I’m preparing for a month lon trip to Russia. The Alkovi “In Various Stages of Ruins” -group includes (2018-19): Elina Vainio, Matti Kunttu, Iona Rosin and Katja Kalinainen. The project is organized by Arttu Merimaa & Miina Hujala. Other artists from Finland will also join in on different segments of the trip and their works will be presented in screenings / exhibitions on the way. The train from Helsinki leaves 2.9. I’ll give a presentation on mineral waters at Fabrika (Moscow) on 4.9 and later in Vladivostok. During the trip we’ll visit Ekaterinburg for the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art and Novosibirsk. I won’t have access to the internet on the train but I plan to write posts, which I’ll publish en masse once I get to a wifi.
The performances I’ll present illustrate how mineral waters are formed as rain passes through the soil and how different waters affect our bodies. The characteristics of different waters will be explored using electronic gadgets, anecdotes and by preparing a batch of mineral water for consumption. I’ve build a eurorack module for the occasion. It is a Simple EQ / Baxandall EQ module, which I’ve made as a trough hole unit and modified by adding switches and female pin headers, so that I can swap capacitors used in the original circuit.
I’ve build capacitors which use mineral water as the conductive material and plastic balloons as the non-conducting substance (dielectric). The capacitors have different architectures and shapes: A component which is made from a balloon (filled with 10ml water) inside a balloon (filled with 10ml water), shows as a ~3000pf capacitor. A component which is constructed from a balloon (filled with 10ml water and 10g copper) and a jar (with 20ml water), shows as a 12nf capacitor if its charged with a 9v battery for 10 sek. A component which has two spiraling compartments, shows as a 40pf cap. etc. Measurements vary and I guess the capacitance changes over time as the electrolytes in the salty water run out.
The EQ’s treble setting shows a notable difference when a capacitor is swapped. Unfortunately the change in the nature of audio passed trough the circuit is non-spectacular (my water capacitors behave as normal capacitors). But it is intriguing to use water as an electronic component! I’ve also build a nifty eurorack case for the trip (I’ll share the design later). The 84hp skiff has laser-engraved Byzantine ornaments and maps form our groups previous trips to Russia. The inside of the case lid shows module schematics (for debugging) and a manual for the Expert Sleepers Disting MK4 unit. The case also has pictures from different water based parasites a illustrations. I’ll laser cut the panels for the module tomorrow. The panels also have inserts for the 4,45mm jars I use for the water caps.
The reason there are so many cameras at performance events and festivals is that the cameras situate the act to a temporal plane. Every time the shutter strikes the performance is locked tighter to a specific past. Unfortunately when performance art is designed as a set of tasks which the artist completes, this advocates the ideologies of causality and linear progress. The shutter clicks set milestones, looking back at which the audience is tasked to asses the performances current state: “Aha! The previous gestures led to this specific moment – We have witnessed progress, we have arrived”. Cameras compost performances by pinning them to exact moments. They also help in distributing authorship of the happening.
Performance art needs to be constantly documented so that it is demystified. If no photos would be taken, the performance would be eternal and possibly confront the future head on, which is a bad strategy (this taints a future, pollutes it with biases). Good art, makes for good compost #ॐ
Luckily designed tastes, smells and noises offer a route for collective speculation. These are not acts or gestures, they are themselves temporal planes, which the audience is then invited to navigate and explore. This allows the audience to make their own time. Instead of arriving, they are departing. Interestingly a taste never lasts long. They most often feel like first impressions, which are then collectively analyzed and assessed (aftertaste). As people explore a new tastes together, they make sense (trough a mood which the first impression sets!).
I think that this is the way to escape the institutional horizon. I think this is why I’m working with mineral waters (and noise). I guess this is why artist run art spaces are converting into travel agencies: Departure is more important then arrival. Oddly I think the majority of Finnish art is about departure and travel. The travels artist are taking are sometimes more celebrated then the work they have made.
Participated on my second Russian excursion with the Alkovi “In Various Stages of Ruins” -group (2018-19): Elina Vainio, Matti Kunttu, Iona Rosin, Jussi Kivi and Katja Kalinainen. The project and the trip are organized by Arttu Merimaa & Miina Hujala. This is a raw list of events.
- We visited Lappeenranta South Karelia Museum and South Karelia Art Museum: Saw a really cool looking hoody by the Hanti-Mansia folk, a painting of a Saimaa canal fell off the wall
- Jussi took us to chalk quarries, there was an emergency rescue personnel fire training facility on site
- Swam in Saimaa and tasted the water of Huhtiniemi spring (no taste, cold)
- We headed to Vyborg with MS Carelia
- Spotted underwater “putin-face-altars” on canal wall with Elina
- We walked across a train-track bridge and identified semiotic-deconstruction: Some columns of an old bridge were dismantled and others left standing – To signify that work to dismantle the bridge is on its way
- Vyborg suburbs are pretty and full of fences which guard vacant stripes of land. Some fences also guard fences
- Visited Monrepos-park: Picturesque wooden faux-temple on a hill, endless reconstruction work, a caste on a hill (felt jealous about others discovering graves on a sea shore hill)
- Our groups organization resembled fermented milk (viili): We stretched into a thin line, individuals swapped between lumps (also unintentionally, when a shoelace came undone etc.) and bounced back together
- Stayed in Hotel Druzhba
- We visited Vyborg castle, the tower renovation was complete and we got a tour to the top: Dropped a 1000 rubles bill between the tower ceiling structures, the group came to my aid and we build a variety of tools to retrieve the money (Elina: This is a team building exercise! Maybe art is)
- We spotted a mineral water display in the castle exhibition
- We roamed around the old fortifications around the Avangard-Stadion: Visited a toxic cave and a gunpowder storage
- Jussi announced the concept of Non-View (designating views that are difficult to describe trough present aesthetic standards) and prompted us to make a publication around the concept (before leaving to Helsinki)
- A chauffeur drove us to Kurkijoki: We stayed at the Lars Sonck House Museum (we got really good introduction to the place by Nikita), at sunset we headed to a hill in the town center (felt like 3000 bc)
- We identified semiotic-reconstruction: A plastered wall in the Lars Sonck house was spay painted with wild ornaments (asemic writing), so that it would align with the wall with the ornaments found in the rooms wallpapers and window curtains
- Spotted Finnish travelers in town: “This is the place I feel most at home. Cuckoo sings”. They detailed.
- We visited a local-culture museum in Kurkijoki: Some exhibition displays and cabinets were filled with objects from different eras (they were organized by their shapes and sizes), touched a mammoth bone
- The museum guide gave us a tip to visit a local spring, she described the it as a “silver spring” and drew us a beautiful map
- The spring is located on a hill behind the library, Arttu spotted a path which took us to a humble spring-well: Water tasted great, I carbonated a batch too
- Flag of the Republic of Karelia next at a town monument was bigger in size then the Russian flag
- We took a buss to Käkisalmi: Stayed at the Park Hotel Kapitan Morgan (sauna was not working properly), took a dip in Laatokka
- Made various electronic experiments with the water: 3,3v square wave signal was passed trough and a diy electroslush (LOM) used to listen to water, the returning signal was amplified with a lm386 and played trough a bone conduction speaker. The conductivity of different waters was similar.
- A chauffeur drove us to spring close to Kluchevaya. I had spotted the site from the mineralwaters.geo.uu.nl service (link)
- Finding the spring was challenging: We drove for three hours and then headed deep into the woods (saw a grave and house ruins), after a 20 min walk, a path was discovered which led us the spring origins, water tasted great. The chauffeur smiled for the first time when he was offered a taste.
- We spotted Ludvig Nobels well and took a taste of it too: The terms “Wild Waters” and “Untapped Waters” were coined
- We headed back to Vyborg (stayed at Hotel Vyborg): Iona showed a video she has been working on related to Monrepos-park, Karelia-nostalgia and geohistorical estrangement (my interpretation)
- We had dinner close to the hotel. Castle tour guide Vital was in the bar with a friend Misha and we banded to watch sports. Vital provided a thorough lecture on the history of the castle
- Elina took us to ruins close to the railroad bridge and installed a sentence she had been working on during the trip on tree branches
- We left for Helsinki on the train. On route we had a blind-water tasting: Kurkijoki spring water was rated the best
Vyborg water-voyages, spring and well water tasting etiquette (draft): The person who has called for the quest of the spring will taste the water first, so that its quality and drinkability can be assessed. Group members should not be pressured to taste the water but everyone should be offered a sip from a clean cup.
Alkovi gallery (Miina Hujala & Arttu Merimaa) is organizing a research-art-process which will take place partially in Vyborg and deal with ruins, tourism & knowledge. It’s called In Various Stages of Ruins. I’ll meet with the group of artist invited to join the process next week (our first meeting was in Vyborg last spring). Hujala send us a text to contemplate, in which she poses various questions on what art can enable and how it differs from other modes of thought. This got me thinking about moods.
Strikethroughs and ?-marks made after the second Vyborg trip.
Art can establish a mood
- Mood is knowledge that lasts for a moment (?)
- A mood is the best aid for exploring the potential of a site, idea or event
- Moods swing and maintaining a mood is a challenge, as a mood is not action (?)
- Mood might be the essence (or performativity) of solidarity
- Processes which try to deliver a mood are scary
- Art is more like a mood then mood is art
What is the minimal effort for setting a mood?
- A mood requires a comfortable setting (no hunger)
Moods require that they are identified (possibly known in advance)
Too much talking spoils the mood
- Setting a mood requires preparation and self-confidence (trust)
- Only stopping an action makes changes in moods noticeable
- Moods catch on trough subtle hints
What can moods do?
- Change the appearance of things and events
- Provide access to new horizons
- Things make more sense in a good mood
- A set of different moods is required to establish a baseline for good judgement
- Shared moods require mutual consent (no tricks)
- Mood can be picked up and possibly stored in art
Is there archeology for moods?
I’ve been trying to frame moods as public art recently… Trans-Horse (as an example) is as an artwork, best understood as a mood because that’s how it effected it’s audiences and what it is leaving behind (there is no monument). I started to think about this after reading a review by Maaria Ylikangas Hevosen avulla tutkitaan tilaa ja aikaa (2014). In the text she accounts her experience of the artwork and explains that even if she didn’t see the work, she got to know what it is like to move in the landscape with a horse. This happened by learning about what we were doing (trough twitter, radio broadcasts, articles) and combining this with with her personal experiences with horses (and other critical texts). I’ll use her case as an example were an artwork set a mood (and that was all the artwork did).
On route to Vyborg by invitation of Miina Hujala & Arttu Merimaa. Learning about Ruinenwert (it’s in a troubling relationship to Deep time Marxism). Reading The Value of Ruins: Allegories of Destruction in Benjamin and Speer (2003) Naomi Stead.
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