Players (+ )


A game form of purposefully engaged/participatory antiflâneurism that combines “leapfrog” and “follow-the-leader.”

Players work in an agitated pair (Player 1 and Player 2), dressed very similarly.

(additionally, we suggest dressing “nicely” according to prevailing cosmopolitan norms and standards, e.g., wearing a tie, or heels, as this facilitates interaction by diminishing perceived threat-level in others).

A possible third player (Player 3) may function as documentarian.



Players move through the city as partnered “antiflâneurs,” following each other in an anxious game of “pursuer” and “pursued” in which these roles are switched at random points.

At any moment, the pursuer may overtake the pursued and suddenly become the pursued as the roles are swapped (interactions with others may prove to be the ideal "pivot" points for these swaps).

As players switch positions, their designation switches (“Player 1” indicates player in the “lead” who is being pursued; “Player 2” indicates player who is “following” and “pursuing”).

The documentarian (Player 3) “pursues” both, moving back and forth to photograph from a safe distance and in such a way as to not draw attention to the players or her/himself as much as possible.



As players move through the city pursuing each other, always with and through an underlying element of anxious energy and agitation, they perform pre-sketched scenarios with others in public spaces.

These scenarios target specific behaviors and patterns and issues, with the primary aim of introducing a warping effect into city space and its social relations. (An agitated disruptive force, but also, a homeopathic healing force.)



Scenarios may be the briefest outline
(word, phrase, or image cues),
may be somewhat more elaborate
(engage someone in a general dialogue about trying to get geographical directions),
or may be specific and very elaborate
(engage someone in a specific pre-scripted or sketched story).


In all cases:

An emphasis on piling on elaborate details, on repetition, on incantation, on storytelling, on extending the conversation beyond standard delimitations in order to tease out possibilities.



Players ideally will interact with the same people in ways that create an interwoven scenario performance, but they may interact with different people.


Some mini-game suggestions for interacting with the same people as points of example:

Ex.: Players rif on the same verbal cue or image. Player 1 engages someone in conversation and touches on several predetermined key words or images; Player 2 later reaches the same person and engages them in conversation; at some point, Player 2 finds ways to inject the same verbal cues into the dialogue.

"Hide" and "Seek"
Ex.: Player 1 asks if the person has seen Player 2, providing an elaborate description, perhaps conveying a desperate sense of urgency in needing to find Player 2;

once Player 1 moves on, Player 2—the current pursuer—asks the same person if they have seen Player 1, with a similar elaborate description that might include other narrative information as to why they are seeking each other, etc. Variation: Instead of describing Player 1, Player 2 describes the same "lost" person (in other words, themselves).

(Live cell phone) "Tag"
Players have cell phone conversation in front of the same person, so that the person hears both sides of the same conversation but at different moments in the conversation as the players move (players would be having the conversation with each other, or perhaps, with the same imaginary person on the other end).

A variation on this would be to have the exact same conversation at both moments, to create a strange temporal and spatial disruption. In other words, the conversation would be repeated once Player 2 reached the same person.

An even further variation on this would be to alternate between roles in the conversation: The person might hear the same side of the same conversation at separate moments, but coming from a different person now, or, they might hear the other side of the same conversation.

"Rubric's Cues"
Players send SMS text messages or call each other as a way of delivering performance cues.

For example, Player 2 may observe Player 1 interacting with someone, and may send a text message with instructions on what to say or do in the middle of the conversation.

Alternately, Player 1 may send a message "back" to Player 2 with instructions based on that same interaction once it is over and Player 1 has moved on (e.g., “When you reach the man in green jeans, talk about the new public bathroom booth at the Pershing Square station,” or, something more esoteric or abstract).



Potential sites include various urban areas with extensive pedestration activity and traffic in a variety of contexts:

-General busy citystreet shopping areas
(e.g., Broadway Street, or Santee Alley/Fashion District, in downtown Los Angeles, CA)

-Areas with busy "underground" and/or "semi-legitmate" economic activites like vending of food, DVDs/CDs, and used clothing
(e.g., Macarthur Park in Los Angeles, CA; swapmeets)

-Areas busy with activity and traffic of white-collar, highrise office workers, weekdays
(e.g., Bunker Hill financial disctrict in downtown Los Angeles, CA)

-Busy tourist areas
(e.g., Chinatown and Placita Olvera near downtown Los Angeles, CA;
Hollywood Blvd. near Highland Ave.)

-Mixed-use shopping/living/entertainment complexes
(e.g., Universal Citywalk in Universal City, CA; Americana shopping center in Glendale, CA; The Grove shopping center in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, CA)



The real potential emerges in all of these cues, images, words, phrases, instructions, descriptions, etc., and NOT the framework of the game itself, because it is here that players can devise specific patterns to address issues that are important to them.


Part of the aim is to disrupt and jolt ingrained patterns of behavior and habit, to open up more imaginative and creative interactions and relations, to disrupt the spatially proscribed and prescribed behaviors of late-capitalism’s produced space, with imagination and creativity, to connect.




























—"Words as physical force, language as physical, language that creates magical power. A narrative movement, de Certeau’s 'long poem of walking' as a narrative incantation. Placing a copy/mimesis of the self into the narrative in a kind of third-person self-narration of flâneur-like movement and interaction through the city. Words used to create a mimesis of the spirits, to tell the spirit world about itself, demonstrate knowledge of the spirits through a poetics of movement, gesture, social intercourse, discourse."











Other characteristics of the mimetic incantation:

-Strange sense of time.
-Detail heaped on detail.
-Inclusion of character in the chant.
-Not so much instructing the spirits as bringing them into being (through mimesis).
-Michael Taussig: “…you are becoming medicines…”








"Insert (a copy of) the self into the narration in third person, describing what you do as you do it, so that you are creating self on two levels simultaneously—narration and action—and the two levels are intertwined. The two copies are intertwined."









A narrative interweaving that emerges through language spoken and language in action, gesture and movement as language reshaping relations to city space, to one another, reshaping habits and patterns through a warping:
















































This occurs through an imaginative force and nonrational register, but it also involves an ethical and politically motivated dimension.


In its most basic articulation, this political dimension is ideologically anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-hierarchical, and more broadly, aims at a general deconstructive practice targeting all binary structures and the oppressive behaviors and modes that they inform.


This deconstruction aims at foregrounding, subverting, and opening these binary structures through the dialogical movement of a rehearsal aesthetics of playful performance in everyday life and space.


The point is to open a space of possibility, of ethically engaged democratic action toward social justice and transformation on individual and social levels (performance emerges through a focus on the necessary relation of individual and community; transformation must occur in the relation between both; there is no individual transformation separate from social transformation, and vice versa. All movement, gesture, performance, rehearsal, transformation, occurs in and through social relations between individuals in community).


Part of the aim is to have fun.









framework: abstract


framework: theory
practice : text: "POLE POSITION" #1 (5 MAY 2010, DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, CA)
practice : images: "POLE POSITION" #1 (5 MAY 2010, DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, CA)


Ruben R. Mendoza (concept/performance/text)
Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez (concept/photo images)
Luis A. Vega (concept/performance/text)


This project was completed in partial fulfillment of Dr. Richard W. Mitchell's Spring 2010 English graduate seminar, "Drama, Performance, and Everyday Life," at California State University, Northridge.






contact: kualyque • p.o. box 861843 • los angeles, ca 90086-1843 • k u a l y q u e @ s i c k l y s e a s o n . c o m