Epitaphic Readings: Diagrams as (re)incarnations

Journal article


Sharples, V. 2023. Epitaphic Readings: Diagrams as (re)incarnations. Performance Research. 27 (8), pp. 125-132. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2022.2224215
AuthorsSharples, V.
Abstract

The structural formula of a chemical compound is a shorthand, diagrammatic representation of a molecular structure, showing how atoms can be arranged in two dimensions of space. Often named Kekulé structures after August Kekulé, an early architect of structural arrangements in organic chemistry, these diagrams put forward a geometry of relations, enumerated through lines, symbols, vertices, and patterns (Rocke 1981). While suggestive of something substantial, the diagram often functions in the planular, and is therefore skeletal. For scientists, skeletal structures are not altogether representative of chemical constitutions, but of chemical arrangements (Hepler-Smith 2015). That is, they are analogous with formulas; not respective forms themselves. From this perspective, there is a severance of contextual placement, but not of performative function. As a presupposition to this construct, it seems that skeletal structures can be read as compositions and translations, but not as epitaphs or reincarnations. Following Deleuze’s and Guattari’s premise that the diagram constructs something ‘yet to come’ (2013:164), Victoria Sharples’ ‘Epitaphic Readings: Diagrams as (Re)incarnations’ presents skeletal structures as epitaphic readings; as accounts of something passed, and further to this as matter re-incarnate. Skeletal structures provide a genesis for this paper and are the seeming conclusion to Ash (2018–2020), an interdisciplinary study on which this article builds. For Ash, three pieces of Nepalese Lokta paper were placed on the surface of the sacred and contaminated Bagmati River downstream from Pashupatinath Temple: an open-pyre cremation site in Kathmandu. Once dried, the substrates were analysed using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS); an analytical approach for forensic substance identification. Through the intersection of science and spirituality, this paper meditates on the potential ‘afterlives’ of Ash. Functioning in a space between active-passive and organic-machinic, the GC-MS diagrams function as epitaphic readings making that which has passed present, marking an arrival and re-incarnation of matter.

KeywordsEpitaphic Readings; Performance Research; Journal; Performance; New Materialism
Year2023
JournalPerformance Research
Journal citation27 (8), pp. 125-132
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN1352-8165
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2022.2224215
Web address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13528165.2022.2224215
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Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online01 Sep 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Mar 2024
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/9q70v/epitaphic-readings-diagrams-as-re-incarnations

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