Roderick Harris

Research Group: Contemporary Art Research Centre
Award studied: PhD

Project title

Dissociative Methodology as Synthetic Assemblage: a pseudo-systematised inquiry into plastic and the zed


Produced in prototype edition of eight hand-bound copies, Zynthetik Theater appropriates text and image from dispirate sources, subject to processes of assemblage, rewriting, patchwriting and fictionalisation disclosing instabilities of authorship in relation to a broad phenomenology of dissociation (derealization/depersonalization) characterized by descriptions of matter as 'synthetic' and 'plastic'.

Zynthetik Theater introduces the conceptual persona Friedrich Hemlig, thinker and operator of a rotational plastics mouldings carousel. Hemlig's archive of audio, textual and visual fragments is analysed, transcribed, and expanded by research agents AZ1 – Z6. The supplementary guide Kryztal Operation: plaztik process and manipulation - assembled by Z8, provides methodological orientation via, for example, Bakhtin (centripetal/centrifugal), Benjamin (ragpicking), Barthes (S/Z), Bruno Latour (Actor-network/blackboxing), Deleuze (rhizome), and Couzens (polymer technology).

The inquiry exploits an equivocal quality of description and phrase, a lexical plasticity of component unbound from contextual rationale. 'Theatre' is one example rendered mobile by proliferating citation. Another is 'zed' - present in excess, and key device for the creation of neologisms such as 'zynthetik', 'plaztik', 'zobjekt', 'zubjekt', 'zubztance', 'zerpent' and 'zwinglerz'. The reader is invited to become researcher, to engage through an unexpected connectivity and heterogeneous quality of the inquiry's archives, finding levels of meta-connectivity mirroring processes of research, activating writing and reading as practices in their own right.