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Advance error by error, with erring steps: embracing and exploring mistakes and failure across the psychophysical performer training space and the page

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Within a practical environment that reeks of the possibility of failure (Zarrilli 2002a: 163), psychophysical performer trainers, like Phillip Zarrilli and Sandra Reeve, discursively construct alternative rules and understandings of mistakes and failure. Participants' sustained assimilation of these alternative rules lead to the necessary reconsideration and removal of conditioned responses to mistakes and failure. Through a selection of examples, and from the position of participant-observation, this article highlights how these alternative rules of mistakes and failure can be usefully examined within, and applied to, the reflective documentation of such psychophysical practices. The examination and application of these alternative rules can help to create a more embodied, performative form of articulation that engages with the experiences of the live, fallible, processual body. Such articulation works to tackle, upon the page and then through to the practice space, participants' disembodied conditioned responses to mistakes and failure, and supports development of a fuller psychophysical engagement.

This article explores the means of, and results from, creating this embodied articulation in pertinent and reflexive dialogue with Luce Irigaray and, particularly, Hlne Cixous's theoretical writings. These writings explore and play with notions of bodies, embodiment and embodied writing. Moreover, direct and stimulating connections can be drawn between the practical alternative understandings of mistakes and Cixous's and Irigaray's emphasis upon the importance of frailty, error and kindness within the processes of writing.

Therefore, through the focus of mistakes and failure, this article proposes a new interpretation of the role of written articulations of pre-performative practice that can be used by, and taught to and by, training participants and practitioners. It demonstrates processes of written reflection that offer access to, feed, and critically analyse the embodied, creative and intuitive experiences of the psychophysical training space.
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Keywords: Phillip Zarrilli; Sandra Reeve; embodied writing; mistakes/failure; psychophysical performer training

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Exeter.

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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