[-empyre-] (no subject)

Natalie Jeremijenko njeremijenko at gmail.com
Fri Mar 1 07:02:49 EST 2013

Phytic acid and plant sources of Satopin, Anthrocyanins, Urban Pigeons and
flight paths and payloads, carbon monoxide sensors, endangered species and
local extirpations lists, urban animal/human interaction, cellos, mouse
models and cancer research protocols, participatory research,
breast-cancer-environment interaction, cytotoxicity of air pollutants,
cancer as a metabolic disorder, clonal cell lines this curiosity cabinet of
contemporary culture lists some of the very specific media that
independently and surprisingly I’d discover that Beatriz and I both worked
with, albeit in tremendously different ways. I recognized the legacy, love
and desire to reinvent the cello—from her grad work, but ever since, till
her death the the similarity of the actual material, more then the
coincidence of our concerns, while unrecognizable to most, startled me and
remains with me.

Discovering that Shani also chose the same CO sensor from a long list of
inadequate ones is, well, peculiarly ratifying. Or looked into the life
cycle of Phytic Acid in plants and then the transductions within the cell
membrane. Like finding a cell phone signal when lost in arid Australian
outback—both of us unqualified to there; or the celebrated “ahaa moment” of
the benzene-ring sort documented in history of science. It doesn't strike
in a dream but in the forest of intellectual respect and rings on in the
ongoing relationship to her work. I knew that she knew, she knew I knew the
constraints and tradeoffs in calibration issues the airquality monitoring,
for instance, or any of the struggles in the practical work of
“thingking”--a coinage of Usman Haque’s I love and use for the intimacy it
suggests between the material stuff and the ideas. We rarely spoke directly
about technical issues but …

In this simultaneity, there was, and importantly *IS* a quiet and unspoken
intellectual companionship amongst lone explorations technical
specifications, scientific literature or database design. When I realized
this—that I still feel her company—I felt a glimmer of genuine happiness
that was not memory, but the germ of a plan.  It is a tragedy to have lost
her flesh, wit and presence at her well-planned events. I miss seeing the
development of new strategies of representation--from participatory
workshops to succulent hires video productions (something I would love to
discuss) and so much more in her recent of exhibitions (thanks Nicola for
posting the exhibition images) and apps and …. It is a tragic loss. Black
as black. And in the blind fumbling search for sense amongst this I am
confronted with the demands of her words/titles: the cost of life; dying
for the other; and stalins one death is a tragedy; one million deaths, a
statistic. The galling injustice of her death, is impossible for me to
transpose this to the many who have died from breast cancer complications,
even as I work on the relationship of cancer to environmental contaminants.

I have to ask what does her death represent, actually? to examine the value
of life, hers, mine, to describe what she did--what did she do?—and what I
do, can do. The similarity of concerns demands that I figure this out. And
I am late to post because I find  this is very very hard.

Our profession, for want of a better word, demands we make these comic
lists of media in compliance with gallery convention—obsequiously we list
cell lines, debt bundles, nonhuman organisms, their handlers, student
performers, institutions. Intense assemblages, amusing for their
unlikeliness, and for the inadequacy of “mixed media” or new media, or even
software art, environmental art, socially-engaged art, activist art, or
environmental art activism or other terms used to describe what she/we do
while silent on why these things are there, no mention of the research nor
the citations that make research communities.

The questions are less obvious—to me at least. “I work on food”, or “I have
a food project” as if the media explains the concern. It does and doesn’t.
Shani’s work-- her interest in food was specific, visceral and focused on
cancer prevention, and tremendously delicious. But it asked how
plant-derived food transforms our relationship to natural systems, to do
nothing less than transform the calorie view of food (as fuel/energy) to a
nutrient-based view of food that intimately couples the biodiversity and
complex biological interrelationship both inside our bodies and
externally…. to the soil microbes who make available nutrients facilitating
the synthesis of phytonutrient, to the nude mice and cell cultures on which
experimental work is done.

I am writing this to ask for correction in my understanding of her work and
questions.  I have a long list that I would love to develop ….

Thanks Shani
Natalie Jeremijenko, Environmental Health Clinic
Associate Professor in Art,
Affiliated faculty in Computer Science
Affiliated faculty in Environmental Studies
The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development
New York University

clinic:     212.998.5110
fax:          212.995.4320
cell:         917.443.2179
xdesign:     Environmental Health Clinic and Lab

34 Stuyvesant Street, 402b
New York University
New York NY 10003
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