20200110

Valtasuhteet piiloutuvat Designmuseon näyttelyyn [Power relations hidden in a Design museum exhibition] (2020) Mari Vaara. The article is also available as a podcast which is nice. The text is a very harsh critique of the Secret Universe -exhibition and work of acclaimed designers Aamu Song & Johan Olin. Vaara introduces the concept of Mechanistic Cosmology, credited to Tim Ingold, which explains processes were thinking and doing are separated to advance modernism. She also identifies an interesting phenomenon “Handcraft Fetishization” (I should explore this more). She reminds readers that the entire concept of “handcrafts” is defined by its relationship to modern production methods. I think this is true: Crafts are not against Industrial methods, they coexist and many times are the same.

Vaara questions why the artists don’t call the craftspeople whom they collaborated with “workers” (käsityöläinen), they call them “craftmasters”. “Who gets to name, whom?” she asks. The relationships between the designers and the craftspeople they have commissioned work from is not transparent: “How is the money divided between them?” she asks. I think she is right, the agency of the craftspeople involved has been reduced to highlight the inventiveness of the designers. Also, defining people who make objects with their hands as “craftspeople” is a problematic. Particularly in the global context: In Finland I can choose to work with wood outside the industrial complex but my decision to work this way is backed by our local industrial grid.

I think Vaara’s critique is coarse. My interpretation is that the work of Song & Olin is not harmful because their work addresses crafts from a remote angle. A craftperson working to sell their stuff and labor is likely not affected by the exhibition or by Song & Olin in any way which would hinder they livelihood. I don’t think the museum exhibition has any relevance to craftspeople in Finland. The harmfulness of the modenist attitudes Vaara identified is a relevant observation.

20190928

Cybernetics for the Twenty-First Century: An Interview with Philosopher Yuk Hui (2019) Geert Lovink. Hui sees the technological dominance of the Global West coming to an end and turns to models found in Chinese philosophy that aren’t rooted on a binary division between nature/culture.

We live in an age of neo-mechanism, in which technical objects are becoming organic. […] Being mechanistic doesn’t necessarily mean being related to machines; rather, it refers to machines that are built on linear causality, for example clocks, or thermodynamic machines like the steam engine.

[…] evolution is creative, since it is fundamentally organological in the sense that evolution is also a process in which human beings are obliged to constantly create new organs (e.g., figures), while not being blinded by them, i.e., by not regarding them as the totality of reality. Mechanism wants to explain life, without realizing that it is only a
phase of life, e.g., a figure.

On the surface, transhumanism seems to want to get rid of the concept of the human. However, this gesture is only camouflage. Transhumanism is a quintessentially humanist approach to the world, since all is captured within a metaphysical gaze

Huis talk What Begins After the End of Enlightenment? (2018) for e-flux is great. He argues that accelerationism is an direct continuation of enlightenment philosophy and identifies recent AI hype as a desire for a sublime man-made intelligence, trough which (western) men hope to transcendent themselves. He looks at technology as philosophy, referencing Heidegger and wants to find an alternatives to the prevailing (western) ethno- and technofuturism from “cosmotechics”. To achieve this he asks us to identify the locality of our technological thought. I think he’s talking about crafts.

I’ve been reading The Question Concerning Technology in China (2019) Yuk Hui. It builds thoroughly articulated links between Chinese and Western philosophy. Almost like an anthology. Tim Ingold is mentioned frequently. Hui is the philosopher cited in Ural Industrial Biennial catalogue by curator Xiaoyu Weng. Works in the exhibition feel almost like illustrations to this book.

In Chinese cosmology, one finds a sense other than vision, hearing, and touch. It is called Ganying, literally meaning ‘feeling’ and ‘response’, and is often […] understood as ‘correlative thinking’. I prefer to call it resonance […] It yields a ‘moral sentiment’ and further, a ‘moral obligation’ (in social and political terms) which is not solely the product of subjective contemplation, but rather emerges from the resonance between the Heaven and the human, since the Heaven is the ground of the moral.

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