Visited Hybrid Matter symposium at TeaK last Thursday. Jennifer Gabrys gave a talk concerning animals as sensors. She referenced projects that had embedded animals with sensory technologies to collect data on weather conditions, migration routes etc. The approach is of interest for our Trans-Horse project. We’ve investigated the possibility to set the horse’s views and environmental requirements as a premise of urban planning in hopes of crafting more environmentally engaged and versatile environments. Gabrys approach was critical and she argued the majority of animal aided data is used to confirm human perceptions. She is currently working in a project called citizensense.net. Her talk gave me the idea to use the horse care-journals of the Mounted police of Helsinki as data to study city development!
Steen Rasmussen gave an interesting talk about BINC economics (bio-, info-, nano- and cogno.). His talk was a useful reminder of the historical importance of the middle class: The empowered, wealthy and democratic middle class of the last century was a unique historical glitch and automation of labor is it’s biggest threat. He was optimistic about 3d printing and other “new” manufacturing technologies and urged the audience to engage with new technologies open mindedly. Unfortunately many new technologies categorically renunciate agency of the makers. This renunciation is embedded in modern worldviews – Factories and 3d printers are equally bad! There are no new technologies.. New tools fuel the same old colonization. After the symposiums I came across the concept of Critical Making which I’ll have to study more. Critical Making seems to fit many Ore.e Refineries projects neatly.
On Friday I joined a dinner organized by the Union for Rural Culture and Education. The dinner completed my involvement with the Grey Cube Gallery project. I was seated next to Päivi and sound artist Petri Kuljuntausta. Kuljuntausta was kind enough to share field recording techniques and motivated me to continue with sonic experimentations. We talked about the Ihme audio-guide project I completed last spring and he had some ideas on whom to contact concerning the future of the project. I had to leave the dinner early as I rushed to Turku. On the buss I read some of Kuljuntaustas texts on sound art. He has used a KaossPad in his live setup.
In Turku I met with Jesse and we made 232 separate machine/tool sounds and two binaural recording at his smithy (The binaural equipment is on loan from Circus Maximus). The recording went as planned and we worked on site for eight hours. The majority of the sounds are high pitched and we’ll possibly make additional recordings next year. Jesse had the idea of fitting the smithys floor with piezo microphones, so that we could hear the bottom end sounds. We’ll likely call this sample-pack “Sound of Work: Blacksmith vol.1”. I’ll demo the sounds for Jesse next weekend.
I’m meeting students from the Kankaanpää Art School online this week to discuss their upcoming graduate exhibition and art projects. Also met with Antoine Pickels concerning possible Trans-Horse engagements next year.
Joined the “Paikan tuntu – Kohtaamisia unohdetuissa tiloissa” book lauch at the Orion movie theatre. Antti Möller who edited the near 200 page book hosted the event. He invited artists and people who had partisipated in various events of the three year long “Paikan tuntu” project on stage. The project and the event are organized by the Union for Rural Culture and Education and the book published be their sister organization Maanhenki. Möller interviewed myself and Hanna Johansson newly appointed Professor of Contemporary Art Research of the from the University of the Arts about how the role of artists has changed. Johansson has written a short text on the matter for the book. Her text is a cry for more serious strategies for cultural organisations and more challenging artworks (But it’s disguised as a celebration of the “Paikan tuntu” project).
Möller invited Marjo Priha on stage in behalf of the Helsinki Zoo organisation and asked her how had the artworks (made at the zoo over the course of the three year project by some 150 artists) had effected the site. She replied that she had come to understand that: “The skill of looking at things you don’t understand is skill which is best trough artworks” #ॐ. After the talks we watched video documentations of the project on the theatres big screen. My short about Päivi Allonen looked good and the audio worked too. It was zoomed to 4:3 size but served well. This was the first time I got to see my Panasonic GH3 footage I had shot on a big screen! With proper color grading it would serve even better.
Bought 100% cotton jeans and I have to learn how to stretch them.
Interesting text about the political-body-building in dance “Expressed in Fits” by Rachel Elizabeth Jones: “[…] the everyday traumas of racism, classism, and sexism live, at least in part, in the body; and the physical release of that trauma through dance is redemptive”.
Grey Cube Gallery documentations are completed! Fixed the Italian-to-Finnish translations with Viivi yesterday and send my final invoice to the Union for Rural Culture and Education. My favorite artist presentations was by Päivi Allonen and I also enjoyed taking with the Helsinki Zoo staff. During the summer Honkasalo-Niemi-Virtanen collectives residency documentations were cancelled but I’m overall satisfied with the project.
A lot of interesting ideas concerning the relations of animals and public institutions came up during the Zoo staff interviews but these complex talks didn’t make the final cut. I’ve written some down under the tag “Animals in the City“. The idea that the sites primarily goal is to build awareness of animals as individuals was build up through director Sanna Hellström interview. The Bear Castles that hosted the art exhibitions and events are now left unused and if someone is interested in presenting stuff there they should contact Katri Houtbeckers from the Zoo.
Helsinki Zoo staff and festival documentations:
I’ll meet up with the Union for Rural Culture and Education on the 26th for the “Paikan tuntu” book launch at the movie theater Orion. I was interviewed for the book by Antti Möller.
Visited “Suburbia – Lähiöperformansseja” exhibition by Antti Ahonen and Katri Kainulainen over the weekend. Came too late for Siiri Nevalaises after party piece but got to hear KOELSE drone noises. Many of the exhibition pieces were faux performance documentations and there was a tad too much repetition (Some photos from the exhibition available online). The photos mimicked street fashion looks and presented a hardcore-nostalgic view to the suburbs. Katri and her friend posed semi-nude in rough concrete surroundings. Unfortunately the contemporary fashion industry produces heaps of similar (and even more disturbing) imagery and styles present in the exhibition came off as rip-off’s of Vice magazine covers.
The fashion industry has appropriated the visual cues of performance art! The disturbing documentations such as Carolee Schneemann’s “Interior Scroll” (1975) has been normalized trough Vice magazines commercial interests in the niche and the perv’s. The best way to rebel against these processes is to produce documentations which look boring!
Had an interesting chat concerning photography workflow with Antti. His archive on flickr is packed with performance art, street art etc. event documentations and artworks. The huge cultural heritage collection he has build has been made intuitively. He does not “waste time” with color correction (he’s colorblind) and he trusts the camera’s/computers automatic sensory. This approach alleviates stress and enables him to take on performance documentation gigs rapidly.
Sometimes the winning move is to renouce the fight. #ॐ
I’ve been sick with flue for a week.
Felt better yesterday, worked together with Viivi Koljonen on a Grey Cube Gallery artist documentation we made in Italian during the spring. We made a raw cut together and now she’s working on the translations. On my way home I started feeling sick again on went to the supermarket to buy a treat. In my weak state I suddenly bought a a 16kg kettlebell. The kettlebell is a big surprise. It’s an incredible concentration of metal and cultural practices (My favorite move with it is The Turkish Get-Up).
I guess I’ll have to make an artwork out of it/with it. 2007 during my time in the Academy of Arts in Tallinn I felt guilty about buying coffee in take away cups daily. My friend Daniel Kupferberg urged me to “make art from the expendable cups so that the feeling would yield something productive”. This approach will serve well with the kettlebell.
Later surfed online and bought a Honu Cage v.2 camera cage (used for 86€). I can now replace my shaky and worn out Dörr stabilizer grip thingy.. It’s intended for shooting low-angle skateboarding glides and under the load my current system (Gh3/lens, Tascam dr-40, Røde VideoMic Pro, cheep wireless AudioTechnica units and a YongNuo YN-160 led lamp/battery) it wobbles in the wind. The Honu Cage v.2 will stabilize my kit and serve as a hub for a shoulder rig I plan to build.
Today I met with Arttu Merimaa, Miina Hujala and Mikko Kuorinki to plan our upcoming course “The Cruel Radiance of What Is” for Art School Maa. The educational collaboration had a shaky start last spring but this meeting restored my believe on the project.
Currently editing the Grey Cube festival documentations and zoo staff interviews. The process is dull and I’ve kept myself in high spirits by playing music. Song about the Przewalski’s horse (Human is always to blame). Melody is based on the Finnish original (on soundcloud) where the singing worked better but I’m reasonably happy with the new version too.
When I get stuck with editing, I continue with singing, when the falsettos fail I turn to blogging and from there back to editing. Swapping projects on the fly is more efficient than trying to fight through obstacles. Small successes in side-dish-project keep me moving and motivated to work. Side-dish-project enable me to take distance from problems and eventually work myself around them. As a result of multitasking aspects of my profession feel more like serious hobbies then labor. This is useful as I can engage with work tasks playfully and experimentally. I guess this is key for maintaining artistic productivity: To maintain creative productivity, you have to increase creative productivity (or some “less-is-more” shit like that).
Met with Andrew Gryf Paterson and Alexander Fleischmann at the HIAP residency in Suomenlinna and participated in an informal stroll around the island, which was organized to discuss “Undisciplinarity”. The theme is related to Paterson upcoming PhD thesis. The event was a part of the HIAP public program. I got to know Paterson when he was working for Pixelache and witnessed his impact on New Media Arts scene in Finland. Pixelache events and festivals brought together craftspeople, farmers, junkyard scavengers, programmers, circuit benders and artist working with video/sound. Rather than identifying and boxing in different genres of new media arts, Paterson was interested on what kind of social and ecological implications different technologies have.
He invited cultural heritage specialists, craftspeople and new media artist to the same front. The technologies they used were not judged based on how old they were – Digital dongles and stone axes fitted on the same desk. For him it was more important to find commonalities and joined motivations across different fields of creative life. It is important to organize behind joined dreams concerning the future and not to allow contemporary technology to segregate us (This premise has practical use in organizational tasks: Hosting a meeting with good food is way more efficient than sending emails).
Paterson has been influential to the development of Ore.e Refineries. The Pixelversity “Unconfrence on Art and Sustainability” in 2011 was a particularly fun event and we launched the NO-CHAIR-DESIGN campaign there. He’s currently working on a text “Reflections on Soil Future(s), Present(s) and Past(s)”. I’ll try to cover it in detail after it’s been published the RIXC “Open Fields journal”.
Got a PO-14 for a -60% discount! and now I could make gig using only Teenage Engineering gear. Also got the Cyanogenmod 13 (Based on Android Marshmallow 6.01) working on my Galaxy S3 (I9300). The device is slow but usable (I might have to return to Cyanogenmod 11 or other rom variant to make it snappier). Currently editing the Grey Cube Gallery video documentations.
Editing the Grey Cube Gallery documentations. The zoo’s director Sanna Hellströms talks very convincingly about her work. The way she defines the institutions function and value is very similar to what I hear art museum staff talk about their organizations. Zoos build environmental awareness, art museums build cultural awareness. Both are talked of using obscure yet convincing terms. During her talk the institutions vague role and relation to other public institutions appears like a majestic lighthouses that offer citizens the opportunity to navigate their relation to nature. I should get Maija Tanninen-Mattila (Director of the Helsinki Art Museum) and Hellströms into a panel and have them talk about their institutions for so long that the audiences perception on which is which gets mixed. Institutions are forged with obscurities.
Made a song about how institutions fold upon themselves.
Was invited by Pilvi Porkola to feature in her upcoming New Performance Turku party-performance.
What if we have learned to perceive animals as “individuals” only through zoos? All other relations with animals are collaborations, where we have personalized knowledge about a particular animals history and see it as a member of its group or resource orientated relations, where we approach animals as tools or food. The primary motive of the zoo is to present animals as individuals, lonely and out of context creatures (as we are). The isolation of animals is a performance we come to witness at the zoos. Through their loneliness and isolation we can find ease in our struggles.
The zoo is a vitally important public institution for building human-animal relations… Particularly for people who moved into cities in the beginning of the 20th century. When we were living in the forest, every animal we didn’t see posed a threat. The woods we filled with traces and smells of invisible enemies. The zoo presents the most threatening animals we can imagine in a human controlled habitat. The zoo makes animals visible. Only after we see the wolf in a controlled environment, we can begin to see it as something else then a hostile adversary fighting for the same resources we are. The individuals that suffer in the zoos protect their species.
Zoos provide us an opportunity to approach animals rationally. They are remnants of the enlightenment era, public sites which offer access to animal-relation-contemplation for all citizens. The zoo is not showing animals, this would be impossible because animals become something else when they are moved out of their habitat (context). The zoo is a non-site, which refers to actual habitats and portrays individual animals as representatives of their species. The zoo produces non-animals and it presents a collections of possible human-animal relations (This idea was addressed by Katrin Caspar during our Grey Cube Gallery interviews)! The generations of animals which have been born to the zoos consider it to be their natural habitat. They are more accustomed to representations of “habitats associated to their species” than wild nature.
Got some Grey Cube Gallery documentation videos published. Eeva-Liisa Puhakka & Katrin Caspar is in English and Päivi Allonen in Finnish. If my computer would be faster I’d like to learn how to color grade.
Also got a nice message from the Te Uru gallery in Auckland. As a surprise their crew had edited a video of the labor bee-workcamp-performance at the Huia Road Horse Club. I’m still waiting for confirmation that I can upload it for sharing. The message got me motivated to write about the New Zealand Trans-Horse venture and I’m hoping to publish the video and a text about the trip this week. Already sorted through photos and got them on flickr.com.
Editing the first interview of Honkasalo-Niemi-Virtanen for Grey Cube Gallery / Helsinki Zoo residency project. Hard work. Majority of artists I’ve interviewed over the years have refused to provide clear answers. I remember working on “The Second Forest Team” interviews back in 2010. The 5 min video required nearly 2 hours of footage and a week’s worth of editing. Artists seem to fear that they’ll lose something when they provide simplified answers about their work. Perhaps they see interviews as magical rituals which set a course for their processes.
Ironically the more obscure answers artists give the more power is passed t0 the editor, who is left to craft senseful statements from partially answered questions. When artists work obscurely they empower art institutions. The more complex an artist presents him/herself is the more staff is needed to build sense (Similarly, the less organized and offbeat an artist is the more legitimate professional art institutions appear). When an artist and a group become self organized, the economic balance shifts and they possibly begin to compete for the same funding.
Getting funds for making both art and sense about the art should be set as a goal for counter culture projects. Often organizations work with either art or sense but both remain victims.
In the future we can borrow clothing from the libraries.
Got a job working for the Grey Cube Galleries! I’ll be in charge of documenting their summer events at the Helsinki Zoo. Discussed the gig with Päivi Raivio and as requested I’ll make 4-6 short documentaries of various events and projects. I’ll get to interview Katrin Caspar & Eeva-Liisa Puhakka, Päivi Allonen and artist of the Honkasalo-Niemi-Virtanen group. These artist talks will be backed with interviews of various animal caretakers and zoo personel. I worked for the Grey Cube Galleries last summer too. I build the Zoovision reality-headset during my residency. This gig is a interesting continuation of last years work and offers a new view to the zoo institution.