Finding prana: Sonic experiments in search of atemporal being.

Helen Collard and Philippa Jackson, Northumbria University.

An entire life is encompassed between a first inhale and a final exhale: breath could be said to be our physical counter of time. In Yogic philosophy, prana is a concept meaning both breath and life and pranayama is the psycho-physical practice of regulating breath. It is here, in these liminal, atemporal moments of regulation that yogic practice considers key to controlling and mastering the mind. This article outlines an interdisciplinary research collaboration between an artist/pranayama practitioner and the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Center at Northumbria University. This bio-art project employs the use of functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to take real-time brain-state data during a live pranayama performance. fNIRS records the relative concentration change in oxygenated and deoxygenated haemoglobin levels in each hemisphere of the brain. This is sonified in real-time. fNIRS is now a re-appropriated control system for sound controlled by the artist’s moving breath (present and temporal) and the artist’s suspended breath (absent and atemporal). This correlative sonic biofeedback installation offers auditions that explore the possibility of perhaps another perceptual modality and another kind of being in the realm of the atemporal.

 

The work of art in the time of technogenesis.

Mark Titmarsh, University of Technology Sydney.

In our current environment the digital screen has become part of the daily rhythm of work and play. Yet as those digital screens become more refined and flatter they also approach the form and presence of a painted surface. A painting is also a screen, an image bounded by an edge, portable and primarily visual. Both kinds of screens have native temporal designs that are in productive tension with each other. By fracking into their differential relationship images are shown to metabolize time, arriving out of time for the sake of an unsustainable time, concealing an end of time, hidden beneath a fantastic time beyond time. This article will develop an alternative ontology of the image through interlocked notions of time, temporality, colour and presence based on contemporary painting, the plastic arts and an uncertain relation to the visual, brought on by information communication technologies. Using the ideas of Martin Heidegger, Richard Dienst and Bernard Stiegler it will be shown that by deconstructing everyday notions of time there is a fractal proliferation of temporal modes that releases an explosive plasticity of visual presence with a hue and density held somewhere between the agency of light and the plastic materiality of the screen.

 

Brass Art – Freud’s Figure-ground in Motion: Macabre, Rare, Banal, and Sentimental.

Chara Lewis, Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Kristin Mojsiewicz, Edinburgh College of Art, The University of Edinburgh.

Anneke Pettican, The University of Huddersfield.

Brass Art’s intervention into Freud’s house attempted to grant its solid objects, furniture and rooms a light, apparitional quality. Their performances at Maresfield Gardens were recorded with three Kinect sensors, the undifferentiated laser’s touch rendering all objects – alive, dead, static, breathing – with the same white, shining, pixellated brilliance. Objects and places that formed the props and settings for performances assume an intense luminosity, appearing to hover and tilt in a horizonless figure-ground. The interplay of focus, proximity and perception returns to consideration of the atemporal image. As artist Susan Hiller in her own observations of the Freud Museum states, ‘Close consideration of its beautiful, utilitarian, tedious, scholarly, macabre, rare, banal, eerie, and sentimental objects produces a picture in which figure-ground relationships seem to constantly shift’. This article introduces the new, multi-screen sonic work On the Thread of One Desire in development by Brass Art. It examines the way in which their recorded performances draw attention to the unconscious, the atemporal and the uncanny, and how the work foregrounds the loop, the arc and the full 360º revolution, with the intention of amplifying and revealing some of the unfolding narratives embedded in Freud’s London home.

 

‘Anachronicity’

Edward Colless, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Deep underground on the Finnish island of Olkiluoto, a corporation has been excavating the world’s largest nuclear waste repository. Once filled, the site will need to be sealed and left intact for 100,000 years to avoid contamination of the earth’s surface. The defences for this massive sarcophagus will need to survive and resist geological or meteorological interruptions, but also human curiosity or treasure hunting. This poses not only an engineering problem but a semiological one: how can a warning sign be written or depicted that will still be decodable for an almost unimaginably remote future? The problem is dramatized when one considers that it only took a generation for the human race to lose the ability to read Egyptian hieroglyphs, and for hieroglyphs to then remain a mystery for 1500 years until a fluke archaeological discovery of the code. Such a warning sign to stop the opening of radioactive tombs also suffers the likely indecipherability of those messages naively engraved on the plaques attached to Discovery spacecraft sent out of the solar system into deep space and deep time, with images of a naked Edenic couple etched into the metal, along with a recording of Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto (which is probably unplayable on even our own technology now). This article will address both the anomaly of these manufactured ‘future fossils’ and also the eclipse of meaning in pictograms or glyphs from a deep past.