20180806

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

20180820

Reading chapter 3 of Theatres of Immanence – Deleuze and the Ethics of Performance (2013) Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca, in preparation of todays Performance Philosophy Reading Group at the CPR – Center for Performance Research.  The text has a very nice summary of Deleuze & Guattaris’ notes on animals, with a focus on the processes of becoming-animal and the art of butoh co-founder Hijikata Tatsumi and artist Marcus Coates. The author claims that “time-based arts of performance (and video) […] are particularly well suited to drawing our attention to the difference between human and nonhuman as a temporal one, as something to do with relative speed of perception and action”. I agree! When horses are conveyed trough a medium such as video they are flattened (abused). This abuse makes it more easy to identify how technologies that are perceived as neutral (such as cameras and roads) enforce human-centric world making (only humans fit in camera frames).

Humans and nonhuman animals are not ontologically different in kind […] rather they differ in terms of what their bodies can do, in terms of their affects, which includes the relationship their bodies have to duration. […] becoming-animal in performance involves embodying new ways of being in time and, in doing so, exploring how we might expand, extend or otherwise alter our human powers of perception and sensation alongside those of nonhuman animals.

The text offers a very short summary of “animals on stage” art-thinking, arguing that theatre is the last human venue were distinctions between humans and animals are played out. Animals on stage create a rupture from representation: The presence of live animals introduces a non or anti-intentional force (This applies in an interesting way to Mounted Police forces – The horses cannot be negotiated with, hence law is only enacted). The text also identifies that the stage as an apparatus attaches meaning (or the illusion of intention) to the animals presented on it.

According to Nakajima Natsu, a student of both Hijikata and [Kazuo] Ohno, Hijikata instited on the need for dancers to track down ‘all the signs of domestication of the body’, to locate their habitual ways of moving and to attempt to shed them like a dead skin. […] ‘Forms exist so that we can forget them’.

Butoh as an unlearning, body re-wilding process? An opposition to bodybuilding? Anyway… Butoh is not based on the notion of a sovereign author, nor does it assume the value of bodily control. Imitation might be necessary for becoming-animal but practitioners should believe that they can actually become animals.

‘You become animal only molecularly. You do not become a barking molar dog, but by barking, if it is done with enough feeling, with enough necessity and composition, you emit a molecular dog’. [Deleuze & Guattari]

Deleuze & Guattari use the term animal as a verb: “The wold is not fundamentally a characteristic or a certain number of characteristics; it is a wolfing”.

[…] the affects or powers of a body are not fixed for Deleuze; rather, they are constantly increasing and decreasing depending on to what extent the other bodies we encounter ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ with us, to what extent they bring us ‘joy’ or ‘sadness’. What I can do is extended or expanded when I encounter a body that brings me joy […] ‘the affects of hoy are like a springboard that makes us pass trough something that we would never have been able to pass if there had only been sadness’ [Deleuze].

[…] affect has its own reality that comes prior to and produces affected bodies.

Can horses join these realities? Yes they can! When we act as their prosthetics in navigation (trough us horses have access to the internet). When we loose contact from each other, we cannot have access to the same reality again. If I die the horse will not miss me, it will brief for my death in a similar way I grief for something I’ve forgot. Something which I cant remember anymore.

Affect is not synonymous with human emotion, for Deleuze and Guattari; rather, it ‘crosses species boundaries that are normally ontologically policed’, passing between bodies of differing species and drawing them into ‘unnatural participation’ and ‘unholy alliances’.

Becoming is not product or goal oriented, constantly aiming to arrive at some imagined end-point; rather, Deleuze and Guattari insist that ‘becoming produces nothing other than itself’ or, again that ‘there is nothing outside of becoming to become’.

Focusing on speed (as an issue when forming relationships with animals) reminds me of Eyal Weizmans’ observation of highways of “walls of speed” which are intended to segregate citizens.

Different animals have different ways of being in time that produce what lies above and below their threshold of perception.

In the text this idea is explored further in relation to  dynamic is discussed in relation to Marcus Coates Dawn Chorus (2007) video. During the production of the video they realised that when a birds song is slowed down, more notes can be identified (realtime 4-5 notes, slowed down up to 40 notes).

[…] the political dimensions of becoming-animal lie in its resistance to an ontological distinction, and therefore hierarchy between human and nonhuman animals. […] Two ways of performing this opening […] are to affirm the immanence of becoming to imitation; and to explore affects as a durational or temporal relation. […] Deleuze’s emphasis on affet invites us to break with the condescension of pity in favour of ‘unnatural partisipation’

I don’t think that anthropomorphism is bad. It is a form of imitation, a process of simulating other beings (in a human-sense-making matrix). It can be helpful for developing genuine localised knowledge of animals. For example rumours of a horses behaviour, explained in human-terms, passed forwards at a stable environment, may help us understand how to better work with a particular animal. Anthropomorphism also gives us important information on how we approach others: It helps us map out the specificities of our human-centric understanding and highlights our failures in developing an understanding of others (hiding it, will not change it).

Also, Timothy Morton argues that it’s telling how stigmatised anthropomorphism is: Perhaps it’s not permitted to sympathise with a pigs, because showing sympathy towards them would reveal their exploitation to be sadistic and cruel (But Humans are not bad, right? We’re only “misinformed”.) Jason Hribal argues that by retelling anthropomorphic stories, we can show the mechanism that build institutions which benefit from the humans/animal (and master/slave) divisions. For example: Disney stories illustrate our disgust to some species, only after this informations is outed we can affect it.

Side note: Humans can only slow down information (to make it understandable for themselves) but they cannot speed up their information intake – Humans always hear in “real time”#ॐ. If fast information streams are slowed down they can come understandable for humans (because data of the recoding becomes accessible to human sense-making and perception speeds), but slow messages will loose their data when they are speeded up (because the data is compressed and the resolution will be too high for human sense-making and perception). This means that humans cannot develop realities with beings, which make sense at a slower pace then they do. Even when they alter the speed in which signs of slower-then-human-sense-making-animals are experienced (ie. the speed of a recording of whale singing), they cannot make sense of what they hear slow enough. This means that human relationships to beings that reside in slower pace realities are noisy. To gain information from such realms, humans need to decrypt their experience, which is a slow and time consuming process. Humans must think fast to understand slow.

 

20170820

Read a speech written by Päivi as “a man with a moustache which looks like the moustache of Kyösti Kallio” at the RaivioBumann (Raivio & Daniel Bumann) Hiljainen vieras / Silent Guest event. The performance was a part of Patsastellaan: Parties for Public Sculpture series organized by James Prevett (Taideyliopisto). The role of being just an actor/speaker felt nice.. I wasn’t as nervous as when I perform my own material.

Bought a Bastl Dude mixer for the upcoming Childrens Techno workshop (Teknomuskari) in Turku (NPTurku covers the expenses!). The mixer can also be used in Brussels next month. Made a website for our upcoming show wheredoyouwanttogofromhere.com. The Brussel gig is causing a lot of stress.. The recent attacks in Barcelona and Turku are adding to the mix. Working with horses is stressful, working with people is stressful and working in public spaces is stressful. To top it off, we are drafting strong arguments concerning the changing nature of public space (in relation to recent attacks) and framing climate change as a weaponized method of colonial dominance.

The booklist we’ve selected as our framework requires intensive learning. We are studying classics like Foucault, new material from Butler, new materialism/anthropocene inspired texts, the history of horses in European cities, re-reading Hribal and Eyal Weizman’s theories concerning the Arab Spring (The Roundabout Revolutions, Critical Spatial Practice 6, 2015). Majority of the text deal with infrastructure and how urban structures serve as authors of the modern self-regulating subjectivity. The texts (even the history of the horses) are centered around the concept of public assembly and examining how the concept of “the people” is build and used.

I guess part of the stress is caused by the indoctrination of these texts. Changing is stressful.. And I guess developing as an artist requires constant change.

20170810

Arabic Pixel v0.9 open source font by Alex Clay a game dev from Syria.

Jason Hribal on Which Side -podcast (2016) fighting for animals as a part of the working class and making very provocative evaluations touching the Black Lives Matter movement: “Animals have a voice through resisting. […] I want people to be angry and not feel pity for animals. […] Movements require a lot of energy […] Poverty transcends race“.

20160805

Is love an emotion or our interpretation of our behaviour?

Visited “WASD” exhibition by Reija Meriläinen, Santeri Räisänen & Eetu Sihvonen at Oksasenkatu 11. They presented a chair-shaped controller which guest could use to play a dialogue driven adventure game. The chair-controller referenced fleshy interfaces recognized in Cronenberg movies. To start the adventure players had to navigate through a 3d model of the the exhibition space. The simple trick of presenting a playable virtual copy of the gallery was enough to immerse me into the the gameplay. The rest of the game took place inside a sphere shaped world. Players were invited to engage in “Dr. Sbaitso like” therapeutic discussions with NPCs. If the dialogue was fruitful they begun to follow the player but characters also tried to trick the player into resetting the game. I didn’t learn what the objective of the game was but I enjoyed it’s melancholic mood. One segment the world presented a free roaming horse’s ass, which was previously seen as a part of Meriläises work for the Such gallery (Reija’s piece for Such referenced a riding trip we made 2015).

Visited Antti Majavas exhibition opening at the Helsinki Art Museum. He had build a hull of an airplane and presented various landscapes through the plane windows. Some landscapes where actually sketches of clothing Malevich had designed for the “Victory over the Sun” opera, others where aerial images from Google Earth, views through a car window and diary like footage showing advertisement imagery. Some parts (if not all) of the installation were running from electricity provided by Mustarinda residencies powerplan. The exhibition was accompanied with texts in which Majava shared his frustration with avantgarde art. Gathering from the texts he was making an anti-(avantgarde)art statement. He had identified a cultural icon through which our perception of the globe is build: The Aeroplane Window.

Also saw “Harmaja +10 länsiluode 35m/s” by Paula Lehtonen at the Hippolyte gallery. Lehtonen had designed a wall mounted dome which was used as a projection surface. A video showed partly computer generated dystopian scenery from Helsinki. She had divided the room the work was in with a fake wall, so that she could project the video on the dome from behind. A very nifty device. The work had an audio track made by Rasmus Hedlund but the exhibition opening made hearing it impossible. I’ll have to revisit the exhibition.

I’m very frustrated with Margo Demello’s “Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies”. The book provides a decent overview of the areas of interest for human animal studies but it doesn’t approach the field critically. It reads more as a long and detailed pamphlet advocating animal rights. I’ll have to reread Jason Hribal’s “Animals are Part of the Working Class Reviewed” to purge my thoughts. We are preparing the “Horse and Performance” course for the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki which starts in a week.

Currently excited about the Novation Circuit 1.3 firmware update. Got some funky samples loaded.