Iezzi draft

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What can you tell me about your work?

Repetitive sound, repetitive sound, bodily human sounds, naked bodies, knife, chicken, repetitive sound, helicopter in sepia, albino, mini skull bong, dust, drums, fog, repetitive sound, ritual. Slime mold, politics, sodomy, animals, saguaro, bacteria, homosexuality, species, mimicry. Budweiser, scaffolding, consumerism, career, barricade, totem, flag, blindman’s cane, masculinity.

Is there some kind of mystical symbolism occurring? What can you actually tell me?

I believe this list can be used to further contextualize the texts presented within many of my works. The texts and themes are then able to make connections in their own ecosystem, allowing the viewer to build parallel narratives for themselves. It is a conversation between the viewer, the material, and myself.

But why are you using this conversation to get your point across?

The conversation demonstrates an exchange of information. This approach becomes an anti-didactic answer to the problem of didactic institutionalism.

What does that even mean?

I mean that the institution of art demands answers to accompany aesthetics. They want information. An anti-didactic approach leads the viewer to their own answers by simply opening a conversation. I believe that the imagination is strong enough to speculate rather than being given every fraction of information in a representation. 
 This sounds dangerous while existing in political contexts which remain oppressive and violent in nature. Couldn’t people take this work then and place it into contexts which you don’t want your work to live?

I do my best to not lead anyone towards tyrannical ways of thinking.

How so?

There is a critique of capitalism implicit in the building of forms which are completely outside of its industrial model. The hand-crafted, and the modified play towards a practical empathy for the objects simply because of the care and time given to them.

What do you do with this practical empathy?

The hand-crafted object is in direct contrast to the purely industrial modes of materializing. By offering work which the viewer can interact with in some way, the work opens up to something else at the moment in which they decide to participate with it. They can possibly open up to a deeper connection to these things which are present in that moment. Once the viewer crosses the threshold of your work, then they are becoming something else alongside it? 
 The ideas of becoming-animal/becoming-object directly relate to a human’s reconnection to the earth and all of its inhabitants – living and non-living. Its a breakdown of the systematic hierarchies within which we find ourselves.

Okay. So can you explain a work where these hierarchies are broken down?

Dog Poison came from that idea that the viewer could be given an experience which is more dog-like than their own daily situation. The work functions on an aesthetic level as a sculptural installation. But also, if the viewer is willing to subject themselves to the physical terms of engaging with the artwork, then they can have another experience and reading of the work beyond its formal terms.

What are these formal terms

It is three interactive sculptures, each comprised of a hand-tufted rug, a found and modified dog-bowl, and an audio piece connected to the bowl through headphones. To listen to the audio, one must lower their body near the floor, as the headphone cable is of a short length. The bowl and headphones sit in front of the rug, inviting the viewer to lie or kneel on top of the work. The images on the rugs are drawn from MRI scans of dog brains. There is a literal connection between the image and concept, although I don’t find it necessary to contextualize this for the viewer. And the sound are connected to this?

The audio was also inspired by research into dogs' brains. The audio was filtered to only include frequencies that certain breeds would be able to hear at the higher end of the spectrum. The additional presence of the food and water sounds, or non-verbal language points towards the dogs ability to tune-in on specific triggering sounds.

And with this you expect viewers to walk in and have an experience which can change their outlook on human-animal hierarchies?

I think the ingredients are there for such an interaction, and this also motivates me to push myself forward in my work. However, I only pose participation as a possibility; I am not convinced that there is a right or wrong way in which to engage the work.

Why are you here anyway?

On this planet?

In this institution.

I was attracted to PZI in order to find confidence in the form of autonomous writing, and in exploring the modes in which this can be done.

Are you completely untrained?

Previously, at the New School, I did my only prior higher-education writing course: ‘writing the essay’. This is a mode I am not interested in, directly related to this idea of didacticism. I would rather take a position outside of my own body in order to open up a conversation.

Is this why so often your voice is altered in your video and sound work?

The erasure or loss of ego in my work is important to me. I would rather have a conversation within the work that explores the possibilities of position-taking.

How is this done in an installation such as Owl Pellet?

In Owl Pellet, a 8 minute looping video was shown in an attic within the PZI building. Upon entering this attic through climbing a ladder which I had made, the viewer passes into an unknown space and watches a video of a ball of dust singing a song which they can sing along to if they want. The text is presented in a style seen in karaoke videos with the lyrics on the bottom of the screen.

(question inquiry into karaoke)

There is a construction of self-hood within a karaoke performance. Identity is performed for the viewers in relation to the songs which the singer identifies with. A new self can be created by choosing to perform alongside Owl Pellet in the attic.

What sort of identity do you think this song would create?

It is sung from the first-person of a dust-ball, so there is an immediate connection to the non-living minutia that people often do not consider.

What is the dust-ball's point of view that you've written in the text? 
 It resonates between responses to both French/German Philosophy and poetic abstraction. This is an attempt to make the form of a conversation also resent in a single subject text.

So there is a reference to post-structural continental philosophy, but also to animism. Can you say these things are related?

They come to relate in my work given the sense that they illustrate two philosophies which I have been subjected to.

Where have you been subjected to such things?

In Tucson, Arizona, where I was born, it remains a law that cutting down the Saguaro cactus - even just one arm - can result in felony charges similar to that of murder. There is a level of practical empathy on a cultural and political level. This is the American Southwest, and also reserved land for the Tohono O'odham (Desert People) Nation of Native Americans. In Tohono O’odham culture personification is used to refer to both plants and animals of the area. This sort of knowledge has been used to affect positive change in state government.

And the philosophy? 
 I have dealt with that during my liberal-arts education. I find philosophy a useful tool for identifying oppressive systems, and animism a practical way to subvert their power.

There must be a way to do this with a more concrete approach. You are giving a voice to things which could never speak and never have their own agency. Why would introducing false pathologies into objects give an answer to these regimes?

I'm thinking about language, and I'm thinking about how the sounds of eating are a language we all speak together. We can relate on both of these verbal and pre-verbal levels. 
 You mention eating, and earlier you mentioned bodily sounds. I'm wondering if those such as pissing and shitting are a part of this universal language?

With animals these are the basic functions that we share in an elementary way. With objects it is more hard to pin-point exactly where our functions overlap. In this sense, animating an object becomes the easiest way to bring it to our level, of course there must be other ways to do this as well.

Okay. Now tell me about the one where you fuck a vacuum. In this performance you have actually chosen not to give the object a humanizing voice, but you do engage with it on a pre-verbal body function and sound level. 
 My New Feelings Whip is a performance piece which refers to a love-relationship between a human-being and their vacuum cleaner. It deals with the structuralization of love and gender; the ways in which western civilization constructs heteronormative ideas of what love is. The vacuum however, does become personified when it plays an ocarina with my assistance.

Oh, there is an ocarina as well?

The performance consists of five ocarinas, a modified vacuum cleaner, a rug, my body, and my voice. Its a performance of variable length depending on how much I get into it with the vacuum.

How does this situation of solely you and objects not become a mess of your own thoughts pervading the world of objects? How are you not seen as an ego-centric monster?

Can becoming a monster be put into a context in which this becoming is seen as positive and productive?

How does a positive monstrosity form?

Maybe to become monstrous is to undermine normativity. It’s easier, too, in certain places than in others. Like a “monster” in a small, conservative town might be punished and has to hide, where as a “monster” in a city, or online, has the possibility to meet other monsters. Depending on the context, certain types of monstrous behavior could be the most ethical. There always implies some sort of transformation.

What is it that is making you transform?

My peers and tutors can play a vital role in helping me to develop the text in a way which is neither didactic nor nonsensical but rather vibrates in between the two. Many of my works begin as a text, and when gathering opinions and outlooks of others, my own voice only becomes a fraction of the whole. It resembles something like the ten-headed monster.

Working Bibliography:

Barad, Karen. 2003. "Posthumanist Performativity: Toward and Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28.3: 801–831.

Berger, John. Why Look at Animals?

Brown, Kevin. Karaoke Idols: Popular Music and the Performance of Identity.

Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies that Matter. On the Discursive Limits of Sex. London and New York: Routledge.

Charlton, James Martin. The Anti-Didactic Hypothesis.

Deleuze, Gilles. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Continuum, 1987.

Derrida, Jacques. 1971. "Signature, Event, Context," in Limited, inc., Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1988.

Fox, Michael W. "Animism, Empathy, and Human Development" 1995

Haraway, Donna. The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Others. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm, 2003.

Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories. Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir. New York City: Schocken Books, 1995. 473.

Kelly, Michael. A Hunger for Aesthetics: Enacting the Demands of Art. New York City: Columbia University Press, 2012.

Ten Have, Paul. Conversation Analysis Versus Other Approaches to Discourse.

Turner, Terry S. "The Crisis of Late Structuralism. Perspectivism and Animism: Rethinking Culture, Nature, Spirit, and Bodiliness" 2009

Young, Indi, Practical Empathy