The Thing Is All Around Itself
Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm.
with Hermione Spriggs
What began as a research expedition retracing the casuistry of Swedish Naturalist/Entomologist Rene Malaise in his 1940s search for Atlantis (across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge), ending up turning into a series life-threatening encounters with an Icelandic volcano, a ruptured ovarian cyst, a coincidental Los Angeles earthquake and an argumentative kidney stone. In the end, The Thing Is All Around Itself articulates the profound need for the arts and sciences to adopt a physical and conceptual flexibility whilst pursuing any spiritual or scientific investigation, and this seemingly endless labyrinthine project follows the steps of two friends as they learn to dance with the reality of their imaginative research, rather than demanding it into obedience. The Thing Is All Around Itself is documentary research project about an animal trap, which eventually turned to entangle its makers.
"...yes - and just to play devil’s advocate, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you... but what if the lure of the trap is recognized by the animal as such, but its – its making the active decision to enter into the unknown, to accept death and enter directly into the trap, to have this thing that its presenting – you know, to have this like, insane, y’know manufactured piece of delicious sardine or whatever is being used as the lure, there’s a chance the animal is saying to itself, y’know, this is worth it...then wham!...the film begins..."
"I don't think either of us realized just how entangled up we'd get with the concept and conundrum of death. Upon reflection, two years later, it makes perfect sense; between Malaise (the inventor of a trap which suffocates flying insects) Atlantis (the majestic site of a mass extinction) and the Natural History Museum (an institution which glorifies the bodies of knowledge derived from carcasses), along with your multi-day trip to the Swedish emergency room, the end result of this research througehly lodged the question of death into my guts. And yet, two years later, I am still no closer to understanding how these carcasses are revered into bodies of knowledge after they cease to move. Though, since working on this thing I've learned to admire and appreciate (and even seek out) experiences in which I tingle from the chance of being swallowed up by another, stronger and smarter animal. I've realized now that this work in an ongoing project which connects the history of our species, and the development of our culture, back to the prehistoric sensations of being eaten alive. "
lecture/performances and exhibitions of The Thing is All Around Itself include:
Exhibition, New Wight Gallery, University of California Los Angeles, 2013
Lecture/Performance + exhibition, Art/Sci Gallery, California Nano-systems Institute, University Of California Los Angeles, 2013
Live Cinema, Structural Materials and Engineering Presentation Space, University of California San Diego, 2014
Lecture/Performance, Lorquin Entomological Society, BIOQUIP supply warehouse, San Pedro, CA, 2014
Live Cinema, Exteresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico, 2014
Film Screening, Eyes as Sieves group show, Global Committee Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, 2015
Film Screening, Aesthetica Film Festival, York, England, 2015
Site 1: Elduvik, Faroe Islands
Latitude: 62° 16' 34.20" N
Longitude: -6° 54' 20.99" W
Site 2: The Glacier Emergency Hut
Latitude: 65° 55' 33.0744'' N18°
Longitude: 52' 50.4912'' W
Site 3: The Overpass
Latitude: 65° 38' 25.3788'' N23°
Longitute: 14' 57.8724'' W
Site 4: Námafjall
Site 5: The People's Pool
Longitude: 63.9830° N
Latitude: 19.0670° W
"...right, traps, more often than not lure the animal with food.
it's really interesting to think about this rich, somewhat taken for granted history of eating food whist watching movies. Y'know, I mean working in a theatre we both know that even if people aren’t hungry they’ll get popcorn and start munching on this stuff, and leaving little trails in the darkness...
(laughs and clears throat)
sometimes we have to eat our way into the film as well as conceive it visually...
yes, perhaps it has something to do with getting a sense of one's own weight, activating your insides, invigorating the culture in one’s gut, somehow contributing to the sense of weightlessness the cinema offers...
yes, and probably a kind of deactivation of normal bodily functions by eating something...
exactly, you’re changing the ratio to be more about in your stomach.
apparently the greeks used to think that the mind was in the stomach, today researchers are finding that 20 percent of all neurons in our brain are also in our stomach…
our brain neurons?
yes, and i also heard they've found some lining the walls of our heart. three minds it would seem... "
Site 6: Hrafntinnusker
"...It was midnight when we were sailing directly over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. As lightning surrounded our ship the storm charged the atmosphere with a sense of electric magic. The bolts of jagged light were yellow, and they breathed so effortlessly across hundreds of miles of sky, illuminated magnesium and silk lines connecting the sky and ocean together into a single metabolic system. And the afterimage of the lightning was blue. The strange thing about lightning is that it resembles its own after-image left upon the retina after is vanishes. Even after it disappears, it somehow manages to return to us, but physically contained within our bodies as a ghost of itself. Maybe this is how the cinema becomes a trap for humans... With enough darkness a room ceases to be a container, corners of the theater curve and become diaphanous, pushing back, blinks of the eye become less of a shutter in total darkness, and that energy once visual begins to oscillate between the ear and nose."
Site 7: Myvatn (Fly Lake)
Longitude: 65.6039° N
Latitude: 16.9961° W
University of California Institute for Research in the Arts
Swedish Museum of Natural History; Entomology department
Taxidermist Jens Jenson from the Faroe Islands