A slow reading, movement meditation, a walk-through

Why a lichen-eating reindeer is part of the composite body of lichen and even more so as the boreal forests in which lichens grow and being clear-cut for paper pulp, exposing people as the sociopathic component of the forest/reindeer/fungi/algae/human holobiont) as one of the Inalienable Practices

by Robert Kocik

We could be selectively de-selected. What we think we eat, we are being eaten by.

Begin an all-inclusive listening. Include all unarising sounds. Inhale all around, breathing through your skin, bringing the breath into your bones, and exhale the breath even further and furthest and evenly into every one of your bones.

Lichen is a symbiotic organism, a composite of a fungus and an alga/or/cyanobacterium. The fungal symbiont provides structure and anchorage while the alga, the photosynthesizing symbiont, provides the food that fungi are unable to make for themselves. Fungi farm algae.

Fungus is neither plant nor animal, having diverged more than a billion years ago. Fungi grow as cylindrical threads branching from their tips into interconnected networks. Their growth can exert a mechanical force of 1200 pounds per square inch. Algae are autotrophs, not heterotrophs: producers not consumers of food. There’s no commonly accepted definition of “algae.” Algae are basically chlorophyll molecules specifically arranged around a photosystem whose core is an energy reactor.

It has proven impossible to grow lichen artificially, in a laboratory. The two would-be partners (fungus and algae/cyanobacterium) don’t socialize. Consider the phrase “impossible to carry out under laboratory conditions” as a definition of “life” and a domain of artwork. Artists becoming raw data by becoming indivisible from evolutionary selection as it happens.

Start in a position of active stillness or potential movement; not static, not flat on your back or seated as usual.

There are movements that correspond with all-inclusive listening.

Gradually assume the position of the formative space between fungi and algae by including both of their functions.

More gradually become the movement of lichen growing, growing at a rate of about one millimeter per year, and being counted among the oldest living beings.

Lichens grow in inhospitable zones; on bare rock, dead wood, exposed bone, rusted metal, plastic or living bark.

Lichen doesn’t move, it’s not mobile; growing is its movement. It can be broken off and carried elsewhere.

Move, lichen-like, as a mutual benefitting whole. Gradually dissolve who is benefitting whom.

The entire body of a lichen is called a “thallus.” For a thallus, there is no organization of tissues into organs. As a whole, the thallus is a remarkably different morphology in relation to either fungus or algae taken alone.

Lichens are miniature ecosystems, producing many hundreds of biochemical compounds.

Most lichens make antibiotics.

Apaches painted lichen on their feet in order to become invisible to their enemies. The Achomawi poisoned their arrowheads with the same lichen. The Blackfoot people drank it as medicinal tea.

Lichen has been baked into bread and used as perfume.

It’s impossible to “date” a lichen because we can’t discern when it would have started to grow together from supposedly separate parts. In fact, the fungi associated with lichen are not found alone in nature.

Lichens include many microorganisms other than the primary fungus/algae partnership. These other organisms are called “xenobionts”—rather like the microbiota lining our gut and covering our skin.

Though there are no “others.” No “xeno,” no “foreign.”

Move in a way that makes alien unimaginable.

There is no “hosting” on the part of one for another.

Lichens are the critical winter food of reindeer. Reindeer are ruminants with a specialized stomach for breaking lichen down into nutrients.

Reindeer develop as part of the lichen hologenomic community. Evolution has selected this interspecies holobiont since the last ice age.

From the land of the reindeer, there’s a Saami song known as a yoik. It has no “subject” because it is its subject. It’s not about a person, place or thing because it is the body and being of that person, place or thing. Anything it would be about, it has become. It’s mistaken to ask whether it has a beginning or end. It is nature, which is unknowable because it is innate. It’s not a circle or a cycle. It has depthsymmetry; neither a beginning nor end nor beginningless/endless.

Lichen-life is being what the other needs, as movement. To be lichen-like is to be what the other needs, by not doing anything to be so.

We come here to hear from each other what we need to hear to stay alive.



The sixth extinction phase

Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction (Science Advances, 19 June 2015)

Earth is entering sixth extinction phase with many species – including our own – labelled ‘the walking dead’ (The Independent, 20 June 2015)

Tutkimus: Maapallolla käynnissä uusi sukupuuttoaalto – “Tilanne hämmästyttävän paha” (yle.fi, 20 June 2015)

Humans could be among the victims of sixth ‘mass extinction’, scientists warn (ABC, 20 June 2015)


Non|Human Play

1A: Witnessing > being-with
– Go for a walk in the space.
– Witness the play that is already happening.
– (See what attracts you and let it move you further.)
– Explore how you can move from witnessing to being with the play, or with that which plays.

1B: Inviting > joining in
– Notice how the play affects or moves you.
– See if there’s a way for you to become more susceptible or available to these affects and movements. (You can think of opening up a space for them.)
– Invite yourself further in by including that which plays. (You can think of opening up a space that includes both of you.)
– Allow play to emerge. Join in.

2: Mediating > becoming
– Find a human partner.
– Navigate (move in) the space together. Negotiate and communicate nonverbally, if possible.
– Observe the objects and things around you. Follow that which attracts and pulls you to it, or which feels otherwise inviting to you.
– If something invites you to stay with it, do so. Allow it to affect the way you are and move together.
– Let the object/thing become a mediator between you and the space. You can follow the object and the initiatives or movements it proposes.
– Follow the object’s trajectory through the space. See where it leads you.
– Join the play that is emerging around you.

Non|Human play is a practical inquiry into the notion of play and the emergent aesthetics, ethics and politics it activates. The workshop consists of exercises, which invite the human participants to play together with their nonhuman counterparts: animals, objects, materials, machines and other entities. Together, these encounters constitute a field of potential, where various types of unprecedented bodies, relations and constellations may emerge.

As artists and as former children, we are familiar with the animation of inanimate objects, as well as with the attribution of imaginary, magical and anthropomorphic qualities to nonhuman beings. In this context, we will attempt to go beyond these tendencies. Here, playing is seen as a transindividual activity, which enables us to attune to, be affected by and reinvent our way of relating to others. It dissolves the established categorizations, territories and divisions between the playing bodies, inviting them to move away from preconceived subjectivities, hierarchies and power relations and enter a state of mutual inclusion, where the human cannot be told apart from the nonhuman.

As a site of subtle exchanges and radical renegotiations, the workshop poses a number of questions relevant to the themes of the colloquium: What kind of gestures, bodies, behaviors and forms of agency does play generate, and what kind of ethics or politics could be derived from them? How do we choreograph other beings and things, and how do they choreograph or compose us in return? Does the nonhuman secretly play with us just as much as we play with it? Can we play with an object without dominating or appropriating the situation, or be played with without objectifying ourselves? What emerges in and as us as we play, and how does it manifest? Do we become more human, nonhuman or inhuman in result?

Non|Human Play

Outi’s exercise from Monday

A few working hypotheses on materiality.

What if we start from the premise that everything is matter. Everything we can perceive and everything we cannot perceive whether internal or external to our perceived selves is material and everything matters?

What if we start from the premise that all this matter is equal?

What if we start from the premise that all this matter is expressive, that it is willfull, and desires to express itself in play?

What if we start from the premise that our body is a possible platform for all that matter to express itself and all matter is inviting us to play?


  1. Feeling oneself, allowing oneself to land in space and time. Preambulation: exploring the space. Landing. Settling into yourself.
  2. Nibbling here and there. Sampling possible routes, directions, playmates. Not committing yet.
  3. Staying with something, allowing it to develop. Listening to it. Where does this want to go, where is this taking me?
  4. Recognizing when something ends. Taking time to come out. Possibly going through the stages again.
  5. Harvest and thanksgiving.
Outi’s exercise from Monday


Being singular plural means the essence of being is only as co-essence. In turn, co-essence, or being-with (being-with-many), designates the essence of the co-, or even more so, the co- (the cum) itself in the position or guise of an essence…. if Being is being-with, then it is, in its being-with, the “with” that constitutes the being; the “with” is not simply an addition. This operates in the same way as collective (collégial) power: power is neither exterior to the members of the collective (collège) nor interior to each one of them, but rather consists in the collectivity (collégialité) as such…

According to these conditions, Being as being-with might no longer be able to say itself in the third person, as in “it is” or “there is”. Because there would no longer be a point of view that is exterior to being-together from which it could be announced that “there is” being and a being-with of beings, one with the other. There would be no “it is” and, therefore, no longer the “I am” that is subjacent to the announcement “it is”. Rather, it would be necessary to think the third-person singular in the first person. As such, then, it becomes the first-person plural. Being could not speak of itself except in this unique manner: “we are”. The truth of the ego-sum is the now sums; this “we” announces itself through humanity for all the beings “we” are with, for existence in the sense of being-essentially-with, as a Being whose essence is the with.

Jean-Luc Nancy: Being Singular Plural


Tiny scores for being-with

Being, vol. 1
Perceive every thing.
Observe how you are being assembled by every thing.
See what emerges.

Being, vol. 2
Perceive every thing that you excluded or did not perceive the first time.
Observe how you are being assembled by the excluded things.
See what emerges.

Being-with, vol. 1
Choose a nonhuman actor that you wish to encounter or expose yourself to.
Be with it for a while.
See what emerges.

Being-with, vol. 2
Allow yourself to be chosen by a nonhuman being.
Let it be with you and affect you.
See what emerges.

Playing, vol. 1
Choose a nonhuman actor that you wish to play with.
Play together with it for a while.
See what emerges.

Playing, vol. 2
Allow yourself to be chosen by a nonhuman actor.
Let it play together with you.
See what emerges.

Tiny scores for being-with

Sensing into the virtual

I will translate these exercises in a while.

Kuulemisen kehät
1. Kuuntele itseäsi lähinnä olevia ääniä, myös kehon sisäisiä ääniä.
2. Laajenna kuuntelemisen kehää sisällyttäen siihen kauempana ja kauempana olevia ääniä. Mikä on kauimmainen ääni, jonka pystyt kuulemaan? Jos kuuntelet sen toiselle puolen, mitä kuulet?
3. Pyri kuulemaan kaikki äänet samaan aikaan. Pyri olemaan erottamatta ääniä toisistaan ja nimeämättä niitä.

Zooming / Telescoping Awareness
1. Liikuta havaintoasi kaiken samanaikaisesta kuulemisesta pienimpien yksityiskohtien kuulemiseen.
2. Zoomaa johonkin äänelliseen/materiaaliseen yksityiskohtaan ja kuuntele sitä. Pyri eristämään ääni ympäristöstä.
3. Voit liikkua näiden eri mittakaavojen välillä: pyrkiä kuulemaan kaiken kerralla ja syventyä välillä äärimmäisen pieneen yksityiskohtaan tai yksittäiseen asiaan.

Virtuaaliset äänet
1. Laajenna kuulemistasi kuultavien/konkreettisten äänien ulkopuolelle. Miten voit kuunnella ääniä, joihin kuuloaistisi ei yllä? Ne voivat olla esim. liian hiljaisia, liian kaukaisia tai muutoin kuulemattomissa.
2. Laajenna kuuloa tilassa ja ajassa. Miten voit kuunnella tilallisesti äärimmäisen kaukaisia tai laajoja ääniä, esim. ilmastonmuutoksen tai sään ääntä? Miten voit kuunnella maan geologisten kerrosten ääniä? Entä avaruuden ääniä? Kuinka kauas galaksiin voit kuulla?
3. Ajallinen laajentaminen historiaan ja tulevaisuuteen. 10000 vuotta taaksepäin ja eteenpäin. Pyri kuulemaan kaikki nämä ajat samanaikaisesti.

Kuuntelevan subjektin poistaminen kuvasta. Mitä äänille tapahtuu, jos sinä et ole kuulemassa niitä?

Sensing into the virtual

Sharing Practices

Some notes from our practice session at the Theatre Academy

Gravity + Anti-gravity
Gravity + tonic labyrinthine reflex
Bonding with the space
Allowing the underside of the body to feel its undersidedness
Yielding to gravity without collapsing
Anti-gravity + positive support (reflex)
Sensing the rising force in the body

Stand in the space. Later, you can see if there’s another position that feels helpful to you in relation to the practice.
Breath in through the left nostril and out through the right. Allow your breath to arise from the Earth, to touch the cosmos and to fall back into the Earth. Change direction.
Move your awareness to your perineum (the spot between the anus and the genitals). Visualize a red fire ball (?) in that spot. Feel the connection between the ball and the Earth. The Earth is infinitely abundant and gives you everything you need. It also receives everything you don’t need.
Around you, there is a 360° circle. On your left, you have all the people and beings that were before you – your ancestors, your family, and everyone else. In front of you, you have the people who are present at the moment. On your right, all your descendants and everyone that will come after you. Behind you, your teachers, and the teachers that awakened the planet.
Begin sinking or falling into the Earth. You fall through all the layers, including the top soil, the crust, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core. Finally, you arrive in the center of the Earth. In the center, you can hear the background radiation that was there before all matter, and which patterned the first matter.
Repeat the breathing practice you did in the beginning.

Sensing the weather
Sense the space as weather.
Ask yourself whether there’s a way of becoming more susceptible/available/receptive to the weather instead of protecting yourself from it, whatever it may be.
Extend the sensing into the weather that lies beyond the space and the building we’re in.
Ask yourself whether there’s a way of becoming more susceptible or receptive to the weather “out there”.
Look for a way of bringing some of the weather you’ve encountered inside the space into the lobby, and outside of the building – and some of the outside weather back into the space. You can think of this as a way of circulating the air, mixing the weather, or as form of breathing.

Being with cameras
Pick up a camera. See how it invites you to move in the space, and to perceive the space.
Does the camera have access to things that are invisible to you?
Move together with the camera and the whole space.

Sharing Practices