Filtered for seeing through non-human eyes
17.05, Friday 13 Aug 2021 Link to this post
Rannoch Wolves (2018):
This summer, the Kairos Collective, a physical theatre troupe associated with the Dark Mountain Project, spent three days as a pack of wolves on the moor. We followed its deer paths, swam in its rivers, and dodged lightning storms and swarms of midges; and we created ‘found performances’ for the passengers on the trains that cross the moor.
There’s a video.
Bonkers and beautiful - actors in fur suits hanging out in the cold and walking around on all fours. AND YET - if there is a challenge of our time, it is precisely about how to get people to see through the eyes of other people, animals, forests, the atmosphere. How to have common feeling without being identical; to find fellowship and difference both at once.
I hope that there is more of this happening in the world today.
I’ve long been a fan of artist Natalie Jeremijenko’s robotic geese where, via some technologically-aided metempsychosis, your awareness transmigrates into an artificial goose and may participate in the gaggle.
Samual Arbesman’s concept of mesofacts:
These slow-changing facts are what I term “mesofacts.” Mesofacts are the facts that change neither too quickly nor too slowly, that lie in this difficult-to-comprehend middle, or meso-, scale. Often, we learn these in school when young and hold onto them, even after they change. For example, if, as a baby boomer, you learned high school chemistry in 1970, and then, as we all are apt to do, did not take care to brush up on your chemistry periodically, you would not realize that there are 12 new elements in the Periodic Table. Over a tenth of the elements have been discovered since you graduated high school!
Mesofacts about the cosmos are one thing, mesofacts on a more human scale are another. Like, medical science: in my lifetime, stomach ulcers have gone from something caused by stress to something entirely caused by a bacteria. So they can be fixed.
Or think about technology overhangs: AI text generation was there for the taking but, until last year, computer scientists hadn’t quite twigged how fast chips are now.
Readers of a certain age will remember the sound of dial-up modems. The bleeping, ping pong, ping pong, then data static success! is ingrained into my memory as the opening theme tune to the internet.
Here is a graphical explanation of modem handshaking, complete with embedded audio so you can remind yourself what it sounded like.
(My favourite stage is echo suppression: between the negotiation of speeds and frequencies between the modems, there are a series of noises that are heard by the phone network itself - which is kind of listening in - asking it to turn off echo suppression features. Query: could I play the echo suppression request down the line in a regular voice call, and what would it sound like afterwards? And are there any other functional prayers I can make to the network?)
And doesn’t modem handshaking map onto human conversation too? Establish the communication protocols, run calibration to correct for errors on the line, exchange data at maximum bandwidth. Ping pong, ping pong.
Dial-up modem noises slowed down 700% (YouTube).
Beautifully sinister. I have paid more money for worse gigs.
By the studio automato.farm, this video:
Objective Reality - Object Stories Edition (3 mins, 2018, Vimeo).
A first person point of view from the perspective of: a Roomba; a wall fan; electricity, as a virtual reality experience. (The robot vacuum cleaner’s inner monologue is voiced by author/futurist Bruce Sterling, who re-shared it recently.)
A tool to enter the umwelt of smart things!
I wonder what would happen if you spent three days cosplaying a Roomba, or a thermostat, or a hedge fund’s high-frequency trading algorithm, or the Facebook newsfeed ranking system.
Like, you sit there with data and you get fed when a simulated Facebook user clicks on a simulated ad, and yelled out when they don’t, and you’re surrounded by stacks of data but you can always ask for more.
What would happen to you? What would you bring down from the mountain; what empathy would be created; what perspective would you be able to bring to the world that you didn’t have before?