CARPA 4

The Performing Arts Research Centre (Tutke) at the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki welcomes artistic researchers at doctoral and post-doctoral levels to take part in the fourth biannual colloquium on artistic research in performing arts:

The Non-Human and the Inhuman in Performing Arts: Bodies, Organisms and Objects in Conflict
11th – 13th of June 2015

The fourth Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts (CARPA4) asks how different practices and techniques in performing arts face the contemporary critique of anthropocentrism. How do they participate in renegotiation on the role and the limits of the human and what kind of critique does the involvement with the non-human entail?

Vision Statement

Since the end of the past century, the growing consciousness of the limits of the planet and the biosphere has highlighted the need to widen the scope of our cultural understanding towards the non-human: animals, plants and the material processes of living organisms other organisms, as well as non-organic and inanimate agents, objects, machines or “hyper-objects”. Academically, generic terms for research focusing on the non-human relation have been “post-humanism”, “new materialism” or “speculative realism”, but this research takes place simultaneously in various fields and is not necessarily unified field. What is common to all of these orientations is their attempt to make us better aware of the ways the existence of human culture is interwoven with different kinds of technological, material, biological, geological, meteorological or even cosmological processes. The revelation of the complexity and interdependence of these processes challenges the everyday logic and the principles of common ethical, economic and political argumentation.

According to the working hypothesis of CARPA4 in performing arts, this type of questioning is reaching a certain critical limit, after which it starts to encounter a new kind of resistance. The reason to this is not only the obvious fact that these arts are to a large extent dependent on the performing human bodies and their material and immaterial reincarnations. It is also true that in the post-Holocaust and post-Hiroshima era, the artistic experimentation with corporeality in theatre, dance and performance art has been extensive. This experimentation has stretched out towards the non-human levels of existence and experience, but it has equally often been a witness to states that should rather be called inhuman. We ask, to what extent does the inhuman constitute a limit to non-human aspirations? What significance has the “inhuman” in the post-humanist world?

Human bodies which previously may have been considered either as objects or as means of liberation, today constitute a source of resistance, the political or ethical meaning of which nonetheless remains uncertain or obscure. Are not the immigrant bodies swarming at the gates of Western civilization or packed in refugee camps treated in an inhuman way, as “non-“ or “less-than-human” creatures? Let alone the bodies killed, tortured and humiliated in numerous conflicts all around the world? “Humanistic” values are not a prerequisite for considering the state of these bodies as “inhuman”. But how can this ethical stance or experience be connected with the aforementioned claims concerning the non-human? Why are not all “peoploids” living under the (Western) criteria of humanity considered as the heralds of the new non-human world order? Is there finally any difference between the inhuman and the non-human in the neo-liberalist world founded on the accelerated circulation of labor, production, and capital?

It is in the performing body that the ecological question of the non-human intersects the ethical, political, pedagogical and juridical questions concerning the inhuman. But how should this intersection be understood and articulated? What consequences does it have for our ways of making, teaching and enjoying performing arts?

CARPA 4

My First Post

To be honest i’m not really interested in climate crisis per se. The way it is often narrated by instances like the IPCC, the Anthopocene -project, or climate activists offers me only an unquestionable fact that the biosphere of the planet Earth is changing, and not for good. I have no doubt about this, it’s been clear since the 1980’s! (not for me though i’ve born a year before Limits of Growth/ Our Common Future…)  :)

The style of this creates too often rather human-centered and romantic narrations like: ”crisis will make us or break us, future will be a collapse of our civilization or a new way of living together (in harmony?).”  It creates earth rise -style, hard science, extra-planetary global-scale images of our immediate surroundings from a rather hierarchical position (satellites, moon, space…) or ideas of utopian future which has no connections material reality, or people suffering in the developing countries.

These things are important to know but for me as such they offer little or no foundations forwardlooking towards the future. The steps coming after are way more interesting. (to understand the reasons, ideas and infrastructures which have kept us taking those steps for the last 30 years!)

I see (speculative/neo)-materialism, post-humanism and hacking/ hacker-ethics  helpful and capable of helping to answer questions which raise from the climate crisis like:

What could global equality and material awareness actually mean?

How should we place ourselves within the planets biosphere/ the universe?

How should we deal with our rather oily and unsustainable past/present?

What if we really want to be sustainable here and now?

And most of all, how to understand the virtual possibilities of nature (information) and limited material resources of our planet simultaneously?

For me the dearest struggle is to understand and deconstruct ideologies, ideas infrastructures and mundane habits which created (and still create) this crisis in the first place. To understand and bring up the hidden constructions which create object/subject, living/nonliving, mind/matter… dichotomies which i believe in my understanding of Deleuze+Guattari+Rosi Braidotti and nomadism are the core of this struggle against idealism.

So, I believe understanding what materialism really means, and how it changes the way we see and do things is a big question! (whether as graphic designers, performers, citizens or as people.)

McKenzie Warks ideas of a hacker, Quentin Meillassouxs and Manuel DeLandas ideas of materialism, Donna Haraways and Karen Barads queer science (beyond the two cultures of hard/soft science), studies of what google/internet is doing to our brains, Reza Negarestanis, Tere Vadens and Georges Batailles ways of deconstructing the affects and effects of fossil-fuels and energy, Benjamin Brattons way of understanding the politics of the infrastructures of today and near future are the main foundation for me at the moment.

My practise is deriving from visual communication (images taught in a very broad way) and how in materialist terms they construct, create or change us humans and the world we live in. Human body is a central anchor in this and my main interest within this research is to understand things better from that perspective.

<3t

My First Post

LAPSody 2015

We have been invited to participate in LAPSody 2015, taking place at the Theatre Academy 27-30 May 2015. Below is the proposal I sent to them in the application process. The actual event will be co-composed by those of us who are willing and able to participate in it. If you have any suggestions or questions concerning the proposal or the event, please comment on this post.

The BodyBuilding Project: An Assemblage

The BodyBuilding Project is an attempt to figure out what kind of subjectivities and relational capacities we, as beings and as a species, would need to develop in order to survive the future. It encourages us to reimagine the qualities and modes of being currently identified as human, and to begin building bodies capable of incorporating forms of knowledge and existence beyond our immediate experience and understanding.

The project consists of a perennial artistic research process and a series of public events. Both are done in collaboration with a varying group of theorists, practitioners and other creators, human and nonhuman.

At LAPSody2015, we propose sharing the current stage of our research in the form of a durational event consisting of several parallel sessions located in a single space. The sessions suggest a multiplicity of approaches to the topics of the project (as well as those of the festival), ranging from embodied practices to reading circles to freeform play and being. In the course of the event, these different modalities will gradually begin leaking and merging into each other, thus creating a mesh of emergent relations and incipient forms of co-existence between human, nonhuman and nonliving entities. The idea is to create an environment, where various forms of being, living and exchanging knowledge can not only co-exist but also constitute unprecedented assemblages and manifestations of life.

The visitors can enter, exit and circulate in the space as they wish, each finding their own way of participating in the creation of the event. The doors will remain open throughout the entire time.

Working Group
Anniina Ala-Ruona, Saara Hannula, Ilpo Heikkinen, Robert Kocik, Satu Palokangas, Tommi Vasko, Carmen C. Wong

Duration
Minimum 180min (negotiable)

Space
White Box or Black Box

Technical Requirements
Mixer and a sound system, 4 loudspeakers (negotiable)
Lighting board, 5-8 spotlights (negotiable)

LAPSody 2015

Articles

Climate.gov
NOAA Climate.Gov on FB

Global Warming: The Weather Channel Position Statement (The Weather Channel, Oct 30 2014)
The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out? (Real News, Oct 3 2014)
Are We Approaching the End of Human History? (Bill Moyers, Sept 9 2014)
Climate Science as Sensory Infrastructure (The White Review, Issue 11)
Unohdetaan planeetan pelastaminen (Vihreä lanka, Aug 28 2014)
The Climate Swerve (The New York Times, Aug 23 2014)
How to Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen (The Atlantic, Aug 13 2014)
Global warming: it’s a point of no return in West Antarctica (The Guardian, May 17 2014)
What Your Body Tells You About Your Emotional State (The Mind Unleashed, May 13 2014)
Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt (The New York Times, May 12 2014)
It’s the End of the World as We Know It (The New York Times, April 17 2014 )
Hope in the Age of Collapse (Thoreau Farm, April 14 2014)
We Are All Very Anxious (We Are Plan C, April 4 2014)
Epävakaa ilmasto rantautuu Suomeen (HS, March 30 2014)
Self-administered EMDR (Brave New Whatever, March 29 2014)
About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization (Discover Magazine, March 21 2014)
Respirer tue – Rationnons l’air pur (Pièces et main d’oeuvre, March 19 2014)
Without clean air, we have nothing (The Guardian, March 17 2014)
Suomalaistutkija sivilisaatiomme romahdusuhasta: “Ei muuta kun tulta päin!” (IS, March 22 014)
Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’? (The Guardian, March 14 2014)
Good For Nothing (The Occupied Times 4.3.2014)
Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt (New Statesman, Oct 29 2013)
#Accelerate Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics (Critical Legal Thinking, May 14 2013)
Polyvagal Theory, Sensory Challenge and Gut Emotions (sott.net, Jan 10 2013)
Ilmastotutkija: Jos metaani vapautuu ilmakehään… (yle.fi, Oct 2 2012)
The Occupied Times: Madness

Link

Project Description 2014

We are caught in a vortex of politically, economically and environmentally precarious circumstances that are shaking the very basis of our planetary existence. The situation can be seen as a turning point that will either make us or break us: we can either continue spiraling towards the collapse of civilization or set out to reinvent our ways of being and living together.

The BodyBuilding Project is an attempt to figure out what kind of subjectivities and relational capacities we, as beings and as a species, would need to develop in order to survive the future. It encourages us to reimagine the qualities and modes of being currently identified as human, and to begin building bodies capable of incorporating forms of knowledge and existence that are beyond our immediate experience and understanding. The aim of the project is to develop a series of embodied practices that can be trained both collectively and individually and transmitted from one being to another.

The project consists of a collaborative research process and a series of public events. The first event took place at the Baltic Circle Festival in November 2014, where we provided the public with an introduction to the general approach and a sequence of preliminary exercises that could be used to set the bodies of the future in motion. In 2015, we will set up a durational performance installation and a series of events at Galleria Augusta. The events will be a part of Frontiers in Retreat, a five-year project coordinated by HIAP.

* * *

The BodyBuilding Project was originally initiated in 2007, in the context of a three-week artist residency at the Watermill Center on Long Island, NY. During the residency, a highly international and interdisciplinary group of artists and art students researched and developed material in response to a first peak in the awareness of global warming. The basics of this approach were laid down in two essays self-published under the title “Enactivism: on Urgent Art for Social Climate Change” and in The BodyBuilding Project, the original research report of the project. Since then, the project’s basic premises and approach have only confirmed their relevance and urgency.

Project Description 2014

Research Themes 2014

Abilities
What kind of abilities do we need to develop in the face of being overrun by the conditions (read: ourselves) and finally becoming extinct? Do we need to become increasingly able, apt and adaptable, or is it time to overcome fitness? What can we learn from the oversensitive, the overwhelmed and the disabled?

Affects
How are we affected by the phenomena and the events around and within us? How do we prevent ourselves from being affected by what is going on? What kinds of affects and embodied processes do the current economical, social and political conditions encourage and inflict? How do they affect our way of relating to or empathizing with other beings? How can we resist certain affects and encourage others?

Being-with
How can we develop new ways of attuning and relating to each other, as well as other “living” and “nonliving” beings? What should these relational capacities or forms of coexistence be, and how do they change our ways of living? How do we want to be or live together?

Climate Crisis
What is the current situation concerning the climate? What kinds of environmental changes is it inflicting, and what is coming in the near and far future? What are the historical, economical and political forces behind this situation, and how could they be redirected?

Matter
How do we relate to matter and “nonliving” beings? How can they come alive for us? How can we sensitize ourselves to the material processes that govern much of our lives, as well as those that are utterly foreign to us? How can we get access to the knowledge matter possesses?

Responses
What are the bodily response mechanisms that come into play when we are asked to respond to a certain situation or event? How are they fired and why? Why do our bodies activate in certain situations, while in others they remain passive and indifferent? What is required for us act in relation to an event that doesn’t happen in our immediate proximity or have a direct or identifiable impact on us?

Transmission
How can the above-mentioned responses and abilities be transmitted from one person to another? What is the role of affect, empathy (be it kinesthetic or emotional) or energy circulation in this process? What kind of ways of being with does the process of transmission suggest and give rise to?

Research Themes 2014

Project Description 2007-2008

Salvation fitness for an endangered species; No-time-to-wait training for the muscular but bound; a Wake-up calisthenics to build strength in numbers one by one and Jump! to it.

The BodyBuilding Project undertakes to create a participatory movement exercise in response to the world’s climate crisis. Through intensive conceptual and bodily research into themes of panic and inaction, we are working to evolve a movement form that will assist its practioners in activating their emergency response mechanisms on a voluntary basis. This form will consist of a simple, easy-to-learn movement that both symbolizes and minimally activates a salutory panic response. Its clumsy working title: “The Composure-Panic Immediate Activation Exercise”. A sort of issue-specific Tai Chi or Qi Gong, the form will function both as a regular mental/physical training exercise that can be practiced and transmitted privately, and as the basis for a participatory performance spectacle to raise awareness of the urgency of our situation and encourage people (through muscular/physiological sensation rather than words or images) to take action.

Once the form has been developed and refined to a sufficient degree, it will be shared in an ongoing series of transmission rituals, both for its own meditative/motivational value, and as a polemical “movement meme” against inaction.

* * *

The BodyBuilding Project is a somatics-focused arts initiative to address the global climate crisis. Our aim is to evolve and deploy a mode of artistic address that will effectively speak urgent reason in the body’s language. Launched with a 3-week research and development residency at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in September 2007, we have since produced a 200 page book capturing our basic working method and materials, and at the time of this writing are commencing a second phase of development on the movement form. Working with collaborators in Berlin and Helsinki, we are currently focusing on refining the existing movement material into a highly simplified and easily transmissable movement exercise for ritual transmission.

2006, already two years behind us, will go down in history as the year global warming became common knowledge. We were told then by the world’s leading scientists and social advocates that we had 10-15 years to reverse the trend or it would be too late. Our inability to respond with anything like the helpful panic of an organism about to save its own life shows how wide the gap really is between our rational and our bodily intelligences, and between us as individuals and the collective, species-level body we must identify with if we are to survive. Organismic, species and planetary wisdoms must be empowered to find their voice in the increasingly hysterical and groundless fray of contemporary debate. How? By a radical reenfranchisement of bodily “getting it” as the endangered substrate of knowing, planning and acting. We do not have time to talk ourselves out of world war, economic breakdown and climate failure, but we do have time for the whole symphony of tiered and reasoned reflex responses by which the human and planetary body will finally speak up on its (our own) behalf.

BodyBuilding is an interdisciplinary arts initiative to sound a tuning note for the onset of this symphonic gut reaction. Through careful embodied analysis of our crisis condition – taking prominent sociological, psychological, and political/economic formulations into account – we will focus in on particular points of blockage and impasse precluding corrective action. Processing a particular formulation of the impasse through a series of conceptual, sensory and movement exercises, we will derive the kinaesthetic figure of the impasse, the structured dynamic of stimuli, response impulses, and response inhibitions that in case after case continues to short-circuit the salvational agency of our species-wide common sense. Inverting this figure we have the antidote of a counterfigure, the gestural key to training visceral and kinaesthetic readiness for breaking the cycle of deflations, and for opening a channel to the sea-changes latent in a disinhibited biological passion to respond.

This figure will form the basis of a movement exercise which we will develop and prepare for transmitting to others. The transmission itself will be designed as a scalable participatory event, whereby anyone who has learned the form can pass it on to others, either individually or in groups, and either in a quiet private setting, or as a more elaborate public happening. In either case the transmission will serve the ritual function of spreading the exercise and with it the divine spark of an agitation to act.

Project Description 2007-2008