fold #05 on Awakening
Graphics by Jinhye Lee
August 2022 – November 2022
Fold #05 on Awakening
Pedro Hurpia (BR)
Reading on Awakening I.
with Christopher van Ginhoven Rey (BR/US)
Artist in Residence
Hertta Kiiski (FI)
30.09. – 23.11.2022
Lisa Maartense (NL)
Reading on Awakening II.
with Jun Zhang (CN/NL)
Text on Awakening
by Melanie King
Reading on Awakening III.
with Anna Zvyagintseva
28.10. – 18.11.2022
Pauline Berger (DE)
This research text is
part our long-term programme
on art and sustainability in fold #05
Find the full reading list on Awakening here.
What does it mean to ‘wake up’ from something? Or when we say something really opened our eyes? It may be argued that the feeling of ‘waking up’ to new perspectives does not take place in a vacuum or solitarily. Rather, waking up happens through a network of changes and shifts. More than a sudden moment, or the opening of one’s eyes, awakening is a gradual process across micro- and macroscopic levels. In this process, we often speak of seeing things in a different light, namely one that is more clear than before. Apparently, something was asleep before. Something within that we all share and can wake up to.
The butterfly effect
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions (such as the atmosphere). This means that a small change in one state can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the system’s future state. Usually used for weather prediction models, this term also underlines the meaning of awakening. The butterfly effect posits that many things may have the power to change the world and how we understand it.
Brazilian artist Pedro Hurpia, who is a #sea_youhere 2.0 ambassador of the Awakening theme, is recreating narratives that speculate on the edge of modern science and popular beliefs. He researches devices and rituals of prediction in order to ‘understand’ natural phenomena and geophysical anomalies which humans become aware of when their body is directly impacted while the source of such impact often stays inexplicable and thus leaves open what is real and fictional.
Naturally, science has an influence on our narratives. But also, speculation, fiction, artefacts or rituals might shape transitions and bring to light instruments that we have not initially perceived. Along these lines, awakening is a phenomenon that concerns all, and all of our past. Our environment and the worlds we build around them are shaped and organised by these traces.
Liminal reality and supernatural
Ülo Valk and Daniel Sävborg talk about the social gravitation that environments, places and landscapes possess through storytelling. The gravitational field of such places then fluctuates as the stories are being re-told or forgotten. They argue that places become active agents in shaping a liminal reality we all are part of. The lore of places that contains memories, folklore, legends, traditions and knowledge passed from mouth to mouth has an ability to evoke a threshold of the real as the stories reverberate in time, never fully complete.
The practice of storytelling evokes the supernatural of places which rather than being superior to nature could be understood as something transcendental. Supernaturalisation of places has a liminal quality implying the reality where social and physical confluent, where the stories and environments come into conversation and shift between daily and fabled.
How do narratives change as we engage differently to our surroundings? And, why do some narratives ‘fail’ and get replaced? Scientific theories, as well as fictional stories, adapt along with our environments. In a way, they form their own ecosystem, where fiction is a reaction to science and vice versa.
Ecofeminist Donna Haraway is an expert in the field of science and technology, but also a science fiction lover. She proposes to view science fiction writing as a philosophical text, as a way to feed the need for new narratives. Specifically, storytelling allows for a more dialogical engagement with what is said. Emphasising engagement and creativity could be the necessary response for a more ecological and sustainable future. In these times where ‘truth’ is becoming a muddled term, fiction and ‘counter-stories’ could serve as an activistic measure for awakening.
(Artistic) practices of awakening
Are there narratives from forgotten cultures and societies, or from other entities besides humans, that could awaken us to alternative ways for the future? This fold points toward how artists often lead the way with considerations on art and sustainability. For example, the art studio Nonhuman Nonsense embraces contradictions and paradoxes. Through utopian or dystopian proposals or the use of mythology with a contemporary twist, they bring up future scenarios that are reflecting upon social and ecological justice and their interconnectedness.
Anthropologist Anna Tsing looks at collective memories from forgotten organisms, such as fungi and bacteria in our soil. Her method is one of polyphony: bringing disparate stories into resonance. In her acclaimed ethnography The Mushroom at the End of the World she traces the strange commodity chain of the matsutake mushroom to offer up perspectives on collaborative survival.
Similarly, the work of artist Pedro Hurpia follows how collective narratives spread. He researches deviations and predictive technologies that have been forgotten or doubted throughout the time of different cultures and societies. In this fold, we are looking at the speculative strategies and ideas that do not pass the test of modern and empirical science. We recreate instruments to ‘understand’ natural phenomena, and question what are perceived contradictions. Can we expand the analysis of what speculation or a contradiction is? How can these serve as tools for waking up?
Can we leave open the uncertainty of what is real or fictitious?
Sävborg D. & Valk Ü. (2018). Storied and Supernatural Places. Finnish Literature Society. Helsinki.
Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.
Tsing, A. L. (2015). Mushrooms at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton University Press.
This is only a selection of reading resources on Awakening. For the full reading list suggestions visit the Awakening reading list.