Kontakt is an open-ended project with various loose ends which I do not yet want to connect. But one important element is a small experiment that runs in Reagenz Graz - Space for Artistic Experiments, since April 2021: It is a small glass plate on which a heap of lichen fragments is distributed; four times a day, a timer sets off a process that first irrigates the plate with destilled water, then makes a photo, and publishes it on the Mastodon social media account https://botsin.space/@kontakt. Originally, I was thinking of this as a prototype for larger scale plates that would become part of a sound installation.
Opinions are diverging on whether it is possible at all to transplant lichens, and whether they would grow anywhere outside their original habitat. The more biologically versed tend to tell me that nothing will ever come out of this. But observing the time series of images, already something is happening. The situation is creating a trace of itself. I use fixed exposure times, so you can see how the light conditions change depending on the weather. The four images a day, spaced by six hours, show the difference in ambient lighting. If you pass by Reagenz at midnight, you see the studio illuminated for a few minutes. Sometimes I feed the lichens with xylitole and spirulina, leaving a vanishing layer of white dots and green background. I noticed that when you compare the same time of the day, but spaced weeks apart, the images differ. I develop a topography of the plate, there are prominent fragments. Perhaps the lichen fragments open up? Or they move slowly by the impact of the water drops? Or they really grow by fractions of millimetres?
The piece is about waiting. Will anything happen? If so, what? If not, what else happened in the mean time? Will this simple irrigation and observation procedure make contact to the lichen species? What happens with that ultra-slow rhythm, with that time series? The “piece” – I don't even know if it is a “piece”, perhaps it is just an experimental process – allows me to breath. It adds a temporal structure to my day, it rests there next to the window of my studio, it pings me every six hours on my social media account, like a clock (Zeitgeber). My studio is thus always present to me, even when I am not there. The process is left open, I don't know yet what to “do with it”. Is this going to be a video piece, a sound installation, ... ?
I am now making the next step in this non-telic process: I am going to add a poetic layer with short text fragments that reflect on the various ways of waiting. And making contact without enforcing contact (perhaps something doess not want to be contacted). A pool of text fragments is collected, and the miniature computer that posts the photos will pick one phrase to go with each image.
The piece as it is developing will have two forms. One is the social media form; the photos will be accompanied by various poetic statements on waiting and making contact. You can follow the account, and receive these small fragments. The second form is a stereoscopic view that will be installed at Reagenz Graz, visible from June 19th, 2021, in one of our shop front windows, using two convex lenses and a small TFT screen. Two moments spaced in time will produce a stereoscopic image, and simultaneously combine two text fragments corresponding with the two moments in time.