20190902

Packing for a trip reveals how artist equipment categories are aligned and indicate changes in praxis. I have music instruments in one pouch, mineral water making tools in an other and electronics in the third. Some items are difficult to place.. Where do the capacitors I’ve build using mineral water belong to?

Kim Modig & Marina Valle Noronha‘s Art Off The Air (AOTA) (2019) is an audio piece about art and energy (or lack of it). I like the style of the work, the glitchy audio gaps and the boldly disruptive techniques they use to create an inspirational space for the listener. The work asks an important question: “What kind of lifestyles does our art produce” and calls for de-growth (or de-acceleration) within the arts. Their proposal is that artists should do less to combat consumerism. I agree with their proposal wholeheartedly. But I do think de-growth should not be demanded equally from all artists or arts, because this would hinder the constant reconfiguration and circulation of economical / social classes. Processes in structural change should take into account the demands different artworks place on their surroundings: Material artworks reserve more stuff then skill sharing. This argument is an adaptation of the critique of extreme taxation of flights and meat industries: Extreme taxation would reserve these “pleasures” only for the mega-rich (which is a dystopian reality by all accounts). I think a great model for change is the way value added taxes are designed. For prints and paintings the tax is 9% and 0% for performing arts! Perhaps in addition arts should be taxed using a progressive scale?

Mira Kautto has shared a collection of art grant applications and proposals online. I think this is a great gesture!

Onyx Ashanti is an afrofuturist working to reprogram himself. His video entries give me weird-sad-hope: Perhaps I’ll survive not getting a grant (applied for 108 000€ from Kone to finish the Trans-Horse project). I’m seriously looking for work thou.

I’m not flossing, I’m just not cold. That’s cool and I’m cool with that. That’s a kind of freshness in itself. That’s dope. Not being cold during a polar vortex is very dope but being dope in a polar vortex is the mothershit. I’d love to explore it.

20190829

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.

20190816

A thorough and nice no input mixing tutorial by Sarah Belle Reid (2019).

Build a perf-board unit of the a Simple EQ / Baxandall EQ module (the Tilt channel is still in the making). The build was an ordeal. I did how ever learn that the reverse polarity protection of the circuit works well (it even saved an IC I popped in the wrong way) and that my noisy DC 5-24v to Dual Power 12v -12v 5v -5v 3.3v supply is robust. I attempted to plan the build using various board design tools (Fritzing worked best for me) but ended up just soldering components down following the schematic.

I added two switches to my build, which can be used to bypass the capacitors controlling the bass response (27nf) and/or the treble (1nf). Changing the 27pf didn’t have much effect. I added female pin headers which can be used to insert different capacitors in their place. My first water capacitor (using faux s.pellegrino) shows a value of ~35pf and it has an effect on the sound. Next I’ll build more water capacitors, which hopefully will have higher values for more distinct effects. I’ll also have to design a front panel, which can used to mount the bulky capacitors (The one I have has ~20ml of water in it).

During my tests I’ve discovered that the electrical resistance of sparkling mineral water drops slowly (as the water loses its bubbles). I believe that this property could be used as vca of sorts. I plant to make a simple signal divider, which uses sparkling mineral water as a conductor. This signal multiplier would be useful for one-shot slowly amplifying ramps (for example adding volume). Water and electronics is a beautiful combination.

20190610

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 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.

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.

20190607

Added an array of capacitors to my Electroslush. 4u7 does not do much, 10u has a more audible effect. Changing the caps next to inductors has as a stronger effect. My plan is to build a capacitor myself (using mineral water as the conductor or electrolyte and plastic as the dielectric), use this cap as a filter on an audio amplifier circuit which will amplify the sound of the Electroslush (which will be listening to filter capacitor I build). This should make for an oscillator, which sound character is determined by the electromagnetic field of the diy mineral water capacitor.

I might use Tom Whitwells SimpleEQ (with exposed sockets for the capacitors next to the the bass and treble pots) and Mikrophonie as basis for the design. Electroslush -> Mikrophonie (or two for stereo) -> SimpleEQ (which capacitors are listened by the Electroslush) -> VCA/Output. In the long run I might combine the Electroslush and Mikrophonie into the same circuit.