20200217

Participated in a field recording workshop by Alan Courtis at Solu. The event was a little bit too short but it still rewarding to participate in. Courtis offered a fast introduction to the topic and shared an interesting observation: Before the invention of studios, every recording was a field recording. We listened to some of the earliest captured sounds and worked ourselves up to recent bioacoustic releases, discussing the relationship of human made and natural sounds. Francisco López and Jana Windferen were mentioned as examples of artist whose work is hyper-real, meaning that they use technologies which allow them to capture events in the unhuman spectrum. It was noted that field recordings have become accepted as an artform in their own right following a similar trejectory as photography. It was particularly fun that Courtis mentioned a few railway related releases.

Notes on Craft (2020) Jem Calder. A motivating story on how to keep developing as an artists, while grinding a day job. The text ends with a warning: As we loose leisure time, art making will be (yet again) made a leisure activity of the rich.

Unable to angle my monitor away from prying administrative eyes […] I wrote in the address bar of my web browser, in spreadsheet cells, in emails I addressed to myself.

20200214

The Mazizone local network archive I’ve been setting up for my Raspi3+ is stable and working well. I have occasional problems connecting to it and I need to “forget” the network to reset certificates. But this only happens when I’m login in and out intensively for tweaks & edits. The device reboots daily to prevent these kinds of clogs. I haven’t gotten Gammu (to produce daily status updates via sms) working but with the reboot cycle enabled I’m confident that the device will run well enough.

I build the sound archive using wordpress and it looks fresh. Using wordpress in Mazi causes issues with the network url but this is manageable (it redirects visitors to portal.mazizone.eu which is ok for me). I’m now planning to build a funky case for the device and to make an inviting sign which will guide visitors to the network and archive. While making the website I got the idea of using ornamental patterns as illustrations. I also used ornaments in the eurorack case I build for the trip. When I was designing the case I tough the Byzantine style decorations as a reference to early natural sciences (which my work on mineral waters touches). This spawned the idea to add ornamental figures to the thumbnails of the sound files in the archive.

Each sound file (53) has a unique photo assigned to it. The photos set a mood for the content and give a hint of the sound. Photos were shot during our train trip by Iona Roisin, Elina Vainio and Miina Hujala. On top of each photo is a layer of different ornamental shapes. They twirl around the thumbnail corners and interact with things and people in the images. I’ve used Kid3 to add the images to the .wav files. If I’ve understood correctly .wav’s don’t have thumbnails but Kid3 manages to embed the data anyway. The default wordpress media playlist widget can source the images from the files and display them next to the track info.

Now there are ornaments everywhere!

I like over the top ornaments which have an abundance of detail. In Russia I can spot them everywhere. They are used in architecture (Corinthian pedestals and window frames), street lamps, fonts, advertisements, jewelry and clothes. Sometimes the patterns look familiar. Shapes I’ve seen in Russia appear to fuse Byzantine style decorations with folk ornaments I worked with during my carpentry studies. I can recognize a patterns being identical to a traditional woodcarving I’ve seen in Finland. Pirtanauhat and kauluslaudat are good examples.

I guess ornaments appeal to me because they link traditional Finnish crafts with Byzantine history and even contemporary Islamic and Arabic cultures. We visited a folk culture museum in Kazan and many of the Islamic artifacts in the collection looked similar stuff I’ve seen in Finnish folk culture museums (particularly the wooden objects). Some of the clothes looked like something my mother would want to wear. Styles I link to Bedouin folk gowns that are decorated with coins, felt really similar to Russian military uniforms which are decorated with medallions.

The ornaments I’m using for the archive and the thumbnails remind me of weeds. I think they link the archive to “ruins” which Miina is interested in. I think ornaments should be read as celebration of decay. They simulate nonhuman futures by imagening how plant life will take over architecture. They feel like archaic glitch art! Sometimes ornaments in clothes look like roots or blood vessels. I think Scandinavian design aesthetic read ornaments as a vanity but if we approach them as a celebration of decay there is nothing vane in embracing them. I hate Scandinavian design because it makes me feel ashamed of my appetite for details.

Using ornaments to decorate a sound archive, which is difficult to access – Feels right and embedding weed-like ornaments inside metadata makes sense. Here is a low-resolution sample of what the archive looks like when browsed using a mobile phone.

20200212

Work on diy orthopedics continues. I’ve made six custom insoles and arch supports using different types of silicones and agitated the solidifying processes using cornstarch (50g silicone / 15g starch). I’ve also added acrylic paint to the wet silicone to match the casts with my shoe colors for a professional look. The moulding process is relatively simple: I place wet silicone on a insole, wrap it in clingfilm and step on it. I started with cheap chemicals for testing and accustoming my feet to the change. The latest versions have been made using silicone intended for aquariums (which doesn’t have anti-mold agents that might cause allergies) and they feel fit for permanent use.

Using self-made insoles feels weird. I can notice my posture changing. I’m not sure if they help with my plantar fasciitis aches but it’s too early to tell. My feet need to adapt, my tendons and joints need to change their shape. This is a slow bodybuilding exercise and I’m a little bit spooked by the process. Artificial limbs, cybernetics and prosthetics were a popular theme in contemporary dance a while back… I think that this cultural interest and aesthetic has prompted my experiments with diy orthopedics. My aim is to restore my ability to work with crafts (as intensively as I used to) but once I’ve accomplished this I might attempt to develop my body to achieve more interesting effects.

Don’t get me wrong, not aching while working is dope but enabling a non-human style walk using custom prosthetics is the mothershit (My take a proposition by Onyx Ashanti). Diy orthopedics give me weird-sad-hope #☭

20200110

Valtasuhteet piiloutuvat Designmuseon näyttelyyn [Power relations hidden in a Design museum exhibition] (2020) Mari Vaara. The article is also available as a podcast which is nice. The text is a very harsh critique of the Secret Universe -exhibition and work of acclaimed designers Aamu Song & Johan Olin. Vaara introduces the concept of Mechanistic Cosmology, credited to Tim Ingold, which explains processes were thinking and doing are separated to advance modernism. She also identifies an interesting phenomenon “Handcraft Fetishization” (I should explore this more). She reminds readers that the entire concept of “handcrafts” is defined by its relationship to modern production methods. I think this is true: Crafts are not against Industrial methods, they coexist and many times are the same.

Vaara questions why the artists don’t call the craftspeople whom they collaborated with “workers” (käsityöläinen), they call them “craftmasters”. “Who gets to name, whom?” she asks. The relationships between the designers and the craftspeople they have commissioned work from is not transparent: “How is the money divided between them?” she asks. I think she is right, the agency of the craftspeople involved has been reduced to highlight the inventiveness of the designers. Also, defining people who make objects with their hands as “craftspeople” is a problematic. Particularly in the global context: In Finland I can choose to work with wood outside the industrial complex but my decision to work this way is backed by our local industrial grid.

I think Vaara’s critique is coarse. My interpretation is that the work of Song & Olin is not harmful because their work addresses crafts from a remote angle. A craftperson working to sell their stuff and labor is likely not affected by the exhibition or by Song & Olin in any way which would hinder they livelihood. I don’t think the museum exhibition has any relevance to craftspeople in Finland. The harmfulness of the modenist attitudes Vaara identified is a relevant observation.

20200204

Telecommunications Reclaimed (2019) Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay & Félix Tréguer. A book on community networks. I read the history part and some shorter interviews/reflections. Unfortunately it reads as a tactical project publication, made more for the sake of having a publication for a project, then an effort to advocate a cause.

Aruna D’Souzas talk (2020) for the Creative Time Summit X is great! She problematises empathy as a strategy for political resistance and argues that institutions created the need for racism: “Slavery was not the product but the origin of racism “. Hence changing attitudes cannot undo structures. She also identifies how empathy is utilized to validate the global-wests efforts in assuming control over others (which is something we’ve explored trough Trans-Horse). She then takes a critical view on artworks which seek to “give voice to marginalized communities” and argues that in many cases these kinds of artworks expose individuals in the same ways as dehumanizing institutions (such as border control) do.