[-empyre-] (no subject)

Norie Neumark norie5 at mac.com
Sat Oct 14 12:41:35 AEDT 2017

Hello Tyler and everyone

What a great post, Tyler, and wonderful to hear about your work. Perhaps you know about the algae opera by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta?  (http://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/algaeopera.html) <http://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/algaeopera.html)>. I haven’t seen it myself but read about it and accessed it online and was enchanted. Again, apologies for being lazy (if this is really bad net etiquette, let me know!) as I just put in an excerpt about the work from my Voicetracks book:

 		Breath also connects us to the place through which it resonates and the others in that place and in the shared medium of air. It not only connects people, 					intersubjectively, it also connects people to animals and things,  voicing the connections between breath and the natural environment. I listen to this in The Algae 			Opera of artists BurtonNitta (Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta), for example, which literally breathes life into the natural environment, giving voice to the 				relationship between human breath and plant life on our planet. In this work, it is an opera singer’s copious voiced breath that literally breathes life into algae. 				Masked in a specially designed piece of biotechnology, an algae headdress, the opera singer, the algae, the audience and I (watching documentation) form a strange 			relationship, a curious assemblage. The carbon dioxide in her breath feeds the algae, which later will be fed to the audience, so that they can literally “taste her 				song.”  In The Algae Opera, the head mask, attached to tubing which channels the breath to an algae tank, is a strange mixture of a Greek mask, a persona, 		and a beautiful lunglike filigree that looks like a seahorse. The singer feels part sea creature herself as she intones her algae opera. I listen to the voice as medium 			here, life-giving medium, medium for life. Meanwhile the other sense of medium merges into the undertones as, medium-like, the singer crosses an ether and 				connects me to another life form. And when the audience eats the algae, I sense that that they are actually ingesting the singer’s voice. In an odd way, the work 				makes me think about John Baldessari’s 1972 video of teaching a plant the alphabet. As far as I know (I wonder if anyone ever followed up with those plants?), that 			work was more humorous and conceptual than literal, in contrast to the literal relationships between plant life and voice that animate works made after the new 			materialist turn. And it is with new materialist ears that I encounter The Algae Opera as it provokes a listening to breath between the human and nonhuman—				opening an awareness of the vibrancy of breath and the productiveness of its connections. It voices and breathes life into a sense of intersubjectivity beyond the 			human.

 Speaking of Whitehead and fermentation and guts, your post set thinking about my amazing acupuncturist, Mattie Sempert, who is a Whitehead scholar (part of the Sense Lab in Montreal) and essayist as well as acupuncturist — she is writing a book of essays about the entanglement of all of these. Anyway, her “twirling fingers” as she feels my gut to sense where to needle are in-touch with the life that my gut tspeak to her – attuning her to what’s happening throughout my whole body(/mind). It’s an amazing collaboration and as the needles start to work, my stomach gurgles appreciation and joy.



www.out-of-sync.com <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/oDLrBgc315WNF8?domain=out-of-sync.com>
workingworms.net <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/AG1dBvT0YaEbiE?domain=workingworms.net>
unlikely.net.au <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/38LEBkSqmERMtY?domain=unlikely.net.au> 

> On 13 Oct 2017, at 5:19 AM, Tyler Fox <tylersfox at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello everyone,
> First, I also want to send my best wishes to April and Matt. I have
> friends and family in the same area, some who had to flee in the
> middle of the night with nothing more than pajamas and their cat
> (which, at least, is a thin silver lining). I am saddened for all,
> humans and nonhumans, dealing with such devastation.
> I would like to thank Margaretha for inviting me as a guest to this
> week. Also thanks to everyone for the wonderful posts with much to
> consider (terroirism, affection, enlivenment, grieving and resistance
> thereof, turtles and other turtles, listening, learning, and
> communicating with nonhuman collaborators…the list goes on). Just.
> Wow.
> As Margaretha’s introduction suggests, I am interested in feeling
> alongside nonhumans, and in the two projects described below I attempt
> to create experiences that can be shared, in ephemeral and limited
> ways to be sure, but shared nonetheless between humans and nonhumans.
> I believe that feeling alongside nonhumans is a powerful counterpoint
> to thinking alongside of nonhumans and can help situate perspective in
> important ways.
> Biolesce is a series of interactive sculptures made with
> bioluminescent algae, or dinoflagellates. When physically moved the
> algae emits a bright flash of light. I incorporate biosensors for
> human audience that trigger motors that move the algae causing a
> bioluminescent response. For instance, one iteration used three
> ‘stations’ comprised of a bottle of seawater and algae embedded with
> motors connected to a heartbeat sensor in each. The human audience
> members placed their finger on the sensor, and then the algae lit up
> in in time to their pulse. I tried to make an intimate experience
> between human and algae, featuring different embodied processes.
> After vowing to never again work with something that requires complete
> darkness (more on this in a moment) I turned my attention to another
> embodied process: fermentation. Fermentum, a project that always seems
> to be in progress, uses sensors to track the fermentation process of
> kimchi and sauerkraut and then sonify the data. I like to say that
> it’s allowing the kimchi to sing, but more accurately it’s a
> soundtrack of bacterial individuation and environmental change. My
> goal is to create a sonic experience that allows a human audience to
> hear an ongoing, embodied process (bacteria changing their
> environment) and to recognize it as a rich individuation between
> bacteria and milieu. It is far from complete, and I’m currently
> working on collaborating with a lab to identify probiotic strains in
> my ferments as a basis for a more complex soundtrack.
> Both projects are predicated on the philosophies of Alfred North
> Whitehead and Gilbert Simondon. Thinkers who have helped me understand
> experience as a non-cognitive aspect of the world, open to all
> entities (bacteria, single-celled algae, and Arduino
> microcontrollers). They have also helped me understand experience as a
> unfolding process, tied to a nexus of sensations, or prehensions,
> (Whitehead) between individual and milieu (Simondon). Simondon claims
> that individuals and milieus are co-emergent, he writes of them as
> dyads, and that the world must be understood not from the point of
> view of individuals, but through the processes of individuation, from
> which individuals and milieus emerge. Thus, interactive works based on
> biological processes, such as fermentation, are moments to experience
> an ongoing individuation, perhaps this is an enlivenment of a
> biological process through technical means. That’s a gross
> oversimplification of the contributions of both of these thinkers, but
> hopefully enough to stress an emphasis on experience and feeling.
> Feeling is key.
> I have returned to the dark, so to speak, as I and another faculty
> member are leading a research-through-design project with a small
> number of undergraduates. We will collectively build a bioluminescent
> ‘display’ and the students will work in small teams to create
> visualizations for the bespoke display. I’m now teaching in an
> engineering students, and my practice is both intriguing and
> bewildering to many of the students, but just last night we had a deep
> conversation about the limits of quantification (important when making
> a display that will be inexact!), and the concepts of abstraction and
> representation in the context of ambient displays. It was deeply
> gratifying when a student commented at the end of our hour-long
> conversation that it felt like we were in a philosophy class. We then
> went on to make seawater and propagate algae for our display. When
> finished with our prototype, the students will come up with design
> proposals for bioluminescent interactions and technologies, to use
> their experience to dream of a different future. It’s my first step at
> pushing them toward a speculative design practice. I hope they too
> will come to understand feeling alongside nonhumans as key to their
> futures.
> Thanks for having me-
> tyler
> Documentation of both projects can be found at my website: www.tylersfox.com
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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