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The predominant cultural tradition prioritises humankind and human culture above all other life forms – a linear, anthropocentric narrative wherein the human appears as the latest, most developed draft of life in a grand opera of consciousness; the opera begins with the origin of a universe that has since continued until now, forward from the darkest beginning of A to an elusive horizon of B: that spot in the distance that shall never be reached. The following exposition reflects notes, quotations, and autobiographical incidents that muddle this mythology. This assemblage of sources composes a constellation without beginning, centre, or end in an effort to enact a more general and omniscient intellectual environment that highlights the longstanding hierarchical expectations inherent in the Western world.
Fundbüro: a collective art research laboratory conducted between members of the postgraduate research institute Datdata associated with the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Lyon and Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg that explores notions of the meaning of loss and recovery for objects and subjects in transit.
The exposition describes the progress of three selected projects within Fundbüro, discussing the working methods and the interim outcomes. They are:
1. Field Notes: Cynthia Kros presents a selection of her field notes and contextualises the taking of field notes within theorising of the arts. The format allows playful interaction with thought processes in FUNDBÜRO as a theorising space.
2. 'Chop Shop': this project creatively engages with disassemblage/reassemblage in both regulated and unregulated ways. It replays the vernacular practice of chop shopping in the field of art.
3. 'I had a dream': this project builds on the principles of 'chop shopping' and explores the possibilities of extraction, retelling, and reperforming. As a further sequence of chop shop actions, we interrogate how dreams can become source material for a collective art/theory project.
Our collaborative work allows us to create/produce at and with distance. As we examine our projects in the making and the ways in which they interact with each other, we gain an understanding of generative processes which are at the heart of modern 'urban life'.
The idea of creating a video work exploring the question of how an industrial robotic arm would see a handmade product is used as a pretext to generate a meeting point for different local agents in the framework of the production of an art project titled 'Rodar y Rodear' ('To Shoot and to Surround') (2013).
The heirs of a post-civil war motorbike manufacturer (MYMSA) and the Barcelona Fab-Lab found it interesting to take part in the production of this artistic project, which is a film event built on the idea of dislocation in the common uses of its leading actors: a motorbike restored as a museum piece and an industrial robotic arm programmed to produce the image of something that was fabricated with a pre-robotic sensitivity.
This exposition explores the connections that arise between production processes in commercial cinema and the automotive industry, and the capacity that artistic research has to create a singular and significant space for mutual exploration.
Johann Sebastian Bach's lute suites were probably written on the harpsichord, and are commonly performed on the guitar. This project examines the possibilities and limitations in transcribing one suite for a four-course, fifth-tuned instrument in the cittern/octave mandolin family, while preserving supposed interpretation practices from Bach's era and/or from Scandinavian traditional music. The final artistic result may or may not express these traits. The audiovisual examples aim to express problems of interpretation, and suggestions for their solutions in the cases where they are specific to my instrument. I will attempt to contextualise the process through introducing various strands of research and the observations of others.
The discussion commences at a point where I have produced a suggestion for a transcription, as I embark from the premises laid out in the previous paragraph and ask, Is it possible to create an edition of Johann Sebastian Bach's Lute Suite BWV 997 for my instrument? Deriving from this question, I simultaneously ask, Which methods and contexts can I employ to make the artistic outcome convincing for myself, as well as for an audience familiar with this music?
IT’S DOING IT is part of an ongoing preoccupation with phenomena described under notions of passivity that started in 2009. Formats developed so far include video work, text, and an evening of dance and music as objects, carried out by a musician, five dancers, and twenty-seven objects ('passive movement', 2012). The research format IT’S DOING IT (2012/13) came into being three years after I started to work with the idea of ‘passivity as force’.
Each articulation explores a different angle of something that could be called a ‘productivity of passive forces’. Holding the different endeavours together is an interest in surpassing the dichotomy of activity and passivity, to create a specific attention. This attention can be described as one of a shifted relation towards experiencing temporality as well as a spatial positioning. It is about an attention between active and passive, neither doing nor being – an aesthetic experience comparable to experiences in nature.
All the formats developed were created to enable settings in which this particular attention, which I like to link to passivity, is likely to occur. The nucleus of interest lies in finding ways to question anthropocentrism by experiencing what a particular place and the things in it may do to us – be they humans, non-humans, living or non-living entities, ideas, concepts, or materials. This practice gives justice to both objects and processes, to both things and experiences. It is listening in various ways.
Following choreographic approaches, one crucial question will always be how (a) movement is created. Movement is related to a specific constellation. A constellational approach draws from the notion of agency as it appears in actor–network theory (Bruno Latour) and has been developed by many thinkers within contemporary philosophy, with very different positions such as Jane Bennett’s ‘vitalist materialism’, Graham Harman’s ‘object oriented ontology’, or Karen Barad’s ‘agential realism’, to name only a few of the outlines of the fields mentioned. Rather than linking references in any direct way, this work is trying to set the concept of ‘actants’ at work in order to equalise relations between art and philosophy during processes of knowledge production. Materials assembled in this particular proposition are organised in such a way as to find another way of doing as well as to invite a ‘passive gaze’. It’s rather drifty and inefficient, an intentionally non-intentional attention. There will be no obvious outcome or surplus, but hopefully another kind of insight happens unexpectedly.
IT’S DOING IT was developed during a research residency at Gessnerallee Zürich in the frame of IPF (Institute of Performing Arts and Film, Zurich University of the Arts) in 2012/13. During eight weeks, the philosopher Jens Badura, head of the research focus 'performative practice' at IPF/ZHdK, became my consultant and partner in weekly conversations. In the same frame, I was asked to give a workshop and a presentation. Other than that, I followed a solitary mode of life, aiming at an exorcism of governmentality by overdoing time management yet filling it with aimless activities, imagining post-work futures, and drawing on a concept of intuition within a concept of boundaries and rigour.
IT'S DOING IT also draws from writings around laziness and doing less (Bojana Kunst) and notions of precariousness and exhaustion in post-Fordist economies. My daily routine was committed to a rigidly protocolled time to ritualise my practice and therefore enable passivation. The strict time protocol is subjected to repeating time units with certain titles, proposing specific tasks or fields of activity (dancing and other physical practices, reading, writing, eating, sleeping, cultivating conviviality) – every day for the same amount of time, the same thing. Ritual becomes the catalyst for another organisation of labour. Based on duration and repetition, materials are generated by constellations rather than subjective authorship.
This research exposition is meant neither as representation nor as documentation, but rather as something that could become a setting of distracted attention, between active and passive, paying attention and being paid attention to, in an indifferent yet slightly pleasant way – the ‘passive gaze’. During the eight weeks of protocolled time, each unit had been given a title. Now, rather than associating the materials generated with the time units they were developed in, the set up of the exposition relies on fields of associations generated by certain notions crucial to the endeavour. As such, none of it is particularly interesting, and it is only via repetition and duration that one comes to appreciate the flatness of it. Materials such as texts, videos, pictures, and audio files repeatedly appear in different constellations and at different crossings of the site.
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