-An academic research paper on the theatrical techniques used in KARL NIMENI IS NOT DEAD – I KILLED KARL NIMENI.

The image of a tree can be appreciated as a complex and innovatory illustration of a fundamental principle … that things are rarely what they seem” Ben Fisher ‘The Pataphysicians Library’

Trees are incapable of lying” Karl Nimeni.[1]

Karl Nimeni does not write much down and has a joyful tendency to contradict himself when ever possible. Most of what we know about him—his thoughts, theories and experiments—we know from second-, third- or fourth-hand sources; those who claim to have worked with him, spoken to him, know a guy who…, heard a story, read a letter and so on. We are beginning to know where Karl Nimeni has been, but it is still unclear where he is from. We know of his groundbreaking work on dream study but very little about his own dreams and desires. What we have are remembered conversations, lecture notes, debates in bars, music inspired by, museums and night walks.

Karl Nimeni, through a nocturlogical lens, spoke (speaks) about and researched (researches) many topics, but what concerns us at this moment are his theories and beliefs about (T)heatre. The term ‘Night Play’ comes directly from his study of waking dreams and the negative photo-developed image of the night. Nocturology contends that the night and everything in it is at once supreme truth and absolute lie.[2] So the (T)heatre which has been universally understood and quantified as the greatest lie, also must be the truest truth.

In the early days of the 20th century, Alfred Jarry, playwright and time-traveler, first documented the concept of ‘Pataphysics (the apostrophe used only when dealing with pataphysics in its complete understanding, which is impossible – irrespective of the fact that ‘Pataphysics has existed since the beginning of time) the theatrical possibilities exploded into the salons and black boxes giving the avant-guard it’s first prophet. His 1896 ‘memo’ to Aurelien Lugne-Poe of the Theatre de l’Oeuvre on the appropriate staging for the seemingly impossible to stage UBU ROI revolutionized the way the stage should, could and must be thought of. Artaud, Beckett and Brook all exist because of the ‘Pataphysical understanding of equality and completeness, that all things theatrical are equal, just as memories are equal, ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’ being given equal value, leaving ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ to a judgment call based on an imaginary value system.[3]

Nimeni fully understood Brook when he stated, “I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.”[4] Nimeni, unsatisfied, continued the thought. Using spiralar thinking, if a person (she/he) stands anywhere, motionless, with ‘un-usual’ intent, in this motionless exists endless stories and narratives that are born within the witness. He called this ‘Perspectaspecifisualizaion’, meaning it is the witness who drives the narrative, not the performer, creating a stronger bond between performance and witness, a unique bond, where a single ‘performance’ can elicit countless ‘stories’.[5] Nimeni suggests that even the most tightly wound narrative can do nothing to avoid being mis(un)understood and that the creators of said narrative usually forget, through ego and self-importance, that at its core, it is a lie. But an Open-Narrative can be a 1000 different stories at once, each possessing their own truth.[6]

Karl Nimeni’s impact on contemporary (A)rt and (S)cience is difficult to measure and this is not an accident. Nimeni’s direct involvement with any documented experiment are impossible to find and some have suggested that before entering into a collaborative experience, there must be an implicit promise to remove him from any findings; ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’. Documentation in Nocturology becomes problematic. Even this paper’s attempt to “shine a darkened light into the night” is not without controversy. Negotiations with Germany’s Interdisciplinary Kolleg ‘Karl Nimeni’: Nature and Culture of the Night were months long and some in the Nocturology community have flat out dismissed what we are trying to do as heresy. To gain access to the Kolleg’s extensive research and study, Dancing Monkey Laboratories had to state absolutely (never in writing as is the Nocturlogical way) that Karl Nimeni has had no direct contact with anyone in the production nor has he seen or approved/disapproved of the script. We also had to alter the description and ritual of his dream experiments so that what is presented is in fact a truth, but a different truth. We were told that this was in no way a matter of copyright or intellectual property but a matter of philosophy. The Nimeni teachings demand that Nocturlogical knowledge be mutated, ingested and understood through each individual public performance and by the audiences and artists own aesthetic leanings.[7]

Unknown German Nimenist, as understood by Lukas Wilde of the Nimeni-Kolleg:

Auf den Pfaden dieser Worte,
floh ich über dunkle Blätter,
Seiten, von der Sonne kaum berührt.
Ich folge ihm auf dem Mäander-Pfad des Forschens,
der von Nebeln dicht umhangen keinen Rückweg bot.

There are four main elements to the Night Play (as interpreted by Dancing Monkey Laboratories); Disruption, Open Staging, Music from Within and Truth and Lies. Disruption was (is) key to Nimeni’s philosophies in general, but is particularly suited to (T)heatre which provides an ideal scientific testing ground. This is not a dismantling, a destruction nor even a deviation; disruption is a shift in the flow. Disruption is not change either. Change in and of itself cannot be measured, as ‘it’, through change, has become something else. Disruption on the other hand can be felt, and is usually uncomfortable. When all of the world’s collective energy wants to go in one direction, the force can be immense and the opportunity to do something different can become more difficult depending on how willing we are to take a beating. Nimeni understood that to ignore the flow was suicidal, but that with very little energy, disrupting that flow can be a simple matter of letting your fingers break the plane of a slow rolling stream. With the small shifts in “what is”, the reception of the perception is altered. Death in the (T)heatre is caused by delivering what is expected. But we have been so lulled into getting what is expected that even the smallest disruption in the flow of delivered information can cause violent reactions. Those lonely bassoon notes that open Stravinsky’s “Sacre du Printemps” are just one example.[8] Nocturology begs for disruption, even if it is gentle, to remind us that life is happening right now, and to disrupt in the (T)heatre is not a matter of confrontation but love. To demonstrate that you understand the privilege the stage embodies, disruption is an imperative, anything less is a grift.

The concept of  ‘Open Staging’ is not new (Nocturology is not concerned with what is new), but the philosophy behind it is. Since, as we understand, (T)heatre is the greatest lie, an open stage simply reduces the amount of lies an audience must endure. Open Staging accepts the lights, the rigging, the curtains, the sound system and most importantly, the audience. Open Staging doesn’t waste energy, creative and physical energy, trying to hide what everyone already knows is there.[9] Karl Nimeni is as much interested in Magic as he is in (S)cience but what he felt when he would be in a theatre was that he was experiencing nothing more than Las Vegas parlour tricks. Until levitation, complete holographic performances and further advances in 4-D technology, the ‘Magic’ being offered in our theatres has become routine and void of actual magic. The magic lost in today’s theatre has to do with the magic of moments; where the energy and commitment of the players fuses with the emotions of the story to create something you might not have been expecting. In our modern world a genuine surprise, which can break through our cynicism, is one of the few things that can shake us out of the controlled depression most of us exist in. Open Staging signals to the audience that the production is well aware it is a production (what is and what is). Open Staging permits the audience to rid itself of the possibility of manufactured (m)agic, and encourages the audience to focus on the bodies in space (in motion or not) and remove the distraction of the blatant lies that a ‘Hidden Staging’ will try and get passed it. We know that (T)heatre is lies, we fully understand that we are not watching a real event, so any attempt to camouflage conventions pushes an audience further back into their own worlds. Open Staging urges an audience to lean oh-so gently forward, just a touch, enough to enter another world as you would enter a dream. Open staging says ‘Yes, we will tell you lies, honest lies, and in those lies you will be able to find truth.’

Music has always played a key role in Nocturology and to how Karl Nimeni travels through the night. How much easier is it to get lost in a Minor C than in the word ‘Octopus’? A picture is worth a thousand words, but a musical note creates a sub-conscience emotion and has no need for words. The concept of ‘Music from Within’ may or may not include actual music as the human body can also create the vibratory sensations of a melody. The practice is simple, and has been around for centuries (as has Nocturology). In the Night Play, the importance of the elements shift and twist depending on how the individual audience members process imagery. To some, story is king and nothing else matters and all window dressing can be removed, to others, light speaks a more understandable language, and to some, music is the key for them to enter this strange world. Karl Nimeni experimented, as did many artists before him, with the ‘weight’ of music. Sound cuts through air, ‘disrupts’ it, so it stands to spiralar reasoning that if something can disrupt, it has tactuality, and therefore must have weight. Once the nocturlogical weight can be determined, the next step is to then discover which notes already exist within the idea of the play. It should be stated that the first-dimensions of text, space and movement are not what triggers the notes to exist, but the ideas behind them. The final form of the other elements takes shape through a similar process, each influencing, transforming and at times aggressively demanding to be followed. It is through Nocturology that this ‘Within’ enters our waking world. A test, for those new to this, is to find a story, read it, understand it, then play whatever music you have close by and then read it aloud again while the music is playing. What is discovered, is that the universe might offer you one or two accidental moments of connection, a first-dimension ripple, but for the most part, the exercise is frustrating and if truly experienced will negatively affect your dreams for more than a week after (9 days to be precise—it has been measured up to 12 days, but those findings can no longer be found). Most theatre practitioners are doing this to their audiences without even knowing it and we wonder why it is difficult to get new people to come to a theatre (Nimeni himself had to avoid [T]heatre for several years [1996 – 2000 – ?] as a result of this musical assault as it was causing problems with the test results of his other dream experiments – That we are not permitted to fully describe).

Truth and Lies is not entirely accurate. As we’ve already discussed, (T)heatre is truth and lies; absolute and truest. ‘Pataphysics’ exposed (and promptly denied) the equality of all things, and this is also as ancient and it is modern; Yin/Yang – Good/Evil – Love/Hate – This/That – What is/What is. The extremes of each becoming the other, one and the same. Nocturology informs the Night Play to embrace an equality – That is all we are allowed to discuss about this.[10]

Excerpt of an e-mail to Karl Nimeni by German Nimenist Florian Götz, on the desparate night of January 18th, 2013:

“Ich wollte ich könnte dir funken anbieten die ich in die nacht hinaustrage und dich und andere besprühen wollte ich könnte wärme hinaustragen und berührungen vertrauen und überraschungen befreiungen von logik und alltagskälte ja gedankensprünge tänze zärtlichkeiten.”

The Night Play is not new, its description is. Karl Nimeni’s influence on the worlds of (A)rt and (S)cience is not new; Karl Nimeni’s research, mentorship and guidance to countless young scientists and artists is a well known fact, but the recent mainstream acknowledgement and interest in Nocturology and the practice of (S)piralar thinking is very much a new phenomenon. The Nimeni-Kolleg is constantly discovering new corners of the night where Karl Nimeni has left a presence. Translations and peer-reviewed papers confirming or disproving even his existence only add to the certainty of his growing importance. Dancing Monkey Laboratories is pleased to be continuing in the footsteps and dreams of our Nocturlogical predecessors. If you have to ask if something exists, it already does, if it is all lies, it is also completely true – Nocturlogically speaking.[11], [12]

[1] Dancing Monkey Laboratories is not permitted to include direct quotes from Karl Nimeni without acknowledging that Karl Nimeni has said many things.

[2] Roland Barthes offers an account of the tensions of perception and identity that occur simultaneously in the referent as a photograph is taken: “The portrait-photograph is a closed field of forces. Four image-repertoires intersect here, oppose and distort each other. In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art. In other words, a strange action: I do not stop imitating myself, and because of this, each time I am (or let myself be) photographed, I invariably suffer from a sensation of inauthenticity, sometimes of imposture (comparable to certain nightmares)” (13). The critical consciousness of the referent posing for the photograph allows for manipulation on behalf of not only the photographer but also by whomever is photographed, as they are aware of their own participation (or antagonism) within these expectations. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981).

[3] See Sianne Ngai’s ideas on ‘Stuplimity’ which is a (dis)order “that arises from the post modern conditions of boredom, anxiety, stupefaction, envy and other such ‘ugly’ feelings” (41). Being understood that these feelings are in no way more ‘interesting’ or ‘important (impotent)’ than ‘pretty’ feelings. Andrew Hugill, ‘Pataphysics’ – A Useless Guide

[4] Peter Brook, The Empty Space, – But you should read his book The Open Door – Wicked good.

[5] In her book Unmarked, Peggy Phelan addresses the complications of equating seeing to understanding, charging that both the image being represented and the eyes of the witness are culpable in influencing the final interpretation. Phelan cautions that a “careful blindness” develops simultaneously with learning to see, which involves simultaneously dismissing and including visual information; a representation will “always convey[] more than it intends,” at once carrying all the cultural interpretations associated with the image, while it is also limited and “never totalizing” because it is incapable of reproducing a full, complex representation of the original (13, 2). Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (London: Routledge, 1993).

[6] These concepts may or may not have been taken from Nimeni-Kolleg documentation of newly discovered Nimeni conversations possibly overheard in 2006.

[7] See endnote #1.

[8] Those notes being:


[9] “The norm to which art traditionally referred its products was average perception. From Leonardo to Courbet, painters painted a tree as everyone sees a tree – or thinks he does” (39). Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years.

[10] It seemed appropriate to add a endnote at this point to call attention to the overlap and similarity of deception from different periods of time discussing different mediums, deciphering different elements and so on and maybe not. This goes to further prove Nimeni’s Nocturology hypothesis that you have night and you have day.

[11] The Interdisciplinary Kolleg “Karl Nimeni”: Nature and Culture of the Night was founded in the Summer of 2012, the Nimeni-Kolleg includes 8 core members but is open for collaboration from other scientists, artists and collectives. Thus far, the Nimeni-Kolleg has worked with Theater Erlangen, Domfestspiele Bad Gandersheim and Arena… of the young arts and now with Dancing Monkey Laboratories in our first international experiment. Intrigued by the night as a transitory medium, the Nimeni-Kolleg works interdisciplinary between Arts and Sciences towards its further exploration. The Nimeni-Kolleg takes its name and inspiration from the night and dream explorer Karl Nimeni, who has been a pioneer in this field, taking it to the extreme. There are basically two streams or schools around which the Nimeni-Kolleg is producing work: The Biographical/Hermeneutical School tries to find out more and tell new stories about Karl Nimeni and his work. This school organizes lecture series’ and museum exhibitions, reconstructs his machines, as well as (re) creating night tours in ’Nimeni Style’. Streams of this school work either using means to (re)construct a story by the little evidence available, or discusses post-structurally about (re)construction of identity. The Avantgardistic/Experimental School takes Nimeni’s work as an inspiration and foundation stone to find out more about the essence and nature of the night, of dreams – and of its abstract equivalent: The Unclear. Please dream.

[12] The following statement was written by hand in the margins of a 25 page scientific thesis on Nocturology. by an as yet (un)known author, discovered hidden in the Erlangen public library in Germany, 2008: The (A)bstract is in fact closer to the truth than the clear – Therefore it must have a point. If the (A)bstract is truth, than it must include and invite the human element into it’s DNA. Disruption for it own sake is not (A)rt. Disruption to alienate is politics. Disruption to expose the (un)clarity of humanity to be able to more fully embrace it – is Nocturology.

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