readings from Utopian talk-show line-up

…Optimism is dying out. The promised paradise has been privatized. The Kibbutz apples and watermelons are no longer as ripe… (Yael Bartana)

In March of this year was invited to take part in the latest iteration of Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosley’s travelling tour, the Utopian talk-show line-up. The event took place at Moderna Museet, Malmö, and featured Maria Engberg as MC along with readers Ida Börjel, Ole Lykke Andersen, Lena Mattsson and myself. For the readings, we were gathered in the Loading Dock room of the museum, which was impressively decked out floor to ceiling with the Utopia Station collection of posters curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

As the blurb for the show indicates, the focus for the readings was to be on a notion of the “architecture of utopia”:

Utopian talk-show line-up is conceived as a hybrid talk-show/game-show exploring the notion of Utopia. A line-up table is transformed by a graphic framework, a page from a book rescaled and now occupied by readers and objects, staging the table as a discursive territory. The invited protagonists choose and read passages from science fiction to critical texts according to the rules of an MC. Read in rapid-fire format the spoken texts imagine and attend to the “architecture of utopia”. The event asks what may be considered as Utopia, within the imagination, within the everyday, within the city; and what is its architecture, its system, its experience?

We were asked to come with five readings, and were warned that the MC might cut us off at any time before the maximum one minute mark for each individual passage. My selection of readings for the talk reflects an interest in the situated and contested qualities of utopian exercises, rather than the typically abstracted versions so readily imagined.

1. Felicity D. Scott, ‘Woodstockholm’, in Meg McLagan and Yates McKee (eds) Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism, MIT Press, 2012:

2. Krzysztof Wodiczko, ‘Designing for the City of Strangers’, in Critical Vehicles – Writings, Projects, Interviews, MIT Press, 1999:

3. Yael Bartana, och Europa kommer att häpna / and Europe will be stunned, Revolver Publishing, 2010:

4. For this video, Lena Mattsson and myself read one after the other from Lee Stickells and Sophie Warren’s ‘Agonistic Vocabulary’, in Beyond Utopia, Warren and Mosley, Errant Bodies Press/Surface Tension Supplement #5, 2012:

5. Twitter search off a mobile phone for “architecture” “of” “#utopia” (https://twitter.com/search?q=architecture%20of%20%23utopia&src=typd) in which only the hashtags within each tweet recited:

Intermission

This is the abattoir of cinema.

|̲̲̲͡͡͡whis̡͌l̡̡̡tles ̡̡͡are▫̲͡ for▫̲̲͡͡sale at̲̲͡ the̡͌▫̲͡ door̲̲̲͡͡! 

Several years ago, Talan Memmott and myself transitioned from some idle pub chatter on the formalist nuances of your classic Melodifestivalen performance to a discussion of the practice of entr’activism. Soon enough we were sketching out a blueprint for a computer-manipulated screed on the current state of cinema to be undercut with audience interventions, live VJ visuals and backing soundtrack. Electronic poetry+++the film aesthetics of Dada & Mai Zetterling+++Eurovision…

An artist statement:

Intermission is a performative redadaction of the poetics of cinema. The performance and media platform utilises René Clair’s Entr’acte (1924, a collaboration with Picabia and Satie) as a starting point, reimagining cinema as if the Dadaist vision for the medium had become the prevalent form. In fact, we call this sort of performative cinema entr’activism – a form of participatory filmic event in which cinema is mobilised as the physical borders of frames leak back into a precarious hyper-reality that emphasises the metanoic qualities of being in-between acts of viewing.

Below are videos of the two performances done to date of the piece, the first video being the most recent performance from 2012 at the Cabaret Voltage event in Karlskrona, Sweden and the second of the original performance in 2011 at E-Poetry 2011 in Buffalo, New York. For ideal viewing conditions, we recommend to have at hand: a kazoo, your preferred beverage and condiments of choice, a mobile phone/tablet/etc. for second screening, at least one cream pie.

Staying with, working through and performing obsolescence

techno-ecologies 2

New article out in the latest issue of the Acoustic Space journal on Techno-Ecologies (2). Titled “Staying with, working through and performing obsolescence,” the article was co-written with colleagues Åsa Ståhl and Kristina Lindström. The piece began as a joint presentation given at the 2013 Media Art Histories conference and covers Ståhl and Lindström’s ongoing Repa Upp / Upprepa (Unravel / Repeat) project, in which they are working with a number of old mobile phones collected during journeys through the north of Sweden. The project is interesting on several levels, including for its strong material orientation towards media and emphasis on caring for and working through various relational aspects of this materiality.

menders

“menders”, image by Lindström and Ståhl

As a part of their working with the obsolete mobile phones, handed voluntarily over to them by various members of the region whom they came into contact with during their travels, one iteration of the project saw Lindström and Ståhl “reanimating” the content stored within the phones in the form of an SMS story, P.S. Sorry if I Woke You. The story is loosely based on the SMS data which they were able to bring back to life through a series of hardware and software hacks (/mendings) to bring the phones back into working order so that they could not only access the original content for cutting up and stitching back together in their evocative narrative, but also so that the story could be “retold” by the phones themselves. Thus, when one subscribes to receive P.S. via SMS, it is the original phones that, in their mended form, deliver the story to one’s phone.

PS capsules, image by Lindström and Ståhl

My contribution to the article was a discussion of what the experience of subscribing to this SMS story was like, as well as writing together with Lindström and Ståhl on certain issues of obsolescence (an increasingly key part of my dissertation research) that the story and their project as a whole raises. Below is the abstract for the article and a snippet from the article itself.

Abstract: This paper, which contributes to discussions on techno-ecologies by drawing on feminist technoscience, is divided into three parts. The first part is written by Lindström and Ståhl and outlines the figure of the rag and bone wo/man. It also recounts stories from their travels, where they collected both obsolete phones and also personal accounts on the part of the owners of these phones, and then moving on to explain the process of unravelling and repeating these materials into a composition of an SMS novel. In the second part, Snodgrass gives an account of the experience of subscribing to the SMS novel P.S. Sorry if I Woke You, which Lindström and Ståhl composed from the materials they collected as rag and bone women. Snodgrass’s focus is on the kinds of relational, media ecologies style dimensions that the piece can be seen to bring to the fore. Finally, all three authors join in a concluding discussion on the notions of staying with, working through and performing obsolescence.

Keywords: Obsolescence, care, e-waste, mobile phones, rag and bone wo/men

techno-ecologies 2 text

 

ecologies of the executable: a few interstratic experiments

Fields

A mad few months of work. Now finalising a presentation to be given next week at the RENEWABLE FUTURES conference for New Media Culture in Riga and Liepaja. Could do with more time to gear up but looking forward to it.

title of talk: ecologies of the executable: a few interstratic experiments

abstract:
As witnessed in recent projects such as the “living poetry” of Christian Bök’s The Xenotext, for implantation into the genome of the Deinococcus radiodurans microbe, or diverse works from Martin Howse including concrete worm poetry produced on ”earthbooting” computers, there is a vibrant strain of artistically infused practice that aims to overtly shift or renew the sites of expressive executability. Just as the poetic modality provides a platform for constraining, exposing and executing processes of expression, in the recent examples of artists like Bök and Howse the workings of diverse and potentially frictive strata of materials (code, cells, hardware, soil, etc.) directly constrain, corrupt and/or tease out further potential ecologies of the executable (scientific, aesthetic, computational, pataphysical and otherwise). Building on ongoing dissertation research within a terrain of media ecologies, this presentation will consider a few of the unstable organisms that emerge in these experiments on the fault lines of interstratic executability, each of which can also be said to touch on the conference themes of sustainability and renewal.