Joa Hug To call that ‘writing’?

Diffracting the notion of ‘writing’ with the research score

Diffraction troubles dichotomies, including some of the most sedimented and stabilized/stabilizing binaries, such as organic/inorganic and animate/inanimate. Indeed, the quantum understanding of diffraction troubles the very notion of dichotomy—cutting into two—as a singular act of absolute differentiation, fracturing this from that, now from then.
(Barad 2014, 168)

Diffraction denotes the phenomenon of interference generated by the encounter of waves, be it light, sound or water and, within quantum physics, of matter itself. Such a superposition of waves produces a diffraction or interference pattern that records, i.e. incorporates the trajectory of waves. Donna Haraway draws on the optical phenomenon of diffraction as a metaphor and a method for knowledge production, because diffractions crucially differ from reflections. Whereas reflection is bound to ‘repeating the Sacred Image of the Same’, ‘diffraction patterns record the history of interaction, interference, reinforcement, difference’, as she points out.
(Sehgal 2014, 188)

The model of inscription

The dominant idea of the body as

Diffusion of confusion

A passive surface of inscription

Who is doing the writing?

What is the power of this?

Timelines of thoughts

How would we think together?

How is that thought coming into being?

How do we coalesce?

Coming together not quite in the right order

What kind of thinking is enacted here?


What kind of ideology?

Thinking together

Not in your own voice, but in the voice with someone else

Writing with hands


With similar points of contact

Is it a co-articulation across gender?

Who is included?

Who is excluded?

Together and apart

And at the same time full-body writing

Breathing through the winds of ghostly voices

Sensations pouring like ink

Does it speak with authority?

Is it open to critique and to

Finding together

Its deconstruction?

Breathing into and through the bones

What is it bracketing?

Is it joyful?

No hesitation

What kind of emotional tone does it have?

It seems to be so serious


Does it allow for play?


Through textures


Weaving in through the touch, the weight

Hosts and ghosts

Giving the weight

The direction

Only what it needs, and exactly only that

Would it be in any another situation?

If sensations can pass through so can thoughts

How different is it really?

Always to the point, finishing the line

Does my touch change it?

Does it affect your thinking?


To call that ‘writing’?

I can’t quite get through you

Words not always come together

How it could be

The quality of its touch

Sometimes they seem to surface, but then

Searching for yet another mode of entering

It is a bit dense, there—maybe you can loosen up a little



They retreat again

Shared authorship

Creating the space for appearance

They reach towards

But then decide


Creating a different ecology of mind

To depart, to take another route

Becoming susceptible for his humour, his wit, his

A technique

Enjoy that place!

Knowing how to do

To decompose again

Without pushing


Give it the final touch


Without forcing

Be composed

Is that mind extended

But with some

In the sense of being expanded?


Spatially and temporally and whatever?

Writing from the place of touch

Where sensing and thinking are touching

Or is that mind a condensation, a crystallization of coagulated minds?


Streams of consciousness


With care for the other

Begins with a care for the self

Selfless selves


My doctoral research started out as an investigation into one of the core practices of Body Weather performance training—the so-called Manipulations.(1) Conducted in pairs with alternating roles of ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’, the Manipulations is a hands-on practice that draws on a range of diverse Eastern and Western somatic practices such as yoga, shiatsu, acupuncture, and manual therapy. As a pre-performative training practice, the aim of the Manipulations is to make the performer receptive and available to be moved by (human and non-human) agencies within and without the body.

Initially, one objective of my research was to articulate the impact of the Manipulations on the practitioner, and the bodily knowledge created through that practice.(2) The so-called research score became my main practical tool to accomplish that. The research score is a translation of the beginning sequence of the Manipulations from a duo into a solo practice: alone, the receiver recreates—with as much detail as possible—the sensation of being given. In addition and simultaneously to the task of physical recreation, the performer-researcher attends to the process of thinking and instantly articulates thoughts that arise in relation to a word or a concept chosen beforehand. The verbal articulation happens within the practice of the research score. Hence, the voice acts as a writing tool that is recorded on the spot, and transcribed afterwards.(3)


1) For a video registration of Manipulations No. 1 & 2 see

2) See Joa Hug (2016), “Writing with practice: Body Weather performance training becomes a medium of artistic research”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 7 (2), 168–189 as well as Joa Hug (2016), “Modes of Knowing in Body Weather Performance Training”. In: Enderlein, Undine (ed.), Zwischenleiblichkeit und bewegtes Verstehen: Intercorporeity, Movement and Tacit Knowledge (Bielefeld: Transcript), pp. 367–380.

3) See Joa Hug (forthcoming), “No solutions: The research score as a medium of artistic research”. The present piece was created on the basis of a series of six research scores that were recorded, transcribed, edited, and (re-)composed into one single track.

The pictures are courtesy of the author and Paula Kramer.
Video by Joa Hug


I am grateful for the feedback I have received by my colleagues at AREAL Berlin and at the Performing Arts Research Centre (Uniarts Helsinki) in the course of creating this piece. Many thanks for contributing in various ways, and at different stages, go to Dagmar Frohning, Liisa Jaakonaho, Riikka T. Innanen, Tashi Iwaoka, Simo Kellokompu, Paula Kramer, Leena Rouhiainen, Vincent Roumagnac, Josh Rutter, and especially to Outi Condit who not only raised the initial question captured in the title, but also pursued its taking form through her constructive criticism and persistent dedication.