FRAGMENTS, QUARTZ AND COLLECTED THOUGHTS
FRAGMENTS, QUARTZ AND COLLECTED THOUGHTS
Observe now your own epoch of history, as it appears to the Last Men. Long before the human spirit awoke to clear cognizance of the world and itself, it sometimes stirred in its sleep, opened bewildered eyes, and slept again. One of these moments of precocious experience embraces the whole struggle of the First Men from savagery toward civilization. Within that moment, you stand almost in the very instant when the species attains its zenith. Scarcely at all beyond your own day is this early culture to be seen progressing, and already in your time the mentality of the race shows signs of decline.i
Ground zero is usually an-other, a place outside, but now it is us – inside us. A kind of Oroboros, Timothy Morton likens this sinking realisation of our ecological entwinement to detective stories, also Bladerunner or Opedius Rex where the hunter has been in fact hunting - himself. ‘Not all of us are prepared to feel sufficiently “creeped out” by this epiphany’,ii he says. But there’s another twist: even though humans have caused the Anthropocene, we cannot control it. ‘Oh, my God! My attempt to escape the web of fate was the web of fate.’iii Current events shed light on Morton’s claims: that the Anthropocene is forcing a revolution in human thought. ‘Advances in science are now underscoring how “enmeshed” we are with other beings – from the microbes that account for roughly half the cells in our bodies, to our reliance for survival on the Earth’s electromagnetic heat shield.’iv Within “the mesh” concepts, objects and categories become obsolete. As our ‘hyperspace’v rapidly dissolves, we uncannily uncover our ‘hyper objects’. vi
Our vital centrum, the human lung, has been defined as the eye of this contemporary plague. The virus then moves on to further degeneration of the human brain, heart and other vital organs. The lungs – the very molecular meeting point of the human body, and it’s environment. Outside meets inside. Breathe in - Breathe out. Air and atmosphere, that has been regenerating, and circulating, for millennium. We find ourselves encompassed by the molecular abject and surrounded by our own taboos, zeroing in on what serves us to survive.
Feeling anxious? Let the outside circle inside you. The chemistry of anxiety stems back to the hunter-gatherer. Navigating danger for survival, namely food sources. Once the source is targeted, dopamine rewards and concretes the zone of nourishment, so that the hunter knows where to return. When in danger or uncertainty, the human brain works in algorithms or loops to establish the calming effect of this fundamental chemistry. Anxiety, addiction and distraction are all products of the brain in its hunt for the chemistry of calm, nourishment, pleasure or satisfaction. Are you reaching for your phone? How is your personal archive? Thoughts or memory loops? Your feed?
Tilda Swinton’s voice softly drones to the pulse of the green neon radio wave. 2020 - New Zealand International Film Festival online – Johann Johannsson’s filmic interpretation of Olaf Stapledon’s 1930’s novel First and Last Men. Sensual shots track over Spomeniks, grand Slavic brutalism, speaking to post war utopia, yet framed now as post apocalyptic monuments and the yes… odes to the last men. ‘Two billion years ahead of us, a future race of humans finds itself on the verge of extinction. Almost all that is left in the world are the lone and surreal monuments, beaming their message into the wilderness’.vii
EARTH 2020 – The human machine is at a stand still – all is untouchable. Some complain of boredom from their armchairs. Disasters are often so fast and furious analysed and experienced in hindsight by survivors, archaeologists, scientists, forensics and thinkers. Celebrated historically in the Museum, as it monumentalises our experience, our achievements, and preserves our, at once, vital and fragile worlds. This disaster is slow and invisible; inside us, surrounding us, evolving with our every minute. We start to wonder on our ever-lasting monuments – statues, landfills of idle possessions or future fossils?
Imagine geologists from a future civilisation examining the layers of rock that are in the slow process of forming today, the way we examine the rock strata that formed as the dinosaurs died off. That civilisation will see evidence of our sudden (in geological terms) impact on the planet – including fossilised plastics and layers both of carbon, from burning carbon fuels, and of radioactive particles, from nuclear testing and explosions – just as clearly as we see evidence of the dinosaurs’ rapid demise.vi
Dark artifacts are not only the objects that we will leave behind, some that will change the form of the structures of ecology itself, but are also Hyperobjects. Timothy Morton’s concept of Hyperobjects transitions space and time - Plutonium, global warming and nuclear radiation. ‘Hyperobjects invoke a terror beyond the sublime… a massive cathedral dome, the mystery of the stone circle, have nothing on the sheer existence of hyperobjects.’ viii Michael Shanks concludes an essay Darkness and Decay (on artifacts and interpretive archaeology) with comments that uncannily echo Morton: ‘Herein is a recovery of strangeness (strange-mess) and historical particularity. A pot becomes something unfamiliar, yet still understandable. And we too are monstrous and outrageous assemblages of material practices, interests, goods and thoughts.’ ix
we are in the middle of a mass extinction event
but it’s weird to think that there have already been five other ones
it’s also interesting in relation to the art world, how art somehow worships history and archive
or it’s like both totally amnesiac and forcing “contemporaneity”
but it is also protecting like slide projectors and film reels and bronze casting and lithography
like an umbrella to all these soon extinct manufacturing techniques
i guess there is no question here yet hehe
i read this super interesting article about how plexiglass and plastics are actually not that permanent — plexi boxes
develop “acid rains”, bacteria eats through plastics, etc.. a lot of these contemporary synthetic materials are actually
more vulnerable than pottery
yeah or like it is clear that most people won’t have the access to the “livable” part of the future
and also weird to think again about archives and museums, when all this art value might just get wiped out
it’s kind of a simulation
like i think about it all the time, how will we be remembered
what is going to be left behind
it’s kinda like the “anthropocene”
like for that word to matter we have to first imagine a geologist that lives 100,000 years in the future
and needs to have a name for whatever this was
which is like a really abstract seeming projection right now
i think the same goes for post-internet
like it’s the name that this stuff could be described with if there is art history in the future
or things become “history” in 30 months
it is also about what gets to be fossilized and what doesn’t too
not everything will be discoverable even
so the view of us from 100,000 will already be distorted
and even the view of what we did in 2010 has been distorted since 2013
so yes, 30 months hehe
yeah, we get back to the beginning of the chat in a nice way hehe
like how collectivity, slimy online culture blobs
maybe disappear because they’re not an anecdote, not a narrative
but The Artists might remain in history because individual narratives are strong enough as a
format “ x
POMPEII 79AD - Ground zero. Napoli, Campania, Italy. The eruption of Mt Vesuvius destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Opiontis and Stabiae, The eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ashes and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km, erupting molten rock and pulverized pumice into the atmosphere ultimately releasing 100,000 times the thermal energy released by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than 1,000 people are thought to have died. The only surviving eyewitness account of the event consists of two letters by Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus.
NAPOLI 2013 – I joined Mark Dion and team in Napoli, Italy. Mark was preparing for his exhibition The Pursuit of Sir William Hamilton at Museo Pignatelli, in collaboration with Fondazione Morra Greco, 30 Nov 2013 to 31 Jan 2014. I joined the team to paint sea creatures and muse on what had passed in Pompeii in 79AD and it’s archaeological aftermath. Over the time between 2010 and 2015 I befriended Mark Dion and team while living in New York and Europe - one of my best friends is his assistant and clans woman. There was a sense of familiarity and relief that the fields of scientific exploration could combine again within art. My parents, forerunners in conceptual, experimental and earth art in NZ in the 1970s, my upbringing rich in ecological, natural history and geological, art educations.
Mark Dion is a pioneer in art explored as archaeology and his theatre of science. Weaving together his passions for archaeology, science and surrealism. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society. He looks to surrealism to deflect the righteous voice of reason in regard to scientific navigations. Mark describes his work as existing between two bookends. It begins with that initial moment of enthusiasm felt by Europeans when discovering that the world was far more diverse than they had ever imagined, and ends with the current sense of mourning for all that lost biodiversity, eliminated by development, hunting, pollution, and climate change. Navigating the chasm between colonialism and capitalism. In The Pursuit of Sir William Hamilton figures sit as “trophies” of knowledge in Dion’s particular web, including Benjamin, Smithson and Foucault.
RENDEZVOUS 2015, (my PGDipFA) married the tropes of human touch, archaeological fieldwork and investigations in the expanded fields of sculpture, to the bent of eco-feminist matters. A meeting point of human and non-human and new critical understandings of biodiversity and symbiosis as we move through the sixth mass extinction. In Anthropocene Feminism written in the same year, amongst Karen Barad’s entangled webs of what she calls spacetimematterings and Elixabeth Groz’s Time travels, is Lynne Huffer’s essay ‘ Foucault’s Fossils: Life Itself and the Return to Nature in Feminist Philosophy.’ Huffer draws together Foucault’s readings of fossils, madness, sexuality and the monsterous - to map a “murmuring” underbelly of “history, life and nature” or as it has been defined to human limitations since the 18th century and the enlightenment. Foucault argues in The Order of Things, the spatial ruptures of eighteenth-century European thought transformed natural history into the historicity of nature and, with it, the possibility of life itself, the spatial continuity that defines our contemporary age might be ruptured through a radical rethinking of nature’s archives of absence: the fossil record. ‘My object,’ Foucault says, ‘is not language but the archive.‘ xi It is this Foucauldian archival approach to rethinking the material traces of absence or death that can break open the metaphysical frame of life itself that characterises some feminist renaturalization projects.
If fossilized nonhuman lives appear as stone, Foucault’s infamous human lives appear as ashes or dried plants and flowers organized in an herbarium as an “anthology of existences.” Fossils emerge as if from the ocean floor in the shape of “ear, or skull, or sexual parts, like so many plaster statues, fashioned one day and dropped the next, as the cast-off parts of a human; the logic of resemblance peculiar to the fossil recasts those human parts as sea shell, bird, or worm. Foucault’s historically contingent, emergent conception of life forces us to engage with the materiality of the traces of the past through which we construct our present un-derstanding of ourselves, not only as individual disciplinary subjects but, more urgently, in our massification as population and even as a geomorphic force. xi
One bomb, falling beside the British Museum, turned the whole of Bloomsbury into a crater, wherein fragments of mummies, statues, and manuscripts were mingled with the contents of shops, and morsels of salesmen and the intelligentsia. Thus in a moment was destroyed a large proportion of England's most precious relics and most fertile brains. xii
FEBRUARY 2020 – On collecting and reflecting on fragments of exploded minds. A month before lockdown I read an article about vitrified human brains found near Pompeii. The heat had moved through the human skull so fast that the exploded brain had turned to black glass. Experts say they have discovered that splatters of a shiny, solid black material found inside the skull of a villager at Herculaneum appear to be the remains of human brain tissue transformed by heat. They say the find is remarkable since brain tissue is rarely preserved at all due to decomposition, and where it is found it has typically turned to soap. Analysis of the proteins in the mass confirmed that the glass pieces were mostly brain matter, with some vitrified fat from human hair mixed in. That mixing is likely the result of the explosion of the skull and the swirling volcanic ash.
This is obsidian?
Yeah, right. Ultimately you're into, let's say, the unpredictability of a kind of mental volcano. You really don't know . . .
In other words they're erupted land forms too, or, they resulted because of . . . processes in extreme heat. And yet they're so cool, I mean there can be nothing more cool, cold almost ...
... By setting up this back-and-forth situation, it's like the volcano erupting and it's sending out this material ...
Does obsidian form in, like the shape of the volcano?
Yeah, well the obsidian is always close to the center, and the lava will move out to the outer edges so that the obsidian is close to the center because it's involved in a greater heat breakdown, and the lava as it spills out is already a more . . . [entropic material) .. . . You have that dialogue between the dispersed lava and the concentrated obsidian, so you have a dense material, and a much lighter material, this is pumice actually. ... You could look up the difference between skerry and pumice in The Geologic Dictionary . ... If you got into the difference between the properties of obsidian and the properties of lava, then you'd be led more into the notion of the center and the circumference.” xiv
Ceramics is a crystalline matrix. The main ingredient in ceramics glaze is quartz, one of the most abundant minerals found on the surface of the earth. Known by the chemical name silicon dioxide, quartz is a crystalline solid. It is then mixed with flux like calcium carbonate and a refractory. After bisque firing the clay at around 950 C the bisqueware is then fired at a heat that vitrifies the glaze binding it to the clay body around 1200 C. Basaltic lava usually erupts at 1100-1200 C on the surface of the Earth but by the time it is at the surface there are usually a few crystals starting to form. Rhyolite lavas erupt closer to 800-900 C. Thermal radiation is electromagnetic radiation generated by the thermal motion of particles in matter. All matter with a temperature greater than absolute zero emits thermal radiation. Infrared radiation emitted by animals and cosmic microwave background radiation are examples of thermal radiation. Radiation from Earth's surface is absorbed or scattered by the atmosphere. Though about 10% of this radiation escapes into space, most is absorbed and then re-emitted by atmospheric gases. It is this spectral selectivity of the atmosphere that is responsible for the planetary greenhouse effect, contributing to global warming and climate change.
Calcium carbonate is bones, rocks, corals – fossils and our fragmented successors and divine monuments. A coral reef structure is made of thin layers of calcium carbonate and coral polyps form a living mat over a calcium carbonate skeleton. Where the oceanic crust is subducted under a continental plate, sediments will be carried down to warmer zones in the asthenophere and lithosphere. Under these conditions calcium carbonate decomposes to produce carbon dioxide which along with other gases, gives rise to explosive volcanic eruptions.
Piezoelectric pressure on rocks such as quartz can also trigger earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Touch and heat activate quartz in piezoelectricity via communication devices like touchtone screens in mobile phones. Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure and latent heat.
In Crystalogy clear quartz crystals are known as the "master healer" and will amplify energy and thought, as well as the effect of other crystals. It absorbs, stores, releases and regulates energy. Clear quartz draws off negative energy of all kinds, neutralising background radiation, including electromagnetic smog or petrochemical emanations. It balances and revitalises the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes. Cleanses and enhances the organs and subtle bodies and acts as a deep soul cleanser, connecting the physical dimension with the mind. Clear quartz enhances psychic abilities. It aids concentration and unlocks memory. Stimulates the immune system and brings the body into balance, harmonising all the chakras and aligning subtle bodies.
The Third Eye - 100 to 300 microcrystals per cubic millimetre were found in each of 20 different human pineal glands. These crystals have been found to have piezoelectric properties, meaning they expand and contract when in the presence of electromagnetic fields. This is a significant find in light of the fact that the brain is known to produce an electromagnetic field. And we know that radio stations, can be picked up by piezoelectric crystals without the use of electricity. So the notion that the pineal gland could play a role in the nonlocal reception of information is not so far-fetched after all,
So many communication systems and entities sit outside of human comprehension. Another example is plant inter webs as navigated via Fungi. While mushrooms might be the most familiar part of a fungus, most of their bodies are made up of a mass of thin threads, known as a mycelium. We now know that these threads act as a kind of underground internet, linking the roots of different plants. That tree in your garden is probably hooked up to a bush several metres away. Tomato plants can “eavesdrop” on defense responses and increase their disease resistance against potential pathogen. Mycorrhizae allow plants to share food and they help them defend themselves. Some plants steal from each other using this “internet”. Some of these plants, such as the phantom orchid, get the carbon they need from nearby trees, via the mycelia of fungi that both are connected to. Fungus expert Paul Stamets called them ‘Earth's natural internet‘.xv He first had the idea in the 1970s when he was studying fungi using an electron microscope. Stamets noticed similarities between mycelia and ARPANET, the US Department of Defense's early version of the internet.
yeah there is almost no paleontological research of mushrooms, because they hardly left any fossils, although we know
that mushrooms are one of the largest clusters of life
it is a crude form, the individual, it is carried by gossip and faces, and those are remembered better
there is something nice about that thought with the mushrooms
like the mushroom is a dance while the mammal is a sculpture
mushrooming as a performance
like the mammal leaves an awkward skeleton behind mushroom just does its shit and disappears
mushrooming as tumblr
mushrooms as status updates
of the network that lies beneath the ground
basically i think we are a conflicted generation
we are on the edge of all these things, ultimately still pulled towards the old fashioned institutions
like guilt of playing to the old order when u can smell the new mushroom scene coming up
that ‘s very venice too
but in our hearts we know things will and have to radically mutate
yeah, not many things were placed
but maybe that was also the point …
the gooey global mediocre similarity of forms
or the vague feeling of being in the future
i think “futurity” seems to mean that often now
comes from like all the specificity disappearing
like cleaned from trauma or something
that is a big upside about the white cube
like that it creates this “neutral” / calm environment where things can be contemplated as if without a context in a way
or with this over-historical context that is not somehow unstable or messy or full
it’s so weird to think that if we could all somehow just stop trying to fix things
the ecosystem would simply go on and fix itself
like that there’s nothing essentially wrong with the world
besides our attempts to like “fix it”
like that the inactivity is not the problem, the activity is, although this is also
a lazy person’s justification for watching seinfeld at home
Say that we invoke ideas, or concepts, or systems, and perhaps they are invoking these totemic deities in the same way. That's one of the things that runs parallel to this, that for them, these were like a kind of symbolic language that involved a particular kind of what I call totemic perception, which is as true or false as what we have. I don't think that language, once again, is an ideal thing, but that it's a material thing. And these spring from the psyches of people in different kinds of environments. Their reading of the world around them might be quite accurate in terms of these things that we call deities. They didn't refer to them as totems. We take that from anthropology. xvii
The perceived other - explored and dissected via the sciences, religions, arts, industries and our over-arching minds. Curiosity is another human mind loop mode rewarded with dopamine, this time as it ventures into the unknown. It is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in humans and other animals. Curiosity is heavily associated with all aspects of human development, in which derives the process of learning and desire to acquire knowledge and new horizons. Curiosity as a behaviour and emotion is attributed over millennia as the driving force behind not only human development, but also developments in science, language, and industry.
As children, touch is our innate mode of curiosity, exploration, connection and learning. It seems as we grow our very mode of intuitive connection, like intuition itself often becomes a taboo. Our futures are built by curiosity, as we bend our boundaries, and try to marry our limits at once. Keeping in touch becomes amplified in the current context of the pandemic where connectivity is fractured and at the same time escalated. We are reduced to haptics and further intrenchments of knowledge loops. Our understanding of connection redefines itself as the simplicity of human touch and physical interface becomes the enemy. A strange intimate bio warfare with ourselves, at once divides us and draws us together. Beyond or through “the surface” is the abject or taboo. But even before the pandemic the tendency to categorise the unfathomable, undesirable or abject “away” from our selves has become human nature or is our instinct to survive.
A baby vomits curdled milk. She learns to distinguish between the vomit and the not-vomit, and comes to know the not-vomit as self. Every subject is formed at the expense of some viscous, slightly poisoned substance, possibly teeming with bacteria, rank with stomach acid. The parent scoops up the mucky milk in a tissue and flushes the wadded package down the toilet. Now we know where it goes. For some time we may have thought that the U-bend in the toilet was a convenient curvature of ontological space that took whatever we flush down it into a totally different dimension called Away, leaving things clean over here. Now we know better: instead of the mythical land Away, we know the waste goes to the Pacific Ocean or the wastewater treatment facility. Knowledge of the hyperobject Earth, and of the hyperobject biosphere, presents us with viscous surfaces from which nothing can be forcibly peeled. There is no Away on this surface, no here and no there. In effect, the entire Earth is a wadded tissue of vomited milk. xviii
With difference comes borders, fragmentation, rupture and categories. Categories are our stories they seek to define based on societal paradigms and perceptual understandings. Taboo seems to start were the “concrete” object ends. Leaving the binding likes of the abject, spiritual, sexual, waste or hyper-objects floating in a void. We are conditioned to evade. Disregarding certain things or aspects of reality and prioritise others. Literally and figuratively flushing them down the toilet. Programming our algorithms to be fit and to survive. The slow nature of this disaster now defines our “enemy” as part of us and draws our attention to our innate symbiosis with all entities in our vast world and universe. We can no longer banish things into the category of “other” or render them as “object”.
The virus first enters and debilitates the human nervous system and has long-term effects on the human heart and blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and brain. It‘s ground zero is the very place where our physical inside meets outside in human comprehension – the interface of where our environment meets us - the human lung.
zombies are interesting
or like the idea of the undead
the collapse too
maybe something like the replicants
the walking dead is referring to the living too, uncanny forms
the walking dead and those kinda post-apocalyptic narratives are i guess a kind of fantasy of simplicity
like that there is no bureaucracy anymore
and all desires are simple
yeah and the laws are primitive
or just to survive and stay human
back to tribalism too
that’s the wet dream
the mushroom fantasy
i think mushroom civilization would actually be the opposite of the walking dead
it is like the antidote
to our mammalian issues
i remember watching this donna haraway / anna tsing lecture
which was referencing nausicaa
like how the mushrooms in that are somehow cleaning toxicity
like the same as the plastic eating mushrooms etc
like we are the problem child and maybe these other species clean up our shit when we are skeletons later on
also the mushroom that lives in the chernobyl reactor and eats radiation
it’s funny how the hopeful futures are about mushrooms
no more humans, just slime mold covering the earth” xix
[i] Olaf Stapeldon, First and Last Men., Methuen, 1930 [ii] Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology: For a Future Coexsistence, Columbia University Press, 2018 [iii] Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology: For a Future Coexsistence, Columbia University Press, 2018 [iv] Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology: For a Future Coexsistence, Columbia University Press, 2018 [v] Hyperspace is a concept from science fiction and cutting-edge science relating to higher dimensions and a superluminal method of travel. An alternative "sub-region" of space co-existing with our own universe which may be entered using an energy field or other device [vi] Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, University of Minnesota Press, 2013 [vii] Olaf Stapeldon, First and Last Men. Methuen, 1930 [viii] Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, University of Minnesota Press, 2013 [ix] Michael Shanks,, Darkness and decay, pg 28, 1998 [x] Katja Novitskova in conversation with Estonian Art Magazine, 2017. http://www.estonianart.ee/art/irc-with-katja-novitskova/[xi] Michel Foucalt, The Order of Things: An Archaelogy of the Human Sciences, Tavistock Publications, UK ed, 1970 [xii] Michel Foucalt, The Order of Things: An Archaelogy of the Human Sciences, Tavistock Publications, UK ed, 1970 [xiii] Olaf Stapeldon, First and Last Men. 1930, pg 8, Methuen [xiv] Robert Smithson: The Collected writings, Edited by Jack Flam, University of California Press, 1996. [xv] Paul Stamets, Ted Talk 2008,https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world/transcript [xvi] Katja Novitskova in conversation with Estonian Art Magazine, 2017. http://www.estonianart.ee/art/irc-with-katja-novitskova/ [xvii] Robert Smithson: The Collected writings, Edited by Jack Flam, University of California Press, 1996. [xviii] Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology: For a Future Coexsistence, Columbia University Press, 2018 [xix] Katja Novitskova in conversation with Estonian Art Magazine, 2017. http://www.estonianart.ee/art/irc-with-katja-novitskova/