“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dark Ecology Day 2

Sorry for being so slow--busy busy life! But look at this. Dmitry Morozov's Lesophon. It was wonderful to find it. We were given little radios and had to to tune them until we found the music...then walk towards the putative music location...which you will see in the imagery here.

Wonderful microtonal bending in the sound...

::vtol:: lesophon from ::vtol:: on Vimeo.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Nice Video

By Korakrit Arunanondchai. Thanks to Ingrid Luquet-Gad for suggesting this artist...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"Plastic Geologies" by Heather Davis (SonicActs Dark Ecology Day 1)

Rosa: We invited Heather to talk at the SonicActs academy on plastics. That was a very interesting panel that you can still see online. When you have these kinds of conversations and they are sent to an editor it's interesting...a male editor...the voice changes. It feels like it lost a part of its femininity, some parts get cut. You do have to trust your editor. During an answer on queer ethics, Davis talked about queer kinship. As a political stance: who our intimate partners may be. Do we need to conform to the notion of the couple, to the binary gender system? Who inherits property when we die? Who and what do we leave behind? Who are our ancestors and to whom are we related? What are we killing off and what are we becoming?

In the interview there is a special feeling of being female. Males also give progeny. There is a whole realm of thinking about kinship and progenies and non-filial relationships. This is an underlying theme, maybe Heather's island of baby thinking...

Heather is a postdoctoral fellow in arts and humanities at Penn State. She has published a few books, one is Art in the Anthropocene and the other is Desire, Change. 

Heather Davis:
I'm thrilled to be with you again. I shan't talk too much about queer kinship but instead focus on plastic geologies. Plastic is fascinating because we are very intimate with oil production through it.

Plastic age <> duration. Our age is the upper layer of many ages of the past. Bergsonian duration. They cannot be extracted from the flux of becoming.

I love this provocative and literal quotation. And also a strange tension around the question of becoming and duration. An idea that we are going to have this archive. But also this process that's built into that. That is a very interesting thing. Its processual nature connects it to questions of memory. Of the earth and of other animals.

Plastic is one of the indicators of the Anthropocene. Pertida Phillips, Plastic Meteorite 2013. The actual object is about the size of a very large egg. It really does look like a meteorite. She just found it on the beach. One of the crazy thing about plastic is that it's incredibly mobile. Ceramics took 1000s of years to achieve global distribution. Plastic is found everywhere including our own bodies.

Photograph of the plastic layer, of an anthrosole (a nearly completely human made soil). You can go across earth and the anthrosole will rise or fall depending on human activity in each area. Geography in terms of the depth of human marking not just borders and so on. This includes ceramics, chemical resides, agriculture (nitrogen and phosphorus).

This slide (next) is a palstiglomerate. Patricia Corcan and Charles Moore coined this term. (Moore discovered the great garbage patch in the Pacific). Kind of a rock, an endurated material (plastic fused with other materials on the beach).

Here plastic is literally becoming a rock.

Why is this important? Metabolic Rift concept. Metabolism is what does the processing. Metabolizing elements and compounds. Phosphorus, which requires production (eg by our bodies when we eat, but it's a lesser amount); we depend on mining processes for it. >> industrial agriculture. And because we're doing this we are setting ourselves up for a huge crash in agricultural practices. We are using so much of the stuff that it can't recirculate in a homeostatic way.

Plastic is designed to be biocidal. To be a protective barrier.

LA: the Silver Lake reservoir. Covered in layer of plastic to stop bromide production and algae formation. Millions of plastic balls. Was meant to be temporary but now it's permanent and will apply to the even larger LA Reservoir.

Plastic as the death of metabolism. Has a biological reality where it is incredibly resistant to metallization. The perfection of accumulation without metabolism. End point of petro capitalism. [Don't things need to be dissolved to make ore value]

Citarum River Indonesia--so so filled with plastic. So much plastic on surface that water has become anoxic.

Marx: human behavior and labor, uses metabolism. “Metabolism between himself and nature.”

Hannah Landecker, “The Metabolism of Philosophy”: how do organisms eat other orgniams and yet persist as themselves? They persist by converting the world into themselves.

[Then there is the problem of what is the self into which the world is being folded]

Smithsonian collection of different types of plastic. The problem of universality. Trying to figure out where they came from and what their chemical composition might be.

Plastic is designed to be very hard to discern. Easier to describe through design history. Very hard to break apart a polymer. And they are also protected by copyright. Plastic embodies universalism.

Plastic is just a surface all the way through--exactly the same, no difference between inside and outside. Nothing else is like this [crystals?]

It remains separated from the earth. It's a “geophobe” refusing relations to minerals and air
it can become anything [the “easy think substance”]

Tyvek. The endless proliferation of the same. No relation to a particular part of the Earth. It has no umwelt.


Decolonizing the Anthropocene

Logic of plastic has a much longer history than the material itself
First purely synthetic molecule is in first decade of twentieth century
Logic of defying place <> process of colonization
Settlers >> Australia insisted on agriculture, including mining of phosphorus to make it resemble England
moving and unearthing rocks and minerals, tied to project of erasure
Eyal Weizman on bedouin is also writing in a way about terraforming: climate change as the explicit goal of colonialism
delocalized version of being in a place
Tar Sands in Alberta
Kyle White
[is plastic the hamartia of capitalism? that has to revolutionize the means of production all the time]
knowing where you are is also a question of governance
disrupting a relation to place >> disrupting not only a particular relation to plant or animal but also processes of indigenous governance and gender systems

Lawrence Gross, Anishinaabe Ways of Knowing and Being: suffering is climate change = the end of (their) world
what happens to one after the apocalypse (after the end of the world)?
dealing with consequences of cultural destruction: now a question for all of us
[white us are now experiencing what they are experiencing]
there will be a rapid diminishment so important to ask those people and start engaging
how to develop strategies to live through end of world


Reasserting Relationality

an important category for colored thinkers etc
Madeline Tafoya (Santa Clara Pueblo), Pot with Bird Design (such objects usually appropriated without knowing who or where or what)
Duane Linklater, UMFA2003 10.20, 3D printed sculpture (deliberately rubbish), strange blobs
sense of humor, preserving where machine got stuck, glitches
a really amazing way to talk about colonial erasure
reformulating plastic to talk about abstraction and universalism
eg beige plastic version of Kwakwaka'wakw, Raven Mask
zombie doubles of original artifacts
comment on how UMFA holdings are composed of these diminished relics
how to rethink relationality in a more general sense too

how might our relation to plastic change?
instead of as this infinitely disposable material without relation to its location
can you repurpose and hack
you can domestically recycle plastic
to rethink the value of oil and the intimacy of oil
to render these things through glitches

I think this is all very interesting but the underlying problems of universality and the violence of extraction don't go away
space of critique not far from complicity

SonicActs Dark Ecology Day 1

Dark Ecology is a five-year project that has resulted in 3 journeys in this region, 20 commissioned artworks in this area and on this theme.

The second journey was in the darkest time of the year. We decided to make the final journey during the peak of the summer, when there is no darkness anymore...

We will also see two of the commissioned artworks. Dimitry Morozov and Pasviktal (Jana Winderen) commissioned 2014. It can be viewed as a headphone installation throughout the day and night.

Tomorrow we will cross the border to Russia and you can participate in two artworks, one by Esper Sommer Eide and Signe Lidén, Altitude and History. We had a presentation on it at the Nikel library on Sunday. Had the highest age of participants ever.

Tomorrow we will see Justin Bennett's work Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi (Wolf Lake on the Mountains) at the Kola Superdeep Borehole.

We have been overwhelmed by the local interest in these works. More than 100 people signed up for the sound walk. We had expected 5 to 10!

On Sunday morning we return to Norway and see another installation, by Cecilla Johnsson, Prospecting and head to former mine in Kirkenes where there will be a performative reading, by Nickel van Duijvenboden. And finish with Mikro, a performance by Justin Bennett and HC Giljea.

There will be two lectures, by Heather Davis (“Plastic Geologies”) and Tim Morton.

Dutch TV will feature dark ecology tonight. We have a photographer and our media team, Friday Milk.


If you have never experienced the white night of of the midnight sun, I'm going to try to help you. Imagine it's about four in the afternoon-ish, cloudy (but it isn't clouds), forever. It's quite quite extraordinary.

I'm so lucky and so touched to have been part of this adventure and I can't believe that two little words I thought up enabled this whole thing to take place.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Agriculture Is Exploding (MP3)

With artist David Brooks at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Wow this was fun. Laughter, almost cried onstage at a beautiful question about being seen, invented the word Methopotamia lol...awesome chemistry between me and David.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I Wrote This For an Essay on Frankenstein

...which I'm proofreading right now:

Heidegger’s whole argument is devoted to showing how being is not presence. An environment is precisely something one is unable to point to, yet is strangely there nonetheless. When you look for the environment, you find things that are in it: a hammer, a smartphone, some rusty nails, a shed, a spider, some grass, a tree. So there is a big difference between environmentality and Nature. Nature is definitely something you can point to: it is ‘over yonder’ in the mountains, in my DNA, under the pavement. Nature is what is constantly present despite . . . (fill in the blank). But constant presence is just what environmentality is not.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016