Music, Theater and Performance in a Globalised World: a Semiotic Approach
Chairs: Pirjo Kukkonen, Jean-Marie Jacono, José María Paz Gago
1) Ivaylo Alexandroff, Ph.D.
Theatrical Performativity and Stage Signification - The Performance as a Theatrical Text
Through the manifestation of the concept of a sign we discuss the question of how the meaning and significance takes place in a theatre environment, as we analyze the process of signification/communication in a theatrical stage reality. This semiotic perspective helps us to develop the idea of a theatre performance as a theatrical text created by actor and space, and accepted by the audience. This text includes at its core two aspects of signification - linguistic/non-linguistic and performative (physical action), which actually stimulates the diversity of signification on stage. We explore the premise that as a text, as a semiotic construct of signs and sign formations, a theatrical performance is defined by a set of codes that are generally supra-theatrical cultural codes, and which are based on secondary sign systems of the performance - literature, music, art, mythology, religion, even the theatre itself as art. We indicate that the performative codes (sign systems) normally function simultaneously in a performance (paradigmatically) or linearly (syntagmatically), and thus they actively produce meaning [signification]. The signs that the viewer gets from variative sign systems on the stage are accepted under the principle of simultaneous contact, which themselves are in syntagmatic relation among themselves when producing signification. Quoting De Marinis 1993 , and in the process of reasoning, also De Toro 1995, we classified the performative text as a macrotext or text-of-the-text produced by variative series of partial performative texts that in the context of the overall performance constitute unique expressive result, a compilatory product of speech, music, costumes, gestures, dance, body sculpturing, etc. Thus, we conclude that the elements of the general performative text interact and they are united in one sense that constructs the theatrical text as performative expression. Theatre semiotics as a general principle, and in particular the ideas of the Prague structuralists, helped us look at theatre performance from the perspective of an interaction between actors and space in their overall verbal/nonverbal communication. In view of our reasoning up to this point we finally confirm the position that the actor and stage space are fundamental components not only of the theatrical text but of the theatrical performativity as a whole.
Ivaylo Alexandroff has completed a Master Degree at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts, Sofia in Theatre Studies (1996) and Theater Stage Directing (1999) and received his PhD degree at the New Bulgarian University, Sofia in 2009, writing his dissertation "Theatrical Performance in a Semiotic Perspective".
This work fully supplemented and revised is published as a book in Bulgarian language by Prosveta Publishing House with a title "Architectonics of Theatricality" (2012) and received Nomination for Theatre Criticism by the Guild of Drama Specialists, Critics and Dramatists, National Awards IKAR® 2013, Union of the Bulgarian Actors.
2) José Luis Valencia González, PhD, National School of Anthropology and History of Mexico
The Hologramaticultural Memory of a Sacred Dance in Mexico
In the development of publications, Iuri M. Lotman eloquently shows us how it was routing the influence of dialectical materialism to spread to other areas of the knowledge beyond the artistic text.
Integrating the neuroscience Lotman was able to interrelating semiotic texts with a possible cultural typology from performances complexly hyperspecialized of areas of the two cerebral hemispheres, which implies that there is a natural and complementary dialogic in the human being himself, which together with its social praxis is achieved a connection in the continuum between the genetic memory and cultural memory.
Edgar Morin; major contemporary proponent of complex thought; has, on the other hand, insisted contemplate the human as being multi-faceted composed by, in general terms, homo sapiens—homo demens—homo complexus, in virtue of which human nature acquired analogy the same behaviour of the cosmos, i.e. our skies are not in a harmonious fullness but in an un stable dialectically evolving collision.
Between both thinkers can be considered a dialogic correlation, dialectic and recursive two kinds of thoughts that work on human and cultural levels: the homomorphic and heteromorphic for Lotman; and rational-empirical-technical and symbolic-mythological-magic to Morin.
The Danza Conchera Azteca-Chichimeca is a current sacred practice that has been present in the memory of Mexican culture, dance, an essential part of its sacred and everyday life, is registered in the so-called codices that were produced since ancient times, they can be the textpoyetics that have given rise to the new mythopoetics that govern and order the whole ritual, which not only provides the body movement of the dance, but also preparations, pilgrimages to shrines, the lifting of the altars, the distribution of “words” (hierarchies), music, songs and others, besides implies the living conditions of its members.
Therefore, the praxis of the dancers are involved in all a nomenclature which makes a worldview, a cosmogony and cosmology who enroll in an own domain of the cerebral dextrohemisphere thought, which reflects and refracts clearly during very complex sacred practice of the Danza Conchera Azteca Chichimeca.
This paper aims to explain how the criteria of Iuri M. Lotman and Edgar Morin allow us to show attributes that constitute the continuum of a millennial thinking, that in a interactive dialogic, dialectic and recursive curl set up the central function of the Danza Conchera Azteca-Chichimeca, which is its sacred hologramiticulturally connection between their collective conscience and the Cosmos.
3) Simon Levesque, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada (email@example.com)
Semiotics of play: the origin of ‘flights of fancy’ according to Henri Laborit
The object of this discussion is to demonstrate that our understanding of play can be valuably enlightened by taking in account its biological determinations. Researches in the field of communication acknowledge for animals as well as for human beings the capacity to play, and consider the playful activity as a form of metacommunication that preceded the emergence of verbal language in the course of evolution. This hypothesis cannot be verified, but remains likely. Other hypotheses coexist regarding the role of play in learning processes and sociability, but I am not to be their proponent here. It is to the sphere of play in human beings interactions and its relations to imagination that I wish to restrain my remarks. In this field, French neurosurgeon, biologist and philosopher Henri Laborit proved his genius by having initiated and defended throughout his life a unified theory based on the medical and behavioural principle of the inhibition of action (Laborit, 1979); a principle, as he explains, by which emerged, in the human species, an important disposition, that is, concomitant to the development of symbolic language, being liable to flights of fancy, to escape in the realm of imagination, of built abstraction (Laborit, 1976). And it is this flight that enables play. Since Laborit remains almost unknown outside of the francophonie, I wish to get his thoughts the attention deserved, especially vis-à-vis contemporary biosemiotics and the lack of interest directed towards play theory in the field.
Simon Levesque is a doctoral student in semiology at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and the recipient of a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2013-2016). His interests are directed towards problems such as the ontological status of fictional objects, play theory and the ethics of fiction. He is the cofounder and editor of Cygne noir, a French-speaking scientific journal dedicated to semiotic explorations, as well as one of the cofounders, member and webmaster of the Laboratoire de résistance sémiotique, a research lab that aims to develop the semiotics of resistance. Recently, he has been keen to study biosemiotics.
In Teleconference from Venezuela:
4) Rocco Mangieri, Laboratory of semiotics, ULA-University, Venezuela
New Approaches To Kinetics And Proxemics In Performing Arts
From the concept of performing arts and the works done by actors and dancers we will try to explore some new dimensions of the language of movement, distance and gesture in spaces of collective action. The system and codes of visual and graphicalnotation of modernity have not vanished , but these instruments are combined with new methods of analysis and creation inkinesics and proxemics. The Afro-Caribbean and Latin American local cultures are syncretic and open to the incorporation ofvarious body languages. In this kind of context semiotics of performance must engage the complexity and mix of permanentsigns and codes that are transformed into new creative forms.
5) Jean-Marie Jacono, LESA, université d'Aix-Marseille, France.
L'interprétation en concert, performance ou re-création ? L'exemple de la chanteuse française Barbara (1930-1997)
Le concert représente l'une des étapes importantes de la transformation de la chanson. Les musiciens, les lumières, la présence du public et de nouveaux arrangements reconfigurent le texte, la musique mais aussi l'interprète. Sa voix et ses gestes sont placés dans un espace scénique qui conditionne la performance. L'analyse de la performance a souvent été effectuée en musique. La performance est-elle simplement une inteprétation d'une version écrite ou enregistrée d'une chanson ? Ne peut-on parler plutôt de re-création d'une chanson ? C'est à dire de nouveaux sens ? Comment analyser ce phénomène d'un point de vue sémiotique ?
L'étude de deux concerts de la chanteuse française Barbara, en 1981 et en 1987, montre l'importance de la re-création et l'apparition de nouveaux sens d'une chanson. Ses interprétations en concert, en 1981 et en 1987, sont très différentes face à des publics qui jouent un rôle actif. Il faut donc ré-examiner le concept de performance.
Langue : français
Matériel : Power point (French and English), CD
6) Pirjo Kukkonen, University of Helsinki, Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The tango moving in semiospheres – from local to global to local …
The tango as a musical genre is in its earliest stage tango danza (1880–1890), folk culture (folklore), its evolution from a spontaneous folk generated music and dance. In its next stage, tango canción (1890–1917), it can be characterised as a form of popular culture by its wider acceptance in the culture of the suburbios, lower and working class neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires since 1880s. Hence, in its earliest form it was, according to Castro (1991), folklore, while the massification of the tango, that is, how folklore becomes poplore, began with its transformation into a popular song form, the tango canción, after 1917, when the tango began to be disseminated through the new electronic media of radio, film and sound recordings; in this way the tango also became standardised and massificated (music, (show)dance, lyrics, and images, i.e. popular imagination; cf. Kukkonen  2003; 2000; 2002). Hence, we can say that local becomes global, whilst the global traits are rooted in a local culture, something that happened in Finland (cultural relocation).
I will discuss some tango lyrics in order to show how massification manipulates, or globalises and changes texts, or how cultural encounter and contacts with various languages, are manifested in tango lyrics between different continents. The tango has gone through many stages sociologically, and culturally; and also from the viewpoint of translation, we can talk about intralinguistic (rewording, e.g. understanding the language of the tango, lunfardo), interlinguistic (translation proper, translating lyrics), and intersemiotic (translating between various sign systems, cf. performability, Espasa 2000) modes of translation (Jakobson 1959); from rural roots to urban places, from song to (show)dance, from low culture to middle class (forbidden music of the poor people and streets), and then high culture (concert tango, Piazzolla, etc.), from folklore to poplore, massification, and also carnevalisation (cf. Espasa 2000). The concept of chronotopos ‘time and place’ (Bakhtin), the beginning of urbanisation, the cultural and socio-semiotic processes, in the last decades of 19th century in South America and in Europe, is manifested in the tango as history, culture, communication, and language. I will discuss the tango as a manifestation of significance of cultural and semiotic traits in South America, and in Europe seen through the lyrics of the tango as world music. Semiotic translation is to translate and to understand the other, the foreign and strange, the non-culture, and to make non-culture to culture, a part of understanding. Tango lyrics as discourses mediate meanings and significations, they make new meanings, in that they carry cultural memory and heritage in a dialogical process of signification.
7) Lei Wu, Research Center of Information and Communication (ReSIC), Université Libre de Bruxelles (email@example.com)
Performing Interculturality: Towards a Semiotics of Intercultural Performance
Since the 20th century, intercultural performance has evolved into a performance genre sui generis on the international stage with its unique aesthetic value. In these intercultural performances, multifarious appropriation, negation, and hybridization among different performing traditions and cultures are actively experimented and mise en scène, both reflexive as well as indicative of the cultural logic of the rapid globalizing era. Meanwhile, the evolution of qualitative inquiry of interpretative approaches in intercultural performance studies has but accentuated the old problematic of meaning and signification in performance analysis, and calls for a competent conceptual model with operative analytic practice to adequately accommodate the semiotic mechanism intercultural performance in the new century.
For this purpose, this study re-explores the semiotic legacy examplified in Standard Model of performance (Fische-Lichte 1992 ; Pavis 2005 ; Helbo 1991, 2003; De Marinis 1993) of the 20th century on the one hand, and tap the intercultural potential arising from the the Juri Lotman’s late semiotization of culture (1990, 2005, 2009) on the other hand. A common epistemological ground of “livingness” that would unify the vectorised “vital” energy flow on the systemic level of performance and the explosive development of semiosphere on the inter-systemic level of performance is argued for. From such “revitalized” perspective, an integrative and dynamic semiotic model of intercultural performance (SIP) linking semiotics of performance and semiotics of culture is anticipated.
This proposition of current SIP attempts 1) to reframe the semiotic analysis of performance on the semiospheric plane, so that the semiotic logic of theatrical signification among seemingly disparate performance paradigms as theatrical, postdramatic (Lehmann 2006), and intercultural can be categorically differentiated; 2) to extend the epistemology of performance on the communicative plane of interculturality for a better comprehension of the generative dynamism of meaning. Intercultural performance is therefore conceptualized as an eventful intersemiospheric field, in which collisions of codes from different layers of performance semiosphere are mise en scène. In these intersemiospheric collisions, a “spectacle” of interculturality, or an ecology of new code species, is produced, performative of the cultural dialogism in and via intercultural performance. Following these Lotmanian explosive collisions, newly-formed codes of interculturality in performance decay, graviate, and infiltrate gradually through semiospheric border, periphery towards its core as a productive reception process, culturally as well as consciously.
The modelisation of SIP is not only meant to be an ad hoc semiotic extension of the Standard Model for the mechanism of theatricality/interculturality in intercultural performance, but also hopes to insinuate a potential performative turn for the semiotic science of culture by means of intercultural performance per se.
Key words: Semiotics, intercultural performance, semiosphere, intercultural field, intersemiospheric collision