[-empyre-] soft_skinned_space

Jack Butler fatemaps at interlog.com
Mon Oct 10 05:19:31 EST 2011

Dear Soft Skinned Ones

As a visual artist (I draw), I think I would like to enter this soft skin
space tentatively, just putting my toes into, what I understand to date to
be, a turbulent, enticing, pool of philosophies-of-choreography, or

I've been reading the soft skin entries late in the evening and then, at
first light in the morning ,walking fast but thinking slow, slower, slowest,
on the West Toronto Railpath, witnessed only by the huge stands of goldenrod
and purple vetch, I let the ideas from last night's blog tumble about in my
imagination. And out of this fast-walking-slow-thinking meditation four
ideas, or tropes have begun to take shape: Fatemaps; Somatechnics;
Technologies-of-the-hand; and the Inuit concept, Sananguargarq. Embedded at
the core of each is the problematic of time.

Fatemap is a concept from embryology, central to current understanding of
epigenetic development. In its narrowest application, a fatemap is literally
the spatial mapping over time of the position of a 'mother' cell from the
earliest blastocyst  ( a berry like disc of as few as a thousand cells) and
her daughter cells as they move into their final position in the mature

In my work as an artist who uses the means and methods of visual art to
produce medical research, on one hand, and research based installation art
on the other, I have broadened my applications of the concept  - fatemap,
pragmatically and poetically, to give concrete form to development over time
in the construction of amenable objects; models, drawings, animations,
installations and performances.

Somatechnics: the body always and already technologised. Technology always
and already embodied. 

Technologies of the hand: I am more interested in the continuities between
embodied technologies and the digital/electronic, than in their rupture.
Having lived and worked with Inuit artists in Northern Canada over many
years, a people whose traditional culture was made entirely by hand, I find
that the integration of time (the time it takes to make ., the time together
., the time to play ., time to make mistakes .), answers a deep need for me
when I find the courage to take the time to live in Inuit time.

Sananguargarq: the translation in Inuktitut of what we non-Inuit call 'Art'.
But, what I have come to realize, after many years engagement with Inuit
artists from the community of Qamanittuaq, would, to my thinking, be more
accurately translated - 'making little models of how the world works'. The
category, Sananguargarq, includes dolls heads, maps, painting on kayaks,
scrimshaw, scratched or smeared marks-made-with-intention of almost any
kind. Surely a postmodern category, and the basis, now, for how I think
about my own working process.

To be continued.I hope.

Jack Butler

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