Here’s the grant application I sent to the Arts Promotion Centre today. I thought some of you might want to apply for other grants – you can use this text as a basis as you like. Unfortunately, it’s in Finnish, so it doesn’t help all of us.
Here is a link to a video sketch that I made from the documentation material on two last practice circles. The password to the video is: documentation.
Last week we did some exercises about being with cameras.
We wanted to begin to think about how we could communicate the body building praxis to people who do not practice with us.
Like the last couple weeks before, we went to the Suomenlinna island. It was sunny.
I had brought with me an action cam and a super tiny, finger-size video camera. Anniina brought her dslr. We did a swap so that all of us had a thing we did not really know how to use.
Rather than documenting what we were actually doing, (exercises about exploring our relationship, with the place and ) we treated the equipment as equal contributors (or actants..) for the awareness exercise.
The Cameras were able to go to places we could not go…
..they also made us do things which we would not have (probably) done without their Impulse…
…and they were able to record perspectives we could not see with our own eyes.
At that moment the co-existence with these non-humans felt good and in no way difficult nor limiting.
Now going trough the material on my computer a week later, the intention of leaving intentions and linear storytelling behind and letting cameras do their thing is pretty obvious. It’s a folder of images which do not talk in a straight forward, clear and well articulated way.
This first set of eating exercises should be done by members in working group, who can report back with their reflections. I look forward to your responses, Saara, Anniina, Tommi and Ilpo.
The next set (in an upcoming post) are exercises that you can try out in a larger group or in open training sessions (with some prep and facilitation required).
7 meals to/by 7 people
Feed or be fed by a new person at least once a day for a week, an entire meal if possible, if not, a snack.
What kinds of dependencies are being enacted?
How do you feel when fed/being fed?
What textures are easier to feed? What textures are good to be fed?
What was being conversed about during the feeding?
How does time pass in each instance? (Feeding v being fed)
Did some meals have special significance over overs? Why/How?
Can you remember their choreographies?
What makes certain feeders/eaters distinct in their ways of feeding/eating?
Lunch Duet (done over a few days or a work week)
Actively keep someone (who is eating alone) company while they eat – either with or without their knowledge. This may be easier to do in a university cafeteria or at a cafe during lunch.
You may alternate eating with them or not eating while they eat, to see if there is a difference.
Try not speaking while doing this. Are there other means of communication that can be depended?
Is there a change of dynamic when they know you are keeping them company? What changes/how is it experienced?
How can this not be merely an observation exercise?
Are responses different by gender? Does it matter?
This time there were me, Tommi and Ilpo together in Suomenlinna. We walked around the island a bit and made an hour-long exercise, after which we discussed on Latour’s text: Waiting for Gaia. Composing the common world through arts and politics and Morton’s Ecological Thought and considered how the reading of these texts affect on our exercising and reflection on our experiences. We also dealt with issues on art and how would we want to present our statements and political views through and with it.
The exercise included two phases, which were not necessarily made chronologically, but could overlap and happen also at the same time. I will present them here however as separated phases in order to make the starting point for the exercise clearer. I will call the first one ”mesh” to illustrate the idea of interconnectedness, which is in the focus. This of course also creates an intentional link to Morton’s text. Both of the exercises are based on exercises created by Saara and Outi. The first is based on the exercise: Mycelium of Nerves, following it to some degree with sligh changes. The second phase is a being-with exercise.
Phase 1: Mesh (based on Mycelium of Nerves)
1. Find yourself a place/space where you want to start.
2. Stand still, sit on the ground or lay yourself down with your eyes closed. Feel your body, feel the ground underneath it.
3. Start to spread your consciousness to your network of nerves and slowly broaden your network to your surroundings through your feet or other part of your body that you connect to the ground with.
4. You may open your eyes, and start to move. Try not to name anything or limit your perception on anything. Feel yourself as a sentient organ of a mycelium of your interconnected surroundings. What information do you get? Allow yourself to be affected of the interconnectedness.
Phase 2: Being-with version 1
1. Position yourself next to a being or thing (e.g. a tree).
2. Observe the way the being/thing is and attune/relate to it through your position, attitude and quality of being. What information can you get from it?
3. Allow yourself to be affected and changed by the being/thing you’re with.
4. Become the being/thing to a degree that is available to you.
5. Share the findings with another person. Teach them how to be a tree etc.
All of us approached different enitites such as a cliff, the sun, the sea or corroded steel, and shared our experiences afterwards. Especially being-with a massive cliff or an immense sea aroused questions on perspective and scale: can encouters with enormous entities ”make our thinking bigger” and deepen our ecological thought, or is it only giving us emancipatory or somehow soothing experiences by showing our minimal size in front of truly extensive and in all directions interconnected questions of ecological crisis? What kind of is the relation with the questions that are ”too big for everybody”, as Latour puts it, and our intimate and close surroundings and subjective experience of being in the world?
“When human beings convert some part of their environment into food, they create a peculiarly powerful semiotic device.” A. Appadurai (Gastro-Politics in Hindu South Asia)
For this my first post, I thought I’d share my research and how it connects to the BodyBuilding project. I have self-identified as a normadic artist-reseacher who uses the everyday performance of food and eating as my hybrid medium, examining it as an act of being, expression and belonging. I have become intensely fascinated by the inherent, emotive and creative materiality and sensory play when humans come in touch with food; and invested in the place and origin of where food is grown, prepared, shared, ingested as a socio-cultural material, “a constant need but a perishable good” inherent in our everyday lives. With each food bearing its own symbolisms within social and cultural systems, my research only scratches the surface of these endless permutations of meaning-making (even as it tries to conjoin new associations to existing eating rituals and presentations).
Part of my research involves attempts to move between the macro world of food: agricultural and various national and international policies governing biodiversity, food sovereignty and security (and the resulting laws, ethics, technologies and local movements that provide alternative responses to these issues); and the micro: what are some deeply personal food rituals that feed us beyond nutrition, and why these micro-ethnologies and micro-choreographies matter as an accompanying humanizing narrative (one that reveals our connection/culpability?) within these larger food-based ecologies and economies. My work in the past has thus far been an examination of past art meals (and a literal means for audiences to consume art), and has increasing evolved into a re-interpretation of everyday food/eating acts, rituals and choreographies, storytelling from various sentient, hungry beings. I smile thinking that the next stage may lead my work to scatalogical waters but for now my plate is pretty full with various links and associations within this niche area of food and performance, and the different ways to organize these knowledges so I might create contemplative environments between humans and food-materials that they might ingest. I wish to see how my participation in this BodyBuilding project might reorganize (for me) a new food-based bio-body-politik that takes into account non-human food materials with the emotive (and nostalgic), the macro- and micro-narratives, and the human eater as yet another material being within this ecology of eating performances.
It has been a real treat to read post-training reflections by others in the group, and utilize the readings (Morton specifically, also Bennett) as a connection point. Some of my initial research questions intersect with the themes of the project in the following ways:
- Beyond what we eat, how (in what conditions/environment, with what new rituals or what established attitudes) could we eat in order to best grow empathy or connectivity?
- What sort of choreographies of growing/preparing/eating foods are often overlooked or are of personal interest to individuals in the working group? Why/What other themes are uncovered that may be relevant?
- To what extent are we able to include food symbology or eating rituals within the ecology of the performances in this project? To what end might these help amplify or focus or give voice to ideas that the group is interested in expressing?
I look forward to being able to be more involved in the conversation by sending exercises to the working group to try out when you meet, and can’t wait to hear/see the responses.