Julie Gemuend

Julie Gemuend

Thesis: Becoming World: A Reimagining of the Material Self

Abstract: My research-creation project aims to challenge previously-held characterizations of the autonomous individual and encourage new narratives that work to realign the Anthropocene subject as inextricably interconnected to the world. My work is powered by the materiality of the body and its entanglement with the physical world. I address the relationship between two landscapes—one outside the self, the other within. This interplay of interior/exterior understands the skin as a physical membrane that sheds and reconstitutes itself continually — a contour in process existing provisionally as a permeable, shifting parameter. In other words, we let the world in whether we choose to or not. This means that we are both physically vulnerable but also responsible to other beings. I address this vulnerability through Stacy Alaimo’s concept of “trans-corporeality” which emphasizes the human body as a site across which substances and forces are constantly crossing and by which human beings are inseparable from the environment, both natural and man-made (Alaimo 2010). My research will mine trans-corporeal evocations across the arts, seeking the ways in which the world takes up residence in the body—as in the case with modern dancer Martha Graham, who, during WWII, observed how daily newspaper headlines affected the muscles in the bodies of her dancers.

My work embraces a research-creation method which will combine creative practice and approaches specific to art-making with materialist posthumanism, phenomenological and ethnographic study. My multi-channel audiovisual installation will rely on activating modes of heightened perception and awareness—empirically and imaginatively through journaling and audio recordings—and analyses of multi-sensory experience by using video collaboratively. Exploring what it means to be embodied in this world requires the arts of imagination as much as scientific specifications.

Keywords: trans-corporeality, critical posthumanism, new materialism, research-creation, performance-based video, intuitive thinking, immanence, lived experiences, Anthropocene