i would like to have a conversation about this
It seems to me that one of the greatest ethical challenges for thought is to encounter the world as being enough. While ontology ought not be evaluated on ethical grounds (i.e., we shouldn’t let a set of ethical and political commitments determine what is or isn’t ontologically true), it is nonetheless the case that how we think about the world has practical consequences for how we relate to the things of the world. And like James Bond, one of the repeated trends throughout the history of philosophy is to treat it as if it were not enough.
This treatment of the world as not being enough can be situated in terms of Graham Harman’s concepts of undermining and overmining. As Harman writes,
1. Undermining. You can say that objects are a shallow fiction of common sense, and that the real action happens at a deeper level: whether it be…
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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 don’t know if the water knows how it will make its way to the sea.
Installation trial, 16 August 2018
I don’t know how to access the access modes of other entities. Thinking with Timothy Morton I am attempting to adopt a position outside of anthropocentric humanism, I consider the possibility that thought, while currently the primary mode through which humans access their surroundings, is not innately the highest or most valid access mode in existence. We have many other access modes, such as imagining, dreaming, tasting, feeling, though we consider these less valid. Similarly, nonhuman entities have access modes that may be inaccessible and foreign-seeming to us and consequently deemed invalid. The possibility that nonhumans might have access modes that we had failed to notice was, for the longest time, invisible beneath the mantle of our own thought-dominant world.
The advent of the geological era of the Anthropocene, with its grudging acknowledgement that human activity has been the driver of geological epoch change, leads humans into an imaginative crisis of world. It is the end of the Human World, the end of 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 effect. Now we have to acknowledge that everyone has a world, water, running down the gutter or into my bath has a world. Rocks have a world, albeit a world in which timescales are vastly more massive than our own, so vast 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 a rock; the shape of us in there in our looking.
Interestingly we are comfortable to scientifically imagine rocks as moving liquid over a vast timescale, 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 microbiome, I am a biome.
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.
Installation trial at Massey University, 26 July 2018
Experimentaion at pearce Gallery June 2018
Blanket Hut: sharing in an intimate world acknowledges the impossibility of maintaining an anthropocentric worldview in an era of eco-crisis and invites us to tease out ways to orient ourselves within a biosphere in which we are continuous with the network of entities we previously called nature. If you are interested in joining this conversation please message me or leave a comment here and I will get back to you. full details for this Conversation here.
 In which Humans are separate from the Nature, a construction in which the natural world exists over yonder, providing both resource and backdrop for human activities.
Thanks to Yasmina Giles, Hannah Potbury and Mark van Wetering for test-driving Conversaton Pit with me.
The provocation for the first Conversation Pit was from Timothy Morton in Conversation with Verso Books focusing on the sections in which Morton introduces his term Subscendence and the possibility that ‘the whole is less than the sum of its parts’ and how this might impact on community and collective(1:31 – 12:15)
Supported by the (semi)practical provocation; if we were to accept this thinking into life, how might it lead us to re-imagine cohabitation in day to day living?
The ‘pit’ for this conversation was the Renovation-Room Conversation Pit a retro styled space in our mid-renovation study, at my home in Mt Albert.
Curated by Linda Cook, Water invites thirteen artists to respond to this fundamental liquid. The result is an eclectic mix of media and visual languages which trace our complex relationship with this essential liquid. details of the work and the contributing artists can be viewed via the e-catalogue
Thanks Linda, it is a great show. interesting and diverse.
my work for this show is titled Urban Waterfall #1 and is part of an ongoing project Urban Water in which I am observing impromptu water-ways that spring up in the city as rain seeks sea.
I have titled my new art project Conversation Pit in romantic retro–speculation for the 1960s and 70s architectural phenomena of the conversation pit. Romantic because my knowledge of it is predominantly formed through Hollywood-mediated fiction; there was not a whiff of the conversation pit in my own rural New Zealand 70s era childhood. Retro – Speculation because I speculate lines of causality and influence in my retrospective view from the 21st century.
my retro speculation:
Occupying the small durational and psychological hiatus between the radical thinking of the 60s and the TV years of the 80s the conversation pit was a physiological and psychological acknowledgement of the intrigue, intimacy and downright sexiness of the shared activity of thinking and talking together. It was a particularly 60s/70s notion to embed such a space in the home and the fabric of living. The predictably sanitising 80’s response was to take them out again. I question, was such a reversal purely architectural or was it ideological as well; to restore clear demarcation between the realms of the sensual, the sexual and the intellectual?
You will need: a mountain bike, a go-pro, a pair of crutches, a box of assorted bike accessory parts, a few long bolts and a roll of gaffer tape for on-trail repairs.
Remove the arm brace from the crutch and put them aside, you will be using the main crutch pole for this project.
Select handlebar mounts to fit the crutch and your seat pole, joining the two together. Find a bold long enough to go through the frame of your bike and the crutch, and to go between two crutches. You can now bolt the crutch to the frame utilising existing holes in both. Now just bolt the two crutch poles together matching holes on each of the poles to set up your rink at the desired height. Attach your go-pro at the end of the top crutch, it may now be adjusted to record the ground directly behind your rear wheel.
Operating your rig
Set your go pro up; you may choose to record the rear wheel as it moves across the earth or you may choose to just record the earth itself. Should you wish to record your own breath as you pedal across the earth you will need to attach an auxiliary microphone, bear in mind that this will require a cable and an adapter. you will get tangled in the cable when you dismount and that the auxiliary microphone will compromise the water resistance of your camera. While recording you will have to ride very, very slowly if you hope to get clear footage. Because the camera is so close to the ground you will tend to get blurred footage even at 80 FPS. Stop and repair your rig with gaffer tape as required. For variation in footage, rather than repairing the rig allow it to drag behind you as you ride across the earth.
Later you can clean your bike, remove the rig and reassembled the crutches
As mentioned above, you have to go very slowly…. mostly I did not go slowly enough.
I also mentioned variation in footage due to system failure: in this of footage my seat-pole attachment failed causing the rig to drag behind me like a sled. it is the one section that does exactly what I was looking for, it traces a line through the skin of the soil.