Body Hegemonies 2017: An Experimental Transfer
Monica Clare van der Haagen-Wulff, Michael Lazar, Fabian Chyle
Body Hegemonies is an artistic project aimed at exploring and making transparent some of the themes of epistemic violence and hegemonic orders resulting from the legacy of colonialism and slavery, as the hidden flip-side of modernity and enlightenment. Our aim was to examine the Eurocentric logic of dehumanization and processes of exclusion from the perspective of bodies and their embeddedness within these hegemonic structures. The goal was to use artistic methods as tools to research topics commonly examined within an academic framework. The project focused on aspects of bodies that have been/are being excluded or made invisible within contemporary and historical discourses. “Body Hegemonies” worked on the trans-disciplinary interface (entanglement) of theorists, performers and everyday practitioners (experts), in an attempt to make possible other forms of knowing and knowledge production. Specifically, we tried to performatively re-inscribe the historically erased body within the production of knowledge. To engage with and explore these questions, a one-week laboratory was held in which six artists/(social)scientists gathered in a secluded location near Cologne Germany to hold video conversations with international experts over three days on the topics mentioned above. Resulting from these conversations, the Cologne participants presented individual performative responses to the group, which in turn were worked into a “performative score” presented to the public on the last day of the laboratory. This was flanked by a mini-symposium with two international scholars on the topic of body-hegemonies to expand the discursive field within which to locate and understand the artistic explorations.
Composing Technique, Performing Technique
Scott McLaughlin, Zubin Kanga, Mira Benjamin
Technique as the entanglement of composition and performance as an epistemic object (Knorr Cetina) emergent from contingent materiality. Two pieces by Scott McLaughlin—respectively for Zubin Kanga (piano) and Mira Benjamin (violin)—are discussed as case studies of strategies for entwining the specific embodied techniques of instrumental performance with the material agency (Pickering) of the instrument as a 'material indeterminacy' in which knowledge inheres through practice (Spatz). This exposition situates the artistic research as a novel conceptualisation of 'technique' that treats composition and performance not as separate domains but as an Ingoldian 'meshwork' where virtual structures in the performance technique are amplified through processes of listening and through compositional structures into open-ended local feedback loops.
Registers of Disinhibition: Transferred Autonomy and Generative Systems in Artistic Research
Matthias M Sildnik S
This exposition is a presentation of an artistic method that incorporates generative technologies in artistic intervention. The autonomy of the generative system is analysed not as an isolated capability of a technical object but as a specific configuration between the autonomous operations of the system’s creator, the system itself, and the individuals related to the system. The notion of transferred autonomy is proposed to emphasise this interrelated nature of an entity’s autonomy. In this way, a generative system is positioned in a broader socio-economic and cultural context. To make this interpretation productive in relation to artistic practice, interventionist tactics need to be reconsidered as well. The presented method uses an opinion poll format. The opinion poll is interpreted as a basis for collective individuation enabled by generative processes. The conventional opinion poll format is deformed and reconstructed according to an assemblage of enunciation, enunciative recursion, disinhibition, and individuation. Rather than being a scientific, generalising and analytic method, it becomes an artistic generative, interventionist medium.
Two related projects are presented: ‘Happy Space’ (2016) and ‘Midscape’ (2018). Each describes the specific way in which generative art techniques are adopted and developed. The former presents a case study based on a survey of working and living conditions, hybridising an opinion poll with a procedural genesis of three-dimensional environments. The latter explores the levels on which generative technologies can facilitate the dynamics of structures conceived in the previous project. These dynamics are encapsulated in installation elements, opening a dialogue between physical and social dimensions.
∂ Topological Landscapes
∂ Topological Landscapes (2015–ongoing) is a multisensory environment that comprises three projects, all based on research into the controversial healing instruments designed by Southern California inventor Royal Raymond Rife (Nebraska, 1888–California, 1971). Rife’s early twentieth-century scientific work involved light microscopy, frequency theory, and the concept of pleomorphism, which he applied to study formal differentiation in viral cells. One of Rife’s aims was to develop methods and mechanisms that would allow him to use frequencies to kill viruses.
∂ (curly d) is the symbol for ‘boundary’ in general topology. In this research, it is employed as a mathematical symbol that links the study of shifting material surfaces with an inquiry into the fluctuating borders between art and science. It posits that abandoned possibilities in scientific error and failed experiments may harbour other futures.
In its three projects, ∂ Topological Landscapes works with different technologies of reproduction using 3D animation, 3D printed sculpture, sonification, and prototype-making to explore findings from various attempts to replicate Rife’s instruments. The necessary information for creating these replications was gathered from the object archive of the Science Museum of London and from the two former sites of the inventor’s research: the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, San Diego, and the Linda Vista Hospital in Los Angeles.
Absurd (derived from surdus, or deaf, in Latin): that which cannot be heard or is contradictory to reason.
This artistic research project questions the ways we work with sound, using a methodology derived from the absurd as a tool for innovation.
The scientific roots of sound as a physical phenomenon are rarely disputed, whether by sound artists, sound designers, sound technicians, or even composers. Yet this trust in the knowledge built by acousticians, so complex and yet so simple as it mostly limits the characteristics of sound to amplitude, pitch, timbre, and envelope, might lead to an incapacity to look any other way. Have we missed, as artists, the opportunity to question the underlying axioms beneath the science of sound?
This research uses a method based on the rejection — or, better, a questioning — of established rules and ideas (e.g., ‘what if silence were a building tool with which we carved music and sounds into blocks of noise?’), followed by a series of logical developments until some new technique, idea, or even form of art emerges. Such a method somehow adopts the principles behind conspiracy theories and applies them to art: absurd premises followed by logical developments.
The present exposition develops a set of three case studies built between 2017 and 2020, each one answering its own absurd question: the harvesting of rare sounds made by worms (what if silence were louder than noise?); an experiment carried out on humans, by loudspeakers sitting as members of the audience (what if there were no ‘sweet spot’?); and an attempt to blur the lines between the real and the virtual, while developing new ways to document sound art (what if there were no (virtual) reality?).
Cover photo for the exposition 'Absurd Sounds' by Anders Sune Berg, 2017.