20220613

Our experimental clay workshop was a hit and we succeeded in most of the goals we had assigned ourselves. On the first day there were 21 attendees and around 15 members took part in the burning the following day. Some came only for the kiln building and clay collecting, while others were more interested in the burning and the surplus-metal-work. Some members had assigned themselves as mere observers. We developed the workshop program very fast and were fortunate that our open call appealed to a very skilled set attendees. Some were knowledgeable of ceramics and experienced in construction work. The flow of events mirrored our previous trips to Kurängen spring and our efforts to work with the clay we collected from there. The burning process replicated the events of our first kiln building session but this kiln was built with more precision using mud cement to secure the bricks. The chamber where clay objects were placed was bigger then previously.

The program structure was easy to decide on, as the labour chores we needed to perform in order to built the kiln and process the clay, were well defined and simple. Preparing materials such as the mud cement and reclaiming the bricks, was demanding but the actual work did not require intricate or specialized skills. Mud is an educative technology #ॐ. The materials afforded improvisation and the development of makeshift tools. The attendees were divided into sub-groups based on their interests (kiln building, clay collecting & cleaning and Vartiosaari island strolls) which occasionally self organized to complete chores. I served mostly as a supervisor of the kiln building process, overseeing the hive of attendees assembling it.

The layout of the kiln was based on the affordances of the bricks. I think the geometry of the bricks had a stronger impact on the design then our desires. The kiln was made by the bricks. I think we all wanted to work with mud, bricks and heat and this guided our work. Before building we disassembled the previous kiln, which gave the group a good idea on how the new unit could be constructed.

The burning took place the following day. The temperatures inside the kiln chamber were uneven. A corner of it was overheated which lead to to clay melting and the opposing side was cold. None of our ash glazing experiments succeeded, which indicates that we did not reach a temperature above 1170°C. I think we were close because some objects with ash glazing had almost a glazing like surface. Sadly none of the object I made from the Kurängen clay showed any persistent glazing effects. A vase I made, which I intend to place inside the Kurängen spring for visitors to use, feels solid and looks great. I now prefer that the spring water will penetrate the earthenware object and that it comes a part of the spring ecology. Perhaps in time it will better document the taste of the water it will be submerged in. I will continue working with it as a part of the Nomadhouse-program.

I’m not a teacher by trade but I have strong ambitions regarding collective work and how collective labour efforts should be organized. I prefer to know how materials behave and what to expect from them before engaging. When working with wood (which I know a bit), this affords me the opportunity to guide attendees out of their comfort zone and to engage with tools or processes which they fear. I count a child using a power-tool as a success. I particularly remember a workshop where I showed a shy member how to use a dozuki saw. In the process I guided their hand and I remember that this physical contact activated something in our relationship. I knew how to touch them in a manner by which they could saw a block of wood with at ease, while maintaining and even expanding their personal agency. It was a gentle touch.

Laying bricks and preparing clay cement, required the adaptation of new skill sets and material knowledges. Because I was personally out of my comfort zone, I couldn’t reach out to the attendees as sensitively as I would have liked. The burning ended up being a show rather then a collective achievement. Similarly some processes of the kiln building felt deceitful. I was physically exhausted from the work, internally second guessing the design while attempting to assist people with masonry work. The stress resulted in situations were I presented my gut feeling as authoritative knowledge.

At times, this authoritative tone was needed to steer the processes, so that we could meet the schedules and facilitate the work cycles other sub-groups. But the tone does not emancipate the attendees. Rather it enforces pre-existing biases and hinders the attendees eagerness to engage with crafts & materials. Hence, material engagement with the environment, remains a matter of specialization and it does not emerge as a process which benefits from personal grounded stances and motivations. Personal, grounded stances should be the foundation of new mineral sciences.

This is sort of what Joreen writes in The Tyranny of Stuctureless (1970), mentioned earlier: The work was personified and the flow of events depended on our charisma. Our skills became embodied as the infrastructure of the kiln but we failed to include the skill sets of the group in it.

Fortunately my crafty blabbers, nervous laughters and the contradictory guidelines revealed the de-stability of my masonry & ceramic skills. I think the attendees mostly called my bluff and will build much better kilns in the future. Still, it would have been more fun and more rewarding to work from a more based position, to facilitate and not only to perform. Also, I don’t know what Elina and Monika were doing or how they felt during the two intensive days (and the four intensive days of preparation). We were all exited and happy with the results but it will require an intricate debriefing to set a trajectory to usher the experimental clay initiative forwards.

Towards new sciences!

20220202

Ville Haapasalo is more valuable for Finnish national defence than a F-35A Lightning II fighter jet. #ॐ Relationships keep peace.

Finns are the biggest consumer of coffee globally on a per-person basis – But we are not actually drinking coffee: We are drinking tea, in the shape of coffee. Cafeterias serve coffee in samovars. Big heated pots stands still for an entire working day and the drink is served too hot to taste, mixed with milk and sugar before serving. This makes our coffee taste like not-coffee. It’s bitter, weak and served in jugs – Consumed to keep warm. We are wasting valuable resources, expediting global warming while at it. All this just to proof that we are culturally different from Russians.

The saddest thing is that we are wasting good ingredients for our not-tea. The President brand for example, a blend of African and South-American variants, is a great for slowly brewed drips – When the beans are roasted lightly. But to survive a day in Finnish-Samovar Coffee pots without turning bitter the blend is often roasted dark which removes the earthly, borderline grasslike tones from it (I think the blend has some yirgacheffe in it). It makes no sense to prepare fine variants of coffee to be spoiled by trying to incubate them in a samovar. At best the drip coffee served in our cafes tastes like americanos, so why not go straight for espressos?

Our coffee culture is tea culture. Joining NATO is a bad idea. Putin is an ageing dictator and things are not looking good but NATO is not a peace organization. The only route for peace is a route towards peace.

20211029

In the contemporary milieu, the idea of being negative is either regarded as a destructive mentality or else defeatist fatalism. But, at least in passing shades, negative emotions can hold great power. There resides in negativity the seed of critical thought and a beneficial duty to engage with one’s internal feelings.

The Art of Negativity – On Rejecting Positive Thinking (2021) Enis Yucekoralp. The text draws a link between capitalism, positivity and the “Likes” which social media devices employ. There is a determinism at play in positivity… As if things would “get to” or need to “go towards” to exist or feel good to be meaningful! I’m reminded of a previous claim that bitterness is in fact an emotional response of class awareness #ॐ. This is framed in a sentence: “Judgmental bourgeois attitudes towards revolt and protest necessarily represent hegemonic support for the status quo”. The text brings forth a useful concept: “toxic positivity”, which is deployed to against the stagnative argument that “negative emotions are inherently ‘bad'”. The author identifies trades of “cultist optimism”, which approaches critical world-views as a sin. Also loving the critique of “wellness capitalism” (Yucekoralp is citing Audre Lorde).

… the English Romantic poet John Keats formulated a concept, one which he termed ‘negative capability’. At root, it describes a propensity for living in the midst of mystery; or, more accurately, the power to accept enigmas and uncertainties with an open mind free from the imposition to hunt down order and clarity. His very use of ‘negative’ is not meant derogatively, but to represent absence in a more abstract sense – the positive potential of ‘being without’ something. In this case: knowledge or certainty.

Wellness capitalism is the symptom of a much more corrosive condition; as if more consumption were the answer to healing the wounds of capitalism. In reality, the promises of ‘mindfulness’, ‘positive mental attitude’ and ‘healthy living’ pledged by the industrial wellness complex are exposed as just one more arrow in the quiver of exploitation.

We should work to destroy ourselves nicely, not only to maintain the current but to destroy it! Authentic movement and authentic drunken slumber can possibly be equally healing. Authentic Drinking (or getting fucked up in other ways) was recently discussed with Leena and Heini.

20210927

An entertaining talk by Jaron Lanier How the Internet Failed and How to Recreate It (2018). Not digging the naturalist vs. political human rhetorical device but forgiving it thanks to an acute description of addictions in social media. They are asking journalist to quit social media, to step out of the loop of addictions in order to engage in candid discussions about big tech and how they seek to alter behaviour. Also digging the analysis that we are not witnessing an emergence of far right political power, we are witnessing the emergence of cranky old people who are fuelled by social media engagement algorithms (which reward rapid responses that biased comments provoke). Lanier argues that voters align with cranky political leaders because they feel humane and are provoked, mortal and moody just like the rest of us. The behaviouralism/algorithm link feels like an interesting trail to follow. Inspirational oversimplification: Algorithms impose a mechanical world-view. #ॐ