Stansbie, Lisa (2013) The Performance of the Channel Swimmer: Time-based Rituals and Technology. In: Time, Space and The Body Global Conference, 10th - 13th February 2013, Mercure Hotel, Sydney, Australia. (Submitted)

Contemporary sport is, with respect to the body, clearly an emancipatory rather than a disciplinary enterprise. Foucault’s perspective on modernity’s disciplinary strategies might apply to modern sport, but it no longer does so to postmodern sport.’ (Light, 2005)

There is a philosophy attached to the sporting body that ascertains that the sporting act results in a positive balance within the participants mind. With the process and act of channel swimming, the body moves from this initially ethical position to an aesthetic position that culminates in the in the spectacle of the enduring act, the swim. While the swim lacks an obvious audience, the performance is documented through time-based means sharing similar processes to the time-based documentation of Performance Art (specifically involving enduring acts). The reception of the channel swimming video is celebrated and disseminated via the global audience of the web as a staged event.

During a channel swim the body is a natural state, free from the technology of enhancing equipment, evidencing the physical capabilities of the swimmer. The repeated and learned practice and behaviours of training techniques such as acclimatisation (habituation) subject the body to extremes and demand that it adapts and becomes a fluid natural body. Magdalinki’s (2009) discussion around the physiological body and how processes of bodily changes and adaption have to be earned within sport will be discussed in relation to swimwear rules and how the use of technology (such as wetsuits) is viewed as challenging.

The presentation will show Stansbie’s artworks as a result of research into channel swimming and specifically the film work Acclimatisation (2012) a short art film documenting the bodies reactions to (cold water) habituation.

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