Transformations within the Gap: Liminality and Principles of Vedic Language Theory in Performance

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Bonshek, A., 2000. Transformations within the Gap: Liminality and Principles of Vedic Language Theory in Performance. Body, Space & Technology, 1(1). DOI:


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Still from This and That
Dancers: Lucia Rich and Jenna Riegal
Akshara Productions 2000

The word "liminal" is used to refer to a transformative place, space, and sense of identity within cultural and ritual processes; it denotes a gap or threshold realm. Understood as a gap, the liminal implies a stage of transformation from which another stage, or new forms of identity or relationship, are born. Vedic language theory also identifies a principle of transformation or gap, but on an unmanifest level of sound that structures perception and experience, identity and language. According to Vedic language theory, in the transition from the expression of one sound to another, a series of dynamic transformations occur. As a sound dissolves, the process of dissolution leads to a state of silence and dynamism. These two values in a constant, infinite interplay, generate a new sound and the sequential emergence of innumerable sounds or frequencies. These unmanifest frequencies are the fundamental building blocks of performance structure, transformations and transformative experience.

This paper examines the multi-fold layering or levels involved in the process of transformation within the gap identified by Vedic language theory by discussing four stages of the gap, eight levels of transformation, and eighteen variations or aspects of the self-referral move in this process. These various sets or levels of transformation can be considered as activity or processes within the liminal state since they present details of a threshold realm/experience—a state of all possibilities that is neither "in" or "out", both transcendental and immanent, looking both ways simultaneously. In this context, this paper concludes with a discussion of the video This and That—a collaboration between multi-media artist, Anna Bonshek, composer, Corrina Bonshek, Danza.Da Improvisational Dance/Theater (Director, Juliette Daley, and dancers, Jenna Riegel and Lucia Rich), photographer and video artist, James Meyer, and film-maker, Roland Wells. Using text, sound and performance, This and That is a preliminary work, and part of an extended investigation entitled Reverie (Akshara Productions, 2000), which examines notions of the gap posited by Vedic theory.

In order to discuss the concept of transformation introduced above, the fundamental assumptions of Vedic theory should first be introduced. In Vedic language theory, as described by Rhoda Orme-Johnson (1987) and William Haney (1989), sound is held to be the basis of form, perception and experience; sound structures form. Furthermore, it is consciousness that is the source of sound, of thought, and all linguistic expression, performance, relationships and structures. "Consciousness" in its unmanifest state is synonymous with "infinity", "all possibilities", "awareness". In being aware, consciousness knows itself and distinguishes differentiated values within its inherently undifferentiated structure. Sound emerges from the interplay between these two aspects of consciousness. In the process of consciousness knowing itself, three values—subject, object, and their relationship—are located. Subject is the knower, object is the known, and the relationship between subject and object corresponds to the process of knowing; all three are "shades" or aspects of consciousness, within consciousness. This understanding of consciousness is described by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose insights into Vedic knowledge provide the foundation for this discussion:

Consciousness is that which is conscious of itself. Being conscious of itself, consciousness is the knower of itself. Being the knower of itself, consciousness is both the knower and the known. Being both the knower and the known, consciousness is also the process of knowing. Thus consciousness has three qualities within its self-referral singularity—the qualities of knower, knowing and known—the three qualities of "subject" (knower), "object" (known), and the relationship between the subject and object (process of knowing). Wherever there is subject-object relatedness; wherever subject is related to object; wherever subject is experiencing object; wherever subject (knower) is knowing object, these three together are indications of the existence of consciousness. (Maharishi Vedic University, 1994: 64)

The interactions between the three values, and their undivided nature as the "singularity" of consciousness, provides the ground for all possible relationships:

In that pure consciousness we have three values—observed, observer and observation—and we have one unified state of the three. Here we have one and three at the same time. When we have one and three together in that self-referral state of pure consciousness, there is that infinite contraction for remaining one and there is that quick expansion to become three. When they are simultaneously three and one there is infinite dynamism. (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1985: 65)

This three-in-one dynamic of consciousness, is the basis for all possible transformations—giving rise to sound and form. In Vedic language theory, sound is called Mantra; the gaps between sounds are called Sandhi or Brahmana. Sound at this level, as mentioned previously, is unmanifest but is "heard" by seers or Rishis within their own transcendental, self-referral consciousness. These sounds are held to correspond to ancient Vedic texts recited and maintained via oral tradition in India. While pure consciousness is a singular, infinite field of silence, it is also pure potentiality, containing within it infinite dynamism. In this sense, silence and dynamism are unified or can be thought of as defining a threshold realm where there is no "inside" or "outside"—where inside and outside are simultaneously illuminated. As Maharishi explains:

Now that state of Being [pure consciousness] is both ways at the same time. Outside lighted, inside lighted, but what do we mean by in and out in that state? In and out is the reality of dynamism and silence. On that level both are the same. Dynamism and silence, dynamism and silence. But if we take it to be in and out then it's with infinite speed in and out. It's a straight line representing silence and dynamism only when the dynamism is of infinite frequency—when at no time is it out or in; it is in and out at the same time. (in Bonshek, in press, 72-73)

There is no "in" or "out", or rather, "in" and "out" represent the infinite frequency of an infinite dynamism, where silence and dynamism remain unified. This principle is referred to as the "lamp-at-the door" or Jyotish-Mati-Pragya, all-knowing intelligence. The multi-layered dimension to the transformation of sounds represents another principle of Vedic theory. With a microscope, the eye can detect the inner workings of a cell, the cell nucleus, etc.; similarly, when investigating further into the mechanics within the gap, multiple levels of transformation can be identified.

Elaborated Values of Transformation Within the Gap. In the unfoldment of sound and gaps in Vedic language theory, at least three themes are evident: 1) the location of four stages of transformation from one unmanifest sound to another; 2) eight levels of transformation: a) within the collapse of sound into silence; and b) in the emergence of sound (and three elaborations of these eight levels, making 24 values); and 3) 18 aspects of self-referral consciousness, also involved in the transformative process.

Theme One: The Four Stages of the Gap. In the progression of one sound transforming into another sound at the unmanifest level, there are four fundamental stages: 1) the dissolution of sound (called pradhwamsabhava); 2) the state of silence, (referred to as atyantabhava); 3) the state of dynamism (anyonyabhava); and 4) the emergence of a new syllable or sound (pragabhava). These fours stages represent Dissolution, Silence, Dynamism, and Emergence. Within the gap, the states of silence and dynamism are totally unified, despite being diametrically opposed in nature. It is the reverberation at this level that is said to generate an infinite frequency and unmanifest sounds. Located in the gap, in between, is the coexistence of complete opposites—silence and dynamism—the potential for all possibilities.

In the study of culture and change, Victor Turner (1986, 1992) suggests that in the liminal condition, an individual abandons their old identity to experience a threshold state of ambiguity, openness and indeterminacy. "By virtue of experiencing this state or process, the individual can then enter into new forms of identity, relationship, and the everyday life of his/her culture. The liminal is a point of transition, a state entered into temporarily, a transformative realm leading to something else." Terms like "non-identity" and "self forgetfulness" are used to describe this experience. However, the liminal may also become a permanent dwelling place. Writers speak of the necessity of maintaining this as a site for creative practice.

It should be noted that in Vedic theory, the gap not only refers to a transformative process between sounds but also the experience of a transcendental state—a state beyond the relative states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. The term "gap" is used to denote a transition point between relative states where the transcendent may be accessible. Any new identity or sense of self resulting from the experience of the gap would be one of infinite status and all possibilities—unconfined by changing concepts of individual selfhood. Self forgetfulness, in this context, could describe an experience of the transcendental value of selfhood—when the individual sense of self or ego is transcended, "forgotten" or retired from. The ego/self identifies with its infinite, rather than localized, status. This experience, which may be fleeting or temporary, can become a permanent feature of daily life—when the transcendent is lived along with the relative states. This state is referred to as cosmic consciousness since the individual permanently experiences his or her "cosmic" status. The gap, in this context, can refer to the gap between the three relative states (the experience of the transcendent), or the gap between the transcendent and the relative phases of consciousness. The nature of transcendental consciousness is self-referral; due to the inherent wakefulness of consciousness, it knows itself and differentiates values within itself. Singularity, as if, becomes diversity; sounds and gaps emerge. From this perspective, these sounds and gaps are reverberations of individual consciousness in its expanded state.

In further considering the dynamics of the development of sound and experience, in Vedic theory the three differentiated aspects of consciousness are found to be involved in the transformations within the gap. In the dissolution and emergence of sound, consciousness identifies itself as knower, process of knowing and known in a self-referral move or a self-referral loop. With this understanding, there are, in total, six values of consciousness: 1) knower; 2) process of knowing; and 3) known in the phase of dissolution, and 4) known; 5) process of knowing; and 6) knower in the phase of emergence. The value of knower apparently becomes the process of knowing and the known—subject becomes relationship and object. Then, through the self-referral loop, the known or object becomes knower or subject. Although this dynamic indicates a return in the six-fold loop, the "new" knower represents another differentiated shade of consciousness.

Theme Two: The Eight Prakritis as Further Levels in the Collapse and Expansion of Infinity into the Gap. In addition to these basic dynamics within the gap, Vedic language theory also describes eight stages of collapse in the dissolution of a sound and eight stages of emergence in the creation of a new sound. These eight stages are called the eight Prakritis and include: 1) ego (ahamkara); 2) intellect (buddhi); 3) mind (manas); 4) space (akasha); 5) air (vayu); 6) fire (agni); 7) water (jala); and 8) earth (prithivi). The term prakriti is generally translated as referring to the material side of matter and consciousness and is a common term in many of the Vedic texts.

Prakriti is that which is in its own form, the first, the original, the basis, the natural state. Prakriti is the material cause, that from which something is born or comes to be, the basis from which innumerable forms are produced. Prakriti means also the natural, common, and normal, and therefore the innate, as in the nature or character of the individual. The term expresses a naturalistic tendency. That is perhaps why it is used extensively in the sciences: medicine, phonology, grammar, politics, ritual theory, and in the science of liberation of Samkhya and Yoga. (Bettina Baumer, 1996: 7-8)

In this paper, the term prakriti applies to the specific values in the transformations of consciousness within the gap—the mechanics through which sound, processes, performance and form are structured. In the dissolving of a sound into the gap, there is an eight-fold collapse. Similarly, in the emergence of another sound from the gap there is an eight-fold expansion (Nader, 1993: 12-13). Nader (1993) states that these eight-fold dynamics can also be located within the functioning of the nervous system:

The emergence of each syllable, one after another...happens through the gaps between two consecutive syllables. In this, there is a process of collapse of the 1st syllable (Pradhvamsabhava), into a point value (Atyantabhava) from which is elaborated the process (Anyonyabhava) which leads to the emergence of the next syllable (Pragabhava). These four aspects of the gap correspond to the synapse between two consecutive steps of signal transmission in the nervous system...Pradhvamsabhava corresponds to the pre-synaptic gap junction which structures the collapse of the signal into the gap junction (Atyantabhava)...Anyonyabhava elaborates the process of what happens in the gap and leads to the emergence of the new syllable.

At each of the individual gaps between cells, there are eight factors which determine the accuracy and completeness of the transmission through the gap. These factors apply to the pre-synaptic, synaptic and post-synaptic process and therefore explain why every one of the steps leading to the collapse, interpretation, elaboration, or emergence of a syllable happens in eight elaborations. (Nader, 1993: 40-41)

Nader goes on to explain in some detail the nature and processes of the synaptic gap. Thus, the mechanics by which consciousness is expressed as sound are considered to be the same mechanics that operate on the level of physiological/ synaptic processes. The transformative process is located on the level of consciousness, sound, and biological information or material structure.

Further insights into these dynamics can be gained by considering how some verses from the actual text of Rk Veda (also written as Rig Veda or Rg Veda) demonstrate these principles. Considered by Vedic scholars to one of the first Indian philosophical texts (Coward, 1990: 4-5) and made up of hymns (Griffith, 1995), Rig Veda or Rk Veda is described here as the unfoldment of consciousness in terms of sound and gaps as discussed above (Bonshek, in press: 131-132; Nader, 1993: 12-13). A detailed discussion of Rk Veda is given in Nader's analysis of the first through tenth Mandalas or chapters of this, the first of the four Vedas (Rk Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda) (Nader, 1993: 7-18). Without going into the meaning of the words, sentences and chapters, it is worth delving deeper into how the syllables and gaps relate to one another in terms of the mechanics, or transformations, of consciousness.

The first syllable of Rk Veda is "AK" (designated as number one in the diagram below). In Vedic language theory, all sounds are said to be contained within, and generated from, that one syllable. "AK" has opposing sounds "A" and "K". "A" equates with infinity as complete unboundedness, "K" equates with the point value of "A" or the collapse of "A" onto its own point. The range from "A" to "K" extends from fullness to its point value. The first syllable, "AK", contains fullness and emptiness within it. The sound "A", pronounced with the throat completely open, represents infinity or fullness. "K", the stop or cessation of "A", is the opposite to "A". It represents or embodies the complete stop of fullness, emptiness, the point value of infinity. The liminal is a threshold state/realm that is at once empty and full. Similarly, in the gap between "A", fullness, and "K", the point value of fullness, the range of fullness to emptiness is available. All possible sounds and transformations are contained in seed form. The gap is pure potentiality, infinite silence and infinite dynamism, infinity and its own point, reverberating within itself. Here, all possibilities are lively. In the collapse of "A" to "K" an eight-fold spiraling dynamic occurs.

The first sound of Rk Veda: "AK", describes the collapse of fullness of consciousness ("A") within itself to its own point value ("K" of "AK"). This collapse, which represents the eternal dynamics of consciousness knowing itself, occurs in eight successive stages....In the next stage of unfoldment of Veda, these eight stages of collapse are separately elaborated in the eight syllables of the first Pada [phrase], which emerges from, and provides a further commentary on, the first syllable of Rk Veda, "AK". These eight syllables correspond to the eight "Prakritis"...or eight fundamental qualities of intelligence, which constitute the divided nature of pure consciousness. (Nader, 1993: 13)

The actual sounds of the text are considered to be more than linguistic expressions. They are primordial frequencies of consciousness reverberating within itself and are highly significant. Applied to the functioning of perception, Nader goes on to explain:

We find "K" as the point of silence, emerging from the infinite silence of "A"....In a similar way, when we analyze what happens in any process of perception, we find that the perception of any object, sound, smell etc. involves the focus of attention of the subject onto an object, a sound or smell. This means that the unbounded, pure self (Atma), pure consciousness of the subject converges onto a point value (the object of perception)...experience starts with a subject coming together with an object. This means that the infinite, unbounded self, (expressed in Rk Veda by the sound "A") collapses onto a point value (expressed in Rk Veda by the sound "K") from which will originate the sequential unfoldment of the experience that the subject will make of the object. This is represented by the first two syllables of Rk Veda: "AK", or the collapse of "A" onto its point value "K"..."AK" ("A" collapsing into "K") is followed by the sequential transmission of impulses through the specific stations of the nervous system—from one neuron to another through the synaptic gaps separating them. (Nader, 1993: 23)

From this perspective, performance can be considered in terms of the subject, object and their relationship, on the level of perception of the performer/audience and the relationship of consciousness and physiological functioning. At each level, the principle of the gap is located. Looking in more detail the sounds of Rk Veda, even more elaborated levels of transformation within the gap can be found. The first 24 syllables relate to the three values of consciousness (knower, process of knowing and known) and the eight prakritis.

Still from This and That
Dancers: Lucia Rich and Jenna Riegal
Akshara Productions 2000

The first first line of Rk Veda—aknim ile purohitam yagyasya devam ritvijam hotaram ratna dhatamam—can be divided into three sections: 1) aknim ile purohitam; 2) yagyasya devam ritvijam; and 3) hotaram ratna dhatamam—each related to the knower, process of knowing and known values, respectively. Each of the three phrases or sections are made up of eight syllables. Three multiplied by eight gives a total of 24 syllables; for example: ak, ni, mi, le, pu, ro, hi, tam, ya, gya, sya, de, vam, ri, tvi, jam, ho, ta, ram, ra, tna, dha, tam, am. There is a specific value or prakriti which relates that each syllable (Ego, Intellect, Mind, Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth). The correspondence of the prakriti to each syllable appears as follows: 1) ak (Ego), ni (Intellect), mi (Mind), le (Space), pu (Air), ro (Fire), hi (Water), tam (Earth), 2) ya (Ego), gya (Intellect), sya (Mind), de (Space), vam (Air), ri (Fire), tvi (Water), jam (Earth), 3) ho (Ego), ta (Intellect), ram (Mind), ra (Space), tna (Air), dha (Fire), tam (Water), am (Earth). In this way, the first 24 sounds/syllables relate to the three values of consciousness knowing itself and the eight stages of collapse mentioned above in the dynamics within the gap—in between "A" and "K".

Like a set of Russian dolls that contain a complete doll at each successive level, one within another, the nature of these sounds is multi-leveled but always holistic. The first syllable "AK" contains all the information and dynamics for the unfoldment of subsequent sounds. Similarly, the first word, Aknim, contains all the information for the unfoldment of all following transformations but in an elaborated version. The first line is even more comprehensive. The first verse is yet a further elaboration, and so on, until all 192 suktas or hymns of the entire first chapter (mandala) are completely expressed. The 192 hymns also contain all values of transformation. (It is worth noting that there are ten chapters or mandalas of Rk Veda and that the syllables of chapter ten comment on the transformations within the gaps between the 192 syllables of chapter one. Nader, 1993: 13-15.) Just as the seed has all the information for the growth of the entire tree, the syllable "AK" contains all sounds and the processes of transformation with the gaps. In the unfoldment of unmanifest sound, each level contains the total structuring mechanics of all the others. Each is holistic. Every subsequent expression elaborates on the previous.

Theme Three: The 18 Values of the Self-Referral Loop of Consciousness. Another degree of complexity is evident when one considers the self-referral nature of the move of consciousness. As discussed previously, in the process of consciousness knowing itself there is a progression from the values of knower, process of knowing, to known, and then a return from the known, process of knowing, to the knower, in the expansion and contraction of consciousness. There are six values in this self-referral loop.

In Vedic theory, this six-fold loop is also said to elaborate: 1) a knower; 2) a process of knowing; and 3) a known value separately, making 6 x 3 values, for a total of 18 aspects, or three self-referral loops of six values of knower, process of knowing, known, and known, process of knowing and knower.

All of the transformations mentioned above (along with others not mentioned here) give an insight into the multi-layered dynamics in the gap. These structuring mechanics of consciousness are highly complex and comprehensive, elaborating on the unfoldment of infinity interacting with itself. However, the gap is not simply a matter of mathematical permutations. It relates to the dynamics of consciousness itself. Consciousness has been discussed as an infinite field, but is also described in Vedic theory as the underlying reality of individual awareness. Individual thinking and experience, and the body itself, displays the workings of these perpetual dynamics at the unmanifest level (Nader, 1993).

Conclusion. Contained within the gap, fundamentally, there are opposite values. The co-existence of these opposites sets up the condition for all possibilities, the generation of sound, the mechanics of transformation and emergence of processes, movement and form. There is a relationship between emergence and the dynamics within the gap and sequential progression. What goes before is not incidental but each progression is not merely linear. All sounds, on one level, are ever present or latent within that pure potentiality. Sound elaborates upon itself in a holistic, cyclical fashion. But the sequential progression of sound is at once simultaneous. From one perspective one can speak of a progression, the apparent flow of consciousness within itself. But it goes from here to here; it is never outside of itself. Just as a world can be seen on the level of the cell, an entire world can be also identified on the macroscopic level of the universe. The principle of the generation of sound, through gap to sound, is like a wave or movement of waves on an ocean. It is the reverberation of the ocean within itself, discovering and rediscovering its own nature. In this sense, there is no outside or inside but simply transitional states within a larger whole. Viewed from one perspective one sees disconnection and change, from another, only movement. From the perspective of Vedic language theory, the gap, seen as the liminal, is the play of all possibilities, the source of all differentiation. The gap entertains the simultaneous interchange of opposites inherent within consciousness.

This and That, a five-minute video, begins to examine these principles and refers to the four stages of transformation in the gap—dissolution, silence and dynamism, and emergence. The first half of the video uses words and phrases, simply presented in white text on black-emerging and dissolving into a void. The text is intended to be at once poetic and rhythmic, and minimal and compelling in its visual presentation:




An eternal void.

Open, endless, no edges,

Between This and That.

Knowing infinity.

Open, no edges

But somewhere distances begin

Out on a visionless horizon

Between This and That.

It, I, all of it, in a sound,

Dissolves away from itself

Leaving a markless terrain

A dropless sea within a continuum,


The expanses move

The ocean swells

Underneath, upwards, and all around.

Slow, luminous at first,

Each move to move pulls.

A lightness intensifies the flow.

The reverberation of continuum upon continuum,

And back again.

Out of the ceaseless void

A sound, another form, another


The words and phrases act like discrete structures related to their meaning, reiterated in the flow of the music/sound. They provide a framework for sound composition, concretizing the sense of movement within the gap and the emergence of language. The music (employing flute and bass recorder) creates a texture of primordial sound, through reverberating and extended values exemplifying a continuous contraction and expansion. As the composer, Corrina Bonshek, observes in her notes for This and That, the music explores the four stages of the gap and the collapse of "A" to "K":

Within the transition of "A" to "K" we have four stages, dissolution, silence, dynamism, emergence. Having thought about the decay, I feel that dissolution should be represented by a chord of homogenous sounds—heard as a smooth block of sound (i.e., the different notes making up the sound are not really discernible). I will create this based on violin or flute sounds. This block of sound will diminish in intensity leading to the third stage—dynamism. Here the block of sound will begin to separate out so that the constituent parts start to become audible. I will try to create a rippling effect. This will happen at a low level dynamic, relatively quietly. For emergence, the rippling sounds will cohere around a new block of sound, which will represent "K". (Akshara Productions, forthcoming)

In the second half of the video the music composition is repeated, but now performance is introduced. Demonstrating a cyclical structure, the video This and That suggests an infinite repetition of transformative experience. Dealing with sound as the basis of structure, the first part uses music and text only (correlating to name); then, in the second part, the music repeats, without text, but now introducing the body (relating to form); finally, the music begins to repeat again at the end of the performance, indicating the beginning of a new cycle.

The video draws from videotaped live performances by two dancers of Danza.Da. The live performance takes place within a stark, minimal installation—demarcating coordinates in empty space, suggesting confinement of the Self or individuation of ego and contributing to notions of quantification and identity. Using improvisation, the live performance does not employ "traditional" Vedic gestures or structured choreography. However, as Meyer-Dinkgrafe suggests, dance, defined from the Vedic perspective, is meant to symbolize the transformations of sound or consciousness. He goes on to explain, in his discussion of rasa (aesthetic experience), Vedic philosophy and performance:

According to the Gandharva-Veda, dance originally symbolizes the subtle, rhythmical dynamics of transformations from one note to the other, a manifest expression of unmanifest processes on which the entire creation is based. Primordial sounds are qualities of consciousness. Thus the expressed values of consciousness, the individual dance movements, each represent a specific quality of consciousness.... A performer who has full command of consciousness, i.e., who has established at least cosmic consciousness, will automatically, without time-lapse between impulse and expression, use the gesture, or combination of gestures that is the manifest equivalent of the quality of consciousness required in a given situation of performance dictated by the contents of performance and the outer conditions of performance, e.g., performance space and audience. Thus, the description of angika abhinaya, gestural means of histrionic representation, is a description from an enlightened consciousness of what a fully developed performer will spontaneously, and with full discipline of mind and body, do to create a specific effect on the spectator in a given theatrical situation. The inner dynamics of the primordial sound of nada begins to vibrate in every cell, gaining such strength that it finally takes hold of the entire body and causes it to dance.... The art of dancing was developed into the art of theatre. The intention of this development was, as described in the Natyasastra, to enable people who had lost touch with their unmanifest source to gain familiarity with Vedic truths. (Meyer-Dinkgrafe, 1999: 110)

The Vedic performer is expected to spontaneously create a specific effect and response in the audience in a theatrical context. Then, the inner dynamics of primordial sound begin to vibrate in every cell. While the idea of being able to spontaneously create a desired result from the level of pure consciousness is discussed elsewhere (Bonshek, 1996), This and That focusses on the idea of the dynamics of consciousness as a departure point for textual, sound and performance structures, that can be filtered or manipulated through digital media and together convey the sense of the liminal, the gap, neither this nor that, simultaneously empty and full. This and That and its performance component are unconcerned with dualistic readings of culture (i.e., "technological" versus "spiritual", "Western" versus "Eastern") as articulated, for example, in Garoian's essay on performance as pedagogy and the work RAM ram. As Garoian states RAM ram, by Chowdhry and Myers, presents a critique of "mantra as technology" and "technology as mantra" (Garoian 1999: 58-59). However, the performance used in This and That touches upon cognition, re-cognition, selfhood, transformations within the gap, experience and consciousness in terms of Mantra and Sandhi—sound (and language) and the gap.

This and That may refer to, or be derived from, Vedic theory but aims to maintain a tension between indeterminacy and precise structure. Through repetition of an explicit musical trajectory, sound serves as a trace of that which is simultaneously cyclical and immanent, transcendental but audible. The improvisational, aleatory live performance, however, provides another iteration of the trace—but one which is never repeatable. The performance aspect of the work involves a spontaneous, non-literal exploration of the gap. As the dancers come into view from the extremities of an open, unlit space, they proceed toward a central rectangular, cage like structure or frame. Strongly illuminated from above, the frame gives dimension to an apparent void, axes to unspecified space, and demarcates boundaries within boundlessness. A shaft of light, emanating from the ceiling, highlights a white circle on the floor within the frame, signifying the point of silence and dynamism within the gap. The two dancers move into the confined space, collapsing duality into a dynamic wholeness, transforming the nature of the gap. Then, coming out from this interaction or confinement, separate and changed, they spiral outward, defining new relationships, indicating the primordial interaction of innumerable qualities of consciousness.

In combining written language, music and edited sequences from live performance within a controlled installation, the video This and That addresses the subject/object dichotomy—the relationship that arises due to the wakefulness of consciousness, the witnessing value of experience. It conveys a transparent, ephemeral quality, supporting the feeling of in-between-ness. Although apparently privileging the trace, This and That, in its methodology, attempts to create parity between sound, text, installation and performance. The liminal realm is, in one sense, in between "This and That"; but on another level, there is no "This and That"—they are completely unified. The collaborators of this work, applying principles of language theory to multi media, indicate that the liminal may be enlarged to contain all possibilities—a pre-condition for transformation and the emergence of ever new states.


Akshara Productions (2000). Reverie I: This and That, Principal Collaborators: Anna Bonshek, Corrina Bonshek, Juliette Daley, James Meyer, Jenna Riegel, Lucia Rich, & Roland Wells. Performance: Student Union Theater, Maharishi Univeristy of Management, Iowa, U.S.A. March 2000. Reverie II: Creation, Principal Collaborators: Anna Bonshek, Corrina Bonshek, Catherine Wells & Roland Wells. Peformances: Corrina Bonshek, Sydney, Australia, September 2000; Anna Bonshek, Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, October 2000.

Akshara Productions (forthcoming). Reverie: A Documentation, Australia.

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Anna Bonshek





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