Image courtesy of Tatsuru Arai
Image courtesy of Tatsuru Arai
Jana Winderen, Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Jana Winderen, Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Thomas Ankersmit's Homage to Dick Raaijmakers, which was commissioned by Sonic Acts and was premiered live at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam at Sonic Acts Academy 2016, has been released by Shelter Press. Homage to Dick Raaijmakers is an all-analogue electronic music composition inspired by legendary Dutch composer, electronic and tape music pioneer, and multimedia artist Dick Raaijmakers (1930–2013). The work takes inspiration from Raaijmakers’ music from the 1960s, his texts on sound composition and notes on his own music. With his homage Ankersmit re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about electric sound, composition, and spatial experience. Like Raaijmakers himself Ankersmit exclusively uses analogue devices and especially feedback processes between them. The music focuses on the sounds of raw electricity through creatively abused electronics, composing with analogue micro-sounds, and the creation of three-dimensional sound fields. The piece also uses tones produced by the listener’s own ears, inspired by Raaijmakers’ thoughts on 'holophonic' sound fields to be individually explored by the listener. With this phenomenon, the listener’s inner ears actively generate sounds that don’t exist in the recorded signal, and which can change with a small movement of the head.
Vacancy: Head of Marketing & Communications (32 hours) Position As Head of Marketing & Communications at Sonic Acts you are responsible for the marketing and communication of all year-round activities, including the biennial Sonic Acts Festival. You manage the communications team and work closely with the programmers, producers and partners. Fulfilment of the position starts immediately. Profile You are well aware of contemporary developments in art and culture, especially in electronic music and at the intersection of art and technology. You have affinity with the art world, academia, technology and science. You are an excellent writer and strong communicator, and are able to work strategically and in a structured manner. You can set priorities and manage a team. You are also capable of communicating Sonic Acts’ various activities in an innovative and inspiring way to a broad audience. You are responsible for: • Developing the marketing and communications plan, the audience development strategy, and the sponsoring and donation policy. • Conceiving and executing original and innovative campaigns and promotions. • Leading a small communications team, managing all communication activities – including ticketing – and monitoring the progress of all campaigns. • Preparing and managing the marketing and communications budget. • Contributing to grant applications, reports and evaluations. • Maintaining contacts with press, media and partners. Requirements: • Completed higher education. • Good communication and excellent writing skills. • At least 5 years relevant work experience. • Experience with the development and implementation of a marketing and communication plan. • An extensive network in media, music, art and culture. • A proactive, flexible, stress-free and deadline-resistant personality. We offer: • A varied and challenging job for 32 hours per week at an innovative cultural organisation in Amsterdam. • Collaboration with an ambitious team and interesting partners on unique programmes. • A competitive salary that matches the position. Responses and questions Send responses before 1 September to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions, please contact Eve Dullaart at email@example.com.
Summer is upon us, and what better way to spend it than to delve into the many Sonic Acts publications. For that reason, there are various discounts on offer throughout summer at the Sonic Acts webshop. There are up to 50% discounts on books, including the latest publications Sonic Acts Academy 2018 Reader (€7,50 instead of €9,50), The Noise of Being and Living Earth (both €14,50 instead of €19,50). Take advantage of the Academy deal and get Sonic Acts Academy 2018 Reader and Sonic Acts Academy Volume 1 together for €9,50. You can also buy the whole package, and get all available Sonic Acts publications for the special price of €52,80 (a 60% discount). Or cool off in the warm weather with one of the various Sonic Acts t-shirts (€10 instead of €15).
Underbelly bookshop at Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
The Noise of Being book launch at Stedelijk Book Club. Photo courtesy of Stedelijk.
FUTURELAND, produced by MA students in Conflicts & Negotiations, emerges out of fieldwork they conducted in the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest cargo and container port, as part of Sonic Acts Academy 2018, as well as individual research and collaborative writing that delved into the politics of our contemporary logistical condition. The fieldwork formed part of the Academy's Logistical Nightmares programme, a partnership with the Centre for Research Architecture (Goldsmiths, University of London) exploring logistics as a model for organising social life and politics at a global scale. Hosted by Lorenzo Pezzani and Susan Schuppli, the programme featured guests such as Charmaine Chua, Stephan Helmreich, Giorgio Grappi, Heather Anne Paxson and Victor Sanz, with symposium lectures and panel discussions that are also available to watch on the Sonic Acts YouTube and Vimeo channels. "Organised by an elliptical structure, the documentary cross-cuts between temporalities and geographies to explore the ways in which the port is deeply entangled with the histories of colonialism, the legacies of maritime labour, the advent of automation, the speculative fictions of global finance, the threat of sea level rise, and the ecological consequences of an infrastructural imagination that have carved a trading zone out of the liquid architecture of the sea. The documentary utilises a wide range of source material from webcam streams to archival documents in addition to footage, animations, field recordings, and voiceover narration produced by the students themselves. Its title — FUTURELAND — derives from the main public entry point into the Port of Rotterdam where visitors depart on scheduled bus and boat tours. We too began our day on water touring the docked ships and observing the cranes as they manoeuvred their containers. “Ask me anything,” our guide enjoined us... when we paused to take pictures from our vantage point on the upper deck he resumed his running commentary. It was a recital scripted entirely in superlatives: the biggest, the tallest, the deepest, the heaviest, the largest, the greenest. Throughout the FUTURELAND video echoes of his speech come to act as a refrain that the various chapters utilise to call into question the official public narratives of the port, which are ultimately countered by the students’ own insights and approach to their research materials. In addition to exploring the logistical operations of the port itself, students also bicycled around the adjacent industrial park documenting its petro-chemical storage, which constitutes some of the primary cargo that transits through the port. Other students were able to interview Filipino mariners on shore-leave as well as dockworkers in a local pub. A representative from the labour union, who was deeply concerned about the loss of jobs both at sea and on land as a consequence of automation, was interviewed later in Amsterdam." – Susan Schuppli, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths.
Logistical Nightmares fieldtrip to the Port of Rotterdam. Photo by Lucas van der Velden.
Logistical Nightmares fieldtrip to the Port of Rotterdam. Photo by Lucas van der Velden.
Logistical Nightmares fieldtrip to the Port of Rotterdam. Photo by Lucas van der Velden.
Logistical Nightmares fieldtrip to the Port of Rotterdam. Photo by Lucas van der Velden.
Sonic Acts' Vertical Cinema programme is set to be screened at videoEx festival in Zürich. On Friday 1 June, ten works by Joost Rekveld, Tina Frank, Manuel Knapp, Johann Lurf, Billy Roisz & Dieter Kovačič, Makino Takashi & Telcosystems, Esther Urlus, Lukas Marxt, HC Gilje and BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux will be presented by videoEx in collaboration with Rote Fabrik and Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur. Vertical Cinema is a series of commissioned large-scale works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, which are presented on 35 mm celluloid and projected vertically with a custom-built projector at special locations. Since its premiere in 2013, the Vertical Cinema project has traveled the globe: from Kontraste Festival Krems in Austria, to multiple screenings in Holland (IFFR, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, STRP), the UK (Leeds Film Festival, Glasgow Short Film Festival), Germany (GEGENkino), Latvia (Balta Nakts), Australia (Melbourne International Film Festival) and the US (SXSW in Austin Texas). In February of 2017, four new films were premiered during Sonic Acts Festival, which have since been presented in Sweden (Göteburg Film Festival) and Russia (Inversia). Many Vertical Cinema screenings took place in churches, maximising the vertical characteristics of these buildings and offering a new take on stained glass. Other venues have included a 19th century market hall and other industrial buildings with vast open spaces that allow for maximum screen size and theatres (old and new) for which the scale and ratio of Vertical Cinema causes a disruption and rethinking of conventions.
Vertical Cinema at Kontraste 2013. Photo by Sascha Osaka.
Vertical Cinema at Glasgow Short Film Festival 2015. Photo by Eoin Carey.
Vertical Cinema at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.
We are currently looking for interns to support us in Production and Marketing & Communications departments for Sonic Acts Festival 2019, during the period of October 2018–March 2019. We are looking for people who have an affinity with Sonic Acts and its activities, and have a proactive and flexible personality, to join our dedicated team working from Paradiso in Amsterdam. Sonic Acts organises the biennial Sonic Acts Festival – a thematic festival with a strong focus on contemporary and historical developments at the intersections of art, technology, music and science. Each festival edition explores the chosen theme by means of an international conference, a wide range of concerts and performances, exhibitions and screenings, and embraces a broad spectrum of fields, practices and disciplines. The upcoming edition is scheduled for February 2019. Sonic Acts has developed into an organisation for the research, development and production of works at the intersection of art, science and theory. It commissions and co-produces new works, often in collaboration with international festivals, arts organisations, funders and other partners. Sonic Acts is a small organisation and as an intern you will be a full member of the team. Are you who we are looking for? Apply for the positions of Production Intern and (Online) Communication & Marketing. The deadline for applications is 29 June 2018.
Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
The second edition of Sonic Acts Academy took place in February. With the aim of unpacking the processes of artistic knowledge, the Academy included a two-day symposium at Dansmakers Amsterdam. The Academy Symposium was a playground at odds with institutionalised learning, where internationally renowned artists and thinkers from various disciplines offered a radical syllabus through the exchange of ideas. If you missed the symposium (or would like to refresh your memory) you can now watch videos of the presentations and panel discussions on the Sonic Acts Vimeo and YouTube channels.
The last Progress Bar edition of the season takes place on 26 May at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, with a programme of talks, live audiovisual performances and DJ sets. Representing radical equality, communality and hopefulness, Progress Bar is a growing community of artists, academics and activists who occupy clubs for a better politics. When confronted with the world today – institutional inequality, neofascism, platform capitalism, austerity and a dying planet – being happy becomes a political act. Progress Bar supports radical club cultures that believe resistance is necessary in order to change the world. Or, as a play on the famous quote by the feminist and anarchist activist Emma Goldman: If I can dance, I want to be part of your revolution.
Elysia Crampton. Photo by Boychild.The evening begins in the venue's Tuinzaal with a series of talks. Filmmakers Polina Medvedeva and Isaura Sanwirjatmo will talk about their project #VerlorenJongensZullenWinnen, an inclusive transmedia documentary in the digital age. In its development stage #VJZW researches the new media as a tool of resistance in the hands of the new generation of visual makers, who – armed with a phone, a camera or a microphone – redefine political engagement, protesting against dominant power structures in our current society. Influential grime DJ and promoter Elijah will talk about Last Dance – a timely and urgent investigation into the rapid changes affecting UK club culture, and the impact of those changes on music and youth culture, presented as a series of blogs, podcasts, films and live events. Elijah is a rising international star in grime and UK club music, and a regular contributor to Boiler Room, Red Bull Music Academy and Vice. He is co-founder of grime label Butterz, described by the Guardian as “one of the genre’s smartest operations”. His work spans music programming, journalism, A&R and artist management, and shines a light on the artistic, social and economic challenges and opportunities for emerging artists. Later in the night, the club programme will feature live audiovisual performances and DJ sets until the early hours. Multi-disciplinary Aymaran artist and electronic musician Elysia Crampton presents her new solo show, Red Clouds, together with producer and DJ Why Be. Elysia Crampton’s eclectic and unrestrained electronic music is the flashpoint of a myriad influences opening upon the complexity and multifacetedness of Aymara becoming. She is joined by Korean-born, Danish-raised producer and DJ Why Be. After spending years intentionally on the fringes of experimental dance music, Why Be has become a formidable voice in dance music's larger conversation, with a singular, uncompromising style of club music that is both hectic and cathartic. Houston producer, composer, DJ, and record label owner Rabit will stage a live audiovisual performance with vocalist Cecilia. Chiseling out a bold vision of sound since 2012, Rabit has slowly worked his way to the forefront of an international group of artists seeking to create a fresh and uncompromising perspective on future dance music and the very fabric of the club landscape. The artist is accompanied at Progress Bar by Cecilia – the dissociative metamorphosis of DJ and producer BABI AUDI, known for Club Dead LTD (Hoss Records), Mommy Dust (self-released), and 6 page letter (DIS magazine). Her ﬁrst full-length album, Adoration, on Rabit's Halcyon Veil imprint, follows last year’s visual EP Charity Whore, released on Yves Tumor’s Grooming Label. The programme also includes a DJ set from Dasychira, a South African electronic artist living in NYC. Working with unusual found sounds and textures, Dasychira offers a personal perspective on the media he works with. The artist's second record, Haptics, is being released via Blueberry Records, and features collaborations with Haleek Maul, and Progress Bar alumni Malibu and Embaci. More artists and speakers will be announced soon. Keep an eye on the Facebook event page here for updates. Date: Saturday 26 May 2018 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 20:30–04:00 Tickets: €10,00 / €12,50 Buy tickets
Rabit. Photo by Lane Stewart.
To accompany Sonic Acts Academy 2018, we have published the Sonic Acts Academy Reader – a beautifully designed and printed collection of short essays, maps, interviews, stories, speculations, and visual contributions. These come from a number of the artists, designers, and speakers to provide invaluable insights into the exploration conducted and presented during the Academy. The Sonic Acts Academy aims to unpack the processes of artistic knowledge, with a focus on educational practices and critical examination of knowledge production in the field of art. In keeping with the theme, the Reader is designed by The Rodina, a studio interested in self-reflection, critical design, and the reinvented connections between culture and technology. The Reader presents many interesting contributions, including a speculative text about the role of the museum from the year 2030 from our keynote speaker, Nora Sternfeld; a text by Marcus Boon about the composer and mathematician Catherine Christer Hennix; a beautiful story by Nicole Hewitt from her project This Woman Is Called Jasna, a speculative history in nine instalments covering 20 years in the life of a woman from Vukovar who works at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; a text about the history of the cargo container by Charmaine Chua; and research about sinkholes that rapidly started appearing in the past decades on shores of the Dead Sea (Sasha Litvintseva and Daniel Mann). With contributions from Sonic Acts Academy participants: Ami Clarke, ArtScience Interfaculty Research Group (KABK), Catherine Christer Hennix, Charmaine Chua, Christina Kubisch, Christoph Cox, Colm McAuliffe, Concrete Flux / 流泥, Continuum Programme (ArtEZ), Daniel Mann, Dreamcrusher, Jennifer Walshe, Juha van ’t Zelfde, Marcus Boon, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Mario de Vega, Nicole Hewitt, Nora Sternfeld, Roc Jiménez de Cisneros, Sam Rolfes, Sasha Litvintseva, Shadow Channel, Stefan Wharton, The Rodina, Yun Ingrid Lee. The Sonic Acts Academy 2018 Reader is available to order at the Sonic Acts webshop.
From 23 to 25 February, Sonic Acts took up residence in Amsterdam-Noord for the second edition of Sonic Acts Academy – a new platform geared towards unpacking the processes of artistic knowledge. Across three days, we turned to a diverse community of artists, teachers, tutors, mentors, thinkers and tinkerers, to exchange ideas and push for alternate pathways in the field of education and knowledge production. In the weekend prior to the Academy, festivities were already getting under way, with a celebration of the work of Swedish composer, philosopher, poet, mathematician, and visual artist Catherine Christer Hennix (1948). The celebration was part of a long-term research trajectory – initiated in 2017 by Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Sonic Acts – with a mission to diversify the canon of sound art. On Friday 16 February, we witnessed the world premiere of Hennix’s new sound piece Blue(s) in Green to the 31 Limit – echoed by a second performance of the piece the following day, and a symposium on Sunday 18 February with Marcus Boon. In a poison-green lit Teijin Auditorium, an electronic drone buzzed with fluttering overtones. The dizzying sound field was augmented by experienced improvisers Benjamin Duboc, Rozemarie Heggen, Hilary Jeffery, and Marcus Pal, who performed alongside the composer in an exploration of concepts of space; specifically, while continuing their ongoing experiments in micro-tonality and just intonation, the musicians attempted to halt our experience of space-based phenomena, and they succeeded.
Catherine Christer Hennix at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.Later that week, artists Mario de Vega and Victor Mazón Gardoqui led a hands-on workshop at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, exploring disruptive technologies. Participants learned methods of translating wireless architecture into material sound and used media intervention as a means to explore, control and interrupt local signals and radio transmissions. As the Academy edged closer, two films were screened at EYE Filmmuseum on 20 and 22 February, accompanied by Q&A sessions with their respective filmmakers. The subject of experimental feature Spell Reel – simultaneously a tribute, documentary and an excavation – was a trove of so-called revolutionary films shot to chronicle Guinea-Bissau’s war of independence from Portugal in the 1960s and 70s; from isolated villages in Guinea-Bissau to European capitals, the silent reels are now the place from where people search for antidotes for a world in crisis. The second film, Time Passes, was a documentary-like film by artist Ane Hjort Guttu. Time Passes centred on a controversial Norwegian art project, highlighting the potential and limitation of politically engaged art. Both films offered a fitting bridge to conversations that would characterise the Academy’s main programme over the days to come, contributing to debates about artist responsibility and education’s role in understanding and engaging with reality.
Spell Reel at EYE Filmmuseum. Photo by Pieter Kers.Indeed, as society rapidly changes under the pressure of economic, technological, and political expansions, understanding and engaging with reality becomes especially important. On a local level, one noticeable change can be seen in the expansion of Amsterdam’s current markets to Amsterdam-Noord, where the Academy this year was principally located. On the ferry to the north, across the river IJ, the public was welcomed to the Academy by two screens displaying the Academy’s visual design by studio The Rodina; once there, the Academy’s venues, such as Dansmakers Amsterdam and Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin – industrial remnants repurposed as cultural destinations – set an appropriate backdrop to topics presented throughout the programme. On Friday 23 February, the Academy officially opened at Dansmakers Amsterdam, with an energetic programme of talks and performances. Educator and curator Nora Sternfeld delivered the keynote lecture on the topic of artistic and curatorial research; sound artists Jennifer Walshe and Mario de Vega came together again for a live improvisation to Walshe’s film An Gléacht; and we closed the evening with the world premiere of Maria Bozinovska Jones’ performative piece Fascia 171208180222, with an AV and laser set together with musician J.G. Biberkopf. Earlier in the day, just down the road, Academy visitors could experience an experimental environment envisioned especially for the occasion by students of the ArtScience Interfaculty (KABK). Entitled Sensing the Place, the environment was the outcome of a collaborative research project between KABK and Sonic Acts, in which students examined different ways of mapping and understanding a space based on their senses. To round off the evening, we travelled to Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, for the first of the Academy's two night-programmes: a continuation of the ongoing series of monthly club nights Progress Bar. The line-up for Friday night’s portion promised little interest in comfort, and it certainly fulfilled. With artists Wartone, Anni Nӧps, Geng, Violence, Dreamcrusher, Swan Meat, Moor Mother, M.E.S.H, Kilbourne and Born in Flamez, Progress Bar welcomed dancers to tread into a dark confrontation with noise, alienation and resistance, while reconsidering the potential of club space as a realm not merely intended for dancing. Just as Sonic Acts Academy opts for an inclusive community, involving those who resist, Progress Bar similarly aims to represent radical equality, communality and hopefulness, engaging a growing community of artists, academics and activists who occupy clubs for a better politics. During the night, visitors ventured into the strange sci-fi worlds of two installations: 3049 by patten and Hidden Layers by Shadow Channel students. Situated in adjacent rooms to the club, both installations were saturated with radical proposals for a new future.
Violence at Progress Bar. Photo by Pieter Kers.At its core, Sonic Acts Academy 2018 was focused on the critical examination of knowledge production in the field of art, and much of this took place at Dansmakers during the two-day symposium on Saturday and Sunday. Offering an experimental setting free of institutional pressure and privileged classrooms, the first day of the symposium set forth to address the function of art and the artist from various dynamic perspectives. Among the many lectures, panel talks, and artist presentations, Birgit Bachler discussed the challenges and opportunities of creating and evaluating artworks and design artefacts within a more-than-human context; and Sasha Litvintseva and Daniel Mann attempted to define the assemblage of forces that converge around sinkholes, with a presentation that included a screening of their film Salarium – exploring topics such as the Israel-Palestine conflict, climate change, tourism and spirituality. The results of a number of speculative ‘festival’ modules devised together with different educational institutions were also presented, including Logistical Nightmares – an initiative of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London – which explored the increasing ubiquity and prominence of logistics as a model for organising social life and politics at a global scale; Continuum – an alliance of the departments of Product Design, Graphic Design, and Interaction Design at the ArtEZ Academy of Art and Design, Arnhem – which mapped new fields of work in design education; and a panel with students and scholars from the National Research School in Media Studies, in which they explored the necessity of the present for art. On Saturday night, we returned to Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, for the second half of a twofold Progress Bar programme, where Juha, PARADISE, Lyzza, Linn de Quebrada, Dinamarca, Ase Manual, DJ Lycox, DJ Haram and Drippin staged a diverse array of sounds, derived from locales such as the streets of Lisbon and the parties of Sao Paulo. In contrast to the previous night, Saturday night’s line-up stepped up the intensity on the dance floor, as each artist brought a frantic energy that persisted into the early hours. Both nights, however, were framed equally by awe-inspiring light and stage design, with an extensive LED architecture developed by media artist Karl Klomp. On Sunday, the second day of the symposium delved beneath the surface of the everyday to expose the possibility and necessity of alternative perspectives. Through shared journeys and personal narratives, both imagined and real, we found ways for knowledge production to be challenged, decomposed, and rethought. An early highlight was Christina Kubisch’s presentation Magnetic Attacks: Forty Years of Electromagnetic Investigations, with which the sound artist discussed her ongoing project Electrical Walks – a series of public sound walks with headphones that receive electromagnetic signals from the environment and convert them into sound. Jennifer Walshe’s presentation Imaginary Histories was another focal point, as Walshe followed on from her performance at the Academy Opening by making a case for how research can contribute to creating entirely fictional art and worlds.
Hidden Layers at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Whether you joined us in person or online, we hope you enjoyed Sonic Acts Academy 2018 as much as we did. If you attended the Academy, you can help us to evaluate the event and improve future editions by taking part in our online survey and sharing your thoughts and experiences. As well as hearing your thoughts on the development of the Academy, we would also like to know about the possible ways that you would like to get involved. By submitting the survey you can win one of two (2x) passe-partouts for next year’s Sonic Acts Festival – the 25th anniversary of Sonic Acts – which takes place from 21 to 24 February 2019. Participate in our online survey
Sonic Acts Academy 2018 at Dansmakers Amsterdam. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sonic Acts Academy 2018 has passed and we are immensely grateful to everyone involved in making it a success. In particular, we would like to thank all of you who committed time and energy, including the ever-inspiring community of artists and speakers who participated, our production support and technicians, our incredible crew, our bloggers, photographers and film crew, our invaluable team of volunteers, and of course all of you who came to attend. We would also like to thank our generous funders and partner organisations: Paradiso, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Tolhuistuin, Dansmakers, EYE Filmmuseum, Rijksakademie, Creative Industries Fund NL, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Mondriaan Fund, Creative Europe programme of the European Union, Re-Imagine Europe, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Continuum, Interaction Design (ArtEZ, Arnhem), ArtScience Interfaculty (Royal Conservatoire & the Royal Academy for Fine Arts, The Hague), Centre for Research Architecture (Goldsmiths, University of London), Shadow Channel (Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam), Research School for Media Studies (Utrecht University), Beam Systems, WG theatertechniek, Indyvideo, Engage! TV, CJP, The Wire, Het Nieuwe Instituut, and Elevate Festival. This year’s Sonic Acts Academy is one we certainly won’t forget, not least because it was documented by our excellent team of photographers and videographers, who were on hand to capture it all. You can view photo streams of each day of the Academy on our Facebook and Flickr pages. If you attended the Academy, you can help us improve future editions by taking part in our online survey and sharing your thoughts and experiences. By completing the survey you can win one of two (2x) passe-partouts for next year’s Sonic Acts Festival. We hope to welcome you again at one of our events in the near future. And don’t forget to save the date: next year’s Sonic Acts Festival – the 25th anniversary of Sonic Acts – takes place 21–24 February 2019!
Marija Bozinovska Jones at Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Violence at Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
The second edition of Sonic Acts Academy takes place from 23 to 25 February 2018 at various venues in Amsterdam, including Dansmakers and Paradiso Noord – Tolhuistuin, with several pre-festival events at the EYE Filmmuseum, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and Rijksakademie. Over the course of three days, Sonic Acts Academy will invite artists and thinkers to expand on their artistic research through lectures, artist presentations, films, performances and workshops. The complete programme and time schedule are now online and day passes are available now. Sonic Acts Academy 2018 will host artists and thinkers: Ane Hjort Guttu, Anni Nöps, Ase Manual, Benjamin Duboc, Birgit Bachler, Born in Flamez, Catherine Christer Hennix, Charmaine Chua, Christina Kubisch, Cocky Eek, Daniel Mann, Dinamarca, DJ Haram, DJ Lycox, Dreamcrusher, Drippin, Filipa César, Geng, Hilary Jeffery, Iris de Vries, Ivan Slipčević, Jelena Viskovic, Jennifer Lucy Allan, Jennifer Walshe, J.G. Biberkopf, Juha, Karl Klomp, Kei Kreutler, Kilbourne, Linn da Quebrada, Lorenzo Pezzani, Lyzza, Marcus Boon, Marcus Pal, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Mario de Vega, Martijn van Boven, M.E.S.H., Michele van Ool, Mijke Pasmans, Miron Galić, Moor Mother, Nicole Hewitt, Nora Sternfeld, PARADISE, patten, Rana Hamadeh, Renske Maria van Dam, Rick Dolphijn, Roc Jiménez de Cisneros, Rozemarie Heggen, Sam Rolfes, Sasha Litvintseva, Signe Lidén, Solveig Suess, Susan Schuppli, Swan Meat, Victor Mazón Gardoqui, Vida Guzmić, Violence, Wartone, and Yun Ingrid Lee. View programme Buy tickets
M.E.S.H.. Photo by Nadine Fraczkowski.
Rana Hamadeh. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Linn da Quebrada
Sonic Acts and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam present: Catherine Christer Hennix In 2017, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Sonic Acts initiated a long-term research trajectory dedicated to the lesser-known pioneers of sound art. The first stage of this collaboration activated the archives of American composer and sound artist Maryanne Amacher (1938–2009). The latest project and collaboration is an exhibition and new sound piece and performance by the Swedish composer, philosopher, poet, mathematician, and visual artist Catherine Christer Hennix (1948). Although she is best known as a sound artist, she has also produced a body of visual art that crosses the boundaries between painting, sculpture, and anti-art – what Hennix refers to in her own personal nomenclature as Epistemic Art. As part of her retrospective exhibition Traversée du Fantasme – the first museum solo exhibition in over forty years – on 16 and 17 February 2018, CC Hennix will present the world premiere of her new composition Blue(s) in Green to the 31 Limit. This new work will premiere with two performances at Teijin Auditorium in Stedelijk Museum, performed with Benjamin Duboc, Rozemarie Heggen, Hilary Jeffery, and Marcus Pal. The work elaborates on concepts of space – specifically attempting to halt our experience of space-based phenomena – and continues the musician’s ongoing experiments in micro-tonality, just intonation and the space of sound. On 18 February, Marcus Boon will discuss CC Hennix’s work in a Symposium at the Stedelijk’s Teijin Auditorium.
Catherine Christer Hennix. Photo by JC McIlwaine courtesy of Goethe-Institut New York.
CC Hennix + The Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage. Photo by Laura Gianetti.
Sonic Acts' internationally acclaimed Vertical Cinema project will be screened as part of the Göteborg Film Festival and Inversia. On 31 January, in collaboration with the Church of Sweden, the Göteborg Film Festival presents Vertical Cinema for the first time in the Nordic region. Nine films from some of the most exciting contemporary filmmakers will be featured on a specially built projector that leans the film at 90 degrees, challenging our deep rooted beliefs about what a cinema and movie image are and may be in the future. On 3 February, Vertical Cinema will be screened at Inversia, an international audiovisual festival over the Polar circle, in Murmansk, Russia.
Vertical Cinema at Kontraste
Vertical Cinema at Kontraste
Vertical Cinema at Glasgow Short Film Festival. Photo by Eoin Carey/Glasgow Film.
Vertical Cinema at Glasgow Short Film Festival. Photo by Eoin Carey/Glasgow Film.
‘Vertical Cinema questions the basics of how a movie can look. It's a grand visual experience where the films can be seen as a prelude to the future of cinema culture, an avant-garde altar painting or the world's largest and most beautiful instastory’ – Jonas Holmberg, Artistic Director of the Göteborg Film FestivalVertical Cinema is a series of large-scale, site-specific works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, which are presented on 35 mm celluloid and projected vertically with a custom-built projector in vertical cinemascope. The 90-minute programme premiered in 2013 and has since been featured at various locations around the globe. Four new films were presented as part of Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Projection development and equipment by Filmtechniek. Visit the Göteborg Film Festival and Inversia websites for more information about their programmes.
On 20 and 22 February, as part of the pre-festival events of Sonic Acts Academy 2018, Sonic Acts presents two films at EYE Filmmuseum: Spell Reel by Filipa César and Time Passes by Ane Hjort Guttu. The two extraordinary films are presented in collaboration with EYE on Art, a weekly programme where film meets the visual arts. Both films will be followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. With Spell Reel, filmmaker Filipa César imagines a journey where the fragile matter from the past operates as a visionary prism of shrapnel. Digitised in Berlin and screened and presented with a live commentary, the archive convokes debates, storytelling, and forecasts. From isolated villages in Guinea-Bissau to European capitals, the silent reels are now places from which people search for antidotes to a world in crisis. In Time Passes – a fictional story shot in a documentary style – 23-year-old Damla is an art student who begs daily on the streets next to Bianca, a Roma woman with whom she gradually develops a friendship. Gradually, her situation develops into an ethical and political crisis as she struggles to justify how she can continue her project in the face of the social inequality beyond the art academy.
Still from Spell Reel
Still from Spell Reel
Still from Spell Reel
Still from Spell Reel
Still from Time Passes
Still from Time Passes
Still from Time Passes
Still from Time Passes
Still from Time Passes
Sonic Acts Academy 2018: Unpacking the Processes of Artistic Knowledge Sonic Acts Academy takes place from 23 to 25 February 2018 at various locations in Amsterdam North, including Dansmakers and Paradiso Noord – Tolhuistuin, with several pre-festival events at the EYE Filmmuseum and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Regular tickets, Student and Group Passes are now on sale. Buy tickets here. Sonic Acts Academy 2018 is pleased to host the artists and thinkers Ane Hjort Guttu, Ase Manual, Catherine Christer Hennix, Charmaine Chua, Christina Kubisch, Cocky Eek, Daniel Mann, DJ Haram, DJ Lycox, Dreamcrusher, Drippin, Filipa César, Geng, Jennifer Lucy Allan, Jennifer Walshe, Kilbourne, Lorenzo Pezzani, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Mario de Vega, Martijn van Boven, Moor Mother, Nicole Hewitt, Nora Sternfeld, Renske Maria van Dam, Rick Dolphijn, Roc Jiménez de Cisneros, Sasha Litvintseva, Solveig Suess, Susan Schuppli, Swan Meat, and Violence. More names will be announced in January. Sonic Acts Academy is a new platform for speculation and reflection, focusing on critical examination of knowledge production in the field of art. It is an experimental setting free of institutional pressure and privileged classrooms, and it enables us to test and quickly react to changes in both form and content of what we should know. The Academy opts for an inclusive community; it involves those who resist or without access to the privileged spaces of academia.
Moor Mother. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Catherine Christer Hennix. Photo by JC McIlwaine, courtesy of Goethe-Institut New York.
Solveig Suess. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Violence. Photo by Sima Ajlyakin.
Mario de Vega. Photo by Krzysztof Zielinski.
DJ Haram. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Renske Maria van Dam. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Progress Bar at Paradiso Noord. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Eyal Weizman at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Noortje Marres at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.
The only political party you can dance to returns to Paradiso Noord (Tolhuistuin) on Saturday 20 January. For the first edition of 2018, Progress Bar has teamed up with Klein to bring you a night of radical thinking and dancing, with DJ sets and live performances by Klein, 'clubcouture', Crystallmess, Dodomundo, James Massiah, Larry B and more. Buy tickets. Progress Bar aims to represent radical equality, communality and hopefulness. We are a growing community of artists, academics and activists who occupy clubs for a better politics. When confronted with the world today – institutional inequality, neofascism, platform capitalism, austerity and a dying planet – being happy becomes a political act. We support radical club cultures that believe resistance is necessary in order to change the world. Or, as a play on the famous quote by the feminist and anarchist activist Emma Goldman: If I can dance, I want to be part of your revolution.
Progress Bar S03E03 video trailer by Sam RolfesKLEIN is a London-based musician who’s neoteric vision has seen her quickly become one of the UK’s most intriguing and unpinnable producers and performers. Her often playful and restive approach to composition is instantly alluring. Samples of obscure Nigerian B-Movies clatter into jagged beats. Distant piano loops lurk in the haze whilst beguiling vocals fade in and out of the sensory World she has created. 'CLUBCOUTURE': Born in the club, 'clubcouture' describes itself as a space, culture and community whose values are rooted in creating collaborative DIY fantasy. CRYSTALLMESS regularly delves into fertile subcultures and corners of the past, playing a combination of west african rhythms, bass music, french house music and french Caribbean dancehall. DODOMUNDO is a rising club selector from Vilnius who calls the Netherlands her new home. The Lithuanian DJ mixes high-energy grime, kuduro and r&b awashed with post-club weirdness. JAMES MASSIAH is a poet & DJ from South London whose work explores ideas about sexuality mortality & ethics through performance writing & visual media. LARRY B is one-third of London's liveliest party PDA. The gender defying 26-year-old is a DJ, producer and singer, whose dreamily weird music floats through space and time. More artists and speakers to be announced soon. Progress Bar S03E03 Date: Saturday 20 January 2018 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €10,00 / €12,50 Buy tickets Attend on Facebook
Speculation as Interface Workshop by Mario de Vega and Victor Mazón Gardoqui From 21 to 23 February 2018, Sonic Acts hosts a three-day workshop on disruptive technologies by r-aw.cc artists Mario de Vega and Victor Mazón Gardoqui as part of Sonic Acts Academy. This workshop is aimed at individuals with an interest in sound, speculative processes, signal transmissions, ecology, language, unstable systems, high-frequency demodulation and interface design. r-aw.cc is a research platform founded in 2008 by de Vega and Mazón Gardoqui to investigate strategies in pedagogy, independent publishing, speculative interfaces, design as process, radio transmission and psychoacoustics. During the workshop participants will use custom logarithmic detectors to translate wireless architecture into sound, and tools to explore, control and disrupt devices within their vicinity. Using this tactical media the participants will instigate and discuss alternative ways of creating communities. Participants will finish with a PCB – a powerful instrument that allows the user to 'observe through the ears'. This workshop is a co-production of Sonic Acts & Paradiso and part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Enrolment The full-day workshop is open to a maximum of 11 participants. No experience in electronics is needed, but patience is mandatory for soldering SMD components. To apply, please send a short biography and motivation letter outlining why you would like to attend to firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants must attend the full programme. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. If we receive more applications than expected, a careful selection will be made based on motivation and diversity of backgrounds. More information, including a detailed schedule, will be sent to the selected participants. The deadline for applications is 30 January. Fee Participants pay a €75,- contribution for three days. Lunch will be provided.
Mario de Vega. Photo by Chris Villafuerte.
Mario de Vega. Photo by Krzysztof Zielinski.
We're having a winter sale at our webshop with great deals on books, t-shirts and bags at various discounts, including Travelling Time and The Dark Universe (€5 each instead of €17,50). Take advantage of our package deal on publications: Travelling Time + The Dark Universe + Sonic Acts Academy Vol. 1 (€12,50). There are many more discounts on offer at our webshop and you'll also receive a free bag with every purchase! The sale ends 31 January 2018. A limited number of Early Bird tickets for Sonic Acts Academy 2018 are available for €50 until 31 December. Regular tickets and Group Passes will go on sale in January. Buy your tickets here.
Call for Applications: Critical Writing Workshop by Jennifer Lucy Allan Following the success of the previous Critical Writing Workshops, a new edition will take place during Sonic Acts Academy 2018, from 23 to 25 February, facilitated by Jennifer Lucy Allan. During the workshop, we will focus on specific aspects of writing as a craft (language, style and focus) and how to shape the argument or perspective of a piece. You will take part in commissioning meetings with the other participants, and be given one-to-one feedback on all work produced during the Academy. The workshop focuses on developing writing skills, and all writers who complete text will have pieces published on the Sonic Acts blog. The Critical Writing Workshop this year will focus on the different critical modes we can use to write about, describe, and discuss art, theory, sound and music, while thinking about how to package your ideas. You will cover the conference, performances and other events during the Academy, and have a chance to interview participating artists and theorists. In line with the theme of the Academy, the workshop will engage with new conceptions of learning that focus on artistic practice as a means to explore new ideas. The workshop hosts a maximum of seven emerging international bloggers, journalists, critics and writers active or interested in the field of interdisciplinary arts (media arts, film, visual arts and performance). Fee Participants pay a €50,- contribution and receive free access to all events plus a copy of the Academy zine. Lunches will be provided during the workshop. Deadline Applicants are asked to submit a short motivation and CV to write[@]sonicacts[.]com. The deadline for applications is 10 January 2018. For an impression of the writing the workshop produces (usually two to three articles over the weekend), check out texts produced by previous participants on the Sonic Acts blog. This workshop is a co-production of Sonic Acts & Paradiso and part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
Sonic Acts Academy 2016. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sonic Acts Critical Writing Workshop 2017. Photo by Rosa Menkman
Are you interested in technology, art, new media and electronic music? The upcoming Sonic Acts Academy will take place from 23 to 25 February 2018 in Amsterdam. To help make the Academy a success, we are looking for volunteers to support us with various tasks, including promotion, communication, photography, production and the information desk. Interested? Apply by filling in the volunteer application form. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at volunteer[at]sonicacts[dot]com. We look forward to welcoming you to the team! Apply Now! Sonic Acts Academy is a new platform that aims to grow, expand, sustain and disseminate stimulating discourse about artistic research. Following its inception in 2016, the second edition of Sonic Acts Academy will take place from 23 to 25 February 2018 at various locations in Amsterdam.
Progress Bar S03E02 trailer by Sam RolfesOn 2 December Progress Bar presents The Spectacular Empire with GAIKA and more at Paradiso Noord (Tolhuistuin). Mixing talks, performance and a club in a single night, Progress Bar has developed into a platform for leading artists and speakers whose work straddles the intersection between nightlife and socio-political activism. For this special edition of Progress Bar, Brixton-born beatmaker and vocalist GAIKA will present an explosive history of the future, in the name of The Spectacular Empire. GAIKA will be joined by a stacked line-up of collaborators and like-minded musicians, including 808INK, /aart, Cõvco, Gage, Gloria, Kojey Radical, Madam X and S4U. In addition, this edition of Progress Bar will feature a live performance by Vancouver-based producer City and talks by Novara Media co-founder Aaron Bastani and artist Rachel Rose O'Leary. Buy your tickets here. Full line-up: 808INK AARON BASTANI /AART CITY CÕVCO GAGE GAIKA GLORIA KOJEY RADICAL MADAM X RACHEL ROSE O'LEARY S4U The Spectacular Empire is a new project by GAIKA that imagines a future world in which authority has been removed and cities destroyed, a world where chaos reigns. For Progress Bar, GAIKA brings The Spectacular Empire into the physical realm, in the shape of a live show alongside collaborators and like-minded musicians. You can read GAIKA's vision of the future at Dazed Digital. GAIKA is one of the most visionary artists of the moment, with a singular, confrontational performance style. Blending grime, dancehall, garage, hip-hop and R&B, GAIKA injects powerful drama into poetic dub sermons about city life and society ‘in a state of emergency’. The recent Warp Records signee takes the sonic textures of the streets and crafts them into brand new, glistening shapes.
GAIKA performing at Progress Bar. Photo by Pieter Kers.
GAIKA performing at Progress Bar. Photo by Pieter Kers.
GAIKA performing at Progress Bar. Photo by Pieter Kers.
The Spectacular Empire Tour
On Saturday 2 December, Progress Bar returns to Paradiso Noord (Tolhuistuin) with talks, performances and a club in a single night. As part of a programme of talks that open the evening, Iranian-British political commentator, writer, broadcaster and activist Aaron Bastani will give a presentation about 'Fully Automated Luxury Communism'. Artist and writer Rachel Rose O'Leary will talk about language as impact, information warfare, and the flattening of concept into code. We'll also sit down for a conversation with artist GAIKA to discuss his music and political visions. To reserve a seat for the talks, please send an email to email@example.com 'There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labor, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,' says Aaron Bastani. 'In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.' Aaron Bastani is the co-founder of Novara Media and Silke Digital. He is an expert on digital media, protest and political communications and has published with, among others, the Guardian, Vice and the LRB. GAIKA is one of the most visionary artists of the moment, with a singular, confrontational performance style. GAIKA injects powerful drama into poetic dub sermons about city life and society ‘in a state of emergency’. Rachel Rose O'Leary is an artist and writer currently based in Amsterdam. Her research concerns philosophy, encryption technologies, and eroticism. More information about the rest of the programme Progress Bar S03E02 Date: Saturday 2 December 2017 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €10,00 presale / €12,50 at the door (card only) Buy tickets Attend on Facebook
Sensing the Shipyard A Sensorial Journey Sonic Acts is currently working together with several educational institutes in the Netherlands and abroad. As part of the upcoming Sonic Acts Academy 2018, we are collaborating with the ArtScience Interfaculty in The Hague on Sensing the Shipyard: A Sensorial Journey. The project is part of ongoing research into the transformation and rethinking of modes in the artistic field. Under the guidance of artist and teacher Cocky Eek and Sonic Acts curatorial team member Nicky Assmann, a group of ten art students are running a research programme at the Damen Shiprepair in Amsterdam. During November, these students tapped into the different industrious rhythms of the huge shipyard, which is used to conduct numerous repairs on cargo and leisure ships. This terrain, located in the harbour on the north side of Amsterdam, next to the River IJ, is in operation for almost a hundred years and is bustling with energy and activity on an industrial scale. With the coaching of architect and creative researcher Renske Maria van Dam and sound artist BJ Nilsen, the students delve into questions such as: How do we relate our human presence to enormous living machines? How is this relationship sensorially inscribed at this rich and historic industrial complex? Field trip during Sonic Acts Academy By recording the different sounds, movements and smells, and investigating surfaces and scales by touch, the students explore this remarkable shipyard by sensorial mapping, whilst researching how they can recompose these location-specific stimuli into an artistic experience that the Academy audience can embark on. More information about the field trip and how to apply will be announced soon.
'I’m standing right here below sea-level next to the riverbank of the IJ in Amsterdam North. To be more precise, I’m standing at the bottom of dry-dock nr 3 of Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam, in front of the giant cruise ship, while tiny tiny men are tending it carefully. I’m facing the vertical front line of this giant ship towering out high above me. This dazzling vertical line connects me straight through the bottom of the ocean and up to the sky above. From the bow line of the ship, two sensuous steel planes curve upwards reaching out to the surface of the sea. When the gate will be opened the water of the IJ will fill the dock with fluid matter, lifting the body of this ship, to get itself afloat on the maritime waters of our world.' – Cocky EekFollow all updates about the project at sonicacts.com. Early Bird tickets for the complete programme of Sonic Acts Academy 2018 are now on sale. Buy your tickets here. This project is a collaboration between the ArtScience Interfaculty and the Sonic Acts Academy in Amsterdam. The ArtScience Interfaculty offers interdisciplinary Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes that foster curiosity driven research as an approach for the making of art. The programme considers art and science as a continuum and promotes the development of new art forms and artistic languages. The ArtScience Interfaculty is embedded in both the Royal Conservatoire and The Royal Academy for Fine Arts in The Hague, Netherlands.
Tonaliens have just released a new double LP with recordings from their live performance at Sonic Acts Festival 2015. The music of Tonaliens is focused on a specific area within the microtonal space that was discovered by mapping out the first three harmonics of three tubes of one of group's member's Werner Durand's self-invented Pan-Ney instrument. They named this area the Tonaliens chord, and both recordings on this double LP – two live performances from 2015 – are based on it. Sides A and B were recorded live in a church in Amsterdam, the Vondelkerk, during Sonic Acts Festival. Sides C and D contain a contrasting, more intimate performance made at KuLe in Berlin for the Labor Sonor concert series. Tonaliens is a Berlin-based group investigating the inner dimensions and outer limits of Just Intonation. Exploring harmonic space with voice , brass, invented instruments, sine waves and live electronics, Tonaliens navigate intricate musical relationships using Hayward Tuning Vine. You can purchase the double LP at our webshop.
Shenzhen, ChinaContinuum is a Pre-Master's programme founded by the Interaction Design, Product Design and Graphic Design departments of ArtEZ Arnhem and developed in collaboration with Sonic Acts. In November, a first phase of the programme will take place in Shenzhen, China, where participants will be able to critically reflect around the set theme of transit within a rapidly changing geography. During the month-long working residency, located in the Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab, participants will develop their research through guest lectures, hands-on workshops and project development. The research developed will be presented during Sonic Acts Academy 2018 (23–25 February) in Amsterdam. More info
Buy tickets We are excited to tell you that a limited amount of Early Bird tickets for the upcoming Sonic Acts Academy 2018 are now available for only €50 (regular price €65). The Early Bird ticket is valid for the complete three-day programme. Sonic Acts Academy will take place from 23 to 25 February 2018 at various locations in Amsterdam. Now in its second edition, Sonic Acts Academy is a new platform that aims to grow, expand, sustain and disseminate stimulating discourse about artistic research. Following its inception in 2016, Sonic Acts Academy 2018 continues to highlight artistic engagement as vital to understanding the complexities of our contemporary world. Over the course of three days, artists will present work that challenges the sterile dichotomy of theory versus practice. Through an open and dynamic programme of workshops, masterclasses, a symposium, film programme, live performances and club nights, Sonic Acts Academy probes traditional notions of the academy by positioning art as a unique means of knowledge production, to be shared and expanded upon with future generations. The first artists for Sonic Acts Academy 2018 will be announced soon. Early Bird Passes are available for €50 until Sunday 31 December. The Early Bird Pass grants access to all events from Friday 23 February to Sunday 25 February. For some events reservation may be required due to limited capacity. Following the end of the Early Bird sale, we will be offering various different ticket options, including regular Academy Passes (€65) and tickets for individual events.
Design by The Rodina
We are happy to announce that HC Gilje's video installation Barents (Mare Incognitum), which was commissioned by Sonic Acts and Hilde Methi for Dark Ecology is part of Screen City Biennial 2017 in Stavanger, Norway.
A still from HC Gilje's video installation Barents (Mare Incognitum)The installation shows a slowly rotating view of the Barents Sea: up becomes down, East becomes West. Border and thresholds become invisible, and the potential disaster inherent in the ocean is made visible. More info about Barents (Mare Incognitum) here. Screen City Biennial 12–31 October 2017 Stavanger, Norway
We are happy to announce that on Saturday 4 November, Progress Bar at Paradiso Noord with Bbymutha, Eaves, Lsdxoxo & more is an official afterparty of Museumnacht Amsterdam 2017.
It Won't Be Long Now, Comrades! opening at Framer Framed (2017). Photo © Marlise Steeman
t Won't Be Long Now, Comrades! opening at Framer Framed (2017). Photo © Marlise Steeman
It Won't Be Long Now, Comrades! at Framer Framed (2017), MARGE MONKO - I (Don't) Want a Baby (2017). Photo © Eva Broekema
Early Bird tickets for Sonic Acts Academy 2018 will be on sale from 7 November. Tickets will be available at a discount price of €50 (regular price: €65) until 31 December. Sonic Acts Academy is a new platform that aims to grow, expand, sustain and disseminate stimulating discourse about artistic research. Following its inception in 2016, the second edition of Sonic Acts Academy will take place from 23 to 25 February 2018 at various locations in Amsterdam. Stay tuned, as the first artists will be announced soon! Attend on Facebook.
Ewa Justka at Sonic Acts Academy 2016, photo by Pieter Kers
We are pleased to invite you to the launch of our new publication, The Noise of Being, on Saturday 4 November 2017 at Paradiso Noord (Tolhuistuin) in Amsterdam.
The Noise of Being book launch. Design by The RodinaTIMETABLE: 20:00 Doors 20:30 Intro 20:40-21:10 The Rodina lecture 21:10-21:40 Nina Power lecture 21:40-22:10 Bbymutha interviewed by Stefan Wharton 22:10-22:40 Metahaven lecture UPDATE: the reservation list for the talks is now closed. If you've made a reservation, please be on time. Doors open at 20:00 and the programme starts at 20:30. We expect a full house. Regular tickets are available at the door and in pre sale here: https://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/204201 Date: Saturday 4 November 2017 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 20:30–22:30 (doors open 20:00) We expect a full house, so please come early. The Noise of Being attempts to piece together the dissonance that was produced and gathered at the 2017 Sonic Acts Festival. The festival focused on a theme that resonates deeply when thinking about the contemporary – namely, what it means to be human, to be part of a world that is an ever changing network. Many different ‘noises’ were featured and produced at the festival conference, in the clubs, museums, and cinemas. This book is by no means a definite conclusion: more of a reminder and a chance to continue speculating about the strange and anxious state of being.
The Rodina presenting The Noise of Being at Stedelijk Book Club. Photo courtesy of Stedelijk
Lucas van der Velden presenting The Noise of Being at Stedelijk Book Club. Photo courtesy of Stedelijk
Progress Bar is back for a third season of cutting-edge thinking and dancing at Paradiso Noord (Tolhuistuin) on Saturday 4 November. Mixing talks, performance and a club in a single night, Progress Bar has developed into a platform for leading speakers on a range of urgent topics, alongside an uncompromising line-up of DJs and live performers, whose work straddles the intersection between nightlife and socio-political activism. The first edition of the season features Bbymutha, Bonaventure, Eaves, Hanz, LSDXOXO, Lyzza, Nina Power and more. Buy your tickets here.
Progress Bar S03E01 Trailer by Sam Rolfes
Sonic Acts Academy is a new platform that aims to grow, expand, sustain and disseminate stimulating discourse about artistic research. Following its inception in 2016, the second edition of Sonic Acts Academy will take place from 23 to 25 February 2018 at various locations in Amsterdam. The academy is initiated by Sonic Acts, which also organises the internationally renowned Sonic Acts Festival focusing on developments at the intersection of art, science and technology. Sonic Acts Academy highlights artistic engagement as vital to understanding the complexities of our contemporary world. Over the course of three days, artists will present work that challenges the sterile dichotomy of theory versus practice. Following an open and dynamic format, Sonic Acts Academy probes traditional notions of the academy with the aim of positioning art as a unique means of knowledge production, to be shared and expanded upon with future generations. Keep an eye on the Facebook event and Sonic Acts website for more information in the coming months.
On 29 September the Stedelijk Museum’s Friday Night is all about books. As part of the programme, Sonic Acts will present The Noise of Being, a new book that offers a chance to continue speculating about the strange and anxious state of being human in the present day. The book will be introduced by the Director of Sonic Acts, Lucas van der Velden, and design studio The Rodina will give an artist presentation about the process behind its design. This evening is a chance for visitors to purchase The Noise of Being and is a must for book lovers! View the full programme here The programme of the second edition of Stedelijk Book Club: Press! Print! Publish! features presentations and performances by authors and artists in the newly designed entrance area and at various spots throughout the museum. The evening also includes the opening of two exhibitions: The Best Book Designs and Always at Risk, yet never in Danger: Rietveld Graphic Design 2017. The annual display of The Best Book Designs is designed by EventArchitectuur. The museum library also takes part in Stedelijk Book Club: the annual book sale takes place at the library, where visitors can purchase numerous publications on contemporary art from home and abroad, both used and brand new. With: Sonic Acts, Antonis Pittas, Florian Idenburg, Herman Verkerk, Ian Whittlesea & Pádraic E. Moore, Katja Gruijters, LAPS, Marjan Teeuwen, Michael Tedja, Radna Rumping, Stedelijk Publicaties & Roma Publications, The Sandberg Series, Het Poëzie Museum, Offprint Library Amsterdam and fanfare. The Noise of Being publication features contributions by Arie Altena, Ingrid Burrington, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Rick Dolphijn, Jennifer Gabrys, Louis Henderson, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Joey Holder, Rosa Menkman, Metahaven, Nina Power, The Rodina, Daniel Rourke, Lucas van der Velden, Eyal Weizman, Ytasha Womack, and Juha van ’t Zelfde. View the full programme here. More information about The Noise of Being publication: sonicacts.org/sashop
SONIC ACTS ZOEKT EEN STAGIAIR(E) COMMUNICATIE & MARKETING van oktober 2017 t/m maart 2018 Sonic Acts organiseert tweejaarlijks de Sonic Acts Academy: een verdiepend programma op het snijvlak van kunst, technologie, muziek en wetenschap. De Academy omvat een lezingenprogramma, optredens, performances, een filmprogramma, masterclasses en workshops die plaatsvinden op verschillende plekken in Amsterdam zoals Paradiso, de Brakke Grond, het Stedelijk, OT301 en meer. De komende editie vindt plaats van 22 t/m 25 februari 2018. Momenteel zijn we op zoek naar een enthousiaste stagiair(e) voor onze marketing & communicatie afdeling. De stage loopt van begin oktober 2017 t/m eind maart 2018 en je werkt 4 dagen per week. Er wordt van je verwacht dat je flexibel bent: onze activiteiten vinden ook tijdens het weekend of in de avond plaats, en de werktijden passen zich aan aan de activiteiten. Kantoordagen: 4 dagen per week in Amsterdam Stagevergoeding: 200 euro bruto per maand Werkzaamheden - Up-to-date houden van de diverse websites van Sonic Acts - Social media kanalen monitoren en content voor creëren (facebook, twitter, instagram) - Ideeën aandragen voor online marketingacties - Digitale nieuwsbrief voorbereiden - Content planning voor websites en social media - Onderhouden en uitbreiden van database perscontacten en relaties - Productionele en praktische ondersteuning voorafgaand- en tijdens het festival Vereisten - Je hebt een HBO of universitair denkniveau - Je weet van aanpakken, bent stressbestendig en je kunt zelfstandig werken - Je bent bekend met CMS-systemen als Wordpress, of maakt je dit soort systemen snel eigen - Vanzelfsprekend weet je alles van social media als Facebook, Twitter en Instagram - Je schrijft en spreekt correct Engels en Nederlands - Je hebt affiniteit met Sonic Acts en haar disciplines (kunst, muziek, wetenschap, technologie) - Eerdere ervaring met organisatie/publiciteit van culturele evenementen is een pré - Ervaring met grafische programma’s als Adobe Illustrator en Photoshop en HTML is een pré - Je woont in Amsterdam of omstreken Ben jij wie we zoeken? Stuur dan je CV en motivatiebrief zo spoedig mogelijk naar Stefan Wharton, via stefan[at]sonicacts[.]com. Voor vragen kun je ook contact opnemen via 020-5307641. In overleg is een eerder of later begin van de stage mogelijk.
Buy The Noise of Being The Noise of Being attempts to piece together the dissonance that was produced and gathered at the 2017 Sonic Acts Festival. The festival focused on a theme that resonates deeply when thinking about the contemporary – namely, what it means to be human, to be part of a world that is an ever changing network. Many different ‘noises’ were featured and produced at the festival conference, in the clubs, museums, and cinemas. This book is by no means a definite conclusion: more of a reminder and a chance to continue speculating about the strange and anxious state of being.
The Noise of Being. Design by The Rodina.The book opens with Nina Power’s essay Anticapitalism, Postcapitalism, Decapitalism, a reflection on ways of visualising opposition to capitalism. Jennifer Gabrys is interviewed about sensor technologies and changing conceptualisations of the environment, political agency, the human, and the citizen. Referencing Arthur Rimbaud and Derek Walcott, Louis Henderson’s poetic text presents his animistic materialist cinematic practice, which focuses on the critical reading of colonial histories. In her interview, Ytasha Womack discusses how Afrofuturism, as an aesthetic and epistemology, facilitates different ways of navigating the world. Daniel Rourke’s essay takes John Carpenter’s The Thing as a starting point for a reflection on the ontology of things. Rick Dolphijn’s study, The Cracks of the Contemporary – The Wound, explicates living the wounds and the void. In the context of computational biology and the Google Genomics project, artist Joey Holder invented a speculative pharmaceutical company Ophiux. Neworked algorithms, big data, and habituation on the internet are the focus of a conversation with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. In another interview, Eyal Weizman vigorously explains the political interventions of Forensic Architecture and how they gather and present facts. In By Any Lens Necessary, Jamon Van Den Hoek examines how satellite images provide and create accounts of geopolitical conflicts. Ingrid Burrington’s contribution, Forever Noon on a Cloudless Day, analyses Google Earth imagery for traces of military architecture. Juha van ’t Zelfde interviews the Dutch duo Metahaven about their artistic practices in graphic design and film. The book concludes with a series of photographs that provide an impression of The Noise of Being. The Noise of Being features contributions by Arie Altena, Ingrid Burrington, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Rick Dolphijn, Jennifer Gabrys, Louis Henderson, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Joey Holder, Rosa Menkman, Metahaven, Nina Power, The Rodina, Daniel Rourke, Lucas van der Velden, Eyal Weizman, Ytasha Womack, and Juha van ’t Zelfde. Format: 17 x 24 cm Edited by Mirna Belina Published by Sonic Acts Press Design by The Rodina Book, 212pp., English text, illustrated Special introduction price: 16.50 EUR (regular price 19.50 EUR) Buy The Noise of Being at sonicacts.org/sashop
Luke Fowler's lovingly constructed biographical essay of Canadian composer Martin Bartlett, Electro-Pythagoras (a Portrait of Martin Bartlett), will be screened at the 55th New York Film Festival on 8 October. As part of the festival's Projections section, Fowler's film – a co-production by Sonic Acts and Stedelijk Museum – finds Bartlett at home, at work and onstage, telling an intimate personal history.
Luke Fowler, 'Electro-Pythagoras (a Portrait of Martin Bartlett)' at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.With the film Luke Fowler pays tribute to the work and musical ideas of Martin Bartlett (1939–93) a proudly gay Canadian composer who during the 1970s and 1980s pioneered the use of the ‘microcomputer’. Bartlett is hardly recognised, never mind canonised, in cultural life. He researched intimate relationships with technology and was particularly interested in handmade electronics where, as he states in one of his performances: ‘the intimacy of handcraftedness softens the technological anonymity creating individual difference making each instrument a topography of uncertainties with which we become acquainted through practice’. More information about the programme can be found here.
The second season of Progress Bar has come to a close. Over eight monthly editions taking place at Paradiso Noord (Tolhuistuin) and Paradiso in Amsterdam, we moved beyond the pressures facing club culture, and towards wider socio-political issues. Indeed, Progress Bar began as something conscious of the threats facing underground club culture and has developed into a platform for leading speakers on a range of urgent topics regarding the relations between states, societies and their citizens. We sought out voices proposing hopeful alternatives to the dominant media through grass-roots organisation, intersectional thinking and constructive radicalism, and looked for cues in the DIY approaches and activist mentalities of artists and collectives as far as Lisbon, London and Chicago. Watch a recording of the talks from the season finale...
Progress Bar S02E08 with Hélène Christelle, Jeanette Bisschops, Flavia Dzodan, Bambii and Jo Kali.
The 17th edition of Sonic Acts Festival took place in February. Under the title The Noise of Being, the festival revolved around the exploration of what it means to be human in the present time. The festival included a three-day conference at De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, where internationally renowned artists and thinkers from various disciplines explored and speculated on what being human means in the present time. If you missed the conference (or would like to refresh your memory) you can now watch videos of the presentations and discussions on the Sonic Acts Vimeo channel, or read reports of the conference as part of our Research Series. Watch Nick Axel's panel discussion with John Palmesino and Natasha Ginwala below, and follow the daily reports for many more videos from the conference.
Research Series• Day One • Day Two • Day Three
We are very pleased to announce that our project Re-Imagine Europe has been selected for funding by the European Commission’s programme Creative Europe. Re-Imagine Europe is a four-year project presented by ten cultural organisations from across Europe, with an aim to respond to the social and political challenges that we are currently facing. Rising nationalism, climate change and migration are drawing European countries apart, while technological advances continue to change the ways that we interact, urging us to explore new modes of operation. Funded by Creative Europe, the project involves artistic residencies, commissions, workshops and symposia, using art to empower a young generation of digitally connected Europeans to explore new ideas. Re-Imagine Europe is initiated by Sonic Acts (NL) and coordinated by Paradiso (NL) in collaboration with Elevate Festival (AT), Lighthouse (UK), Ina GRM (FR), Student Centre Zagreb / Izlog Festival (HR), Landmark / Bergen Kunsthall (NO), A4 (SK), SPEKTRUM (DE) and Ràdio Web MACBA (ES). More information will follow soon.
Roly Porter & MFO at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Summer is upon us, and what better way to spend it than to delve into one of our many publications. For that reason, we're offering various discounts at the Sonic Acts webshop, including great discounts on Travelling Time and The Dark Universe (€5 each instead of €17,50). Take advantage of our package deal on publications: Travelling Time + The Dark Universe + Sonic Acts Academy Vol. 1 (€12,50). You can also cool off in the warm weather with one of our many Sonic Acts t-shirts (€7,50 instead of €15). Go to www.sonicacts.com/sashop and get a free bag with every purchase!
Various discounts on offer at the Sonic Acts webshop
A special summer package: Travelling Time + The Dark Universe + Sonic Acts Academy Vol. 1: €12.50
The only political party you can dance to. Progress Bar is a regular night for cutting-edge thinking and dancing, showcasing urgent sounds and voices while offering insight into the artistic practice of the most exciting contemporary artists, with interviews and lectures as well as a club programme. The final edition of this second series features DJ sets and live performances by Bambii, Endgame, Juha, Kamixlo and Lyzza. The programme begins at 21:00 in the Tuinzaal with a series of talks: writer and critic Flavia Dzodan, who focuses on issues of gender, immigration, race, politics and media analysis, will give a lecture about the possibilities of radical pleasure; political scientist Hélène Christelle will be interviewed by writer and curator Jeanette Bisschops; and Toronto-based DJ Bambii will be in conversation with Progress Bar about her artistic practice. Buy Tickets
Progress Bar S02E08. Design by Michael Oswell and Ashkan SepahvandTimetable: 20:30 Doors open 21:00-21:30 Interview Hélène Christelle Muganyende by Jeanette Bisschops 21:30-22:00 Lecture Flavia Dzodan 22:00-22:30 Interview Bambii by Jo Kali 22:30-23:30 Juha 23:30-00:30 Lyzza 00:30-01:50 Endgame 01:50-02:30 Kamixlo 02:30-04:00 Bambii BAMBII (DJ) is an emerging talent from Toronto, a DJ who has bypassed aux-cord wielding scenesters by always allowing her musical curiosity to dictate her sets. This insistence on instinct sets the Mykki Blanco tour DJ apart from her peers. ENDGAME (DJ) is a producer and DJ based in London, Hyperdubs most recent signee. His densely layered sound emerges from the cold ashes of grime. Combining corrosive melodies and artillery like percussion, with reference to dancehall, tarraxo, and drill. FLAVIA DZODAN (Talk) is a writer and cultural critic living in Amsterdam. She focuses on issues of gender, immigration, race, politics and media analysis. Dzodan is an editor at Tiger Beatdown and has written for The Guardian, Racialicious, Gender Across Borders and Global Comment. JEANETTE BISSCHOPS (Interview) is an independent curator and writer based in Amsterdam. She specialises in new media and deals with critically engaged work including themes such as intersectional feminism and migration. JUHA (DJ) is founder of Progress Bar and plays new internet dance music. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of internet music culture. HÉLÈNE CHRISTELLE (Interview) landed as a refugee in the Netherlands. She has since represented the European Union during G(irls)20, is a future political scientist, president at IamSHERO.org and has a passion for writing and new media. KAMIXLO (Premiere) presents Bloodless live at Progress Bar. Kamixlo's music lies at the riveting, emergent edge of grime, reggateon and experimental bass. The London-based producer's 'Demonico' EP marked out bold new territory. LYZZA (DJ) is a promising young DJ and producer who is currently on the rise in Amsterdam. Born and raised in Brazil, she combines her Brazilian roots through baile funk with a taste of bass heavy club music, underground hip-hop and grime. Progress Bar S02E08 Date: Saturday 27 May 2017 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €10,00 presale / €12,50 at the door (card only) Buy Tickets Free for Subbacultcha! members until midnight. Become a member: http://bit.ly/subbajoin Free for We Are Public members. https://www.wearepublic.nl/programma/
The only political party you can dance to. Progress Bar is a regular night for cutting-edge thinking and dancing, showcasing urgent sounds and voices while offering insight into the artistic practice of the most exciting contemporary artists, with interviews and lectures as well as a club programme. Writer and femenist Meredith Greer kicks off the evening with a talk about constructive radicalism, followed by interviews and DJ sets by DJ Nigga Fox, Juha, Lotic, Moro, Yon Eta and Ziúr. Buy Tickets
Lotic. Photo by Elias Johansson.DJ NIGGA FOX (DJ) is part of Lisbon's Principe Discos crew, and an exciting sonic culture nurtured out of the Portuguese capital's urban and suburban areas. His debut 'O Meu Estilo' and follow up 'Noite e Dia' have liberated dancefloors. JUHA (DJ) is founder of Progress Bar and plays new internet dance music. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of internet music culture. LOTIC (DJ) is DJ and producer J’Kerian Morgan. Raised in Houston, Texas and now operating out of Berlin, Morgan is a resident at the city’s famed Janus parties and in recent years has evolved into one of the most original voices of Berlin's club life. MEREDITH GREER (talk) is a writer and a feminist. She has published in Vrij Nederland, hard//hoofd, de Volkskrant, het Parool, HP/De Tijd and had a column at Vileine adressing old white men. She now works as an editor at Joop.nl. MORO (DJ) is an Argentian producer whose work is concerned with highlighting the African roots of his country's most famous musical export: tango. Moro's debut EP, 'San Benito', was released last year on NON Worldwide. YON ETA (DJ) has a maximalist approach to sound while striving to limit the options in the production process of his music. This Hague-based artist runs the DEVORM imprint, a hybrid community challenging the form of AV releases. ZIÚR (DJ) is a Berlin-based DJ/producer dedicated to combining different sonic textures and brainy beats into a functional dancefloor framework. Her music is clearly intended for loud soundsystems (and preferably accompanied by a fog machine). Timetable: Tuinzaal 21:00–21:30 Lecture by Meredith Greer 21:30–22:00 Lotic in conversation with Jo Kali 22:00–22:30 Moro in conversation with Roxy Merrell Club 22:30–23:15 Juha 23:15–00:15 Moro 00:15–01:15 DJ Nigga Fox 01:15–02:15 Lotic 02:15–03:15 Ziúr 03:15–04:00 Yon Eta Progress Bar S02E07 Date: Saturday 29 April 2017 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €10,00 presale / €12,50 at the door (card only) Buy Tickets Free for We Are Public members Become a member www.wearepublic.nl/signup/aanmelden Free for Subbacultcha! members until midnight. Become a member: http://bit.ly/subbajoin Attend on Facebook
The Noise of Being A shortish report touching on some of the highlights of the 2017 Sonic Acts Festival, written by a biased insider Arie Altena The Sonic Acts festival opened on Thursday, 23rd February at the Paradiso with a full evening of Vertical Cinema films, but it had actually already started three weeks earlier on the 1st of February. That Wednesday about 60 people convened at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ to travel by coach to St. Jansklooster, 100 kilometres from Amsterdam, the heart of the nature reserve ‘De Wieden’. There, Signe Lidén and Espen Sommer Eide had developed Vertical Studies, a vertical soundscape in the old, 46-metre-tall water tower. The audience, spread out over the spiral staircase inside the tower, experienced a performance with sounds that slowly ascended the tower, and using environmental sounds, took full advantage of the specific characteristics and possibilities of the architecture. The piece was performed several times over the next three weeks, each time with many attentive visitors.
Susan Schuppli, 'Atmospheric Feedback Loops' at the opening of Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.As before, this festival was probably more ambitious than the previous edition. For sure it was more ambitious in terms of night programming: three nights this time, and by night I mean after midnight. The first one was on Thursday at De School, located in a former school building far from the city centre in Amsterdam-West. (Conforming to the trend where new and adventurous culture finds a home in the periphery, not in the city centre). My highlight here was the Emptyset performance, which I enjoyed immensely once I started to listen to them as if they were a two-man noise metal band – which they are in a sense. It had been a long day and I only stayed for about 10 minutes of Violence, and not for Aisha Devi and JK Flesh. On Friday the conference kicked-off with a lecture by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi about cultural and political aspects of the face and the covering of the face. Very poignant, nuanced, not offering any simplified solution to any simplified problem. This was followed by Metahaven’s presentation that – though it was very strong and timely – seemed to be ensnared in the issue (timeline occupation by fake news and extreme distraction) it tried to analyse. But maybe that was the point. Erica Scourti performed living in a social media temporality. In the afternoon sessions, Nina Power, Isabell Lorey, and Peter Frase discussed the paradoxes of capitalism, and possible ways to escape from capitalist domination (either in a social or political sense). The first full conference day ended with John Palmesino (on some of the paradoxes of the Anthropocene) and Nathasha Ginwalla. There was an interesting film programme running partly parallel to the conference which I alas missed completely. (I would have loved to see Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s SF documentary Homo Sapiens).
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.The readout on the counter said: 1354. That’s how many visitors came to the Stedelijk Museum on Friday evening for a full programme of concerts and performances. I decided to start by listening to the first episode of Supreme Connections’ re-interpretation of Maryanne Amacher’s Mini-Sound Series. This was a recreation of an Amacher work, or better, an iteration of how Amacher might have approached making a new work at the Stedelijk, using visual and sounds materials from her archive. Amy Cimini, Keiko Prince, Woody Sullender, Sergei and Stefan Tcherepnin, Kabir Carter, and Bill Dietz – all former collaborators and friends of Amacher – worked in the auditorium and the cellar for more than a week to create this work. The overall effect was very moving, especially because of the way the sounds interacted with the architecture: creating strange and beautiful pockets of sound with physical and emotional impact. All the performers were dressed-up, as if they were channelling Maryanne Amacher. I stayed until the end of the first episode, which meant I was way too late to get into the performance of Jennifer Walshe’s Everything is Important with none other than the Arditti Quartet. I heard it was great and one of the best events at the festival. I also missed Jennifer Walshe’s second performance. I love Microtub’s work, but having heard them before I just dipped into their exploration of microtonality for a few minutes: that room was also packed. I decided to forget about trying to hear everything and simply experience the second episode of the Mini-Sound Series instead, going from the auditorium to the cellar a few times, and revisiting some of my favourite sound spots. The only other performance I caught was Cilantro, subtle free improv noise by Billy Roisz and Angélica Castelló.
Supreme Connections presents: 'Mini-Sound Series' at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.The night hadn’t ended. Not at all. In fact, in retrospect it seems as if it had only just begun. From 11 pm, Paradiso hosted the Progress Bar with a truly incredible line-up of very contemporary ‘Internet dance music’: wild, diverse and hybrid in all respects. Progress Bar is a series of club nights that has been running for a while now at the Tolhuistuin – and with this XL-edition it has definitely put itself on the map as the most forward-looking club night in Amsterdam. I needed to be fresh for the conference the next morning, so I regret missing out on Nidia Minaj, DJ Earl and Kamixlo – who I would have loved to hear live – but at least I was there for the wild set by My Sword, the show by Flohio, and I did stay till the end of Le1f’s performance which so-to-say ‘blew the roof’ off the Paradiso. The diversity of Progress Bar – with so many genres and cultures in the mix – made it a true party. And that as such is a political statement as well.
Le1f at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.On Saturday I had two panels to moderate at de Brakke Grond, the venue for the conference. I’ll only briefly mention that I was very happy to see how well Sarah Whatmore’s practical approach to political potency connected to the more philosophical talks by Rick Dolphijn and David Roden. Many people left towards the end of the panel, but this was because they wanted to see Fabrizio Terranova’s documentary about Donna Haraway, which started at 12.00 sharp. Though we hadn’t been able to convince Haraway to speak at Sonic Acts, her ideas were very present at the conference, and the room where the film was shown was completely packed, with many sitting on the floor. After lunch Erika Balsom powerfully and polemically called for a rehabilitation of observation in documentary film, in a world where fake news proliferates. She was followed by Ben Russell, whose films were also screened in the film programme. Helen Verran forced the audience to slow down with her oral account of cultural difference and the encounter with others. At first, this felt a bit irritating – in times of speedy Powerpoints and snappy presentations – but was very effective. Through nuanced repetitions she stressed the respectfulness of the encounter with the other and experimented with negotiating cultural and linguistic difference. The last panel of the day was with Noortje Marres, Jennifer Gabrys, Wendy Chun, and Armen Avanessian. This seemed like a strange combination, with Avanessian, who is often identified as an accellerationist, paired with the political philosophy of Noortje Marres, Jennifer Gabrys, and Wendy Chun’s critical media theory, but it worked. Chun’s talk was most powerfully delivered, and examined the erasure of difference – leading to racism – at the core of network theory. Noortje Marres spoke about street trials and self-driving cars, Jennifer Gabrys about practical experiments in political participation using sensing networks, and Armen Avanessian about the temporality of our ‘postcontemporary times’. In the evening the festival changed its location to the beautiful Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, with a night programme at the Bimhuis. To be honest, by now my head was filled with so many impressions and new ideas that I didn’t feel ready for more, and I decided to ‘take it easy’. I only caught the last 10 minutes of Pierce Warnecke and Matthew Biederman’s audiovisual performance, which was a wonderful ‘classic Sonic Acts work’: electronic music and abstract imagery with a powerful effect on the senses. I was very curious to hear Kara-Lis Coverdale: there was a lot that I found interesting musically, or in terms of composition. For instance, the way she juxtaposed live organ with pure electronic sounds. Sometimes it sounded like music without any reference. Musically it was my highlight of the evening. I did stay longer, even until after midnight, catching a bit of MSHR’s performance with self-built noise machines, and the no-wave of Yeah You at the Bimhuis (great atmosphere), but as I wrote: my head was already full.
Matthew Biederman & Pierce Warnecke, 'Perspection (squared)' at Sonic Acts Festival 2017. Photo by Pieter Kers.As usual, the conference on Sunday started early in the morning – early for a Sunday, that is – with presentations by two artists who were part of the exhibition in Arti, Zach Blas and Pinar Yoldas, who provided a lot of background to their works. The talks by Daniel Rourke, Ytasha Womack, and Laurie Penny were about speculative fiction, SF, and the imagination: Daniel Rourke zoomed in on monsters, Ytasha Womack celebrated the imagination of Afrofuturism, and Laurie Penny took a powerful feminist stance against the proliferation of misogynistic new fascists (largely based on her piece ‘Fear of a Feminist Future’, published last year in The Baffler). I missed out on the Q&A and the last panel of the conference (with Jamon van den Hoek, Ingrid Burrington and Eyal Weizman) because I had to introduce the film Hyperstition and do the Q&A with Armen Avanessian afterwards. It was definitely a day that was very much about today, and – like the entire conference – about understanding what it means to be human, now. The final event of the festival was a celebration of the composer and musician Martin Bartlett, whose work remained obscure during his lifetime, and also afterwards. Luke Fowler made a documentary film about him, Electro Pythagorus: A Portrait of Martin Bartlett. The film was commissioned by Sonic Acts and the Stedelijk, and premièred at the Brakke Grond. I love the portraits that Luke Fowler makes of musicians and composers, and this one was no exception: a careful consideration of Bartlett’s life and legacy. The evening was also a rare opportunity to hear Martin Bartlett’s music, both in the film, and as mixed by Ernst Karel afterwards: a curious and interesting type of computer music that to my surprise sometimes did sound ahead of its time (considering it was composed in the 1980s and early 1990s). Fowler discussed the film and Bartlett with Amy Cimini. A double 16mm projection was also shown with sound by Richard McMaster, and then the festival was over. (Save for an afterparty, an occasion to catch up some more with old and new friends).
The only political party you can dance to. Progress Bar is a regular night for cutting-edge thinking and dancing, showcasing urgent sounds and voices while offering insight into the artistic practice of the most exciting contemporary artists, with interviews and lectures as well as a club programme. The next edition of Progress Bar takes place on Saturday 1 April at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, and features An Ni, Cakes Da Killa, DJ Firmeza, Juha, Kablam and Wail Qasim. AN NI (DJ) is an Estonian DJ, currently based in Netherlands. She describes her sonic palette as genre fluid, embracing raw and hard hitting percussions. Her sets blend a mix of industrial grime and floating melodies with glimpses of noise and sound design. An Ni is affiliated to the SISTER platform. CAKES DA KILLA (live) is one of hip-hop’s most exciting voices and a ferocious rapper. His unique sound is a mix of various musical influences, cinema and underground experiences. Cakes is praised for both his lyrical content and flow, which has earned him comparisons to Lil Kim and Foxy Brown.DJ FIRMEZA (DJ) hails proudly from the Quinta do Mocho neighbourhood, where originators Nervoso and Marfox also reside. Firmeza is a revered and unmatchable DJ; his unique trance-inducing style has made him an acclaimed regular on Lisbon label Príncipe's monthly club residency. JUHA (DJ), founder of Progress Bar, plays new internet dance music. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of internet music culture. KABLAM (DJ) started her DJ career as one of the residents of Berlin’s Janus party alongside co-residents Lotic and M.E.S.H. Blom’s style, in keeping with her Janus peers, experiments with the radical possibilities of club environments, finding imaginative points of entry and combinations between genres. WAIL QASIM (talk) is a writer, activist and campaigner. Their writing has covered philosophy and politics, specifically dealing with racism, issues of (gender)queer and black social movements, and their (social) media strategies. Qasim currently works as a freelance writer for The Guardian, The Independent, UK VICE Media and Novara. More artists and speakers to be announced soon. Progress Bar S02E06 Date: Saturday 1 April 2017 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €10,00 presale / €12,50 at the door (card only) Ticket sale starts 2 March 2017 http://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/184575 Attend on Facebook Free for Subbacultcha! members until midnight. Become a member: http://bit.ly/subbajoin
RESEARCH SERIES #26 In this essay, which draws on his book Dark Ecology, For a Logic of Coexistence, Timothy Morton — who originally coined the term dark ecology — explains what dark ecology is. He also argues how agrilogistics underpins our ecological crisis and our view of the world. This essay forms part of Living Earth – Field Notes from Dark Ecology Project 2014 – 2016. The publication Living Earth is available now at www.sonicacts.com/shop. Lighten up: dark ecology does not mean heavy or bleak; it is strangely light.
Progress means: humanity emerges from its spellbound state no longer under the spell of progress as well, itself nature, by becoming aware of its own indigenousness to nature and by halting the mastery over nature through which nature continues its mastery. — Theodor Adorno
Dark is dangerous. You can’t see anything in the dark, you’re afraid. Don’t move, you might fall. Most of all, don’t go into the forest. And so we have internalized this horror of the dark. — Hélène CixousThe ecological era we find ourselves in — whether we like it or not, and whether we recognise it or not — makes necessary a searching revaluation of philosophy, politics and art.The very idea of being ‘in’ an era is in question. We are ‘in’ the Anthropocene, but that era is also ‘in’ a moment of far longer duration.
What is the present? How can it be thought? What is presence? Ecological awareness forces us to think and feel at multiple scales, scales that disorient normative concepts such as ‘present’, ‘life’, ‘human’, ‘nature’, ‘thing’, ‘thought’ and ‘logic’. I shall argue there are layers of attunement to ecological reality more accurate than what is habitual in the media, in the academy and in society at large.
These attunement structures are necessarily weird, a precise term that we shall explore in depth. Weirdness involves the hermeneutical knowingness belonging to the practices that the Humanities maintain. The attunement, which I call ecognosis, implies a practical yet highly nonstandard vision of what ecological politics could be. In part ecognosis involves realising that nonhumans are installed at profound levels of the human — not just biologically and socially but in the very structure of thought and logic. Coexisting with these nonhumans is ecological thought, art, ethics and politics.
We can trace the ecological crisis to a logistical ‘programme’ that has been running unquestioned since the Neolithic. Ecological reality requires an awareness that at first has the characteristics of tragic melancholy and negativity, concerning coexisting inextricably with a host of entities that surround and penetrate us; but which evolves paradoxically into an anarchic, comedic sense of coexistence. Ecological awareness has the form of a loop. In this loop we become aware of ourselves as a species—a task far more difficult than it superficially appears. We also grow familiar with a logistics of human social, psychic and philosophical space, a twelve-thousand-year set of procedures that resulted in the very global warming that it was designed to fend off. The logistics represses a paradoxical realm of human– nonhuman relations. The realm contains trickster-like beings that have a loop form, which is why ecological phenomena and awareness have a loop form. The growing familiarity with this state of affairs is a manifestation of dark ecology. Dark ecology begins in darkness as depression. It traverses darkness as ontological mystery. It ends as dark sweetness.
The Arctic Russian town of Nikel looks horrifying at first, like something out of Tarkovsky’s Stalker, only on bad acid. A forest devastated by a nickel smelting factory. Soviet buildings stark and bleak. Mounds of garbage sitting on hills of slag. A solitary tree, last of the pines destroyed by the sulphur dioxide. We were a small group of musicians, artists and writers. We had travelled there in late 2014 to start a three- year art and research project called Dark Ecology.
A bear monument in Nikel. Photo by Annette Wolfsberger, 2015.
Then Nikel becomes rather sad and melancholic. A collection of broken things. Past things. Garages repurposed as homes. Broken metal structures in which people are living. Holding on to things for no reason. Peeling paint tells stories of decisions and indecisions and non-decisions.
And then for some strange reason it becomes warm. There is a Palace of Culture, full of wonderful kitschy communist art, Terry Gilliam sculpture-like lampshades, hauntingly luminous pale blues, pinks and yellows, the building grooving as hard as a Tibetan stupa. And on the outskirts the reality of death is so explicit. It’s a charnel ground almost identical to the one on Mount Kailash, another very friendly place where offerings (or are they huge piles of garbage?) litter the space at the top and nuns meditate in a land strewn with bits of corpses like an emergency room. People are dying, or are they going to live, or are they already dead? There is a lot of blood, severing and severed limbs. A lot of care.
It’s even a little bit funny. A drag queen poses for a photographer outside a metallic building. Some kind of joy is here. The demons and ghosts aren’t demons or ghosts. They are faeries and sprites.
A whale bone on top of the hill overlooking Nikel. The bone was left there when the nearby museum closed down. Photo by Rosa Menkman, 2015.
Wrecked car on the roof of a row of garages on the top of the hill in Nikel, next to the smelter plant. Photo by Rosa Menkman, 2015.
Central square in Nikel, Russia. Statue of Lenin in front of the Nikel Culture Palace Voshod. Photo by Konstantin Guz, 2014.
Discussion panel during the second Dark Ecology Journey. Photo by Michael Miller, 2015.
What thinks dark ecology? Ecognosis, a riddle. Ecognosis is like knowing, but more like letting-be-known. It is something like coexisting. It is like becoming accustomed to something strange, yet it is also becoming accustomed to strangeness that doesn’t become less strange through acclimation. Ecognosis is like a knowing that knows itself. Knowing in a loop; a weird knowing. Weird from the Old Norse, urth, meaning twisted, in a loop.2 The Norns entwine the web of fate with itself; Urðr is one of the Norns.3 The term weird can mean causal: the spool of fate is winding. The less well-known noun weird means destiny or magical power, and by extension the wielders of that power, the Fates or Norns.4 In this sense weird is connected with worth, not the noun but the verb, which has to do with happening or becoming.5
Weird: a turn or twist or loop, a turn of events. The milk turned sour. She had a funny turn. That weather was a strange turn-up for the book. Yet weird can also mean strange of appearance.6 That storm cloud looks so weird. She is acting weird. The milk smells weird. Global weirding.
In the term weird there flickers a dark pathway between causality and the aesthetic dimension, between doing and appearing, a pathway that dominant Western philosophy has blocked and suppressed. Now the thing about seeming is that seeming is never quite as it seems. Appearance is always strange.
Though the web of fate is so often invoked in tragedy, that default agricultural mode, words such as weird and faerie evoke the animistic world within the concept of the web of fate itself. We Mesopotamians have never left the Dreaming. So little have we moved that even when we thought we were awakening we had simply gathered more tools for understanding that this was in fact a lucid dream, even better than before.
Ecological awareness is weird: it has a twisted, looping form. Since there is no limit to the scope of ecological beings (biosphere, Solar System) we can infer that all things have a loop form. Ecological awareness is a loop because human interference has a loop form, because ecological and biological systems are loops. And ultimately this is because to exist at all is to assume the form of a loop. The loop form of beings means we live in a universe of finitude and fragility, a world in which objects are suffused and surrounded by mysterious hermeneutical clouds of unknowing. It means that the politics of coexistence are always contingent, brittle and flawed, so that in the thinking of interdependence at least one being must be missing.
What kind of weirdness are we talking about? Weird weirdness. Weird means strange of appearance; weirdness means the turning of causality. There are many kinds of loops. There are positive feedback loops that escalate the potency of the system in which they are operating. Antibiotics versus bacteria. Farmers versus soil, creating the Dust Bowl in the Midwestern United States in the 1930s. Such loops are common in human ‘command and control’ approaches to environmental management and they result in damage to the ecosystem.7 Some of them are unintended: consider the decimation of bees in the second decade of the twenty-first century brought on by the use of pesticides that drastically curtail pollination.8 Such unintended consequences are weirdly weird in the sense that they are uncanny, unexpected fallout from the myth of progress: for every seeming forward motion of the drill bit there is a backwards gyration, an asymmetrical contrary motion.
Then there are the negative feedback loops that cool down the intensity of positive feedback loops. Think of thermostats and James Lovelock’s Gaia. There are phasing loops. We encounter them in beings such as global warming, beings that are temporally smeared in such a way that they come in and out of phase with human temporality.9
Yet there is another loop, the dark-ecological loop. Ecognosis is a strange loop. A strange loop is a loop in which two levels that appear utterly separate flip into one another. Consider the dichotomy between moving and being still. In Lewis Carroll’s haunting story, Alice tries to leave the Looking Glass House. She sets off through the front garden yet she finds herself returning to the front door via that very movement.10 A strange loop is weirdly weird: a turn of events that has an uncanny appearance. And this defines emerging ecological awareness occurring to ‘civilized’ people at this moment.III The Anthropocene is the moment at which we humans begin to realise that the correct way to understand ourselves as a species is as a hyperobject. This is a truly non-racist and non-speciesist way of thinking species, which otherwise is a problematically teleological concept: ducks are for swimming, Greeks are for enslaving non-Greeks...that’s the traditional Aristotelian mode in which we think species. In a twisted way it’s fortunate that the Anthropocene happened, because it enables us to drop the teleology yet preserve the notion of species, upgraded from something that we can point to directly (these beings rather than those beings). The Anthropocene enables us to think at Earth magnitude. Unless we try this, unless we endeavour to think the concept species differently, which is to say think humankind as a planetary totality without the soppy and oppressive universalism and difference erasure that usually implies, we will have ceded an entire scale—the scale of the biosphere, no less—to truly hubristic technocracy, whose ‘Just let us try this’ rhetoric masks the fact that when you ‘try’ something at a general enough level of a system, you are not trying but doing and changing, for good.
The concept of species, upgraded from the absurd teleological and metaphysical concepts of old, is not anthropocentric at all. Because it is via this concept, which is open, porous, flickering, distant from what is given to my perception, that the human is decisively deracinated from its pampered, ostensibly privileged place set apart from all other beings.11
Anthropocene’ is the first fully anti-anthropocentric concept.
The Anthropocene is an anti-anthropocentric concept because it enables us to think the human species not as an ontically given thing I can point to, but as a hyperobject that is real yet inaccessible.12 Computational power has enabled us to think and visualise things that are ungraspable by our senses or by our quotidian experience. We live on more timescales than we can grasp.
We are faced with the task of thinking at temporal and spatial scales that are unfamiliar, even monstrously gigantic. Perhaps this is why we imagine such horrors as nuclear radiation in mythological terms. Take Godzilla, who appears to have grown as awareness of hyperobjects such as global warming has taken hold. Having started at a relatively huge fifty metres, by 2014 he had grown to a whopping one hundred and fifty metres tall.13 Earth magnitude is bigger than we thought, even if we have seen the NASA ‘Earthrise’ photos, which now look like charming and simplistic relics of an age in which human hubris was still mostly unnoticed; relics of, precisely, a ‘space age’ that evaporates in the age of giant nonhuman places. We have gone from having ‘the whole world in our hands’ and ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke’ to realising that the whole world, including ‘little’ us, is in the vice-like death grip of a gigantic entity—ourselves as the human species. This uncanny sense of existing on more than one scale at once has nothing to do with the pathos of cradling a beautiful blue ball in the void.IV Global warming is a symptom of industrialisation and industrialisation is a symptom of massively accelerated agriculture. Of what is this acceleration a symptom? We could say that it was capitalism, but that would be circular: accelerating agriculture and subsequent industrialisation are symptoms of capitalism, not to mention existing forms of communism. So we are looking for the problem of which these things are symptoms. What is it? Why, if so influential, is it so hard to point to?
Two reasons: it is everywhere, and it is taboo to mention it. You could be labelled a primitivist even for bringing it up. Yet foundational Axial (agricultural) Age stories narrate the origin of religion as the beginning of agricultural time: an origin in sin. The texts are almost shockingly explicit, so it’s strange we don’t think to read them that way. Pretty much out loud, they say that religion as such (was there ‘religion’ beforehand?) was founded in and as impiety. We witness the extraordinary spectacle of ‘religion’ itself talking about itself as a reflective, reflexive loop of sin and salvation, with escalating positive feedback loops. Like agriculture.
There’s a monster in the dark mirror and you are a cone in one of its eyes. When you are sufficiently creeped out by the human species you see something even bigger than the Anthropocene looming in the background, hiding in plain sight. What on Earth is this structure that looms even larger than the age of steam and oil? Isn’t it enough that we have to deal with cars and drills? It is the machine that is agriculture as such, a machine that predates Industrial Age machinery. Before the web of fate began to be woven on a power loom, machinery was already whirring away.
The term agrilogistics names a specific logistics of agriculture that arose in the Fertile Crescent and that is still plowing ahead. Logistics, because it is a technical, planned, and perfectly logical approach to built space. Logistics, because it proceeds without stepping back and rethinking the logic. A viral logistics, eventually requiring steam engines and industry to feed its proliferation.14
Agrilogistics: an agricultural programme so successful that it now dominates agricultural techniques planet-wide. The programme creates a hyperobject, global agriculture: the granddaddy hyperobject, the first one made by humans, and one that has sired many more. Toxic from the beginning to humans and other lifeforms, it operates blindly like a computer program.
Agrilogistics promises to eliminate fear, anxiety and contradiction—social, physical and ontological—by establishing thin rigid boundaries between human and nonhuman worlds and by reducing existence to sheer quantity. Though toxic it has been wildly successful because the program is deeply compelling. Agrilogistics is the smoking gun behind the (literally) smoking gun responsible for the Sixth Mass Extinction Event.
The humanistic analytical tools we currently possess are not capable of functioning at a scale appropriate to agrilogistics because they are themselves compromised products of agrilogistics. The nature–culture split we persist in using is the result of a nature–agriculture split (colo, cultum pertains to growing crops). This split is a product of agrilogistical subroutines, establishing the necessarily violent and arbitrary difference between itself and what it ‘conquers’ or delimits. Differences aside the confusions and endlessly granular distinctions arising therefrom remain well within agrilogistical conceptual space.15V Agrilogistics arose as follows. About 12,500 years ago a climate shift experienced by hunter-gatherers as a catastrophe pushed humans to find a solution to their fear concerning where the next meal was coming from. It was the very end of an Ice Age, the tail end of a glacial period. A drought lasting more than a thousand years compelled humans to travel farther. It happened that in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, barley and wheat were growing wild beneath the trees. The same can be said for rice growing in China, corn, squash and beans growing in America, and sorghum and yam in Africa. Significantly, the taro of New Guinea is hard to harvest and low in protein, not to mention hard to plant (you have to plant taro one by one), and so the farmers in the highlands never ‘advanced’ from hunter- gathering. The taro cannot be broadcast. Incidentally, so many terms from agrilogistics have become terms in media (field among them), not to mention the development of that very significant medium, writing. How we write and what we write and what we think about writing can be found within agrilogistics.
Humans in Mesopotamia established villages with granaries. The storage and selection of grain pushed the harvested plants to evolve. Humans selected grain for its tastiness, ease of harvesting and other criteria favoured by the agrilogistical program. Scaled up the evolutionary pressure was substantial. Nine thousand years ago humans began to domesticate animals to mitigate seasonal variations in game, a modification to the agrilogistical programme that kept it in existence.16 Several agrilogistical millennia later, domesticated animals far outweigh (literally again) the number of non-domesticated ones. Humans represent roughly 32% of vertebrate biomass. The other 65% is creatures we keep to eat. Vertebrate wildlife counts for less than 3%.17 The term cattle speaks to this immensity and to a too-easy ontology humming away in its background.
Miserable social conditions were the almost immediate consequence of the inception of agrilogistics yet the virus persisted like an earworm or a chair, no matter how destructive to the humans who had devised it.18 Private property emerged based on settled ownership and use of land, a certain house and so on. This provided the nonhuman basis of the contemporary concept of self no matter how much we want to think ourselves out of that. Agrilogistics led rapidly to patriarchy, the impoverishment of all but a very few, a massive and rigid social hierarchy, and feedback loops of human–nonhuman interaction such as epidemics.19
The human hyperobject (the human as geophysical species) became a machine for the generation of hyperobjects. Precisely because of the sharp imbalance between the ‘civilisation’ concept and actually existing social space (which was never fully human), agrilogistics itself having produced this difference, ‘civilisations’ (the human structures of agrilogistical retreat) are inherently fragile.
Living Earth cover photo by Rosa Menkman, 2015.VI Three axioms provide the logical structure of agrilogistics:
(1) The Law of Noncontradiction is inviolable.
(2) Existing means being constantly present.
(3) Existing is always better than any quality of existing.We begin with Axiom (1). There is no good reason for it. There are plenty of ways to violate this law, otherwise we wouldn’t need a rule. This means that Axiom (1) is a prescriptive statement disguised as a descriptive one. Formulated rightly Axiom (1) states, Thou shalt not violate the Law of Noncontradiction. Axiom (1) works by excluding (undomesticated) lifeforms that aren’t part of your agrilogistical project. These lifeforms are now defined as pests if they scuttle about or weeds if they appear to the human eye to be inanimate and static. Such categories are highly unstable and extremely difficult to manage.20
Axiom (1) also results in the persistent charm of the Easy Think Substance. Agrilogistical ontology, formalised by Aristotle, supposes a being to consist of a bland lump of whatever decorated with accidents. It’s the Easy Think Substance because it resembles what comes out of an Easy Bake Oven, a children’s toy. Some kind of brown featureless lump emerges, which one subsequently decorates with sprinkles.
The lump ontology evoked in Axiom (1) implies Axiom (2): to exist is to be constantly present, or the metaphysics of presence. Correctly identified by deconstruction as inimical to thinking future coexistence, the metaphysics of presence is intimately bound up with the history of global warming. Here is the field, I can plough it, sow it with this or that or nothing, farm cattle, yet it remains constantly the same. The entire system is construed as constantly present, rigidly bounded, separated from nonhuman systems. This appearance of hard separation belies the obvious existence of beings who show up ironically to maintain it. Consider the cats and their helpful culling of rodents chewing at the corn.21 The ambiguous status of cats is not quite the ‘companion species’ Haraway thinks through human coexistence with dogs.22 Within agrilogistical social space cats stand for the ontological ambiguity of lifeforms and indeed of things at all. Cats are a neighbour species.23 Too many concepts are implied in the notion of ‘companion’. The penetrating gaze of a cat is used as the gaze of the extra-terrestrial alien because cats are the intra-terrestrial alien.
The agrilogistical engineer must strive to ignore the cats as best as he (underline he) can. If that doesn’t work he is obliged to kick them upstairs into deity status. Meanwhile he asserts instead that he could plant anything in this agrilogistical field and that underneath it remains the same field. A field is a substance underlying its accidents: cats happen, rodents happen, even wheat happens; the slate can always be wiped clean. Agrilogistical space is a war against the accidental. Weeds and pests are nasty accidents to minimise or eliminate.
Agrilogistical existing means being there in a totally uncomplicated sense. No matter what the appearances might be, essence lives on. Ontologically as much as socially, agrilogistics is immiseration. Appearance is of no consequence. What matters is knowing where your next meal is coming from no matter what the appearances are. Without paying too much attention to the cats, you have broken things down to pure simplicity and are ready for Axiom (3):
(3) Existing is always better than any quality of existing.Actually we need to give it its properly anthropocentric form:
(3) Human existing is always better than any quality of existing.Axiom (3) generates an Easy Think Ethics to match the Easy Think Substance, a default utilitarianism hardwired into agrilogistical space. The Easy Think quality is evident in how the philosophy teacher in Stoppard’s Darkside describes the minimal condition of happiness: being alive instead of dead.24 Since existing is better than anything, more existing must be what we Mesopotamians should aim for. Compared with the injunction to flee from death and eventually even from the mention of death, everything else is just accidental. No matter whether I am hungrier or sicker or more oppressed, underlying these phenomena my brethren and I constantly regenerate, which is to say we refuse to allow for death. Success: humans now consume about 40 percent of Earth’s productivity.25 The globalisation of agrilogistics and its consequent global warming have exposed the flaws in this default utilitarianism, with the consequence that solutions to global warming simply cannot run along the lines of this style of thought.26 VII The Philosopher Derek Parfit observes that under sufficient spatiotemporal pressure Easy Think Ethics fails. Parfit was trying to think about what to do with pollution, radioactive materials and the human species. Imagine trillions of humans, spread throughout the galaxy. Exotic addresses aside all the humans are living at what Parfit calls the bad level, not far from Agamben’s idea of bare life.27 Trillions of nearly dead people, trillions of beings like the Musselmäner in the concentration camps, zombies totally resigned to their fate. This will always be absurdly better than billions of humans living in a state of bliss.28 Because more people is better than happier people. Because bliss is an accident, and existing is a substance. Easy Think Ethics. Let’s colonise space—that’ll solve our problem! Let’s double down! Now we know that it doesn’t even take trillions of humans spread throughout the Galaxy to see the glaring flaw in agrilogistics. It only takes a few billion operating under agrilogistical algorithms at Earth magnitude.
To avoid the consequences of the last global warming, humans devised a logistics that has resulted in global warming.
The concept Nature isn’t only untrue; it’s responsible for global warming! Nature is defined within agrilogistics as a harmonious periodic cycling. Conveniently for agrilogistics, Nature arose at the start of the geological period we call the Holocene, a period marked by stable Earth system fluctuations.29 One might argue that Nature is an illusion created by an accidental collaboration between the Holocene and agrilogistics: unconscious, and therefore liable to be repeated and prolonged like a zombie stumbling forwards. Like Oedipus meeting his father on the crossroads, the cross between the Holocene and agrilogistics has been fatally unconscious.
Nature is best imagined as the feudal societies imagined it, a pleasingly harmonious periodic cycling embodied in the cycle of the seasons, enabling regular anxiety-free prediction of the future. Carbon dioxide fluctuated in a harmonious-seeming cycle for 12,000 years—until it didn’t.30 We Mesopotamians took this coincidence to be a fact about our world, and called it Nature. The smooth predictability allowed us to sustain the illusion. Think of how when we think of nonhumans we reminisce nostalgically for a less deviant-seeming moment within agrilogistics, such as fantasies of a feudal worldview: cyclic seasons, regular rhythms, tradition. This is just how agrilogistics feels—at first. The ecological value of the term Nature is dangerously overrated, because Nature isn’t just a term—it’s something that happened to human built space, demarcating human systems from Earth systems. Nature as such is a twelve-thousand-year-old human product, geological as well as discursive. Its wavy elegance was eventually revealed as inherently contingent and violent, as when in a seizure one’s brain waves become smooth.31. Wash-rinse-repeat the agrilogistics and suddenly we reach a tipping point.
The Anthropocene doesn’t destroy Nature. The Anthropocene is Nature in its toxic nightmare form. Nature is the latent form of the Anthropocene waiting to emerge as catastrophe.VIII Let’s now explore another key term, the arche-lithic, a primordial relatedness of humans and nonhumans that has never evaporated. Bruno Latour argues that we have never been modern. But perhaps we have never been Neolithic. And in turn this means that the Palaeolithic, adore it or demonise it, is also a concept that represses the shimmering of the arche-lithic within the very agrilogistical structures that strive to block it completely. We Mesopotamians never left the hunter-gathering mind.
What is required to remember is that this is a weird essentialism.
Earth isn’t just a blank sheet for the projection of human desire: the desire loop is predicated on entities (Earth, coral, clouds) that also exist in loop form in relation to one another and in relation to humans. We are going to have to rethink what a thing is. We require a Difficult Think Thing. That I claim humans exist and made the Anthropocene by drilling into rock does indeed make me an essentialist. However, if we must attune to the Difficult Think Thing, such a thing wouldn’t cleave to the Law of Noncontradiction, agrilogistical Axiom (1). Which in turn implies that while beings are what they are (essentialism) they are not constantly present. Demonstrating this would constitute a weird essentialism in the lineage of Luce Irigaray, whose project has been to break the Law of Noncontradiction so as to liberate beings from patriarchy.32
As a performance of not seeming an idiot in theory class one is obliged to convey something like, ‘Well of course, I’m not an essentialist’ (make disgusted face here). Compare the ridicule that greets the idea of creating social spaces that are not agrilogistical (so not traditionally capitalist, communist or feudal). Such reactions are themselves agrilogistical. Both assume that to have a politics is to have a one-size-fits-all Easy Think concept. If you don’t, you are called a primitivist or an anarchist, both derogatory terms, and deemed unserious. Or you want to regress to some utopian state that ‘we couldn’t possibly even imagine’. ‘Of course, I’m not advocating that we actually try a social space that includes nonhumans in a noncoercive and nonutilitarian mode.’ Or its inverse, ridiculing ‘civilisation’: insisting that humans should ‘return’ to a pre-agrilogistical existence (John Zerzan, archivist of the Unabomber Ted Kaczinski). ‘Eliminate the evil loops of the human stain. Anyone with prosthetic devices such as glasses is suspect.’33 Once one has deconstructed civilisation into agrilogistical retreat it is tempting to think this way. But imagine the Year Zero violence of actually trying to get rid of intellectuality, reflection, desire, whatever we think is a source of evil, so we can feel right and properly ecological. The assertion that this problem has something to do with ‘domestication’—which is how Zerzan and others frame it—avoids the genuine agrilogistical problem. ‘Domestication’ is a term from some kind of fall narrative: once upon a time, we let things be wild, but then we took some into our homes and unleashed evil. Neanderthals lived in homes. Primates make beds of leaves. Dogs were fused with humans hundreds of thousands of years ago. ‘Domestication’ is a canard that is itself agrilogistical, straight out of a theistic fall narrative.
The question of origins is complicated by the way in which that question is contaminated in advance by agrilogistics. We need to figure out how we fell for it, in order not to keep retweeting it. What seems to be the case is that a default paranoia about existing—an ontological uncertainty —was covered over as a survival mechanism, and the compelling, almost addictive qualities of that mechanism of covering-over has provided enough ontological comfort, until very recently, so as to go unexamined.IX To think in this new-old way, we will need to restructure logic. Nietzsche argues that logic itself is ‘the residue of a metaphor’.34 Despite the concept of logic ‘as bony, foursquare, and transposable as a die’, logic is saturated with fossilised social directives. Hegel had an inkling of this when he distinguished between logic and thinking, that is to say between the mind’s movement and the manipulation of preformatted thoughts. Nietzsche asserts that language is caught up in the caste system—and let’s not forget that that system is a direct product of agrilogistics. With uncanny insight, Nietzsche himself seems to confirm this when he then asserts that logic as such is a symptom of caste hierarchies. Without doubt, these hierarchies oppress most humans. The human caste system, itself a product of agrilogistics, sits on top of a fundamental caste distinction between humans and nonhumans, a founding distinction wired into the implicit logic of agrilogistics.35
Recall, furthermore, that some of the most common words for thinking and apprehension—gather, glean—derive from agriculture.36 What is required is no less than a logic that is otherwise than agrilogistical. A logic that is fully eco-logical. If you want ecological things to exist—ecological things like humans, meadows, frogs and the biosphere—you have to allow them to violate the logical ‘Law’ of Noncontradiction and its niece, the Law of the Excluded Middle. If we don’t, then it won’t be possible to explain the existence of vague, heap-like beings such as lifeforms and ecosystems, because they are not entirely self-identical.
According to the rigid agrilogistical logic format, there is no single, independent, definable point at which a meadow (for example) stops being a meadow. So there are no meadows. They might as well be car parks waiting to happen. And since by the same logic there are no car parks either, it doesn’t really matter if I build one on this meadow. Can you begin to see how the logical Law of Noncontradiction enables me to eliminate ecological beings both in thought and in actual physical reality? The Law of Noncontradiction was formulated by Aristotle, in section Gamma of his Metaphysics. It’s strange that we still carry this old law around in our heads, never thinking to prove it formally. According to the Law of Noncontradiction, being true means not contradicting yourself. You can’t say p and not-p at the very same time. You can’t say a meadow is a meadow and is not a meadow. Yet this is what is required, unless you want meadows not to exist.X First peoples don’t live in holistic harmony without anxiety; they coexist anxiously in fragile, flawed clusters among other beings such as axes and horses, rain and spectres, without a father sky god or god-king. Yet because anxiety is still readily available—because agrilogistics has far from eliminated it— the divergence is an unstable, impermanent construct. We glimpse the space of the arche-lithic, not some tragically lost Palaeolithic. The arche-lithic is a possibility space that flickers continually within, around, beneath and to the side of the periods we have artificially demarcated as Neolithic and Palaeolithic. The arche-lithic is not the past.
The arche-lithic mind is immersed in a non-totalisable host of patterns that cannot be bounded in advance: lifeforms, ghosts, phantasms, zombies, visions, tricksters, masks. The idea that we might be deceived is intrinsic to the agrilogistical virus. The possibility of pretence haunts arche-lithic ‘cultures’ of magic as a structurally necessary component of that culture: ‘The real skill of the practitioner [of magic] lies not in skilled concealment but in the skilled revelation of skilled concealment.’37 (I must put ‘culture’ in quotation marks because the term is hopelessly agrilogistical.) Skepticism and faith might not be enemies in every social configuration. In arche-lithic space they might be weirdly intertwined.
There is an ontological reason why the play of magic involves epistemological panic giving rise to hermeneutical spirals of belief and disbelief. The dance of concealing and revealing happens because reality as such just does have a magical, flickering aspect. It is as if there is an irreducible, story-like hermeneutical web that plays around and within all things. An irreducible uncertainty, not because things are unreal, but because they are real.XI What the Law of Noncontradiction polices most is the profound ambiguity and causal force of the aesthetic dimension. The aesthetic has been kept safe from something that looks too much like telepathic influence, though that is strictly what it is if telepathy is just passion at a distance.38 Right now, visualise the Mona Lisa in the Louvre — see what I mean? Something not in your ontic vicinity is exerting causal pressure on you. So the aesthetic and its beauties are policed and purged of the ‘enthusiastic’, buzzy, vibratory (Greek, enthuein) energies that shimmer around its fringe, forever turning beauty into something slightly strange, even ‘disgusting’ (at least at the edges) insofar as it can’t shake off its material embodiment, shuddery, rich, affective and effective.
This telepathic Force-like zone of nonhuman energy keeps nuzzling at the edge of modern thought and culture, as if with enough relaxed religious inhibitions and enough enjoyable products humans default to the arche-lithic.
There is something profound and perhaps disturbing about the aesthetic–causal dimension. And about life: ‘life’ is not the opposite of death. The homology between cancer cells and embryo growth bears this out. The only difference is that an embryo becomes shapely through another death process, apoptosis: the dying-away of superfluous cells. There is no final resting spot: there is always something excessive about the pattern.39 Life is an ambiguous spectral ‘undead’ quivering between two types of death: the machination of the death drive and the dissolution of physical objects.
And going down a level, this is because of the structure of how things are. Being and appearing are deeply, inextricably intertwined, yet different. This means that beings are themselves strange loops, the very loops that ecological awareness reminds us of. Much philosophical and cultural muscle has been put into getting rid of these loops, which are often decried as narcissistic, because they are self-relating, self-referential. But what is required for caring for nonhumans is precisely an extension of what is called narcissism! So attacking narcissism is something dark ecology won’t do: ‘What is called non-narcissism is in general but the economy of a much more welcoming, hospitable narcissism...without a movement of narcissistic reappropriation, the relation to the other would be absolutely destroyed, it would be destroyed in advance’ (Derrida).40
We have to accept the disturbing excess of the aesthetic dimension as an intrinsic part of everything in the universe, and indeed as the part that has to do with causality itself.XII We think that existence means solid, constant, present existence. It is based on the fantasy that all the parts of me are me: that if you scoop out a piece of me, it has Tim Morton inscribed all over it and within it, just as sticks of English Brighton rock contain a pink word all the way through their deliciously pepperminty tubes. This is not the case. All entities just are what they are, which means that they are never quite as they seem. They are rippling with nothingness. A thing is a strange loop like a Möbius strip, which in topology is called a non-orientable surface. A non-orientable surface lacks an intrinsic back or front, up or down, inside or outside. Yet a Möbius strip is a unique topological object: not a square; not a triangle. Not just a lump of whateverness, or a false abstraction from some goop of oneness. When you trace your finger along a Möbius strip you find yourself weirdly flipping around to another side—which turns out to be the same side. The moment when that happens cannot be detected. The twist is everywhere along the strip. Likewise beings are intrinsically twisted into appearance, but the twist can’t be located anywhere.
So things are like the ouroboros, the self-swallowing snake. The Norse myth is pertinent: when Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, stops sucking its own tail this is the beginning of Ragnarok, the apocalyptic battle. Agrilogistics has been a constant process of trying to un-loop the loop form of things. Finally to rid of the world of weirdness is impossible, as is devising a metalanguage that would slay self-reference forever. Violent threats can be made: ‘Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.’41 You are either with us or against us. Torture isn’t an argument any more than kicking a pebble is, and the threat of torture is no way to display intelligence, let alone proof. The violence of the threat is in proportion to the impossibility of actually ridding the world of contradiction. Beating and burning, something done to cattle and corn, witches and weeds, is not the same as thinking and arguing. Still, in the margins of agrilogistical thought, we cannot but detect the disturbingly soft rustling of the arche-lithic and its serpentine beings. Beings inherently fragile, like logical systems that contain necessary flaws, like the hamartia of a tragic hero.
The modern upgrade of the Cadmus myth is the idea of progress, for instance, the idea that we have transcended our material conditions. I’m Harold and the Purple Crayon, ‘I am the lizard king, / I can do anything’, ‘I’m the Decider, goo-goo-ga-joob.’42 (Harold and the Purple Crayon is a US children’s character who can draw whatever he likes with his crayon in the void. Say he is drowning: he can draw a boat.) But if things are nonorientable surfaces, philosophy had better get out of the mastery business and into the allergy medicine business. We need philosophical medicine so as not to have allergic reactions before we mow the allergens down and build a parking lot. To remain in indecision.XIII The more philosophy attunes to ecognosis the more it makes contact with nonhuman beings, one of which is ecognosis itself. The world it discovers is nonsensical yet perfectly logical, and that is funny: the sight of something maniacally deviating from itself in a desperate attempt to be itself should remind us of Bergson’s definition of what makes us laugh.43 And this is because, in a sense, to say ‘Being is suffused with appearing’ is the same as saying being is laughing with appearance. Ants and eagles cause philosophy to get off its high horse and smile, maybe even laugh. The name of this laughter is ecognosis. You begin to smile with your mouth closed. To close the mouth in Greek is muein, whence the term mystery, the exact opposite of mystification.
We find this ecological smile within in the horror, disgust, shame and guilt of ecological awareness itself, because strangely, that joy is the possibility condition for all the other, more reified forms of ecological awareness. It goes like this. We have guilt because we can have shame. We have shame because we can have horror. We have horror because we can have depression. We have depression because we can have sadness. We have sadness because we can have longing. We have longing because we can have joy. Find the joy without pushing away the depression, for depression is accurate.XIV We live in a reality determined by a one-size-fits-all window of time, a window determined by some humans’ attempts to master anxieties about where their next meal was coming from. As Agrilogistical Axiom (3) states, the logistics of this time window imply that existing is better than any quality of existing. So it’s always better to have billions of people living near to misery, than even millions living in a state of permanent ecstasy. Because of this logic industrial machines were created. The small rigid time tunnel now engulfs a vast amount of Earth’s surface and is directly responsible for much global warming. It’s a depressive solution to anxiety: cone your attention down to about a year—maybe five years if you really plan ‘ahead’. One of the most awful things about depression is that your time window collapses to a diameter of a few minutes into the past and a few minutes into the future. Your intellect is literally killing little you by trying to survive. Like a violent allergic reaction, or spraying pesticides.
We live in a world of objectified depression. So do all the other lifeforms, who didn’t ask to be sucked into the grey concrete time tunnel. No wonder then that we find mass extinction depressing and uncanny.XV Let’s have more time tunnels of different sizes. Let’s not have a one-size-fits-all time tunnel. Let’s get a bit playful. Which also means, let’s not have a one-size-fits-all politics. We need a politics that includes what appears least political—laughter, the playful, even the silly. We need a multiplicity of different political systems. We need to think of them as toy-like: playful and half-broken things that connect humans and nonhumans with one another. We can never get it perfect. There is no final, correct form that isn’t a toy. There is no one toy to rule them all. And toys aren’t exclusively human or for humans. We don’t have to get back to a mythical time of need as opposed to want. That binary is an agrilogistical artefact, which means that not everything about consumerism is bad, ecologically speaking. There are some ecological chemicals in consumerism, because consumerism provides an ethical pathway for relating to nonhuman beings for no particular reason (that is, for aesthetic reasons). The ecological future is going to be about more playful pleasure for no reason, not less. Think about it this way. I recently switched my power provider to 100% wind. For the first few days I felt efficient and virtuous and pure, until I realised that what was really the case now was that I could have a rave in every single room of my house and do no harm to Earth. Efficiency and sustainability, which is how we talk to ourselves about ecological action, are just artefacts of our oil economy version of agrilogistics. Change the energy system, and all that changes.
Lighten up: dark ecology does not mean heavy or bleak; it is strangely light. Lifeforms play (‘This is a bite and this is not a bite’), because play is structural to reality, because things shimmer.44 A disturbing imbalance and fragility haunts this play in order for it to be play. This is why play isn’t just candy or glue but structural to reality. If you think of (agrilogistical) civilization as normative you have already decided that it is inevitable, and this means that you have decided that agrilogistical retreat is the only way to move across Earth.XVI The trouble with consumerism isn’t that it sends us into an evil loop of addiction. The trouble is that consumerism is not nearly pleasurable enough.45 The possibility space that enables consumerism contains far more pleasures. Consumerism has a secret side that Marxism is loath to perceive, as Marxism too is caught in the agrilogistical division between need and want. Consumerism is a way of relating to at least one other thing that isn’t me. A thing is how I fantasise it. And yet...I fantasise, not onto a blank screen, but onto an actually existing thing, and in any case my fantasy itself is an independent thing. This thing eludes my grasp even as it appears clearly. You are what you eat. Doesn’t the mantra of consumerism (concocted by Feuerbach and Brillat-Savarin, almost simultaneously) put identity in a loop?46 Doesn’t this formula hide in plain sight something more than (human) desire? That the reason-to-buy is also a relation to an inaccessible yet appearing entity, to wit, what you eat? I imagine what I eat gives me luxury, or freedom, or knowledge. Yet there I am, eating an apple. I coexist. This can’t be! The formula for consumerism kat’ exochēn is underwritten by ecology! What a fantastic loop that is. Once we discover that what is called subjectivity is a cleaned, stripped, devastated version of something much vaguer and more spectral that includes the abjection that the idea of subject is meant to repress, then we are in the phenomenological space of ecological awareness. It is at first horrifying (to white patriarchy), because ecological awareness means noticing that you are profoundly covered in, surrounded by and permeated by all kinds of entities that are not you. That horror then becomes strangely ridiculous, like watching someone trying to escape the inevitable. This sense of the ridiculous is the first hint that at its deepest, ecological awareness has some kind of laughter in it. The laughter of ridicule subsides into a melancholic laughter in which we curate all the nonhumans that surround and permeate us without knowing exactly why, a bit like Wall E, the robot in an ethereal, goth-y realm of (other people’s) toys, like J.F. Sebastian’s apartment in Blade Runner. This not- knowing-why becomes beautiful and we sense the ungraspability of things. This sense in turn leads to a kind of joy. Abjection has been transfigured into what Irigaray calls nearness, a pure givenness in which something is so near that one cannot have it — a fact that obviously also applies to one’s ‘self’.47
1. In 2013, Paul Kingsnorth published an essay called ‘Dark Ecology: Searching for Truth in a Post-Green World’ in Orion magazine (January–February 2013). Dark ecology is a term I coined in 2004 and wrote about in Ecology without Nature (2007). 2. Oxford English Dictionary, ‘weird’, adj. http://www.oed.com. 3. S.N. Hagen, ‘On Nornir ‘Fates’, Modern Language Notes, vol. 39, no. 8 (December 1924), pp. 466–69. 4. Oxford English Dictionary, ‘weird’, n. 1.a., 1.b., 2.a. oed.com. 5. Oxford English Dictionary, ‘worth’, v. oed.com. 6. Oxford English Dictionary, ‘weird’, adj. 1, 2.a., 3, oed.com. 7. C.S. Holling and Gary K. Meffe, ‘Command and Control and the Pathology of Natural Resource Management’, Conservation Biology, vol. 10, no. 2 (April 1996), pp. 328–37 8. Michael Wines, ‘Mys- tery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Wor- ry on Farms’, New York Times, 28 March 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/science/earth/soaring-bee-deaths-in-2012-sound-alarm-on-malady.html?pagewanted=all&_ r=0. Brad Plumer, ‘We’ve Covered the World in Pesticides: Is That a Problem?’, Washington Post, 18 August 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonk-blog/wp/2013/08/18/the-world-uses-billions-of-pounds-of-pesticides-each-year-is-that-a-problem. 9. Suzanne Goldenberg, ‘Americans Care Deeply about “Global Warming”—But Not ‘Climate Change’, The Guardian, 27 May 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/27/americans-climate-change-global-warming-yale-report/print, accessed 2 June 2014. 10. Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass in The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition, ed. Martin Gardner, New York: Norton, 2000, p. 157. 11. This idea is occurring to a number of people simultaneously. See for instance Charles C. Mann, ‘State of the Species: Does Success Spell Doom for Homo Sapiens?’, Orion (November–December 2012), http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7146. 12. I use the term ‘ontic’ as Martin Heidegger uses it in Being and Time, tr. Joan Stambaugh, Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 2010, p. 11. 13. I’m grateful to my talented Ph.D. student Toby Bates for pointing this out. 14. Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology, New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. 15. There are far too many texts to mention, but two reasonably recent ones that have stood out for me have been Geoffrey Hartman, The Fateful Question of Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 1997; and Terry Eagleton, The Idea of Culture, Oxford: Blackwell, 2000. 16. In New Guinea, native pigs can’t plough, so agrilogistics was stymied there again. 17. Jan Zalasiewicz, ‘The Geological Basis for the Anthropocene,’ The History and Politics of the Anthropocene, University of Chicago, 17–18 May 2013. 18. Jared Diamond, ‘The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race’, Discover Magazine (May 1987), pp. 64–66. Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, New York: Oxford University Press, 1984. He offers a slightly revised discussion in ‘Overpopulation and the Quality of Life’, in Applied Ethics, ed. Peter Singer, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998. 19. On the patriarchy aspect insofar as it affects philosophy as such, Luce Irigaray is succinct: woman has been taken ‘quoad matrem... in the entire philosophic tradition. It is even one of the conditions of its possibility. One of the necessities, also, of its foundation: it is from (re)productive earth-mother-nature that the production of the logos will attempt to take away its power, by pointing to the power of the beginning(s) in the monopoly of the origin.’ This Sex Which Is Not One, tr. Catherine Porter and Carolyn Burke, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985, p. 102. 20. See, for instance, Pedro Barbosa, ed., Conservation Biological Control, San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1998. 21. Rebecca J. Rosen, ‘How Humans Invented Cats’, The Atlantic, 16 December 2013, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/12/how-humans-created-cats/282391. Gerry Everding, ‘Cat Domestication Traced to Chinese Farmers 5,300 Years Ago’, Washington University St. Louis Newsroom, 16 December 2013, https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/26273.aspx. Carlos A. Driscoll, ‘The Taming of the Cat’, Scientific American, vol. 300, no. 6 (June 2009), pp. 68–75. Yaowu Hu et al., ‘Earliest Evidence for Commensal Processes of Cat Domestication’, PNAS, vol. 111, no. 1 (7 January 2014), pp. 116–20. 22. See, for instance, Donna Haraway, When Species Meet, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. 23. For arguments in support of this hypothesis, see Terry O’Connor, Animals as Neighbors: The Past and Present of Commensal Animals, East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2013. 24. Tom Stoppard, Darkside: A Play for Radio Incorporating The Dark Side of the Moon (Parlophone, 2013). 25. Richard Manning, ‘The Oil We Eat’, Harper’s Magazine, 4 February 2004, http://www.wesjones.com/oil-weeat.htm. See Richard Manning, Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization, New York: North Point, 2005. 26. Gardiner, Perfect Moral Storm, pp. 213–45. 27. Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998. 28. Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987, pp. 433–41. 29. It is well accepted that concentrations of O18, an oxygen isotope, track climate stability. O18 concentrations were remarkably stable from the start of agrilogistics until the start of the Anthropocene. 30. Jan Zalasiewicz, presentation at ‘History and Politics of the Anthropocene’, University of Chicago, May 2013. 31. I am grateful to Jan Zalasiewicz for discussing this with me. 32. See also Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa, tr. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen, Signs, vol. 1, no. 4 (Summer, 1976), pp. 875–93 (882). 33. See, for instance, John Zerzan, ‘The Catastrophe of Post-modernism’, Future Primitive Revisited, Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2012, pp. 64–90. The first demon named is the loop of ‘Consumer narcissism’ (64). In contrast, Neanderthal mind was fully present to itself and to its environment in a pure, non-deviant circularity, compared to which even the pre-Neolithic divisions of labour and cave paintings seem like original sin: ‘Running on Emptiness: The Failure of Symbolic Thought’, Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization, Los Angeles: Feral House, 2002, pp. 1–16 (2–3). 34. Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’, The Nietzsche Reader, ed. Keith Ansell Pearson and Duncan Large, Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, pp. 114–23 (118). 35. Cary Wolfe, What Is Posthumanism?, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 36. Oxford English Dictionary, ‘gather’, 4.a., b., c.; ‘glean’, v. oed.com: ‘1. To gather or pick up ears of corn which have been left by the reapers.’ 37. Michael Taussig, ‘Viscerality, Faith and Skepticism’, in Birgit Meyer and Peter Pels, eds., Magic and Modernity: Interfaces of Revelation and Concealment, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003, pp. 272–341 (273). 38. See, for instance, Nicholas Royle’s magnificent Telepathy and Literature: Essays on the Reading Mind, Oxford: Blackwell, 1991. 39. George Johnson, ‘A Tumor, the Embryo’s Evil Twin’, New York Times, 17 March 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/a-tumor-the-embryos-evil-twin.html?_r=0. 40. Jacques Derrida, ‘There Is No One Narcissism: Autobiophotographies’, Points: Interviews 1974–1994, ed. Elisabeth Weber, tr. Peggy Kamuf et al., Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995, pp. 196–215 (199). 41. Avicenna, Metaphysics I.8, 53.13–15. 42. The Doors, ‘The Celebration of the Lizard’, Absolutely Live (Elektra, 1970). The Beatles, ‘I Am the Walrus’, Magical Mystery Tour (EMI, 1967). 43. Henri Bergson, ‘Laughter’, in Wylie Sypher, ed., and intro., Comedy: ‘An Essay on Comedy’ by George Meredith and ‘Laughter’ by Henri Bergson, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1956, pp. 59 – 190. 44. Gregory Bateson, ‘A Theory of Play and Fantasy’, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, foreword Mary Catherine Bateson, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, pp. 177 – 93. 45. Kate Soper ‘Alternative Hedonism, Cultural Theory and the Role of Aesthetic Revisioning’, Cultural Studies, vol. 22, no. 5, Taylor and Francis, September 2008, pp. 567–87. 46. Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, tr. Anne Drayton, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970, p. 13. Ludwig Feuerbach, Gesammelte Werke II, Kleinere Schriften, ed. Werner Schuffenhauer, Berlin: Akadamie-Verlag, 1972. 47. Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which Is Not One, tr. Catherine Porter and Carolyn Burke, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985, p. 31.
RESEARCH SERIES #27 Tatjana Gorbachewskaja (TG) is an architect who grew up in the Russian town Nikel, located in the far North near the Russian border with Norway. For Dark Ecology she researched the materials of her hometown together with Katya Larina (KL), resulting in Nikel Materiality, which consists of a small publication, a presentation and guided walk through Nikel. Mirna Belina (MB) interviewed them. This interview forms part of Living Earth – Field Notes from Dark Ecology Project 2014 – 2016. The publication Living Earth is available now at www.sonicacts.com/shop.
Tatjana Gorbachewskaja icw Katya Larina, Nikel Materiality. Photo by Lucas van der VeldenMB How did you start researching Nikel? KL My interests come from two sides. One is the research I did for my studies in Landscape Urbanism at the Architectural Association in London, which is about understanding the city as a complex interconnected ecology. The other is my practical experience as an advisor and expert on strategies for industrial cities, closed cities, mining cities, or cities with heavy industry in Siberia. In the research into Nikel I managed to combine both interests. TG My curiosity stems from my background: Nikel is my hometown. I also teach at the University of Art and Design in Offenbach, where we investigate various experimental design methodologies relating to the topic of ‘new materiality’. In August 2015 I returned from a research residency in Nikel with a huge collection of material samples. Then Katya and I realised that the material phenomena and artefacts from Nikel could be structured using certain motifs relating to the idea of an ecological material system. MB Nikel has a dynamic political history. Can you connect the dots for us? TG The town emerged solely because of the nickel smelter. It’s a young settlement, established around 1935. From the beginning, the town was a centre of advanced and innovative industrial production. American technologies were used for the construction of a chimney—apparently the tallest one in Europe at that time. Only Canadians had the construction technologies suitable for Arctic climatic conditions, so all the smelting plants projects were developed in Canada. The general plan was designed by Finnish architects and further developed by Soviet urban planners after the Second World War. The mining technology was the most advanced for its time. Life in Nikel was highly subsidised and therefore quite appealing to the residents. Nikel was built in an area of extreme living conditions. It materialised as an artificial organism covered by a top-down ‘protective dome’ of vital infrastructure provided by one supplier—the state. Nikel and the region have been maintained by the state for many years, but after 1991, due to more volatile economic and political circumstances, the town was left without central control. As a result the artificial ecology of the city collapsed, and had to adapt to survive. KL I’ve worked with several Soviet industrial cities. They typically have separate districts which reflect different political epochs of Soviet and post-Soviet times. You can have a very distinguished Stalin or Khrushchev town. They are characterised by completely different ideologies and aesthetics. But Nikel, with its special Arctic weather conditions, is structured more rationally. At the same time, in Nikel, one epoch is resisting another one. The architectures use more varied resources and interact with each other. It’s more about respecting what has been done, learning from others. In Nikel the epochs all exist simultaneously. TG That is really rare for a Soviet city. For example, the first eight Finnish buildings in Nikel were integrated into the Soviet Promenade Axis. That’s why they’re still in good condition. Other early buildings were destroyed because they weren’t fully integrated. Not being integrated means dying off. MB You are working within a framework of ‘new materiality’. Can you elaborate on the methodology and how you applied it to Nikel? TG New Materialism is about rethinking relationships between object and subject, people and nature; moving from a focus on the human experience of things to things themselves. New Materialism is about acknowledging nonhuman forces in events. Important theorists in this field are, for instance, Jane Bennett, Manuel DeLanda and Graham Harman. In the case of Nikel, the methods of New Materialism help us to trace non-material social processes and transformations through the material agency. Technology and material fabrication can reveal very specific aspects in this context. We have explored different logics of material assemblies of the town’s construction in different political epochs. Each epoch reveals its own sensibility to the fabrication of a material. The sources of energy used for construction also changed over the decades, depending on whether the town’s relationships were externally regulated or self-sustaining. Through this perspective every piece of the town’s construction can explain a lot on many different levels of interrelations. KL The name of the city itself already suggests this. Nikel as a real material and a symbolic notion penetrates all levels of the existence of this settlement, manifesting the evolution of the artificial ecology the town has created. ‘Nickel’ as a non‐physical entity provided an artificial immunity to the city in the form of high subsidies and pensions, twice the holiday time, earlier retirement, and good facilities for sports and education. The products of nickel have become unpredictable. We started looking into the variety of materials that make up the city on a micro level and expanded its qualities to social, economic and environmental processes on a large scale. For instance, an exciting part of the research was to trace a representation of larger processes, which were shaping the city in one material, such as the slag, a by-product of the nickel ore smelting. The pressure from the artificial and natural environment gave this material many shapes and forms: it became a building material, an agent of damage, it is also present as a component of the natural ecosystem. It has penetrated into the surfaces of the buildings and accumulated in cracks and dark corners. This dust mixed with the brightly painted surfaces in the city creates a specific texture typical of most of the buildings in Nikel.
Tatjana Gorbachewskaja icw Katya Larina, Nikel Materiality. Photo by Rosa Menkman
Tatjana Gorbachewskaja icw Katya Larina, Nikel Materiality. Photo by Rosa Menkman
Tatjana Gorbachewskaja icw Katya Larina, Nikel Materiality. Photo by Rosa MenkmanMB You made a very elaborate and different map of the city, with several interesting structural elements. What was the framework you used for mapping? TG The original idea was to create an alternative map of the city. Instead of mapping the classical city’s highlights, we tried to map a material agency representing the power of the city. We took material artefacts as witnesses that are able to describe the history of natural, political and social processes of the settlement. The artefacts we found were extraordinary and very expressive. Through the map and catalogue of the artefacts we present Nikel as a ‘material system’, as a multi- scalar expression of new materials that appeared and evolved while embedded in the town’s fabric. We organised the artefacts into four sections. KL As said, the material entity of Nikel has been shaped by successive ideological paradigms of the Soviet and the Post-Soviet political context. In the first group (Historical Clash) we presented artefacts and materials related to the history of social and political rhythms which structured the physical territories of the town. The second group (Energy Infrastructure) is related to the organisational concept of the ecosystem which is a function representing a ‘flow of energy and materials’. Here, we perceive Nikel as an infrastructural element for the resource-development industry, a life- support mechanism of a large industrial machine. In the third group of materials (Self-Organising Boundaries) we draw the boundaries of ‘competing patterns of existing ecosystems’. This part of the research reveals the fragmented character of the city and traces boundaries and borders that evolved naturally in the town as a response to the overlay and resistance of different elements of Nikel’s artificial ecology. In the last group (The Slag), we consider a physical representation of a new material that has appeared in Nikel, copper-nickel dust. For this section we created a wind simulation map, which helped us to understand how the environmental forces spread slag and pollution through the city. It shows how the urban tissue reacts to it. MB Did you present your insights about Nikel to locals? KL Yes, we had a presentation in Nikel for the local people. For us, the process of the environmental degradation indicates an evolutionary process of the city’s artificial system, revealing its qualities. For inhabitants, it’s mostly a personal tragedy. We were worried that we would be misunderstood, but surprisingly, we had quite a positive response. TG A teacher from the art school pointed out one more important energy resource in Nikel, another important resource of Nikel materiality: the people. And that is true: they really are the driving force of the city.
RESEARCH SERIES #28 In this interview by Rosa Menkman the Canadian theorist Heather Davis discusses the value of artistic experimentation, the Anthropocene, the importance of queer theory and the ecology of plastics. This interview forms part of Living Earth – Field Notes from Dark Ecology Project 2014 – 2016, which is available now at www.sonicacts.com/shop.
Heather Davis, Sonic Acts Academy 2016. Photo by Pieter KiersRM In your writing, you often use art to unpack and contextualise the otherwise abstract conditions and processes of the Anthropocene. Do these works inspire you to write about these subjects, or do you search for these works to illustrate the subjects you would like to write about? HD My writing usually doesn’t follow a uniform process. The way I write is maybe not so dissimilar from the ways in which certain people produce art. It evolves by constantly asking new questions, and through the shifting of scales and perspectives. In one of my latest texts, Molecular Intimacy (2016), I write about Inhale/Exhale, which was part of an installation at the Nordic Pavilion of the Venice Biennale of Art in 2013, by Finnish artist Terike Haapoja. I met Haapoja at a residency in Lapland a few years ago and I was really struck by her work. Haapoja connects the different levels through which the carbon cycle operates, to illustrate the ways in which carbon both enables life and is ‘exhaled’ in the processes of decomposition. While carbon is a rather abstract element that usually can’t be perceived by the human sensorium, this work asks us to consider breathing, through the process of decomposing leaves, in a much more visceral way. We hear the carbon release from the leaves, and it sounds uncannily like breath. This work made me reconsider how breath passes through my own body, as well as my thinking about carbon dioxide. Inhale/Exhale prompted me to ask what happens to our understanding of climate change and the carbon cycle when we approach it not just as scientific data, or as a series of graphs, charts and numbers? How can we make this data more intimate and how would this influence our imaginary? This work by Haapoja suggests a shift in discourse towards affective attunement—towards an intimate engagement with the molecular and the different strata at which carbon ecologies, economies and molecules operate—one that is useful to elaborate in contemporary theory. I would have never arrived at this question if not for my conversations with Haapoja. RM Lucy R. Lippard reviewed the compendium Art in the Anthropocene (2015) which you co-edited as: ‘an art book like no other (...) Visual artists are, for once, equal participants in these imaginative, intelligent, and informative discussions of the most pressing issues of our time, and deep time.’ How does the work of artists within the realm of climate change relate to the work of scientists? HD The featured texts are all written by philosophers, curators and artists who are very knowledgeable about scientific processes and climate change. We did, however, purposefully not invite any scientists to contribute to the book. One of the main things my co-editor, Etienne Turpin, and myself wanted to highlight is the difference in methodology between the ways in which artists and scientists contribute to understanding climate change. While the sciences often aim to produce the ‘truth’ and research questions that are directed towards very specific aims and outcomes, artistic work has this amazing ability to embrace contradictions that don’t have to be resolved. I believe that this is what the best forms of art do. Art can contain contradictory thoughts without falling apart. This can be incredibly useful when thinking about the affective and political implications of climate change. Besides that, artists are able to create work in ways that scientists can’t: scientists have to follow specific rules when they conduct scientific experiments. Artists can experiment with materials and use scientific practices in non-traditional ways and, in doing so, contribute to scientific breakthroughs. Artists can open up avenues of scientific research that were previously not up for discussion in a manner that can be explicitly political or with the aim of engaging a wider audience. RM Earlier you also mentioned ‘affect’ and ‘intimate engagement’ as vital to the understanding of climate change. Could you elaborate on this? HD I believe that there is an absolutely crucial element, namely the affective register, missing from the scientific engagement with climate change. Art can play an important role in negotiating this absence. I was trained in the traditions of Deleuze and Spinoza, so I understand affect as a pre- emotional, pre-verbal intensity. Affect moves me with a certain energy that cannot be attributed to a specific emotion or any particular sensibility. Affect can describe this state of hovering on the edge of emotion, or the kinds of emotions that don’t really posses a descriptive language, that can’t be categorised. Affect describes this intensity. In relation to climate change, there is an eerie sense that things are going horribly wrong, even among those of us who are disconnected from natural cyclical processes. We see unprecedented weather in the places we grew up. We see shifting patterns among animals and plants. Because humans are such adaptable creatures, we can accommodate these changes, but the speed at which they are happening remains in this register of intensity, in the register of something going wrong that we can feel, that we are cognizant of, even as we think of other things. This kind of bodily knowing is what art can make us aware of: the feelings of rapid change, and the sense of great unease that we share in the face of dramatic destabilisation.
Terike Haapoja, Inhale–Exhale, installation, 2008/2013, Falling Trees exhibition, Nordic Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, 2013. Photo by Ugo Carmeni.RM In your Sonic Acts Academy presentation on 28 February 2016 in Amsterdam The Queer Futurity of Plastic, you used queer theory to create an awareness of the affective intimacy between humans and our plastic spawn. You asked: what can we learn if we embrace our non-filial plastic progeny and the plastisphere ecosystems that evolve in our man-made, plastic environments? Could you elaborate on this? HD Queer theory, especially the realm of queer kinship, creates an incredibly important space for queerness not (just) as an identity, but as a politics. Queerness doesn’t just question heteronormative practices, but asks to open up space for who our intimate partners can be beyond a binary gender system, the conventions of the couple, and the nuclear family. We need ways to express intimacy within and beyond our legal systems; ways that allow for more plurality in terms of who can be understood as our life partners or our kin. These questions are also tied to questions of inheritance and the sense of obligation and care that we have towards those who came before us and those who will come after us. The question of who we think our kin are, in part determines this sense of responsibility. This ties into ecological thinking because if we presume that our kin are not just human, then we have an obligation towards our companion species, including those we have unintentionally brought into being.
Plastics have been around for 110 years, and bacteria have evolved to deal with these new environments. There is, for instance, a type of plastic eating waxworm that has two different kinds of bacteria inside its gut that allow it to digest polyethylene. Specific communities of bacteria have developed on the tiny pieces of plastics in the ocean. This is called the plastisphere. The waxworm and the plastisphere can be understood as a kind of non-filial human progeny, as I have suggested, and we should ask ourselves what kind of responsibility we have towards them. There has to be an ethics of acknowledgement and maybe even an ethics of care towards these particular kinds of bacterial communities, because of the fact that we inadvertently created them. This is not to suggest a godlike capacity and I certainly don’t mean that we should produce more plastic to accommodate these bacteria, but we do need to rethink the scales on which humans act and create. We are responsible for the life and deaths of so many creatures, regardless of our intentions. These questions are really essential.
Queer theory is a movement that pushes for entirely different configurations of intimacy, belonging, attachment and gendered identity or sexuality, which move beyond heteronormative frameworks that serve, among many other things, to uphold anthropocentrism. Queer kinship makes us aware of the responsibility we have towards the beings we create, and those that live and die, including humans and nonhumans. It calibrates a new political space to reconsider the state and presence of our relation to time, space and plastics. Thinking in these terms can help us to re-situate the place of the human, at least in dominant Western understandings; in essence the narrative of the human becomes less a narrative of mastery and moves towards ethical engagement and responsibility.RM How can we actually be ethical about plastics? HD Surprisingly, I find this a really hard question. I’ve been thinking about plastics for three or four years now; however, I’ve been using the materiality of plastic to explore larger questions in terms of ecology and human hubris in relationship to technology. I think the important thing about plastic is to think of it as incredibly valuable, rather than infinitely disposable. The ecological problem with plastics is that they are incredibly recalcitrant in the face of change. Plastic objects can break, but on a molecular level, unless you burn them (which is really toxic), there aren’t many ways of turning plastics into something else. Plastics are impermeable to their environments, yet those same environments are deeply affected by plastics. The fact that within the 110 years since the invention of thermoplastics we suddenly discover this plastic-eating waxworm—I find that really heartening: it shows that life has a generative capacity that is far greater than humans. It puts us in our place in a really important way. RM Can we re-value plastic from a perspective of deep time and attribute value through the ecological consequences plastics have on our ecologies? HD I find it unbelievable that we use this material, which is incredibly valuable and definitely finite, as disposable and cheap. I have no idea how this happened in terms of economic logic but somehow it did, even though we don’t have adequate waste management systems and despite knowing the havoc that plastic waste wreaks in the world. It isn’t the only chemical material product out there that I wish didn’t exist, but...
While I’m saying this, I am thinking about what would happen if plastics suddenly disappeared. Our world as we know it would collapse—there would be no Internet, computers or airplane travel. Our clothes would evaporate, our buildings would fall apart. Materials, including food, could not be cheaply or effectively shipped around the globe. Plastic is the material infrastructure of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is this contradiction of plastic that really fascinates me. On the one hand, I see how much damage it does and on the other, it is an incredibly important, life- saving material. Plastics are so much a part of our everyday lives, they literally become us.
Tom Cohen, who is co-editor of the Critical Climate Change series at Open Humanities Press, uses the term tempophagy, meaning time-eating. We are burning up so much time through our dependence on oil, which results in these incredibly destructive accelerations in terms of climate, evolution, extinction, movement, and technology. We are producing this crazy kind of time, that exists only because we keep consuming the evolutionary and decomposed matter that is many hundreds of thousands of years old. Oil is a kind of compressed time. I think an inversed theory of planned obsolescence could play a role here: what if we used oil-based materials to build technologies with a planned continuum, that were meant to last for hundreds or thousands of years? RM With Dark Ecology we travel in the Arctic Barents Region, also to heavily polluted sites, to explore an area that illustrates how intimately connected humans can be with pollution. HD In the Canadian High Arctic, things decompose at an incredibly slow rate because of the cold and the lack of microbes. You can find a Coke can from the 1940s and it will look like it was left there last week. There is something really amazing about the fact that time has a completely different pace in this part of the world. However, the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. It’s experiencing a rate and intensity of change on a scale that is unprecedented. I wonder how time in this part of the Arctic will make itself felt and seen. I think a lot about understanding the self as porous, so if we pollute the world, we pollute our own bodies. There is something really fruitful about confronting the fact that we cannot barricade ourselves off from toxicity, especially those of us with the privilege to do so.
Listening Session: The Maryanne Amacher Archive presents The Mini Sound Series Tuesday 13 December, 20:00 hrs de Appel arts centre, Prins Hendrikkade 142, Amsterdam As legendary as Maryanne Amacher’s work remains, few if any of Amacher’s listeners have been able to experience her variegated body of work as a whole. Amacher’s prescient use of media coupled with her insistence on perceptually anchored situational specificity made the question of documentation and publication of her artistic work complicated, if not moot. Now for the first time as more and more of the materials from the Maryanne Amacher Archive are digitized, the first sketches of an overview of her life's work are on hand. The Listening Session offers a live-annotated audio-outline of moments throughout Maryanne Amacher’s 50 year career, comprised entirely of unpublished audio. The listening session is accompanied by pertinent and likewise unpublished images of scores, notes, and texts selected from the Amacher Archive, presented by Bill Dietz, Amy Cimini & Robert The.
Maryanne Amacher. Photo by Kathy Brew.Admission: EUR 7,50 (students/CJP EUR 5,00) Buy Ticket The Listening Session is part of ‘The Mini Sound Series’ Seminar, organised by Sonic Acts in collaboration with The Maryanne Amacher Archive, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam & Blank Forms. This event is supported by de Appel arts centre.
Progress Bar offers insight into the artistic practice of the most exciting contemporary artists with interviews and lectures as well as a club programme. Before Sonic Acts Festival 2017 begins, the next edition of Progress Bar will be on Saturday 21 January at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin. LINE UP AKWUGO EMEJULU (talk) BONAVENTURE (DJ) EMBACI (live) J. G. BIBERKOPF (live) JUHA (DJ) S A R A S A R A (live) SEADA NOURHUSSEN (talk) TRAXMAN (DJ) AKWUGO EMEJULU (talk) Akwugo Emejulu is Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. As a political sociologist, she has research interests in two areas: investigating racial and gender social and economic inequalities in a comparative perspective and exploring the grassroots organising of women of colour for social welfare and social citizenship. BONAVENTURE (DJ) NTS Radio affiliate and citizen of NON, Bonaventure (Soraya Lutangu) uses music as an identity research tool along with practical and speculative initiatives to connect her African and European roots and investigate human boundaries. Tracks like ‘White Policy’, ‘Cauz Cauz Cauz’ and ‘Complexion’ get at the crux of human motivation. EMBACI Embaci is an 18-year-old singer-songwriter and producer from Brooklyn who interweaves her lilting voice’s commentary on body and feminist politics with shattered, metallic off-rhythms. Her recent “digital tape” release featured collaborations with the likes of ANGEL-HO, Chino Amobi, Mhysa, Nkisi, LAO, ZutZut, IMAABS and Elysia Crampton. J. G. BIBERKOPF (live) J. G. Biberkopf works within the paradoxical relationship between club music and art music. His recent first EP, titled ‘Ecologies’, launched the Knives label created by Kuedo and Joe Shakespeare. Biberkopf’s music is intended as a field trip into the representations of nature that emerge from the (social) mediascape. JUHA (DJ) Progress Bar founder Juha plays new internet dance music. Since 2014, Juha has been artistic director of Lighthouse in Brighton, uniting the worlds of culture and technology. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of internet music culture. S A R A S A R A (live) Hailing from Lille, France, singer, musician and producer s a r a s a r a recently released her debut album ‘Amor Fati' via One Little Indian, co-produced by Matthew Herbert. Already a boundary pushing artist, s a r a s a r a’s music is as experimental as it is versatile, taking in elements of industrial electronica, trip-hop, r’n’b, breaks and more. SEADA NOURHUSSEN (talk) Seada Nourhussen is Africa-editor at Trouw. She has previously worked for, amongst others, Elsevier and De Volkskrant. Nourhussen also wrote the book 'Bloedmobieltjes'. TRAXMAN (DJ) Cornelius Ferguson a.k.a. Traxman is from the West Side of Chicago and one of the longest serving producers working in footwork with releases stretching back to the glory days of ghetto house on Dance Mania records in the nineties. His unique brand of footwork is very strongly rooted in Chicago's history of soul, funk, house and ghetto trax. Progress Bar S02E04 Date: Saturday 21 January 2017 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €10,00 presale / €12,50 at the door (card only) http://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/178709 Free for Subbacultcha! members until midnight and part of the We Are Public programme. Become a member Attend on Facebook
As a precursor to the Sonic Acts Festival programme (23-26 February), every Wednesday leading up to it will offer a guided tour of the The Noise of Being exhibition in the afternoon, and then present a different special event in the evening. For this Wednesday 8 February we have Taste The Doom at OT301, combining two of the most delightful things in life: excellent whisky and a splendid mix of doom metal. Taste a hand-picked selection of outstanding whiskies, introduced to you one by one, while listening to a selected mix of songs matched to accompany each. The event includes live performances by EISBEIN and Puce Mary. Buy Tickets Timetable: 19:00 Doors open 19:30 Taste The Doom 22:00 Performances (EISBEIN + Puce Mary) EISBEIN (Benny Nilsen & Gert-Jan Prins) BJ Nilsen is a Swedish composer and sound artist based in Amsterdam. His work primarily focuses on the sounds of nature and how they affect humans. Recent work has explored the urban acoustic realm and industrial geography in the Arctic region of Norway and Russia. Gert-Jan Prins focuses on the sonic and musical qualities of electronic noise and percussion and investigates its relationship with the visual. He lives and works in Amsterdam. Puce Mary An unrelenting fear of dread and coldness penetrates the avant-garde power electronics of Copenhagen-based artist Puce Mary, the nom de plume of Frederikke Hoffmeier. The Danish noisenik first came to prominence in 2010 with the collaborative release Lucia with Lust for Youth’s Loke Rahbek, on Danish label Posh Isolation. That same year, she released the Piss Flowers cassette, which showcased her unremitting use of feedback, noise, and guttural screams to climatic effect. Taste The Doom Date: Wednesday 8 February 2017 Venue: OT301, Amsterdam Times: 19:30–00:00 (doors open 19:00) Tickets: for tasting & performances: €30 (valid from 19:00); for performances only: €5 (valid from 22:00) Buy Tickets Due to the intimate setting of this event there is very limited capacity. Attend on Facebook. Taste The Doom is hosted by Lars Lundehave Hansen and Peter Votava.
Vertical Studies: Acoustic shadows and boundary reflections. by Signe Lidén and Espen Sommer Eide In this new collaborative work by Eide and Lidén, participants are invited on a journey to a 46 meter high former water tower in Sint Jansklooster. The tower has been re-imagined as a vertical field-lab where the artists will introduce their ongoing investigations into connections between sound, history, wind and weather. For this purpose they have constructed a range of special instruments for the recording and playback of sounds in the vertical dimension. The participants on this journey, will experience both live vertical studies outdoors and inside the towers spiral staircase, as a ascending vertical soundscape shaped by Eide and Lidén. BUY TICKETS In their collaborations, Lidén and Eide investigate how sound is shaped by and resonates in various environments. Their previous work, the critically acclaimed 2016 performance Altitude and History was staged in the hills above Nikel, Russia, as part of the Dark Ecology journey. Leading the audience on a performative field trip, they delved into the connections between wind and sound at various altitudes and its connections vertically to layers of local history. Sound movement through the atmosphere is affected by the wind profile, the open landscape and the winter temperatures, which can bend the wave front, causing sounds to be heard where they normally would not, or vice versa, creating acoustic shadows. Building upon this archive of altitudinal sounds from Nikel and other areas visited by the artists, they are now working on a new model of verticality. As an imaginative figure the artists experiment with sorting their archive of sounds by height. From the bottom of the oceans, to the planetary boundary layer with land formations and weather shaping the sounds, up through the clouds to the outer atmosphere. Signe Lidén is an artist based in Amsterdam and Bergen. Her installations and performances explore man-made landscapes and their resonance. She is interested in how places resonate; in memory and matter, through narratives and as ideological manifestations. Her installations are often a combination of sound recordings from specific places and sculptural objects, where the material of the objects becomes ‘speakers’. Her work ranges from sound installations and performance to more documentary forms such as sound essays and archives. She has made works for Dark Ecology, Center for PostNatural History, VOLT, Resonance Sound Art Network, Hordaland Art Center, Kunsthall Oslo and Ny Musikk, Touch Radio, and Interferenze New Arts Festival among others. Espen Sommer Eide is a musician and artist based in Bergen. With his music projects Phonophani and Alog, he has composed and performed a series of experimental electronic works. As an artist his works investigates subjects ranging from the linguistic, the historical and archival to the invention of new scientific and musical instruments for performative fieldwork. His works has been exhibited and performed at Bergen Kunsthall, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Manifesta Biennial, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Stedelijk Museum, GRM, De Halle Haarlem, Bergen Assembly, Sonic Acts, Mutek, Performa and more. Commissioned by Sonic Acts & Dark Ecology. Practical information & Tickets For this excursion we have arranged buses that will drive us to the water tower in Sint Jansklooster (1,5 hour drive). There are a limited amount of seats available, so be quick if you don't want to miss this exciting trip. Buses will leave from Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. Tickets are €12,50 (limited amount of tickets are available). Sonic Acts Festival passe-partout holders can reserve their space free of charge by sending an mail to info[at]sonicacts[dot]com. Excursion 1 February (12:00) 11:45 meet up at Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Piet Heinkade 1 12:00 bus leaves to Sint Jansklooster 14:00 performance by Signe Lidén and Espen Sommer Eide 17:00 back in Amsterdam Excursion 23 February (12:00) 11:45 meet up at Paradiso, Weteringschans 6-8 12:00 bus leaves to Sint Jansklooster 14:00 performance by Signe Lidén and Espen Sommer Eide 17:00 back in Amsterdam Excursion 23 February (14:00) 13:45 meet up at Paradiso, Weteringschans 6-8 14:00 bus leaves to Sint Jansklooster 16:00 performance by Signe Lidén and Espen Sommer Eide 19:00 back in Amsterdam Address Sint Jansklooster Bezoekerscentrum de Wieden, Beulakerpad 14, 8326 AH St. Jansklooster BUY TICKETS The installation in the water tower is open for the public during visitors hours on 4, 11, 18 and 25 February. For more information see natuurmonumenten.nl
The Noise of Being exhibition speculates on the strange and anxious state of being human. Works by five international artists – Justin Bennett, Zach Blas, Kate Cooper, Joey Holder, and Pinar Yoldas – function as portals into parallel realities, where the audience is invited to decipher weird histories and eerie futures, defy systems of power and control through queerness, explore synthetic alien biologies, take refuge within the hyperreal, and imagine other possible species and impossible environments. What does it mean to be human? While navigating the meshes that grow ever more complex, how can we deal with the noise that surrounds us? Will the introduction of more or advanced technology obscure our view, or help us to understand the world better? Because we are all entangled in a web of different encounters, can we strive for a world in which all (non)humans are equally (non)human? By envisioning fantastic and horrific narratives of an uncanny world with alternative modes of existence, the exhibition offers different strategies for understanding the noise of being. The exhibition is now open and can be visited until the end of the Sonic Acts Festival. The five emerging artists have made site-specific and immersive installations that are commissioned by or restaged especially for Sonic Acts and present their work in a series of events consisting of guided tours, workshops and artist talks in the weeks preceding the festival and during the festival conference. OPENING HOURS Tuesday — Sunday 12:00-18:00 hrs During the festival (23-26 Feb): 10:00 – 20:00 hrs GUIDED TOURS & EVENTS Wednesday 8 February 17:00-18:00 Guided Tour by Nicky Assmann (part of the curatorial team of Sonic Acts) 19-00-00:00 Taste The Doom at OT301 Wednesday 15 February 19:00-20:00 Guided Tour by Nicky Assmann 20:00-21:00 An evening with Joey Holder at Spui25 Wednesday 22 February 19:00-20:00 Guided Tour by Nicky Assmann TICKET PRICES 3 euros. Free entrance for students and Arti et Amicitiae members. Tickets can be bought at the door. www.arti.nl
As part of the Sonic Acts' pre-festival lineup, The Noise of Being exhibition artist Joey Holder will present her work and have a public conversation with fellow artist Nicky Assmann the evening of 15 February at Spui 25 in Amsterdam. Come join as Holder delves into her project, showcasing the research that inspired her to create a speculative pharmaceutical company and how this relates to the search and sampling of lifeforms at the depths of the Antarctic Ocean to inform an understanding of what it means, or could mean, to be human. Working with scientific and technical experts, Joey Holder makes immersive, multimedia installations that explore the limits of the human and how we experience non-human, natural and technological forms. Mixing elements of biology, nanotechnology and natural history against computer programme interfaces, screen savers and measuring devices, she suggests the impermanence and interchangeability of these apparently contrasting and oppositional worlds: ‘everything is a mutant and a hybrid’. For her upcoming touring exhibition at Sonic Acts — against the backdrop of the emergent field of computational biology and the Google Genomics project — Holder invented Ophiux, a speculative pharmaceutical company, imagining its use of genetic sequencing equipment and biological machines to collect data from humans and to sample data from other organisms. As she explains: ‘It seems as if everything has become a branch of computer science, even our own bodies probed, imaged, modelled and mapped: re-drawn as digital information’. For the evening's talk, Holder will take us through the research that inspired the project and show unseen footage from remotely operated vehicles at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean. This presentation will demonstrate how scientists sample data from lifeforms from the deep sea to find insights into our own makeup and further our evolution. An Evening with Joey Holder Date: Wednesday 15 February 2017 Time: 20:00–21:30 Location: Spui 25, Amsterdam Tickets €3 ex. fee
What did you think of Sonic Acts Festival 2017 - The Noise of Being? Share your thoughts while they're still fresh! If you attended The Noise of Being, help us evaluate the festival by participating in our online survey. It takes approximately 5–10 minutes to complete and your feedback will help us to improve future editions. By completing the survey you can also win one of three passe-partouts for next year's (22–25 Feb) Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Take part in our survey Your feedback matters...
We are very excited to announce the first batch of artists in the 17th edition of Sonic Acts Festival. This edition, titled The Noise of Being, includes an exhibition, conference, performances, film programme, workshops, masterclasses and club nights at Paradiso, Stedelijk Museum, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Bimhuis, De Brakke Grond, OT301 and Arti et Amicitiae. Sonic Acts has also commissioned a series of new audiovisual works and sound installations. The full programme will be announced in January. ARTISTS CONFIRMED SO FAR Aïsha Devi, Armen Avanessian, Ben Russell, BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux, Christina Vantzou, Daniel Rourke, David Roden, EISBEIN, Emptyset, Erika Balsom, Erica Scourti, Ernst Karel, Espen Sommer Eide & Signe Lidén, Eyal Weizman, Geert-Jan Hobijn + Gijs Gieskes + Radboud Mens, HC Gilje, Helen Verran, Ingrid Burrington, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Jana Winderen, Jennifer Gabrys, JK Flesh, Joey Holder, Justin Bennett, Kabir Carter, Kara-Lis Coverdale + MFO, Keiko Prince, Killavesi + Adamn Killa, Lukas Marxt, Luke Fowler, Maria Hlavajova, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Matthew Biederman & Pierce Warnecke, MSHR, My Sword, Nick Axel, Nina Power, Noortje Marres, Organ Tapes, Peter Burr, Peter Frase, Pinar Yoldas, Rainer Kohlberger, Rick Dolphijn, Roly Porter + MFO, Sarah J. Whatmore, Sergei Tcherepnin, Susan Schuppli, VIOLENCE, Wendy Chun, Woody Sullender, Ytasha L. Womack and Zach Blas. Read press release
The third edition of Progress Bar will be on Saturday 17 December at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam. Continuing to support radical club culture and celebrate the work of vanguard music producers, filmakers, artists and activists, the December edition will include performances by DJ and NTS resident Cõvco; production duo God Colony with south London MC Flohio; Progress Bar resident Juha; experimental club artist Shalt; Shygirl with Glaswegian producer and Activia Benz signee Sega Bodega; and Wartone. Tickets on sale: http://bit.ly/2eQRLWK Timetable: 20:30 Doors 21:00-21:30 Lecture by Aaron McLaughlin 21:30-22:00 God Colony + Flohio interviewed by Stefan Wharton 22:00-22:30 Shygirl + Sega Bodega interviewed by Jo Kali CLUB 22:30-23:15 Wartone (DJ) 23:15-00:00 Juha (DJ) 00:00-01:00 God Colony + Flohio (Live) 01:00-02:00 Shalt (DJ) 02:00-02:45 Shygirl + Sega Bodega (Live) 02:45-04:00 Cõvco (DJ)
Progress Bar S02E03 - Design by Michael OswellCÕVCO (DJ) London DJ and NTS Resident Cõvco plays a deadly selection of footwork, grime, rap, r’n’b and club music. Radio shows on NTS have featured guest mixes by artists and labels including Eaves, City, DJ Earl and Beatgatherers, peppered with tracks by DJ Manny, Vybz Kartel, Imaabs and others. Cõvco has also contributed guest mixes for Tropical Waste, Absolute Zero and Angel Food, featuring alongside Aimee Cliff, E.M.M.A. and DJ Haram. As a DJ, Cõvco is intent on creating an atmosphere, essence, feeling or vibe, and asks the listener to be free and share that space. GOD COLONY + FLOHIO (live) London-based production duo God Colony recently released their debut EP 'Where We Were'. The record tells stories about cities and the lives inside them, and the duo felt a necessity to communicate that sprawling, chaotic sense of place. God Colony have also collaborated with previous Progress Bar act GAIKA on the video for their track “SE16”. The duo have a penchant for raw productions bound for dark club spaces, laden with screaming sirens, steely drums and zipping synths. Flohio is a south London MC with verses that make your hair stand up. Described as jaw-droopingly good and an undeniable natural talent in front of a mic, Flohio takes industrial and concrete beats and turns them into something personal. Full of fire and ‘dont care’ attitude, Flohio's voice comes out blazing, with a punchy, straight-talking, no-holds-barred flow. Flohio will perform at Progress Bar together with production duo God Colony, where cavernous productions meet a no-nonsense new voice. JUHA (DJ) DJ and Viral Radio founder Juha plays internet dance music. Since 2014, Juha has been artistic director of Lighthouse in Brighton, uniting the worlds of culture and technology. In 2012, Juha won De Hallen Curatorial Scholarship for his proposal ‘DREAD - The Dizziness of Freedom’, resulting in an exhibition, festival and an accompanying book. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of internet music culture. SHALT (DJ) British DJ and producer SHALT released the EP 'Acheron' earlier this year on The Astral Plane. Described by The FADER as “thrilling in its lurches and ripples, too melodic and rhythmic to be noise, too prickly and unpredictable to be labeled straight-up dance music”, the EP explores the idea and effects of prolonging individual lives by technological means in relation to the sense of self and of being human. SHALT’s upcoming release, 'Inertia', is a larger-than-life slab of harsh electronics, hook-like riffs and knife’s edge sound design. SHALT has also produced edits of tracks by Kid Smpl, Rizzla, Tim Hecker and Lotic. SHYGIRL + SEGA BODEGA (live) Shygirl is south London vocalist, lyricist and merchant of mysteries, bars for the Sydenham skets, poetry for the lonely ones at the front of the bus - hoods up, tears streaming down. From the leafy suburbs with bloodstained concrete right out to the rest of the fucking planet. Watch yourself. Sega Bodega creates music equally fit for the club as for the movie theatre. The Glaswegian producer presents a monthly soundtrack series on London’s NTS Radio, pitting re-composed film scores head to head with emo-dancefloor ballads. Sega Bodega’s music is cinematic and emotionally weighty — 'Sportswear' EP, released last year on Activia Benz, is a suite of lush, emotional club tracks accompanied by a made-to-order tracksuit. Sega Bodega is also one half of duo Y1640 (with french producer coucou chloé) and has recently worked with rapper Mikey Dollaz and experimental electronic group WWWINGS. WARTONE (DJ) Wartone is a regular feature of Amsterdam’s underground club scene, presenting a series of parties that have featured Lisbent, Why Be, Toxe, Mechatok and The Punishment of Luxury, among others. Wartone co-curated NTS Radio’s Unthinkable show with J. G. Biberkopf, examining ideas and theories across platforms, and was featured on Wasabi Tapes’ '美しい (UTSUKUSHII)' compilation alongside artists such as Ssaliva, Niclas, Brood Ma and Malibu; tracks have also cropped up in mixes by Tropical Waste, YYAA Recordings and NODE.
Buy Early Bird or Group tickets now! We are very excited to announce a new edition of the Sonic Acts festival, which will take place in Amsterdam from 23 to 26 February 2017 at Paradiso, Stedelijk Museum, de Brakke Grond, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Bimhuis, OT301 and an exhibition from 1 till 26 February at Arti et Amicitiae. The festival includes a conference, exhibition, performances, concerts, installations, a film programme, workshops and masterclasses. A limited number of Early Bird Festival Passes are available at a discount price of €75 (regular price: €90). Group Festival Passes are also available at €65 for groups of 5 or more. Regular Festival Passes will go on sale in January.
UNFOLD #3: Reinterpreting the digital 1 December 2016 at LIMA in Amsterdam LIMA is pleased to announce the third public event within the framework of UNFOLD on 1 December, continuing with the research line mediation by reinterpretation. How to revisit digital and media artworks over time? This evening programme will concentrate on the consequences that are brought about when using the mode of mediation as an act of reinterpretation specifically in digital- and media artworks. The key lecturers will concentrate on the idea of variability; posing concerns about authorship and transparency while taking - often limiting institutional protocols into account. How can we negotiate preservation strategies with regard to these principles? Preserving media artworks is undeniably related to issues of technological obsolescence, networked connectivity and the interactive nature of digital art. A range of elements stretches the boundaries of traditional preservation methods and requires insights from both the artist and the curator to determinate the future viability of re-staging the piece. Most conservation practices are concentrating primarily on authenticity and functionality in relation to the rapid development of browsers, computer hardware and operating systems. How do we deal with the changes of digital or media artworks over time, and how can the performative aspect of a work be preserved? UNFOLD presents and researches reinterpretation not as a strategy that reinvents the originally intended, but rather rethinks it. On December 1st, artists, academics and conservators will revolve around several topics in regard to the reinterpretation of digital art, followed by a panel discussion. Programme: 19:00 - 20:00 - The evening will start with a presentation of the workshop (applications closed) Joost Rekveld and LIMA organised together with Sonic Acts in the context of the UNFOLD research project, in order to create a case study to reflect upon. For more info on the workshop see http://li-ma.nl/site/article/workshop-joost-rekveld-sensory-augmentation-and-obstruction 20:00 - 21:30 lectures by: - Maaike Bleeker, professor of Theatre Studies in the Department of Media & Culture Studies at Utrecht University. - Sanneke Stigter, assistant Professor in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the University of Amsterdam. - Jan Robert Leegte, internet artist. 21:30 - 22:00 - Panel discussion moderated by Katja Kwastek, professor Modern and Contemporary Art at the Faculty of Humanities of VU Amsterdam. 22:00 - Drinks at the LAB111 Bar. For more info & updates, please keep an eye on the Facebook Event. Doors open: 6:30 PM Start: 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM 7.5 / 5 euro (pin only) This project is made possible by the Mondriaan Fund and Creative Industries Fund NL.
Studens from the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam conducted a study on the identity of Sonic Acts. Please help them by completing the survey. It takes up to 5 minutes and you have a chance at winning 2 tickets for Progress Bar on 17 December! Thank you! https://sonicacts.typeform.com/to/G1npWo
Photo by Pieter KersAre you interested in a look behind the scenes? Do you want to be part of a great team and gain some invaluable work experience? We are looking for volunteers to support us during the upcoming Sonic Acts Festival in February with various tasks such as promotion, communication, photography, production and the information desk. Interested? Find out more about the opportunities for and benefits of volunteering on our website or get in touch with us at volunteer[at]sonicacts[dot]com. We look forward to welcoming you to the team! Apply Now! We are looking for: Promotion support Pre-production support A/V documentation (video/ photo - professional camera needed) Production assistance Audience handling Technical assistance Runner What can we offer? - Free entrance to the Sonic Acts Festival - Valuable (net)working experience - Travel support within the Netherlands - A meal during your shift - Free tickets to concerts for promotional work We need your help to make the festival a success. Apply by filling in the volunteer application form. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us at: volunteer[at]sonicacts[dot]com.
The prize-winning Dutch television documentary series, VPRO Tegenlicht, joined Sonic Acts on the last Dark Ecology Journey in June this year and interviewed Timothy Morton. The documentary, which focuses on the future of art, will be broadcasted on Dutch national television on Sunday 9 October, at 21:05 hrs on NPO 2. On Wednesday 12 October there will be a Tegenlicht MeetUp event at Pakhuis de Zwijger where we will expand on this topic.
VPRO TegenlichtWatch programme
On 28 October Sonic Acts presents an evening about Dark Ecology as part of the Vincent on Friday series at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The research and commissioning project Dark Ecology (2014–2016) is about rethinking the connections between humans and nonhumans, and reimagining our connections to the Earth and nature. Many of the works created for Dark Ecology can be seen as a new form of landscape art, revealing unexpected or hidden aspects of the landscape and our relation to it. As such they connect to the current Impressions of Landscape exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum about the discovery of the landscape by painters Daubigny, Van Gogh and Monet.
Bj Nilsen & Karl Lemieux, unearthed. Photo by Pieter Kers
HC Gilje, Barents (Mare Incognitum). Film still
Signe Lidén - krysning/conflux - Photo by Konstantin Guz
The Maryanne Amacher Archive: ‘Mini Sound Series’ Seminar A Sonic Acts collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam & Blank Forms 12 – 13 December 2016 in Amsterdam The two-day seminar presented by Amy Cimini, Bill Dietz, and Robert The offers a selection of documents, images, and audio from various iterations of Maryanne Amacher’s THE MINI SOUND SERIES as well as works leading to its development, all recently digitised by the Maryanne Amacher Archive. It will be an intensive knowledge-exchange opportunity for those interested in Amacher’s work and in methodologies of post-Cagean sonic art. Following the second day of the seminar, a public listening session of additional unpublished Amacher audio will be presented as a practical elaboration for seminar participants, and as an introductory overview for the general public.
Maryanne Amacher - ‘the best kept secret in American New Music’ (The Wire, 1999)Background For its festival in February 2017 Sonic Acts collaborates with the Maryanne Amacher Archive (US), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL), and Blank Forms (US) on a programme dedicated to the work of Maryanne Amacher (1938–2009). Amacher is best known for her groundbreaking acoustic art that staged entire buildings and offered listeners exciting new ways of hearing. Following studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Amacher’s development of otoacoustic-based music with the help of Marvin Minsky’s Triadex Muse, her seminal telematic City Links series, and her collaborations with John Cage and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, in the late 1970s and early 1980s Amacher sought out a format that would best allow visitors to navigate her large-scale sound works. This led to THE MINI SOUND SERIES, a ‘serialized musical continuity’. Writing about this format, Amacher noted, ‘I wanted the kind of engaging format television has developed [...], an evolving sound work “to be continued”, as distinguished from a continuous installation, or traditional concert genre.’ As these rigorously site-specific installations were almost impossible to document (the impact of the sound could not be captured by audio recordings on CD or LP), these key works have yet to be discovered by a wider audience. As Amacher’s work anticipated many concerns and interests of 21st century sound art, Sonic Acts and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam find a re-assessment and re-interpretation of her work of the utmost importance. The overall programme will consist of a two-day seminar and listening session in 2016 as an intensive introduction to Amacher’s work and ideas, a two-week rehearsal period in 2017 with artists who will work toward a re-interpretation of Amacher’s MINI SOUND SERIES, and immediately following the rehearsals, a series of performances at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Enrollment This masterclass is aimed at artists, curators, scientists, and cultural practitioners with an interest in sound art, experimental music, psychoacoustics and architectural acoustics, non-standard art presentation formats, time-based media, and non-linguistic semiotics. Dedicated novices and experts are welcome, no institutional affiliation is required. Please send a biography and a short statement outlining your motivation to participate to workshop[@]sonicacts[.]com. Deadline for applications is 21 November 2016. Participants must attend the full two-day programme. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. A detailed schedule and more information about how to prepare for the seminar (including unpublished documents by Amacher) will be sent to the selected participants. Fee Participants pay a €40 contribution. Lunches will be provided.
Maryanne Amacher (photo by Peggy Weil)Maryanne Amacher Maryanne Amacher was born in 1938 in Kane, Pennsylvania. She enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, where she studied with George Rochberg, and Karlheinz Stockhausen during his tenure in Philadelphia in 1964 and 1965. After her work at University of Pennsylvania, Amacher went on to hold a series of fellowships at the University of Illinois’ Studio for Experimental Music, MIT’s Center for Advance Visual Studies (CAVS), SUNY Buffalo, the Capp Street Project in San Francisco, and many others, also internationally. In the late 1960s, while at SUNY-Buffalo, Amacher pioneered what she called ‘long distance music’, or telematic, site-related works that would later crystallise into her renowned City Links series. During her time as a fellow at CAVS (1972–76) she began developing her ‘ear tone’ (otoacoustic-based) music with the help of Marvin Minsky’s Triadex Muse, a synthesizer and compositional tool utilising principles of artificial intelligence. While at MIT, her extensive listening research was also profoundly influenced by a continuous, four-year long, live feed from Boston Harbour to her studio via a dedicated phone line. After meeting John Cage through Lejaren Hiller at the University of Illinois in 1968, she went on to collaborate with Cage in the mid-1970s on Lecture on the Weather, and later created Close Up, the sound component of Cage’s Empty Words. Amacher’s Remainder was commissioned for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company piece Torse, and later the Charles Atlas film of the same name. In the late 1970s and early 1980s she developed presentational models for how her subsequent work should be staged: Music for Sound- Joined Rooms and the Mini Sound Series. Amacher also spent the early 1980s working on the material for a multi-part drama originally imagined for TV and radio simulcast called Intelligent Life. While never fully realised, Intelligent Life reveals much of her thinking on music and the advancement of potentialities for future listeners, transcending the social and physiological limitations of music as we know it. Her work in the 1990s continued largely internationally in Europe and Japan. In the US she was commissioned to compose a large-scale work for the Kronos Quartet, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, performed at Woodstock ’94, and released her first CD on Tzadik. In the 2000s, she participated in the Whitney Biennale, joined the faculty of Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, released a second CD on Tzadik, and continued to work internationally. In 2005 she received Ars Electronica’s Golden Nica, their highest award. She died in Kingston, NY after sustaining a head injury and a subsequent stroke during the summer of 2009.
Workshop by Joost Rekveld Sensory Augmentation and Obstruction As part of UNFOLD, organised by LIMA & Sonic Acts 29 November – 1 December 2016 in Amsterdam
Telc - The Vasulkas, 1974There is a long history of thinking about technology and media as extensions of the body. According to this view, a hammer is an extension of our hand, a car an extension of our feet, and a telescope an extension of our eyes. Science has developed instruments to access phenomena we cannot perceive, since they are too small, too large, too fast, too slow, or because they involve forms of energy which are beyond the scope of our senses.
This workshop will focus on our senses and investigate the artistic potential of augmenting and obstructing them.Joost Rekveld will introduce different schools of thought that deal with human perception, from ancient concepts of perception as a meeting of influences, to cognitive psychology and more recent ideas such as enactivism. Inspiration is taken from animal senses that, compared to human senses, have a range that is sometimes refined to the most basic imaginable. The workshop will provide examples of attempts to understand such non-human perspectives, as the sensory worlds of most animals are almost completely inaccessible to us. It will also consider research into the development of artificial eyes for blind people and think about cyborgs and the intimate relations between humans and technological devices. The group will examine projects by artists and designers who address, for example, the web of invisible relations within an urban environment, or reveal things we cannot normally perceive. A discussion about whether it is even possible to understand things humans have never perceived before will be part of the workshop as well. Using wearable devices, participants will experiment with the perception of our surroundings. Taking inspiration from two early video works by Steina and Woody Vasulka (Telc and Reminiscence, both from 1974), participants will translate the output of various types of sensors to real-time visuals. As a practical starting point Android phones in cardboard ‘virtual reality’ viewers will be used, with the possibility of extending the interference with other senses and devices. An important aspect of the workshop is the use by participants of their self-built devices during short field trips around the city, whereby they will become aware of one’s self-inflicted sensory modifications: How does modifying one’s sensory system affect interaction with one’s environment? Do we discover things we did not know before? A small reader with texts will be made available to participants. Large Android phones are welcome. There will be a very informal, semi-public presentation at the end of the workshop. Enrolment This workshop is aimed at art students and emerging artists, but is also open to people with different backgrounds and motivations. Up to 15 people can participate. To apply please send a short biography, a motivation why you would like to attend, why you are interested in research-through-practice, and your expectations to info[at]li-ma.nland workshop[at]sonicacts.com, with ‘application workshop Joost Rekveld’ in the subject line. The deadline for application is Monday 7 November 2016. Participants must attend the full programme. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. A detailed schedule, a small reader and more information about how to prepare for the workshop will be sent to the selected participants. Fee Participants pay a contribution of €30. Lunches will be provided. About Joost Rekveld Joost Rekveld (NL) is motivated by what we can learn from a dialogue with machines. In his work, he explores the sensory effects of systems of his own design, often inspired by forgotten corners in the history of science and technology. His films, installations and live performances are composed documentaries of the worlds opened by such systems. In their sensuality they are an attempt to reach an intimate and embodied understanding of our technological world. www.joostrekveld.net About UNFOLD UNFOLD is a new one-year research project conducted by LIMA and a collaborative, international research network that examines re-interpretation as emerging practice for the preservation of media artworks. UNFOLD researches processes of documentation and conservation of performance and post-net and digital art in relation to the live-ness of dance, theatre and music, which have ensured their survival and transmission through live performance. Bearing in mind that media and digital art share a number of characteristics with performance art, UNFOLD asks if we can develop new standards and techniques within media art preservation strategies by using reinterpretation to capture the hybrid, contextual and live qualities of an original piece, rather than proposing an ongoing process of changing platforms and operating systems. As part of UNFOLD, artist Joost Rekveld will re-interpret two works by The Vasulkas. Workshop by Joost Rekveld Sensory Augmentation and Obstruction As part of UNFOLD, organised by LIMA & Sonic Acts 29 November – 1 December 2016 in Amsterdam www.li-ma.nl
After summer Progress Bar is back with monthly shows at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam. The next episode on 19 November will include the future-facing experimental duo patten, based in London. They will present work from their new album with an incredible new live performance. Other artists performing that night are Sky H1, who performed at the Sonic Acts Academy earlier this year, Dedekind Cut, who just released his first album on NON Worldwide and Jam City, the artist alias of Jack Latham, producer, songwriter and musician from London, TTB from London, Kate Cooper and Progress Bar resident Juha.
Progress Bar S02E02 - Design by Michael OswellTickets on sale http://bit.ly/2dBa3Z5 DEDEKIND CUT (DJ) New York based experimental artist Fred Welton Warmsley iii (also known as Lee Bannon) is releasing new music under his new moniker Dedekind Cut (pronounced “Ded-da-kend Cut”). Dedekind Cut’s music draws out the dark calm of Coil, in the guise a modern approach to noise, new age and ambient music. Under various aliases, including Lee Bannon and Â¬ b (meaning “not Bannon”), Warmsley has released music on Ninja Tune and Hospital Productions, as well as Chino Amobi, Nkisi and Angel-Ho’s NON Worldwide label. Dedekind Cut’s music points to issues of race and community in the independent electronic-sphere. JAM CITY (LIVE) Jam City is the alias of British producer and DJ Jack Latham. Active since 2010, Jam City’s music takes cues from UK club culture while blurring lines between house, grime and art-pop. Debut album ‘Classical Curves’, released in 2012, received excellent critical reception for its glossy, alien-sounding club tropes, while 2015’s ‘Dream a Garden’, which was inspired by the 2011 England riots, continued to expand on Latham’s socio-political conscience. Jam City’s music engages with the effects of neoliberalism and the personal effects of living under capitalism. Latham has also produced music with others including American singer Kelela. JUHA (DJ) DJ and Viral Radio founder Juha plays internet dance music. Since 2014, Juha has been artistic director of Lighthouse in Brighton, uniting the worlds of culture and technology. In 2012, Juha won De Hallen Curatorial Scholarship for his proposal ‘DREAD - The Dizziness of Freedom’, resulting in an exhibition, festival and an accompanying book. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of internet music culture. KATE COOPER (TALK) Liverpool native Kate Cooper employs a visual language termed ‘hypercapitalism’ while addressing the politics of labour and digital imagery. Informed by feminism and an interest in labour and collaboration, Cooper posits the aesthetics of advertising, television, commercial photography and computer-generated imagery to question representations of femininity in an age of consumption and digital technology, as well as exploring alternative forms of labour-structures within art practices. Cooper is co-director of the artist-run collaborative Auto Italia South East (est. 2007) and was winner of the Ernst Schering Foundation Art Award 2014. PATTEN (live) patten is a future-facing experimental duo, known in underground circles for their live performances. They have toured widely with intense audiovisual shows. This autumn they released Ψ (Psi), their new album on Warp, melding ultra-modern deconstructed club music with post-punk industrial, multiple strains of pop & hi-tech electronics. For Progress Bar, they will present work from their new album with an incredible new live performance featuring hyper-programmed lasers, drum machine hardware, LEDs, heavy smoke, live vocals, strobing visuals, oceanic bass, & HD projections framing their famed tripped out stage presence. SKY H1 (live) The music of Belgian producer SKY H1 is the result of myriad influences and cultures colliding. Drawing upon everything from R&B and instrumental grime to ambient and electronica, her music is both brutal and sublime in equal measure. Having made her debut on the Berlin label Creamcake in 2015, SKY H1 signed to Codes in 2016. Her debut ‘Motion’ EP has been a critical success, fusing ambient and grime into moving productions based on renouncing personal turmoil and stepping into something new. SKY H1 has also collaborated with emergent London collective Bala Club and previously performed at Sonic Acts TTB (DJ) London DJ and NTS resident TTB (otherwise known as Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura) presents a monthly radio show of dreamlike dance music, with a focus on new offerings and weird invocations. Her shows have evolved from label showcases featuring the likes of Principe and 1080p to personal revelations of her obsession with colour and pattern in a haphazard listening experience. Whatever the genre, TTB’s favourite kind of club music makes clever use of silence and texture. For Progress Bar, TTB brings her eclectic blend of club callings; expect to hear anything from Terry Riley and Mica Levi to Progress Bar alumni like Yves Tumor and Endgame. Progress Bar S02E02 Date: Saturday 19 November 2016 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Ticket sale starts Saturday 8 October €10,00 presale / €12,50 at the door (card only) - http://bit.ly/2dBa3Z5 Free entrance before 21:00 HRS Free for Subbacultcha! members until midnight. Become a member: http://bit.ly/subbajoin Attend on Facebook
After thirty years, the internationally renowned conference on computer music ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) is returning to the Netherlands. The conference is organised by Gaudeamus Muziekweek and HKU Music and Technology, and will be held in Utrecht from 12 to 16 September. On Tuesday September 13 ICMC invites Thomas Ankersmit & Tarik Barri for a special performance of 'Homage to Dick Raaijmakers' and 'Versum' at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. For this electronic music performance, sound artist and composer Thomas Ankersmit delves into the ideas and instruments of a Dutch titan of electronic music, Dick Raaijmakers (1930–2013). Ankersmit’s homage was commissioned for this edition of Sonic Acts Academy 2016 and premiered during the opening night at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. As a work of contemporary music in its own right, Ankersmit’s homage re-evaluates Raaijmakers’ concepts of sound, composition and spatial experience in a technologically more advanced era. Ankersmit mainly uses similar means as Raaijmakers: tone and noise generators, modulators, filters, mixers, amplifiers and speakers. However, instead of Raaijmakers’ usual method of editing with magnetic tape, Ankersmit uses computer software. Tarik Barri is an audiovisual composer based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Reflecting his interests in programming, drawing and composing into a coherent multimedial discipline, he developed and uses software that merges audio and visuals into a new audiovisual reality. Together with Monolake, Tarik Barri was part of Sonic Acts XIII: The Poetics of Space and took place in 2010. Tonight Barri will presents his solo multimedia work Versum. More information and tickets Homage to Dick Raaijmakers is commissioned by Sonic Acts Academy 2016. It will go on tour in the Netherlands and Belgium. September 13 - International Computer Music Conference, Utrecht, Netherlands - solo, Homage to Dick Raaijmakers November 11 - November Music, Den Bosch, Netherlands - solo, Homage to Dick Raaijmakers November 12 - Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium - solo, Homage to Dick Raaijmakers
Into The Great Wide Open 2016, the annual festival on the island of Vlieland, invited Rotterdam-based artist Joris Strijbos to present his kinetic sound-and-light installation IsoScope, commissioned by Sonic Acts for Dark Ecology. The festival starts tomorrow (1-7 September). IsoScope consists of multiple robotic wind objects that interact with each other and with the landscape to perform a generative composition manifesting itself through emergent behaviour. Strijbos wanted to create an outdoor man-made phenomenon – an abstract sound-and-light entity – which, like most natural phenomena, can only be experienced under specific weather conditions. The work can be seen as a proposition for a new kind of machinic and artificial life. Though Strijbos spent a lot of time on the technical and functional development of the work, IsoScope is foremost a sensorial experience in which the audience can wander through the rotating lights and a constantly changing sonic cloud. More information about IsoScope Into The Great Wide Open
After a summer break Progress Bar returns to Amsterdam on October 15th with special talks, live performances and DJ-sets. You can expect futuristic club music performed live by Amnesia Scanner (new AV show), pop and ambient experimentalism by Bordeaux-based, Angola-raised artist Malibu and DJ sets by Staycore producers Toxe, young computer artist ALX9696 and Mechatok and resident Juha. Spatial design by Marco Broeders (Co2RO). There will be talks by Michael Oswell (art director and graphic designer), Toxe, Alx9696 and Mechatok (Staycore) and a lecture by Ash Sarkar about Brexit, the borders crisis, and Trump vs Clinton.
Looking back on the first four editions of Progress Bar in Amsterdam which took place at Paradiso Noord / Tolhuistuin between January and June of this year, resident interviewer Jo Kali recounts her experiences and positions these nights, which are characterised by the combination of talks and performances, within the contemporary (cultural) landscape. The packed Line-up included the likes of Abyss X, Aimee Cliff, Brood Ma, Crystallmess, Elysia Crampton, Endgame, False Witness, Fis, GAIKA, ITAL TEK, Juha, Kamixlo, King Midas Sound, Lafawndah, Ling, Nidia Minaj, Nkisi, PYUR, Sami Baha, Young Echo & Yves Tumor.
Elysia Crampton, Progress Bar 4. Photo by Pieter Kers
Marco Gomez interviewed by Stephen Wharton, Progress Bar 4. Photo by Pieter Kers
Nkisi, Progress Bar 3. Photo by Pieter Kers
GAIKA, Progress Bar 3. Photo by Pieter Kers
Lafawndah, Progress Bar 2. Photo by Pieter Kers
Abyss X, Progress Bar 4. Photo by Pieter Kers
Nidia Minaj, Progress Bar 4. Photo by Pieter Kers
Ling, Progress Bar 3. Photo by Pieter Kers
Sami Baha, Progress Bar 4. Photo by Pieter Kers
ITAL TEK, Progress Bar 2. Photo by Pieter Kers
King Midas Sound, Progress Bar 1. Photo by Pieter Kers
Nidia Minaj, Progress Bar 4. Photo by Pieter Kers
Nkisi interviewed by Juha van 't Zelfde. Photo by Pieter Kers
Crystallmess, Progress Bar 3. Photo by Pieter Kers
Yves Tumor, Progress Bar 4. Photo by Pieter Kers
GAIKA, Progress Bar 3. Photo by Pieter Kers
by Arie Altena Here are some initial impressions of the third Dark Ecology Journey, mostly written on the spot by Arie Altena, one of the curators of the project. The text is quite rough and at times personal, more diary-style than factual reporting.
I’m particularly keen about walking in the hills around Nikel, and visiting the ruins of the Kola Superdeep, which I’ve written about, but never seen with my own eyes.
Here in the Pasvik Valley, there is no visible sign of pollution or industry, just nature everywhere.
Every time I hear him speak, there are things that I don’t get. But there are sentences that stay in your mind, like lines from a poem.
So many Russians come to see and hear Justin’s work that we run out of iPods with the Russian version.
Again, the whole experience is well designed: walking uphill in a scattered group of about 100 people, many of whom are listening to the podcast, to look at the sculpture and enjoy the landscape.
The theme of the Q&A is very much ‘how to live together’, humans and non-humans. And maybe that’s the direction we should head towards with our Dark Ecology project.
On Thursday June 9 the journey started with a lecture by Heather Davis on plastic geologies, followed by a programme of curated walks which explore different aspects of the Pasvik Valley: the pollution, the river, the brown bears, the archaeology, and the insect life. In the evening ::vtol:: presented his new installation Лесофон / Lesophon. Together with Fridaymilk we will publish a series of video diaries about Dark Ecology, including interviews with the artists and about the journey itself. All videos will be published on this website and at www.fridaymilk.com. Produced by Fridaymilk Concept and idea by Sonic Acts and Hilde Methi Music by Noya View all video diaries here
RESEARCH SERIES #25 Compiled by Arie Altena Nikel is a small Russian mining city near the border with Norway. It was founded in the 1930s after enormous quantities of nickel were found nearby. At the time the area was Finnish. An infrastructure for mining the nickel was built in the 1930s with help from Canadian companies. Mining operations began in 1940. In 1944 Nikel became part of the Soviet Union after the Red Army defeated Finland. Nowadays slightly more than 12,000 people live in Nikel. The Norilsk Nickel smelter dominates the city. It was responsible for wide-scale pollution in the 1980s that destroyed much the surrounding nature. Since then pollution levels are lower, though walking through Nikel when a Northern wind is blowing often leaves the taste the sulphur. On a first visit, Nikel – with its blocks of flats, vacant buildings, heavy industry, the smelter and the boiler house – looks like the perfect location for a post-apocalyptic film. But looking closer reveals many different, warmer and humane aspects as well. We have visited Nikel numerous times with the Dark Ecology project, and have grown fond of it. Two years ago we met the Russian architect Tatjana Gorbachewskaja in Amsterdam. She was born and raised in Nikel. Meeting her led to a Dark Ecology commission: the research project Nikel Materiality. In Nikel Materiality Tatjana Gorbachewskaja and Katya Larina – a Russian specialist on Soviet closed cities – meticulously investigate the materials and textures of Nikel. More precisely Nikel Materiality explores Nikel through the lens of its materials and textures. They developed a model which captures the interaction between the architecture of Nikel, the historical development, and the harsh environment – the Arctic climate. In Soviet times Nikel was a planned mono-industrial city. The infrastructures – both material (heating for instance) and immaterial (higher wages, longer holidays, good facilities) – were well cared for. It was a city protected by an invisible ‘dome’. The planning hardly took the environmental consequences into account. Gorbachewskaja and Larina argue in their research that Nikel became a prime example of a city that is alienated from its natural environment. They describe Nikel as ‘a city in a bubble, protected by and therefore isolated by top-down state control for many years. This Nikel is a structure which can be artificially and technologically reproduced anywhere, it’s a place which denies its environment and is no longer related to its geological or climate context’. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Nikel was very much left to its own devices, and the urban structures, now poorly maintained, interacted with the environment. Through this interaction new textures and materials became part of the city. During the second Dark Ecology Journey Tatjana Gorbachewskaja and Katya Larina presented their initial research and guided groups of people through the city, pointing out many interesting aspects in the architecture and urban structure. A booklet catalogued the materials and described the analytical model they developed. They consider the artefacts they collected as objects from a cabinet of curiosities, as samples of a unique ecology which emerged under the ‘protective dome’ and were transformed when the ‘dome’ 'collapsed. They classified about 2000 artefacts using the ecological theory of John T. Lyle, which he proposed in his book Design for Human Ecosystems. The artefacts and material samples are grouped according to four themes: The Slag, Self-Organising Boundaries, Energy Infrastructures, and Historical Clash. The Slag is a new material, a copper-nickel dust, a by-product of smelting nickel ore. It’s everywhere in Nikel. Self-Organising Boundaries is a group of artefacts that illustrates the boundaries of a ‘competing patterns of existing ecosystems’ within Nikel’s ecology. Under Energy Infrastructures they collected all the artefacts related to the life support mechanisms of Nikel. Historical Clash contains the artefacts related to Nikel’s history: the city was shaped by successive ideological paradigms of Soviet and the Post-Soviet times. This includes five periods: the Finnish Era of the city’s development (1930s), the post World War II Stalin Era, the Khrushchev Era, the Brezhnev Era and the Post-Soviet Era. Each of these periods can be identified in the city. But, they argue, these historical epochs do not exist separately in different city districts, as in most Russian cities. Nikel’s architecture incorporates structures and experiences from previous periods, thus creating ‘a sort of bizarre overlay of the historical layers, where in one building we can see the imprint of different epochs’. Through the catalogue of artefacts they presented Nikel as a ‘material system’, or as they state, as ‘a multi-scalar expression of the new materials which appeared and evolved in the city fabric.’ The research is now available on the Dark Ecology website, which contains their analytical model, a catalogue and an interactive map. Series of photos trace how different materials emerged in Nikel. On a micro scale these show the physical properties of the materials, and on a macro scale they indicate the socioeconomic processes in the city as well as environmental processes of the region. Through the exploration of the ‘materiality’ of Nickel, Gorbachewskaja and Larina reveal the emergent symbiosis in Nikel of the natural environment and alien materials brought in through human activity. Nikel definitely is an example of an extreme Anthropocene landscape. The latest Dark Ecology book Living Earth (2016) includes an interview by Mirna Belina with Tatjana Gorbachewskaja and Katya Larina about their research. Here is an excerpt from their conversation. Mirna Belina So we could see this city as a living system? Katya Larina Nikel was initially set up as a very artificial system, controlled top down by the state. But in time it started behaving and expressing itself as a real living organism. All of its components, including the materials from which it is built, are changing and evolving to adapt to the transforming conditions. All materials behave dynamically in Nikel. They degrade faster than elsewhere. Nature is quite aggressive. It’s all about the energy the city shares with nature and for which it competes with nature. Tatjana Gorbachewskaja This city is slowly opening up to its environment. And this process is a self-organising process. No one controls it! MB What about the pollution from the smelter? TG The main ecological damage happened in the 1980s, when the company started smelting a non-local material, the nickel ore imported from Norilsk (the mining city further to the East in Russia), with a high concentration of sulphur dioxide. It killed almost all the vegetation around the city within just a couple of years. Another cause of major damage was the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. That had an even worse impact on Nikel. The city lost its source of social security and its future perspective. People started leaving the city. It’s still possible to trace the scars of these processes in the material tissue of Nikel. It’s a city fighting to survive. Nature is slowly recovering because the company now mostly processes local ore. The city is also starting to take on its proper size. So it is stabilising. Let’s hope! MB You said in your lecture in Nikel during the second Dark Ecology Journey that one of the most interesting parts of your research was the perception of the city as an infrastructural element. Could you elaborate on that? KL Infrastructures create comfortable spaces for people. An example is the heating infrastructure. Nikel needs such a comprehensive life-support infrastructure because it’s located in such a hostile environment. It was supported by an infrastructure for a long time but at some point in the 1990s, when it stopped functioning properly and had to interact with nature, it began falling apart, it transformed, and developed another life. In other cities these life-support infrastructures are not visible, they are hidden below the surface, but here their presence above the surface emphasises the city’s artificiality. TG In the Arctic, the most important thing is the artificial energy network. Nikel’s energy infrastructure requires very high maintenance; it is a high resource-consuming component of the city. For example, in Soviet times, buildings were regularly painted in bright colours so that the residents did not suffer from colour starvation. Now, because of the low maintenance financing and the harsh climatic conditions, all the layers of paint on the façades have cracked to expose the surface beneath them. Also, heating pipes are not underground in Nikel, they are built above the ground because of the permafrost. It’s like an exposed artificial organism. You see the flow, the veins. That’s how we set up our map of Nikel—we tried to show the infrastructure veins of the city. MB Did you present your insights about Nikel to locals? KL Yes, we had a presentation in Nikel for the local people. For us, the process of the environmental degradation indicates an evolutionary process of the city’s artificial system, revealing its qualities. For inhabitants, it’s mostly a personal tragedy. We were worried that we would be misunderstood, but surprisingly, we had quite a positive response. TG A teacher from the art school pointed out one more important energy resource in Nikel, another important resource of Nikel materiality: the people. And that is true: they really are the driving force of the city. Tatjana Gorbachewskaja (RU) is an architect and urbanist who grew up in Nikel, Russia. Before starting her own praxis in 2014, Gorbachewskaja worked as architect and leading designer at UNStudio in Amsterdam, under Van Berkel & Bos. She is currently a lecturer and PhD candidate at the Design School in Offenbach, Germany. Katya Larina (RU) is an architect and urban designer who received her MA in Landscape Urbanism from the Architectural Association, London. She is co-founder of the research and education project U:Lab.spb, which develops tools that are used in the fields of design and analytics of critical urban environments in Russian cities. U:Lab.spb focuses on socioeconomic strategies in combination with knowledge from urban planning and ecology to foster the redevelopment of Russian industrial cities and knowledge centres.
Living Earth - Field Notes from the Dark Ecology Project 2014 - 2016 Price: 19,50 EUR Order here Living Earth is a new book filled with ideas, conversations, lectures, and documentation relating to commissioned installations, soundwalks, concerts and performances made for and during the Dark Ecology project. This three-year project, a collaboration between Sonic Acts and the Norwegian curator Hilde Methi, was held from 2014 to 2016 in different places in Norway and Russia and included three curated ‘Journeys’. Living Earth is a recreation of these research trips to the Barents Region, from Kirkenes and Svanvik in Norway to Nikel, Zapolyarny and Murmansk in Russia. The project was inspired by Timothy Morton’s concept of ‘dark ecology’ and his philosophy of ‘ecology without Nature’. Morton offers a radical criticism of the modernist way of thinking about nature as something outside of us, and instead proposes an interconnected ‘mesh’ of all living and non-living objects. He ruminates on this idea in his essay for Living Earth entitled ‘What Is Dark Ecology’, stating at the outset that ecological awareness is ‘weird weirdness’.
"Dark ecology is about how we get to exit from toxic modernity. It’s been very moving for me to watch the Sonic Acts artists working with a concept I’ve been shaping for a while. They have explored the Arctic realm with the greatest aesthetic skill, a skill that by no means excludes the political." – Timothy MortonLiving Earth is a 256-page trip with artists, thinkers, curators and other Dark Ecology participants into the dark space of rethinking nature and art, and it also contributes to the contemporary Anthropocene debate. The motivations behind the project and its impact are discussed in the interview with the curatorial team titled ‘Outside the Comfort Zone’, which opens the book. Besides Timothy Morton’s long essay the book contains contributions by Susan Schuppli (‘Dirty Pictures’), and Berit Kristofferson (‘The Workable Arctic of Ice and Oil’), which examine the consequences of the Anthropocene. There is an interview with Heather Davis (‘Queer Kinship’), and in her essay about Margrethe Pettersen’s soundwalk (Living Land – Below as Above), Britt Kramvig builds on the notion of ‘anthropo-not-seen’. Tatjana Gorbachewskaja and Katya Larina discuss their research into the interaction between the Arctic environment and the architecture of the Russian mining town Nikel (‘Nikel – The City as a Material’). Graham Harman embarks on an interesting rethinking of Jakob von Uexküll’s influential book A Foray Into the World of Animals and Humans and its notion of environment (‘Magic Uexküll’).
“What an amazing journey it was, through the Arctic regions of Norway and Russia! Now everyone can live or relive it through this feast of a collection.” – Graham HarmanLiving Earth is a catalogue too, as it documents and presents in different formats the commissioned works created for Dark Ecology. There are works by HC Gilje (Barents – Mare Incognitum; The Crossing; Mikro with Justin Bennett), Joris Strijbos (‘Machine Synaesthetics’, an interview about his work IsoScope), Espen Sommer Eide (Material Vision – Silent Reading; ‘A Vertical Perspective’ – a text about his collaboration with Signe Lidén on Altitude and History). Some artists were already presented in more depth in a previous Sonic Acts book, The Geologic Imagination (2015), but are present in Living Earth as well: Raviv Ganchrow (Long Wave Synthesis), Karl Lemieux and BJ Nilsen (unearthed), Marijn de Jong (with a photo essay Grey Zone) and Femke Herregraven (Staring into the Ice). Other interesting commissions and chapters in Living Earth include: Signe Lidén (krysning/пересечение/conflux), Justin Bennett (Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi: Wolf Lake on the Mountains), Hilary Jeffery (Murmansk Spaceport), Cecilia Jonsson (Prospecting: a Geological Survey of Greys), Lucy Railton and Russell Haswell (Unknown) and the Secret Chambers I and II, two nights of live performances curated by Anya Kuts and Ivan Zoloto.
“Participating in the Dark Ecology journey was an extraordinary opportunity to witness the dark matters of environmental change firsthand through direct contact with the landscapes in which we travelled. This book reflects upon these encounters, entangling our proximate and local experiences with the global processes of accelerated climate change.” – Susan SchuppliAs a catalogue of texts and visual essays from the Dark Ecology project, Living Earth not only engages in a vibrant conversation with the previous Sonic Acts book The Geologic Imagination, but is also an introduction to the ongoing contemporary debates about the nature, ecology, art and ‘mesh’ that we live in. The third edition of the art, research and commissioning project Dark Ecology will take place between 8 and 12 June 2016 in the border zone between Norway and Russia, with events scheduled in the Pasvik Valley and Kirkenes (NO) as well as in the surroundings of Nikel (RU). Over the course of five days, a group of more than 50 artists, researchers, curators, writers and organisers, will travel from Northern Norway to North West Russia. While the previous Journey took place in the dark winter season, the third one will take place during the Arctic summer, with sunlight for most of the day and night. Living Earth - Field Notes from the Dark Ecology Project 2014 - 2016 Price: 19,50 EUR Order here
We've teamed up with Subbacultcha! and invited Bristol’s Young Echo collective to join Progress Bar on June 4! Currently made up of 11 young producers, vocalists and sonic provocateurs, Young Echo houses a number of aliases which venture between and beyond their roots of dub, bass, drone, grime and techno. We’re excited to be welcoming Ossia as well as Ishan Sound who’s been offering some of the finest dub influenced productions in recent years. Also set to join them from the collective will be Jabu, El Kid, Chester Giles, Amos, Manonmars and Rider Shafique. The night will will start with a series of lively talks with a selection of the artists performing, giving us insight into they creative process, before taking to the main hall for the big night. Line up: Elysia Crampton, Young Echo, Nidia Minaj, Sami Baha, False Witness, Yves Tumor, Kareem Lotfy and Juha. More artists means more hours – the night goes on until early next morning smile-emoticon Get your tickets for only 7,50 http://bit.ly/1NlcQVp More information
The third edition of the art, research and commissioning project Dark Ecology will take place between 8 and 12 June 2016 in the border zone between Norway and Russia, with events scheduled in the Pasvik Valley and Kirkenes (NO) as well as in the surroundings of Nikel (RU). Over the course of five days, a group of more than 50 artists, researchers, curators, writers and organisers, will travel from Northern Norway to North West Russia. While the previous Journey took place in the dark winter season, the third one will take place during the Arctic summer, with sunlight for most of the day and night. Researcher, writer, and editor Heather Davis starts this Journey with a keynote presentation. For Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi: Wolf Lake on the Mountains, Justin Bennett will take participants on a soundwalk exploring the area around the Kola Superdeep Borehole. Espen Sommer Eide and Signe Lidén will take participants on Altitude and History, a 3-hour evening trek in the mountains above Nikel, where they will investigate the acoustic phenomena in relation to the topography of the area while relating them to the local history. ::vtol:: a.k.a. Dmitry Morozov will be undertaking a residency in April in the Pasvik Valley to create a new audiovisual installation, and Dutch artist Nickel van Duijvenboden will conduct a performative reading. Cecilia Jonsson has been doing intensive research in the Kirkenes area to explore suitable drilling sites and is preparing an installation created by drilling deep into the Earth’s crust. Prospecting: A Geological Survey of Greys is an interdisciplinary, site-specific art project that appropriates the scientific geological methods of extracting, analysing and categorising mineral specimens. Mikro is a series of improvised collaborative performances between HC Gilje (video) and Justin Bennett (sound) that draws its raw material from the immediate surroundings. On the last day of the Dark Ecology Journey, Bennett and Gilje will perform the latest version of Mikro using material gathered over the course of the Journey. More about the upcoming Dark Ecology Journey programme will be announces on this website and via the newsletter.
The fouth edition of Progress Bar takes place on Saturday June 4 at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin. Confirmed artists are Elysia Crampton, Young Echo, Nidia Minaj, Sami Baha, False Witness, Yves Tumor, Kareem Lotfy and Juha. Progress Bar is a new collaboration between Sonic Acts and Lighthouse. This event presents a lively mix of talks, screenings, live performances and a club night, all in one. Providing insight into the creative practice of contemporary culture's most exciting names, from vanguard music producers and filmmakers to trending artists and activists. Light Design by Marco Broeders (Co2RO). Attend on Facebook / Buy Ticket 7,50 EUR Elysia Crampton Elysia Crampton is a Bolivian-American producer, sound artist and conceptual collagist who performs and speaks around the world. Elysia’s music is an ambitious confluence of ideas, synthesising multiple underrepresented histories, geographies, musical genres and cultural signifiers into addictively colourful sonic material that packs contemporaneous dancefloor weight. Following last year’s American Drift EP on Blueberry Records, her newest work, Elysia Crampton presents: Demon City arrives on Break World this summer: a concept album that works as an epic poem with guest appearances from Chino Amobi, Why Be, Rabit and Lexxi, Demon City will be accompanied by a live performance entitled Dissolution of The Sovereign: A Time Slide Into The Future, an audio-visual play that unfolds as a DJ production and live performance, bridging Aymara oral history tradition/theater legacy with Elysia’s own trans-femme abolitionist grasp of futurity. https://soundcloud.com/eande Young Echo Currently made up of 11 young producers, vocalists and sonic provocateurs, Young Echo houses a number of aliases which venture between and beyond their roots of dub, bass, drone, grime and techno. We’re excited to be welcoming Ossia as well as Ishan Sound who’s been offering some of the finest dub influenced productions in recent years. Also set to join them from the collective will be Jabu, El Kid, Chester Giles, Amos, Manonmars and Rider Shafique. http://youngecho.co.uk/ Nidia Minaj Nidia Minaj is a 19 year-old DJ based in Bordeaux, France, and one of very few female Kuduro producers. Her music is inspired by the Portugese speaking heritage of her Cape Verdean and Guinea Bissauan parents and by the ghetto of Vale de Amoreira, Portugal, where she spent most of her childhood. Prior to her solo career, Nidia was part of Kaninas Squad, an all-girl teenage Kuduro group. Her debut EP for Príncipe, Danger, was described by The Quietus as "dazzling in all senses, a trance-inducing tangle of boxy drums, vivid swirls of synthetic melody and buzzsaw grime bass, all corralled into tracks that feel less like functional dancefloor units and more like short, sharp shocks of adrenaline." Her first LP is in the works to come out on Lisbon's hottest independent label Príncipe later in 2016. https://soundcloud.com/nidia-minaj Sami Baha A Turkish beatmaker inspired by Dirty South hip-hop producers like DJ Screw, Sami Baha crafts slow, moody tracks with miles-deep bass and explosive samples. Baha was born in Istanbul, and his music is heavily informed by the popular Turkish music (or arabesk) that he grew up with, even if it more closely resembles a spaced-out instrumental take on southern rap. After receiving attention from experimental grime producers like Why Be and M.E.S.H., he moved to london in 2015. His debut EP Mavericks was issued by Planet Mu in April of 2016. https://soundcloud.com/samibaha False Witness Affiliated with record labels and illustrious events like GHE20 G0TH1K, Bastard Brigade, and Lit City Trax, False Witness is an emerging fixture of New York City’s nightlife scene and an original founding member of the American artist collective, KUNQ. False Witness is also a multidisciplinary artist whose practice involves sound design, sound collage, and digital multimedia installation. As a DJ, False Witness combines the bombastic energy of urban Caribbean music with the uplifting or disorientating elements of American & European regional club music. https://soundcloud.com/falsewitness Yves Tumor Yves Tumor (NON, PAN) is the solo moniker of Shan Ti, the enigmatic multi-instrumentalist and producer based in Northern Italy. Sonically, their body of work (including aliases Silkbless, Bekelé Berhanu) has been described variously as anxious, shimmering dreams to nightmarish, ambient hopelessness. https://soundcloud.com/yvestumor Kareem Lotfy Kareem Lotfy is an artist and musician, born in cairo egypt, now based in amsterdam. His album Dirty Zeyda has been released on the 100copies label. He has been making beats with Fruity Loops since 2000. https://soundcloud.com/kareemlotfy Juha DJ and Viral Radio founder Juha plays Internet dance music and is resident DJ for Progress Bar. As artistic director of Lighthouse in Brighton since 2014, he unites the worlds of culture and technology. In 2012, Juha won De Hallen Curatorial Scholarship for his proposal DREAD - The Dizziness of Freedom. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of Internet music culture. https://soundcloud.com/viralradio Light Design by Marco Broeders (Co2RO). Progress Bar #4 Date: Saturday 4 June 2016 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Amsterdam Times: 23:00–05:00 (doors open 20:00) Tickets: €7,50 presale. Purchase via Ticketmaster or at the door €10,- (card only) Attend on Facebook
If you missed the Sonic Acts Academy, or would like to refresh your memory, you are in luck. Many lectures and performances have been documented and Sonic Acts will be publishing a lot of material over the course of the coming months assembling videos that touch on related subjects into albums. The second of these albums is titled Research through Practice, and touches on a cornerstone of the Academy which aimed to highlight artistic engagement as vital to understanding the complexities of our contemporary world. Over the course of three days, artists presented works that challenge the sterile dichotomy of theory versus practice. On Saturday 27 February and Sunday 28 February, a selection of artists explained the ways in which they conduct research through practice. Included in the album are presentations by by Ana Vaz, Ewa Justka, Anton Kats and Louis Henderson who each do just this.Critical Writing blog Critical Writing blog. For the entire Sonic Acts Academy 2016: Research through Practice Vimeo Album click here.
We're excited to announce that Abyss X will join this Saturday's Progress Bar line-up! It will be the first time the LA-based artist, who is known for her raw, savage sound, performs in the Netherlands. Others performing on the night are Nkisi, GAIKA, Crystallmess, Ling, Yon Eta and Juha. Buy your tickets here. Find more information about the event and the artists on Facebook.
Sonic Acts has two vacancies for a Production Intern and an Online Communication Intern, starting from September 2016. We are looking for people with an affinity with Sonic Acts and its activities, who have a proactive and flexible personality and who are fluent in Dutch and English. We are a small, dedicated team, working from Paradiso in Amsterdam. You can find more information (in Dutch) here: Production Intern and Online Communication Intern. Are you interested or do you know someone who might be? The closing date for applications is 1 June 2016. Please help us spread the word!
#Additivism Workshop, Sonic Acts Academy 2016. Photo by Pieter Kers
Sonic Acts is very pleased to announce that Vertical Cinema will make its German debut as part of the upcoming edition of GEGENkino with a screening at the Paul Gerhardt Church in Leipzig on 28 April. Commissioned, curated and produced by Sonic Acts, Vertical Cinema was premiered at the end of 2013 and has since traveled the world. Vertical Cinema tips the all-too-familiar cinemascope screen on its side, creating a vertical monolith on which ten commissioned works on 35 mm film are screened. These works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and artists consist of abstract imagery, formal experiments, found footage and live laser action, accompanied by immersive soundscapes. The featured works are by Tina Frank (AT), Björn Kämmerer (DE/AT), Manuel Knapp (AT), Johann Lurf (AT), Joost Rekveld (NL), Rosa Menkman (NL), Billy Roisz (AT) & Dieter Kovačič (AT), Makino Takashi (JP) & Telcosystems (NL), Esther Urlus (NL), Martijn van Boven (NL) & Gert-Jan Prins (NL). The simple act of turning a screen 90 degrees creates alternative experiences and poses interesting artistic challenges that are highly suitable for GEGENkino and especially this year’s theme: Space. The festival strives to challenge the conventions of cinema, explore what else is possible and move beyond boundaries. Space often goes unnoticed and is often taken as a given, but is in fact full of meaning. GEGENkino departs from conventional cinema spaces and illuminates other venues with the projected image. Vertical Cinema filmmaker Johann Lurf will attend the screening and give an introductory talk about Vertical Cinema and his Vertical Cinema work Pyramid Flare. »Johann Lurf (AT) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and the Slade School of Art in London, graduating from Harun Farocki’s film class. His films Vertigo Rush (2007), 12 Explosionen (2008), Kreis Wr.Neustadt/A to A (2011), to name but a few, have been screened and won awards at numerous international film festivals. For more information about the screening click here, tickets and the full GEGENkino programme, visit the festival website. Visit www.verticalcinema.org for more information about Vertical Cinema.
If you missed (parts of) the Sonic Acts Academy conference or would like to refresh your memory, keep an eye on the Sonic Acts Vimeo channel. We will be publishing recordings of lectures, performances and interviews in the upcoming months. Videos will be published in thematically linked albums, offering in-depth exploration of the subjects covered during the Academy. The first of these albums is titled 'Plastic Futures'. On Sunday, 28 February, Sonic Acts Academy welcomed its visitors to the ‘Plastic Futures Block’. Plastic has become the anthropogenic substrate not only for a whole new ecology of viruses and bacteria, termed the plastisphere, but also for a new aesthetic regime, the capitalist economy, and for unfathomable changes to the geological conditions of the Earth. Theorist Heather Davis started the block stating that while the forecasts are certainly horrific, we should not avoid thinking about these toxic and infertile futures, but instead embrace the nonfilial progeny that plastic, and the plastisphere, might produce. Davis also elaborated on what queer theory, disability studies, and theoretical approaches to the notion of toxicity might teach us.Vimeo Album Related writings Hannah Klaubert, a participant of the Critical Writing Workshop, which ran in tandem with the Academy, reflects on Davis’ talk on the Critical Writing Blog. During Sonic Acts Academy, Nastassja Simensky interviewed Morehshin Allahyari about her Material Speculation project. Read her text ‘Decolonialising The Archive’ here. Nastassja Simensky posted: Between the Empirical and the Poetic: Katrina Burch on the Critical Writing Blog. Read the article here.
On Saturday 23 April the third edition of Progress Bar takes place at Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, with live performances and DJ sets by Nkisi, GAIKA, Crystallmess, Ling, Yon Eta, Juha and, the latest addition to the line-up, Abyss X. Progress Bar is a new collaboration between Sonic Acts, Lighthouse and Viral Radio. Described as a ‘forward-thinking arts festival’ by FACT Magazine, the event presents a lively mix of talks, live performances and DJ sets. From vanguard producers and filmmakers to trending artists and designers, Progress Bar provides insights into the creative practice of contemporary culture's most exciting names. For the first two editions Progress Bar invited highly acclaimed acts like King Midas Sound, Lafawndah and Ital Tek and new talents such as Endgame, Lexxi, Kamixlo, Fis and Pyur. For this edition, Progress Bar features live performances and DJ sets by Nkisi, GAIKA, Crystallmess, Ling and Yon Eta. They will be joined by Progress Bar resident Juha. There will also be a talks with Nkisi and GAIKA. Light design by Marco Broeders. Nkisi Nkisi is the alias of Melika Ngombe Kolongo, an artist raised in Belgium and now living in London. She's a producer, DJ and co-founder of NON Records, a collective of African artists and of the diaspora, using sound as their primary media, to articulate the visible and invisible structures that create binaries in society, and in turn distribute power. GAIKA Beatmaker, MC and artist Gaika was born and raised in Brixton. His singular, confrontational performance style reflects influences such as Basquiat, Tricky and The Weeknd. Chrystallmess “As a Paris born and raised writer, Christelle Oyiri regularly delves into fertile subcultures and corners of the past. But when she gets behind the decks as Crystallmess, she plays a combination of west african rhythms, bass music, french house music and french carribean dancehall/soca reshaping what french club music means beyond its colonial definition." (S.Renaldo) Abyss X Greek-born LA-based producer, singer and multi-disciplinary artist Abyss X released her debut EP "Echoes" on Extasis Records, Mexico City's label founded by NAAFI's member LAO. She is currently in the process of launching S H ❌ M E which has manifested itself as a platform for radio shows, events and hopefully, in the future as a label of raw sounding material. Her live shows are of raw and agressieve nature, described by some as "savage". Yon Eta Yon Eta has a maximalist approach regarding sound while consciously striving to limit the options in the production process of his music. This Amsterdam-based composer and DJ runs the DEVORM imprint, offering artists the opportunity to challenge their musical ideas. In recent years he has released audiovisual works in collaboration with FOAM, EYE Film Institute and Freeform Festival. Yon Eta has won major awards at De Grote Prijs van Nederland (2010) and the Berlin Music Video Awards (2013). Juha DJ and Viral Radio founder Juha plays Internet dance music. The artistic director of Lighthouse in Brighton since 2014, he unites the worlds of culture and technology. In 2012, Juha won De Hallen Curatorial Scholarship for his proposal DREAD - The Dizziness of Freedom. As of 2016, Juha presents Viral Radio on ResonanceEXTRA, a monthly two-hour programme following new developments deep down the rabbit hole of Internet music culture. Light design by Marco Broeders (Co2RO) Event Details Progress Bar ft. Nkisi, GAIKA, Crystallmess, Ling and Juha Date: 23 April 2016 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, IJpromenade 2, 1031 KT Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €12,50. Purchase via Ticketmaster or at the door (card only)
On 26 March, the second edition of Progress Bar, a new collaboration between Sonic Acts, Lighthouse and Viral Radio takes place at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam. Described as ‘cutting edge thinking and dancing’ by FACT Magazine, the event presents a lively mix of talks, screenings, live performances and a club night. From vanguard producers and filmmakers to trending artists and activists, Progress Bar gives insights into the creative practice of contemporary culture's most exciting names. For the second edition, Progress Bar presents live performances by Lafawndah (Warp, US), Brood Ma (Tri Angle, UK), ITAL TEK (Planet Mu, UK), Fis (Tri Angle, NZ), and PYUR (Unsigned, DE), and talks by James Stringer aka Brood Ma and co-founder of the London-based games and digital arts studio Werkflow and Lafawndah. They will be joined by Progress Bar resident and Viral Radio founder Juha. Spatial and light design by Marco Broeders (Co2RO). EVENT DETAILS Progress Bar ft. Lafawndah, Brood Ma, ITAL TEK, Fis, PYUR, Juha Date: 26 March 2016 Venue: Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, IJpromenade 2, 1031 KT Amsterdam Times: 21:00–04:00 (doors open 20:30) Tickets: €12,50. Purchase via Ticketmaster or at the door (card only) Find more information and join the event on Facebook.
We’ll be back next year with a festival edition, mark these dates in your calendar now: 23 - 26 February 2017. More information will follow in the coming months. Keep an eye on the Facebook event and this website.
Tatjana Gorbachewskaya & Katya Larina, Nikel Materiality, Dark Ecology Journey 2015. Photo by Michael MillerAfter two extraordinary Dark Ecology Journeys in 2014 and 2015, we are excited to announce the third and final journey which will occur from 8–12 June 2016 in Northern Norway and Russia. While the previous journey took place as the Sun showed itself for the last time that year, this final journey will take place during the Arctic summer, during which the Sun will be up for most of the day and night. The programme includes presentations of new commissioned works by Justin Bennett, Dmitry Morozow, Signe Lidén and Espen Sommer Eide, and Cecila Jonsson, and others, as well as lectures, discussions, walks, and performances. More names will be announced soon.
Call for ParticipationThe Dark Ecology journey is for artists, theorists, designers, curators, scientists, writers, makers, and researchers who operate at the intersection of art, science and music, and who are interested in rethinking notions and concepts such as ‘nature’, ‘culture’, ‘ecology’ and ‘society’, and in exploring new descriptions of the current ‘state of affairs’. If you are interested in joining us, or have any questions about participation, please contact us at darkecology[@]sonicacts[.]com. To apply, send us your bio and a short explanation about why you would like to participate as soon as possible, as there are limited places available. The deadline for applications is 18 March 2016. More information can be found here. Dark Ecology is a three-year art, research and commissioning project, initiated by the Dutch organisation Sonic Acts and Kirkenes-based curator Hilde Methi, in collaboration with Norwegian, Russian and other European partners. Dark Ecology unfolds through research, the creation of new artworks, and a public programme in the zone on both sides of the Russian–Norwegian border. The programme includes lectures, presentations of commissioned artworks, curated local walks, a discursive programme, and concerts. If Dark Ecology is entirely new to you, this is the best introduction to the project. You can also connect with us on Facebook.
In context of the Sonic Acts Academy, Sonic Acts published a 64-page ’zine’, which contains a beautifully designed and printed collection of short essays, manifestos, statements and visual contributions that provide invaluable insights into the exploration conducted and during the Academy. With contributions from Sonic Acts Academy participants: #Additivism, Thomas Ankersmit, Louis Henderson, Ewa Justka, Anton Kats, Okkyung Lee, Yoneda Lemma, Maryanne Amacher Archive, M.E.S.H., Anna Mikkola, BJ Nilsen, Sally-Jane Norman, Dick Raaijmakers, Daïchi Saïto, Susan Schuppli, Jos Smolders (WaSm), Raphael Vanoli, Ana Vaz and Frans de Waard (WaSm). Sonic Acts Academy Volume 1 is now available online via the Sonic Acts Shop.
Okkyung Lee, Opening Sonic Acts Academy 2016 at StedelijkThe first edition of Sonic Acts Academy has ended. We look back proudly on an opening night with performances at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, five workshops and two days of presentations celebrating today’s artistic practices at de Brakke Grond, and an invigorating line-up at Paradiso that had visitors dancing into the early hours. We would like to thank everyone involved in making the Academy such a successful first edition. A big thank you to the artists, volunteers, partner organisations and their staff, funders, technicians, bloggers, photographers, film crews and everyone else involved. Last, but not least, a thank you to the audience – those who attended and those online – who joined us for the Sonic Acts Academy. It was amazing that so many of you actively participated in making it such a memorable event. Check out the photo stream on Flickr. If you missed the Academy or want to relive some of your favourite moments, keep an eye on the Sonic Acts website, audio recordings and videos will be shared in the coming weeks.
Invitation for feedbackHelp us to evaluate the Sonic Acts Academy to improve future editions. If you attended the Academy, please participate in our online survey. This shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes, and we’ll randomly distribute some fine rewards among participants. So please share your thoughts on the Academy while they’re still fresh!
If you enjoyed Sonic Acts Academy's Saturday programme at Paradiso, you’ll also enjoy the Progress Bar events we are organising in collaboration with Lighthouse and Viral Radio in the next few months. On 26 March, Progress Bar will bring you yet another evening filled with a lively mix of talks, performances and DJ sets. This edition will feature performances by Brood Ma (Tri Angle, UK), Fis (Tri Angle, NZ), ITAL TEK (Planet Mu, UK)Lafawndah(Warp, US) and PYUR (Unsigned, DE). Saturday 26 March 2016 Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin Start programme: 21.00 hrs Open: 20.30 hrs Admission: €12,50 Buy ticket(s) RSVP on Facebook Save the dates of the forthcoming editions of Progress Bar on 23 April and 4 June. Like the Progress Bar Facebook page and stay informed!
Sonic Acts is pleased to announce the first names for the Academy: Morehshin Allahyari, Maryanne Amacher, Thomas Ankersmit, J. G. Biberkopf, Katrina Burch, Heather Davis, Bill Dietz, Yon Eta, Drill Folly, Louis Henderson, Ewa Justka, KABLAM, Anton Kats, Okkyung Lee, Yoneda lemma, Lotic, M.E.S.H., Anna Mikkola, Nkisi, Sally-Jane Norman, Daniel Rourke, Daïchi Saïto, Susan Schuppli, Jason Sharp, Sky H1, Soraya, Raphael Vanoli, Ana Vaz, WaSM, Why Be, Juha van 't Zelfde. The Sonic Acts Academy is a new platform that aims to grow, expand, sustain and disseminate stimulating discourse about artistic research. The academy is an initiative of Sonic Acts, which also organises the internationally renowned Sonic Acts Festival focusing on developments at the intersection of art, science and technology. The Sonic Acts Academy highlights artistic engagement as vital to understanding the complexities of our contemporary world. Over the course of three days, artists present work that challenges the sterile dichotomy of theory versus practice. Following an open and dynamic format, the Sonic Acts Academy will probe traditional notions of the academy with the aim of positioning art as a unique means of knowledge production, to be shared and expanded upon with future generations. Regular ticket sales will start on 17 January, so be fast if you want to get hold of one of the last early bird tickets.
Sonic Acts is pleased to announce the first names for the Academy: Morehshin Allahyari & Daniel Rourke, Maryanne Amacher Archive, Thomas Ankersmit, Louis Henderson, Ewa Justka, KABLAM, Okkyung Lee, Yoneda Lemma, Lotic, M.E.S.H., Anna Mikkola, Sally-Jane Norman, Daïchi Saïto & Jason Sharp, Susan Schuppli, Raphael Vanoli, Anna Vaz, WaSm and Why Be, with many more to follow shortly.
Sonic Acts Critical Writing Academy 2015. Photo by Rosa MenkmanFollowing the success of the previous Critical Writing Workshops, another edition of Describing the Indescribable will take place from 26 to 28 February 2016 during the Sonic Acts Academy. ‘Describing the Indescribable’ will be a unique way to attend the Academy since it provides participants with space for group reflection and discussion, geared towards producing texts about the events that unfold within the academy. During the workshop, writers will share insights into specific aspects of their craft (language, style, focus) and provide feedback on the texts written by the workshop participants during the academy. Jennifer Lucy Allan will lead the Critical Writing Workshop. Allan, previously an editor for The Wire, now works as freelance journalist. She was also involved as an expert in the Critical Writing Workshop that took place during the Sonic Acts Geologic Imagination Festival in 2015. The workshop hosts a maximum of 7 emerging bloggers, journalists, critics and writers active or interested in the field of interdisciplinary arts (media arts, film, visual arts, performance). Applicants are asked to submit a short motivation and CV to write[@]sonicacts[.]com. The deadline for applications is 1 February 2016. For an impression, check out articles written by 2015 participants on the Sonic Acts blog. Participants pay a €40,- contribution. Lunches will be provided.
From 10–13 February 2016, Sonic Acts hosts a four-day field-recording workshop by renowned sound artists Jana Winderen and BJ Nilsen. This workshop is aimed at artists, composers and musicians with a background in sound and field recording who would like to expand their understanding and awareness of sound, and enhance their recording skills and their use of environmental sound. The workshop is practice-oriented, and focuses on the methods and processes involved in artistic research. Winderen and Nilsen introduce the practise, listening exercises and the tools. Each day, the participants make sound recordings which they present for critical reflection first to each other, and finally in an informal setting to the public. The heart of the workshop consists of field trips to specific locations in and outside Amsterdam, and the exploration the (sound) ecologies of water environments. Participants are encouraged to bring their own recording equipment. Jana Winderen (NO) studied at Fine Art at Goldsmiths College in London, and has a background in mathematics, chemistry and fish ecology from the University in Oslo. She releases her audiovisual works on Touch. Amongst her activities are immersive multichannel installations and concerts. She has performed all over the world. Jana Winderen researches the hidden depths with the latest technology; her work reveals the complexity and strangeness of the unseen world below us. The audio topography of the oceans and ice crevasses are brought to the surface. She finds and reveals sounds from hidden sources, also those inaudible to humans, as well as those from places or made by creatures difficult to access. www.janawinderen.com BJ Nilsen (SE) is a composer and sound artist based in Amsterdam. His work primarily focuses on the sounds of nature and how they affect humans. Recent work has explored the urban acoustic realm and industrial geography in the Arctic region of Norway and Russia. His original scores and soundtracks have featured in theatre, dance performances and film, in collaborations with Chris Watson, Gaspar Noé, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and others. He co-edited the book+CD publication The Acoustic City (2014), published by jovis. His two latest solo albums Eye Of The Microphone (2013) and The Invisible City (2010) were released by Touch. In 2014, Nilsen collaborated with filmmaker Karl Lemieux on the audiovisual work unearthed, which was presented along with the Sonic Acts publication The Geologic Imagination. www.bjnilsen.com Enrolement Only ten people can participate in this workshop. To apply please send a short biography, a motivation why you would like to attend, and your expectations to workshop[@]sonicacts[.]com. The deadline for application is 20 January 2016. Participants must attend the full programme. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. If we receive more than ten applications, we will make a careful selection in consultation with Jana Winderen and BJ Nilsen. A detailed schedule and more information about how to prepare for the workshop will be sent to the selected participants. Fee Participants pay a €50,- contribution. Lunches will be provided. Participants will receive reduced admission to the Sonic Acts Academy on 26–28 February 2016.
3D printing promises to become a widespread material language, allowing anything that can be stored as a digital template to be realised – just as long as one has the necessary materials. In The 3D Additivist Manifesto, Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke call creators and thinkers to action around this technology filled with hope and promise: the 3D printer. By considering 3D printing as a potential force for good, bad, or otherwise, they aim to disrupt binary thinking entirely, bringing together makers and thinkers invested in the idea of real, radical, change. Through their #Additivism project, Allahyari and Rourke set out to blur the boundaries between art, engineering, science fiction, and digital aesthetics with poetic, revolutionary gusto to forcefully question the contradictions of living under technocapitalism. They explore the promises of Additivist technologies through the metaphors of crude oil, plastic and desertification, and talk about the Anthropocene and Chthulucene; about forms of embodiment, alterity, and activism still waiting to be unleashed through acts of material creativity. #Additivism calls for artists, activists, designers, scientists, and critical engineers to accelerate the 3D printer and other Additivist technologies to their absolute limits and beyond, into the realm of the speculative, the provocative and the weird. To get into the Additivism mood, watch the Additivism Manifesto. More information about Additivism can be found on www.additivism.org. Workshop The 2-day 3D Additivism workshop, which will take place immediately after the Sonic Acts Academy (29 February & 1 March), will be presented as an expanded lecture and as a workshop. During the workshop participants will be encouraged to reconsider the terms under which human-centric technologies affect the ongoing transformation of nature into ‘post-nature’, as well as the moral and philosophical implications of actively seeking to steer our technologies towards this end. Participants will be guided through the processes of additive design with the aim of producing speculative ‘post-natural’ objects for possible inclusion in the forthcoming 3D Additivist Cookbook. Questions such as: "How do we imagine structures of knowledge and action that exist outside or beyond human beings and our technologies?" and: "Is it possible to 'write' into, to ‘design’ alternate futures, without limiting what they (and we) might become?" will form a red threat. Application The workshop is open to artists, theorists, designers, engineers, scientists, thinkers, doers and makers who are interested in alternative approaches to theory-led forms of practice. Participants are ideally filled with fears and enthusiasm for the future. To apply please send a short bio, a motivation why you would like to attend, and your expectations to workshop[@]sonicacts[.]com. The deadline for application is 1 February 2016. Participants must attend the full programme. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. If we receive more than ten applications, we will make a careful selection in consultation with Allahyari and Rourke. A detailed schedule and more information about how to prepare for the workshop will be sent to the selected participants. Contribution Participants will pay a contribution of €30. Lunches will be provided. Participants will receive reduced admission to the Sonic Acts Academy on 26–28 February 2016.
King Midas Sound & Fennesz 2015. Photo by Jimmy Mould"The ground is rumbling beneath my feet. Bass and rotor chug collide in the air and throb like a migraine. Thick, suffocating clouds of dry ice billow through the space between bodies. Somewhere in the gloom, occasionally picked out by white strobe light, I can just about make out the figure of Kevin Martin, clad in his standard-issue hoodie, hat and jacket uniform. The space in between is filled with faceless silhouettes thrashing back and forth." - Rory Gibb, The Quietus We’re thrilled to announce that Sonic Acts, Viral Radio and Brighton-based Lighthouse will present a special season of Progress Bars in Amsterdam from January 2016 onwards. Progress Bar was initiated by Lighthouse as its regular night for cutting-edge thinking and dancing, and presents a lively mix of talks, screenings, performances and a club in a single night. In collaboration with Sonic Acts and Viral Radio, the Progress Bar will be raised to another level. Amsterdam’s first edition, which will take place on 16 January 2016 at Paradiso Noord/Tolhuistuin, celebrates artists from Trinidad, Japan, Chile and the UK. It will kick off with talks by music and culture journalist Aimee Cliff from The Fader and King Midas Sound co-founder Roger Robinson. Following this, King Midas Sound & Fennesz, the new collaboration between King Midas Sound and Austrian electronic music pioneer Christian Fennesz, will take over Paradiso Noord with a performance of their album Edition 1 which Resident Advisor described as ‘a slow-building, smoky crescendo of noise’. Progress Bar will continue into the early hours with a club night featuring Lexxi, Endgame & Kamixlo – London figureheads and co-founders of Endless, the subversive, genre-breaking club night that propagates London’s most exciting new producers. 20.00-22.00 hrs - Lecture programme Admission is free of charge, reservation required via firstname.lastname@example.org 22.00-04.00 - concert & club programme Admission €12,50 (including membership) Tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster and on the door. Please note that the Tolhuistuin is a bank card only venue. This edition of the Progress Bar is the start of a series that will see further editions throughout 2016 in Amsterdam. More details about Progress Bar Amsterdam in March, April and June will be announced on this website soon. Join the Facebook event and sign up to the Progress Bar newsletter for updates. Aimee Cliff Aimee Cliff is an Associate Editor of The FADER, based in their London office. Previously, she was a freelance music and culture journalist, writing for Dazed & Confused, Vice, The Quietus, Red Bull and more. She has interviewed innovative artists and musicians — from radical romantic Jam City to grime MC Stormzy to Metamodernist celebrity Shia LaBeouf — and her monthly column Popping Off interrogates pop cultural issues, from the presentation of sexuality in music videos to ageism in the media. She also co-hosts the monthly Radar Radio show Angel Food, with melodic grime producer E.M.M.A. Roger Robinson Trinidadian musician, writer and performer Roger Robinson has lived in London for 20 years. As a writer and workshop leader, Robinson’s major achievements include being chosen by Decibel magazine as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon; receiving commissions from London Opera House, National Portrait Gallery and the V&A, amongst others; and being shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize. His solo music album Illclectica, released in 2004, was chosen by Mojo magazine as one of their top ten electronic albums for that year. He is also a co-founder of King Midas Sound. King Midas Sound A musical crossover project, King Midas Sound is composed of The Bug, aka producer Kevin Martin, Roger Robinson and Japanese artist and singer Kiki Hitomi. The trio released their first album, Without You, in 2011. In 2013 they made a brief, but exciting return, with the single Aroo in which “drone, melancholy, and a sea of fuzz blisteringly collide.” This year sees them make a return with Edition 1, released through Ninja Tunes on 18 September 2015. Editions 2-4 will see King Midas Sound collaborate with a different artist: details to be announced later. Christian Fennesz Originally from Vienna, Christian Fennesz is now based in Paris. He uses guitar and computer to create shimmering, swirling electronic sound of enormous range and complex musicality. His lush and luminant compositions are anything but sterile computer experiments – they resemble sensitive, telescopic recordings of rainforest insect life or natural atmospheric occurrences, an inherent naturalism permeating each piece. While he releases solo material only every couple of years, over the past decades he has been a constant in the ears and minds of experimental music enthusiasts through a myriad of remixes, soundtracks, collaborations and other works. Endgame, Lexxi & Kamixlo “I want to start club culture from scratch and destroy homogenous and heteronormative 4/4 dance music – it’s dying a slow death and is beyond irrelevant.” – Endgame in Dazed and Confused Blending a mix of Angolan dance genre Kizola, Jamaican dancehall and British bass-laden dance music, the three South-London DJ's and producers Endgame, Lexxi and Kamixlo propel a worldwide sound akin to the diversity and novelty of online communities that are at once familiar, futurist and forward-moving.
We are back home from a successful second Dark Ecology Journey. Over the course of five days, we travelled with a group of more than 50 artists, researchers, curators, writers and organisers to Kirkenes in Northern Norway from where we took a bus to Murmansk in Russia, to Zapolyarny and Nikel, and back to Kirkenes. It was the time of the polar twilight, when the sun does not rise above the horizon. During these long periods of darkness, life slows down and offers room for introspection. Yet, for many of us who had never been this far north before, it was surprisingly bright, and we enjoyed as much as four or five hours of beautiful twilight, as well as a full moon. The core of the Dark Ecology project is about investigating new definitions and imaginings of ecology, the connection between humans, nature and technology, and overcoming the nature–culture divide, all in the context of the ongoing transformations to the planet and the ecological crisis. The Barents region – where Kirkenes, Nikel, Zapolyarny, and Murmansk are located – has already undergone changes due to climate change, which has affected the economic and geopolitical situation. The programme kicked off with an expanded lecture by the American philosopher Graham Harman. It was followed by a short report on the rapidly changing political and economic situation of Kirkenes, touching on the closure of the Norwegian border at Storskog to refugees, the bankruptcy of the mine, and the collapse of trade with Russia.