In this issue of RUUKKU, we are unpacking the notion of responsibility in/with/for arts and artistic research with five expositions and three voices. The RUUKKU issue Responsibility supplements the Art of Research VII conference organized on 3-4 December 2020 at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland.
Arja Anneli Kastinen
This exposition examines the possibilities and problems of using the elements of ancient musical culture for producing new music. It contains eleven video clips and associated texts explaining my artistic research on the Karelian kantele improvisation of the 19th century and earlier, which the kantele players called "soittaa omaa mahtia" ("playing their own power"). The word "mahti" ("power") means inner strength and knowledge. In this article, I call this particular music inner power improvisation.
In addition, the article includes two case studies that exemplify the use of tradition and its philosophy as tools in creativity education. I address the question of whether I can surpass the challenges of understanding a musical culture from a different time era and of an entirely different society than my own. Is it possible to receive an insider view through artistic research, by learning to make music according to the information found in the archives, historical texts, and folk music research? How do I perform responsible research and introduce my conclusions and musical interpretations when there is not enough reliable information about the original tradition?
Responsibility towards the Void
The question of responsibility is explored through drawing, specifically relating to a so-termed void space that ranges over a builder's yard and its immediate environment. The research is formatted as dated journal entries to show its chronological development, with the proviso that later stages may eclipse earlier stages, depending on their relevance. This looping, as it were, mimics the fact that the void space is best defined by the occasional circling of swifts, an observation that becomes a metaphor for how to try to articulate the space pictorially. Responsibility is referenced through theories of each of Levinas, Lacan and Foucault in relation to the Other, the latter of which is taken as the theoretical equivalent of void, but no less concerning responsibility. The author has drawn the site in such terms as locate the void in both the space that the site defines and a gap in the drawing process. This artistic effort is analogous demonstration of responsibility to that which is suggested by the theory. Responsibility is considered from the perspective of the personal and individual, automatically present in artistic commitment, in this case finding some explanation in theoretical thinking of the abstract notion of Other. The formatting of the process of attending to this theme and motif as research leads to a situation where drawing, as such, is but the predominantly visual tool alongside art writing, academic research, and graphic layout that provides live links to video clips and two explanatory texts.
Exploring North Nordic Landscapes in a ‘Hyper-constructive’ Fashion
This exposition details an experimental art/research endeavour pivoting on an improvised exploration of the broader North Nordic region. It accounts for a hybrid, maximalist, and materialist performance practice that draws on an unconditionally eclectic exploration of a particular geographic region and of certain (non)human related activities and mobilities encountered therein. The endeavour is contextualised with respect to trains of thought and empirical research methods in experimental arts, object oriented ontology, non-representational theory, techno-scientific culture, post-humanism, and improvised ethnography. It is shown to concern, inter alia, on-location audio/video recording, DIY making, (found) physical artefacts, interviews, data displays, prose, cooking, knitting, and landscape cinematography/photography. The particular methods at play are detailed and theoretical ramifications are outlined. It is accordingly claimed that a structural, procedural, and sensory hybridity of sorts may bring forth original and genuinely exploratory artistic manifestations that contribute (non quantifiable, nor discursive) ways of knowing the North Nordic region under scrutiny; ones that lie at the crux wherein poetic, enactive, epistemic and speculative tactics meet, mingle, and intertwine. This exposition also features an extensive pool of audiovisual material to aid detail the method and to support this claim.
Solastalgia - Layers of caring
Karin Emilia Hellqvist
Solastalgia - Layers of caring is an autoethnographic account of how two artist’s concern for the Arctic ice catalyze new layers of caring. Composer Carola Bauckholt and myself, violinist Karin Hellqvist, together set out to address our eco-anxiety, solastalgia, by developing responsibility, artistic care and fascination for the sounds of the arctic ice. Along the way, new ways of caring emerge between us and toward the artwork. This exposition offers a glimpse into our collaborative journey of creating the violin, electronics and video work Solastalgia, during a collaborative workshop in Berlin. And as a theoretical framework, Alan Taylor’s typography of working relationships gives us insight in our practice and relationship.
Gestures and Inscriptions in Ceramics and Sound: A combined STS, Queer Marxist and Artistic Research approach to the study of Reproductive Politics
This exposition brings together Artistic Research, Science and Technology Studies and Queer Marxism to examine the gestural nature of reproductive politics. It argues for an expansive understanding of the gesture that extends well beyond the domain of the embodied gesture to include different registers and materialities of cultural and scientific inscription. Broadly, I explore reproductive politics not only as a question of reproductive health –of access and choice– but as the daily negotiation of the body’s value and legibility across communication, labour and political fields. By questioning -through artistic action- the inevitability of the economic and social conditions that devalue or invisibilise reproductive work, this article also elaborates on the gestural nature of artistic research as counter-institutional practice.