– 1 –

I make this approach examining fundamentals. Consider a fundamental an element present in every instance. In the practice of performance, the fact of the floor constitutes a fundamental. By this definition, every instance of performance involves a floor, a ground. Can we imagine a performance without a floor? Even the aerial performers hang on the trapeze bar, a suspended ground that swings in arcs. They may stand on it. The astronaut in zero gravity encounters a floor in the space capsule’s every surface. Out in the void … I will get to that. For now, in this demonstration, I lift the largest airplane, the P-25, to display for the camera. A moment ago it rested on the now-empty space of the blue square: each square a color; each color a floor – foundations becoming grounds of different climates and degrees.

– 2 –

Snow of the northern polar ice cap takes the center. I feel close to this, living in Michigan. My Mackinaw Island shirt matches the red-orange pumpkin of the desert square. This ground cries of the sun. To my right, holding most of the aircraft, not sea but sky, another kind of surface. Three noematic colors – blue, white, orange – transcendental fields, become ground when populated. Knowledge of blue (color) descends into blue actualized (sky). One could state this proposition in reverse. Brontosaurus and Triceratops remain vague monsters, common to all nebulous worlds, until placed on ice. Predication – “on the ice, in the snow” – confers personhood on them. Their lives come into focus in the tracks that they leave, no longer universal. Standing on white they transform it into snow, along with the P-38 which has landed and discovered them in that lost world. On the flaming surface: Tyrannosaurus Rex, Protoceratops, and the great American Bison, a fearsome team, facing north.  In the sky from which the P-25 has flown, two small gliders and a gray fighter jet converge on the pole from the other direction. Such definition requires, draws from, not a subject, but the elastic space between two subjects, drawing together and drawing them close: stage and actor.

– 3 –

What of the cracks? Between sky and ice, between ice and sand, no gradation, no shading one into another, only an instant’s juxtaposed transition. In this merciless border crossing which a creature can make in one leap, the teleported adventure of terraced dynamics. This is the world as we find it, make it, and imagine it. An unthinkable revelation springs from this double interface, produced by the parallel taut squares of three terrains, each of fixed depth: one cannot deny the existence of an abyss underlying every foundation. Emptiness awaits over edges. Here we return to the dread and disorientation of the space-walking astronaut. We recognize the geometry of desire, of each rectilinear form, the chromatics of each color singularity, and every aspect of this stratigraphy, as construct. The entities and creatures propose them – I propose them, rather, on behalf of these entities – to introduce form and foundation, however unstable, into a bottomless universe.


Matthew Goulish co-founded Every house has a door in 2008 with Lin Hixson. He is dramaturg, writer, and sometimes performer for the company. His books include 39 microlectures – in proximity of performance (Routledge, 2001), and The Brightest Thing in the World – 3 Lectures from the Institute of Failure (Green Lantern Press, 2012). His essays have appeared most recently in Richard Rezac Address (University of Chicago Press, 2018) and Propositions in the Making – Experiments in a Whiteheadian Laboratory (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). He teaches in the Writing Program of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. // @MatthewGoulish

Image by Matthew Goulish