Ready to Foot: Decolonising the feet through Demaking High Heeled shoes for audiovisual theatrical performance and a new location of knowledge
The feet play the role of support structures or even infrastructure for the rest of the body, especially for the hands. The hands, the head and the eyes are the glorified organs of vision, manipulation, tactility and calculation and the feet are a kind of infrastructural support that philosophers never bothered to speak about that much – with notable exceptions such as Bataille, who believes in order to undo the division of labour as proposed by Charles Darwin one would have to effectively want to challenge, suspend, reverse, invert or maybe undo that division of labour, which brings up colonised questions, the feet are colonised by the body, the feet are the colonial subject, the feet are being colonised by the body, so in that sense this research aims to decolonise that hierarchy that has formatted the body as this and elevated the hand at the expense of the feet.
Shoes in many cases deform feet. It is this unfree state of the feet that this research challenges through finding unexpected ways to use our feet in newly designed computer enhanced footwear. These foot devices use new technologies coupled with sensors and FM sound synthesis, and therefore afford new types of bodily extensions for creative expression. Through the praxis, Alex Murray-Leslie explores and demonstrates the expressive role of the feet in lens-based performance art and their potential impact on the way we perform when enhanced with technology to produce a multi-sensory experience. This approach places the computer enhanced foot-wear in critical dialogue with contemporary technologies for shaping corporeal experience and reimagining foot-centric technologies, to inform unexpected outcomes and communicative ideas through internal bodily awareness. In relation to this research, therefore it is an essential element of the computer enhanced footwear and use of technology that it is from a social perspective taking into account the theory of ‘humanistic intelligence’ (Mann 2001) rather than an ‘artificial intelligence’. Murray-Leslie explores the development of foot based skills in the area of audio-visual performance and the related creation of audio-visual instruments created to costume and decolonise the feet.
Alex's lecture is part the Artistic Research seminar, which centers on the question of what constitutes artistic research, or research in the arts. The seminar invites presentations and propositions by different practitioners, invited theorists and researchers inside and outside of the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art.
Dr. Alexandra Murray-Leslie is co-founder of the trans-disciplinary art band Chicks on Speed, a collective of culture workers who apply subversive DIY ethics to interrogate the boundaries of academia, pop music, craft, performance art, new musical instrument design, textiles and theatrical fashion. Her practice-based research focuses on the design and development of computer enhanced foot devices for theatrical audiovisual expression.