Katherine Butcher


Kayfabe the bastard

Experimental practice

Eramboo Artist Environment
Northern Beaches Council artistic residency award

Art and the spectacle of wrestling offer unique avenues through which to interrogate the abstraction and authority of LiDAR technology, particularly in the context of perfect justice. 

Juxtaposing the spectacle of wrestling with the abstraction of LiDAR, I wish to explore questions of authority, power, and control.
Asking how notions of justice are constructed and enforced, both in the physical realm of the wrestling ring and in the abstract realm of LiDAR-generated data. To explore and critically examine the mechanisms of authority and the implications of perfect justice in contemporary society.

Digital works: a) artist’s hand holding a textile work by local Northern Beaches resident, mathematician and hobbist Coral Connor, b) still of the artist in a 3D digital space.

“Wrestling is not a sport, but a spectacle. The everyday world is full of ambiguous situations requiring interpretation; but here, the world is one of blinding lights, filled with obviousness, the “perfect intelligibility of reality”; a pure, full, and rounded nature. Everything in wrestling is clear; roles and situations are easily and rapidly understood. The body of the wrestler is seed of [their] character, which is then used, in each instance, to express a gesture, which serves to visualise intention and passion to the audience. The moral and the private are made public. Thauvin is a character representing “the bastard”, but [...]the worst and most repellent bastard imaginable: the bastard-octopus. [...] is not just ugly, but seen as dead, stinking meat. The bastard accepts rules only pragmatically, [...] uses the law in [their] favour, but is based on being unpredictable and inconsistent. This is taken as the greatest crime by the audience: Not cruelty, but contradiction. Wrestling is a great spectacle of pure, immanent justice, displayed in deserved punishment and excessive suffering as compensation: Eye for an eye. This is coupled with a sudden, aprupt turn of events: The temporal proximity between triumphant success and utter defeat emphasises and dramatises the latter. Transgression of the laws becomes “dirty” only when it upsets this system of compensations and equilibrium, when it is “lack of revenge, the absence of punishment”. Punishment, when deserved, is not only allowed to be “dirty”, it should be.”

*Source: Roland Barthes (1954) Le monde où l'on catche. First published in Les Lettres nouvelles. Later published as a chapter in Barthes (1957) Mythologies. English edition translated by Anette Lavers. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972.*