Semester

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  • Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The word-for-word and equation-for-equation delivery of a semester’s worth of quantum physics lectures. Despite situating the piece in the site of an academic lecture, the performer emphasizes they have no idea what they are saying (and yet they know exactly what they're saying).

The piece thereby foregrounds the recombinant language and cadence of the lecture as poetry, the hieroglyphics of the equations for their visual aesthetics, and the conceptual value of "performing" knowledge uncoupled from conventional understanding, divorcing the symbols and language from their bundled informational content.

The provocation was inspired by my work as a high school mathematics instructor for five years in the United States. I was alternatingly fascinated and horrified by testing methods there and, by extension, the methods of teaching which would produce passing results. I frequently considered my instruction "choreographic", spatial, following "steps" to achieve an outcome: "They might as well be learning quantum mechanics" I would occasionally muse to myself. Moreover, I archly accept the premise of mastery implying one's ability to teach (and vice-versa), here specifically with MIT's graduate-level course Relativistic Quantum Field Theory I. If embodied performance generally and dance specifically can index a regime of discipline on the body--through compliant bodies' surrender to outside forces--SEMESTER proposes a choreographic mode of knowledge and its performance, devaluing conventional standards of expertise and mastery.

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