How does something arise from nothing? 

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John Wheeler believed that the names given to concepts or to descriptions of an idea strongly influence how we think about concepts and ideas, even how we work on them and build on them. In short, the word inspires the deed.

He coined the term “worm hole”

 

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What does it mean to pass forwards and backwards through time both at once? Digesting Project Wolf

Above: humandwolf manifesto by artist Alec Finlay, video shared from Common Ground 
Below: text + drawing by HS

 

Digesting Project Wolf

I add haggis to my breakfast bacon bap at Glenmoriston hotel, waiting for the bus which never arrives. I’m hungry in a carnivorous way, after prowling through a night in which we failed as wolves to find any deer. But the deer were all around us, we knew it, and I’m sure our predator eyes were spied by all those doe-eyed ones before our headlamp beams could catch their forest gazes. The ground was a sphagnum sponge and my right sock soaked it up through a crack in my welly.

The rubber boots were full and floppy and I felt prisoner to my human gait as we wound uneasy midnight paths over boulders and crags of Dundreggan. I heard once about convicts in colonial Australia who were strapped into anchor-heavy footwear, the souls of which bore the ‘broad arrow’ of crown property to imprint a traceable direction on the ground, in case they attempted escape. Our physical tracks through Dundreggan weren’t pronounced in this way, but our sonic presence marked an equivalent absence of other nighttime creatures, an absence that lingered in our wake. I mentioned to Doug that I felt more like a knock-needed fawn than a stealthy canid, and I wondered what the deer made of our clumsy group rampage through the tall and windless trees as we filled in their silence with our squelching footfall. We weren’t in pursuit of prey, I realised, so much as we were chasing our own trails, Alex carrying a GPS device to record the final night walk of the season. Our ambitious direction confirmed the outermost contour on a graph recording and mapping a month of patient territorial progress.

So Project Wolf wasn’t really about wolves as it wasn’t about deer, but tracking something else: gap-spirit of the imprint ownership leaves on a forest, pruned around capitalist patterns of thought?

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Gobbles Sound OK

 

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Panel with Kevin Logan and Richey Cary at audibleVISIONS, Goldsmiths 

 

Gobbles Sound Ok

The real skill of the practitioner lies not in skilled concealment but in the skilled revelation of skilled concealment…

For hundreds of years philosophers and artists have lamented their incapacity to adequately copy ‘nature’, with frustrated attempts at representation only serving to accelerate the increasing fissure between polarized worlds of human and animal. On the other hand hunters and trappers use finely-tuned strategies for aesthetic and audio mimesis: decoy calls and Foley performances draw a hunter into intimate proximity with his/her prey.

‘Gobbles Sound Ok’ explores the critical difference between these contrasting approaches to discourse with and around the natural world. Via Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Essay on the Origin of Languages, Dijkstra’s theory of image substitution and online hunting instructables, Gobbles Sound OK investigates the production and performance of sonic decoys and hunting lures as multi-sensory, multi-species ‘artworks’ that utilize difference to undermine the boundary between human and animal.

Cyanometer

but how does each blue see the other blues?

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http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/2010/October/SaussuresCyanometer.asp

“how to measure ‘blueness’? Using suspensions of Prussian blue, Saussure dyed paper squares every shade of blue he could distinguish between white and black. These were assembled into a numbered colour circle that could be held up to the zenith at a standard distance from the eye – the matching square established the degree of blue.”

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archive images from Land Art Mongolia 3rd Biennial, HS 2014 uurga-irregularloop.com

 

Flat Time Theory

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Last week I went to Flat Time House the once-home of artist John Latham (1921–2006) to meet with director Gareth Bell-Jones. The building now houses Latham’s archives and in many senses it embodies the cosmology the late artist proselytized and inhabited. Not unlike West African Batammaliba architecture, Flat Time House literally presents itself as a (social) body replete with ‘mouth’, ‘digestive system’, ‘brain’ and a ‘mind’ – the sunlit front room – choreographed to ensnare unsuspecting visitors in Latham’s dense philosophical dialogue. When he was alive the artist was known for his dynamic but often opaque and rambling mode of explaining the world through his work, and this tendency survives him in the concretized objects and diagrams that continue to populate the Mind and Brain of Flat Time House where Latham’s archives are kept.

Gareth had promised me ‘his version’ of a tour through these inner workings, and I went with a specific interest in learning more about Flat Time Theory, which I have come to understand as Latham’s proposition for a new conceptualization of reality, drafted with the utopian premise of shattering binary oppositions between subjects and objects by presenting All Things horizontally on a canvas of the artists own creation. The Flat Time Canvas, a sort of hyper-object, prioritizes the temporal dimension of things and – according to Latham – if one is able to experience all objects as durations in time, this lends them an equivalence without hierarchy, drawing them into undeniable relation with each another.

The tour was particularly satisfying because Latham’s works – which otherwise camouflage themselves fairly well in a more anonymous gallery context as straightforward ‘sculptures’ and ‘paintings’ – took on the role of performers or integral narrative props that literalised what might otherwise have been an indigestibly dense burrow through the diverse realms of influence that contribute to Latham’s cosmology. The point here is I suppose that, true to form, ‘flat time’ cannot be encapsulated in any single object or static sketch—moreover the objects that inhabit this world are not compliant representations that can be ‘explained’ or made sense of in isolation or through simple definition and it is therefore only in time, and probably only through some form of dialogical performance, that Flat Time might begin to unfurl itself and (if only for a fleeting instant) become legible. Perhaps this legibility then corresponds to Latham’s ‘Least Event’, discovered by the experimental spray-painting of a neighbor’s fence, the smallest possible action or moment in time that might refer equally to a single atom or an atomic explosion on a global scale. The Least Event exists inside the Mind as a one-second drawing made with spray paint, and again as a blank white canvas, alongside the Zero Event (materialized as a corresponding plane of glass). These are but two reiterating characters in a glossary that bifurcates the closer you look.

I’ve been particularly curious to discover the degree to which Flat Time, and Latham’s approach to mapping this 4D diagrammatic system, might correlate with the way I’ve been dealing with animal traps as durational objects and systematic assemblages, made of tendencies and capacities that relate to the umwelt (the sensory environment) of an animal. Traps are compelling and useful, in that they shed light on environmental relations in the context where they’re set, and have a tendency to invert general and personal assumptions regarding perspective, geometry and time. These inversions are, I suppose, a large part of what an Anthropology of Other Animals might really be about, particularly through the extended challenge that they pose to our collective reliance upon thinking of ourselves as humans in opposition to animals, subjects in an objective world, sentient beings in the context of an un-sensing material landscape, etc.

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Anthropological Traps

captura-de-pantalla-2016-01-07-a-las-12-25-26“The trap is the first and the ultimate anthropology of itself.”

Alberto Corsin Jimenez

Alberto Corsin Jimenez + Rane Willerslev are heading up a panel on ‘Anthropological Traps’ at the EASA conference in Milan this July. I’ll be joining the tangle to talk about a Mongolian lasso and non-Euclidean drawing tools, and to preview a new collaboration with Rebecca Empson, a sort of cross-species stereoscope that holds the split perspective of a pole-lasso at work as it negotiates between the worlds of herder and horse.

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The panel

“The ethnographic record is replete with accounts of trapping as a technology of hunting. Yet they failed to engage the attention of scholars as objects of theory in their own right. This panel aims to correct this omission by centering attention on ‘traps’ as spaces of ethnographic and theoretical productivity. We believe that traps offer new ground with which to rethink the comparative project of anthropology. On the one hand, traps work as interfaces between human and nonhuman forms and agencies. They blur classical distinctions between prey and predator, subject and object, nature and culture, epistemology and ontology. Secondly, traps work as ecological infrastructures. They artefactualize the density of human and nonhuman entanglements. Third, traps are space-time technologies in their own right. They are framing devices where acceleration, anticipation or waiting take hold over bodies and environments in various capacities.

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