Hevonen ja rakennettu ympäristö taiteellisena tutkimuksena

Hevoslinja on kääntynyt Aalto yliopistolla suoritettavaksi taiteelliseksi tutkimukseksi. Alta löytyvä teksti on kirjoitettu apurahahakemukseksi Koneen säätiölle ja samanmoista tekstiä tullaan käyttämään myös tulevissa hakemuksissa. Aikaisemmat Hevoslinja kirjoitukset suomeksi löytyvät asiasanalla Hevoslinja ja jatkossa kirjoituksia tehdään pääsääntöisesti englanniksi asiasanalla Trans-Horse. Alta löytyvä teksti pohjautuu 2018 laadittuun Hevonen ja esiintyminen suunnitelmaan. Työ on vasta aluillaan.


Hevonen ja rakennettu ympäristö

Monet ovat kääntyneet tekoälyjen ja ihmisasiantuntijayhteisöjen puoleen tuottaakseen ehdotuksia sille, miten ympäristöä olisi kehitettävä, jotta voisimme tukea ekologisesti ja taloudellisesti kestävän (tai edes vähemmän väkivaltaisen) kulttuurin muodostumista. Tutkimukseni osoittaa nämä kysymykset hevoselle. Hevonen on varteenotettava kumppani tulevaisuutta koskevassa pohdinnassa. Se on osallistunut lukuisten modernien kaupunkien rakennustyöhön ja vaikuttaa nykykulttuuriin taiteen, urheilu-esitysten sekä tekemänsä sosiaalipedagogisen työn kautta. Suomen 170 000 hevosharrastajaa, uutterasti palvelevat 75 000 hevosta tarjoavat ihmisille elävöittäviä kokemuksia (Leinonen, 2013). Ensimmäistä kertaa historiassa osa meistä voi valita elävänsä vailla eläinsuhteita – mutta mitä itsenäisempiä kuvittelemme olevamme sitä haitallisempaa toimiemme vaikutus on ympäristölle. Posthumanismi on “monialainen ja -monihaarainen teoreettinen suuntaus” (Kokkonen, 2017). Siihen liittyvät yhtäaikaisesti ihmiskehon biologisia rajoja vastustavat trans-humanistiset pyrinnöt sekä globaalin pohjoisen tuottaman humanistisen maailmankuvan kritiikki. Taideyhteyksissä posthumanistisilla lähestymistavoilla markkeerataan usein teoksia, jotka pyrkivät osoittamaan ihmiskeskeisten mallien ongelmallisuuden. Tässä tutkimuksessa esitellyllä posthumanistisella työotteella tarkoitetaan eläinten älyn tunnustamista ja yritystä soveltaa tätä älyä suunnittelutyön tukena. Tutkimus luo väyliä (harjoitteita, taidekokemuksia ja tekstejä), joiden avulla ihmisen ulkopuolisen älyn kanssa voidaan neuvotella ja hyödyntää näin saatua palautetta käytännössä.

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Someone called our Speaking Clock -service last evening. I stuttered and begun installing an atomic time clock app on my phone. While it was installing I whistled the Wind of Change, My Heart Will Go On and some improvised tunes. The posse on the other end of the phone kept giggling and a man explained my actions out loud for their group. It took a while but I did eventually announce the time correctly: 19:17:21.

The Instrumentalisation of Horses in Nineteenth-Century Paris (2011) Peter Soppelsa. The article recognizes horses as “urban infrastructure” (of nineteenth-century Europe) and acknowledges the animals importance for transportation of information and as a force for “driving urban economy”. Soppelsa explains that horse-activities saturated nineteenth-century Paris and formed the “primary site for negotiating human-animal relationships and the place of ‘nature’ in the city”. In 1900 the city was a home to 98,000 horses. The shift towards a mechanized urban landscape had started already in 1870 when campaigns on urban hygiene, mechanical power and animal welfare were actively re-evaluating the horses role.

… how were horses constructed as a technology? Horse use was supported by what I call ‘instrumentalisation’ the transformation of horses into tool. To ‘instrumentalise’ means to objectify and evaluate, to assign value and a normal or standard social use. Instrumentalisation constructs subjects and objects, calibrates means to ends, and scripts relationships between humans, technology and nature.

He links the theory of instrumentalisation to the Frankfurt School (leaning to Herbert Marcuse, Hannah Arendt and others).

Driving this dialogue [of instrumentalisation] is the familiar humanist critique of instrumental rationality as a reversal and perversion of means and ends. Contrary to Kantian ethics, which value humans as ends in themselves, industrial, capitalist and bureaucratic modernity makes humans a means to uphold a fundamentally inhuman system, in which workers are enslaved, by their machines, bureaucrats by their offices, and humanity enslaved by tools, institutions and the environments of our own creation.

Soppelsa claims that “The line between nature and society is irrelevant for horses born in captivity and bread for work”. I understand but don’t agree. Jason Hribal identifies that animals are constantly protesting against their treatment and escaping captivity to establish striving communities. But Soppelsas intents are good, he is aiming to “green” the urban history of the city and to show how dependent our understanding of modern cities is on horses. Similar to Hribals article (mentioned earlier), Soppelsa goes into detail explain the thoroughness which horses were utilized: Every segment and feature of their existence was used. They were used as labor-power and their corpses would be used as material resources (gelatine etc.).

The text focuses on horse-drawn omnibuses which made the foul treatment of horses a common site on the streets of ~1900 Paris. The French Society of the Protection of Animals (est. 1845) was active in campaigning for their well-being. Working for their rights was problematic because of long standing Cartesian views which deemed animals as non-sentient machines. Soppelsa argues that the sole reason the treatment of horses was pulled to a focus was because well treated horses would perform better. Machines and harnesses which caused less stress were developed to keep them in good working condition: “Cartesian animal mechanism was not always incompatible with animal welfare”. Their docility was maintained by organizing the animals into teams.

Omnibus horses […] were stabled in pairs, hitched to the same vehicles and driven by the same coachmen each day. The omnibus liked drivers, horses and vehicle in a consistent unity of human, animal and machine: the team. The team was technologically necessary, because ‘A horse, however willing cannot be used to work without being attached to another device’.

The divers were the center of the “team” Soppelsa continues. The animals could also be drugged to perform as desired: “‘A drunken horse is never meager’, Parisian slang called these drunken horses bohémes […]”.

The principal reasons for treating horses properly were upholding one’s own humanity and extracting the greatest possible value and work.

Early modern Parisians were advocating the well-being of urban horses because they didn’t want to be seen as savages. Not because they cared for the animals! Soppelsa offers interesting quotes by contemporary activist (who referred to horses as our “interior brothers”) who argued that good treatment of animals made their work more ‘profitable’. Visible animal cruelty made people look bad.

This process, combined with early bacteriology, which deemed close animal contacts “unhygienic”, lead to an new understanding that horses didn’t belong to the city. Interestingly horses were linked to the old European (fading) aristocracy, which lead the horse to be seen as a “chic novelty”. In short working with animals as machines was troublesome, their performance was difficult to manage. But working with actual machines, fitted Cartesian-worldviews (meaning a desire to see the world as a design) flawlessly and their performance could be optimized indefinitely. This process can be summarized by saying that the work of working animals was deemed inhumane, because working with actual machines was the endgame of modern humanity.

The horse’s incompatibility from the city shows how porous are the boundaries of the category of ‘urban’ […] horses were gradually constructed as non-urban after 1870. This narrative helps us historicise the relationships between humans, our tools and nature, thus greening urban history and the history of technology.

To preserve the city as a humanised space of artifice, and to soften the instrumentalisation of humans, Parisians estranged ‘nature’ and enlisted machines to replace animals.

Looking at the world as a design is an attempt to see the intent of a planner in a from. #ॐ

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NYC Horse Carriages vs. Carriage Horses (2014) Jason Hribal. A short and acute response to Liam Neeson’s speech, which he made to support the “Save NYC Horse Carriages” campaign. Approaching horses primarily as members of the working class, Hribal argues that they should be seen as an unpaid and exploited labor force, which is forced to serve capital. A detail of our relationship with animals he address is that animals are working also when they are made into glue. Historically, working horses have seldom been seen as companions. I agree but remain optimistic that currently we have a good chance in developing horse-human working relationships which are founded on companionship.

The [horse cart] drivers were middle management and their job was to get the horses to work harder, longer, and faster. In fact, the drivers’ wages were dependent upon this arrangement.

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A Promise to Aspen (2018) Mari Keski-Korsu. A text from BODY OF US exhibition publication. Keski-Korsu exposes the industrial undertone of contemporary Finnish forestry and calls its global expansion efforts to shame. The text offers an interesting reading of harvesters by comparing the distance they provide their operators to the distance “war machines” have given to battle. The text celebrates trees, but I’m not sure if “trees” even exist. I find it hard to empathize with them. They live in a different timeframe, continue living as logs and I have no idea what they enjoy. Aspens for one are not individuals, they are closer to ecologies. I don’t know what trees are. I agree with Keski-Korsu that anthropomorphisation is not a problem, it’s a solution because it exposes the power dynamics of our relations with non-humans (this idea comes from Jason Hribal).

The forests can be considered as an oppressed group because they simply have no say over how humans manage them or use the wood. Patricia Hill Collins defines in her book Black Feminist Thought (1990) the matrix of domination and how intersections of oppression are structurally organized. I believe these domains of power can be analyzed and used as an empathy exercise with any group – human or non-human.

Anthropomorphisation doesn’t mean that we shut out species’ specific needs. On the contrary, it helps humans to understand. It should be in the toolbox of new empathy. The kind of new empathy could bring human species to some kind of other level, to make more balanced narrative for this species. After all, empathy has been a building block for the flourishing of this species as it can be considered a basis for collaboration.

Today is our second tree-sound session with Johannes. Build a monstera leaf shaped wooden contact mic frame (I’ll glue four piezos to it). My dremel broke (attempted to grind trough 9mm birch plywood) and it’s not the same issue as last time (got a new one used for 35€). Bought an oscilloscope for 35€ (some potentiometer contacts need cleaning).

Listening to There Existed an Addiction to Blood (2019) Clipping. Hits a nerve while cycling in the gloomy darkness of Helsinki. The beats, broken as they are, feel warm. The lyrics are incredible hip-hop/noise-noir. I identify heavily with the Death Stranding main character Sam Bridges. I haul everything on my back. I particularly remember taking all my tools to Pyhäjoki in the spring using three banana-fruit boxes (pulling them on a cart) and two backpacks. Barely fit trough the train doors and I think I damaged my shoulder on the trip. Not having a driver’s license is starting feel like a burden. Carrying materials, instruments and tools to job-sites and gigs doesn’t feel fun and I feel the trauma of past efforts weighing in on me. Like reversed bodybuilding. My feet get sore from excess walking, my back aches when I lift shit (still feel a CNC machine I pulled inside a van 2002) and shoulders hurt from the tremors of my crappy power-tools.

My income is based on my able-bodiedness and recovering takes longer then it used to. I fear I’m loosing gigs because I can’t bounce back to working condition as fast. I need some kind of transportation to carry my gear around. Or change the way I work. I want to evolve into middle management.

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