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).