“Could Somatics, a training of perception, also be a (alien?) technology? Can there be a redefinition of 'humanity', of 'technology' ?”

Susan Ploetz (US/DE)
is an artist-researcher working with somatics, theory, writing, performance, simulation and live action role plays (larping) in different configurations. Her work deals with the overlapping spaces of soma and technos; she uses imagination, magical materiality, and protocol to induce emancipatory emotive dissonances and perceptual expansion. She explores live simulation, game design and play as decolonial story-making to allow for individual agency while creating decentralized community.

She has presented work at such institutions as the Berliner Festspiele, Oude Kerk, Sophiensaele, ABC Art Fair, Rupert (Vilnius), Documenta 13, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Aoyama Gakuin University (Tokyo), and Performa. She has been a guest artist/teacher, lectured or given workshops at Universit ä t der Kunst Berlin, Gerrit Reitveld Academie, Piet Zwart Institute, the DAAD, the Pervasive Media Studio (Bristol), SUNY Buffalo, and the Dutch Art Institute.

Susan Ploetz, Xenosomatics, Martin Gropius Bau 2018, courtesy of the artist
Susan Ploetz, Xenosomatics, Martin Gropius Bau, 2018, courtesy of the artist
Susan Ploetz, Xenosomatics, Tierspace, 2018, photo by Benjamin Busch
Susan Ploetz, Xenosomatics, Tierspace, 2018, photo by Benjamin Busch

XENOSOMATICS by Susan Ploetz

Xenosomatics is a series of somatic workshops that build up to a day-long larp using techniques from somatic/mindbody-based practices to simulate and explore an alien way of intimacy and relating, using the world of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy as inspiration and starting point. In this world, alien and human life forms are inextricably linked and the characters most grapple with what it means to be “human” or “alien” when the distinction between the two is rapidly disappearing. For Intimate Estrangements, Susan Ploetz will present and remotely facilitate three mini-larp sessions that explore one of the main mechanisms and modes of play from the longer-form larp. No experience in larping or somatics is necessary, an openness and curiosity around consensual touch, being touched, and exploring the connection between the imagination and physicality is highly encouraged. The themes broach on healing, extinction, sexuality, and procreation, but with an emphasis on an alien sense and format to these themes and potential interactions. The activities, while physically gentle, can often prove deep and sometimes provoking; breaks and playing at your own pace is an essential part of the process.

The mini-sessions will be run:
Friday September 25th, 18:30-22:30 CET
Saturday September 26th, 12:00-16:00 CET
Sunday September 27th, 16:00-18:00 CET

To RSVP (and for questions/info) please send an email to Susan at ploetzly@gmail.com. Once you have reserved your spot, you will be sent more information on what to expect and how to prepare. One can participate in the mini-larp onsite at Mikros, or online. It is best to sign up in a group of three people that you feel safe around (both for the content of the session and also in terms of Covid safety). At Mikros, it might be possible to larp with someone outside your normal social bubble, but mouth/nose masks will be required to participate (and will be provided on site).

Information on a previous run of Xenosomatics: https://susanploetz.com/Xenosomatics

From the player’s guide by Susan Ploetz:

I read Butler’s trilogy after it being mentioned in a talk by Luciana Antonia Majaca and Luciana Parisi, the talk is encapsulated here: E-flux, The Incomputable and Instrumental Possibility, Nov. 2016.
They see Lilith instrumentalizing her instrumentalization by the aliens, and starting to use the logic of the aliens as a way of survival (and in their minds, transcendence of her circumstances, which I actually don’t agree with). Parisi and Majaca then apply this to the technological and political forces at play in our “post-cybernetic age” as a possible strategy of not succumbing to “ the overwhelming logic of control, data positivism, and the paranoid reasoning of the algorithmically enhanced white-man cogito ” of our current times.

Once I started reading the books, I was struck by how familiar the logic and behavior of the aliens were to what I have experienced by studying Somatics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatics : mind-body centering practices that are both therapeutic and creative. I had always sensed something body-based in the Parisi and Majaca talk, even though I am sure this is not what they had in mind. Nonetheless, I became curious if I could use somatic techniques to simulate this alien race with bio-driven technologies, and a life-loving culture: something that seems very alien in the patriarchal, destructive yet driven by endless “growth” culture we still live in. Could Somatics, a training of perception, also be a (alien?) technology? Can there be a redefinition of “humanity”, of “technology” ?

I’ve also been very inspired by playing End of The Line, by the Participation Design Agency ( https://www.participation.design/ ). It was a very profound experience for me, and since then I’ve wanted “aliens” to become the next “vampire”: a way for us to examine what it means to be human, by losing humanity. With vampires, it is through blood and being “undead”, with these aliens it is through touch and losing a (western sense of) individuality and human genetic uniqueness.
Working with Butler’s books and this larp always leaves me with as many new questions as it does with new answers, and I hold this larp as an important site of my continued research into embodiment, technology, politics and being-ness.

for more insight into Susan Ploetz's work visit https://susanploetz.com/

Promo Image for 'Xenosomatics' by Susan Ploetz, curtesy of the artist