Diptych: Gesture as Hieroglyph
In Diptych, blog contributor Timothy Barr juxtaposes two quotes from distant historical periods. Their “family resemblance” suggests a hidden genealogy of a modern thought.
V. S. Meyerhold is best-known as one of the progenitors of the modernist theater and the founder of the philosophy and practice of acting known as biomechanics. He polemicized against the naturalistic theater and its techniques, such as the famous “Method” of his teacher, Stanislavski.
In his The Advancement of Learning, Francis Bacon discussed gesture as part of “transitive” knowledge, or “tradition,” that concerns “ the expressing or transferring our knowledge to others.” Gesture is part of the “organ of tradition” that communicates not through convention but by similitude or affinity with what it signifies. Bacon notes that he found the study of this “part of knowledge” was “not inquired [into], but deficient.”
What might it mean to see Meyerhold’s theory of biomechanics as taking up the “deficient” inquiry into gesture. the “transient hieroglyph,” as an “organ of tradition”?