20201020

Listened to James Bridle New Ways Of Seeing (2019) which “reimagines John Berger’s Ways of Seeing”. Felt like an throwback to the past glory days of media-art. Some interesting new stuff too, like terra0 the cybernetic forest (by Paul Seidler, Paul Kolling & Max Hampshire). Their modular, open-source framework is available on Github. The project is affiliated with Moneylab, which is fun as I just helped to stream an event related to it at Oodi. Bridle’s presentation is stuck on gaze. He repeats numerously (and in numerous ways) that seeing is knowing: That by gaining a view to the inner-working of a system, we could overcome its effect on us. I don’t share this optimism. Knowing is not power: Power is power, and the power to employ is the Power.

I’ve visited the Kurängen spring (60.288403,25.214754) area twice after the first visit. We found a wooden-frame which has been build to protect the spring opening (mentioned here). I cleaned the foundation of the spring by removing plant life from the bottom and leaves from the top. Found gray clay in the bottom soil. Could it be used for pottery? While cleaning, the clay tainted the spring-pond, which revealed the exact location where water is gushing out. An incredible site.

Preparing the Encountering Taste performance with Tea Andreoletti. Preparations are fun and have progressed steadily. Interviewed Sirpa Vuori a Kuopio resident who was witnessed the decay of city springs from 1988 onwards. Spotted her from an interview on Savon Sanomat (Kuopion kaupunki mylläsi lähteensä, 03.03.2014). During our interview I got a detailed witness account of the destruction of the Linnanpelto spring and a thorough mapping of past spring usage by city residents. A small detail:  Her neighbor had a sealed document granting her the right to use the Linnanpelto spring as a supply. The neighbor had received this document when resettling to Kuopio from the north (as a refugee). Suvi from Anti festival got her hands on a great document Lähteet Kuopiossa (2011) Teppo Tossavainen which offer a technical view to the springs. She visited many of the sites mentioned in the survey and it appears that the Poukama Spring is the only one left.

Digging Filament 1 (2007) Sachiko M and planning to modify my Arturia Keystep following Toms Jensens Janko Project 00 guide (also on Thingiverse). Sourced parts for a diy Norns build (the PCB is from Pusherman) but I don’t have time to commit to the build.

Got a temporary teaching gig at Aalto and bought Cobra Biker Hook Jac-Dingo boots from a Finnish manufacture Boot Factory run by Pekka Lahti.

20201014

I’m a member of team Responding to E-Mails since 2005. The only reason I get shit done is because I’ve responded enough to have been elevated to a plain where the default is to respond. I remember looking at awe as Outi Heiskanen responded to phone calls in any situation. She felt that it was a duty and was tormented when missing a call. I currently have two emails I’ve neglected to respond to and I bear the same guilt. The plains I’m working to reach next are team Citing and team Commenting on Blogs.

20201007

It is easier to make a thing complicated, then it is to make the thing easy. #ॐ

20201005

The World the Horses Made: A South African Case Study of Writing Animals into Social History (2010) Sandra Swart. The article aims to develop social history by enriching it with inputs provided by animals. This is motivated by Lucien Fabvres call for “sensory history”. Horses are embedded in processes of “global ecological imperialism” and they have played a pivotal role for different settler societies. The role of horses is mixed, they were used as slaves (agriculture), as weapons and as status symbols. In short “[…] the horse has been the quintessential migrants laborer in southern Africa.” The starts with a strong emphasis on soundscapes.

Human understanding of sound is historical, with the ability to interpret noise (and experience it as melodious or jarring) changing over time. As [Peter A.] Coates points out, noise is to sound as stench is to smell – something dissonant and unwanted. It is tempting to assume that noise is noisier now. However, in much of the urbanized west this simple linear model of noise pollution growing worse over time is flawed, because while the ascendancy of the engine has meant a noisier world, it is worth remembering that the source of opposition to horses in urban centres and support for the horseless vehicles was the perceived need for a reduction of the racket. However, when in South Africa horses were increasingly kept out of towns in the mid-twentieth century, it was for reasons of disease and waste, rather than noise.

Swart argues that verbal communication with the horse (“horse-human patois”) was a language which white English, Sotho men and Afrikaans speakers could share. “They would have been able to understand that squeals and grunts indicated excitement; snorts signified interest or possible danger; a soft whicker was meant to reassure a foal or to express anticipation of food and a whinny meant the horse was all alone.” Horses were imported from 1652 onward and used to impress local communities and to facilitate travel. Their adaptation was hindered by diseases. Horses which came sick during lengths travels were treated with opium (this reminds me of the Soppelsa text on horse handling in Paris). Horses were kept in highlands to control their exposure to diseases.

From the seventeenth century, and gathering demographic impetus from the eighteenth century, the new settlers established themselves in places where their horses could survive. The desire to reach horse-sickness-free zones determined range of settlements.

Swart identifies this as an “unseen hand” affecting the patterns of human settlement. Animals can be useful for reading the history (finding parallels, tendencies) of many sub-altern groups but this should be done in a manner which does not trivialize suffering. She spots similar movements in animals studies and different waves of feminists thought.

Horses and women have much in common historically: both were socially integral but subordinated groups that were not always conveniently tractable. Some characteristics of a horse, especially a display of self-will, were described as particularly female, as in an Afrikaans narrative from the early twentieth century, which noted: “it is always very difficult to foresee what a chestnut horse or a woman will do.”

The history of horses looks at claimed individual (race) horses, in a similar manner as first wave feminism has focused on strong role models and horses have also been read as a silent oppressed group, whose societal importance if proofed by displaying the volume of horse who have been lost in wars etc. “Drawing on the gendered or women’s history paradigm, perhaps historians’ first step could be simply to demonstrate that animals have a history at all”.  Swart call for bringing the stories of individual horses to front. “The cordite-inured police horse, the dead-mouthed schoolmaster, the bolting ex-racehorse all reflect their individual past experiences through their reactions to current experience.” are offered as individual horse history trajectories. Hippos archives and Sukuposti.net would be great sources for this construction effort.

For example, static snapshots of the daily lives of horses in the past could be combined and run chronologically to create a picture of how an average day in the life of a horse changed over time, much as the first works on social history on women and the working class did. This underscores the point that horse’s lives can be discovered and that these lifestyles changed over time.

I think that proving that the lifestyles of horses has changed over time is difficult but very important. Change implies an intelligence, which we can witness in the performance. To proof that there has been change, is to proof there is possibility for change, is to proof that there is a future. Swart wants to bring focus to “agency” so that we may recognize that societies are made by individual actions which have been effect by the society. Typically animals are represented by humans because they’re cannot “speak”. “Marx’s formula regarding French peasants in The Eighteenth Brumaire is uncannily applicable to animals.” She underlines.

One way of addressing animal agency is to reassess the idea of agency itself. Indeed, some have argued that the failure to question agency in the telling of history actually reproduces familiar forms of power. Efforts to reassess the histories of labour, girls’, the subaltern, childhood, and so on attack prevailing hegemonic notions of agency predicated on the idea of an autonomous individual, following the imperatives of rational choice, and aware of how the world works. Instead they searched for more subversive tradition although they still tend to structure narratives around political rebellions in public spaces. Yet “agency” and resistance are not synonymous and a search for agency should not be indexed by the presence of heroic acts of conscious self-determination.

This has an interesting application to horses. As Swart details, horses are controlled with an arsenal of tools (reins etc.). When horses are used publicly we see riders and drivers yield these tools in “displays of public domination”. But we seldom read why these tools are used for horses: Their disobedience can have life threatening results. Horses protest all the time.

Asymmetric access to the technologies of power, of which horses were one, buttressed elites. Horsemen had to have some power to even possess horses and, once they did, they could seize more power and deploy it more effectively by using horses, in a military capacity or in utilizing trade networks more lucratively.

Swart argues that horses are possibly not the best companions for reaching out to the histories of the sub-altern. They were luxurious. Donkeys were more frequently used in agricultural settings. Donkeys have been blamed for erosion and killed en masse. Swart brings fort the “donkey massacre” of 1983 which she calls “a silent massacre, hidden from the official archival record.” I’m betting that accessing horses in the stable, learning how their maintenance and care has been organized might proof revealing.

The article claims that horses are not as “obsessed with territory” as humans but this is contradictory to my experiences in the pastures, in the stables and when witnessing policehorse training events. I believe that being situated is a way to communicate and negotiations on spatial positioning is an elite form of horse-human patois. It’s great for performance as minute actions such as turning ones focus impacts direction (e.g. when riding).

20201003

If a gun is power and I have a gun, I have power. But the power is not mine, it is the gun. It is my gun and I can yield it. With it I become the police and can assume control over others. I make them suspects. If a suspect takes my gun, they won’t become the police. This wont reverse the power dynamic of our relationship, it will only make my gun more powerful. You cannot kill me with my gun, you would only make my gun more powerful. For others to use the gun they would have to reset its memory but this would destroy the gun. This is what the personalized palm print sensor which controls access to Judge Dredd’s gun “the Lawgiver” signifies.

How did I get the gun? It cannot be given to me because to use it I’d have to reset its memory. The only way to get a gun is to make it. All tools for making are of the same lineage. The first tool made the second. And all the tools we now have have been touched by tool before it. But because guns cannot be used for making, and they cannot be given, this would mean that all guns are replicas of the first gun. #ॐ