* ITERATIVE SPECULATIVE RESILIENCE RADICAL PRACTICE LIBRARY + LAB * SEED LIBRARY AND FIELD WORK PROTOCOLS * FUTURE FORM * EARLY INSTALLATION INTERVENTIONS*
If you’ve come from the “ARTIST RESEARCH” category, you’d have heard there that it could be understood as the umbrella under which every other grouping here fits, and indeed: these are sites for the sharing of that research as well as where tools and strategies for collective and independent field research are collected, shown, and disseminated.
Projects under the INSTALLATION | FIELD STATIONS, LIBRARIES and LABS category are those that ask explicitly what it means to intervene in a site, and what the role of the artist (or curator, or facilitator) as well as the audience / visitor / user is in / on a “site,” and then specifically, posing this question in the gallery / museum setting. I like the word “intervention” for this, too. These blur significantly with projects like [Move Semantics] or Exhibit A, which I’ve categorized under CURATION, but which are in fact conceptual interventions that were highly designed and required explicit, custom production — which could be understood more accurately as artist’s projects that invite collaborators’ work in to achieve an overarching narrative, in these cases.
Especially in recent projects and programs, as well as within the OS’s organizational INFRASTRUCTURE, I’ve used the language of the LAB, FIELD STATION, ARCHIVE, and LIBRARY to communicate an active invitation, that the site of exhibition is that of inquiry, of intelligence gathering, of dynamic activity rather than display.
These terms have their roots in my work in the social and natural sciences, and in my consistent desire to have all my installations operate this way–even with the early shows where this language wasn’t yet present that are included here. The question of the Library and Lab are both those of ontology / MEANING-MAKING and sites where INFRASTRUCTURE and RADICAL PEDAGOGY intersect, so of course, the blurring continues.
THE ITERATIVE SPECULATIVE RESILIENCE RADICAL PRACTICE LIBRARY and LAB
is a project that evolved out of a desire to have a brick and mortar location for the OS and Liminal Lab where I would be able to collect and share tools and materials across media to support solidarity network R+D, system growth, and futurecasting. After beginning to create field materials for public use and the development of the DIsruptor Mechanism Protocol, and after iterating other open source tools, I first developed a traveling version of this project for the Anarchist Book Fair in NY in 2019, and also installed it for Bushwick Open Studios that year. This project is understood as iterative, as the question of what is needed for speculative resilience is adaptive to temporal, geographic, ecological and sociocultural factors. It was modified for installation as part of [Move Semantics]: Rules of Unfolding at EFA in 2021, with the addition of fungi specimen cases from the New York Mycological Society, and will be installed anew in the summer of 2022 in Montreal, at Hangar-7826 and Espace POP, in collaboration with sound artists, local mutual aid activists and other DIY makers.
This Library and Lab project considers what it means to build, archive, and share collective tools across geographies, human and non-human actors, languages, bodies, and timelines. It asks how we can operate in a speculative framework as we orient ourselves towards observation and awareness of our bodies, our regions, our systems, and this planet’s coinhabitants, and what it looks like to actively strategize quotidian ways of shifting towards sustainable futures. Local interventions necessarily shift in conversation with activations already thriving (and ecosystem intelligence) in the biomes where the project alights: the library component is both collective and intermediary, combining texts and other more expected media with medicinal plant and fungi specimens, tech, sound, and other collections, sourced from the community. Original zine editions, specialized tools, social practice installation elements, performances, workshops and skillshares are produced for each Field Site in tandem with local collaborators
SEED LIBRARY and FIELD WORK PROTOCOL INSTALLATION ELEMENTS
The Speculative Seed Library is a project of mine originally presented in collaboration with the APRIORI collective, where practitioners across disciplines came together to explore evolutionary alliances between machines, plants, animals and humans.
This seed library project is framed as speculative because it is presented as open field research around the question of archiving and planning for plant / flora / mycelial / medicine intelligence into a range of possible futures wherein the role of language and/or the human may be shifted and/or absent. On the one hand the questions are about the feasibility of material / intelligence preservation in a variety of ecofutures / climate collapse, and on the other about what it looks like to maintain intelligence / data when we are unsure of the legibility of both language and/or media. The seed library considers the types of information necessary for speculative regeneration by technology and plants / mycology in collaboration devoid of humans, as well as across human languages, for disabled futures, pattern recognition, etc. It also considers the relational data of companion species, medicinal and other applications as essential extensions for an archive of this nature.
The APRIORI installations at both STWST / Ars Electronica as well as for Queer Paranormal : Notes for Haunting Properties at the Usdan Gallery included both analog and digital FIELD WORK PROTOCOL form-and-zine based open source strategy materials drawn from my larger DISRUPTOR MECHANISM PROTOCOL development, and following the visual / material institutional / ontological signifiers of earlier Folder / Portfolio based Print:Document projects for Future Form and elsewhere. The FIELD WORK forms and zines available here invite visitors to become FIELD AGENTS gathering and potentially submitting / sharing local information across an emergent network of public operators participating in open source CITIZEN SCIENCE.
Future Form is a speculative agency / organization that appears repeatedly throughout my work in a variety of ways, as the “producer,” or “company” behind a variety of initiatives. The concept and distinct retro-future branding for this entity was created originally for a 3-person invited show in 2014 at Undercurrent Projects (at their then gallery in the East Village) where I was asked to interpret the idea of “books without words.” For Undercurrent, I created a sort of “trade show” style installation presented by Future Form, wherein they were showcasing “Perfect Poems by Future Form,” the slogan for which was “Language is then, Sound is Now.”
This research-driven project’s thesis imagined a visually early-sci fi inflected possibility of a future in which language can be replaced by direct sound technology, and that something like a “poem” could be produced through customized body analysis. Folders of research, a scientific poster, and overhead projector slides documented the studies / data, which relied on comparisons of sound’s movement through bodies of water with water in the human body, in particular, included energy channel diagrams from Traditional Chinese medicine, and more. Vintage sound reels were branded with the Future Form logo and tagged with data markers (ie: “SONNET ver. 0200.38.19), to suggest these are two in a series of a deep set of experiments.
Future Form was noted as the producer for the “How to Human: Disruptor Mechanism Protocol” training / one-act performance at the Performing Knowledge festival, and is credited for iterative popups and other labs. Its role can blur with that of The Operating System and Liminal Lab, and/or other nominal Organizational hyperobjects of dubious “reality.” The use of the blue and green document folders, with typewritten and numbered labeling, coded sticker use, transparencies etc. began with the Anti[thesis] project in 2008, where I began to create objects for interventions blurring the lines of ontological production.
The use of the blue and green document folders, with typewritten and numbered labeling, coded sticker use, transparencies etc. began with the [Anti]thesis project in 2008, where I began to create objects for interventions blurring the lines of ontological production. In many ways, this project marks the seed for much of what came later, including the centering of print:documentation / radical publishing with The Operating System.
Anti[thesis] was an intervention produced and performed in and around my then doctoral study at the Graduate Center of CUNY within the department of Anthropology, where I was finishing my 4th year of coursework; I was feeling deeply disillusioned with the institutional production (and control) of knowledge and language, and sought to both illustrate and speak on these topics.
Eventually compiled in a series of legal document folders, the object version of the work is a collection of texts and textual interventions, originally typed in situ in public spaces on a manual typewriter live on the Graduate Center campus. It leaves in the writer’s errors (me), in a manifesto critiquing the performed perfection and supposed, disembodied objectivity of the academic page. It offers alternative forms of meaning-making strategy, including assemblage and listing, and the use of erasure from one of my own academic papers, divided then both onto paper as a new poetics, as well as through included acetate overlays.
This strategy was submitted in lieu of traditional academic work in a variety of contexts.
My first solo gallery installation, “re/presentation,” appeared in 2000 after my proposal won a contest for the inaugural show in the new Kaori Kitao gallery opening on the Swarthmore campus. The title of the show points to the dissatisfaction I was feeling with traditional modes of representation and signals the conceptual move I was beginning to make towards an art practice imbued with the questions I was asking in my scholarly work, and into critique of both academic and creative models of value and meaning-making.
The work in the show was primarily extended experiments with analog and digital photography manipulated using the early version of photoshop I had taught myself over the summer, and transferred and translated into material interventions that spoke to ways of image making and perception: a 16 foot, full wall projection from an overhead projector offered text overlaid over landscape again over a photograph of topless blue mermaids in the Coney Island parade, sliced 4 foot high segmented prints of reflections of passengers on the Staten Island ferry were hung from in the gallery windows, a dense series of photographs printed the size of a subway poster overlaid with text is shredded and hanging from a wall, bound to a chair for the viewer; a 10 foot wall is dominated by a raw swath of burlap from which is hung a segmented digital overlay of sky photos printed onto transparency and chained to create a sheet; and so on.
In a corner of the gallery, the 1955 quote from Tadeusz Kantor, “representation loses more and more its charm,” formed into a many feet of script in ⅛’ wire, is pinned where the walls meet, to a corner of an ungessoed canvas that hangs to the floor below. Many photos of this show are on obsolete media drives.
urban interMEDIAry was my solo thesis show at Swarthmore, installed in the List Gallery in May of 2001. Already, research drove this concept: it came out of ethnographic and urban theory field work I was doing, investigating the impact of growing up in urban, suburban, or rural settings on interpersonal interactions, identity, language and perception. I was interested in particular as well in class distinction, narrative, and what was perceived vs. what remained illegible or invisible behind public facades and the resultant distortions in the conditioned observations of the Other.
This installation posed a spatial binary between the “urban,” which framed the gallery space, communicated primarily through a series of accordion artists’ books I called “house histories,” each of which was affixed to the wall with chain and s-hooks, and to each of which an aluminum door number was mounted. Behind these histories, which could be positioned opened or closed in the gallery space, was a continuous “crowd” outline, created live from the tracings of staff and students invited into the space during install. They histories were then crowned by roof gestures created with gutter grates; within each book/house the visitor found mixed media collages using found vintage and family photographs, original images and prints, drawings, risograph, fiber and other materials, collected to suggest the palimspestic layering of lives beneath any urban facade.
In the center of the gallery was the “suburban” – a raised black and white tiled wooden platform on astroturf surrounded by a picket fence, above which were hung french windows from which one could look out upon other visitors and the “city,” and behind which one could be seen, framing the gaze. The interstitial spaces offered cuttings from local trees and plants suspended with clear wire, offering a suggestion of the ways in which the cultivated natural plays a role in these narrative formations.