join me on zoom to meet the neigbours at 8pm https://us04web.zoom.us/j/2382797999
I Don’t Know…. sequence at different time points in the 15 minute loop
Link to video of I Don’t Know if the trees know that I Breathe their breath sequence
Link to video of I Don’t Know if the water knows how it will make its way to the sea sequence
I don’t know if the water knows how it will make its way to the sea.
I don’t know if the road knows that I run over it.
I don’t know if the trees know that I breathe their breath.
I invite you, for a moment, to imagine yourself positioned outside of anthropocentric humanism. Consider the possibility that thought, while currently the primary mode through which humans access our surroundings, is not innately the highest or most valid access mode in existence. We ourselves have many other access modes, such as imagining, dreaming, tasting, and feeling though we habitually consider these less valid. Similarly, nonhuman entities have access modes that may be inaccessible and foreign-seeming to us, and consequently we overlook them or deem them invalid.
The advent of the geological era of the Anthropocene, with its grudging acknowledgement that human activity has been the driver of this geological epoch change, leads humans into an imaginative crisis of world. It is the end of the Human World; the world effect within which we have been living for the past 10,000 years, in which humans are separate from, and autonomously act upon, the Natural world. The Anthropocene empties out this singular world affect. Now everyone has a world, water, running down the gutter or into my bath has a world. Rocks have a world, a world in which timescales are vastly larger than our own, so huge that we have perceived them as static. The Anthropocene makes us realise that when we look at a rock we are a human looking at rock; the shape of us in there in out looking.
Interestingly we are comfortable to scientifically imagine rocks as moving as liquid over a vast time scale, however we are less comfortable to philosophically imagine a rock as acting within its own world and world time. We accept scientifically that we are, or tellingly, our bodies are made up of an array of received and inherited DNA, that bacteria living in our gut are essential to our ongoing life, yet we feel uncomfortable to think ‘I am a heaving pile of entities cohabiting’. To acknowledge that not only do I have a micro biome, but that I am a biome.
immersive video installation that utilises the eye of the camera to capture moments of entities interacting with their world, flowing, fluttering, moving through or being moved over. It invites your human knowing, eye, mind and body, to reflect on other ways of being and knowing.
I have curated an exhibtion at DEMO, Auckland NZ
In 21st-century suddenly everyone cares about climate and how it might or might not be changing, the atmosphere is filled not just with CO2, but with information and misinformation, blame, denial and handwringing. Beneath this cloud of discord, hype and anxiety we collectively and individually face a bewildering array of options and responsibilities.
The artists in If You Knew Me variously observe, reflect upon and engage with the increasingly familiar moments of awkwardness and uncertainty that now populate daily life. Small but uncomfortable choices and decisions that prickle us as we struggle to negotiate how we should now live as human-people in the epoch variously named the Anthropocene, the Capitalocene or the less pronounceable Chthulucence proposed by Donna Haraway. Uncomfortable with the ‘Anthropos’ of Anthropocene, Haraway suggests that the current moment is not so much an era in itself but an interlude between the benevolent Holocene and a yet to be definitively named future epoch, a hiatus she terms “The Great Dithering… a time of ineffective and widespread anxiety about environmental destruction”. A stuttering pause in which we know something must be done but are not sure how to do it, who should do it or what should be done. An extended moment of bewilderment as we see the reliable face of Nature, backdrop and resource of our human drama, dissolve into a disinterested biosphere, a cyclic network of entities and agencies in which we are one of many presences. In this version of ‘world’ there is no ‘infinite earthly resource’ and no ‘away’ between which to cradle the machine of human progress. With no valid prop for human exceptionalism other than self-interest and habit we are left to navigate an abrupt transition from a Nature we once stepped-upon, to a teeming biosphere within which we must negotiate a human niche.
The four artists in If You Knew Me engage with digital video, using the medium to acutely observe moments in which we dither in the face of mundane activities once considered inconsequential, now appear suddenly suspect or even duplicitous.
 Donna Jeanne Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Experimental Futures Technological Lives, Scientific Arts, Anthropological Voices (Durham London: Duke University Press, 2016).
In the term Chthulucence Haraway invokes the Chthonic ones, the ancient, ancestral powers of the earth, who cannot be contained or ignored.
The Oklahoma State University Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science, describes the Golden American Saddlebred thus:
Avoiding Mastery: Whitespace Contemporary Art 2014
Mastery, according to the Webster dictionary is knowledge and skill that allows you to do, use, or understand something very well and a state of having attained complete control of something.
My conundrum as an artist is that, whilst ‘understanding something very well’ might seem an appealing and mature virtue, its close association with having ‘complete control of something’ raises a warning flag that the cul de sac of orthodoxy lies in wait.
In art, to understand something so well as to control it runs the risk of remaking and refining something that you already know, and that your audience also knows and recognises; a closed circuit of mastery and applause. Less prone to success, but arguably more interesting is the strategy of avoiding the possibility of control, deliberately pursuing unknowing, cultivating areas of non-skill and embracing unpopular and little understood vernaculars as a vehicle for art making.
To put it more simply, maybe I think of art as a half wild pony, rather than the dressage mount. Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with dressage; I just prefer a little more excitement.