20191014

My report Mitä jää käteen kun saa aivan liikaa ja vielä enemmän? [What do you get when you are offered too much and more] on the Ural Industrial Biennial 2019 is out on Mustekala.info. It starts with a short description of the organization and an overview of the biennial’s this years theme “Immortality”. I’ve based my examination on texts offered in the catalogue and a very light reading of philosopher Yuk Hui’s work (he’s cited in the texts, as mentioned and felt very influential for the show). I had a lot of time to study material on the train! I recap a funny Rostec representative who tried to appropriate the theme during a panel by calling their corporation immortal and ponder if the seminar talk about contemporary art conservation was a way to deal with Lenin’s corpse.

The text continues as an easygoing account of my session with a biennial “mediator” Dennis. We browsed artworks which he deemed important for the exhibition. This suited me well as the focus of the tour turned out to be on post-colonial thought (largely dealing with China and specifically Hong Kong). I try to assess how (or if) the presentation of works refers to contemporary Russia. I celebrate the biennials pedagogical program and ponder if the gigantic amount of art on display is an attempt to make the biennial more accessible for the diverse Russian art audiences (something for everybody) or to silence everybody with the volume of works. Depictions of my chats with Dennis exposes the various technical hassles shadowing the exhibition.. But I’m not judgemental of the hassle. I enjoy them and the affordances they offers.

I conclude my review by summarizing our visit to the Uralsbest mine and factory, which was organized by the biennial. (There is a photo by Elina!) I try to think what it means that media surfaces used for contemporary art exhibitions, are made from minerals hauled from similar mines and try to frame of the mine visit as an opportunity to radically question how toxicities should be addressed. The text ends with me regretting that I couldn’t take the people we met in Asbestos city “seriously”. I regret not having a register to hear what they said about asbestos, because they must have very specialized knowledge on how we (in the global west) could learn to cope with toxins in the future.

20191013

Saw Television by Niko Hallikainen at Mad House Helsinki. He appeared confident and included various stage tech maintenance maneuvers into the performance (toggling lights and the space heating). Seeing the performer crossing the stage, just to turn the heating off before starting their monologue made me feel I was in good hands. He shared an eventful and touching love story but I think an underlying motive of the piece was to explore how virtual spaces can be formed using spoken word. In the beginning Hallikainen confessed he was building a temple for a departed lover trough the performance and described various interiors they had been in: A bar, his home, their home, a strangers home. The hints we were offered to visualize the spaces were subtle. He described things in them (DVD covers, coffee machines), mapped their relations spatially and prompted us to “use our imaginations” if we wanted to sort out how the spaces were configured. His words felt like projections. A magical portal, the TV or screen (emphasized by blue lights on stage) which links all interiors together, was identified using words and a dance. The mood of the performance and the tone of his voice reminded me of the Neuromancer 1994 audiobook.

Visited a Synthetic Youth -event at Cactus. Particularly liked Kanyon2000000 and 8 bits High was super, got me dancing too. They are having a tour in libraries (9.11 Ylöjärvi and Tampere) which is very fitting for music made with keyboards. Kanyon2000000 has a picture online where they are posing in front of the Oodi modular.

20191011

Subscribed to Kusksu a mailing list for sound-art and spotted “Radigue” at Space for Free Arts curated by MIF. The event was a part of Äänen Lumo and offered performances by Clara de Asís & Lauri Hyvarinen, Enrico Malatesta and Thomas Ankersmit. Maletesta played Occam XXVI a composition by Éliane Radigue, which uses two bowed cymbals and a frame drum. The bow agitated the cymbals, forming drones and their resonation transferred between the plates over air. Occasionally Malatesta hover a drum membrane over the cymbals to pickup and amplify low tones. He used sound to play sound over air!

Ankersmit performed “Perceptual Geography” (sample on soundcloud). It was really rewarding to see a serge modular live on stage. There were moments when it felt like he was playing every conceivable sound the same time. He was very loud and the performance was punctual. The execution of the piece felt like an academic study of noise. We were presented with tonal structures and spaces. They appeared abruptly, evolved and then suddenly crashed. It felt like the tones referred to nature. I couldn’t identify what I was listening but I could imagine hearing similar tones in a forest. I only recognize occasional square wave pulses in the beginning and the end of the set.

The piece is based on Ankersmits research on sound artist Maryanne Amacher. Particularly on her work concerning psychoacoustic phenomena and sound spatialization (recently popularized on youtube). During the gig I had the urge to tilt my head, so that I could avoid pain caused by a harsh drone tone. As I turned my head I felt a melody ringing inside my skull. I noticed other audience members bobbing their heads too. The experience was similar to the tingling which high resonance filter sweeps can cause. But this experience was more articulated, like an overtone melody which was forcefully positioned inside my head. The experience was a result of sound spatialization and this was the first time I hear it. I didn’t know it is possible to manipulate the spatial perception of the audience to this extent, let alone intentionally as a part of a performance!

20191008

Coping with post Trans-Siberian railway blues. It’s been a week now and I’ve yet to unpack. I just pulled everything on my table, keep my stuff in a pile and shuffle it when I need things. Our return trip from Vladivostok to Helsinki took 180 hours. We only had a few daily breaks and a 10 h train change wait in Moscow. I managed to (almost) complete a review of the Ural Industrial Biennial during the ride, made some train ambient recordings and fixed a sock. Despite the discomfort, working on the train felt rewarding. Everything we saw and did fitted into a context. The travel and our group forged a dense social framework which I experienced to be supportive. Back here in Helsinki, I feel vague and I don’t know what to do next. I’m dreaming of new travels and looking for odd-jobs (barista for Starbucks, office cleaning -> edit: got invited to a job interview but the 3h/5d a week gig only pays 550 a month, which is impossible).

I have small gig in a week and I’m preparing for some teaching next month (post-structuralism for kids continues). Swapped my KP3 for a Leploop Multicassa v2. It’s superb and compliments my rack. I’ll miss the KP3 thou.. I had it for 3 years. It seems I’m into electro-acoustics, ploppy filter resonances and organic mutant drum patterns. I’ll try to build a dark techno setup using Multicassa with my softPop. I think they come from the same universe (edit: they really do). Build my first 1u module TRS breakout 1u. The closet I use for work is a mess.

20190928

Cybernetics for the Twenty-First Century: An Interview with Philosopher Yuk Hui (2019) Geert Lovink. Hui sees the technological dominance of the Global West coming to an end and turns to models found in Chinese philosophy that aren’t rooted on a binary division between nature/culture.

We live in an age of neo-mechanism, in which technical objects are becoming organic. […] Being mechanistic doesn’t necessarily mean being related to machines; rather, it refers to machines that are built on linear causality, for example clocks, or thermodynamic machines like the steam engine.

[…] evolution is creative, since it is fundamentally organological in the sense that evolution is also a process in which human beings are obliged to constantly create new organs (e.g., figures), while not being blinded by them, i.e., by not regarding them as the totality of reality. Mechanism wants to explain life, without realizing that it is only a
phase of life, e.g., a figure.

On the surface, transhumanism seems to want to get rid of the concept of the human. However, this gesture is only camouflage. Transhumanism is a quintessentially humanist approach to the world, since all is captured within a metaphysical gaze

Huis talk What Begins After the End of Enlightenment? (2018) for e-flux is great. He argues that accelerationism is an direct continuation of enlightenment philosophy and identifies recent AI hype as a desire for a sublime man-made intelligence, trough which (western) men hope to transcendent themselves. He looks at technology as philosophy, referencing Heidegger and wants to find an alternatives to the prevailing (western) ethno- and technofuturism from “cosmotechics”. To achieve this he asks us to identify the locality of our technological thought. I think he’s talking about crafts.

I’ve been reading The Question Concerning Technology in China (2019) Yuk Hui. It builds thoroughly articulated links between Chinese and Western philosophy. Almost like an anthology. Tim Ingold is mentioned frequently. Hui is the philosopher cited in Ural Industrial Biennial catalogue by curator Xiaoyu Weng. Works in the exhibition feel almost like illustrations to this book.

In Chinese cosmology, one finds a sense other than vision, hearing, and touch. It is called Ganying, literally meaning ‘feeling’ and ‘response’, and is often […] understood as ‘correlative thinking’. I prefer to call it resonance […] It yields a ‘moral sentiment’ and further, a ‘moral obligation’ (in social and political terms) which is not solely the product of subjective contemplation, but rather emerges from the resonance between the Heaven and the human, since the Heaven is the ground of the moral.