history of the questions
Session 17th September
Sina asks Adriano, Flavio will answer on behalf of Adriano
I saw a kind of a free-and-easy flow of a sensory-motor casual-ness (not necessarily an explicit “purposeful schema” nor an explicit “communicative schema”), keeping its own spatial continuity, and running on its own inner fule. I saw, let’s call it, “inner life of syntax” that is not in conflict (or doubtful), and is not hooked on anything (particular) as well. If that was a form of “talking,” then I couldn’t guess what was the situational perspective of that talking subject (what is it seeing, or noticing, that makes it make those signs). That means, it was (generally) difficult for me to know “who” is talking, and therefore “whom” is being addressed. Therefore, status of a conscious observer hard to defined (or not directly addressed). But maybe that was not wanted (the question of address, let's say). So I go back to the movement itself, thinking about perceptions and associated actions involved in the performance: the flow (continues spatially-malleable dance-impro). Does personality needs to be able to flow in order to move past anything that establishes itself firmly? To put it differently (if you like), is metamorphosis (a form of continuity obtained by a certain type of [sometimes painful] discontinuity) possible?Yaen and Tamar ask Sina , Chloe will answer
Can you describe the place where catastrophe meets you research ?@tamar and Yaen---
can you tell me what you mean with Catastrophe?- chloe @chloe:
In Sina’s 5 min, he was reading Cinderella’s story, one of us didn’t really remembered the scene to recognize it, and so we were having a conversation about the seen (scene) and the unseen (un scene) information that was transported by Sina, we left with this notion, as two people having same dialog for two different things; the encounter of one’s nightmare and one’s fairytale clashed to a catastrophe
Session 24th September
Session 1st October
Sina asks Quinsy and Magda will answer
I really enjoyed the collective play that the puzzle evoked. The music was itself a puzzle or a detective device. I needed to dig in to it without any tools... As I was trying to help, in the vortex of hands touching and relocating the parts, I thought about concepts of artistic labor and value, time and the creative investment that was embodied within the work of figuring out a broken peace of history. After you left, we actually solved it, with Tamar leading the team drive. It was quite satisfying to be honest. I was wondering then, there was the thing there, that which was recovered (or remembered). We were trying to guess whose body parts was this (North African maybe?). When the act of solving reached its end, it turned to an act of recovery (not a fragmentary, but a total recall). And I felt in my body the stoic nobility of the laborious, painstaking, and humble work of putting back together that which is broken. I asked myself which knowledge (of the colonial archaeology) is potent for constructing which (post-colonial) worlds? What are the differences between meaningful labor (the point is solving the puzzle) and absurd labor (the point is not solving the puzzle)? Is that why you didn't play with us? The artist wants "us" to solve this. Because of that, the artifact paradoxically lost its significance. If so, what was your categorical labor of looking (at us from outside solving a problem you posed and you were not interested to solve)? Was there anyway that we could have surprised you?Magda asks Sina
Dear Sina, From childhood, I remember different ways of hearing a fairytale: somebody reading it to me (and it was a difference if that was my mother, father, grandma or a teacher - they read differently, they were giving them a divergent emotional meaning) or listening to it from tape (an old fashioned audiobook). Listening to it alone or in a group in kindergarten, in the afternoon or before going to sleep, while being outside or in the tent made of blankets. Then, at some point reading it on my own becomes another story. All that was meaningful and was changing the reception and the meaning of both, the event and a fairytale itself.
What are the necessary conditions to receive your text?
How do you do things with your text?
Session 8th October
Session 8th October
Sina asks Chloe and Rui answers
If I may propose a contrast between "performing" and "embodying", that means: in performing, one uses a body to show; and in embodying, a body is disposed via its emotions. For example, in your last week score you were performing (a protocol, a grammar, a concept) which engaged with the viewer's cognition. And in contrast to that, during the opening of the RILE (when you and Sven were giving a sort of introductory speech about the horizon of your desire in opening a book shop) you were embodying, which created attunements. You have been very strict in your emphasis on disembodied protocol of dance when you make a show. And I am also aware that the contemporary dance in the last 50 yeas wants that kind of syntax. Your grandmother, Yvonne Rainer was, for one, the enemy of embodied choreography.Rui asks Sina and Lucia and Piero answers on behalf of Sina
(If you would entertain the differentiation I made) I was wondering, what could be actually the value of embodiment (or embodying) for you and for your audience?
Dear Sina, I was thinking of some questions about your presentation, but I noticed that most of the answers are in theconcepts you quote. So I was wondering... Is there space for contradictory theories in your research or is there adefinite line that guides the work?
Session 29th October
Sina asks Kasia / Diego answers
In your presentation, the haunted image of mutilated and disregarded icon of intimacy and softness devalued into garbage, I went in with you in an ontological opening on the side of road. The abyss is pictorially rich, I am still in it, and your arrival fruitful. And you didn't choose it, it was the scene that picked you up. The image takes you. But, how does one comes out of it? Or, do you think is it necessary for one to stop looking at (some) images? Could speech (or writing) be a proper way of not looking at (some) images?
Deborah asks Sina, Kasia answers
Have you heard, my friends, of the vegetable lamb of Tartary?
It's how we get the cotton from the clothes we wear.
According to John Mandeville, and others,
this tree-wool grows on the fruiting bodies of the lamb-plant.
When they are hungrie, says Johnny M,
a fabler & word-spinner from the 14th C.,
the lamb-boll can dip down and nibble some grass.
I tell my father, a cotton-grower, and he laughs, amazed.
Who are the freaks of nature?
And what are they?
Being miraculous, they exceed us, and in exceeding us,
they are excluded from the logic of our world.
Do we value the outsider
as long as the outsider
remains outside ?
Is this a question? Or another kind of statement.
Is fable? This kind of statement.
Visible question marks, and shadowy full stops.
Let's get prolific, Sina, let's go your way.
Kosmos, in the Ancient Greek, meant both order and ornament.
Order, the code of things, and ornament, its visible manifestation.
Glitches in the code—the freaks of nature as unstitched threads—
are the ornaments of a hidden order, the one that brightens our eyes,
and makes us marvel.
The hybrid forms, the miribilia, the freaks and wayward facts,
they are the chinks in the armour, the gaps in the walls,
of our world.
They are the sacred signs, pointing us to our own
incompleteness, to the prison of cause and effect.
They say, the logic of what you know makes you fall asleep,
the tram, elevator, and mobile phone, are science-fiction
for past epochs, and you are almost always bored, until
wonder wakes you up.
Re-enchantment. Re-enchanted. Re-enchanter.
The storyteller, the re-weaver of a hidden code into the one
we know, chooses to fix the wayward threads more or less in
faith—of the necessarily monstrous real, or of the real necessity
for the monstrous in the real, or something else altogether.
The wonder as fixed in the object, or the wonder in the subject,
or something in between.
Wayward threads pointing to a logic, but not spelling it out.
Not spelling it out?
The grammar of the statement in the fable is the question mark
that lies behind it. An existential one?
Penultimate fil rouge. Kathy Acker:
I hadn't decided to be a person. I was almost refusing to become a person, because the moment I was, I would have to be lonely. Conjunction with the entirety of the universe is one way to avoid suffering.
And what if, by some miracle, you are not allowed to become a person?
Does denial of humanity force another kind of conjunction with the universe?
Last thread: Trachi the centaur, alias Primo Levi.
He lived mostly in solitude, left to himself, which was the common destiny of those like him. [...] He learned Greek from the island’s shepherds, whose company he occasionally sought out, despite his shy and taciturn nature. From his own observations, he learned many subtle and intimate things about grasses, plants, forest animals, water, clouds, stars, and planets; I myself noticed that, even after his capture, and under a foreign sky, he could feel the approach of a gale or the imminence of a snowstorm many hours before it actually arrived. Though I couldn’t say how, nor could he himself, he also felt the grain growing in the fields, he felt the pulse of water in underground streams, and he sensed the erosion of flooded rivers. When De Simone’s cow gave birth two hundred metres away from us, he felt a reflex in his own gut; the same thing happened when the tenant farmer’s daughter gave birth. In fact, on a spring evening he informed me that a birth was taking place and, more precisely, in a particular corner of the hayloft; we went there and found that a bat had just brought into the world six blind little monsters, and was feeding them minuscule portions of her milk.
All centaurs are made this way, he told me, feeling every germination, animal, human, or vegetable, as a wave of joy running through their veins. They also perceive, in the precordial region, and in the form of anxiety and tremulous tension, every desire and every sexual encounter that occurs in their vicinity; therefore, even though they are usually chaste, they enter into a state of vivid agitation during the season of love. [boll: the seed capsule of plants like cotton and flax]
Session 5th November
Sina asks Quinsy / Lilia answers
in your mode of storytelling, as an audience I was faced with an unfolding of a serious (if not mysterious) matter. your suspense allowed a continuous engagement with you, and also sustained a relation between you and us, in which one is disarmed and quieted in order to hear the full story till the end. we are at the presence of both an effective narrative and an edifying discourse ['edify' meaning: to make understand, to enlighten.] you used a style of storytelling that blurs between being an evidence and performing a testimony. an implicit [not enunciated] search for an absent and fragile witness of the (catastrophic character of) events you face or care for. this search (not research) is not really looking for a legal default, it is rather a form of demanding it. you ask rhetorically "where is the witness?". the police is called in, material evidence mobilized, historical documents shuffled up and zoomed, and so on. we are in the space of a trial, which is in this case, not to reach a definitive verdict, but as a form of historical and political pedagogy.Kasia asks Sina / Quinsy answers on behalf of Sina
in your presentation, you had this box that was sent to you viciously. after which you called in the bomb squad to open it. my question is that, why you didn't open the box?! I am taking that box as a metaphor, of an unwanted potentially dangerous gift, that by opening it you put yourself at risk. this is not a sadistic jinx, but a question of research. why you don't want to explode?
Dear Sina to whom I address my question and dear Quincy who is going to reply,
“knowledge & style of knowledge".
This was something that I wrote down after your presentation Sina.
Here I write it again, with the capital letters: Knowledge & Style of Knowledge. As if I would recall the proper names of two kingdoms and to re-affirm their mightiness. Once you introduced them to us - through your speech and the stream of images, I couldn’t find enough room inside to embrace them both.
So, I focused on what I saw on the screen. The commercial video documenting reality. The airport in Singapur (I believe?), which looked just over the top: overscaled, overdone, too rich, too splendid, too redundant. Then other videos, outrageous, from the outskirt of the system - strange animals, ab-normal bodies, two rabbits playing paws - ‘crazy’ I thought. I yet, I was amazed, excited, confused and arrested.
Your parallel narrative strands and those two streams of delivering reality, touched something important for me. You captured a slit, a gap where this slight shift grows and radiates- between depth, experience, genuineness and something from the margins, not well produced, not really planned, a little bit deviated, unnoticed or just so fake that it casts the spell and convinces everybody that it is real.
My question is following. Can we say there is a style of everything? That the way it appears creates a new realm, something distinguished? And if so, are these two realms equally powerful and able to make an impact? What happens when we shut down our eyes? What kind of colours, patterns and figure are there? And it this the style or an illusion, or maybe something relatively free?
Session 12th November
Cinderella’s Diary #1
A curtain of birds opened early this morning. The sound came: rattle of the cattle, wind rippled through the apple trees at one end of the ranch, bearing the scent of a grassland, deep landscape of the valley... I opened my eyes to see... the shimmering feathers that reveals nature’s breath of life: a group of nightingale-people who have nested right above my window, are inside. They dance their way in, centries of ceremonial lineage of bird move. A rocky and brocken style of good morning.
We play our everyday play. I call it “clig claw.” I pretend I am sleep and protected by the pillow. The little one flys on the top, looking for my eyes. I worm my way in, from behind, by making my left hand a different creature. Something slowly approaching and attempting to bite the butt. And you have to be fast. And you may get beaked.
Nightingales, are always as if insisting on something. I search their tones for signification, signs of old slipstreams of mimetic curiosity. Or maybe it is not, but an announcement of a perspective. And I sing back. Not sure how listening looks like. But they have developed a fixation with my hair. Maybe that is bird’s listening. Bird activated by hair, and in its curls, a mind activated by beasts.
So I wake up, hungry and thirsty, and punctured. My room, right below the pitched roof of our old mansion, a microworld of sensations. It is an attic, a fringe country... that prompt the animal to wonder.. and Cinderella to find scrambled companions.. not a confusing terrain, but a cacophony of niches, distributed through out the whole house I am afraid. This is their scape terrain, full of old mouse mining and labyrinth of tunnels, food and bedding places. Narrow and grimm for my taste, creepy places that I don’t want to know about. Places that well houses the dreaded inner self of a mouse... my bed is nothing like that. There is no confusion about that.
Mice, those who know your every move. There is something ajagh vajagh about these ones. Ajagh vajagh (عجق وجق), I think, is a Persian word and I am not sure exactly what it means, but it refers to, and definitely sounds like, something unorderly zig-zagged but also lavish. Little rodents, their tail zig-zag, their ears noisy, their eyes illusions, their fur frightened, my care bottomless. They are hilariously rude. As I rest my fingers... to a place of a lesser hunger, soft-colored woven of horrifying insides fade away from caress to caress. Their job, to be wooly, noisy monsters, and hard to school. My job, to be Cinderella. Mice social dimension, is full of routines of wily grimace and monster assistance. And they talk. I mean, they talk. I ask “what happens if that catch you?” “they will squash me.” they say. I put my trust in them. In mice I trust.
Here, I have the luxury of attention to an attic bestiary. Sometimes I notice a particular mouse is missing, Jash for instance, mysteriously disappeared for few weeks once. I think it is dead, or cough by Lucifer, the black cat of Madam. But he comes back. It is good to be reminded that they can go beyond my notice. These mice are not loners. Certainly not. And also not pioneers of new terrains. But they like to create nests. They stay. like me. My two sisters and step-mother, unhappy, spasmodic, self-dramatizing and not knowing anything about mice... for them is a non-mystery of 18 years of mice invisibility. For me, vivid excursions into how these untamed creatures embark on unbelievable risks... how they deal with certainties that are completely foreign to me. And how enriched is their social intelligence.
What is the equivalent for the words envy, virtue, pious in mice language? I wonder if they can remember dreaming. My father died, 13 years ago, made dreaming thicker. I say to myself, careful with those memories! Dreaming is thinking with the night. Memory ...making a person too vulnerable to accomplish anything. Distance breads imagination. But without concrete expression, imagination can so easily make a fool of a child of a primate evolution, like myself. ...in the distance, between sky and terra, mirrors of infinity, sits the great palace, with waterfalls and gardens. Where I trace the dream of a prince forlorn, waiting, in the direction of my waiting. OK. There is no prince. There is no destiny or envisioned life for me, only the issues at hand. Have to go to the kitchen now. Before they wake up. Have to prepare breakfast, and there is work to be done in the house. And a dozen of jaws and talons and tails, ajagh vajagh.
Cinderella’s Diary #2
I cleaned the hallway this early afternoon, by the order of the mother, although it was, I would say, clean. I was accompanied by Lucifer, the domestic cat favorited by mother, eventually scattering the dirt through the salon again. I really should punish that feline disobedience. But it’s OK. I have never seen a cat laugh. I swear to my father’s grave I have seen him giggling time to time. It’s so weird. Lucifer is a well-established fat animal, lazy and arrogant, legs wide open, embodying an organic hierarchy, sleeping in a lordly highness of a cat bed in mother’s room. His footsteps savored by the notion of a sizzling enemy, populates the maze pattern of the floor that I just washed, colored by the ashes in the form of his exquisitely designed paws. Is it play or death score? ...And I clean the gray ash, the color of poverty.
My sisters door slammed shut. With my mother, a treesome of acrimony. My two step-sisters, they are called Anastasia and Drizella. They throw at me unwashed cloths and my own name, “Cinderella!!” Their choreography is one of persistent defamation of one another. I sometimes teasingly call them by their other names: Doris and Mabel, Portia and Joy, Prunella and Esmeralda, Calliope and Minerva, Charlotte and Gabrielle, Clorinda and Thisbe, Theresa and Julia, Georgina and Mildred, Elsie and Doris, Gert and Daisy, Lucretia and Griselda, Amnesia and Magnesia. Spoiled, awkward, ungainly. Often covered in lavish and poor applications of makeup. Despite the appearances of physically repellent obnoxious harpies, they can be unruly man-eaters. They insult and flirt at the same time. Anyway... I like them. They are closely aligned in a weird way and mutually defining, at the same time separate and conflicting. Although their occasional cruelty, they are multicoloured and ajagh vajagh, agents of exquisite gossip.
Cleaning a big rusty mansion charges you with heightened attention to details and locked closets that one notices only by the indication of the dirt. Follow the dust and it brings you to frozen terrains, to sub-species of space that crawls into cracks of time. From the cleaner perspective, dust magnifies molecular pasts. Some days ago, for instance, I found fragments of a transcription in my father archaeological study box hidden in the library. It was titled “A Harem Manifesto.” Ah, I know harem (حرم). it is the equivalent of a polygynous household. Those only-women domestic spaces lounged in various degrees of orientalist imaginaries of entrapment and arousal.
The manifesto goes: “Harem refers to extremely advanced levels of domesticating practices. [...] welcome to harem. you show up castrated, in a site that is interested in both: the polygynous women-admirer and the collectivity of the wives. You are here because you are not thinking emancipatory. You are asking: what are the conditions of life and thought when one is habituated by husband, or language, or ghosts, or animals, or evil mother? We live in these things not outside of them. We are not thinking of them as precarities you can overcome. We are structured and de-structured by them. We stay in this game, and we think we can struggle, move, or shift their meanings, but never erase or repress them. [...] becoming woman, is precisely this experience of powerful submission, the ability to carry disappearance of agency or ego. You are subjected to the other. You are subjecting oneself, before becoming a subject. [...] welcome to this place of study. You like to relearn how to inhabit well. That is how to be transformed by the environment, which is the same as how to transform the environment.”
What the hell?! Aha. That is strange. It is not clear who wrote this. A ‘harem girl’ from the past, naming a group study of some sort? Or someone in their ‘harem phase.’ Anyways.. especially the last part made me think. “To be transformed by the environment.” It made me think how my prince-dreams are changed or influenced by my mice-company? And “to transform the environment” made me wonder how my social relations with my sisters and mother, downstairs in the human realm, are influenced by my attic life? Ok, it is enough for now. I am hallowed by exhaustion. Need to clean the kitchen before going to bed.
Animal Social Media part1
A man in his garden helps his pigeon to take his first flying steps. A delicate relation tendered with time and care of the man for bird in a state of fragility. This is interrupted by a fantastique capture. A flicker in the video, a black and white feline jumps in the frame and captures the bird before reaching the ground. Fuck!! The man throws himself into the mess...
A hole in the ground, in the middle of desert, vomits up a seris of objects that are thrown in, 40 meters up in the air. A sentient reaction from the depth of the earth, witnessed by a bulldozer as fascinated as the man who looks at the camera and throws again another test object. The response is the same...
We see a rat taking a bath, literally. Standing on two legs, and washing up her armpit, head, her back and between the legs, with soup and foam. The waste water goes out in a sewer hole, toilet style. The shower is complete with regard to every detail and is done by the rat with a sense of daily routine...
A wildfilmsindia.com forwarded by somebody called Farzam, moves over the image of a leopard wandering around the edges of a village, where the men find him, with his head stuck in a cooking pot. A perfect scene of the classic text of Panchatantra is reanimated, the ancient Indian conversational tradition of story within story, the animal fable of bad examples venturing into a Western-Asian world of phenomenology of friendship and contact, in order to teach you “don’t put your head in other species business.” The leopard exhausted and blinded, becomes something pleading to be touched, enters a different accident of non-deadly human encounter...
A baby toque macaque, the old world monkey, dressed in red, wearing cute elephant sleepers, stretches her neck and head to get a facial shave in a bathroom, done by a human hand. We hear the noise of the shaving machine and the shivers of face massage. This is overlayed by the Telegram logo and the title of the distributer, Shemrooniash (name of a region in Northern Tehran)...
Telegram is the most used cloud-based instant messaging in Iran (until 2018), digital media trafficking in an energetic interfacing device, where human-users encounter animal through the fantastical medium of visual media. Telegram is littered with image-written signs of abjection, fascination, intimate secrets, tips for good health, disaster, collective envy, and extremely heterogeneous mixture of fragments of all kinds, constantly crossing one another. And also made with bedding material for animal video remediated, contagious storyteller objects of memory-images distributed across people and machinic phylum. A field of looking, at images of human-animal, circulating between strangers. The act of looking at the Telegram's mimed affects, forwards my desire is your desire is mass desire. In browsing Telegram’s channels, or call it “stacked realities” (King), we are in the terrain of accumulation of sensuous impact of the “writing of phantasm” (Desjarlais). That is the graphic inscription of interspecies fabulation in Iran technoculture and its imaginative dimensions in people’s everyday life cascading over technological platforms.
A fantastical account for the forces of specter in Telegram animal media is both a phenomenology of memory and perception of human-animal life, and a politics of looking at digital imagery in Iran’s contemporary social media. And a field of study for how Iranians respond to their animals (dreamed-up or real) and how they become attentive to animal responses (dreamed-up or real). What are their ways of participating in multispecies learning or unlearning with good or “bad affect” (Seymour) across the “ecologies of sensation” (Rai) of mobile phones? We need more analysis of common sensate affect in terms of the assemblages of media that compel it with new properties and forms of intention, attention, distraction or habit. They are sites where cliche meets viewing subject meets population meets software. If we take each image-writing as a mutating affect happening in scopes of textual vision operating at different scales of perception, they can then be potentials for both analytical and bodily reasoning.
With the economic logic of horizontality integrated in entertainment industry, the labor of looking at Telegram animal media sustains a cognitive sensorium that actually motivates consumption. With these examples we are at a commercial world of entertainment, therefore their “transmedia stories” (King) are inevitably commercialized. Then what could be a possible “speculative consumption” (Campbell) of a Telegram bestiary? Like animal rumors in medieval bestiaries that were cooking up in a story-starated world, our Telegram videos are found-objects in an image-starated world. Both are hard to trace their lineage. They are “real” copies of non-existing signifiers, call it simulacrum (Baudrillard).
Bestiary, is the name of a pre-modern technique of crafting connections and discontinuities that links and defines bodies, things, types, animals, humans by the affects they are capable of. They are composed in the inseparability of what is taken as perceived and imagined. The goal is to become literate in reading how the forces of actual and virtual were and are intertwined, to read the specters of perception within “the phantasmal flow of expression” (Desjarlais). That is about becoming interested in individual detailed nuances of difference in varieties of anecdotes, in little stories, in individual mice biographies. These are the materials that I am collecting from my family Telegram group posted animal video gossip. How in this milieu, the structure of human-animal encounter is disrupted? And the condition of what sort of seeing is possibly undermined?
Animal Social Media part2
A man shouts to a cluster of ants who have gathered around a piece of sugar on the stairs in a doorway entrance. It is not the best place to eat, if you are tiny, because you might get smashed. In Farsi he screams “go to your homes!” (برید خونتون) like to a street as an angry neighbore scaring away the children. The nervous scattering accords perfectly with the scream’s pitch. The voice is visualized in the escape of reanimated cluster into all directions...
Young man playing synthesizer piano with a cat in the middle leaning on the keyboard, with eyes closed and ears pointed, body language equivocates both listening and interrupting. The pianist negotiates the melody with what the cat is playing, as her ears fully attending the performance and her elbow ignoring it at the same time. Eventually she drops softly on the larger area of the instrumentarium, making him laugh as the duet takes a more difficult rout where the chord cannot follow the animal directions. All the while horizontality of the drunken token on the man’s T-shirt makes no resonance with the image of Audrey Hepburn in the back of the room. The one who made thin chick, icon of elegance and taste from the golden age of mutual affinity of womanhood with photographic medium, the tint of insecurity of the little girl lost within made into material of celebrity by Hepburn’s style...
An Indian ratsnake embraced in the mouth of a bullfrog engages a Japanese bobtail cat. The snake comes to perform a lifelike death that cannot be contained inside itself, making an intense point in space that the cat cannot but get trapped in and get bitten by. A child goes on her four arms, not standing erect in upright relation, need to get as close as she can to that point of contact. The bullfrog is himself a form of horror. From his confined skin- and slime-wrap, an abyss in which he hibernates sometimes for months under the earth, awoke usually because of storms and heavy raining, crawls out in mud and murk as a natural terror to every species that they cross path. Never sure coming in or coming out, the ratsnake inside the frog, itself having a taxon with rat and snake, bits the cat’s paw. The Japanese bobtail, found in front of stores or homes in its more famous seated gesture with one paw raised, the ‘statuesque cat’ is an animal fancy of auspicious invitation and Hello Kitty. Her rabbit tail is short, and the length of the tails is an important plot point. Short is more fortunate. Her tail used to be long, but once when she was asleep, it caught fire; she then ran through town, spreading flames everywhere. With the capital in ashes, the Emperor decreed that all cats should have their tails cut short as a preventative measure: absit omen “may what is said not come true” (خدا نکند). The course is run down under the auspices of the short tail. And the paw is raised to hale the companion of the lost tail in mouth of the monster she cannot identify. But the people do. From the background we hear the laughter of the cognizant who know the proper difference between species, finding it funny and in the need of video-telling, the tension between the child’s wonderment and the cat not cognizing the snake from the frog. The toad’s ill-tempered gloom of viscosity meets the viewer’s stare, meets the wide-eyed bobtail, meets the human child’s ability to hybridize. Cacophony of circumscriptions, bodies tumbled into bodies tumbled into media.
With joint organs, part animal, part episteme, the video throws an ouroboros abyssal beastliness, an ugly and uncharismatic interspecies physiology with a xeno-sensual luring precarity that engages sensuous observer-bodies across the worlds of “eye-machine” (Hayward 2007). A figure that takes action. A cacophony of interacting states of (the cat’s vs. child’s) perspectival cognition, fabled forces of the world (of assemblage of the zoons), and phantasmatic existences of optical means (of the Telegram rumored video object). With no recourse to an assured origin, such chimera makes “ontological room” (Sagan 1992) for a dirty contractions of natureculture in a specific resonating milieu of videography.
The assemblage of toad-snake-cat-child-camera chimerically indexes plural beings in one single visual representation. This singularity of a visual grasp of an otherwise temporally and spatially divisible or invisible parts, is that which defines the concept of chimera. A term that is used in biotechnological discourse to refer to the evolution of elements that do not belong together, in Greek mythology referring to a savage beast part lion part goat part snake, the opposite of what the natural order is. The animating power of the chimeric crossings produces moments of composition (Stewart 2009), capturing the eye, therefore capturing the imagination (Severi 2012). The register of chimera in bestiary-style, coupled with biological epistemology, provides a conceptualization of the relations between the poetics and the production of zoocentric identities (of the bobtail cat, snake, toad-frog, child, and viewer of the video), which are not mutative nor morphing. It rather points to the articulations, coproductions, and metabolisms of phenomenal singularities. Let’s say, an art of ambiguity, if not vandalism, in the legal domains of a zoocentric biological model of life. But it is only ambiguous, if the observer is looking through the optics of a “monolithic notion of the body” (Sagan 1992), a medically proper animal body, that the bobtail cat ignores.
Animal Social Media part3
A moment of... category-surprise in somebody’s everyday life... somewhere far away... transmediated into a simulacrum... the ratsnake-bullfrog video is something “you have to see,” an enduring of the sociality of perception. That’s the kind of artifacts that in figuring transhistorical assemblage of their untimeliness, one is enhanced in the cognition and sensitivity of their social associates. Sociality is precisely that which joins categorically separate mode of agencies. The video is a moment of the social, an instant of the “holding together of the disparate” (Stewart). The social is therefore made of entities that are both present and absent. That is the chimeric category par excellence. In this sense, the chimeric is not a technique of composition or storytelling, quite the opposite, is itself rather that which provokes storytelling.
The temporal inclusivity of a chimeric encounter could help a ‘knowledger’ to live at the co-presence of historical counterparts, in the modes of seeing and embodying from the past that ‘are’ present now. Like the users of my Telegram, the authors of premodern bestiaries, did not embody the strict conceptual and ontological divisions between phenomena and apparatuses of description. A division that is crucial for, let’s say, knowledge, since the invention and establishment of modern objective vision. In ajayeb al-makhlughat, we have the mimetic intonations, gesturing in the direction of embodying those ancient chimeric entanglements with “strange” singularities of the labile phenomena, those material-discursive forces that were hosted by the bestiary’s earthbound rhetoric of persuasion, in their pursuit of epistemological reliable inquiry in the nature of things. Things that were once named, perhaps written down (differently than now,) through some kind of trickery (called citation,) and then metastasized (spread throughout a body) into circulation (readings, and then translations) are raised, incised, made singular and charged, gets cooked down into something saucy (called wonder), frozen and melt down again, cast into a sort of success (encyclopedic storytelling).
Studious description and remediation of traces of might-have-been natural phenomena in the middle ages (in the absence of definitive sources of must-have-beens, in anatomical sciences, ethology, evolutionary biology), shows how, in the absence of authoritative ‘source of knowledge,’ ‘styles of knowing’ run loose, proliferate, mime, normalize, abnormalize, and intertwine in poetics, practice, and politics, and further reverb into generations of cultural meaning. The difference between knowledge and style of knowing, a useful division made in the allegory of vessels and fluids by Annemarie Mol, can be seen in communities of knowledge, such as apass. Imagine in the hospital, we have the specialized medical knowledge of disease and diagnosis established and authorized by global institutional networks and collaborative efforts, as “knowledge”. And we have the patients, pain, and nurses, improvised and situated encounters in every different moments of social compositions in the ways of caring for individuals and the way each deals with coagulations of suffering and diffusion of affective relations. That results into styles of knowing, that a nurse has, for instance. The differences between knowledge and style of knowing, leads sometimes to tensions and fatigue....
Animal Social Media part4
A massive red-tailed boa crosses a busy street, who knows where. People and cars and bicycles, standing by or in a state of shock, while a big beautiful basic body moves across their eyes. A textured and colorful fat line, slowly and heavily twists and folds, not rolling like an automobile wheel on the road. There is nothing abstract about this. The snake... moving through... the sentience of... a compulsive beauty... creates the concentration of attentions... creats a video. An alien vector into the field of a unidirectional space. The boa, a walking simulacrum, not insisting to be seen, is nevertheless pulled into play. An enigmatic, yet crystal clear otherness, interrupting the mobility of the street on wheels. A thing that gives off a marvel, a pause, that opens to an enduring love of watching an alien impact taking place. An event that is itself an alteration from minding your business, to taking out your phone to make a selfie... of something exposed... you in it. Selfie is the aesthetic event of the bystander’s senses, literal production of a recognition, making copies of the event, making a contact. Bystanding watching becomes an active participant in storytelling, compelled to reverberate the dissimilarity of the snake event.
The boa is ignoring or missing that there are boundaries about, or maybe honoring them, who knows. It is sleep-waling. At the last moment of the video, when the tail disappears into the dense bushy side of the road, watching it creep to the darkness of it, into a larger unknown, gives you the shivers, and is strangely satisfying. The side of the road, become suddenly a borderline, not an idealized pathway of natural life, but an immanent form, like a spirit that recedes from perception into a clear-cut marvelous horror. And the video, a “boundary object” (Leigh Star), assemblages without consensus, super-localing a moment of intensity in the scale of global from the topologies of a local form. If not the subject of public spectacle or idealized victim of a vanishing wildlife, then what kind of actor is the image of snake?
If you see a snake, on your way to work, it will mark the rest of your day. You have to tell somebody about it. You become almost burdened with an enduring presence of a perception. Your aesthetic senses merges with animals in the flesh. An unmediated encounter with reptile world, borders with an experience of sensuous knowledge of a life that is just more. And it borders with a technological sensorium, that is a component of my picture-maker eyes, an encounter in Telegram animal optical carousel, the effects of the liveliness of someone’s attentiveness turning into a capacity to imagine a dirty animal geography, giving a lower resolution of nature (i.e. to limit our capacities to resolve an image of nature), and to vandalize the appropriate places of animals: zoo and animated movies.
If we take epistemology (i.e. engendering reflection on the nature of categorization itself), and aesthetics (i.e. how elements are arranged together or are brought into relation in the space of a medium) then what would be an animal social media that departs from the epistemic and aesthetic order of zooscopic bestiaries? A zoological vandalism, can be defined as the aesthetic and epistemic damaging of legally protected stores of knowledge about genuine animals. Then what would be the responsible consequences of undermining the zooscopic experience of such practices?
The videos are captivity diffracted (the video of monkey getting a facial haircut), practices of domestication diffracted (the video of the cats giving a high-five to yoga trainers), animal symbolism diffracted (the video of the dog getting a vaccine in comparison to the young boy), fohsh-e heyvan diffracted, hamzisti diffracted, and so on. Thy are a form of amatur ethnographic hunting, or speculation-gathering of impressions, those that my mother, who lives in Tehran, is animating for me. And I try in sifting and cultivating them as expressions, if not idealizations, of beasts, or of sensual rapports between human and nonhuman. But how can I describe them and not idealize them? I am educated to do idealization, as a ready-at-hand tool of persuasion... to produce signification. Idealization, a mutated form of narcissism, is an integrated mode of thinking about something other than one’s self, in a way that it lays claim to the validity of one’s values initially and further applied to the entire universe. It is necessary technique or phase, often used and naturalized in the arts, in order to connect the (inner) particular to the (outer) general, with the hope that its audience are entertained into caring for the idealized object, which enacts a moral imperative in behalf of the self of the artist. In this sense, with the videos I do idealize something, but not the zooscopic narratives.