Enrique Enriquez, 2016
The concept of experiment is governed by competing ideals of control and playful freedom. While the controlled experiment is widely regarded as the gold standard of the natural sciences, the aspiration to control, direct, test and constrain novel operations is also prominent in artistic, social and political practices of experimentation. The experimentalism of the arts, where to experiment connotes defiance of rigid norms and expectations and an openness to indeterminacy and even failure, likewise finds its counterpart in the exploratory dimension of scientific research. The dark legacies of authoritarian political experiments likewise stand in tension with the emancipatory promises of liberal ‘experiments in living.’
Control-Experiment is an experiment with the aesthetic forms and media through which to think through Control—the theme of this year’s meeting of the European Society for Science, Literature and the Arts. In order that we might deal playfully with Control—test and display its logics—the exhibition mobilizes the dialectic of control at the core of the concept of experiment by embedding installations, films and performances within the physical and temporal bounds of the conference. In doing so, it also functions as a demonstration experiment and an argument for the importance of engaging a multiplicity of material practices in thinking through Control in the domains of Aesthetics, Animal, Bacteria, Borders, Climate, Desire, Life, Security and War. The exhibition includes works by Steve Rowell, Agdler & Timo Menke, Naja Ankarfeldt, Yusef Audeh, Max Colson, Fiona Davies, Hanna Husberg, Ryan Jeffery & Boaz Levin, Anna Kedziora, Fröydi Laszlo, Fay Stevens & Robert Good and Josh Wodak.
An exhibition convened at the annual conference of the
European Society for Science, Literature and the Arts
Stockholm University, June 14-17, 2016
Curated by Dehlia Hannah
June 14-17th Geoscience Building
Josh Wodak, Jubilee Venn Diagrams?—From the series 6 degrees of separation (2014, 15 min., 2 channel video, Entrance Hall)
Fiona Davies, Price Maker, Price Taker (Audio installation, 1st Floor)
Fay Stevens & Robert Good, Land and People: The Unearthing of Jacquetta Hawkes (Multimedia installation, 1st Floor)
Hannah Husberg, The World Indoors, (2nd Floor Restrooms)
Screenings: Economies of Control, Large Monitor, 1st Floor
Regulatory Atmospheres, Small Monitor, 2nd Floor
Performance 13.00-14.30, Aula Magna, Gallery
Fröydi Laszlo, Gullspång Revisited
Film Screening & Artists Roundtable 11.00-12.30, Nordenskiöldsalen
Yusef Audeh, Control/Automation (2016, 7 min.)
Naja Ankarfeldt, Landscape Epithelia (2016, 6 min.)
Max Colson, A New Investment Vehicle (2015, 6 min.)
Nils Agdler & Timo Menke, Made in Denmark (2013, 15 min.)
Round table discussion: Yusef Audeh, Nils Agdler, Timo Menke, Fiona Davies, Naja Ankarfeldt, Josh Wodak, Anna Kedziora, Fröydi Laszlo, Robert Good, Fay Stevens; moderated by Dehlia Hannah
Performance 12.30-14.00, Geoscience building, Cafe
Anna Kedziora, White Phantom Isles
Film screening 11.00-12.00, Nordenskiöldsalen
Steve Rowell, Parallelograms (2016, 30 min.)
Boaz Levin & Ryan S. Jeffery, All That is Solid Melts into Data (2015, 53 min.)
Gifted Men and Made in Denmark deal with the commercial distribution of semen in Denmark from the perspective of anonymous donors. Donations are often regarded as selfless good deeds, and are expected to be voluntary, free and anonymous, though they may raise sensitive ethical questions. Danish legislation (unlike that of most European countries) allows for anonymous sperm donations, leading to increasing fertility tourism from other European countries. Sperm banks operate in a complex grey area on several levels, marketing human sperm as a processed product. Special attention has been given to issues relating to masculinity and fatherhood, and how masculinity is manifested at the sperm banks and clinics.
Naja Ankarfeldt, Landscape Epithelia (2016, 6 min)
Landscape Epithelia, is a digital interactive map programmed from close ups of the artists body merged with NASA satellite images of the earth. Epithelia are continuous sheets of cells (one or more layers thick) that cover the exterior surfaces of the body. The dimensions of 18983 x 13727 pixels (6,42 x 4,64 meters) allow deep zoom into this navigable hybrid landscape.
The biosemiotics of biological structures in scale can question how to determine the human from the remaining nonhuman world. Likewise Landscape Epithelia shows the artists ongoing research into the correspondence between material and agency investigating her body as connected to ecological cycles. The work furthermore proposes a total integration of the digital contemporary selfie/surveillance with the intimate organism.
Yusef Audeh, Control/Automation (2016, 7 min)
Control/Automation is a brief investigation into everyday technologies—parking meters, electronic barriers, microprocessors, autopilot systems—which regulate our behavior for greater safety and order. What drives our desire to encapsulate human knowledge into— and even give away decision-making capabilities to—hardware and software? This short film tries to visualize and reveal the imperceptible traces of Deleuze’s ‘control society,’ asking whether political agency has diminished with our newfound dependence on automated systems.
Max Colson, A New Investment Vehicle (2015, 5 min)
A New Investment Vehicle is an imaginary 3D virtual tour, which takes viewers around a proposed segregation of the London bus service – for premium and budget customers. It is aimed at international Chinese investors, who it is hoped will be financing this ‘optimized’ and more ‘efficient’ version of the London bus service. This proposal was an unsolicited, and later rejected, submission for the London bus system sent to City Hall in late 2015. Journeying through the premium echelons of the exclusive top deck to the security conscious, no frills, budget basement underneath, this video also functions as a surreal examination of the relationship between urban segregation and the novelty of consumer choice.
Fiona Davies, Price Maker, Price Taker (2015, audio installation)
When you sell your own blood or blood products often there is no negotiation. There is only one price on offer. You have become a price taker with little or no impact on the market.
In this sound work these power relationships are played out in what sounds like a stock or cattle auction but is an auction of consolidated lots of blood, blood products and accessories. The rhythm of the patter of the auction locates the work in the neoliberal marketplace where questions of what can be and will be able to be bought and sold are raised by the brutal, fast world of sale by competitive auction.
Hanna Husberg, The World Indoors (2015, multimedia installation)
The World Indoors is an installation that makes use of three types of tropical houseplants, the areca palm, the mother-in-law’s tongue and the money plant, in a combination supposed to produce ‘ideal’ air conditions. They are presented with a looped video that uses microscopic imagery of these same plants, that have been found to filter harmful substances and provide the fresh air and humidity needed in indoor environments, as well as in closed systems such as space stations. By bringing up questions of material exchanges taking place through air, and how we come to notice them, the installation addresses human entanglement with a world made of and animated by the various trajectories of things, beings and entities. It touches upon issues of air conditioning and air pollution and the cultural political context that make them perceptible.
Equal parts building and machine, a library and a public utility, data centers are the unwitting monuments of knowledge production to the digital turn. This film traces the historical evolution of these structures that make-up “the cloud”, the physical repositories for the exponentially growing amount of human activity and communication taking form as digital data. While our “smart tools” and devices for communication become increasingly smaller, thinner, and sleeker, the digital sphere they require grows larger demanding an ever-growing physical infrastructure, effecting and shaping our physical landscape. This film looks to the often-overlooked materiality of networked technologies in order to elucidate their social, environmental, and economic impact, and call into question the structures of power that have developed out of the technologies of global computation.
Anna Kedziora, White Phantom Isles (2015, multimedia installation)
White Phantom Isles is an installation composed of of 52 „isles” made of rice. It is an attempt of materialization of symbolic capital of phantom isles – isles once believed to exist, depicted on different real maps, only to turn out to be non-existent. They were results of cartographic mistakes or inaccuracies or were introduced on maps intentionally to get state’s official sponsorship of new explorations. Yet before their existence was disproved, they managed to evoke real collective desire for conquest, colonization and control. White Phantom Isles are made of rice – one of the earliest domesticated plants. This early control of plants (domestication) is closely related to the gradual growth of political power and ability to control other social groups and nations.
Fröydi Laszlo, Gullspång Revisited (2015, multimedia performance)
In the 1980s a collection of anonymous portrait was found in the Swedish city of Gullspång. They are probably taken between 1890 and 1916, when Gullspång went from being a poor farming and fishing village to a water-powered industrial town. The leap into modernity had its costs. An anti-dam movement created the first large environmental struggle in Sweden, yet Gullspång today is dominated by the polluted ruins of an electro-chemical plant that was built to utilize surplus electricity produced by the dam. As Derrida writes, the ghosts of both the past and the future may continue to haunt the present.
Gullspång Revisited pairs a selection of portraits with a poem about how the silence of the dammed river alters the experience of time and continuity in the landscape. The reading ends with a musical improvisation inspired by the music that the people would have listened to, embodied experiences of electric power, and the screech of rusting arc furnaces.
‘Recalling in tranquility the slow possession of Britain by its people, I cannot resist the conclusion that the relationship reached its greatest intimacy, its most sensitive pitch, about two hundred years ago…’
Land and People: The Unearthing of Jacquetta Hawkes is a collaborative artistic project that unearths hidden meanings lying beneath the surfaces of Jacquetta Hawkes’ archaeological text ‘A Land’ (1951). Focusing specifically on Chapter VIII ‘Land and People’, we present the excavations and outcomes of a series of dialogues that took place between the authors. We are engaged with how art, science, and archaeology function as a context for ‘important‘ facts about human beings in the past, present and future, Moreover, we consider how our modifications of the book bring new light to Hawkes’ perception of people in the past, human relationships to the land and how sequences of time and action (then and now) critically engage with thinking life anew.
Josh Wodak, Jubilee Venn Diagrams? (From the series 6 degrees of separation, (2012, 15 min)
While weather seems tangible through our everyday sense of our immediate surroundings climate is intangibly perceived through measurement, analysis, and computation. Jubilee Venn Diagrams? interplays tangible and intangible dimensions of climate change, through a photo- and video-portrait series of the human body animating diagrams of climate change trajectories.
To envisage climate change as visceral and embodied within the here and now of our lifetimes, the series interplays the domain of global climate (operating over eons, epochs and eras) with weather (operating at the local, here and now) by overlaying climate data on the human body. As the bodies move through horizontal and vertical axes, they draw diagrams of climate data through the trajectories they trace: Red denotes global average temperature, Blue denotes sea level and Green denotes greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere. A variation on the stance of the Vitruvian man, these Cartesian diagrams draw out the evolution of the Anthropocene – what remains to be seen is which Future trajectory we will traverse.
Steve Rowell, Parallelograms (2016, 30 min) // Uncanny Sensing (Texas Prototype) (2014, 22 min)
Parallelograms is an experimental documentary film and mapping project aimed at representing architectural typologies in American politics and industry. Specifically, this project interrogates the landscape of dark money and influence in Washington, D.C.. As shadow institutions come into focus and are sited on a map, we get a glimpse of this parallel world.
Abstraction coexists with the real as a reflection of the current state of political discourse in America today. Corrupted power and distorted influence affects us all by exacerbating economic disparity, resource depletion, environmental degradation, and civil rights abuses. The intent of Parallelograms is not simply to present documentation from an exhaustive list, or to dictate any particular activist agenda, but rather, to extrapolate from the political landscape in a way that compels discussion about campaign finance reform, dark money, and climate change denial.
Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys is aimed at investigating ecology, post-natural landscapes, and the philosophical dilemma of the anthropic principle. It’s about the rise of machines in the age of the Anthropocene, and how we perceive the environment using technology – giving us a view of the world around us that some say is incomplete, synthetic, uncanny. The title of the project is a reconfiguration of the terms “remote sensing” (a method of data collection from the physical world via sensors and other remote technology) and “uncanny valley” (the cognitive dissonance caused by lifelike replicas of living things). This video, Uncanny Sensing (Texas Prototype), is an extract from a 3-channel video installation which features the sinking industrial petro-scape of the Texas Gulf Coast. Shot primarily using a 1st generation drone, it captures a glimpse of our future in which sea level rise will inundate most coastal cities worldwide.
The tones are generated using acquired data from the Houston Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention’s air monitoring network. Six primary toxins – carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide ozone, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide – present in the atmosphere have been extrapolated as audible frequencies. These are then fed into a digital harmonium, or drone generator used in classical Indian music. The variable concentrations of these pollutants, from February 10, 2014 are audible as increased timbre, pitch, and volume. Harmony and dissonance ebb and flow. This 22 minute “composition” is paired with the aerial drone footage, which has been edited to the sound.