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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20200916

Reread Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter (2013) Karen Barad for inspiration on my Kone foundation artistic research grant application. Getting a better grip of her approach to representationalism. The target of her critique is not the accuracy of representations which are used for conveying knowledge but that representationalist assume and advocate that entities can detach themselves from the phenomena they are making sense of. Barad reaches out to Butler who provides a practical example (using Foucault) of the effects these dynamics have on folk: “juridical systems of power produce the subjects they subsequently come to represent”.

The idea that beings exist as individuals with inherent attributes, anterior to their representation, is a metaphysical presupposition that underlies the belief in political, linguistic, and epistemological forms of representationalism. […] representationalism is the belief in the ontological distinction between representations and that which they purport to represent; in particular, that which is represented is held to be independent of all practices of representing.

Barad argues that representationalism is fueled by a Cartesian belief in the division between “internal” and “external”. She continues that folk often neglected to mention that in this division representations are “external” sources as well. I see her call for “discursive practices” (focus on performativity) as an attempt to reach past representations (because we should acknowledge that words have an impact) and to focus on the relation with the subjects we are addressing.

For all Foucault’s emphasis on the political anatomy of disciplinary power, he too fails to offer an account of the body’s historicity in which its very materiality plays an active role in the workings of power. This implicit reinscription of matter’s passivity is a mark of extant elements of representationalism that haunt his largely postrepresentationalist account.

I thinking her explanation of the “primary epistemological unit” or phenomena could be well explained with an example of the clock. A clock does not measure the progress of time, it performs the construction of the clock. More importantly the clock is a technological assembly which manifest a particular worldview. In this frame it’s interesting to think about popularity of health-monitor-smart-watches which measure the performance of the body. I believe they enforce a mechanical reading of the bodies inner workings.

I find it more easy to understand “intra-action” in Finnish then in English. In Finnish people can be said to be on the same “taajuus” (~frequency) and as I understand “intra-actions” are processes were we can witness the emergence of differences in phenomena which habit the same “taajuus”. The entire radio domain consists of simultaneously transmissions on all possible frequencies. All transmissions interfere with each other, all the time. Broadcasts cannot occur outside of the radio domain but broadcast are all different, they could be explained as folds of the same. Tuning to a fold (aka. listening to a broadcast) could be explained an “agential cut”. Yet an other cool link Tetsuo Kogawa/mini-FM transmitter stuff.

[…] the agential cut enacts a local resolution within the phenomenon of the inherent ontological indeterminacy.

Intra-actions could be useful for explaining the interconnectivity of horse-human practices. There are similarities in practices I have witnessed at different horses tables over the years but the reasoning justifying the practices are always explained differently. Each horse stable could be seen as a pocket or fold of the cultural history horses and humans share. “Agential cuts” could be used explain the anecdotal notes horse hobbyists and professionals share during horse grooming and maintenance chores. The notes stop the flow of horse-human cultural history to pin particular horses into particular relations which are performed at the particular stable.

A practical question which arises from thinking about performative posthumanism is a questioning of the common practice of mounting a horse from its left flank. Horse-skill teachers may explain that this practice is linked to chivalry traditions. Knights wore their swords on their left flank and allegedly the weight and dimensions of swords makes mounting from the left more practical. Why do we still mount the horse from the left flank? The horses are accustomed to this tradition and possibly teach people of this preference (an “agential cut” by the horse?). What will happen if we mount the animal from the right? Are we mounting a horse when we do so or an other beast?

In the first phase of my research I’m attempting to map the contradictory figure of the contemporary horse. With this I mean a snapshot of the array of performances which people execute when explaining the animals behavior and nature. My aim is to outline the model of agency which these performance inscribe to the animal and to ask for the horses feedback on it.

In summary, the universe is agential intra-activity in its becoming.

I think Barads writing manifest a hopeful view of the future, where stuff constantly emerges (there is only progress). I’m looking for the void. I feel that trauma caused by encounters with abrahamic-believe-systems which emphasize text, letters and symbols as keys by which we can reach truths, cause me to read thinkers like Barad as an authority. I can feel my artistic thinking complying to her writing. Theory seduces me into becoming an illustrator instead of an artist. Bless dyslexia, natures remedy to determinism. #ॐ

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

20180611

An artist in Helsinki who’s active on twitter has been writing a critical commentary of art-life, culture institutions and exhibitions for a half a year now. The blog is called Hampaat (teeth) and it’s an interesting albeit a tad cynical source for local art-news and art-thought. The most recent post is called YOUR COLLEAGUES ARE THE PROBLEM. The text feels like it’s very critical towards someone but that person is not identified… Which makes me paranoid (am I part of the problem? *laughs nervously*). The author identifies the figure of the “reputation avatar” (derived from the work of Gloria Origgi, a podcast about her book online) and tries to pinpoint moments were artists work primarily to maintain their reputation. I often engage with work to merely to maintain my reputation (but I don’t think it’s a bad thing).

The criticism of art mirroring our times (as a justification for the lack of critical thought and practice in art) is something I agree with. Elaborate media-artworks which I’ve seen recently (most of which are related to AIs) should be read as blatant celebration of media technology, innovation and capitalism (and not it’s critique). A hammer cannot be critical of a hammer #ॐ. The artist status should not be used as an excuse from ethical concerns: When artist use AIs they have the opportunity to be just as unethical as the übers and googles of the world.

The author is also critical of the recent trend of “melding art with science” and claims that “the situation of art as a site of knowledge is rotten at the core”. I agree to an extent. Artist are sometimes portrayed more pure hearted then they are. There seems to be consensus that artist would use science for the good of people if only given the chance. Which is not true – Artist are not healers. The text also makes me ask that why would anyone want to learn about Barad from an artist who reads Barad (if they can learn from Barad herself)? And to ask that in what circumstances is learning from an artist about Barad (instead of Barad herself) more efficient/better/smarter?

I’ve liked the THREE QUESTIONS TO PEOPLE DOING EXHIBITIONS UNDER CAPITALISM best so far.

Pietari shared a gruesome story from Amsterdam Dutch rewilding experiment sparks backlash as thousands of animals starve. A case-study for understanding the intersections of cross species solidarity and post-humanistic theory.

20180322

Visited an event organized by Jaana Laakkonen at Asematila space during the weekend. She read texts inside a tent structure which was constructed out of paintings. Works were also exhibited on the floor and some were stored in plastic bags (“for ease of transport”, I was told). She offered them for display on demand and flipped through canvases like a persian rug-dealer in a bazaar. Some pieces had been painted outdoors and were affected by mold. It felt like the mold was a sort of commentary on post-representationalism: The paintings study post-humanistic models of art making, while providing a habitat for non-human critters. The canvas serves as an image, a map, a diary and a Petrie Dish.

I was offered a brightly colored publication. It features close-up photos of painting materials (textures), glimpse of sites she’s worked at and partial outdoor scenes. The publication does not have any text in it and it feels like a sneak peak into an artists practice – Like peeping into a painters studio through a partially open door (intentionally opened by the artist). I also received three printed texts (folded inside the booklet). I’ve only read one: “Does Art Escape When Posthuman Performativity Enters (On [Not] Delivering it)” which is an intimate story about the artists relationship with a dog, bundled with a work journal of sorts.

The event and the texts emphasize entanglement (Referring to Karen Barad & Donna Haraway). This emphasis was present in the way that the artists mixed together intimate stories, technical depictions of the painting equipment and posthuman theory. I had difficulties in engaging with the event because of the artists the personal presence. It was as if she had constructed a zoo around herself. The intensity and intimate nature of the texts, the mold and the artists body predetermined my relation to the site. If the texts would have been read by an actor I could have roamed the stage more freely.

It was an inspirational event – It is as if she was painting with texts. Post-truth-realms have made the representational value of art weak, which is why contemporary art emphasizes on text and performance. Text, performance and bodybuilding exercises (working bodies against material weights) are essential tools to keep us grounded, to keep us in the same world or even to develop new common ground. Working with texts, weights and witnessing events require effort which is why knowledge they produce can be trusted.