form as content
act of framing
poetic notion of coincidence
critical spatial practice
Marie-Andrée Pellerin ±
The concept of language has been the driving force of my artistic research and production over the five past years. Linguistic worlds/territories, rhetorical techniques in political speech, as well as science fiction literature constitute, amongst others, my current or recent areas of interest. The act of writing itself doesn’t seem to be for me the most effective way to look at the question of language, as we are always stuck in the house of language and the traps it sets for us. My recent artistic research is therefore carried out through various other formats such as video installation, performance, sound art, sculpture and curatorial projects, through which I aim to render visible some aspects of our linguistic symbolic universe(s).
In my PhD in artistic research, I am looking at how science fiction’s female writers and their protagonists are dealing with the question - or sometimes, the problem - of language, in their communication and encounters with the Other. In these SF stories, I observe the manifold fictive words and meaning constructions, as well as some alternative approaches to language and communication. I find inspiration in the way these authors seem to move towards more fluid uses of language, enabling possibilities for partial identities, nomadic subjectivities and alien consciousness. These concepts I explore obliquely or extensively in my current artistic production in video and sound art.
The medium of sound enables me to look at the materiality and acoustics of words, as well as the potential of language to be shaped, modified, disrupted and fashioned in order to create (magically) new possibilities and ruptures.
(translation: “A Gigantic Ear Capable of Absorbing All the Noises of the World”), HD video, 10 minutes loop, stereo
This video installation addresses the idea of collective and individual emancipation through language. The project departs from the idea of “linguistic worlds” in which the language(s) we speak form(s) our thoughts and our relation to the reality. My video presents a science-fictional clinical experiment in which a scientist attempts to radically transform her patient’s uses of language, by a “praxis of language disturbance” which could be defined as a more fluid approach to naming and signifying.
The video, composed of hypnotic gestures and alchemical images, combines different types of pictures: dissolving sculptural objects, obsolete elements of language which are discarded into landscapes and 3d rendered linguistic worlds. The video explores the subjective and manipulative features inherent to the art of subtitling, by occasionally prioritising some non-verbal information over spoken script, and by allowing the soundscape and moving images to affect the way the captions appear or melt in the picture.
The title of the project refers to a segment of a feminist science fictional essay written by Louky Bersianik. The video combines and overlay short excerpts of science fiction novels and poems.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Trailer from Une seule oreille gigantesque capable d’absorber tous les bruits du monde, 2020 (1.08 mins)
LINK TO the full video (English version). Password: liquipedia
LINK TO the full video (French version). Mot de passe: liquipedia
(translation: “The Obsolescence of Words”)
in collaboration with authors Maude V. Veilleux and Élisabeth Vonarburg
The project L’obsolescence des mots (2019) takes feminist science fiction as a starting point to challenge our rigid use of words, concepts, and definitions, while bringing forward a more fluid approach to language. In literature and poetry, I was looking for words that have become obsolete, as well as new fictive words coined by authors to describe concepts that are unknown to our reality. Developed during a residency at Ada X (previously Studio XX) in Montreal, the performance I presented to the public consisted of an 8-channel sound sculpture installation; each sculpture taking the form of an enlarged keyboard key, big enough to host a small speaker in its cavity. The soundtrack, composed exclusively of voice recordings and their many possible variations and abstractions, focused on the materiality of words as well as the relation between the signifier and the signified.
The performance, in a blend of French and English, was composed of scattered excerpts from a poem by author Maude Veilleux, as well as short snippets of science fiction stories by Ursula Le Guin, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Octavia Butler and George Orwell. The performance evening was interspersed by a conversation with SF author Elisabeth Vonarburg.
With voices of Maude V. Veilleux & Larose
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Excerpt of the performance, mindshield (1:04 min)
2. Excerpt of the performance, egoboost (1:10 min)
3. Excerpt of the performance, obsolete words (1:10 min)
LINK TO audio of performance
LINK TO description of the residency and performance at Ada X.
Lexicon Liber Novus is an algorithmically generated book that starts with a verse from the first of the Two English Poems written by Jorge Luis Borges in 1934.
"We talked and you have forgotten the words."
Following a rule that every word is unknown, the algorithm indexes and explains all the words in the given sentence, all the words in the explanations, all the words in those explanations and so on. First word in the verse starts with an assigned reference to number one, second word to number two and as a new, unindexed word comes up - within the definitions of previously indexed words, it gets the next natural number assigned in order to be explained as well.
Using the order of natural numbers for indexation and arrangement of contents, and an Oxford English Dictionary as a source of word definitions, the book encompasses 47.152 indexed words and more then 2 million processed words overall. Therefore, in order to explain the first 8 words, 47.144 other words needed to be explained as well. Spiral or causal arrangements of the contents means the book can be seen as a self-contained world where every point is intrinsically connected to every other.
Close to the Gödel’s theorem of incompleteness and the model of the Lawrence attractor, popularly known as the butterfly effect - this work, i.e. the algorithmic process, at the same time represents the language as a fundamentally endless, incomplete, organized and chaotic system.
Work realized in collaboration with 0x56.net
[software architecture & development]
Support: Open Source Publishing, Gabor Kerekes [preparation for print], Repro- van de Kamp, The Hague [print and support] and Bronsgeest HABI, Leidschendam [hand-binding].
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Katarina Petrović. Lexicon Liber Novus, interactive installation, 2018
2. Katarina Petrović, Lexicon Liber Novus
3. Katarina Petrović, Lexicon Liber Novus
LINK TO MORE
Katarina Petrović ±
Katarina Petrović is an artist and researcher working at the intersections of art, science and philosophy. Her work focuses on cosmogony, the process of creation and the notion of (infinite) generativeness. She investigates primarily in language, creating systems and modular installations using media such as text, sound, drawings and code.
Tracing the concept of creation as the (scientific) problem of ultimate origin (the birth of cosmos or the emergence of something out of nothing), her work explores the mysterious moment of appearance - the moment of noise becoming a signal, a random disturbance becoming meaningful information and “words becoming flesh”.
Computation found in language, the magic technology of an executable code and the act of deep listening - all fundamentals to her artistic practice - aim to open up the space for imaginative to become real and for the real to become imaginative again.
Cosmologicus is a generative installation that translates radio emissions from the planet Jupiter into language as a form of an automated poetry. An invisible order of electron particles coming from a distant planet, a kind of a message coming from the mythological Jupiter, is deciphered with the use of the Lexicon Liber Novus book and its word-number database.
Radio signal is obtained from NASA’s amateur radio community Radio Jove and analyzed by measuring the amplitude, that is the strength of the signal. Subsequently, the sampled numerical values are linked to the corresponding words in the Lexicon database, resulting in a semiotic stream. The poetic stream is then projected into the black water cube while the original audio recording is heard on the headphones.
Jupiter generated poetry, devoid from grammar constraints and sculpted as a quatrain, gives way to an infinite interpretation of planet's emissions. The computer and the spectator become mediums of the largest planet of our Solar system, oracles of the mythological Jupiter, attempting to construct sense and meaning from the generated data.
A textual record of vibrations inaudible to the human ear is generated during exhibitions and a collection of previously made 16.000 poems has been printed in a volume of 32 books.
Support: Mirko Lazović & Edo Paulus [software], Dora Kerekes [preparation for print], Vera van de Seyp [book design], prof. Bernard Foing, European Space Agency, NASA’s Radio Jove project, Stroom Den Haag, Stimulerings Creative Industries Fund NL, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Serbia, Michael Roumen and the Center for Promotion of Science, Belgrade.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1.Video, On Cosmogony
2.Installation, custom-made software, Jupiter radio signal, digital projection, water, 32 generated & printed books
LINK TO VIDEO
LINK TO MORE
Julieanna Preston ±
Language is a substance. Like sound, in sound, of sound, from mouth, lips and belly. It is a flight of fancy, endearing and violent.
Language is a material substance. Ink, paper, paint, graphite – one material surface inscribed onto another, leaving a mark of its somatic utterance. I crush, slice, dribble, hurl, cull, smother and steam words just as I do clay, timbre or silk fabric.
Language is a performance. A temporal situated ecology of breath, gesture, emotion, aurality, acoustics and bodies, specific bodies. It will not just rest on the page idly; it flings itself out of my grasp, my gasp, stutter, mumble and sob.
Language is a system susceptible to subversion, corruption, and revolution as much as it is a subservient shackle to authority, power and propaganda. Sometimes muteness says it well.
Language is a social contract, the glue that holds me together to you and you and you, when it works. And when it doesn’t, we are on the outside, lost.
Language is a compositional improvisation spun through the teeth as much as the cursive stroke, one biting, one caressing. Its bitterness and acidity are sweet and seductive, and vice versa.
Like love, language is often not enough.
This excerpt is from a performance video (21:15) shown as a keynote for Fielding Architecture: Feminist Practice for a Decolonised Pedagogy, Brighton, UK, June 2019. It takes to heart Paulo Freire’s text Pedagogy of the Oppressed in a practice that cuts across text as a demonstration of how the English language is heavily regulated by longstanding patriarchal and colonialist structures of verbal and written expression and how susceptible they are to being, sabotaged, disrupted and resisted if only by subjecting them to a bit of water play. Here, language is worked according to its material constitution to write its own life, with my life, in the same way a lump of chalk, charcoal or soap redistributes its bodily fluids across a drawing or writing surface. Language teeters towards the concrete with a vitality in its own making and unmaking, adapting J. L. Austin’s famous book title, Doing Things with Words to ask “What can words do?”
CREDITS AND LINKS
LINK TO associated work - ground-wearing (2017)
LINK TO associated work - SPEAK matter, SPEAK (2016)
Originally a 4-hour looped sound experience accompanied by a booklet, breath-taking was created as a site-responsive sonic art installation at Mussikens Huis, Aalborg, Denmark as part of RE:SOUND, the 8th International Conference for Histories of Media Arts 2019. The work asks one to listen with headphones to a score that is repeated five times, each iteration taking on sonic manipulations aligned with one of the five stages of breath as one is dying. The accompanying image documents the script for refrain #5; the page reveals the coded gestural marks that edit the text as they guide my sounding voice and the inflection of digital sound effects in processual sequences. Meant to serve as a means of preparing one’s self for such a profound moment, its educative intentions drive home the emotive, subjective and nearly involuntary embodied learning that one is confronted by as well as the patience required to endure it. This work is amongst a series I call out as “performing the word,’ which focus on the affectivity of aurality and verbosity in an effort to draw out the socio- and spatio-political dimensions of sound, especially spoken word.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Breath-taking (2019)
LINK TO - windweatherwwirewovenwoman,an associated work (2017)
This specific example focuses on the liberating and transformative power of interruption. In developing a “Performance-Writing-Machine”, my colleague Mona Behfeld and I have done research on how individuals write, re-write and over-write their texts and how – even after numerous proofreading attempts – the writing process cannot be finalized. This gave us the idea of inventing a “high efficiency particulate word filter” that can be applied individually. Relating to similar technical devices, the filter centrifuges words, separates phrases from their airflow capacity and places the verbal remains into a dischargeable word container. In the experimental making and doing, the word filter amusingly absorbs, re-absorbs, re-structures and re-arranges written text coincidentally. Writers experience a performative interruption in its most imperfect and creative form: the machine’s coincidental rearrangement challenges the self-evident within word and thought.
Technically this can be explained as follows: The machine’s individually programmed “self-cleaning-system” filters the text depending on pre-determined interruption tools. So far the following tools have been programmed: selection, duplication, combination, contextualization and chance. The self-cleaning-system selects, duplicates, combines and/or contextualizes words coincidentally and thus alters the original text accordingly allowing for a new kind of the unknown to evolve. The poetic notion of coincidence strongly modifies the writing process allowing for an alternative format of writing that not only disturbs, but also – and especially – transforms the power of words. In this respect, the Performance-Writing-Machine understands itself as a creative motor and blueprint for the yet unsaid. Currently working on the machine’s user’s manual and assembly plan, the Performance-Writing-Machine is to – in the near future – be made accessible to an interested public.
LINK TO EXAMPLE of generated text
Lucia Rainer ±
Within my own working approach I constantly find myself in-between: in-between doing the obvious and naming and positioning the latter accordingly. I find myself caught, not being able to truly relate the first to the second – or rather the second to the first. Thus, I have become interested in the very creative and constructive practice of framing, as both the given frame as well as the act of framing has the potential of actuating a re-definition regarding both artistic as well as academic research practices. In this regard I have observed that framing one’s praxis as artistic research calls both for artistic as well as academic acknowledgment. This poses the question how research practices identify as such – artistically as well as academically – but also what forms of presentation and publication are, in this very respect, de facto necessary.
Even more, I have encountered that research is not so much in need of words, as words are in need of being researched. When following this line of enquiry, various formats of making research accessible reveal themselves introducing different modalities of being able to relate. When working with these various formats, I find myself engaged in the different temporalities within which, artistic practice is framed – or will be framed – as research in the future.
Reflecting on these temporalities allows me insight into how – within different stages of finding myself in-between – particular practices are privileged, marginalized and/or excluded. Thus considering that we are constantly involved in conscious and unconscious acts of framing, I am interested in how words fit into frames and how frames make words. The interplay of words and frames calls for constant participatory engagement, within which being inbetween can be seriously conflictive but also enlightening.
Red lipstick, concentration, lecture script and milk dripping down my top lip. My talk hasn’t begun, but a woman sitting in the audience points out that I am wearing a milk mustache.
In my understanding, performance lectures are a genuine research practice, within which the topic of research is presented and re-negotiated with the audience directly on stage. When working with this practice, I mostly approach my topic of interest with choreographic-compositional as well as language-based methodologies.
While reading up on, writing and lecturing on my interests, I simultaneously experiment with choreographic tools, which collect, connect and re-position written words and spoken sounds. The lecture and its performance - or rather the performance and its lecture - find themselves within a dynamic cycle of sounding mutually contradictory artistic and academic frames and acts of framing.
For example my latest performance lecture “Excuse me, your picture is aslant“ (2018). Here I introduce myself as an expert on Erving Goffman’s Frame Analysis (1974) and announce that I will be lecturing on the organization of experience. Following, I mix different colors that are filled into a paint container hanging from the ceiling and piloted by the performers as well as the audience with four attached strings. Collectively the participants organize themselves within the ‘artwork’ that is in the process of being made. This allows us to consolidate and negotiate Goffman’s concept of breaking frame, introducing different modalities of being able to relate to theoretical thought.
1.-4. Excuse me, your picture is aslant, Lecture Performance, 2018. Photographs by Sandra Freygarten.
Katarina Ranković ±
I am a video, performance and text-based artist exploring the extent to which personhood is encoded in character, and whether fictional characters can be reverse-engineered into something approximating persons - as literary prototypes of general artificial intelligence. Current projects include 'Anomaline', a novel about an anti-person; 'Vernacular Spectacular', a one-woman empathy circus and 'Scripting for Agency', a PhD project at Goldsmiths College. In all of these diverse treatments of text, speech and performance, I’m guided by a line of enquiry that goes like this:
If fictionality pervades reality to the extent that persons are constituted by culture as much as materiality, by memes as much as genes and by story as much as experience, then the fictional person - the kind which we find in art, TV shows, novels and video games – serves as a potent analogue beyond mere representation. Can a fictional person, however imaginary, speak up with a voice that makes us listen, influence our ethics and teach us how to be human? And does that make the arena of fiction something of a speculative laboratory for authoring not only the future of characters, but also persons?
When thinking broadly about texts, I think of them as a kind of substratum from which lively emergent phenomena can occur - not least life itself. I think of at least three different kinds of scripts, that is, texts that code for a performance: the play script, the programming code used to script for AI, and the genome that scripts for me via all my constituent biological parts.
I was fascinated, upon reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, to discover passages in the novel where the author ardently tries to account for the origins of his two protagonists, which leads him to theorise on the birth of fictional characters – who are not, like us, ‘born of woman’, but born of some concoction of heritable traits nonetheless. As artificial pseudo-persons, to me fictional characters posit themselves as precursors of general AI.
In speaking of the origins of characters, Kundera alludes to but does not mention the hereditary script, DNA; a linguistic feature of biology that transfers instructions for the performance of making bodies through time and matter.
Where forecasters of futuristic AI beings assume these artificial minds will take shape in computational code, could some such thing be achieved in natural language, as opposed to biochemical/computational languages?
A Ritual Resuscitation of Eternal Lovers is a play script designed to lead its two unassuming readers into a four-way conversation between themselves and the two fictional people in the text. In this space, the two readers are inadvertently placed in a position of empathy towards the fictional characters, who are destined to disappear once the reading as ended.
The two fictional people come alive every time the script is read, yet fall back into a state of unconsciousness upon its close. But over many repeated readings, something happens - the characters surge back and forth into being, and seemingly exert themselves as agents through the assistance of borrowed bodies.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Still from A Ritual Resuscitation of Eternal Lovers. Live performance with lecture, 30 min. Held at InDialogue conference at Nottingham Contemporary, November 2016. Performed by two members of the audience, with a silent projection of previous instances playing behind them.
2. A Ritual Resuscitation of Eternal Lovers
LINK TO documentation of performance
Stolen Faces is a series of sound works with accompanying portrait images, in which I create voiceovers for images of people who do not really exist. The images are taken from www.thispersondoesnotexist.com, which, when it was released by Nvidia in 2019, represented a striking development in AI: the use of general adversarial networks (GANs) to make plausible yet imaginary images of things such as human faces (if you look closely at the image above, you’ll spot signs of machine authorship, but at a careless glance the image passes as a real face).
I collect images generated by the GAN and then stare at them, trying to imagine the being that would, if it could, inhabit that face. I record myself speaking in an altered voice, imagining I am that person. In this I repurpose aspects of my wider performance practice, where I enjoy frequent but brief dalliances with alternative identities. Speech, or voice, is a key device in achieving this refreshing departure. The texture of a voice refers so palpably back to the person as a whole, that altering it delicately is a powerful way to feel and thus also think otherwise.
The woman depicted above would be a generation older than I am, and her makeup and haircut suggest a conservative and professional demeanour. But there’s a maverick glint in her eye, and an ironic twinge in her smile. I look at her and weave a story out of the voice I believe belongs to her.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Fictional Politician. Video, 3 min. 2019.
LINK TO MORE
Site-writing is a critical and ethical spatial practice that explores what happens when discussions concerning situatedness and site-specificity enter the writing of criticism, history and theory, and writers reflect on their own subject positions in relation to their particular objects of study, fields of operation, and audiences. Drawing out the spatial qualities of interactions between writers and readers includes sites – material, political and conceptual – as well as those remembered, dreamed and imagined.
Site-writing suggests a whole variety of ways for performing interpretative acts spatially, materially and textually: combining image and text to produce variations in spatial relations; exploring the architectural and spatial qualities of storytelling; blending literary and academic writing styles to create new subject positions; investigating the interaction between material and psychic states; articulating the interactive relationship between writing and art/architectural practice; and showing how written responses to specific sites can propose innovative genres that hover between fact and fiction. By drawing on the emotional, as well as the political qualities of interactions between subjects and sites, site-writings have the potential to reconfigure the relations between spatial theories, poetics, and practices in ways that are ethical and aesthetic.
Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism brings together my own essays and text installations and the projects archived on site-writing.co.uk come from those whose work engages with the concepts and processes of site-writing, as part of pedagogical processes I’ve hosted through MA and PhD supervision, and beyond.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Jane Rendell, Confessional Construction (2002) LLAW, curated by Brigid McLeer, BookArtBookShop, London. Photograph: Jane Rendell.
2.Jane Rendell, An Embellishment: Purdah (2006) Spatial Imagination, The Domo Baal Gallery, London. Photograph: David Cross.
3. Jane Rendell, Les Mots and Les Choses (2003) Material Intelligence, Entwistle Gallery, London. Photograph: the Entwistle Gallery.
Jane Rendell ±
I am Professor of Critical Spatial Practice at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where I co-initiated the MA Situated Practice and supervise MA and PhD projects. I have introduced concepts of ‘critical spatial practice’ and ‘site-writing’ through my first three authored books: Site-Writing (2010), Art and Architecture (2006), and The Pursuit of Pleasure (2002). My initial training and work as an architectural designer, encouraged me to operate like a practitioner, and so in my early work I argue that architectural history is a form of practice, and draw on feminist theory to inform my objects of study, processes of interpretation and modes of writing. It was during the process of researching and writing my second book Art and Architecture that I really became aware of the extent to which the sites, positions and relations I was occupying and constructing with respect to the critical spatial practices I was ‘critiquing’, were influencing what and how it was possible to write. From then on, I considered criticism a form of critical spatial practice and introduced site-writing as type of situated criticism specifically attuned to site, situation and situatedness. Site-writing responds to the ways in which situatedness influences the performance of interpretation, but how the spatial arrangements of words, as images and sounds, along with other semiotic materials, can shape meaning. In a more recent book, The Architecture of Psychoanalysis (2017), I explore new possibilities for architectural history and urban criticism through site-writing, continually reconfiguring the found phrase ‘may mo(u)rn’ (a homograph and homonym) to tell a three-stranded psychoanalytic narrative of social housing. My current interests in the spatiality and situatedness of auto-theoretical and poethical writing can be found in Silver (2016).
Mariana Renthel ±
Recently, I have been using automatic backward writing in order to trigger creative processes and reflections, finding myself returning once and again to my notebooks and the action of scribbling. Greatly appreciating the outcome in terms of graphism as in a drawing state, but also in the terms of the action involved. As construction of a routine that has, on many occasions, deepened reflections or understanding on topics I would want to dig deep into this practice as it seems to have a direct relation to some sort of meditative practice.
In the past, I was more focused on the idea of language inserted or embedded within the woven material, as a phenomenon that could explicitly be inserted through pattern-making but that somehow had a standard shape. It was a somewhat structural approach to narrative that became more simple and gentle through this scribbling act.
For a long time, I was not able to draw again but kept on having the notebooks where I tend to write down ideas or useful data (notice there that I distinguish between both). At the same time, whilst feeling in a stressful situation I started writing backward and it somehow triggered me to a better understanding of that situation, feeling a sudden change and broadening of perspective towards reflection.
This practice has somehow begun to be an action that I use frequently to open up subjects that become too heavy or encrypted to me for understanding. This also allows me to cut down words, recombine, and order not just words but also texts and, as a result, meaning. Also feeling there is a connection with a sort of conjure within this very act of writing-scribbling.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1.-3. Mariana Renthel, Invoke
Johannah Rodgers ±
In the summer of 2004, I found myself unable to write. I had just completed my first novel and I was having a very difficult time getting started with another writing project. Through what I now understand to have been a fairly complex set of circumstances, I eventually decided that even if I could not write, I could physically act as though I were writing by drawing a pencil across a page. If words emerged during this process, I would write them down. I soon discovered that more often than not, the act of moving my hand across the page was accompanied by words coming into my consciousness. What resulted was this collection of what I now call word drawings. My reasons for making these drawings and what purposes they serve have changed over time. At first, I made them because I could not write anything else. Later, I would decide to continue making them because they allowed me a way to publish writing on a wall and as a visual object instead of as a textual object in the pages of a book.
Having been now been making these drawings for over fifteen years, I continue to be interested in the ways in which people respond to texts differently when they are accessed primarily as a visual objects and not as literary objects, but also in how these drawings allow one to see in a new way the importance of the spatial relationships between words and the spatial aspects of signification. Friends who have seen the drawings have commented on the fact that they resemble, among other things, nets with words tangled in them, telephone wires, ploughed fields, sheet music, and EKGs. I did not intend to create drawings resembling or evoking any of these things when I was making them.
What Holds Ink to Paper
While some of these Word Drawings are unstructured, meaning that the words collected were brought together based on free association, others are structured by focusing on language associated with a particular topic, as is the case with “What Holds Ink To Paper.” A collection of words related to memory and acts of remembering, “What Holds Ink to Paper” refers also to language and concepts derived from my research into gum-arabic. In 2001, it was reported in the New York Times that Osama bin Laden had made an attempt to corner the global market on this material that is an essential ingredient in many consumer products, including soft drinks (particularly diet varieties), pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and one that also has unique applications in newspaper and magazine printing. Gum arabic allows ink to better adhere to paper, while at the same time reducing smearing. During the course of my research, I would also learn that about two thirds of the world’s supply of gum arabic comes from the Darfur region of Sudan, is collected from acacia trees, and harvested primarily by subsistence farmers.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Consciousness May Not Be Shaped Like a Stream (2017)
2. What holds ink to paper (2014)
LINK TO MORE
Simon Roloff ±
As a researcher, I subject language to all kinds of scientific practices like reviewing archival material, annotating books and articles, recording conversations and interviews as well as taking notes as a participant observer and, of course, citation and commentary when writing about my findings. But at times, I like to treat the language I encounter in the research process as a material rather than a transmission device carrying information by subjecting it to montage, selective replacement or partial deletion. Either by developing a concept of appropriation and language manipulation that I merely execute, as is well-known from conceptual works by Vanessa Place and others. Or by designing a simple algorithm in Python by way of something Nick Montfort calls »exploratory programming«. Three reasons for doing so come to mind. Firstly, language has a way of not only being a simple signifier, but also, if treated in its »poetic function« after Roman Jacobson it can reveal something about how it produces referentiality and meaning in a certain context. This, in return, can be interesting to certain kinds of research, i. e. how language reproduces class relations, or cultural techniques create meaning and identity. Secondly, in including the resulting poems in my research I find a way of decentering myself as the all-knowing academic spectator in the research process when these practices create a text I could not have thought of in the beginning. And, ultimately, it’s fun. Everybody should try it.
For a book about creativity as a normative requirement in today’s middle class I researched the coaching practices and exercises of improvisation in management training. Being able to flexibly react on the spot in rapidly changing circumstances has gained in importance in today’s work environment, i.e. where team-work requires extensive adaptability, even more so in times of digital work places. Techniques of so-called »agile management« become increasingly relevant, as there is a constant need for re-assessing of objectives and re-purposing of resources to ensure greater velocity and adaptability of production. To make the necessary skill set and attitude achievable, a number of improv-classes are targeting middle- to low-level management-trainees. By submitting to exercises developed for actors and actresses in theater sports they are supposed to learn »to go with the flow of things« and »to catch the moment«. Meanwhile, and somewhat counterintuitively the work books used to teach this spontaneous behavior to today’s work force are employing the verb »müssen« (germ. to have to) to somewhat great extent. With a nod to Hannes Bajohr’s »Was man muss« in Halbzeug (Suhrkamp 2019), I scanned these publications, and, using an algorithm, filtered all the sentences that contained »müssen«, changed them to the imperative with a unified addressee and then arranged them in order of their length. The result seems like a desperate attempt to teach social behavior to a machine and/or the rule book of a game whose objectives must not be revealed to the players. Also, its repetitiveness seems to mirror the tiresome work of being the flexible subject of today.
1. Simon Ruloff, Teamwork
A few years ago, I attended the seminar Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins in Chicago. This seminar promises instant self-realization through simple behavioral changes by employing a rather bewildering mixture of confrontational therapeutic intervention, mass-meditation, after-work clubbing, Sunday church and fake archaic ritual. It regularly draws 20.000 to 30.000 participants, usually taking place in sports venues or concert halls over the course of three to four days. People are paying literally thousands of dollars to attend. While similarly interested in the techniques employed for behavioral changes and the motivation of the participants, I used a webcrawler to read out the posts and comments in a closed Facebook group for the event (at that time Facebook had not changed its API yet, so that was still possible). I filtered the result for among other things, all sentences with »I« and »We«. Scanning through them it suddenly hit me, how much this event was driven by fear and a need for belonging. Most people posting in the group had suffered some major economic setback, the fallout of the crisis of 2008 still being felt, and while they obviously hoped they could be O.K. if they changed a few habits and learned to believe in themselves more, they were also looking for community and advice. I arranged the sentences by hand, trying to tell little stories of self-realization while at the same time repeating some of them over and over, so there would be an element of prayer or of a litany to the resulting poem.
1. Simon Roloff, Litany
Charlotta Ruth ±
I am working with flexible narratives and poetics of repetition inside participatory performance, game and e-poetry. The core of this artistic practice lies in the seemingly random collection of words (word-donation) from audience-participants that engage inside a participatory structure. These words are then re-contextualized and embedded into my partly pre-written texts or text systems that are "performed back" in different ways to the original word-donator.
My approach to text has therefore more to do with the creation of poetic communication composed by contingent live components than perfect compositional outcome. My systems frame, pace and embed the words provided by others inside alternative realities and place the flexible content at the core. Through the play with repetition and through the individual relationship with a word that has been contributed, poetics is inoculated between words, between words and actions and between the moment a word was donated and the point in time it is re-performed.
My systems further include elements of misusing, expanding or translating the use of digital tools. Algorithmically computed elements are often part of the processes, mostly in the shape of human live computation (myself or collaborators) with a special love for human (mis)interpretation.
In my reflexive writing I have more and more integrated the logic of algorithms; creating writing rules and systems that support me writing so that the form speaks as part of the content. I make myself a participant and hence become the word-donator of a system rather than the author and my perfectionist tendencies get deliberately over ruled.
Participatory work based on word-donation practice WUK, Wien 2016
Upon arrival at the Help-Desk, the Voice (an invisible live-performer) instructs the Treasure Hunters (visitors) to write a todo list into one's individual note block. The Treasure Hunters are then invited to participate in different clue/score based walks in the large old brick building. At regular intervals the Treasure Hunters arrive at different communication zones where word-donation happens inside an interactive document. Inside this document, two hidden facilitators guide the synchronous writing, supporting the Treasure Hunters to translate lived experiences to words with the help of associations, questions and lists. In one communication zone the key-boards of the Treasure Hunters is connected to a computer that instantly mix the two donations into random new words. The average time spent inside Treasure Hunting was 3 1/2 hours. No matter when the Treasure Hunter individually decided that the own time was up, the Treasure Hunting system offered the person a check-out. At the check-out the purpose of the regular visits to the communication zones was revealed. Through out the experience the facilitators were working on distilling the words into an individual poem a “Wortschatz” (Vocabulary in German reads word-treasure). The poem was found by the Treasure Hunter and the Treasure Hunter was finally guided to a recording helmet where the treasure hunter recited his/her poem. The poem was automatically transformed into a music tune. A SuperCollider script cut up the phrases, applied a randomized vocoder melody to the voice and mixed it together with a pre-made jazz tune.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Treasure Hunting / Communication Zone, November 2016, © Dominik Grünbühel
LINK TO AUDIO Example of Jazz-Treasure-Poem: 1.04 min
LINK TO MORE on Treasure Hunting
In the reflexive part of my artistic research practice, I trick myself to write from within rather than linearly. For instance creating a short text that is hidden in a longer text so that the short text to some extent decides what vocabulary the longer text needs to have. To do this I first do like I do right now, that I compose spontaneously what I want to approximately say and then I go back treasure hunting for a possible "core meaning". A sentence that can function on its own, detected inside this spontaneously written text. I began writing this way through a method invented inside the work Living Documents. This looped performance work depends on 11 words that I record spread out over 2.5 minutes. The timing of the spread out words afterwards fit with different sentences that I speak out loud over the recording. I was initially finding those words by writing a short lecture about my practice. Afterwards I searched for an inherent core meaning, stripping the lecture down to a few single words and adapting it to include the 11 words that I had found as grammatically and content wise coherent as possible. If you want to take a look I demonstrate the process in the screen recording of this text. It begins by looking for words that appear to be at the core of the text as well as prepositions like of, in etc. to easier build a sentence from the existing text.
CREDITS AND LINKS
1. Screen Recording Inside Out Systems, October 20, © C Ruth
2. Excerpt Living Documents (C Ruth, D Grünbühel), October 20, © Lisa Ertl
3. Excerpt Poster-publication Choreographic Contingencies for On- and Offline PhD in Arts, Art Research Envelope 2, Zentrum Fokus Forschung die Angewandte 2018.
LINK TO Poster Publication