FOP


Some Kind of Blue
06.12.2018, 9:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

all images FOP, 002018

Day 21: Twilight into Dawn, from the project, Turning into the Night

This blue, it just won’t stop. Ever moving. Unfixable. Somehow, without clear demarcation, this sun-filled day began to dim into the most minute of gradients, into shades of blue that are more glow and quality of light and diffusion than color. There’s no stopping this change, yet it’s silent, seamless and graceful in it’s profound shift (the earth is continuously turning after all).

An overall feeling of rest and “winding down” is felt and heard in the air. This is what living beings do. Sensors in our eyes, glands, hearts, minds, are attuned to this. They “clock it” and their sensings are continuous, every day. Lowering light triggers their signaling.

Meanwhile, the bombardment of photons is never ending, as far as humans are concerned. Photons cruise towards our planet from 93,000,000 miles away. Some, a bit to the rolling “west” of here, will bounce off and illuminate all that makes place in that direction, such as “California.” The photons arriving near “here,” at twilight, as we ride “eastward” on the edge of the roller coaster hump that is the earth’s curvature — might just miss the earth entirely and soar on past, infinitely, into deep space, and never alight.

IMG_6058.jpg

Those that do strike our edge, make “sunset” here.

For now, the cones and rods in our eyes are doing their evolutionary jobs. They are winding down. This un-arrestable glow-shade we call twilight is actually movement, change, as are all things and time. And when we wake around eight hours from now, at the prompting of the highly sun-attuned bird songs outside the back door, we’ll be in a blue-ing of some sort or other again. The glow will be emerging in the sky from the “east” (instead of west) and, until around noon, our particular location on the planet will roll “downward” on its axis, at which time, it will begin to roll “upward” toward around midnight.

Meanwhile, this 8:30 p.m. twilight-ing blue is seamlessly connected with and deeply akin to the some kind of blue that will be tomorrow’s 5:00 a.m. dawn-ing.



“And Yet it Moves”: Galileo’s echo, 400 years later
06.04.2018, 9:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

image by Copernicus, Library of Congress

We are 14 days into our Turning into the Night project and it already feels like we are engaged in a life and perspective-altering project.  Here are a few zuihitsu-like musings from within the process.

It has been relatively easy to conform the structure of our lives to the form of the project. We have left evening events early, in order to be away from artificial lights by the time the sun “sets.”

Each evening, we have closely observed the transition into darkness. So far, we’ve been up at or before dawn every day. Our particular Earth-location’s transitions from night to day and day to night has quickly and easily captured our interest and imaginations. They are now events that we look forward to twice a day. These transitions have started to register for us less “times” of day and more a the literal, ongoing movement of the planet. Pausing to observe them is restful. And it’s becoming easier to sense and experience the Earth’s spin in real time than to try to imagine it or analyze it cognitively. And we’re gaining an increasing, background awareness (and sensation) of Earthly movement throughout the day.

This has lead us to wonder to what degree most educated people alive today know in/through their bodies what Copernicus, so controversially concluded in 1543? The Copernican Revolution placed the sun, rather than the Earth, at the centre of our solar system. But how did this change public imagination? Was everyone suddenly dreaming at night of Earth moving around the sun? What real, embodied meaning did this scientific reality hold for the public? It seems to be a reasonable question to ask today, given how humans presently inhabit the planet, and given the quickening pace of the Anthropocene?  

In 1610, Western-encultured minds had a second chance to reorient themselves in relation to the cosmos. This is the year Galileo published findings that described his telescope observations. This time, it wasn’t just Copernicus’ math that proved we Earthlings were not the center of the Universe. It was empirical observation that anyone with sight could see. Many Western cultures were still not quite ready to look through the telescope. Thinking at cosmic scales of time and space quickly bleeds into matters of spirit, and Galileo was subjected to the Roman inquisition because of his work. Heliocentrism contradicted Holy Scripture (i.e. Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place”). Galileo was found guilty of heresy and placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life (see Losey’s film version of Bertolt Brecht’s play Galileo). Even after Galileo was arrested, he still could not help but utter the poetic words, “And yet it moves.”

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that, for thousands of years by this time, numerous ancient cultures (see the Tibetan Kalachakra, Australian Aboriginals, Anasazi, Hopewell cultureDaoists and more…) had been closely observing stars and movements of celestial bodies without the theological struggle. Without the mind/body split so deeply embedded in many Western ways of thinking and perceiving, many ancient cultures based their ways of knowing on embodied practices, and they built physical sites that materialized their embodied cognitions and observations of the cosmos in architecture and sculpture, and in their daily life on Earth. This wasn’t just science, it was life. And for many humans, it still is today.

It took nearly 100 years and the work of Newton before Copernicus’s conclusion about Earth’s place in the solar system to become broadly accepted in the West. In 1924 Hubble helped Western minds to project imaginations even further — proving that even the Milky Way is not the center of the Universe. And more recently, theories of the multiverse ask us to stretch imaginations even further.

Over the past 14 days, we have realized the degree to which technology and media have been directly inhibiting our abilities to pay attention to and note planetary change and movement. It’s becoming clear to us that media devices and their illuminated screens truly block our attunements to, and curiosities for, attending to the world and ourselves in it. The devices offer up infinite amounts of distraction from the fact of the embodied world that shapes us and that we shape in turn. A few weeks ago we might have asked, why sit and pay attention to the movement of the planet when we “know” it moves already? Now we ask, what kind of knowing do many of us alive today actually have about the fact that the ground of our lives spins?

Werner Herzog’s recent film, Lo and Behold, explores the effects of the internet on human interaction in modern society. In the film, Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss hesitates to make predictions about the future, but aptly states, “becoming your own filter will be the challenge of the future, because the filter isn’t provided … the internet is going to propagate out of control and people will have to be their own controls.” In many ways, we feel that Turning into the Night is turning us into our own filters. In doing so, perhaps previously obstructed Earthly/Cosmic signals that we suspect could be vitally inspiring and practically useful within the Anthropocene will make their ways into our awareness.

Also during this past week, we realized that about two months ago, we missed an important date. On March 11, 2013 we wrote a post entitled, The Next Five Years, Passing ThroughIn it, we speculated on what might be arriving in the coming five years. We were ready to reorient our practice in order to pay attention to and note the anticipated, but as yet unknown changes that we felt were afoot, and we announced that we would be “enacting an updated frame” for our work. We were motivated in part by our sense that, between 2013 and 2018, humans would, grasp the speed, scale, and material realities of planetary change events more concretely.  Arguably, thoughts, dreams, actions and creative gestures that we humans make in response to our first inklings and shared experiences of Anthropocene events will set the stage for their potential consequences.”

Five years later, we feel that this has indeed become the case. In ways that were not yet concretely real in 2013, there is now widespread awareness of global-environmental change, even though the “potential consequences” that will result from this change remain far from certain.

In late April we were guest presenters at a symposia at Hunter College Art Galleries, held in honor of the environmental artist Juan Downey. At the conclusion of our conversation, a member of the audience asked us about the ethics of our commitment to thinking at a planetary scale. Couldn’t such thinking remove us from urgent, local realities? So much work needs to be done right here on the ground, in the human-social world.

We answered this question with an anecdote from a residency we had in Wendover, UT. Despite the seeming indifference of geologic to the social and political issues of humans, over the past 13 years of our practice, we have found the geologic has offered us useful and relevant ethical perspectives. Perhaps these perspectives are something similar to what humans were offered (and were so afraid of) in Copernicus’ and Galileo’s geo-cosmological observations. When we think at/within large planetary scales of time and change, we open ourselves to learning about and from our deep embeddedness within the world/planet that we humans share with living and non-living beings. And one of the most consequential things we learn is, the world/planet is more than just we humans.

The morning after the symposium, an additional but important response to this question occurred to us, one that has emerged from our work over the last five years. The process of our art practice requires us to take the time to sit with and attempt to feel for ourselves the vast time, change, and movements of geologic and cosmic materials and forces. Doing so, we’ve come to realize that the “indifference” of the geologic “to us humans” is, in fact, inextricable from how very well the geologic “takes care” of us. We are the cosmic and the geologic. What else are these lungs breathing oxygen? These retinas receiving photons from the sun? This iron composing our blood, and this calcium of our bones There is no separation between we humans and the cosmic mystery that we exquisitely evolved with. Humans are showered with geo-cosmological affordances with each breath.

The planet has readily supplied these affordances but it’s up to us to actually acknowledge them and scale our actions as a species in response. Perceiving our drinkable (to us) water, breathable air, living soil through the lenses of vast geo/cosmo timeframes, we quickly see our species’ existence on Earth as the rare exception it is. By failing to have an embodied awareness of how the local links to the geo/cosmo in our daily lives, we miss opportunities to engage such deeply meaningful material realities. Humanity’s distractions from those realities could be one of the biggest challenges to finding social-political means for navigating the Anthropocene.

 



Turning into the Night
05.18.2018, 7:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

image FOP 002018, from a LinkNYC station at Madison Avenue and 53rd Street

Greetings from the hinge of a month-long experiment — Turning into the Night. We are excited to be embarking into this project as of next Monday May 21st, 002018.

The project is motivated by our sense that now is the time to explore what happens when we attempt to hold the thought of, pay close attention to, and track Earth-magnitude change on local, daily-life scales. In ways related to our East is a Circle project, we wonder what creative, spiritual, cultural, and material consequences might result from living this awareness.

We have been inspired by the night walks of Clark Strand. He writes of his own experiments of living without artificial lights in his 2015 book, Waking up to the Dark:

“Waking up in the dark is a way of reaching around the Anthropocene to catch a glimpse of what might have existed before it — a time when it was still possible to recognize a human being as part of the landscape of the world, before it become what it is now: a dazzling figure against the ground of nature with such an overwhelming sense of its own destiny that the ground it sprang from is virtually invisible to it now. It is as if it had no backdrop, no context, and no home. As if it were a thing unto itself, glorious, self-determined, and alone.” 

For the next month, we will make every effort to live without artificial light from dusk until dawn. During daylight hours, we will reduce our time on screens (of all kinds). As evening approaches, we will live the transition into night and darkness. As much as possible, as night ends, we will be awake and paying attention to our planetary transition into day. The project will end on summer solstice, June 21st.

Even though we can’t control the degradation of our “photic habitat” by the excessive artificial light that floods streets and buildings in highly industrialized, densely populated areas, we plan to greatly reduce the presence of artificial light in our lives by simply leaving interior lights off, staying off phones/TVs/computers, and not riding in cars after dark. Though we might miss a few evening movies and dinner gatherings with friends, we hope to gain a singular chance to “[reach] around the Anthropocene to catch a glimpse of what might have existed before it,” and practice a way of inhabiting our lives and our planet that makes it possible to sense and appreciate the earth’s daily turns into and out of darkness.

During the month, we will relay signals from the project to this blog. At the end of the project, we’ll publish “field notes” from the experience. Eventually, we plan to make specific aesthetic responses to Turning into the Night.



Conversations on Survival from the Hinge of the Earth (23.5º)
04.25.2018, 11:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Tea ceremony staged while in residency at the Kugel-Gips house (Wellfleet, MA) and aligned to 23.5º (Earth’s axial tilt) on the occasion of the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (March 20, 002018, approx. 12:12 EST in Wellfleet, MA, while at an eastward Earth spin of 772 mph). *special thanks to Cape Cod Modern House Trust

This Saturday, April 28th, we’ll be participating in a group discussion, Being Alone, Sharing: Conversations on Survival at the Leubsdorf Gallery at Hunter College. The day- long event is being convened to celebrate the work of Chilean artist Juan Downey and the current exhibition on view at Leubsdorf, The School of Survival: Learning with Juan Downey, curated by Javier Rivero Ramos and Sarah Watson (through May 6, 2018).

“Downey sought to redefine architecture as the wielding of invisible forces—physical, social, and psychic. In his assignments, he likewise challenged his students to reconsider their potential as producers of social change through the transformation of space. Created in a historical moment of economic decline, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the energy crisis, and environmental degradation, these works are a call to action that continue to resonate with a sense of immediacy. … This archival material further shows that Downey was driven by the ambition to push art and architecture beyond their historical fixation on the visible and tangible. He urged his students to rethink the possibilities of these practices and to envision how they could become vehicles for societal change. Read in the context of this pedagogical philosophy, Downey’s artwork reveals itself as similarly instructive: he recasts the role of the artist from a maker of objects to a designer of futures.” – exhibition announcement

We’ll be in conversation with Tattfoo Tan, moderated by Dylan Gauthier, from 2:45-3:45pm. During our hour together, we will share updates on our ongoing project: East is a Circle project (What does it take for two artists|humans to continuously sense and attune to the spin of their Planet? What creative, spiritual, philosophical and material consequences might result from living this awareness?).

And we’ll also be sharing updates on a related project we’ll begin next month, Turning into the Night. It will continue our research into daily life practices that invite us to rethink our concepts of ourselves as artists living the Anthropocene. We will be exploring what happens when we attempt to hold the thought of, pay close attention to, and track Earth-magnitude change on a local, daily life scale.

 



East is a Circle
03.11.2018, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

What does it take for two artists|humans to continuously sense and attune to the spin of their Planet? What creative, spiritual, philosophical and material consequences might result from living this awareness?

We’re starting an open-ended project to help us find out what it means to co-exist with an awareness of our planet’s eastward spin.After a week of informally experimenting with this idea, we’ve realized it’s actually quite difficult to hold an awareness of our eastward spinning. Part of the challenge has to do with English word such as “sunrise” and “sunset.” These concepts actually work against our efforts to imagine, let alone sense, the reality of our eastward spin.  Card #23 of our Living Deep Time Calendar Year 00001, “The Times of the Sunset,” takes this up.

When we land creatures face the sun and watch it disappear over the horizon at sunset, we’re not watching it “set.”  We’re experiencing our personal horizon line rising “up” and “away” from the sun as our planet continues its constant spin eastward.  An excerpt from László Krasznahorkai’s recent book The World Goes On, from the chapter, “On Velocity” puts it more poetically:

“…in my desire to move faster than the Earth in whatever direction this thought has taken me, for everything has converged to such a point of departure, leaving everything behind, leaving behind the Earth, and I set off, rushing instinctively, doing the right thing by rushing, because it isn’t East or South or North I am heading or in some other direction in relation to these, but West, which is right, if only because the Earth spins from left to right, that is to say from a Western to Eastern direction, that is right, that’s how things are, that’s how it felt right, was right, from the first half-fraction of the the instant in which I started, since everything moves most definitely from West to East: the building, the morning kitchen, the table with its cup, the cup with its steaming emerald-colored tea and the scent spiraling upward, and all the blades of grass in the meadow that are pearled with morning dew, and the empty reindeer-feeder in the dark of the forest, all of these—each and everyone—moves according to its nature from West to East…”

Using English words such as “sunrise” and “sunset” encourages us, on a daily basis, to forget that we and our planet spin eastward all day and all night long, making possible the optical events we inaccurately call “sunrise” and “sunset,” along with the sun’s arcing progression through the sky throughout the entire day (a.k.a one Earth spin).

We (and everything on Earth) are continuously “Easting,” all day and all night long.

Head outdoors.  Face East. Sense the location of the sun. That eastern edge of the horizon you see out there?  From your perspective as a two-legged ground dweller, it’s always tipping “forward” and “downward” in relation to the sun at a angle of 23.5 degrees (Earth’s axis of rotation).  We’re used to thinking of the sun as moving through the sky. But stop imagining that it is the sun moving overhead. Fix the sun in space in relation to where you are. Allow the Earth to be set into motion instead, the motion that it actually, always is performing.

There have been 4.5 billion years of “Easting” here on planet Earth. Our eastward spin is born of supernova inertia.  As the Earth coalesced, its “angular momentum” set it spinning eastward at a pretty regular rate. It’s a lovely fact to imagine and know that Earth spins continuously Eastward, as does every other body in the solar system (except for Uranus and Venus, which, according to theories, were struck by objects large enough to knock them into a westward spins).

That movement never stops. Many of the concepts and words we habitually use  don’t actually express this material reality. Our project, East is a Circle, accepts the material reality that cardinal directions are arbitrary concepts humans invented to help make sense of our continuous movement in space.  At times, this all can feel like a paradoxical trap of our own making. For example, because of the language we use, it’s hard to makes sense of the material reality that even when we’re flying “west” from New York to LA, the planet is moving east beneath us. While in that airplane, flying West, we are going in one direction (West) and the planet is going in another (East).

As the pressures of the Anthropocene increase, it feels increasingly important to make note of how our language distracts or misleads us from this material reality. Our project is more than just an effort to update outmoded language (though we do expect to come up with some new concepts and words to assist us in sensing our “Easting” motion). 

As artists living the Anthropocene, we are increasingly curious about what happens when we attempt to hold the thought of, pay close attention to, and track Earth-magnitude change as it plays out on local, daily-life scales. To explore that question, we are reshaping everyday actions and developing and honing new capacities of perception and attention at scales that are beyond our usual habits of mind. As conventional languages of “sunset,” “sunrise” and “east” begin to change meaning for us as a result of our performative research, we will change the stories we tell of them. As we multiply our perspectives on Earth in creative response to its ceaseless changes in direction, we will cultivate  ways of “knowing” and “seeing” ourselves in relation to the planet that are, likewise, in-motion. Making such shifts in scale, language/concepts/meanings, and perspectives is one way that aesthetic practice might address, and live, the Anthropocene.



From the Hinge of 002018
12.01.2017, 8:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

at the hinge of things, 2018, 14th annual smudge/FOP holiday card

A year ago, we started living the outcomes of our previous year’s project, Living Deep Time Calendar Year 000001.  Some of you might have been putting your calendars to use throughout the past year.  If so, we hope that, as a result, your sensations of time have become more flexible, open, multiple, perhaps even released a bit from the confines of Human Standardized Time.

Over the next few days, as we continue to soar through the cosmos on our spaceship Earth, we will return to a spot (only in relation to the sun) that is relatively close to where we were 365 days ago.  At this darker time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere), we tend to think a lot about our relationship to the sun.  At winter solstice, we begin our  journey towards spring, more light — and new beginnings.

image: courtesy Durl Kruse

One of our highlights of 002017 was having the incredibly good fortune of standing in the path of totality of a total solar eclipse.  Months later, we continue to think about this experience.  We recall the elusive shadow bands we glimpsed racing across the grass at our feet, seconds before the bright world around us tipped into deep twilight. We recall the diffused filtering of the extreme Southern Illinois heat, humidity and light that occurred over 20 minutes leading up to totality. How strange and silvery our skin looked in those minutes.  Instinctual awe kicked in as we got our first direct and bizarre glimpse of the force that fuels all life on Earth.

An empty round vacuum of blackness hung in a dark afternoon sky, resembling nothing familiar.  The distance between the earth and the sun in those moments felt gapingly vast.

enigma_small images: courtesy Durl Kruse

That day, our practiced attempts to document and responsively image the event didn’t turn out as planned.  Yet, some of the unexpected outcomes ended up feeling like our best work of 002017. In celebration of our imminent turn into 002018 and the generative hinge upon which we revolve, we offer one outcome, a video short entitled hinge (不思議), shot on color negative Super 8 film.

The temporality of the film (several hours, time-lapsed into 53 seconds) conveys a small, dark marble (our Sun?!) vibrating and shimmering in a unbounded sky/world/cosmos, unto itself.

When this tiny dot shuttled into motion, flaring a black spill of light, simultaneous sensations of wonder and foreboding arose in us — sensations not unlike those that we often feel in response to living within the material conditions of contemporary life in the Anthropocene.

When reversed into color, the footage displays a multitude of wavelengths running concurrently. A spectral array of radiance reveals itself to human perception. The shift leaves us humbled and in awe.

Happy new year to all.

 

 



releasing change: empty practice chapbook
11.17.2017, 8:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

all images this post from, smudge book of changes, 002017

We are happy the announce the release of a special smudge/FOP project that has been in the works since early July.  We’re putting finishing touches on a limited edition chapbook, the smudge book of changes.  This 12-page, photo-based, hand-sewn (by us) book is currently in production.

Unlike our previously produced printed works (field guides, books, postcards, decks of cards, calendars etc.), this small book presents image-sensations in ways that are poetically provocative, perhaps even mysterious.

Nested within the smudge book of changes, you will find the final version of our work, empty practice for meeting the path of totality, created in early July in response to the 2017 North American total solar eclipse.  This 8-page “practice” is a visual/poetic meditation on how our work as artists might meet vast planetary events, such as a total solar eclipse, while simultaneously attending to our species’ intensifying questions about how we might co-exist with planetary changes wrought by the Anthropocene.

The limited run of 55 chapbooks is available on our website for preorder and will ship by the first week of December.  All proceeds directly support the production of the work.

Thank you for your support of smudge/FOP, and we look forward to hearing how empty practice might resonate in your life.