In August I attended a workshop organised by the Data Ethnographies initiative, RMIT University. It took place during an afternoon in Copenhagen. The intention was to better understand how the concept data can be understood. The theme was “Broken Data” and this was the starting point for the discussion:
In a world where predictive big data analytics and data driven policy and design are increasingly prevalent, the concept of broken data seeks to interrogate and disrupt the possibilities associated with these trends. Concepts of breakage, damage and repair, and recent literatures about ‘broken world’ type theories, offer us an alternative starting point: what are the implications of putting these concepts at the centre of our understanding of digital data and its futures? By whom and where does data explicitly and more invisibly manifest itself as broken, incomplete and damaged? How is it repaired?
What might an agenda for broken data research look like? And why might we need one?
I did a video based on the workshop. The video is an attempt to mix documentation of Academic presentations and discussions with experimental film:
The result of the workshop was, together with the video, presented as a joint Position paper.
As one of the scholars invited to introduce the theme of Broken data, I also wrote the paper The Noise at The End of The Data Stream.
The scholars participating in the workshop were:
- Sarah Pink
- Minna Ruckenstein
- Robert Willim
- Elisenda Ardevol
- Martin Berg
- Melisa Duque
- Vaike Fors
- Debora Lanzeni
- Francesco Lapenta
- Deborah Lupton
November 15 I performed a version of Possible Worlds as part of the course “Composing Cultural Analysis” at the master-programme in Applied Cultural Analysis (MACA). It took place in a space called the LARM-studio, which is part of the Humanities lab at LUX, Lund University. The intention was to use the performance to discuss ethnographic placemaking and Imaginaries. The students, together with some representatives from the staff, took part in the sessions.
In connection to the performance we discussed the experience, and I explained the concept as well as some of the techniques I used to make and perform the work. At a seminar some days after the performace we will discuss how this kind of “worldmaking-session” can be related to ethnographic knowledge. What are the ends of an ethnographic place? How can we think about imaginaries, atmosphere and affective dimensions when we compare this kind of event with the smaller fieldworks that the students conduct at various sites in Lund, Malmö and Copenhagen?
For some years I have been part of the research group SCACA, based at Halmstad University. The aim has been to develop ethnographic and cultural analytic reseacrh in collabroration with different partners. One of these partners is VOLVO cars, and in the autumn of 2016 the group received funding from VINNOVA in order to work with the project Human Expectation and Experience of Autonomous Driving (HEAD). I will mainly work with my combination of art and cultural analysis.
September 19th I will have an exhibition / installation in the atrium of the main building at Lund university. Here’s a pdf with info (English, Swedish), or if you have click fatigue, here’s the synopsis:
The main building of Lund University was inaugurated in 1882. In the building conceived by architect Helgo Zettervall the rational quest for knowledge of Academia is enmeshed with a world of mythical symbols. Sphinxes and griffins meet deans and professors. Suggestive symbolism and ornamentation inspired by the worlds of classical antiquity meet contemporary rituals and processes.
The exhibition Multistable Fields by Robert Willim has been specially made for the atrium of the building. It is based on two works (In Praise of Other Places and Chambers) that emphasise tensions in the meetings between academic knowledge and the unknown. In these meetings some dimension merge and generates new knowledge and values, while other dimensions remain estranged. Like in the interpretation of multistable images and fields constant shifts of perspective are required to create meaning and understanding. The work with the exhibition has been guided by thoughts on ethnographic surrealism.
In Praise of Other Places is a series of prints based on altered images extracted from the timeline of the audiovisual performance Possible Worlds. The performance was a commissioned work for the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm in 2014, which has since then led to a number of iterations. The aim was to let the artist examine the ways museums and ethnography take part in the rendition of worlds and how imagination and mediation is in constant interplay. How can dreamlike fragments of other places be evoked through altered layered compositions? The images in the series consist of interweaved layers that have been transmuted using digital and analog techniques. Everything from light reflections to the limitations of various file formats have left media-specific traces and influenced the transmutation process, hereby making the interplay between enhancement and distortion intrinsic to the work. One of the images, in which a symmetrical object appears, differs from the others. The object recurs in a number of Willim’s works.
The sound installation Chambers is based on site-specific sounds, composed to reshape the aural space and to generate a dreamlike ambience. The sound used has been recorded in the atrium as well as in the anechoic chamber, which is part of Humlab at the university. The sounds recorded in the anechoic chamber stem from the object that appears in one of the images of the exhibition. The sounds have been convolved with reverberation from the King’s chamber in the great pyramid at Giza.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
During the coming months I will be working with several interlinked projects exploring spatiality, atmosphere and the relationship between mediation and imagination. I will anchor some of the exploration in the theoretical concepts Transmutation and Convolution.
I started to work with notions of transmutation in the text Transmutations of Noise. Or actually I already started to deal with this together with Orvar Löfgren in our book Magic, Culture and The New Economy (2005). Recently I I touched on both transmutation and convolution in a conference presentation (Visual Culture: Environment and Nature conference, Lund March 25-6 2015.). At the conference it was great to meet Joanna Zylinska and to learn about her intriguing work.
During the coming time I will present at some conferences and symposia, as well as contribute to some publications. I will also make some art works as part of the projects, in which I have started to use the anechoic chamber at The Humanities Lab at Lund university. I will partly develop some of the concept and ideas from the previous work Possible Worlds. More on this will follow…
Here’s the first track of Colormap Destinations:
10 December I performed Possible Worlds at The Design Hub, at RMIT University, Melbourne. The performance took place in the evocatively designed Multipurpose Room. Thanks all for the heartwarming feedback, proposals and comments. It was a suggestive context to do the performance, a context which has already been inspiration for coming iterations of the work.
On the plane over to Melbourne I stumbled over the movie Predestination, which to my great surprise was partly shot at The Design Hub. The footage gave an extra dimension to the visit and the performance.
Yesterday I took part in Tacit or Loud: Where is The Knowledge in Art, a symposium and festival for artistic research held at The Inter Arts Center in Malmö. I performed Possible Worlds and discussed it from an artistic research perspective. It was great to get good feedback, inspiration and constructive critique from participants with great knowledge in musical composition, visual arts, research and theory. Thanks to Sally-Jane Norman, Henrik Frisk, Stefan Östersjö, Anders Elberling, Karin Göransson and all you others for good input. These kind of occasions are good inspiration to continue the development of my work.
The second week of December I will be in Melbourne participating in a symposium on “uncertainties” as part of the Design+ Ethnography+ Futures initiative. This is how D+E+F is described on its website:
“Design + Ethnography + Futures proposes a new meeting of design and ethnography through a focus on futures. It is characterized by four concepts of knowing, sharing, making and moving. We explore how the future orientation of combining design + ethnography approach invites new forms of changemaking, where uncertainty and the ‘not-yet-made’ is at the centre of inquiry. It brings the improvisory, playful, imaginative, sensorial and somewhat contested edges of both fields to create an opening to experiment with what might emerge out of an assembly of ideas, people, feelings, things and processes. In doing so, Design + Ethnography + Futures deliberately steps out of established disciplinary methodologies and moves into the future with people and challenges what we habitually do and think about. It questions the taken-for-granted, triggers genuine surprise, plays with the edges of boundaries and reconfigures ways knowledge is produced.”
As part of the event I also will perform Possible Worlds. It will take place in the Design Hub of RMIT University, 10th December. More info here.
November 5th I will perform Possible Worlds, a new audiovisual work, at The Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm. This will be the premiere of the work, which stems from a collaboration with the museum. Sound and images have been collected on trips to different parts of the world. These are combined with material from the archives and collections at The Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm. Recordings from early ethnographic expeditions are enmeshed with contemporary material from entirely different contexts. The material is then mixed with computer generated electronic soundscapes, erasing the border between technologically generated expressions and material captured at concrete locations. Mundane everyday things collide with devotional objects, with undefined landscapes and actions as well as the non-place sounds from processors and tone generators. The material is mixed and performed during a 30 minute live-set based on surreal juxtapositions and layering of sound and images.
Possible Worlds is an attempt to explore notions of ethnographic surrealism and the interplay between evocation of unknown worlds and situated performance. I use the notion of surrealism in an expanded sense, and draw on James Clifford’s (1981) statement about ethnographic surrealism as a utopian construct. According to Clifford:
“The boundaries of art and science (especially the human sciences) are ideological and shifting, and intellectual history is itself enmeshed in these shifts-its genres do not remain firmly anchored. Changing definitions of art or science must provoke new retrospective unities, new ideal types for historical description. In this sense, ‘ethnographic surrealism’ is a utopian construct, a statement at once about past and future possibilities for cultural analysis.”(Clifford, 1981:540).
Clifford used ethnographic surrealism in order to discuss what took place in Paris in the early 20th Century. I have been inspired by his text in my attempts to evoke notions of possible worlds, be they future, past, fictional or parallel. The question is: what could ethnographic surrealism be today?
Here’s a short trailer:
Clifford, James. (1981). On Ethnographic Surrealism. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 23(4), 539-564.