embodied research ︎︎︎︎



GOSSIPING WITH THE GODS

Collaboration with Dagmar Atladóttir
Banff Centre (2017)

This collaboration involved creating a device called a God Nail, which Dagmar sculpted around Sandra’s finger, and which served as both a writing utensil and an antenna that Sandra used to pick up on the voices of Dagmar’s clay creatures—part myth, part creation.

The God Nail is made out of clay, a material which combines elements of water and earth and is then transformed through the fire of the kiln. In this alchemical process, the nails become tools for connection and listening.

There were two aspects to the presentation of the project: one was the automatic writing that Sandra performed, and the other was a cocktail party that both hosted. Here, visitors were invited to drink out of Dagmar’s vessels, which were porous, much like the unfinished process of channelling. This was the releasing of the spells ecstasy, kinship, and dirty talk that Dagmar and Sandra placed within the vessels.

The idea of gossip was important as a form of communication that works with underground channels, not unlike automatic writing.

AUTOMATIC THANATOS

Ongoing methodology (2017–)

This is an ongoing methodology, where research questions are written on one side of the paper, the papers are then flipped over, and the questions are answered on the other side of the paper, randomly, in a process of channeling. Here, divination and mediumship, often used only for intimate questions, and/or considered fraudulent or mercenary, are used to speak on questions of philosophy and critical thought.

MYSTIC INSIGHTS, LTD.

Collaboration with Rebecca LaMarre
Words & [ ] — A Durational Conference of Art & Thought, Darling Foundry, Montreal (2016) + Darling Foundry Ad Astra Artists’ Constellation (2016)

This collaboration involved fortune-telling using artificial neural networks that have been saturated with mystical texts and poetry.

Mystic Insights, Ltd. also plays with the concept of “hot readings,” where publicly available data from the querent’s social media and online presence is woven into the tarot reading.

To produce a fortune, all collaborators depend on each other: Rebecca cannot speak, Sandra cannot see, the artificial neural networks depend on textual input, and the querents depend on all of the above to generate a fortune for them. The reading is typed up by Rebecca, using information from the querent, the bot, Sandra, and her own interpretation of the cards. This information is then fed back to Sandra through bluetoothe headphones and she trasmits it to the querent. The process is presented transparently.

Thanks to Cody Walker for programming the neural networks and to Lorna Bauer, whose installation can be seen in the photo below. 


THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY IS A LONELY TASK

Sensitive Observers, Agora, Berlin (2015)

In this workshop, participants were invited to work with the form of the circle as visible boundary and sacred geometry. The materials were pebbles, chalk, and public space. Participants spent time in their own, and others’, circles.


SLEEPWRITER

Centre for Integrative Genomics, sleep laboratories of Dr. Paul Franken and Dr. Mehdi Tafti, Lausanne Switzerland, Swiss Artists-in-Labs (2010–14)


What happens when words, which are always awake, are interfaced over the signals of the sleeping brain? 

This was one of the questions that opened a nine-month residency at a sleep laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The long poem Assembling the Morrow was composed using electroencephalogram (EEG) data, recorded at the Centre d’investigation et de recherche sur le sommeil in Lausanne, Switzerland. Here, a text editor called SleepWriter, designed in collaboration with programmer Manolis Pahlke, vectorizes the raw EEG data so it can be turned into words. The video excerpt (bottom page) is just over 2 minutes from 24 minutes, and shows stage 2 sleep, which is light, non-dreaming sleep (N2). Soundscape in collaboration with Karl Heinz Jeron.




Photos of sleep lab by Lee Wei Swee