[-empyre-] FW: Welcome Byron Rich to the September discussion

Byron Rich byroncbrich at gmail.com
Sun Sep 9 05:53:03 AEST 2018

Hi Paul,

Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. To those reading, my apologies
for the delay! I just arrived home after a bit of a debacle coming back
from Sweden.

Paul, the embodied aspect of what you describe really resonates with me for
a number of reasons. Particularly in terms of how immigrants, displaced
peoples, dreamers, or anyone who has left/fled their homes in search of
hope feels as they approach and cross borders. As a Canadian in the USA,
even I feel a sense of loss everytime I leave my home and enter a country
which increasingly seems to resist its own international foundations. The
work of a number of artists springs to mind, but immediately that of John
Craig Freedman and his Border Memorial: Frontera de los* Muertos *from
2012. That said, more pertinent to this conversation, my thoughts leap to
the denial of Visas of the artists behind *Syria: The Trojan Women.* You
speak to the ecology of the mind, and I can't help but wonder what the
trauma, of not just war, but of being able to imprint experiences into the
mind of others through your practice must feel like for those behind The
Trojan Woman. You talk about language, a photo, a sketch, social media, but
as an artist and scholar, the oppression of creativity is one of the most
feared tools of those in positions of power. There is a privilege to being
able to just show work, like the girls crossing the borders haphazardly.
The ecology of the mind of those whose lives and creativity are stifled by
the realities of the arbitrary lines, whether via war, personal trauma,
etc. is maybe an antidote to the apocalyptic. From your perspective of
someone coming to terms with "a body being a body" in a perpetual state of
sort of preparation for an end (a long time from now!), is the
redefinition/redescription and increasing nebulousness of the idea of the
border something that is losing it's hold over our corporeal selves?


On Thu, Sep 6, 2018 at 2:46 AM PaulLloyd Sargent <
paul.lloyd.sargent at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello list,
> Thank you to Renate and Byron for introducing and welcoming me to this
> space. Thinking about Byron's prompt, I keep returning to a recent,
> odd-but-not-uncommon border-embodiment moment: The other day, I had the
> curious experience of babysitting my 15-year old niece and a friend as they
> zipped about via jetski the various islands and channels of the St.
> Lawrence River. By 'babysit' I mean that I sat in a small Boston Whaler,
> covered in sunscreen and a towel, drifting with wind and current, reading
> texts, emails, and other electronic detritus on my phone, occasionally
> jumping from the boat into the water to cool off from the muggy heat of the
> day, all while keeping an eye on the two girls as they bounced across waves
> and wakes in the distance. They were having a blast, as one does at 15 with
> privilege enough to own a personal water craft (PWC) and to be absolutely
> oblivious to the international border they were crisscrossing the entire
> time.
> That stretch of the St. Lawrence is dissected by wandering lines, wholly
> invisible without a map or GPS device, geopolitically dividing Canada, the
> US, and, downriver from where we were, territory of the Mohawk Nation at
> Akwesasne. The car-centric border infrastructure of each nation, on land or
> via bridge in this region, is unambiguous: passport check-points, border
> agents, duty-free shops, militarized vehicles, bold-font signage, long
> lines of traffic, ubiquitous machine vision, and so forth. On the water,
> however, the border appears as merely an abstraction. One must pay careful
> attention to and be able to read subtle signifiers within the landscape to
> conclude that there are multiple international boundaries slicing through
> this massive river, rendering each mainland--and about sixteen hundred
> islands--the territories of separate nations. Or at least, that is, until
> this abstraction is made corporeal if one is not, say, a 15-year-old
> American white girl in a bikini and sunnies listening to a Drake mixtape on
> a PWC at fifty miles per hour but, rather, a crew of Chinese-Canadian
> residents of Kingston docking their Ontario-registered cruiser at a town
> pier on the US side for an evening of pizza and beers--having forgotten a
> passport. Or a player for the Akwesasne Lightning lacrosse team, fishing
> with buddies from the Onondaga Warriors, on a bass boat drifting in the
> shallows off Croil Island with an out-of-date fishing permit. Or any of
> myriad scenarios encountered by individuals and communities excluded from
> hegemonic majorities within the US and Canada.
> The above is to note that, as a practice, my work (increasingly) considers
> such personal, embodied moments as points of entry into the complexity of
> an "ecology of mind," following the influences of Gregory Bateson, et al.
> My body has been through a lot over my lifetime (brief version: I have a
> mechanical heart valve following a massive aortic dissection, compromised
> kidneys, and seemingly endless resulting ripples through physical and
> mental health). Noting Bateson, I (try to) take comfort from a rethinking
> of the "unit of survival," from organism, species, family, etc to, instead,
> "organism plus habitat." That is, as my body "fails" (it's not failing; it
> is simply being a body) I increasingly understand my-self as merely a tiny
> node along a near-infinite network. My body, positioned in space, recording
> a set of observations that I might process as memory, anecdote, in visual
> language, a photo, a sketch, an essay, maybe just a social media post.
> Oversimplified, sure, but, for where I'm at, that's about the size of it.
> I'll be curious to read how others on this listserv engage phenomena at
> these scales, especially given the ceaseless barrage of ills and
> apocalyptic updates ever clarifying just how precarious precarity is.
> - Paul Lloyd Sargent
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu


*Byron Rich Assistant Professor of Art*
*Director of Art & Technology*
*Affiliated Faculty - **Integrative Informatics *

*Allegheny College*
Doane Hall of Art, A204
Meadville, PA
(o) 814.332.3381

*Interim Chair of **Exhibitions** & Events - New Media **Caucus*

*Editor - Empyre Soft Skinned Space*
www.empyre.library.cornell.edu/ <http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/>

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