Dates: 18.08 – 23.08.
Venue: Kim? Contemporary Art Centre (onsite and online)
Presented in the context of ‘All Flesh is Grass’ at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, the screening ‘Toin or Spurl or Plinuckment’ features work by: John Baldessari (onsite), Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky (online), and Charlotte Pryce (online).
In the short story ‘The Sound Machine’ by Roald Dahl, Mr. Klausner tinkers with his invention, a black box ‘designed to pick up sound vibrations that are too high-pitched for reception by the human ear, and to convert them to a scale of audible tones.’ Standing in the garden with this black box he hears ‘a frightful piercing shriek’ when his neighbor Mrs. Saunders cuts a yellow rose and places it in her basket. Overcoming his initial shock, Mr. Klausner revels in the possibilities of this discovery. Through further ‘testing’ he questions if these severed flowers really ‘expressed pain’ and hypothesizes that they ‘didn’t really express any of the feelings or emotions known to a human being.’ He continues: ‘a flower probably didn’t feel pain. It felt something else which we didn’t know about – something called toin or spurl or plinuckment, or anything you like.’
It’s difficult not to read Mr. Klausner’s statements as anthropocentric hubris. He obfuscates his hand’s action and his responsibility in causing the shrieks in his experiments by making the shaky claim that the flowers ‘probably’ didn’t feel pain. His actions seeking data beyond human sense, and his technological apparatus feeding him results, create a feedback loop. It seems as though his experiments reveal more about his desires and impositions. However, there are gaps in the feedback loop where more-than-human data does come through, even if it can’t be analyzed or deciphered. The shrieks still resonate. Through Dahl’s use of ‘non-sense’ language for the un-named feeling of the flowers he creates a placeholder. ‘Toin or spurl or plinuckment’ become variables open to being renamed and filled with meaning by the flowers, or just plainly ignored. Either way, the agency and voice of the flowers has its own rhythm and logic despite any human claims.
Available to view onsite at Kim? (August 18 – 23):
Teaching a Plant the Alphabet, John Baldessari, 1972, 18:08 (courtesy of VDB)
Teaching a Plant the Alphabet, John Baldessari, 1972 (courtesy of VDB)
‘[A] rather perverse exercise in futility,’ this tape documents Baldessari’s response to Joseph Beuys’s influential performance, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare. Baldessari’s approach here is characteristically subtle and ironic, involving ordinary objects and a seemingly banal task. The philosophical underpinnings of Baldessari’s exercise are structuralist theories about the opaque and artificial nature of language as a system of signs. Using a common houseplant to represent nature and instructional flashcards to represent the alphabet, Baldessari ironically illustrates this theorem. That language is the structuring element of the tape—the length of the tape was determined by the number of letters in the alphabet—enforces the connection between language and art, a recurrent theme in Baldessari’s work. (vdb.org)
Available to view online at kim.lv (August 18 – 24):
Conversation with a Cactus, Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky, 2017, 45:00
To access, press here.
Conversation with a Cactus, Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky, 2017 (courtesy of the artists)
Mei, a 30-year-old woman from Tokyo, sends a message to her friend Toshi in Hamburg, telling him about haiku, strange recollections from their youth, and the last muggy summer night. Shocked by the death of the journalist Iwaji Masaki known for working on the Fukushima disaster, she falls into a dream-like hallucination bringing back various testimonies of the legendary 1970s Hashimoto experiment. The attempt was to manifest plant consciousness and to use cacti as potential witnesses in the investigation of future crimes. Part media history, part ghost story, the film interweaves science and mythology to lead us into an animist space beyond language and reason. (EF & MT)
PWDRE SER: the rot of stars, Charlotte Pryce, 2018, 6:44
To access, press here.
PWDRE SER: the rot of stars, Charlotte Pryce, 2018 (courtesy of the artist)
The film depicts an encounter with a mysterious, luminous, electrical substance. Inspired equally by medieval accounts of visionary experiences and by 19th century photography of the invisible, Pwdre Ser joins Kirlian photography with hand-processed images. Pwdre Ser is the Welsh name for a mythical substance that has been observed by many since the 1400’s. (CP)
*Thanks to the artists presented, and to Tamara Becerra Valdez at Video Data Bank (vdb.org).
Throughout his career, John Baldessari (USA, 1931–2020) has defied formalist categories by working in a variety of media—creating films, videotapes, prints, photographs, texts, drawings, and multiple combinations of these. In his use of media imagery, Baldessari is a pioneer ‘image appropriator,’ and as such has had a profound impact on post-modern art production. Baldessari initially studied to be an art critic at the University of California, Berkeley during the mid 1950s, but growing dissatisfied with his studies, he turned to painting. Inspired by Dada and Surrealist literary and visual ideas, he began incorporating photographs, notes, texts, and fragments of conversation into his paintings. Baldessari remains fundamentally interested in de-mystifying artistic processes, and uses video to record his performances, which function as ‘deconstruction experiments.’ These illustrative exercises target prevailing assumptions about art and artists, focusing on the perception, language, and interpretation of artistic images. These demonstrations provide an introduction to the major preoccupations.
Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky (FR/DE) are an artist/film director duo based in Berlin and Paris. They’ve directed together several short and mid-length films exploring specific social-political situations through the prism of altered states of consciousness, delirium and ecstasy. Combining their interests in cinema and sonic anthropology, their films investigate the multiplicity of the self through a spiral of metamorphoses that interrogate our power relation—always shifting—to the ‘Other’ (‘the enemy, the plant, the animal, the spirit, the dead’). Their works have been presented at numerous international film festivals and art institutions such as International Film Festival Rotterdam, FID Marseille, International Film Festival Torino, DocLisboa, Ann Arbor, CCCB Barcelona, MAMCO Geneva, MAF Tokyo, Centre Pompidou Paris and HdKW Berlin. Recipients of various recent research grants in Japan, Greece and Mexico, they did residencies such as Capacete (Rio de Janeiro), Guemcheon (Seoul), Hors Les Murs (Mississippi), Izolyatsia (formerly in Donetsk, Ukraine) and have received the European Media Art Festival award for their film work. The Sun Experiment (Ether Echoes) (2014) and Conversation with a Cactus (2017). Bom Dia Books recently published their first monograph One Head Too Many.
Charlotte Pryce (UK/USA) has been making films and optical objects since 1986 and her works have screened throughout the world. She has taught experimental film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Art Institute, the Academy of Art (San Francisco), Kent Institute of Design (Canterbury, England), and is currently a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts (Los Angeles). She is a graduate of the Slade School of Art, University College London (BFA) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA). In 2013 the Los Angeles Film Critics Association honored her with the Douglass Edwards Award for best experimental cinema achievement. In 2019, she was honored with career retrospectives at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Bozar (Brussels), Centre Pompidou (Paris) and the [S8] Mostra de Cinema Perifericos.