[-empyre-] Week 4 on -empyre: Natalie Jerimenjenko and Kathy High

Renate Ferro rtf9 at cornell.edu
Fri Mar 1 03:11:27 EST 2013

Hello all,  Just a quick note to let all of your know that I will be
closing out the February discussion in honor of Beatriz da Costa's
life and work later tonight.  I invite all of our current guests and
empyre subscribers to post their final thoughts today.  Many thanks to
all of Shani's friends and colleagues.  Especially to Robert Nideffer.
 The entire -empyre soft-skinned space sends our deepest sympathies to
Robert and Beatriz' family.

Thanks to all of you for a very special month on empyre.
Renate Ferro

On Sat, Feb 23, 2013 at 5:06 PM, Kathy High <kittyhigh at earthlink.net> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi everyone,
> I have loved all the entries everyone has posted in the past few weeks-
> thank you to everyone who has contributed along the way. And special thank
> you
> to Robert for your postings. These stories have been amazing to read and
> give a
> really wonderful rounded picture of Shani/Beatriz. All your
> thoughts/stories
> have brought up many emotions, memories and tears ­ and I appreciate your
> insights. Thank you.
> My story: Shani and I were close, but I didn¹t know her nearly as well
> as the others who have written. We had admired each other¹s work for years
> (from afar). Shani asked me to become better friends with her after she
> moved
> to NYC in 2011 and when she was in the throes of her cancer. I was very
> moved
> by her request. And so we did exactly that ­ we became closer friends. I
> felt a
> deep connection with Shani and what she was working on ­ especially in her
> last
> years. I think we trusted each other because many of our concerns were
> very close.
> And writing this is funny in its timing ­I have had a terrible case of
> shingles over the past two weeks which has left me house-bound and in a
> lot of
> pain. I only share this because it has added another layer of empathy for
> Shani¹s situation as I was reading everyone¹s texts. The fact that she
> worked
> so much from a place of Œdis-ease¹ was amazing. This state brings clarity
> to
> one¹s situation, and the need for urgency and focus. And it creates a good
> way
> to cut through the bullshit (not that Shani had a problem with cutting
> though
> bullshit!). It makes one choosey and select priorities carefully ­ and
> brings a
> sharpening of the senses. Everyone who has written has noted this focused
> state
> that Shani worked from in her last years. It was palpable. And the sense
> that
> her time was precious and limited was evident.
> And as I think about her later art pieces ­ which she was very excited
> about ­ I am super moved by her works around cancer ­ Dying for the Other,
> and the Anti-
> Cancer Survival Kit, The Life Garden - all part of The Cost of Life
> project.
> Of course, because of my work with lab animals, Shani¹s very real look at
> the
> use of lab mice for research on her cancer drugs touches my heart. We had
> talked about the links between Dying for the Other and Embracing Animal.
> Now I see through Shani¹s Dying For the Other, the real desire she had for
> forming the link with our animal
> counterparts, giving a new regard for these invisible workers, and
> providing a better
> understanding of our collaboration and debt to them. It is hard for me to
> watch Dying
> For The Other now - and to see Shani in it ­ now that she is gone. She
> seems just like an experimental animal in the video. It is so poignant and
> equalizing and strange.
> Shani would often surprise me. A number of years ago I complimented
> her after a talk she gave at a conference. And she looked at me and said,
> ³Really?
> I thought it as crap.² She was dissatisfied in a funny way with her work
> ­not
> in a way that was insecure but rather dismissive. I am not sure which work
> she
> was referring to specifically, but it was this drive to always push
> forward ­
> to continue her search ­ and her researchŠ Maybe she was getting ready for
> his
> final work which had a different kind of connection to biology (animal and
> plant), to the body, and to life and death.
> I think one of Shani¹s final and unfulfilled projects ­ and one of the
> most beautiful ones, was her collaborative work with Lucinha (³bringer of
> light²), her collaborator and service dog companion.
> Shani wanted a service dog and in late 2011 and the beginning of 2012 ­
> and started
> making inquiries as to how one should go about Œgetting¹ one. Sadly, it
> could
> take up to a couple years to obtain a service dog. So Shani, in her
> persistent
> way, decided she would train her own. She knew she was going to be faced
> with
> balance problems following future brain surgery, so she initially got
> Lucinha was to help with
> that. But she soon began to think in other ways about the types of service
> Lucinha might provide. I askedRobert about this ­ and he shared a few
> facts with me.
> From an email Shani had written to Jamie Schulte, a past collaborator,
> Shani said that after Pigeonblog she
> ³Šcame across this research at Cornell (?), of people training bees to
> sniff out chemical weapons. I was thinking that they could probably be
> trained
> to sniff out any chemical. So I was wondering what type of carcinogens we
> are
> likely to find in an urban environment that would be interesting to Œsniff
> out.¹ Lucinha might also be trained, so it could be a whole canine/bee
> collaboration thing, as long as she won't get stung! ³
> Her plans seemed to be around nose training for Lucinha dog. She had
> actually taken Lucinha to a ³nose-work
> workshop² outside NYC to begin this practice (an hour ride each way on the
> bus).
> I am interested in similar activities of cancer-sniffing dog training.
> Shani¹s seemed to want to pursue dogs sniffing carcinogens ­ sophisticated
> stuff.
> Other excerpts from Shani¹s emails (provided by Robert ­ thank you!)
> included an amazing exchange with her dog trainer,
> Katrina Krings. Shani was trying to outline what specifically she needed to
> train Lucinha, her dog companion, for (as well as other service dogs). So
> these
> are the kinds of things we ­ as perpetrators of this service dog work
> ­need to
> consider going forward:
> ³1: things for
> Lucinha to learn to identify and find, even when hidden inside of something
> (needs to find by smell).
> Keys
> glasses
> phone
> small wallet
> big wallet
> Wallet
> 2: needs to learn to bring me anything she can carry when I point at it.
> 3: needs to learn to pick things up gently (glasses, phone etc. ).
> 4: needs to alert me to anything I appear to drop accidentally,
> immediately. Should only go and
> get it, if I ask her for it. [this accidental dropping happens a lot]
> 5: (variation of no. 4) alerting me if I appear to forget my things, such
> as a Jacket, scarf
> etc.  on a counter, restaurant table, etc . Anything she knows clearly
> belongs to me and I leave behind without deliberately giving it to
> someone.²
> What if we could train dogs ourselves to help service people - and it
> didn't cost tens of
> thousands of dollars? What if we could help train dogs to give/loan/share
> the
> dog companion with friends who were sick, disabled and impaired? How can
> we train
> dogs to help people in the ways that they need? What do our dogs think of
> this
> assistance/service? We have to ask Lucinha that!
> I found a newspaper article from 2010 on Shani¹s website about service
> dogs helping veterans recover from post-traumatic shock. She was ahead of
> her
> own process here ­ foreshadowing her own needs and interests. Or maybe she
> knew
> what was ahead.
> In Tactical Biopolitics, in the introduction, Shani and Kavita Philips
> wrote about the
> importance of ³inter- and Œ(un-) disciplinary¹ exchanges among
> practitioners
> and theorists from various backgrounds, always privileging collaboration
> and
> coordination with larger strategy-based movements of resistance to
> hegemonic
> forces.² This very resistance and multi-layered practice is at the core of
> Shani¹s work and life.
> Thanks to her friends for making her life a rich one ­ it is evidenced
> through these postings.
> On 2/22/13 10:51 PM, "Renate Ferro" <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:
>>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>Thanks so much to Paul, Heidi and Claire for posting this week on
>>-empyre.  We continue to talk about Beatriz' life and work this last
>>week of February.  In New York on this Sunday the 24th many of
>>Beatriz' family and friends will gather at Postmasters Gallery.  For
>>those of us too far away to travel to New York City we send our
>>sincerest sympathies to all of you.  Tim and I are hoping that many of
>>you who have not added to this discussion in honor of Beatriz will do
>>so before we close the discussion on Thursday the 28th.
>>This week on empyre we invite special guests Natalie Jeremijenko and
>>Kathy High.  Their biographies are below.  Welcome to both of you!
>>Kathy High is Associate Professor Of Video and New Media in the
>>Department of Arts, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy,
>>NY. She is an interdisciplinary artist, educator working with biology
>>and time based arts. In the last ten years she has become interested
>>in working with living systems, animals and art, considering
>>thesocial, political and ethical dilemmas of biotechnology and
>>surrounding industries. She has received awards from the Guggenheim
>>Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and National Endowment for the
>>Arts. Her art works, have been shown in film festivals, galleries and
>>museums, including Documenta 13, Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern
>>Art, among others.
>>Her co-edited book The Emergence of Video Processing Tools: Television
>>Becoming Unglued, with Sherry Miller Hocking of the Experimental
>>Television Center and Mona Jimenez of the Moving Image Preservation
>>Program at NYU, will be published by Intellect Books (UK), 2013.  The
>>book presents stories of the development of early video tools and
>>systems designed and built by artists and technologists during the
>>late 1960s and 70s, and how that history of collaborations among
>>inventors, designers and artists has affected contemporary
>>Natalie Jeremijenko
>>Beatriz and I both worked on technological opportunities for social
>>and ecological change including : air quality projects using sensors
>>attached to pigeons and robotic dogs respectively  towards redesigning
>>human/animal relationship; both worked on developing alternative
>>biomedical institutions that recognized participatory research and
>>food and nutrition-based work.... and the convivial contexts for
>>rethinking these.
>>Animal behavior, gmo food, representations of cancer .... it seemed we
>>were automatically attracted to similar issues, and of course I could
>>not have been luckier in this respect. Aside from the professional
>>overlap I loved her as a friend .... she was incredibly dear to me.
>>Named one of the most influential women in technology 201, one of the
>>inaugural top young innovators by MIT Technology Review, and a current
>>Creative Capital awardee,  Natalie Jeremijenko directs the
>>Environmental Health Clinic, and is an Associate Professor in the
>>Visual Art Department, NYU, affiliated with the Computer Science
>>Department and Environmental Studies program.  Previously she was on
>>the Visual Arts faculty at UCSD, Faculty of Engineering at Yale
>>University, a visiting professor at Royal College of Art in London,
>>and a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Public Understanding of
>>Science at Michigan State University. Her degrees are in biochemistry,
>>engineering, neuroscience and History and Philosophy of Science.
>>Jeremijenko was included in the 2011 Venice Bieniale, the 2006 Whitney
>>Biennial of American Art, also in 1997,  and the Cooper Hewitt
>>Smithsonian Design Triennial 2006-7. In 2010 Neuberger Museum produced
>>a retrospective exhibition surveying recent work, entitled Connected
>>Environments; in addition to a solo exhibition entitled X in November,
>>2010 at the University of Technology Sydney. Currently on view:  Civic
>>Action, an exhibition of urban plans, at Socrates Sculpture Park,
>>Other recent exhibitions include Civic Action @  Noguchi Museum;
>>talk2me exhibition at MOMA, and the ongoing Cross(x)Species Adventure
>>Renate Ferro
>>Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
>>Cornell University
>>Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
>>Ithaca, NY  14853
>>Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
>>URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
>>      http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
>>Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net
>>Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
>>empyre forum
>>empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
Cornell University
Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
Ithaca, NY  14853
Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net

Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space

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