Stained Black Mirror
This work examines the material entanglements of humans and touch screens. The starting points are Donna Haraway's 'Cyborg Manifesto', read now over twenty years after it was first published, and the figure of a black mirror. The black mirror does not pretend to reflect back only that to which it has been turned. It also shows itself.
This exposition is a fragmented essay in which the NSA, gendered technologies, manufacturing plants, selfies, new gestures, poor digital images, and self-performing human bodies attach to and collide with one another. I refer to academic as well as popular sources, but I also use my personal experiences and everyday observations as a material.
One trace of the entanglement of humans and devices is greasy fingerprints on touch screens, hence the name of the exposition. But the entanglements of course go far beyond this – for instance to the manufacture of the machine and 'responsibility to the entanglements of which we are part' (Karen Barad).
The exposition is a part of my artistic research on the interplay of human and non-human agencies and the frictions between them. I began my research by examining the intertwinement of clothes and the human body and later also considered other aspects of technology–human relations.
I conduct my research mainly through writing. Writing is artistic research for me – in contrast to writing about artistic research, for instance. While more poetic or fragmented research writing is not without problems – it could be argued to be less falsifiable for instance – it carries the potential for more frictions within a text, or changing points of view, or different agential collaborations and enactments; all issues that may be in the core of research and that sometimes need to be brought forward in ways departing from more traditional styles of academic writing.
1. Rick Dolphijn and Iris van der Tuin, ‘Interview with Karen Barad’, in New Materialism: Interviews and Cartographies (Ann Arbor, MI: Open Humanities Press, 2012), pp. 48–70 (p.52).
What is a University?
The popular perception of the University today involves notions of hierarchies of knowledge distribution and centres of excellence. The University is also regarded as a space where the values of social equality and mobility allegedly are reproduced, carrying the traces of sentiments such as those in which education is seen as a social good, a preparation for public life and civic responsibility. However, despite this general conception, students may look to a University for material, that is, career advantages, lecturers believe that universities are for critical inquiry and self-development (at least in Europe and America), and managers see it as a business enterprise and replicate the economic strategies of neo-liberalism. None of these conceptions sit very well together. In fact, they conflict sharply. The pressing question then is, What is a University?
This project investigates and responds to this problematic question by looking more carefully at how people imagine the idea of a University. What exactly are the assumptions of say, a group of research students? How do different universities instigate and enforce the boundaries of membership and participation? And exactly what kind of education is on offer when universities operate as a 'service' industry with a managerial rationale borrowed from the business models of corporate capitalism? These questions weave through a series of collaborative and interventionist art projects, some of which are still under development and others have yet to be realised. The point is not to arrive at an answer, but to capture the experience of the University in transition and to problematise its conditions.
Anatomical Self-Portraits as Fieldwork: Observations, Improvisations, and Elicitations in the Medical School
This exposition discusses an artistic research project involving a field trip to a medical school. It introduces part of my postdoctoral project as a case study, discussing photography and video self-portraits as a means for exploring anatomy and clinical skills education. Instead of analysing the resulting photo series and video piece, the exposition has a focus on process and methodology: it elaborates on the artistic process and the various roles an artist-researcher can claim at the site of the medical school and in the study outcomes. The exposition also discusses the ways in which this process may engage medical school participants, and how the participants’ reflections intertwine with the artistic outcomes.
Con Luigi Nono: Unfolding Waves
Paulo de Assis
This exposition presents diverse materials related to, or inspired by Luigi Nono’s piece for piano and tape …..sofferte onde serene… (1975–77). Organised in seven modules, the exposition offers different perspectives on a vast collection of materials around the original work, its performative renderings, and its orchestral transformation. Without imposing any sequential logic of reading or listening, the seven modules are numbered following a scale ranging from a more scholarly approach (module 1) to a more creative perspective (module 7).
In a non-prescribed journey they offer diverse insights into different facts, things, objects, and performances, which are presented as archaeological and problematising layers in a continuous process of aesthetic-epistemic cross-references. Some modules are more stable, dealing with what the original piece 'is' (context, sketches, editions, recordings, analysis), while others propose lines of flight, pointing to states of permanent becoming (renderings, transformations, transcriptions).
Jan Schacher, Cathy van Eck, Trond Lossius, Kirsten Reese
The 'sonozones' project investigates sound art practices in public places through personal and public acts of listening and sounding. The topic is explored using artistic processes developed on site in Mülheim in the Ruhr region of central Germany. Four sound art practitioners collaboratively explore ideas and concepts that question the significance and impact of listening and sounding in public places and suburban and urban spaces. The project collects traces and artefacts of the artistic processes as a basis for investigations into key elements of the individual and social dimensions of sound art. The exploration of forms sets the stage for experiments, interventions, and performative presences carried out on site by the artists. A continuous dialogue and the collection of verbal reflections frames these activities. In addition to texts, this exposition lays out a collection of audio recordings, photographs, and videos in order to document and convey sensory experiences as well as thoughts.