“Direct action always returns us to basic questions of politics.” argues James Butler in a harsh critique of Andreas Malm: A Coal Mine for Every Wildfire (2021). The text offers a nice recap of Malm’s thinking and illustrates their attempts to dismantle fossil infrastructure as a borderline techo-utopian fantasy. The article provides a thorough summary of a recent book White Skin, Black Fuel co-written by Malm and the Zetkin Collective. I agree with Butler that activist-gestures are pedagogical: “There will be no flashpoint in the climate crisis, no moment with a self-revealing logic so clear as to be incontestable. Direct action can be a form of pedagogy, but it requires allies in press and politics” but I think they are reading Malm too literally; manifestos (and activist performances) are for building momentum, they are not intended to steer political movement. Also investigating climate change as a weapon of mass destruction is a potent approach.
They [Malm and the Zetkin Collective] see ‘fossil fascism’ as an emergent political formation, linking ‘primitive’ fossil capital – direct extractors, which can’t survive divestment – with racist politics. Aware of the slipperiness of definitions of fascism, they stick with the term because their new postulate has many of its hallmarks: fantasies of a nation purified of parasitical degenerates and outsiders; an indifference to mass death; emergence in an emergency where significant established economic powers are threatened.
[…] If only we knew, we would act in the right way. But there is no obvious point at which knowledge tips into action; in an increasingly mediatised political sphere, spreading awareness ends up as a substitute for action itself.
Trackers: The Sound of the 16-bit (2021) Ahoy is an entertaining mini-documentary detailing how music programming for games developed into DAWs. Plug-in Capitalism (2021) Michael Terren builds a compelling case against corporations that offer standardized tools for music production.
Any historian of technology will tell you that a technology that purports to increase productivity, under neoliberal capitalism and the atomized ‘creative industries,’ will only ever redistribute or delegate labour to other technical concerns.
Daily teaching at Kankaanpää Art School is progressing well. The group is acceptive to the activities I’m proposing and we are speeding along. The days are long and the weekly 6hx2 buss travels are rough but I’m feeling reinvigorated. Joined a local gym and got to perform kettlebell routines in a group. Planning to use the school facilities to build a new two row 104hp case. Sourcing wood from leftover bins.
Succeeded in swapping a busted usb-c port and changing the battery on my phone. I’ve serviced the usb port on this device twice.
The Eco-Politics of the Sublime (2021) Enis Yucekoralp attempts to reintroduce the sublime, so that we may gain a new political horizon. Yucekoralp argues that a division between humans and nature is beneficial for political decision making (citing Andreas Malm). They are calling for eco-socialist approaches instead of techno-fixes and define “climate apartheid” a political reality where the rich can keep distance from the destruction. Some parts are complicated but I think they are providing a critique of a virtuoso-male-survivalist-figure (built trough a critique of Kant: “[Who] exalts human reason to the extent that rationality is elevated to the level of transcendence”).
An eco-political sublime takes umbrage with the Kantian supremacy of reason and concludes that Nature can never be mastered. Instead, it represents a figuration of Nature that will never be totally knowable and that holds a mirror up to our own limitations of conceptualisation.
The Covid-19 pandemic represents a ‘sublime’ event insofar as its seismic calamity — by the force of its tragedy — also represents a naked revelation of societal immiserations and the possibilities for alternative socio-political formations.
Bought a book by Michel Serres and started working on an application for the Doctoral Studies Programme in Artistic Research in Performing Arts at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. I’ve written a 12 page research proposal called “Horse & Performance” (it’s taken me two-to-three weeks and I’m currently waiting for comments/guidance from friends). The English summary is the last part (I’m having trouble with it). Apparently I want to spy on people, talk to horses and ask them what they think about our perception of them. I can’t read the the summary without giggling – Which has to be a good sign.
The “Horse & Performance” research investigates “what do we talk about, when we talk about horses” at Finnish horse-stables. The research is rooted on an ethnographic study which analyses how horse-hobbyist and professional construct the figure of the contemporary-horse. The ethnographic part of the research will focus on situations were people explain the animals behaviour trough unintentional utterance, murmured while working with them. I will also engage in an “performance architectural” analysis of the sites, where people meet with horses, trough which I will formulate an understanding on how particular sites (and particular technologies presented in them) affect our perception of the animal. The fieldwork will be contrasted to the work of artists and theorists who have contributed to the development of the “animal-turn”.
From these sources I will develop a set of post-humanistically geared exercises and grooming techniques, through which I will direct the question to the horses themselves and ask for their feedback. These exercises will be presented as public performances, organized in urban spaces. The feedback audiences provide will be used to further develop an understanding of the contemporary-horse. Performing publicly with an animals cause conflicts through which we can access views and assumptions people project on them. Techniques developed through this research, can be used to ask animals for feedback on how build environments should be organized. The research aims to advance the wellbeing of animals and to advocate ethical environmental design.
Here is a list of texts I refer in the full proposal:
- Barad, Karen. 2003. Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter
- Butler, Judith. 2015. Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly
- Cull, Laura. 2012. Theatres of Immanence – Deleuze and the Ethics of Performance
- Despret, Vinciane. 2016. What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?
- Haraway, Donna J. 2007. When Species Meet
- Haraway, Donna J. 2013. SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far.
- Haraway, Donna. 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene
- Hribal, Jason. 2003. “Animals Are Part of the Working Class”: A Challenge to Labor History
- Hribal, Jason. 2012. Animals are Part of the Working Class Reviewed
- Ingold, Tim. 2011. The Perception of the Environment. Essays on Livelihood
- Korhonen, Pauliina. 2014. Ratsastusreitit kaupunkialueella – Suunnitteluesimerkkinä Länsi-Vantaan ratsastusreitit
- Leinonen, Riitta-Marja. 2013. Palvelijasta terapeutiksi – Ihmisen ja hevosen suhteen muuttuvat kulttuuriset mallit Suomessa
- Mbembe, Achille. 2003. Necropolitics
- Mitsuda, Tatsuya. 2007. Horse in European History 1550-1900
- Kaimio, Tuire. 2004. Hevosen kanssa
- Malm, Andreas. 2016. Fossil Capital – The rise of Steam-power and the Roots of Global Warming
- Mejdell, Buvik, Jørgensen & Bøe. 2016. Horses can learn to use symbols to communicate their preferences
- Morton, Timothy. 2017. Humankind
- Ojanen, Karoliina. 2011. Tyttöjen toinen koti – Etnografinen tutkimus tyttökulttuurista ratsastustalleilla
- Salminen, Antti & Vadén, Tere. 2016. Energia ja kokemus: Naftologinen essee
- Serres, Michel. 2010. Malfeasance – Appropriation Through Pollution?
- Schweder, Alex. 2011. Performance Architecture
- Urry, John. 2004. The ‘System’ of Automobility
- Weizman, Eyal. 2015. The Roundabout Revolutions
- Weizman, Eyal. 2017. Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation
- Wright, Stephen. 2014. Toward a Lexicon of Usership
Booked a trail riding session for next Tuesday 1pm!
Making art with plants, is abstract art – It requires an understanding of concepts and approaches derived from cell biology and theories concerning the climate (that there is oxygen etc.). People cannot build relationships to plants because our interdependency is an abstraction. You can respect a plant but the plant will never respect you – Which means that there is no mutual respect in the relationship.
Respect is a relationship, in which the well being of separate entities is rooted on a shared awareness of specific problems and skills an other entity has (face-to-horse-face). This supports the well-being of both entities: A horse needs human guidance for navigating contemporary landscapes (maps, social networks), a human needs the horses skills in moving in complicated terrain (four hooves, sensory awareness).
In this relationship both entities constantly contest each others limits, to set parameters for the collaboration. When entities work together, the work is a social process (the outcome is the surplus of a successful relationship). One entity cannot surrender decision making to the other, both must engage at all times (relaxation is an important form of engagement). This is what Arja Sulin is saying when she shouts: “Absolute focus!!!” to kids learning to ride. Following this logic it seems that people don’t necessary build relationships to each other either: Words develop institutions which make-us-make-sense of each other according to a predefined logic. This would mean that the only respectful relationships we can form are to animals with whom we cannot negotiate with using words. Weird… Lovecraftian?
Post-Capitalist Ecologies: Energy, ‘Value’ and Fetishism in the Anthropocene (2016) Alf Hornborg. The article has a chapter called “The Money Artifact as the Root of All Evil”, how cool is that? He’s citing Andreas Malm (who coined the term Capitalocene).
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