Intimacy with the Unknown

How do I perceive “reality”, complexity, causality,  the non binary ecology. My sound performance/lecture work is based on (semi) generative synthesis and live sampling, a simulation to autopoiesis (regeneration) in living organisms and evolving ecosystems. The performance is designed with my intention to establish an intimate connection with the unpredictable, the unknown, the ever changing space and time where live recorded sounds interrelated and interconnected in an increasingly complex and random way shaping an emerging soundscape, an ecosystem, life.

Exploartions [YouTube]

Intimacy with the unknown is a mixed-media sound art performance which uses the cell to demonstrate the way that organism/mind co-evolve with their environmental niches. The aim is to create an immersive environment in which artists and audience interact to simulate the evolution of an ecosystem. The performative piece is an inquiry of ethics, aesthetics and ecology. The concept for this performative piece is based on biologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s work on ‘Autopoiesis’ (AS) and ‘Structural coupling’ (SC)*, as well as on research in the fields of Cognitive Science, Philosophy (Heidegger, Derrida, Morton), Sociology (A.Tsing-Mushrooms at the end of the world) Evolution theories and Buddhist literature.

Autopoiesis and Structural Coupling

Autopoiesis, originally conceived to describe processes in cell biology in the 1970’s,  refers to a living system that can reproduce and sustain its own elements and boundaries. Structural Coupling (SC) is the interaction of an AS with its surrounding environment, including other AS’s. In the same way that we respond to our environment, our environment responds to us in a reciprocal relationship. An AS simply could not exist without its environment – It’s autonomy depends on it!

Before the coining of the term ‘Autopoiesis’ in biology, similar ideas were already being used to explore non-living systems. In the 1960’s, computer scientist, John von Neumann, anticipating the dawn of AI, posed the question of whether machines could, in theory, reproduce themselves and evolve in complexity the same way that living systems do. A decade later, John Conway published his ‘Game of Life’, a game that simulates processes in living systems using cellular automata. Basic ‘rules’ are applied to the automata at the start of the game (its environment is determined), and with no further input, an almost infinite number of novel patterns emerge from the synergy between automata and ‘environment’.

These processes (AS and SC) are also observed in the way that the mind and culture/society exist in a dynamic state of mutual evolution with the environment. As sensing, thinking beings, the world we perceive is the world we create and vice versa; shaped by and shaping our realities, not in a binary relationship, but more ambiguous and more complex. Evolution is all these historical reciprocal co-adaptation between organisms and their environment.

Informed by the above ideas my intention is to establish a phenomenological, non binary approach into art practice, exploring the space in between opposites, the trace or the mind, and to familiarise with the required openness to the uncertainty of interactions with the strange (both physical and conceptual) which I believe is essential to creativity, growth and therefore to life itself. The work that I am currently developing revolves around this intention to be “intimate with the unknown”. You can view an early experiment here: [Youtube]

At each moment there is the accumulation of the harmonies between the different parts of the nervous system. This harmony intrinsically attaches and then lets go all by itself. This moment-to-moment that we experience as our consciousness, although it has continuity, it is a continuity of action. But the content of each moment is a succession of emergence and dismantling, emergence, dismantling.. F. Varella