The Acousmatic Lectures have roots in discursive practices and propose a listening experience based on the Pythagorean acousmatic model: a mode of presentation in which the speaker is hidden from the public. Acousmatic Lectures encourage both orator and listener to focus exclusively on the acoustic space that provides a frame for the spoken word, its temperament and tone, without the addition of visual information or the speaker’s body language. For this series of lectures, all visual clues generated by the speaker’s facial and bodily expressions (which normally influence how information is received) remain hidden. Nevertheless, the speaker’s voice and its dissemination in the surrounding environment still convey the speaker’s physical presence. This approach underscores the dialectical conflict between abstract and sensorial information, confronting us with an array of decisions specific to the act of listening itself.
The term references a Pythagorean tradition according to which only Pythagoras’s most devoted students were allowed to see and visually perceive him during his lectures. By contrast, newcomers were made to sit before a curtain concealing the master’s physiognomy. Students were therefore left without any visual information and had to try to follow the lectures solely by attentive listening.
The lectures are academic in nature—a deliberate choice of the artist. The speakers are academics and scholars who talk about their specific areas of expertise. The intention is to observe what impacts the acousmatic settings have on participants, and specifically without the influence of any artistic or aesthetic sensory effects. In the Acousmatic Lectures held thus far, a performative character has been observed that condenses the classic academic lecture scenario into an acoustic experience that functions both informatively—on a linguistic level—as well as in an acoustically qualitative way—on the level of the voice as instrument—and is capable of transforming situations, content, and space. These aspects are made legible through the ways in which the acoustic characteristics of the voice interact with the surrounding space. As such, they might be experienced as a means for determining the interaction between and transfer of linguistic and affective sensory information.
Lecturers: Alex Arteaga, Sabeth Buchmann, Ernesto Estrella, Markus Gabriel, Marcus Gammel, Federico Geller, Mladen Dolar, Deniza Popova, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Nihad Sirees, Birgit Schneider, Sven Spieker, u.a.
In line with the constitutions of the Republic of Ecuador and Bolivia that recognize Pachamama (Mother Earth) as a legal entity with its own rights and responsibilities relative to the state, Kemmuna Nation speculates with the idea of a global nation constituted by non-humans entities, which organize themselves creating their own economical and political system based on the structures of specific pre-existing interconnections between species.
In 2018 I was invited by FRAGMENTA Malta to present this project by taking over the island of Comino. Several buildings were put to use. The program included a declaration of independence speech, a lecture on Blockchain and Kemmuna Coin cryptocurrency, and a short tour of Comino’s lichen ecosystem. An interactive sound installation and a sound walk were presented in Comino’s abandoned bakery.
“October 28th will be the date: nature declares its own independency. Plants, animals and minerals will unite to build the most powerful nation in the world, leaving behind times of plunder and exploitation through men. This will be the day that the world order will take a new shape. Join us to be witness of the birth of Kemmuna Nation.” “In the age of the Anthropocene, the end is near. The ideal of a shared world no longer exists, political philosophy has lost its language, globalization is experiencing a negative reversal. Now, the earth starts fighting back.”
The foundation on which the system structures itself is played out on the mineral level contained in the soil, which is connected with different species of plants through an underground network of mycorrhizal fungi. This system generates nutrients for insects and animals, including humans. In this way and considering the amount of plants, which are being eaten by those, mycorrhizal fungi get an overview of the animal population (also by communicating with other fungi growing on animal corpses and feces).
Thus, the mycorrhizal network administrates life on the planet by exchanging nutrients and information through carbon dioxide. With the help of lichen, which has also a fugi component, Kemuna Nation can build biomonitors for air pollution. Many lichen species have large geographical ranges, allowing study of pollution gradients over long distances. This information torrent can be measured by sensors on the ground and interpreted by a central computer, which, through an algorithm, determines the value of a cryptocurrency. This new currency is called Kemmuna Coin, and will be used by humans to pay transactions with the earth. All raw material taken by humans from Kemmuna Nation need to be retributory paid with Kemmuna Coins. Violations of law will also be charged in Kemmuna Coins. In this way pollution and explotation of nature can be a factor that altered the value of that monetary exchage between mankind and nature. Constituting so a self-regulated system, that also regulates the human factor of the system.
The video Cenit tells a love story that is a metaphor for the celestial moment when the sun casts no shadow. Spinoza’s Ethics and an archaeological examination of Aztec ruins serve as the point of departure for a theory of reality and emotions. In Asef’s view, reconstructing and representing real space in the mind draws on the same mental processes used for constructing the idea of love and happiness. Accordingly, wandering the earth induces an emotional experience that prompts the main character of Cenit to search for the geographical point of happiness.
Under the catchword “consumption” artist Mario Asef developed for the Aquamediale 11 two projects dealing with processes of landscape usage and transformation. On the Lübbener Schlossplatz he appropriates an area of the park in order to set up his own brick-making production. He mixes local iron-ocher mud with cement for the production of bricks and tests the results for sustainability of use in building construction.
The focus of the work was on the so-called “Brown Spree”: As a late consequence of coal mining, iron hydroxide dissolves from the soil and colors the Spree river in ocher of varying intensity. Fish, plants and microorganisms die off. Every day about 8.5 tonnes of iron oxide mud (ocher mud) flows into the Spree river, while it is not yet clear how large the environmental damage will be for the ecotourism region. In a daily Sisyphean work excavators clean the waterways while the material accumulates unused at their edges.
Parallel to this, Mario Asef developed in cooperation with Edelmond Chocolatiers GmbH a “geological cake” that reproduces the specific geological composition of the Spreewald soil in chocolate, vanilla, marzipan, and icing. The cake is been served to customers at Edelmond’s restaurant during Aquamediale 11 festival.
The video work Crossfade focuses on two types of mass migration between South America and Europe, comparing the process of population expansion in human beings with the expansion dynamics of populations in nature.
The arrival of Europeans in the Americas was an event that would irrevocably change the course of history of mankind. By the time the first explorers had landed, an invasion of the continent had already become inevitable. For sixteenth century Europeans, America became a screen onto which they could project their fantasies of discovering a new Eden. Many of them lost their lives in pursuit of this illusion, while many Native Americans lost theirs in a struggle to defend their way of life. One man’s dream is another man’s nightmare.
In the early twentieth century, the accidental arrival of a species of ant in Europe drastically modified the coastal environment of the European Mediterranean. Shiploads of Argentinean grain, sugar and wood exported to Europe brought with them the species Linepithema Humile, also known as the Argentine ant. This ant is notorious not only for its exceptional reproductive capacity, but also as an invader that kills and enslaves other native species. From Genoa to the Atlantic coast of Portugal, a stretch of nearly 5,600 kilometres along the Mediterranean coast, there exists a super-colony of Argentine ants.
duration: 6’ 30’’ min and 16′ 30” min / system: HD Pal – Color / audio: Stereo Digital
The work has been presented at Junge Kunst e.V. Wolfsburg, Germany in 2012, at Q21, MuseumsQuartier Vienna, Austria 2014, different galleries in London, Berlin and Vienna as well as the Daegu Photo Biennale 2018, South Korea.
Lotería Nacional presents Mexico’s socio-political situation from the perspective of the artist, who makes use of theoretical speculations regarding methodologies of archeology and the social sciences in order to develop interventions in public space, drawings, videos, and objects. The reflections presented revolve around the idea of “reality” as a socio-cultural construct and are firmly connected to central aspects of Mexican society that go beyond its basic political or religious structures.
The project is divided into three chapters or “moments” that appropriate public space and its symbolic structural meaning. Various artistic strategies are employed to achieve this including placarding graphic works along the avenue of Colonia Sta Maria La Ribera, gaining closer access to urban situations via video documentation, or the intervention with megaphones from a wagon selling scrap metal in order to communicate a new message.
In the exhibition space at La Miscelanea University UNARTE, Puebla, Mexico, the three moments outlined above are presented concurrently in order to establish a formal and thematic dialogue between the works. The chanting of demonstrators from 8. November 2014 (in Video 1) serves as background for the organ music, which accompanies the restorers working on the facade of the National Government Palace (Video 2). Through a megaphone lying on the ground, the voice from Moment III, systematically repeats the listing of methodological actions associated with digging and excavating an object.
Acción Día de Muertos
Protests over the “disappeared” students in Ayotzinapa took place under the slogan “They took them alive, we want them back alive.” Given the political circumstances and the strong presumption that the students are dead, the demand “of wanting everyone back alive” becomes an impossible request. While the all-or-nothing nature of the demand remains legitimate, it exposes a radical ideological structure that is determined wholly by chance and a reality that more closely approximates a game of Russian roulette. Under these circumstances relying on fundamental human rights is imperative.
The phrase “43 or nothing” was drawn on forty-three pages of the Mexican National Lottery’s infobooklet. These were installed in public space along the Colonia Santa Maria La Ribera during nighttime placarding actions on November 1-2, 2014. In the lottery’s symbolism the number 43 is a metaphor for balcony, connected here to the meaning of the popular Mexican term balconear.
Balconear is vernacular for “standing on the balcony” or trying to conceal something obvious.
8 de Noviembre
The various social and political levels of representation that can be detected in the physical constitution of a city reveal the structures of power and order to which society is subjected. Cultural expressions often reflect these structures on a superficial level. On November 8, 2014, a group of anarchists among the demonstrators protesting Ayotzinapa spray painted anarchist slogans on the facade of the National Government Palace in Mexico City, and tried to burn down the gates while chanting: “Death to the government, long live anarchy.” On November 8, 1519, Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma II met at the same location for the first time. The National Government Palace was built with stones from the palace of Moctezuma II, after it was attacked, looted, and destroyed by Hernán Cortés.
The work 8 de Noviembre consists of two video projections and a table “adorned” with diagrams, on top of which is situated a model of the National Government Palace with burned gates. The first video shows television footage of the incident on November 8, 2014. On the opposite side of the gallery a second video projection shows a group of restorers at work on the facade of the National Government Palace.
Compra-Venta / Cavar-Fosa
Every archaeological method can be reduced to the banal action of digging a hole. But the act of digging a hole is not archaeological per se. Both Mexico City as well as Tenochtitlan were built on the premise of covering existing structures with stones in order to create a new physical and symbolic structure embodying the social, political, and cultural values of the “new” rulers. Over time, it is necessary to uncover again what was once buried in order to rewrite history.
Compra-Venta / Cavar-Fosa is a sound intervention in the form of a wagon for selling scrap metal, where the typical announcing of objects offered for sale is substituted by a listing of historical or forensic reconstruction techniques. The voice speaks methodically about the digging and excavating of “objects,” which is the basis for current materialistic culture and represents the most effective way of generating myths.
The video installation, “Three Anachronisms,” is a trilogy produced between 2010 and 2014 by Mario Asef, in which the artist reflects on three aspects of the constitution of reality. 1. The appropriation and structure of space. 2. The construction of time. 3. The relationship among information, nature and culture. This trilogy, however, is not a philosophical treatise showing the functioning of these categories. Rather, the reality that Asef observes is constituted by deficiencies in three different orders: paradox, coincidence and failure.The urge to wonder about reality occurs in advance, in the formal aspects of the work. Similar to a documentary, Asef dispenses with the staging. The facts are distant so that the artist can modify them directly. The fixed camera and the presence of common places (the terrace, the museum, the plaza), confirm that here the camera is negotiating with what is put in charge without preamble. The presence of a theoretical body, which is the basis for his work, the constant readings of sociological, philosophical and archaeological theories, construct the objectivist building from which Asef casts on reality.
The exhibit’s title reveals that the work is composed of three parts and in turn indicates how the parts relate to each other. Although the three videos were produced over a continuous period of time, the relationship among them is neither temporal nor spatial. Like a medieval altar with its wings unfurled, where each part of the triptych represents different events occurring in different spaces and times, building a narrative that links different events, so do Asef’s videos present singular facts. On the whole, however, the trilogy builds a representation of the events of Asef’s research (social reality as a construct). The variety of approaches, contexts and reflections come to change and destabilize reality itself, exposing its shortcomings.
However, Asef demonstrates, this building is full of cracks and at risk of collapse: reality and objectivity come to be refuted from the realm of words. With the use of language, Asef separates the image from his documentary content and purpose. In each of the videos, the text does not run as a subtitle, but as the title, positioned in the center of the image itself, breaking the hegemony, enthroned in the middle of our field of vision.
While the use of textual-visuals make the ground of the building tremble, irony – an important feature in Asef’s work – completely destroys this building. Heir to the Argentine literary tradition, where the derision on reality allows hyper-real worlds to open that never stop reproducing themselves (Cortazar and Borges), Asef destabilizes images, concepts and categories with which we build the platforms to travel reality. To provoke laughter, Asef allows us to enter a new order of the visual and begin to think the unthinkable.
I often think that there is no explanation needed to understand the very essence of the real. Its inconsistency. Its sharpness. In this way working with language presents a struggle. Language is uncomfortable terrain for expresing ideas beyond that terrain. However the deft use of language can be a strong instrument for mastering reality. Language is a tool, which allows us to navigate the real world.
”Objekte sind operationale Relationen im Prozess des Sprachhandelns” (Objects are operational relations within the process of verbal activity) is the title of my exhibition at the Maniere Noire Berlin. We enter the exhibition space and see to our left a sentence painted on the wall with a brush that reads: “Der Boden der tatsachen ist ein Spinnennetz” (The ground of facts is a spider web). We can compare the relational structure of the consistency of our truths to nets made of thin threads connecting the facts that support our reality. We walk on safe ground, when we move from fact to fact, we might think. But it is fragile ground constructed of words and symbols; a text; the narrative that built our reality. The gaps between those symbols however are what becomes relevant here. We are confronted with a kind of perforated reality which we move though ignoring the openings.
There is a fan plugged in on the same wall. It is on and the wind it’s producing is strong.
On the opposite wall we read: “Eine These ist ein japanischer Garten” (A thesis is a Japanese garden). So the land we are walking on is drawing us through a pathway especially designed to show us a specific articulation of the space that is equal to the linguistic articulation of our thoughts. Meaning: A thesis is a spatial/linguistic articulation of some truths. And of course our truth is the consistency we build between the physical and the mental world. The path is our truth: the narrative through which we see the world.
On this wall another identical fan is blowing wind in the opposite direction. Our hair swirls…
Is this a visual symmetry built out of asymmetrical assertions? A garden, a thesis, a spider web, the ground of facts; these terms are scattered throughout the space.
A framed drawing is hanging on a third grey wall. The drawing shows four interconnected equations as follows: “an image is a diagram – a diagram is a narrative – a narrative is a machine – a machine is an image” There lines connect inter-equational terms. We speculate on the legitimacy of those equations until we realize they function as a way of defining their own function within the drawing. Meaning; the drawing is defining itself. The drawing itself is an image that is a diagram and a narrative and a machine at once. The work becomes self-referential.
Lines, pathways and spider webs form the narrative of our physical and mental reality. On this aspect of the exhibition Ernesto Estrella asked: “what does a line think?” He has previously discussed the issue of “…where the line appears…” and that it “… seems to have the function of bringing back language a little closer to its materiality, even to remind those inked decisions that there is a void around them, that “…Those lines need to be handled with care, and cannot always be trusted. So the best thing we can do is to approach the ear, the eye, and ask them what they are thinking in there. For there will be no better clues for understanding and enjoying the unbalanced garden they are part of.”
In Jorge Luis Borges tale “The Disk” an old man asks a woodcutter for asylum. He said he was the king of the Secgens, of the Odin people, and had lost his kingdom. He said he would prove it. Then he opened his hand to show something to the woodcutter who, seeing nothing, touched it and felt something cold and saw it glitter. ”It is the disk of Odin,” the old man said in a patient voice, as though he were speaking to a child. “It has but one side. There is not another thing on earth that has but one side. So long as I hold it in my hand I shall be king.“ I may add: …not even a drawing.
It becomes evident that the show is centered on the interface and the interconnection between words-images-objects. Each work defines itself while defining this relationship. So, for example, the invitation card for the exhibition with the title tells us what is actually happening in the space: Objects are operational relations within the process of verbal activity.
As Humberto Maturana notes: “there are no objects outside the field of language”. So Henri Lefebvre’s idea that our cities are texts within which we are moving around is not a metaphor but a fact. And yet they are more than just texts. Urban landscapes respond to a narrative, which we are supposed to interact with. And so we do.
The Mystery and the Wonder almost follows the lead of visualising a long lost space. By presenting the Zenon paradox of the ancient hero Achilles and the turtle, Asef re-narrates the disappearance of the city of Byzantium. The paradox describes a race between the two, which end in the infinity of algebraic analysis. This textual work is confronted with the legend of the history of the palace Dolmabahçe in Istanbul –a building formed from the immaterial, whose factoring was based on the Sultans order to print more money, because the financial capacity of the city has already been exhausted.
The Mystery of Achilles
The city of Byzantium, founded by Greek colonists in the 7th century BC was to form the nucleus of one of the greatest centre of civilization in the history of mankind.
The ancient authors refer to a number of important buildings but their form and location remain unspecified. According to them the city house the famous Baths of Achilles, located immediately adjacent to the Strategion.
In the Zenon paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, we imagine the Greek hero Achilles in a footrace with the plodding reptile. Because he is such a fast runner, Achilles graciously allows the tortoise a head start of a 100 feet. The tortoise runs in 1sec time 1/10 of the distance Achilles do. So, the footrace stars and Achilles runs the 100 feet. In this time the tortoise runs 10 feet. Achilles runs that 10 feet and the tortoise runs 1 feet. Achilles runs that feet and the tortoise 0.1 feet and so on never-ending. Achilles can never overtake the tortoise.
We have to remark that, to make this footrace possible, the participants have to reduce their own size becoming smaller and smaller until de-materializing themselves.
It is told that up to this days Achilles is still running his footrace against the tortoise in an endlessly small Byzantium.
The Wonder of Dolmabahçe
The famous painter Melling visited Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Mahmut II and the wooden palace is represented in many of his prints. After Mahmut II, Sultan Abdülmecit came to stay at the palace. He ordered to be rebuilt in a western fashion between 1843 and 1856. For this purpose Abdülmecit took a credit of 3.500 Kurus, enough to buy paper and ink to print 3.500.000 Kurus to pay the built of the palace.
Dolmabahçe actually means ‘the filled garden’. The Palace is built on land reclaimed from the Bosphorus, hence its name and its materialization appears from the abstract world of infinit numbers became money and transferred into stones and handcraft to finally built a building in our presence.
EMPIRIEN is a series of interventions in public space (1998-2006) that work with the transposition of signs as an idea of reorganizing elements of our urban surroundings. These interventions are reduced to almost imperceptible events that through a redefinition, or reconstruction, of everyday space try to make visible different social mechanisms.
Without previous notice objects will be shifted and replaced in public and semi-public spaces. The users of those places take the initiative and reestablish the ‘normal’ everyday order of things and thereby go about dismantling the interventions.
X Ferry Bus Station, Hong Kong Central / Materials: twenty-five meters of thread /
In the Lorentz transformation, if the X´-axis opposite the X-axis is rotated around the zero point “0,” all points of the X´-axis (except 0‘) vanish from the observer’s experiential realm in reference system S into the fourth dimension. This seems to contradict all normative experience.
One must imagine, however, that one X‘ -axis passes through each point of the X-axis. This means: we must imagine a plane in Minkowski space that is densely filled with X‘ -axes. Each of these comes from another time and is present simultaneously—even when an observer in S discerns just one point of each axis, namely the one point located on his own X-axis.
Brownie Ranch Balzac Coffee, Berlin / Materials: 10800 cm3 of brownies /
After arriving in Berlin in 2000, I began working at a bakery where I specialized in making brownies. At that time, I developed a system of cutting brownie sections in the baking pan that represented the proportions of a primitive hut in 1:50 scale.
I assembled the prototype only once in the bakery, later offering the pieces for sale.
Europe Towers Bausch & Lomb storage, Walldorf / Materials: six pallets of ninety-one boxes each; Lot N* 800523/547 /
Over the course of two workdays, I restacked 546 boxes of optical medical products from DIN pallets onto Euro pallets. The boxes were stacked according to a system similar to the distribution of housing units in high-rise apartment buildings, which allowed the same quantity of boxes to be stacked on the smaller Euro pallets, while making them more stable at the same time.
Two days later the Europe Towers were dispatched to Holland together with the rest of the stock.
Jobcenter Arbeitsamt Südwest, Berlin / Materials: one piece of furniture /
In a job-center in Berlin, a temporary ramp had been installed to transport files between the first floor and the basement. While waiting for a work permit, I moved part of the ramp to a corridor in the basement.
Sleeping Policeman and a Hole US-military base, Heidelberg-Pfaffengrund / Materials: approx. 0.98 m3 earth /
Much has been written on the history of metaphors. Little is known about their materialization. There are objects in this world for which one prefers to use metaphors, since their true meaning extends beyond the functions or physical outline that they describe.
I dug a hole on the property of the US military airport in Heidelberg (Germany). The earth was placed on a bike path on German territory and served as a bump for reducing bicycle speed.
Fragile – handle with care / appropriation / Covent Garden, London / Materials: nine cardboard boxes /
On the evening of February 21, 2004, nine cardboard boxes intended as improvised accommodations were set up in front of the Covent Garden Theater Museum in London. The morning after, the camera recorded how the homeless had appropriated the intervention.
A street artist performed a comedy in front of it.
Mudança* Eixo Monumental Via N1 Oeste, Brasilia, Brazil / Materials: forty-eight meters of rope + one sign
* to move, relocation; change (Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva in his first official speech as president of Brazil on January 1, 2003.)
Farmers belonging to the Movimento sem Terra (Movement of Landless People) of Brazil took over state land on April 22 in the satellite city of São Sebastião, near the capital city of Brasilia. By the time I arrived, people were already demarcating property lines and clearing the lots.
Take your Time Long Tsai Tsuen, Hung Shing Yeng, Lamma Island, Hong Kong / Materials: six dustbins
Lü Dong Bin, one of eight immortal Taoists, is believed to have lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). One time while traveling, as he waited for his porridge in an inn, he fell asleep and saw his future life before him. When Lü Dong Bin awoke, eighteen years had past and he decided to live as a hermit.
Fox fur / donation / Museum of Natural History, Berlin / Materials: one fox fur
On March 11, 2000, I bought a fox fur. I kept it and took care of it in my apartment. On July 1, 2001, I donated the fur to the Museum of Natural History, Berlin. The museum administration was not interested in keeping the specimen.
Hröns Tieckstrasse 5, Berlin / Materials: three plastic chests + three wooden chests /
According to Jorge Luis Borges (in his story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius), certain objects exist in the utopian land of Tlön that are merely projections of human will. For example, if somebody has lost a jewel box and several people go searching for it, it is possible that each person will find the box, but in different places. This implies a multiplication of the object. Such multiplied objects are called hrönirs and are characterized by a peculiar, barely noticeable deformation that distinguishes them from the original. If a hrönir is lost, and its duplicate then found, one will notice an even stronger transformation due to the function of human memory. Such objects are called hröns.
One could hypothesize that the entire variety of objects that make up our cosmos come from ONE original object that has been modified and multiplied by the projection of human will throughout the centuries.
Neolithic Hagar Qim Temple, Malta / Materials: one rope + two racks /
On the island of Malta, a rope and two racks were placed in front of the archeological site of Hagar Qim. These framed two stones coincidentally situated in front of the temple entrance.
Mekka St. Clement Danes, Central Church of the Royal Air Force, London / Materials: one carpet /
In Whitechapel, London, I bought an oriental carpet in an Arabian bazaar. Lost in the labyrinth of the city, I embarked on a pilgrimage for hours in the opposite direction of Mecca, finally placing the carpet at the St. Clement Danes, Central Church of the Royal Air Force.
Bastón / donation / Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin / Materials: one walking stick /
On January 21, 1999, I bought a walking stick and carried it around with me for some time. Years later, I donated the walking stick to the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin. The museum administration was not interested in keeping the exhibit.
Popular Volkshochschule Mitte, Berlin / Materials: ten tables /
Since Pyrrho claimed there is no truth to the reality of sensorial things, the legend circulated that he would not avoid things standing in his way or horses or wagons approaching him, or he would even walk into walls in the conviction there is nothing consistent about sensorial perceptions. Only his friends, it is said, prevented and saved him from all sorts of foolhardy collisions.