Performance Research (2014) The Performing Arts Journal
Aquabatics: a post-turbulent performance in water
Volume 19, 2014 - Issue 5: On Turbulence, Pages 98-108 | Published online: 24 Nov 2014
By moving through the water, we create vortices: a swirling external fluid motion. Vortex turbulence produces the restrictive friction that supports movement and propulsion. Without turbulence, the body remains suspended in the water at the point of neutral buoyancy, much like an astronaut in the microgravity of space. Through a form of performance known as Aquabatics, this article proposes a singular agency between the performer and a body of water in a mutual state of flow. Accordingly, the underwater realm collaborates with the performer, to provoke new techniques for adaption and syncopation, to work with the unique stressors on the body, and perform beyond them. Artistic performance in water is not therefore restricted to the affective relationship to turbulent environments rather it becomes it. This extends Arthur Kroker's observations of our post-Heideggerian technological ‘body in drift’, and posits an evolution towards post-turbulent performance.
This essay provides an opportunity for those who are prepared to dive in and perform within a body of water. I firstly expand upon the cultural and technological scaffolds of meaning and device that relate the forms and flows of material practice in water. This serves to situate a particular creative vantage that comes from the experience of performing within turbulence noting when the body becomes indistinguishable from a body of water. To this, I contribute an understanding of a singular body performance between the body and body of water through the practice of my own performance research into Aquabatics. Aquabatics combines live art and commercial diving to embrace pneuma. By introducing key figures in Western aquatic and related arts, I show how Aquabatics collapses boarders between simulation and materiality, imagination and actuality, derived from a state of flow in performance, and syncronised performance with the cadence of a body of water, to rupture normative dance–performance–media phenomenology and propose post-turbulent performance.