A HANDS-ON-FEET-ON COURSE-DISCOURSE-EXERCISE WITH KAIDIE THE TRANS-RUNNING-AMB-ASS-ADOR at dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, on 6 September 2012
3 days before my expiry on 09.09.2012. I make a d-Tour to dOCUMENTA 13 to transfer my final, world-changing messages. I run into problems right away: 1) My session follows one that was over-long – and still over-run (!!3 hours 20 minutes!!) 2) The running time assigned for lunch is hence cut down. So, only 12 people turn up at my 2pm run. The other 20 have walked-out – some of whom are no doubt the oh-so-precious-well-heeled-high-falutin-arm-chair-critics-cynics who must not to be caught dead in such uncouth/mindless/embarrassing/juvenile act as running. I’m running out of time – but not breath. I get on with it.
‘Hello world! Come join me in my “running discourse”! Let’s warm up. Stretch your muscles and your imagination. Let’s divide ourselves into 3 groups. Run for 3-minutes while discussing on one of these topics: DISCOURSE A: Walking versus running (biological and psychological similarities and differences). DISCOURSE B: The correlation between movement and thinking (thinking when moving versus sitting still? Lying in bed? Running? Cycling? Which is most conducive?). DISCOURSE C: The nature of discourse itself (one-way? dynamic? Versus other modes of communication such as a giving a paper at a conference?) Pay attention to how your body respond to or transform your thoughts!’ After the run, participants gather together to their findings. ‘Fun!’ ‘Feel ache on muscles I didn’t know I had!’ ‘Nice breeze on my face when running!’ ‘Tipsy after a night out, I tend to sprint home.’ ‘Too short! Want to run more! Want to discuss more!’ ‘Too distracted by the beautiful scenery of the beautiful park of Park Schonfeld to think properly!’ ‘I have to move to think, can’t think when still!’ ‘Nice day to run about in the field!’
I share my own findings too. These findings have been gathered from my past 996 days of running. ‘We’ve run for 3 minutes – but we human beings have run for 2 million years. Our “gluteus maximus”– or bum – are very maximus – to balance us while we run. When you run while you are high, you are following in the footsteps of the Raramuri people of Mexico who brew their own beer and run for hundreds of miles. And they’ve done that for hundreds of years. Without beer, running can make you high too. For scientists, this “high” is the production of neurotransmitters that make us happy, so linking our body and mind. For runners, this ‘high’ can be conducive to creativity – so linking running with thinking. For example mathematician Alan Turing conceptualised the computer while running.’ ‘On the other hand, or feet, Daoist sage Lao Zi linked the feet with the head, movement with life and thinking. You can see the latter in the Chinese word “dao”, which refers to both course and discourse. I pinpoint this thinking to poetic thinking: non-linear, creative, associative. I also pinpoint this movement to running, because the 16th century Latin etymology of “discourse” (“discursus”) refers to running from place to place, and runners were employed as messengers or ambassadors around the same time (15th-18th century).’ ‘So, I propose that as the running-ambassador transferred messages, neither ambassador nor recipient were passive, but were active agents themselves who, along the way, customise and transform the messages. In so doing, the messages are more than messages, but discourses. Such are to-and-fro exchanges that are alive, active and dynamic. New discourses and new knowledge are created. The process is creative and poetic, and can be an artwork. The running itself can be an artwork.’ And finally: ‘Thank you for allowing me to share my message of running. My name is Kaidie, and I have been your running-ambassador. Or trans-running-ambassador. Or, to be extra arsey, trans-running-amb-ASS-ador. I hope that you can personalise my messages, play with them, transform them, and further pass them on, keep the discourse alive, and open up 10,000 more discourses. Good bye.’ With that, I run off, into the sunset, and live happily ever after (for 3 more days). Life, as they say, goes on.
For an early video (circa January 2012) that provides a run-down of the correlation between running and discourse: click, run the video, hear, watch. Some of these photographs have been taken by Dr. Hayley Newman With special thanks to: Dr. Sharon Morris, and Trespasser (for being a trail-run-ner of this performance), and the participants of the session.