Notes from "Alien Agency - Experimental Encounters with Art in the making" Chris Salter
Boundary leaking, blurring in and out, the body and the room continue as a pattern across other participants. “ I loved the beginning because I couldn ’ t feel where my body ended and the space began ” ; “ as much as there was no visual information, in the dark you still see . . . you still see . . . I don ’ t know what you see . . . but you see something, you know like a black cloud. I would define it like that.
• Non-human forces can introduce sensorial transience, shaking the perception of the stable self, losing a grasp on the outside world, redefining the the edges between subject and object, visible and felt, perceived and imagined
"I had begun as an artist, as one who would manipulate the elements of a reality into a work of art in the image of my creative integrity; I end by recording, as humbly and accurately as I can, the logics of a reality which had forced me to recognize its integrity and to abandon my manipulations ” (Maya Deren)
• to perceptually detect the smallest changes in visual, tactile, and auditory stimuli is
• There are way more than Aristotle's 5 senses. "cross-modal neuroscience and multisensory integration in which neurons in the superior colliculus of the brain actually have been proven to deal with more than one sense modality."
• The changing dialectic between a sensing subject and being perceived by that subject is not altogether discrete, as matter in the world that, due to its electromagnetic and vibratory nature and makeup, impacts the sensory receptors of human and non-human. this interplay is not altogether clear, because the encounter between perceiver and perceived is itself subject to flux and modulation
• The human sense matrix is a direct product of culture
“ The ways we use our senses, and the ways we create and understand the sensory world, are shaped by culture. Perception is informed not only by the personal meaning a sensation has for us but also for the social value it carries. ” • dystoposthesia: the feeling of being forever out of place due to adverse reactions to everyday effluvia
• affect, technology and anthropology are inherently linked. Temp, light, colour, sound, smell elicit emotional and physiological responses that modulate peoples' experiential affect.
• 2 tensions -- Brecht: proposes a critical distance between spectator and event Artaud: An attack on the spectator's sensibility on all sides
I’m forever pulled between the tensions of immersion and artifice. To disorient the spectators while heightening how the world operates. Disorientation, defamiliarization marked by sensorial transformation • The thermal cosmology of the Tzotzil of Chiapas relate images and symbols with heat and cold to the external world, creating a multisensory symbolic system that permeates daily life.
• Intermodal (multisensory) sensations factor a key role in religion and spiritual practice. Synaesthesia and infrasensory signals abound. Sound becomes the vehicle for divine power to awe worshippers and exchange messages with the gods. Voices detached from the body transform into spectral presences that become cult spirits incarnate.
• The acoustic intensity produced by such sounding apparatuses not only intimidate and terrify those outside of the cult, but are also alien to those who, in fact, produce them. If such sounds “ produce an experience without an object, ”then perhaps peak religious experiences operate at “ the intersection of the senses. ”
• When sound and vibration is only analysed from human centred subjectivity, it neglects the agency of the vibrational encounter and ignores the nonhuman participants of this vibrational nexus
• Sound references are associated with experience that creates a habitual expectation of their affect
How could we make a room fluctuate at the border of the phantasmal?
• Experiences of concentrated vision (visual stimuli) can generate shifts in consciousness
• Is it possible to recreate an experience that produces palpable affect beyond sensorial otherness without the usual religious or cultural tools?
• Ritual is performative, a systematised series of repeated practice within set out times and places that constitute significance
• Experimentation allows for alienness to creep into practice, with the unknown as the goal, it is also unknown how the material will affect the maker
• To create an extraordinary experience, the space has to become sacred to enable such an affect
• To minimise sight allows for other senses to become heightened. Vibrations of different intensities allows for an awareness of touch to oscillate. Merging 2 senses allows for intermingling at the borders, at which point they begin to blur.
• Hallucinations often occur within a pre-established set of stored material where shapes and colour waver
• Synesthesia occurs in hallucinatory drug use that defy cultural bounds and reference the wiring of the brain. The mythical dramaturgy experienced by some tribes on ayahuasca can only be seen by them. But the repetitive luminous patterns perceived during the first stage of the trip represent neurophysiologically an entirely different aspect of the experience.
Our work is nothing but translation. Not mirrors or models but assemblages that might provoke sensations to occur. New visceral acts enabled through a technologically orchestrated event that rattles the body, vibrates the soul, and yet is far removed from the original source. What position do we occupy? Insiders, outsiders, or a hybrid of the two?
• Experiences between technique and perceivers are hard to quantify. Affects operate from a distance but also collapse separation. Sensation are part of the human experience and part apparatus that connect, apply their influence, then leave. They operate on the sensorium and the body without leaving traces easily transmuted into words. Is this the experience of an ethnographic encounter with the alien?
• Perception is not necessarily local and leans toward affect, as life is not just bodies and organisms -- culture is not contained in modalities or knowing. It emerges through creative encounters with indiscrete fading nonhuman world. Art functions as a collection of emergent perceptions and affects.
How is it possible that things, stuff at a distance, at a remove, beyond us, not even human, can exert such powerful effects and affects on our bodies, souls, and world?
"This aesthetic, affective encounter is not to be underestimated; it is that which, may irreversibly mark the course of an existence . . . something which draws the subject towards his or her own recreation and reinvention."
• To consider Nonhuman-ness requires us to rethink culture. To see its non-linear, emergent and dynamic being. It eludes description through words and capture. Agency is seen through performance and interaction, in temporal realisation.
• Art is an theatre of the study of being where the split between human agency of the passive machine like world is confronted by the nonhuman, the evanescent.
• Boundaries collapse, nonmodernity recognises alien agency where we are open to the affect of the world, unconstrained by scientific law. Humanity caught in the endless flux of becoming.
Buddhism and the modern self as an unfortunate illusion; zen, the tao, and humanity as caught up in the endless flux of becoming. Something is happening here, and you don ’ t know what it is. A sense of danger and of shame. Drugs, visions, altered states, madness, the loss of control, surrender — everything we ’ ve been taught to feel bad about. Modernity has its defenses in place, and the police are inside us
• Do nonhuman things have a type of consciousness or sentience? Panpsychism is a concept that "all objects or systems of objects, possess a singular inner experience of the world around them ”Such objects could be said to harbor “ mind or mind-like qualities, ”that is, singular experience inherent to them, without entailing anthropocentric notions such as consciousness, life, thought or cognition, perception, or soul."
From the monism of pre-Socratic philosophers such as Thales (all is water), Anaximenes (all is air), Anaximander (all is a boundless, infinite substance called the apeiron), and, most well-known, Heraclitus of Ephesus (all is fire and flux), to Spinoza and Leibniz.
a continuum across Western thought revealing that the universal quality of physical things finds its expression both in the realms of human consciousness and in “ inanimate mentality. Moreover, panpsychism itself is not the only philosophical movement whose ontological premise states, as Thales describes, all things are full of gods.