diffracting a wall









An iteration of the mind, beginning by chance.

     An iteration of the road, as framework.


starting car

driving out on the motorway





Anomie is related to the loss of a sense of meaning, or a notion of what is right and wrong. Thus, an open form of anomic units might just describe a kind of confused daily life, a movement without knowing, what it addresses or where it belongs. However, the reading of anomic units in a paratactic manner might enable unpredictable encounters - in restless search for an unknown.




Is it possible to think without images?

How Forests Think written by Eduardo Kohn is a move ‘towards anthropology beyond the human’, and it is about lives as living thoughts. Different life forms, related to an Amazonian village, are images for each other, and become signs for something else at the same time as they exist as living beings. They point toward an 'other' in a network of relations. They tell something - in an immediate manner or by changing the register of entangled worlds of forest life, river patterns, colonial history, a dog fallen prey to a jaguar, extraction of resources, or forest spirits. They point towards something that can be done (in that particular village). Or in relation to something that can be found (somewhere in the forest). Or they can help to understand one’s own position in a network of relations expanding in time and space.


When I drive along the motorway, I have in front of me the road, and I have to follow what I see. The car right now, coming in from the right-hand side, moving in the same direction as me means something different than the ones moving towards me on the opposite side behind the crash barrier. The asphalt unfurling a broad line in front of the car, leading into a whole network of more of the same.

And yet there is another image, which figures in my mind, and guides the thought I think. An image of lines drawn on a wall in an attempt to map key areas of my work. With notes attached to ity1.

And now removed. A stack of paper in front of me.

(The wall is painted white again, the space empty.)

Two registers of a now. Separated yet entangled.


too much noise. slowing down


thought as an image - IMAGE IS A THOUGHT - is related to the way artist and filmmaker Harun Farocki talks about the thinking-through-images, too. Not the thinking about images, but the thinking through images. In videoworks like Schnittstelle (Interface, 1995) this is most directly addressed by focussing on the moment of cut and montage at the working desk - or in video editing. This place between images shown on two monitors - one to the right and one to the left of the editor on the desk - is the place where a viewer is located. The viewer is the artist in the editing process. However, an audience becomes participatory in the joints in the viewing. Thinking happens in the doing and is transferred to an audience. When there suddenly is a moment of awareness of a world outside the editing studio in Schnittstelle, this seems a rupture in the doing yet is a joint between what happens on the screen and what happens on the street. It is a reassuring of how far, or even if, the street (the sea) is affected by what happens on the screen (the table)y2.


The handling of images always provokes thoughts. No matter, if it is a physical image in your hand or the immaterial image on a screen - which passes by in the flipping through various files of an artist’s or a marine biologist’s extended archive (determined by a frame of working conditions, not of private life or social media). However, the situation in front of the screen is not really immaterial. The image itself might be immaterial, but the screen is not. The screen belongs to a studio, an improvised fieldlab, or the office area of a research unity3. Thus, the image belongs to the material world, and is linked to its architectures. This flipping through a series of images, in whatever way, always instigates a flow of thoughts. A propagation. With bifurcations and disruptions. Unexpected deviations and joints.

In the same manner as lives become images for each other in the Amazonian forest, as thoughts and doings, are images on paper or on screens constitutive of our being in the world.


a low bump from an unevenness of the road




‘the (manifest(?)) image object’ was at the centre of the ‘image’ cluster.

The thinking about it starts from a documentary approach and goes over to the essay format, to get rid of manifestation. It moves from the photograph to video and back again, in form of the still image. In serial accumulation lies a potential of less manifestation. It rather points to difference.

Harun Farocki is good to think with in this context. He applied photographs and film, and he included as much appropriated as self-produced image material. Somewhere in this stack of notes in front of me there is another note - one that asserts that ‘soft montage’ (an expression originating from Harun Farocki’s work) is more experiment and less claimy3. Soft montage and the montage techniques of the historic avantgarde are variations of serial accumulation. It is the putting-in-a-row of images in a manner that makes them (and thought) move. The more images you relate to, the less weight you put on the singular one. They support or disrupt each other by relating to the preceding or the following one. In the double projection - which can be regarded the smallest possible unit of a soft montage - relation is not merely given forwards and backwards along a line, but appears simultaneously sidewards - or horizontally - in synchronicity.


The singular disappears in the sheer number of images. And attentiveness isn’t clearly kept on one single projection or monitor (which nevertheless already holds the double of the audio-visual in itself - horizontal, too, in its character, in an eye-to-ear movement). To present an accumulation is to avoid a claim in the singular. A doubling of the same image might seem to reverse this move - however, it shows a stammering in the articulation, or has something pathologically insisting. Accumulation gives more open access to what you are presented. There is a certain danger of confusion, if accumulation amounts to a heap (or cluster). An effect of the art installation - in its form of a ‘heap of media’ - is a decentring of a viewing subject. To think along this line can be supportive in the attempt to approach the art space (or any other) as an ecology of relating elements. At the core there is no centre, even if kelp seems to be put there in the beginning. It is pretending to form a centre, meanwhile there isn’t really. There is no beginning and there is no end and there is no centre. Only movement. It is a meandering of thoughts, notes and images, without beginning and without end. And yet has kelp been productive of everything around it - books, platforms, video projections.X

Serial accumulation hints at a direction. When something is put in a series, it already indicates direction, even if meandering.


The photograph presents merely the possibility of meaning4


The photograph is an offer in the singular and it is an offer in the series. And it is an offer in the heap - to those who feel invited to invest time in searching or getting lost.

But it always remains an offered possibility.

Manifestation can merely be of temporary nature.


Iconic images we have in our mind have a placeholder-function for moments in history. Like the one encountered in the newspaper yesterday, which is the image of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, in the moment when Mandela left the prison. The article discussed this specific instance (of the photograph), in its political significance (for apartheid), and in relation to the moment afterwards (the private one, when Winnie left him) that we never really know about. So, even those iconic images seem to have a potential beyond a singular meaning. Even if their meaning always already seems to have been decided on as common sense. But also this meaning is a mere suggestion. There is always the possibility of another possible meaning, another potential.

It’s never completely there as a fact, as (it seems to be) in science (when a fish shows in the frame of a camera set up to monitor areas where kelp is harvested). It rather is a question of its circumstances. The question is what remains in the image as independent of the viewer - if there is such a thing. The independent as that what evades knowledge, but still might be perceived in its inaccessibility. By way of trial, the ‘independent’ might arise from a shift of context, from displacement. The ‘independent’ might be its own opposite - something that appears from (shifting) relations. The ‘independent’ might be the ability to change.


seeing, not seeing as, enables knowledge to grow5


It belongs to the discussion of manifestation, in comparison to the potentiality of the open, in an image you see. An image here is not necessarily defined as a photograph. It doesn’t even have to remain flat, but rather loops back to the concept of living thoughts as images in four dimensions.

‘Seeing’ holds potential in its not-knowing, meanwhile ‘seeing as’ is fixed as manifestation. The manifestation is formed as anticipation, convention, a bias, the normative.

We then have to unlearn to be able to see.


when to read an image - or a series of images - narratively? when to read them paraTactically? and when to read them iconographically?6


Narratively. Paratactically. Iconographically.

These are registers of reading. Less categories than possible layers or transparencies on an overhead projector to be moved and displaced in an attempt to make them fit, without ever completely achieving that.

The ‘narrative’ reading leads one image to the next, and you follow a line. However, it might be embedded in the single image as well, with a line threaded through it. When the image is an instant between past and future, something that has started before, and hasn’t finished yet. There’s a third option: the narrative line might follow a zig-zagging movement of the eye across the image surface, connecting details.


The ‘paratactical’ I understand as reading of an accumulation of anomic units. A beside-of-each-other, a following-each-other of singular images which have difficulties to relate at first glance. They seem to be alien to each other. Thus, they just exist juxtaposed. Without any immediate relation. But is that at all possible? There is always relation - in one way or another. The relation as non-relation produces its own affects. Shifting relations will generate different readings and different beings. It is a form of subjectivation of the respective image in a mutual impact of momentary encounter.


The ‘iconographical’ reading might regard the image as signifier, pointing like an arrow to something it stands in for, to a higher degree than the former two modes. What you get is more than what you see. There is a world out there, which in a specific way has something to do with what you see here. The image is bearing the load of a historical, spatial, cultural, social and/or political contexty3, which you are actually asked to relate to.


spatialized media become thoughtful7


This is the whole point of Farocki’s Schnittstelle, when he literally places himself between two monitors.

The singular medium (or image) is rarely interesting. It has to occupy a place among others to form a collective. To walk through the door into an exhibition may be like entering a brain. Immersing and engaging with it makes it yours, even if a curator conceived it. Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein have recently discussed Les Immatériaux, curated by Lyotard in this manner in Spacing Philosophy.

Anselm Franke, curator at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, talked a couple of years ago in Bergen about the resulting spaces of his work as ‘essay-exhibitions’. This I understand in a similar way as when I look at Farocki’s work. The term of the essay comes from a literature tradition which is composed of fragments and is not meant to explain in an absolute causal sense, but shows complexities by suggested relating fragments. To navigate connections is to a high degree left to the viewer/reader. The exhibition format, Birnbaum and Wallenstein or Franke talk about, leaves joints for editing, just as in the process of montage. Joints are made possible by walking - not only to link images in their serial two-dimensionality, but to incorporate materiality of the space and its contents, in possible returns or jumps. A field of vision becomes wider and deeper and is joined with other senses. A spatial situation enables threads to be spun and joints to be made by movement and resting. To be located between two images no longer is an exercise of the mind alone.


Processes in various spaces of Agential Matter are encountered in the same manner. What I encounter - as object, image or word - I perceive as fragment of an essay, and as such I bring it to the studio. Doings on site, however, are an engagement in making joints between, and displacements of, fragments there.


The Book of Anarchiving (which comes out of the SenseLab in Montreal, with threads to Erin Manning and Brian Massumi, see also note 40) gives a suggestion for (working) practice, I transfer to my work: Co-inhabit a space and tune with the data. Let the data dwell with you and become part of your territory. To practice this, media/ data have to be spatialized.

But it is also helpful here to return to Eduardo Kohn. To live in an Amazonian village - or any other place - is life among media. To act is to encounter them, to enrich them by paying attention to them, and to meet them in a thoughtful way. The SenseLab - just as any studio or stage - allows for the practicing of things as a model for life. If there is somebody present without engaging, he or she would rather be a witness than a spectator, or even more precisely a with-ness in the event. ‘Withness’ points to a participatory aspect in the mere being there - and by that counts as an engagement anyway.


can the narrative and the other-than-narrative exist simultaneously in the same shot, creating a kind of stroBe-effect?8


Theorist of performative arts Erika Fischer-Lichte describes a flickering in the performative space in Ästhetik des Performativen (The Transformative Power of Performance. A new aesthetics). The book gives insights in developments of chosen tendencies from the 60s onwards, in a cross-fertilizing zone of visual and performative arts, with an interest for blurry boundaries between arts and politics. The performative space in Fischer-Lichte's writing is constituted by elements which are drawn from other contexts – objects, images, sounds, actions etc. The works in focus are discussed as spaces where these elements could become signs for something else. Or the elements could strive for a presence in their immediate appearance. They appear and disappear in a certain rhythm and by that establish changing relationships and encounters. Elements are chosen and orchestrated. Each singular event will vary according to openness for chance and circumstances of social space and prevalent material conditions in the case of repetition.


Uncertainty is an inherent characteristic of these spaces. A certain meaning or content can never firmly settle on one of two options, in the switching back-and-forth between the sheer presence of an image (body, sound or material object) and its role as a signifier, pointing towards something outside of itself and the space of its appearance. Boundaries are unclear (between performer and onlooker, or between art and politics), dichotomies might collapse (object/subject, representation/appearance). The spaces are described as potential spaces for transformation – of each body and each thing involved.


What kind of relationships would occur, if we temporarily could forget what things are, what context they come from or belong to (see also note 5)? If we would be able to forget their meaning, which is defined by their already existing relations. A similar mechanism (like this forgetting) is at work when entering another territory like a landing station or biological field station. Bruno Latour points to the same, after having observed daily routines in a scientific laboratory in the 70s, in his role as socialanthropologist. In this territory of the other, as much as in the performative space that Fischer-Lichte describes, does the not-knowing, the not-recognizing or the temporarily-forgetting of objects’ meaning enable a seeing of them in their sheer presence. They stand out as themselves and do not point toward something else. They might create wonder.

This pointing-toward-something-else is one kind of possible narrative. Meanwhile the sheer presence of something could be congruent with the other-than-narrative. The other-than-narrative as the just being there, as phenomenological perception.

A strobe effect or flickering might be the result of not being able to decide for the one or the other, and this enforces a continuous probing of relation, without ever fully falling into place. It causes an enforced suspension of judgement.


To further extend these considerations: the non-narrative could appear in the non-determinable. We search for connections and activate the narrative in consequence. The one narrative which is blinded out in the un-familiar, will merely be replaced. The new narrative is generated in an unexpected direction of a new iteration. This might happen even by a certain degree of abstraction (through sameness of shape, number or colour).

The non-narrative state can only be achieved by suspending any judgement - the not-going for either the one or the other.




recording stopped

>>> 1_002






diffracting a wall








driving anew out on the motorway



iconic propagation of self-organizing thought9


Imagine daydreaming.

Thoughts and images are inseparable, and they propagate in non-intentional bifurcations and loops. Imagine pondering a problem with similar movements, but probably slightly more directed, with a bigger chance for loops the more the pondering is enforced. Self-organized criticality, which counts as one of several characteristics common for all complex systems, might occur in the moment of such forces at work. An accumulation of something collapses by the sheer weight of its own pressure, and by that re-organizes itself into a new balance.

It happens in artistic practice as well. Accumulation, followed by a seemingly self-organizing principle, is permanently threatened by potential collapse and enforced re-organisation. The growing number of photographs in digital folders can reach the point of self-organized criticality, collapsing into a series of books X - and by that finding a temporary balance again. The growing amount of results of experimenting with conservation processes can collapse into a temporary heap resting on the floor X. The growing amount of references can collapse into a temporary drawing X. Or a text.


the sea always exceeds the limits of the frame10


Photographer and artist Allan Sekula, talks about the sea - or rather maritime power centres, their workers and those living in their margins - in Fish Story (1995). By discussing economies of the sea in global trade through micro narratives of individuals. By setting up details against panoramas of cargo ships and harbours, through image and text, and by referring to the history of seascape paintings and the socio-political role of early photography. The simultaneous voice-over and image sequence in Farocki’s (earlier mentioned) film work corresponds here to a voice placed between images - written text within its own frame in the book or in the exhibition space. The numbered list with captions (or subtitles?) at the end of a series of images becomes a piece of text in its own right. With a different tone and a different rhythm than the essay.


We tend to prefer the application of the frame, because it eases the way to hand over provided content to somebody else for scrutinizing.

A metal framey4 is applied in marine biological fieldwork. Usually, it’s a square, placed randomly in the terrain or on the seabed, to tell about the respective area’s content. The frame is used to create an account of the global state of kelp forests, by scaling up and down of the same principle. It follows logic and mathematical law, and is guided by knowledge about where and how to put it.

The frame helps to model a global condition. To gain greater overview of the sea's messiness by approximation.

On 400m depths it’s more convenient to send a camera tied to a metal construction than to send a diver to set a frame. The camera goes slightly up and down along a line drawn by the movement of the boat. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. By each time the construction touches the ground an image is taken. Some frames show pieces of kelp, most don’ty5. The images alone can’t fully answer the question where debris goes from the forests, but they are part of an assembly to gain better understanding.


Attempts were made already in the fifties to use the photograph in exactly the same manner to map and quantify the abundance of seaweed along the Norwegian coast: for a short period of time aerial photography was applied along the coastline to give an estimate of biomass of various types of seaweed by the Institute for Seaweed Research in Trondheim. They gave up pretty quickly. Change of tides destabilized the visual content, and an often reflecting water surface would reject access for a scrutinizing gaze to what laid hidden underneath.

Allan Sekula talked about the limits of the frame in a different way, more a conceptual one. Inability of seeing is connected to different types of reflections, and the type of question you use when looking.

This is perfectly illustrated in a sequence of another work of Farocki’s: Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges (Images of the World and the Inscription of War, 1988) shows photographs taken by Allied Forces during the Second World War, and while bombing, to be able to tell if industrial complexes which were targeted were actually destroyed - concentration camps in the same images weren’t recognized as such before decades later.


sudden stop in recording, battery empty

lost ruminations on:


the essayistic form in the sense of an ongoing, inquiring search11


supreme semantic sign12 [it’s the word, not the image, and it’s Mallarmé’s]


aspiration to concreteness13


essayist work does not primarily aim to document realities but to organize their complexities14


language plays an important part but not a constitutive role15


the voice is not a rhetoric but like an open letter to be finalized in the viewer’s mind16


the word as event which grips the body17


thinking and motion brings about this cohesion of separable parts18


the oral part is important in that it tests the capacity to follow thought in motion19


theory building through visual means20


what endures is what transforms itself21


interested in speed and slowness22


unconscious scanning and scattered attention (a critical one)23



>>> 1_003

diffracting a wall








running engine

fumbling for something

driving out on the motorway


the speed and slowness of metabolisms, perceptions, actions and reactions, link together to constitute a particular individual in the world24


This is now a move towards the cluster of ‘(a) collective space diagram’y6. Not really there yet, rather on the way of different ‘workings’ between image, word, the performative and the collective.

‘Individual’ designates not merely a human being. It also designates here any other-than-human. No ‘individual’ exists in isolation. A collective is composed of many of them. Subjectivity doesn’t exist in advance, but occurs in the encounter with others. Mutual affect and agency take place - in a cross-species manner of human and other-than-human entities. Or between words, between images, between words and images and between any other kinds of beings. I call them this here, in this context, because I think the art space as ecology. I apply this kind of thinking to images, words, sounds and gestures. Abstract beings, it might seem. But they are not.

They sustain a strong presence, in any space I enter. They do this in their material appearance, which is not defined beforehand in their existence in a conceptual realm. In their material presence they are there together with kelp and humans.


Kelp has been coming into existence by co-habitation of various elements.

Brown macroalgae (which kelp is one of many examples of) belong to the oldest beings of evolutionary times. At some point in the process one cell devoured another type of cell without digesting, but ingesting it. The two together formed a new photosynthesizing body.

Our breathing incorporates molecules, which once were parts of something else. Oxygen entering our body is the product of photosynthesis of other bodies.

And most of our DNA is actually not human, but bacterial.


The two kelp species in focus here (Laminaria hyperborea and Laminaria digitata) expose certain qualities, which fit perfectly the force of waves at outer coasts of the North Atlantic. Their strength and flexibility allow them to bend with currents and movementsy7, and their collective mass bundles some of the forces crushing in on the coast, protects weaker beings in its hollow spaces, and offers space to others on their surfacey8. Their photosynthesis absorbs CO2 whose increasing prevalence in the atmosphere is one of the reasons for a rising temperature in the air and in the sea. Too warm water stresses them, and they will have to adapt and change, or disappear to make space for something else which fits much better new conditions.


Human technology co-developed with knowledge about kelp's growth and chemical components, about machinery's mechanical functions, and with material knowledge that gave humans access to spaces they couldn’t reach with the sole abilities of their bodies before. Metal structures, chemicals, stainless steels and plastic tubes, rotating systems and diving systems, displays and numbers - a long chain of metabolic processes to finally allow kelp to enter the human body in places where it hadn’t been before, as high-technological alginate. A co-evolving of tools, instruments, laboratories and knowledge systems, which shape bodies as much as spaces in various zones of shifting collective beings.


slowing down the pace of knowing25



moving with the traffic

sliding in and out of gaps

while keeping the speed



 un/doing of26


Discontinuity. Continuity. Doing and un-doing. Of. Always both at the same time. Never either/or but both/and. Or with. No paradox in the contradiction. Doing something as the un-doing of something else. Continuity of the one means discontinuity of the other.


technique of suspended judgement27


Slowing down the pace of knowing, by suspending judgement (see also note 8). Not to take a stance too quickly, rather sensing (and thereby producing sense) for a little longer. Hesitation keeps spaces open, preserves potentiality. As long as something isn’t decided yet, everything still seems possible.


There is nothing to find about a recommended duration of necessary suspension though. It can’t be forever. If it would be forever, how would transformation be possible, at some point decisions have to be taken, changes to happen. It’s political, and it’s personal. Otherwise there’s no transition. Nor transformation. It just gets stuck. Stagnation in the movement.

Suspended judgement wants to avoid settling too easily on facts and categories. Maybe a temporary judgement would serve the purpose. A change from ‘matters of fact’ to ‘matters of concern’ as Bruno Latour suggests. A continuous paying attention with concern for agencies to occur - before, in and after a temporary decision has been taken. Something thrown out at one point, might re-enter at another, in a new guise to be taken into account. Facts are fixed, while concerns are on the move.


Technique of suspended judgement can pause what we think we already know. Judgement and manifestation run parallel in risking a closure by wiping out what doesn’t fit the conclusion.

When giving a talk in Bergen, architect, urbanist and writer Keller Easterling mentioned the problem solutions might cause, when knowledge which was part of the discussion is discarded and disappears, because it didn’t become part of the solution - but still might be important for a later re-assembling of conditions to be considered anew.


being is knowing28 [onto-epistemology]


Slowing down ways of knowing - not knowing more but knowing differently - means slowing down ways of being. Suspension of judgement in daily life - of the individual and the collective. Donna Haraway calls them naturecultures, Bruno Latour calls them collectives. Collectives are not chosen but form as temporary, agential realities. What is meant are extended social assemblages of humans and other-than-humans, organic and inorganic life. This thinking is an attempt to provide ways out of human centred and colonial living. Thus, suspension of judgement in a collective being and becoming of humans and other-than-humans alike could provide the necessary delay to avoid following patterns one tries to unlearn.

It means getting to the ground and getting involved in one moment.

And withdrawing in another - to practice hovering in the air.


I become nervous at this point.

We somehow need to negotiate a conflict arising from the schizophrenic perspective of having a kind of overview, which provides us with alarming information, and trying to stay immersed in what we do, to stay in contact with what is close. To do both at the same time seems a necessity. Not being cut apart, but being cut together.


the suspension of judgement is not a closure - it opens a space of the propositional29


reflection is inward, and mirrors sensation pointing outward30


How to bring thinking and sensual experience together?

Those with thinking hands wouldn’t understand the differentiation in first place. Reflection as a displacement of an image. Sensation as orientation towards the world. (Becoming reflection by moving inwards.)

Not sure. Calling it porosity might do a better job.


long stretch of silent driving

disrupted recording

missing out:


no hierarchy between things and images, facts and commentaries, objects and ideas31


what makes something present to our consciousness is the fact of its having been enriched by attention32


im schaubild erhält der innenraum des denkens eine aussenseite33



>>> 1_004

diffracting a wall








just passing Hamburg


intensification by involution/ folding/ layering34


involution/ folding/ layering…

This happens when the same elements emerge in a slightly different guise at another time and/or another place, or when the same methods are applied in varying formats and in different contexts. A repetition in difference to probe a change of agency, in mode and intensity, and a transfer of potential tools and techniques.


involution, folding… and layering…

It’s not one thing after the other. It’s an interweaving of different doings and places by looping, twisting and displacement. A (re)cycling of elements.

Gestures are transferred (from fieldwork to studio), adjusted to conditions or just hovering as anomic units in space. Fragments of reading become elements in writing and speaking, and they become images painted on the wall (can a word do what it says when placed there? in this way? X). Quotes are just as any other thing appropriated material and become constitutive of the work.

I get back to the previous note on speed and slowness and metabolisms (24): if subjectivity doesn’t exist in advance but is shaped in encounters, is the consequence of the folding and layering of elements that they get enriched with each displacement and folding. With each folding a new facet comes to the fore. (It doesn’t mean to become more visible. Invisibility might be the new facet.) To look at kelp in the sea, to travel in its company on land, to care in different processes X, to devour ity7. To photograph it, to animate ity8. To print the image. To give it to others.

The more I do the closer I come the more I doubt what I do.


Even if the White Book Documents X are a series in their formal appearance - they are a series of sites, they even follow a chronological order to begin with, and they contain returns -, does this quickly get disrupted in the engagement in an anarchiving of its imagery. A discrete order seems necessary to allow at least a slight feeling of coherence to mark a starting point. But that’s not the interesting thing as such; it merely provides an invitation for change. Strive for order is an urge to counteract a loss of control in the heap. They are a parallel to accumulated data in the scientific context (some of the images are data from a scientific contexty9)- in their sheer number of available images. In their digital format they can adjust to scientific systems to act as a boundary object of exchange value, to be exchanged in encounter with another field, and with the option to be applied in its specific context of project websites, articles and presentations.

The images of the White Book Documents seem hidden inside the project. They are disturbed in their centre by a foldy10. They are hidden in their showing to withdraw from manifestation. However, the content leaks into the space. Or the reverse: they are permeated by others. Some images appear as projections in Common Notionsy11, others were already part of pro.vocations X, as field or playing card. An imagined space diagram throughout the whole space of Relay would see all lines appear from, or disappear into, these thirty books. In a way they get a similar role as the yeast cultures of Philippe Parreno’s work (more below).

They are in a sense a counter part to the readinglisty12 of the walldiagram in the studio. At the same time, they extend into the sea outside and all the way along the coast.


involution/ folding/ layering… to apply this to words:

Reading is potentially a dialogue with somebody else, which can have its responses in comments in the margins, in lines and marks, in a responding written text - or in a silent dispute in one’s head. Collective thinking (the thinking together with somebody else) can be enacted in this way, even if the body only stays with written words, and otherwise in solitude, in space.

To surround the body with words, to externalize the thinking, is a way to build a physical relationship to what is said. Words become a body. They become objects one can taste and chew, turn upside down, move. The externalizing of them (out of the mind, out of the book) enables another, material contact - between words, words and the body, images and words, objects and words, words and spatial conditionsy13. Words encountered in a book can act as stumble stones, or they can become sticky. To take them out of their context can be a way to scrutinize them in the same manner, as one would do with objects.

However, it is exactly this ‘scrutinizing’ which causes growing trouble due to a colonizing tint. I would prefer rather not to. Co-habitation seems more adequate in a spatializing move.

This method puts body and mind in motion together. I rise from the chair to cross the space to give the word another appearance and another position, to be affected in a different way (or not). A similar thing happens as to images - words start to flicker between appearance and representation. And by that start to act on me. They are also saved from a disappearance in the book. And they can get in contact with something else. I encounter them each time I look up from my doing, or when I enter the space. I can walk towards them, along them. It can be a way to familiarize and defamiliarize with words and by that keep them alive, never let them completely settle. It is a way to trace shifting agency. (Exactly in the same manner as with the co-habitation with kelp in - and nearby - the shed at the landing station.) This agency acts in relation to the space and all its contained materialities - including me.

Meaning appears (and shifts) in movement and displacement, it enables repetition and differences, in a way how Manuel DeLanda writes with Deleuze:


[He] argues, most of the important philosophical insights can only be grasped during the process of morphogenesis, that is, before the final form is actualized, before the difference disappears.


A first origin becomes blurred (simply never existed). Language is a living force, and pervades and gets pervaded by others.


The proper name does not designate an individual: It is on the contrary when the individual opens up to the multiplicities pervading him or her, that he or she acquires his or her true proper name35


no name no existence


We can only know that we are having thought when we bring some specific event ‘inside’, but do something with it ‘outside’36


to anchor the object in a ritual, in a temporally, socially and intersubjectively situated event37


The words are taken from a text by art historian Dorothea von Hantelmann published in connection with dOCUMENTA(13) in 2012, which had a certain focus on diverse forms of ecologies and an extended notion of social space. Any context will, in my opinion, not merely anchor but also transform the object.

In a contribution like the one of AND AND AND the collective (of participants) itself is the object of transformation. Various gatherings at different times (before and during the hundred days of dOCUMENTA) were arranged to gather local publics, to instigate initiatives, to eat, to talk, to read, to grow food, and think about the commons.

Thinking the ‘event’ from the line above, as ecology, has the consequence that the object isn’t just anchored in the event but changes others and is changed by them.


To understand Relay X as a space for social practice doesn’t solely depend on humans’ engagement (those who helped with harvest X and setting up the space, the boatman from the marine biological research station, people entering the space, others using the building, people from the neighbourhood). The space without us (human beings) forms its own ecology, with objects, images, technology and kelp, which exceeds the frame of the gallery space - which in reverse is permeated from outside by lights of arriving or turning cars in the evening, and concert guests waiting to enter on the plaza in front, interfering with a lecture or the performance insidey14.


Philippe Parreno has taken the concept of the space forming its own hybrid ecology to the extreme with his exhibition at Gropius Bau in Berlin in 2018. Light conditions, sounds and images were controlled by yeast cultures in its centre. The resulting chemical processes became a controlling centre, creating an algorithmic signal, sent out to other elements.

Setting up this work against the ecology of AND AND AND, shows a characteristic which makes it difficult to regard Parreno’s an ecology. The direction of cause and effect was one-way in his work. Yeast cultures decided on everything else, but not the other way around. On a sensual level, one can say indeed that the experience of the individual elements would change depending on changes in all other sensory inputs - in that sense there was a multidirectional cause and affect prevalent.

But in the end yeast cultures become more a stand-in for the artist’s brain.


Pierre Huyghe’s ecologies are also constructed. Like in his contribution Untilled (2012) to the same edition of dOCUMENTA as mentioned above. But this ecology lived completely its own uncontrolled life as a place of co-habitation, including more than one living organism in a composting process. A man working there, a beehive around a sculpture's head, a dog, visitors, a decomposing tree which once was part of Joseph Beuys’ 7000 Oaks (itself a durational Documenta project and social sculpture over a span of five years 1982-1987). Untilled wasn’t a pure co-habitation of immediate presence. Involved elements became as well allusions to cultural inscriptions (like that of the earlier Documenta). They are in this double meaning perhaps close to the effect of Fischer-Lichte’s ‘flickering’. Something similar can be said - for different reasons - about AND AND AND's gatherings: how to tell if they were art or practiced democracy?


The anchoring of the object in an event is an offer to be encountered, less in its singularity than in its relationality, when thinking the art space ecologically.


to understand means to create a language that opens up the possibility of encountering different sensible forms38


cut - battery empty



>>> 1_005

diffracting a wall








on the motorway again

strong winds


Last round.

It’s getting dark.


First getting back into the flow of traffic...


action-oriented internalization and compression39


Things have to be done to be understood.

1. Perhaps one could think of anthropology's method of participatory observation according to this logic. Participatory observation is a mode of being in the middle of things to be permeated by them. The interdisciplinary scholar, artist and former park ranger Emily Eliza Scott refers to sociologist Saskia Sassen when pointing out the importance of not having decided too strictly on a method beforehand when going to fieldwork. This might produce blindness for what otherwise could become of real importance. Involvement enables adjustment in the doing.

Involvement means to allow the body to experience what evades language. To get the other-than-you under your skin, and connect there with threads from other others. It preconditions what to ask (as artist in a marine biological context), by providing a common ground. By sharing the same light- and temperature-conditions. The same smell. The same rhythms. By observing what else is there.

The observation changes the situation for the observed. Any observation is co-constitutive of the event to be observed.

The difference seems less between the observer with a camera and the observed observer handling kelp, when participating in marine biological fieldwork, than on a landing station. The camera has a common presence in marine biological fieldwork as the researchers' extended eye. The artist’s camera is just one more in a common doing and observing. It belongs to a collective endeavour (see also note 45).

Cameras at the landing station - or rather those connected to the trawlers and their contested harvest - are ambiguous and can be seen as a form of (self)surveillance, to protect against accusations from somebody else. It questions my camera to a higher degree. Spatialized media become thoughtful in the doing.

What is it I look at? An encounter doesn’t only happen in a close-up, between kelp and those who handle it. It needs zooming out to see the wider consequences, the proliferations. It needs both. What easily evades us is what lies in between.

Matter and meaning can’t be separated according to feminist theorist Karen Barad. Knowledge production can’t happen from a distance but must happen on the ground, in the middle of thingsy15.


2. Re-enacting Hand Catching Lead (Richard Serra, 1968). To turn it into Hand Catching Kelp X is another kind of internalization and compression. The original video work shows a hand stretching out and attempting to grasp metal pieces falling from above in a continuous stream. Sometimes the hand succeeds - and drops the piece again immediately -, most often it doesn’t. The re-enacting of the original work is based on a misreading of an artwork to be an exploration of gravity (Serra rather intended here to explore the specificities of the video as medium). This is followed by speculative thinking, when the doing pretends to explore buoyancy - as counterpart to gravity, and thereby an upward-movement when it presses bodies submerged in water to the surface (a decisive aspect to handle and counteract in diving).

But buoyancy doesn’t work like this in the studio. There is too much air and too little water to be submerged in, and it would not work with this type of kelp anyway (there are no air-filled bladders to push it up or keep it floating by). Despite of these misunderstandings, the gesture - and the documentation of it - remains a recurring image.

The grasping and holding up of kelp - contrary to the slipping through in an attempt to catch - becomes a colonizing one. It might be meant as an act of care and cultivation of presence in a moment of encounter (in a workshop for childreny16, or in one of the exercises for the Kelp Diagram Collective X), but easily tips over in its contrary, and carries with it connotations of the (once living) trophyy17 or of the laboratory animal (in Common Notions X). 


long silence. wind gusts pressing from the side


the anarchive is not documentation of past. it is a feed-forward mechanism40


The anarchive is a concept approached by SenseLab in Montreal (Concordia University), founded by Erin Manning in 2004, to explore the active passage between research and creation. (see also note 7)

The archive in general contains data and documents of a past. Most archives are characterized by a specific order, and a system, which makes it possible to trace origins, or to find elements by index.

An-archiving is the opening-up of the archive and giving it a new life. This might point forwards - independent of originally established categories. The anarchive is attractive due to this feed-forward mechanism and a potential queering of a given structure. It enables continued doing by taking traces of a past with you, yet leaving the structure of a past behind. Anarchiving is a play- and senseful manner of relating to what is there in the here and now, and without specific other intentions than an opening-up. To make space for something to occur that was overlooked before.

The re-enactment of an artwork like Hand Catching Lead can be understood in this way. Any collection of things can in principle be defined as archive to start an an-archiving process in any thinkable way.


material traces’ potential to trigger new processes41


This also is the anarchive. It is its progress mechanism. When anarchiving the archive, its material becomes enacted, its material becomes an event. Any event is temporal and gives thus space to performativity. Each new event produces traces.

Actions carried out in the first studio space, in the beginning of the work with Agential Matter can be read as first anarchiving processes X. Beginning with text as an archive, and continued with forms of short re-enactments of art works, and later of marine biological procedures.

The reading (of Latour’s We have never been modern at that time) and subsequent writing of fragments in spacey17, is an anarchiving of the book’s content and generates traces with chalk pens on surfaces, by engaging bodily in the reading and spatializing of its content.


Again (see also note 34): It is an inversion of the more common procedure of underlining sentences and writing comments in the margin of a book. To surround the body with words, to externalize the thinking is a way to build a physical relationship to what is said. Words become a body. They become objects one can taste and chew, turn upside down, move. The externalizing of them (out of the mind, out of the book) enables another, material contact - between words and words, words and the body, images (projections of video material from fieldwork) and words, objects (from fieldwork) and words, words and spatial (light) conditions. Words encountered in a book can act as stumble stones, or they can become sticky. To take them out of their context can be a way to scrutinize them in the same manner as one would do with objects.

This method puts body and mind in motion together.


Traces were left on tables, floor and walls in the studio, and were meant to foster new processes. Each day started with a short re-evaluation of what was there from the day before and what still mattered, what should remain and what needed to be cancelled out or moved somewhere else. A quick filtering process, accepting the loss of some, and the carrying-on of others. A practice of displaced or scattered attention in the beginning of a day, without directed focus guided by specific intensions, to allow something to emerge in the margin, producing intention and maybe becoming the most obvious.


Anarchiving is an exercise to counterbalance the documentary approach of a camera, research on the net and in books, and notes from conversations - from which a digital and material archive forms, of documentary photographs and video material, marine biological articles, historical images, kelp samples, maps and objects from visited sites.  

In that sense, the doings of the first year, an anarchival reading - most importantly the reading of Bruno Latour - in a constant exchange with experiences from fieldwork with marine biologists, and with experiments in the studio with conservation processes of kelp, were the first archiving/anarchiving-processes. They were the starting point for new, following processes, and the map on the floor evolved and changed with them. To nourish and constantly keep alive these processes seemed similar to (and as fragile as) a living organismy18.

The last version of this ongoing mapping was preserved when the floor was finally removed to be rendered into a platform for actions and performances X, which started about a year after having left the space. The floor became an object in itself, and appeared finally in pieces in Relay to form three stations X: the main platform for the performance lecture (which was used several times before), one as working area and frame to give presence to kelp and objects related to its harvest, and one as mobile library/archive/projectionscreen- all of them bearing traces of processes throughout the years.


Anarchiving can be a tool, a method, to work oneself into the future with certain doings based on traces of a(n overwhelming and confused) past. Anarchiving can happen in different ways and its content can be words, objects and matter alike. But there needs to be an archive at its base.

The archive precedes the anarchive.

As a collection of data to dwell with.

(note 7)


creative processes of formation and transformation dominated by performative rather than referential aspects42


Any formation is transformation and in this performative.

To put aside referential aspects would mean to strive for an approach to things as they are, perceived in their materiality, without past or context, in their immediate presence to put them to work in engagement with abstract thought.

To give the performative aspect a dominant position, means to pay attention to agency in the moment of encounter. Agency occurs in various ways and I suggest that referentiality is maybe less opposed the performative than rather a potential part of it. I think again of the flickering described by Erika Fischer-Lichte, mentioned earlier (note 8). Flickering happens due to the impossibility to determine if something is to be encountered in its immediate presence or in a referential manner - because it might work both ways.


The thing in space, kelp, demands presence in the sensory experience of it.

It is object and event. It is process. And it becomes representation of something else in the moment of occurring narratives of a visitor's personal past, of conflicts about harvest, or of forests as living organisms.


silent driving

open window

ah, it smells wood...

they obviously have cut some trees here in the area...

were here some of the fires last summer?

are these scorched trees? or is it still the blackness of the winter what I see?

closed window



an aesthetics of presentation and process over one of representation and works43


The first performance of Common Notions in May 2018 as part of The Freedom Room (a seminar on socially engaged art organised by Jill Halstead and Brandon LaBelle) was rather messy, confusing and intimate X. It changed in its repetition, became more controlled. Common Notions as part of Relay X seemed more finished result than process, and something got lost.


I first envisioned the situation as potential event for a more common public (rather than for an art audience) - with reference to historical public experiments of the Enlightenmenty20 and TV programs of popular science in the 70sy21 -, to the degree that the platform could create an enclosed space on an open plaza. The small projectors used in the performance can run on battery for about two hours. Independence from power was fuelling the idea. Put on wheels the platform could move slowly during the event, to change perspectives. This vision never happened. However, each repetition was an attempt to come closer to it, or to ask questions about it. The vision became a kind of reference point. What is gained and what is lost in each new event? In never being fulfilled, it kept the mind restless.

Could an event in an open, public space still hold the necessary intimacy to make an audience implicated? There is a mismatch between what we know about living conditions and the consequence of our doing, and the ability to change our customs and daily routines. Something is out of synch in the perception of immediate experience and overall information. Therefore, the need for intimacy as a different model of information transfer.

These questions of intimacy and strive for synchronicity made repetition necessary. Each new setting was conceived of as part of an ongoing experiment. Each new situation was a new test.

A public experiment is a doubling of observation: the observation in the experiment and the observation of the observation. How does inside and outside relate in different spaces? What is ‘inside’ with or without platform? What is gained (or lost), by gaining control on two things: the timing of the video projections and the learning of the text by heart? How obvious, complicated or high-resolution can technology become before taking too much space?

With more media control I could become free to make eye contact. But is it still me or somebody else who makes this contact, and does this matter? Learning the text by heart enabled me to move and act more freely.

Common Notions was performed at the Kelp Congress as part of LIAF in 2019. There’s no documentation of it, but it was performed at a narrow strip of stage below a cinematic screen in front of an auditorium. Four projections in space of the original platform became one in four sections, playing with a slightly different change in scale of the respective framesy22.


Agency appearing in encounter with technology may be the strongest to perceive in its dysfunctionality, obtrusiveness and unpredictability. To control matter might mean to mute it.


slowing down, taking off and changing route


fewer passing cars


differentiating is a material act that is not about radical separation, but about making connections and commitments44


A difference made, is here understood as serving as joint between two things, or as two layers of the same thing. Connections are not just between the thing in focus and its conditions or something other in space, but also between two differing appearances of the same under varying conditions. It is the same thing, but different. As in the repetition of Common Notions.

Kelp is encountered and looked at in various ways, spaces and through a variety of means. However, you can’t separate kelp in the gallery from kelp in the sea or kelp in the laboratory or kelp processed at the landing station.

Variations of the same are emerging due to changing entanglements (of kelp, fluids, vessels, machinery, architectures, instruments, humidity), because different potentials, which are all there, all the time, become actualized or remain dormant in different situations. These are potentials of its bending body, its iodine content, its photosynthesis capacities, its strength, its age, its being alive.

The aim is to bring all those together in an assembly. In the same sense as Bruno Latour calls for a 'parliament of things', and puts forward the necessity of making things public, so that they are able to participate in politics.

By scrutinizing difference, things become richer. And more open to approach in their constant becoming and transformation as part of wider ecologies.


‘collective imaginings’ - a shared desire for certain transformations to be actualized as a collaborative effort45


There are three strands of thought in this.

The first one is about artistic collaboration.

The second one about inter- and crossdisciplinarity, in the sense of including any kind of expertise and experience.

The third is about an audience.

They become intermingled, and they include the other-than-human. There were two moments of intensity, where attachments to all strands were most equally involved at the same time. One was the setting for the Kelp Diagram Collective for LIAF X and the other one with Relay in Bergen X.


The Kelp Diagram Collective would have gained from slowness to form better relations (involving harvesters, artists, marine biologists and interdisciplinary researchers alike). However, experience intensified and became enriched in the context of the congress as a whole. I had for the most dealt with questions of value connected to utilization and economic interests in kelp, and knowledge systems framing this approach. The Kelp Congress wished to counter this way of thinking, and represents an example of speculative thinking in practice, which I almost exclusively relate to on theoretical level, whilst I remain embedded in existing systems, trying to voice my discomfort from an inside, perceiving myself as a part of it. The Kelp Congress performed much of the feminist-theory-inspired practices connected to dissolved boundaries between human and other-than-human bodies, with lectures by Astrida Neimanis and Cecilia Åsberg as most obvious theoretical reference points.

The performing happened in a collective being together in experiencing and producing what matters. It was an intense collective involvement in the sociomaterial, and in parallel-speaking-and-doing-and-eating-and-sharing, in search of and producing alternative ways of being in the world.

This context heightened my discomfort with the use of the camera for observation and the objectification of the other involved with it - but it was an important part of the workshop I navigated, nevertheless. X


There is a main focus on observation in Agential Matter, which could seem to be a first of all subjective endeavour. But it is clearly not just subjective in shared spaces of research and experience, nor is it in the moment of observation itself, as at least two entities have to be involved (and there are always more, see note 24). Observation is far from being limited to the visual. Any sort of sensory perception is an act of mutual touch, which constitutes an encounter and mutual transformation. It is this understanding of observation I want to bring to the fore. Maria Puig de la Bellacasa addresses this in her Matters of Care, through her involvement in permaculture. She makes explicit that care is a mutual involvement of human and other-than-humans alike, and that care is expressed in organisms of the soil as much as in humans.


‘Collective imaginings’ point towards a future, in an affirmative manner. It wants and indicates a transformation to the better. The collective indicates a multitude of approaches, understandings and visions, and by that is conceived of as an opening up of possibilities. The weight, which is put on the affirmative, is important and marks a difference to a critical approach of the 60s and 70s, based in documentary tools, which sought to debunk power mechanisms.

New materialism (which Karen Barad is an exemplary thinker of, in the direction important in this context) brings to the fore an interest in material conditions in various theoretical fields. It questions the weight that is given to theoretical approaches compared to material ones, or a general tendency to keep them separated. Concerns regarding climate change, migration and violence on a global level are often mentioned as reasons for increasing interest in materiality – in the sense of life’s material condition.

There is a prevalent urge to bring perspectives from various fields together. Instead of drawing up boundaries between disciplines, the blurring of these boundaries is the case. Thinking through another discipline (than one’s own) might open up for grasping something else, something that otherwise would be overlooked, excluded or get lost (due to the lack of a fitting category or explanation for it).

This is not an easy exercise, as an equal encounter is not a given, and (my own) expectations and preconceptions often are stronger than one (I) might think.




recording stopped