The Mazizone local network archive I’ve been setting up for my Raspi3+ is stable and working well. I have occasional problems connecting to it and I need to “forget” the network to reset certificates. But this only happens when I’m login in and out intensively for tweaks & edits. The device reboots daily to prevent these kinds of clogs. I haven’t gotten Gammu (to produce daily status updates via sms) working but with the reboot cycle enabled I’m confident that the device will run well enough.
I build the sound archive using wordpress and it looks fresh. Using wordpress in Mazi causes issues with the network url but this is manageable (it redirects visitors to portal.mazizone.eu which is ok for me). I’m now planning to build a funky case for the device and to make an inviting sign which will guide visitors to the network and archive. While making the website I got the idea of using ornamental patterns as illustrations. I also used ornaments in the eurorack case I build for the trip. When I was designing the case I tough the Byzantine style decorations as a reference to early natural sciences (which my work on mineral waters touches). This spawned the idea to add ornamental figures to the thumbnails of the sound files in the archive.
Each sound file (53) has a unique photo assigned to it. The photos set a mood for the content and give a hint of the sound. Photos were shot during our train trip by Iona Roisin, Elina Vainio and Miina Hujala. On top of each photo is a layer of different ornamental shapes. They twirl around the thumbnail corners and interact with things and people in the images. I’ve used Kid3 to add the images to the .wav files. If I’ve understood correctly .wav’s don’t have thumbnails but Kid3 manages to embed the data anyway. The default wordpress media playlist widget can source the images from the files and display them next to the track info.
Now there are ornaments everywhere!
I like over the top ornaments which have an abundance of detail. In Russia I can spot them everywhere. They are used in architecture (Corinthian pedestals and window frames), street lamps, fonts, advertisements, jewelry and clothes. Sometimes the patterns look familiar. Shapes I’ve seen in Russia appear to fuse Byzantine style decorations with folk ornaments I worked with during my carpentry studies. I can recognize a patterns being identical to a traditional woodcarving I’ve seen in Finland. Pirtanauhat and kauluslaudat are good examples.
I guess ornaments appeal to me because they link traditional Finnish crafts with Byzantine history and even contemporary Islamic and Arabic cultures. We visited a folk culture museum in Kazan and many of the Islamic artifacts in the collection looked similar stuff I’ve seen in Finnish folk culture museums (particularly the wooden objects). Some of the clothes looked like something my mother would want to wear. Styles I link to Bedouin folk gowns that are decorated with coins, felt really similar to Russian military uniforms which are decorated with medallions.
The ornaments I’m using for the archive and the thumbnails remind me of weeds. I think they link the archive to “ruins” which Miina is interested in. I think ornaments should be read as celebration of decay. They simulate nonhuman futures by imagening how plant life will take over architecture. They feel like archaic glitch art! Sometimes ornaments in clothes look like roots or blood vessels. I think Scandinavian design aesthetic read ornaments as a vanity but if we approach them as a celebration of decay there is nothing vane in embracing them. I hate Scandinavian design because it makes me feel ashamed of my appetite for details.
Using ornaments to decorate a sound archive, which is difficult to access – Feels right and embedding weed-like ornaments inside metadata makes sense. Here is a low-resolution sample of what the archive looks like when browsed using a mobile phone.
Vladivostok was the capital of pirates and brand cannibals. People looked stylish and the city center felt energetic. There was a pedestrian boulevard for tourists with Asian food novelties and gift shops. Visitors were from South-Korea and there was a lot of them. The city revealed itself as the South-Korean equivalent of what 2001 Tallinn was for Finns. Dolce, Supreme, weird Japanise sneakers with self illuminating laces. Referencing construction work and nuclear power. All straight from Chinese factories across the bay. All the goods in open street markets were tainted with a light layer of oil, it was meant to give the vinyl a shine but collected dust.
The cities makings were visible a stroll away from the boulevard. Away from the Kawaii shops, trams raddled like wheelbarrows, the pedestrian paths faded away and broken city heating pipes busted boiled trash fumes across the hilly skyline. Blockhouses like snakes, wrapped around hills as morbid rims. Solidified polyurethane dripping eternally from building seams. Cars moved furiously, using intuitive mutant patterns as lanes, in a choreography which echoed a collective death wish or lust for life. I loved it.
The city made me understand contemporary Russian infrastructure as the decaying corpus of the ex-soviet, presently habituated by a thin layer of privatization. The streets are rubble but people had pretty cars and clean albeit faintly oily Italian shoes.
Our one night show in Zarya felt really nice. The exhibition was more coherent and I enjoyed the videos in the screening more. Total atmospheric mean (2010) by Maija Timonen felt very fitting to the trip. Her analysis of a Shakira music video provided a ground to read styles which women are exhibited in Russian popular medias (that I’ve seen along our route). It has something to do with violent self-objectification and how this renders bodies non-penetrable and non-cavityish. I had some technical difficulties but apparently the audience didn’t notice any. My statue-stretch-poses were perfectly vague and I used my grandfathers voice as an underground cavern. It was porous and missing limbs. A line of men cued to have a taste of the water I prepared.
We are now on route to Moscow. Elina is working with a canvas for a text, photo, etc. piece. She’ll use the train and it’s movement trough the continent as a display. What I know of the work so far makes me think of our group as an Alkovi gallery in motion. Katja managed to aquire her more canvas material. The canvases will be delivered to a station stop on the way! Iona is working on her notes and Miina is reading. I’ll boot up my eurorack after Khabarovsk and attempt to link it to the train using piezos. I’ll also record noises and ambients of the trip.
We’ve been on a train for three or four days crossing four of five timezones. Arttu bought an extension-cord from Moscow which we’ve used to claim control over the train corridor electricity sockets. With it we’ve recharged our mobile devices, boom boxes and last night I used it to power my modular. As I was preparing for Saturdays gigs a lady passed asking: “Perpertum Mobile?”. I didn’t understand what she was asking and replied “Techno” (I’ve used the same reply during train security checks). Saturday will be my most complicated modular synth set to date, I’ll use samples and attempt to make electro-acoustic grooves live (D-2 in Karplus mode, C-5 with melodies from my Turing Machine).
Iona has read us train horror stories, we’ve listened to podcasts and made short presentations on various topics. We passed Baikal, endless forests and mountain ranges. Sprinted to shops during short station visits for eggs and pastries. We’ve learned to bathe in the toilets in an upright position, pouring warm water from plastic flasks which are mangled in the hot water. Some conflicts in the group seem brewing. Nothing serious.. I occasionally feel my pride clogging my perception and notice my nervous macho-chatter disturbing folk engaged in each other, views or reading. At our best we operate extremely politely. People have begun to ask permissions to enter discussions others are having and intentionally not-talking when others are concentrating.
Right now we are above Mongolia and Katja spotted a white horse on the north side of the track. It was the same mere which produced the fermented milk in Kazan. Working on the train is difficult due to the comforting motion trance (the soothing tremors of the tracks and infra-deep hums). Social causes are also to blame for the observable non-focus. We are learning about each other indirectly, though subtle ques which require time to spot and using energy for this labor is way more rewarding then fixating on art.
I believe that if repeated methodologically, this practice (moving in a train as a group of artists) could inform our praxises by building into a holistic cosmology of inside jokes and theories, which could be identified across our work. This ethos could build into a creative robustness. At present I can identify possibilities for this shift but I think we would need to expose our practices more to make this experience transformative. Becoming pourus is laborsome. The transformativity I imagine, is not radical or violent.. It’s subtle, like the taste of cucumber but persistent like the oder of sweat in clothes washed in the sink.
Our one night exhibition “In Various Stages of Ruins” at the ASI space in Fabrika felt like a success. The space, which was sort of hidden inside the old industrial complex managed to pull in a reasonable crowd. The audience was young, curious and people wanted to from relationships with the works. Miina and Arttu installed an image by Sauli Sirviö on the floor, cave exploration photos by Jussi Kivi on the wall and presented videoworks by Anni Puolakka and Maija Timonen. Elina presented a letter canvas (she’ll continue with the work on our train ride), Iona showed videos using a mobile phone as a screen and I made a 15min presentation about mineral waters. After the show I was asked: “When you described how rain corrodes the face of a marble statue and how the water then retains a memory of this encounter, where you talking about the metaphysical quality of the statue or the physical changes in the mineral composition of the water? Or are you taking about the negative space of the sculpture being filled with content?” We ended the evening by visiting Alexey Buldakov studios, which were located in the same complex, for a miniature after party with fun people.
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.