Aperture / Rapture / Gesture: 

Religion in the Transhuman Urban

 

Abstract:

The Center for Landscape & Artefact approaches the religion of rave primarily as evidenced through material culture, but also as active participants in American rave. Being longtime record disc jockeys and on-site visual collage artists, we contribute to the invention of the panoply of religious significance inherent in rave, expressed first and foremost through dance. As academic investigators, our research consists of emic, participatory and objective studies of material culture, cultural geography and dance theory, conducted through documentation of direct experience and interviews with other producers and participants. We analyze the acoustic and visual emanations of the rave artefact, the landscapes of contemporary rave in urban and post-urban America and the varied fabric of possible transcendental dance-gesture.

Our research suggests that most, if not all, religious qualities associated with rave are contingent upon the participation in and experience of novelty, which is the original creative process. As producers of rave, we utilize art forms that create an aperture into novelty. As DJs and visual artists, we strive towards a prolongation of transformation: from one track to another, from one image to the next. This aperture amplifies the opportunity for the experience of novelty, creating a cognitive space within the dancer from which a prolonged rapture emerges, expressed corporeally via kinesthetic phrasing. One of our primary tasks is to create a glossary of rave dance, tracing the gestures to their religious ontogeny as iconic or ideogrammatic technologies.

We have identified two distinct types of religious expression in rave. The first, which is clearly in the majority, is referential to past and future temporal landscapes and cultural artefacts. This referentiality is apparent in the prehistoric, historic and futuristic interior decorations of rave space, flyer motifs and religious iconography. Native to the space of the mimetic experience are analogizing dance-gestures that point to the aesthetics of technology, pilgrimage, space travel or weightlessness. The second, and far less common, embodiment of rapture is non-referential moving meditation, more spiritual than religious, which we will discuss in the context of Vedic yoga and oriental martial art. The locator for the gesture in non-referential rave dance is the metonym. Rave dance, as a most contemporary manifestation of creativity-in-process, is an immediate body technology of rapture enjoined with the transhuman urban.

 

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