The evening will include a performance by the artist, who will read transcripts from the text, alongside the slime mould accompanying the launch, who goes by the name ‘Physarum Polycephalum.’ Expanding on the Sutela’s practice and work, the book is an “experimental survey of decentralised organisms and organisations drawing on several perspectives and presenting a constellation of different voices.”
The work is shown amongst Kirpilä’s art collection, which spans Finnish art from 1850s to 1980s and uses his well known “chestnut flower parties,” or cocktail parties, held for his large circle of friends as the starting point.
Bringing together contributions from artists, writers, researchers and designers, the multimedia installation explores the ritual of food and eating, ranging from “eating habits to the gut-brain connection as well as related ecosystems and infrastructures.”**
Hello comes at a moment in contemporary art where artists’ words are being offered as work not just in and amongst shows and press releases —indeed, there are none with this event —but in their own right, read out, and settling in poetry zines.
Berlin-Helsinki based Sutela seeks to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, while London-based Rooney, who aqnb interviewed back in 2014 and who was a part of Cell Project Space‘s sets of poetry event, works between fiction and memory, or, reflection as she puts it.
A lecture by Jenna Sutela and a video screening by Martin Kohout is taking place at Gothenburg’s Landsarkivet in Sweden on December 1.
As part of the Communicating the Archive: Inscription lecture series, curated by Gluey-c, Sutela’s Skype talk ‘The Hum of Machines, Chumma, Chumma, Chumma’, explores similarities between biological viruses and the human language; as ones that alter or mutate by themselves (or by other).
A screening of Kohout’s ‘Sjezd‘ (2014)video will follow, featuring the violent sound of friction between technology and nature.
Kicking off the press release with a William S. Burrough (as featured in Tess Edmonson’s essay for әṾӨȻΔ? and included in a volume by Johanna Lundberg and Vincent de Belleval in the show), the exhibition starts with the idea of language as virus.
“Can language be used against itself?” is the question asked, the show exploring ways in which the body shapes language and how the future will shape our experience of sound.
This special edition of Progress Bar is curated by artist Haimala, who is currently doing a residency at Lighthouse Studioresearching the manipulation and enhancement of human hearing through “in-body biohacking” and ASMR.
For Progress Bar, Haimala invited ASMR sound artist Claire Tolan to present her work and discuss the potential for modification and expansion of sensory interfaces and artist and PAN record label founder Bill Kouligas, and will be screening ‘When You Moved’, a 2014 sci-fi video essay by Jenna Sutela.
The model literary project Fiktion is hosting an all-day event at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) on the theme of concentration in the digitalized society in honour of the upcoming “Konzentration” anthology, running from 2pm to 11pm on June 20.
The day’s programme includes US literary scholar Kenneth Goldsmith, who will hold a compact version of his legendary Ivy League seminar/workshop “Wasting Time on the Internet” and discuss the results with Basel’s Institut Kunst director, Chus Martinez. Joining Goldsmith is Arthur Jacobs, neuroscientist at the FU Berlin, who will discuss immersion in literature and his reading research with the e-reader developed by Fiktion.
Other speakers include Romanian writer Sinziana Păltineanu, who will do a reading from her debut novel, Elephant Chronicles, and artist Sophie Jung, who will present her story “X-Examination♥”, as well as artist Jenna Sutela, whose video piece, ‘When You Moved’, will be shown throughout the event in the conference room 3 (K3).
The architect and artist joins forces for an interior design project exploring the relationship between “housing, debt, liquidity and “disruptive” technological innovation”. The open studio is transformed into an all-encompassing project with contributions Kalliala and Sutela themselves, as well as Jaakko Pallasvuo and Tuomas Toivonen and Nene Tsuboi of NOW OFFICE.
A continual tug-o-war between control and resistance is seemingly built into the paradigmatic contorts of every communication system. Perhaps the most interrogated of these are online environments, particularly those that emerged in the wake of the 2.0 ‘revolution’, which replaced a (arguably) chaotic system of peer-to-peer networking with a series of rotating corporate platforms and the google “safe-search” bar. When considering the structures that facilitate not only online, but all levels of interaction, one looks at the extent of manipulation occurring at the point that a message is mediated between two, or multiple indices. What role do we, as both source and recipient of information, play in the contortions and or clarifications of that data and in what ways are these manipulations (un)available to us, for purposes of resistance? Such problematics are at the fore in discussions of interfaciality.
Taking its name, a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave, from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, this new publication release with text contributions from eight participating artists, writers, designers, architects and theorists – including Jenna Sutela‘s ‘Ill-Suited Primate’, a text expansion of the video essay ‘When You Moved’ (2014), written together with Elvia Wilk – is an undertaking by the enigmatic Berlin art project V4ULT.
It’s a curatorial platform initiated by Anna Mikkola and Hanna Nilsson. Pushing the conceptual limits of physical space, they turned a closet-sized room in their shared studio into an exhibition space, extending into virtual space by way of their website and describing the platform as “an interface of sorts, a space between us, the people we work with, and our audience.” The release of this publication “marks the end of the first episode” of their curatorial program and develops a discussion of interfaciality, beyond networking and computing, zooming “into scenarios where an entity interacts with its context.”
The publication opens with Harry Burke‘s essay, ‘InterfacialWYSIWYG :P’, a deft glimpse into the ideological reach of digital interfaces, their translation into IRL topographies, as well as the interface as a potential site of resistance. Continuing the theme of disruption, Lucy Chinen looks beyond structural contingencies of social media platforms to suggest that it may be the data and meta data – chats, likes, posts – rather than the structures themselves that could provide the necessary information for understanding the swell and quell of social movements. Analogous to linking “climate change and the increase in extreme weather conditions to human activity”, Chinen recommends making a causative link between political activity online and offline gatherings and protest as an act of empowerment.
Referencing V4ULT’s own self-identification as an interface, Benjamin Bratton‘s essay, ‘Interface Typologies on Design Strategy’, extrapolates multifarious understandings of it across a seemingly endless list of opposites – mobile/immobile, singular/plural, fast/slow, signifying/asignifying – reaching out from the digital, beyond the screen, he details the “relational measures of performance” of everything from a roadblock, to a river to a button with words on it. Offering us a condition among definitions; “For something to really become interfacial it must also somehow govern the conditions of exchange between two different systems that is mediates.”
In graceful prose, Elvia Wilk contemplates the relational functionality of ratios – for which the colon, “a membrane…inserted into the equation”, is the interface – with her closing essay, ‘Ratioratio’. She cleverly toys with the ratio as a tool of demarcation that does not fall prone to the dichotomous, reductive regressions of the binary.
Likely an inadvertent reference to the book-publication-paper-page interface, Wilk writes, “a good interface minimizes itself, fading the dots between virtualreal”, a sentiment reiterated by Bratton and elaborated through the design of the publication as an object-interface. A reference to the swipe action used to turn a page on an e-book, there is a diagonal stroke of negative space running down each left page, a book imitating an e-book imitating a book; relational layering, a design joke that simultaneously inhibits the readability of text on the page, whilst making it impossible to ignore its fixed materiality. As such, design dictates the mode of communication, of consumption. In his essay ‘100% Design, Zero Tolerance’, Martti Kalliala explores design, not only as a tool of limitation but also as an answer to intransigence; “there is another, more indirect, and likely more effective mode of struggle: more design.” He offers ‘design failures’; “incompatibility, bottlenecks, and agonism as a mode of freedom.”
What happens when a text, an idea, a concept is freed from its context and placed within a new interface? Jesse Darling‘s contribution about the “ghostmodernity of snapchat”, originally posted as a facebook status, has been transplanted into the publication. Denuded of its likes and comments, removed from its digital environment of blue, white and hapless algorithmic noise, transplanted onto a flat, fixed grey and white page, offers up the problematic of interfacial transplantation as tangible experience. So too does Rasmus Svensson‘s text, ‘Server Closet’, edited and translated from a Swedish comments thread, “When will you leave Sweden”. He collates expressions of “profound xenophobic hostility” for the printed the page and they jab, jar and confuse in a manner that such words online – by way of their prevalence across the web – have (perhaps) ceased to do.
Discussions addressing the negotiation between form and content are by no means new. Whilst it might not be exactly ‘hot topic’ right now, the relevance of the discussion has not waned; the problems are not solved and the conditions of our interactions through and with interfaces are ever changing and cannot definitively be known. This new publication that “looks at interfaces in an expanded field” – though reading it, at times, feels akin to the extraneous beatings of a dead horse – is not an unwelcome contribution to a continuing, broad-based conversation.**
The ongoing Lunch Bytes Structures and Textures discussion series continues in Finland with The Status of the Object taking place at Helsinki’s Sinne on September 9, from 5 to 7pm.
Running as part of the European Edition discussion programme, The Status of the Object takes on hyper-interconnectivity and the buzz surrounding the “internet of things”, inviting four speakers from difference disciplines to discuss the repercussions of formerly (and formally) inanimate objects showing signs of agency.
Featuring talks with writer and artist Jenna Sutela, philosopher Marcus Steinweg, artist Cécile B. Evans, and media professor Lily Díaz, The Status of the Object uses Graham Harman’s “object-oriented ontology” as a starting point in its investigation of the inanimate object and our limited knowledge of its possibilities.
“What’s the realer space?” Ann Hirsch asks the unanswerable at South London Gallery’s Clore Studio during a contextual discussion with historian and writer Giulia Smith closing off the The Posthuman Era Became a Girl two-day event co-curated by Helen Kaplinsky. It echoes the discomfiting lack of distinction a 27-year-old screen name “jobe” makes between online and offline infidelity, in his developing and soon-to-become-sexual relationship with a 12-year-old “Anni” in Hirsch’s most recent play ‘Playground’ (2013). “Does it really matter?” he replies, when the suburban school girl asks via ‘Leet-speak’-informed language whether his current love interest was cheating on him via chat or IRL.
The play, presented the previous night at The George Wood Theatre of Goldsmiths University, is an equal parts funny and disturbing insight into the pre-adolescent experience of an insulated American middle-class raised on the internet in the 90s. Enacted partly via text projected on a screen and partly spoken, the two protagonists access their proscribed sexual fantasies by typing them into the greeny-blue glow of their respective CRT computer screens, from their symbolically isolated desks spaces.
“Forbidden moistures trickle into forbidden places”, says the masculine voice of New Degrees of Freedom: ‘Act 3: Water’ (2014); a performance of an ongoing collaborative production by artist Jenna Sutela. Happening the following day in a transformed studio, the audience is sat on the floor of a by now sauna-like space, the icicles handed out on entry melting in the sweaty warmth of a hot afternoon; Amnesia Scanner’s rumbling soundscape washing through the fishing rope and sea sponges scattered among the bodies. Dimly-lit with a dark blue tone, the room comes as physical expression of the porous “semi-aquatic existence” of its spoken text, now dissolved into “the borderlands of material and virtual worlds”.
Distortion. Confusion. Fear. These are themes that present themselves in the work of both a US-based Hirsch and Finnish Sutela, if not in vastly different, even culturally defined incarnations. There’s the puritanical quality to the heavily manipulated spaces and ashen post-production aesthetics of Sutela’s “real-life avatar”, where within three ‘acts’ and across platforms the ongoing New Degrees of Freedom project constructs its own cyborg grotesque. ‘Act 1: The Birth of a Real-Life Avatar’ and ‘Act 2: The Spirit of a Real-Life Avatar’ (2013) inform this third act where attendees become unwitting accessories as a video camera films the faceless mass of humans strewn around icy puddles on concrete.
Act 2 –featuring another anonymous group of collaborators in Finland’s Turku –is screened to follow. This time the omnipresent lens is turned outward on a circle of standing audience members wearing prosthetic organs and arranged around the marble floor of the Vartiovuori Observatory. Funnily enough, the camera remains to film the follow-up Q&A as Hirsch –whose earlier work ‘Here For You (Or my Brief Love Affair with Frank Maresca)’ (2012) also screens –explains the trauma and manipulation of ‘reality’ television. “Ultimately you have no control”, she says about the “mechanism of production” surrounding VH1 ‘reality’ TV program Frank the Entertainer… In a Basement Affair. Confined for weeks at a time in an externally constructed environment under constant surveillance, Hirsch and 14 other contestants vie for the affections of Frank the Bachelor on camera with no choice in how they’re viewed, edited or represented.
“Hack them. Find out all their information. Toss them from AOL”, brags jobe about his online capabilities on the Web 1.0 instant messaging service he and Anni communicate through in ‘Playground’. These are all things he promises he’d never do to her. But after their year long relationship involving chat forum and phone sex, an argument over the “out of control faggots” jobe insists should be ejected from Anni’s school and a subsequent betrayal by her with ex-boyfriend Chris, jobe brands Anni a “whore” and she’s blocked.
Ideas of control and manipulation are central to both Hirsch and Sutela’s work, where networked media and its false assumptions of personal freedom is incisively interrogated. In Elvia Wilk’s 2013 essay ‘Where Looks Don’t Matter and Only the Best Writers Get Laid’, from which The Posthuman Era… takes its name, the writer suggests that the anticipated cyberfeminist utopia of the 90s did not only fail but was doomed from the outset. After all, “developing online cultures were often male-dominated and heteronormative”, its exclusive binaries already existed, and questions of A/S/L meant IRL mattered. And it still does, as Hirsch identifies cyberfeminism’s rejection of the body as a sort of “cultural shame”, Sutela suggesting potential in bringing back the body “in a more complex way”. Because after all, in order to overcome Wilk’s traditional “material/immaterial; male/female” labor divide, surely the Cartesian mind/body one, on which a largely man-made technological infrastructure is built, should also be abandoned.
“…the very substance of the self is interconnected not only with biological but also with economic and industrial systems”: so go the words read by Julia Burmingham’s feminine narration in Sutela’s ‘Act 3: Water’. Those systems are omnipresent across the performances and characters, artworks and avatars, presented at The Posthuman Era Became a Girl, where there’s as little distinction between physical and virtual space as there is between notions of consuming and being consumed. **