201190111

Alkovi gallery (Miina Hujala & Arttu Merimaa) is organizing a research-art-process which will take place partially in Vyborg and deal with ruins, tourism & knowledge. I’ll meet with the group of artist invited to join the process next week (our first meeting was in Vyborg last spring). Hujala send us a text to contemplate, in which she poses various questions on what art can enable and how it differs from other modes of thought. This got me thinking about moods.

Art can establish a mood

  • Mood is knowledge that lasts for a moment
  • A mood is the best aid for exploring the potential of a site, idea or event
  • Moods swing and maintaining a mood is a challenge, as a mood is not action
  • Mood might be the essence (or performativity) of solidarity
  • Processes which try to deliver a mood are scary
  • Art is more like a mood then mood is art

What is the minimal effort for setting a mood?

  • A mood requires a comfortable setting (no hunger)
  • Moods require that they are identified (possibly known in advance)
  • Too much talking spoils the mood
  • Setting a mood requires preparation and self-confidence (trust)
  • Only stopping an action makes changes in moods noticeable
  • Moods catch on trough subtle hints

What can moods do?

  • Change the appearance of things and events
  • Provide access to new horizons
  • Things make more sense in a good mood
  • A set of different moods is required to establish a baseline for good judgement
  • Shared moods require mutual consent (no tricks)
  • Mood can be picked up and possibly stored in art

Is there archeology for moods?

I’ve been trying to frame moods as public art recently… Trans-Horse (as an example) is as an artwork, best understood as a mood because that’s how it effected it’s audiences and what it is leaving behind (there is no monument). I started to think about this after reading a review by Maaria Ylikangas Hevosen avulla tutkitaan tilaa ja aikaa (2014). In the text she accounts her experience of the artwork and explains that even if she didn’t see the work, she got to know what it is like to move in the landscape with a horse. This happened by learning about what we were doing (trough twitter, radio broadcasts, articles) and combining this with with her personal experiences with horses (and other critical texts). I’ll use her case as an example were an artwork set a mood (and that was all the artwork did).

20190107

How to shoot a video while you are riding a horse?

When you film while riding, the footage is bound to be shaky. When you ride a horse your body movements are controlled by an other being. The film industry has a lot of specialized tools and techniques to make the act of riding appear what they imagine it to be. They use cranes and drones to follow a rider, shoot footage using camera stabilization tools and even engineer fake-horses.

Working with real animals is costly. Companies often have to employ a herd to portray an individual. The pig in the movie Babe (1995) was portrayed by 48 different animals. Using multiple pigs guaranteed that a compliant, pretty and healthy animal was constantly on set. What were the rest to pigs doing, when one of them was at the set? Did they become friends? Did they think that they all look the same?

Robots are more compliant than animals. The film industry has learned to build mechanized horses. Mechanized animal hulls are designed to look convincing from a specific camera angle, but might miss the rest of their body. To can move their ears and eyes and are fitted with micro-controllers and servos under their silicone skin. I bet the inner-mechanics of these puppets get repurposed. One day the automatized servos fake the liveliness of a horse, the next week they are used to animate a partial robot cow or an alien.

There is a growing variety of camera stabilization devices available. Stabilizing components can be build inside the lens or the camera. They try to balance the frame based on the devices orientation to the ground. I guess they use gravity as a reference. This means that all footage shot with lens or with in camera stabilization is geologically orientated. This means that subjects they portray are oriented to gravity.

Another way of stabilizing video footage is to use software to read the stream of images and to re-render it frame by frame. An algorithm interprets what it sees and reframes the footage accordingly. It’s interesting to see this kind of image, because you get to see how the algorithm interprets movement. What are you portraying trough this kind of material? Speculative choreography?

Anyway you look at it the camera will get in the way and fiddling with the settings takes time from interacting with the animal. Real riders shoot it rough: Riding in the Bronx (2018)

20180917

The most important text written by a person of Finnish origins in years (possibly ever).  Linux 4.19-rc4 released, an apology, and a maintainership note (2018) Linus Torvalds.

My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry.

To tie this all back to the actual 4.19-rc4 release (no, really, this _is_ related!) I actually think that 4.19 is looking fairly good, things have gotten to the “calm” period of the release cycle, and I’ve talked to Greg to ask him if he’d mind finishing up 4.19 for me, so that I can take a break, and try to at least fix my own behavior.

I need to take a break to get help on how to behave differently and fix some issues in my tooling and workflow.

And yes, some of it might be “just” tooling. Maybe I can get an email filter in place so at when I send email with curse-words, they just won’t go out. Because hey, I’m a big believer in tools, and at least _some_ problems going forward might be improved with simple automation.

I know when I really look “myself in the mirror” it will be clear it’s not the only change that has to happen, but hey… You can send me suggestions in email.

We visited Magazzino and Dia: Beacon last week with the ISCP crew. Both sites were spectacular and the trip led to an observation.

At a glance the supermarkets in New York seem to have absolutely everything. The shelves are jampacked with cans, boxes and soft plastic bags – But when one investigates them closely it’s apparent that the shelves are empty. An entire isle can boast a spectacular variety of cans, dressed in different colors and ornamented with different brands but if inspected, they are all the same product. All of the cans have beans in them. Supermarkets house a phantom of variety.

Dia: Beacon exhibition felt the same. When I entered the space I was confronted with 20 meters of Dan Flavin’s fluorescent tubes. At first it felt spectacular. But I felt an eerie stab as I realized that they were all the same art piece. I tried to think of this as a form of critique, but after witnessing the same logic applied to nearly every other artist in the exhibition, it became clear that the function of the site was to celebrate abundances, masses and superstructures which facilitate the production of clones. Minimalist artworks in the Dia: Bacon setting came off as a clone army of proto-zombie formalistic stuff. This was not a disappointing experiences, on the contrary: It felt like strolling past colorful isles at Macy’s. It’s relaxing to see stuff.

Learned about David Hammons’ Pissed Off (1981). A bright sight, sabotage is the way forward. More on the performance Stop And Piss: David Hammons’ Pissed Off (2013).

I had an intensive week. I’m editing my PhD proposal, applying for additional funding for Trans-Horse and met with Lisa Le Feuvre from the Holt/Smithson foundation (concerning Land- and Environmental Art Conservation). Prepared a 4k video of our work on Up and Under (1998) from the still photos I shot in 2013.

 

20180828

Got on a trail ride at the Bronx Equestrian Center, Inc. yesterday. I was guided by Susie, who rode her horse Storm. My white horse was called Mystic the Percheron, who has also starred in The Greatest Showman. The trail took us around the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary, following the border of a golf course. The forest felt like a jungle, vines covered the trees, the phragmites were sky hight  and we saw deer while passing a creek. Reaching the stables was the hardest part, the ride went smoothly and after the trip I got to wash a few sweaty horses.

How Should a Museum Be? (2018) Stefan Kalmár. An honest plea to make museums more vital. Unfortunately I don’t think that museums have ever been made with good intents.

[…] in the 21st century, ideology and power manifest themselves primarily in the realm of the visual, rather than the textual. Hence, the removal of arts education is tantamount to an institutionalized programme of (visual) illiteracy.

What would it look like if a major museum engaged in the development of self-sustainable, well-designed, social housing projects rather than lend its name to a tower of luxury penthouses – as with New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the lavish 53W53 building? Our economic set-up today is geared to look to where the money is, not to where it isn’t.

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.