Sounds of Mutation part 2

Curator’s choice

The sounds of mutation have been emitted, going fast and far through syntactic, decentralized, and distributed structures. The signal was heard from the part of the world connected to the net (now 63%, increasing). Now, bodies are changing because there is no such thing as a mind: in the end, there are only bodies. When we think, we do it physically; the act of seeing or listening goes through our body; and the same happens when we try to recall, wonder or understand.

To remember our bodies and imagine their drift is an exercise that gets more dizzying and challenging as the virtual layer of experience grows. To make it sound is to create a record in some place between the mess and the order of this process of increasing abstraction, while we feel the mutation or simply get used to it.

This second part of Sounds of Mutation expands its proposal to various regions and focuses on the sonorous image that this wide art scene is constructing between the body and the feel of mutating. Hoping that this audio landscape and its relationship with the visual image will give us a chance to think about time with the ear.

Olga Fedorova


Olga Fedorova Short Term Memories (2018) MP4, audiovisual loop 1800x2700

What is the minimum a body can be reduced to and still mean “humanity”? A lot of efforts in science and technology have the purpose, declared or not, of keeping humans alive forever. Sometimes it is a matter of life, and sometimes of memory. Some believe that to be forgotten is to die a second time. These concerns—central to posthuman philosophy—produce a collision between what we think we are, the image we have of humankind, and the categorical logic of technology, expressed in AI projects (based on patterns) or digitization techniques (i.e. scanners) or even the possibilities of storage, among others.

In Short Term Memories, there is a speculative exercise to imagine what will remain of humanity, and what image someone might have of us in the future. There is a rich symbolic field in Olga Federova’s artwork: an incomplete female body, an ordinary pendrive absorbing it, a simultaneous two-directional walking. A short composition by Raum Antibody Label (Yannik Franck) in an acid-techno key completes the scene, emphasizing the machine feature of the humanoid in the picture. The abstraction of the body is charged with an industrial purpose. It will be biologically expensive, yet functional and synthetic.

The idea of the body as a mysterious machine that needs to be improved converges with critical thinking about the role of the female gender in this process of technological abstraction. On the way to infinite optimization, a doll in pieces becomes a little monstrous.

Renee Carmichael

Moving Difficulty Part 2

Renee Carmichael Moving Difficulty part 2 - My feeling of the Blockchain is… (series) (2020) Video performance, audiovisual loop

My feeling of the Blockchain is… is a conceptual artwork created in the middle of the first hype of the NFT market, between 2020 and 2021. During lockdown, with the rapid increase in digital and virtual activities, this series was born from the idea that technical abstraction needs bodies that support it, therefore it should be possible to feel it and move within it. Based on the main concepts of the Blockchain, Renee Carmichael created a score to move and think about this technology. She began taking the difficulty number of the last transaction in her wallet and learning this huge number to say it while she danced. The achievement of this simple exercise was to give human body language and the astronomical scale of computing an oscillating point of connection, far from Boolean values. Considering performing practice as a pendulum between body and algorithm worked as a way to understand the complexity of this new phenomenon, not just in its technical dimension but also with regard to its social ecosystem, discussions, and community. Moving was the strategy to access the liminal space—between cryptography, financial abstraction, and meaning—that emerged from the Blockchain.

This research formed a dance in four parts and a DAO that explores ways to access these data narratives, in the tension between the unique subjectivity of the body and the factual nature of maths. What we hear is her human voice attempting to recall and say this impossibly large number correctly.



Oelhan 🔥 (2021) MP4, audiovisual loop, created in Cinema4d and After Effects 1500x1500

Virtually, we mutate without limits. We can go as far as we can imagine, although even in the ideal there are limitations. It is possible to dream of cold fire, but it may be difficult to make the body believe it. The virtual experience might involve you completely by appealing to physical notions or knowledge and by simultaneously informing your body with new experiences. Convincing or not, no matter how plausible they are, at the end of the journey we will store these synthetic feelings.

This hand plays with fire in some place between two states: touching tentatively to let the information be burned into the skin (or not), to get into or out of the unknown. Turning between different ways of feeling, the precise lapse depicted in Oelhan’s artwork moves away from representation to create a fantasy: a fire that burns physically through sound.

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Eraserhead 9 (2022) Audiovisual loop

If seeing is believing, we could lose most parts of the multilayered reality in which we live, breathe, and move. There are invisible, inaudible signals that may even be hard to perceive. They inform us, our bodies. The sound of 9 might perfectly represent the absence of silence on the Internet, the constant traffic of information, data, glitches, and protocols between servers. The fact that this input can manifest in the consciousness or not does not make it less real or mean that we are unable to feel it. It could be expressed as anxiety or maybe as some kind of stimulus or mental exhaustion, depending on our ability to process this amount of information.

This artwork is part of the series Paddle Cell, where Eraserhead explores the idea of madness and the social structures that are made to contain it. In his discourse, there is a question about what is a disease and what is healing. There is also an analogy between the psychiatric institution and society itself. The formal exercise, expressed in the image, brings to mind the figurative expressionism of Francis Bacon in its intent to depict the precise moment in which a transformation is happening. However, the relationship between sound and image reveals the nature of the internal work required of us to adapt to a complex environment. Subjectively and objectively, abstract forces take shape in a body and the result is nothing less than total deformation.

Lux Valladolid

Tragic Story

Lux Valladolid Tragic Story (2022) Video performance, audiovisual loop, 31”

Tragic Story is the result of Lux Valladolid’s investigation into performing virtually. After spending time using a beauty filter to represent herself on social media, Skin was born: an augmented person living through the artist's body and at the same time constructing their own story. Belonging both to reality and the spectacle of social media, this character began to reveal how mixed these narratives are. The moment this digital mask displaced the real face of the person (Lux), the question moved beyond performance to the difference between real and fake, whether there is a clear limit, and if it is useful to even think about it.

At this point, the artist decided to kill the character, giving it a fictionalized end, her artificial suicide. How can you kill something that never existed? The strategy was to tell a story, to communicate this tragic end. In the video performance we see Skin in a loop from which she will never escape; the inverted sound of the sea informs us about the impossibility of the situation, while the music reinforces a classic drama of the twentieth century, where the character is trying to fit in, to be more realistic. The artwork has the power to make us reflect on the transformations in subjectivity, and therefore on the concept of reality.



Izzy Food for Thought (2020) MP4 1920x1440

The central role of data in questions about the body takes a fantastic path in this sci-fi loop by Izzy. With an acute vision of the industrial dimension of an intangible product as data, this artist applies videogame aesthetics to express where he thinks things are going. Modified bodies are created to excavate data, deformed by working, and converted into animals that are fed with information. There is flying hardware everywhere, and the only sign of human life seems to be the blood on the floor.

Mounted as a film scene with a subjective camera, various elements situate the scenario in Asia: a sign indicating the way to Kasir, a mural with different kinds of heroes that could be part of a Bollywood movie, a Chinese-style temple, etc. It is not difficult to guess why he situated this fiction there, since that is where all technology devices are produced, most of the time at the expense of the workers. The frenetic track that mixes Indian rhythm, microtonal music, and an industrial beat depicts the same situation: the souls are possessed by machines. The work points out how far the industry is prepared to go in its quest to obtain and commercialize data and how this is transforming humanity. The history of globalization is combined with advances in genetic science as contemporary processes that mark us culturally. And this mysterious combination results in a rich field to imagine and speculate about our future.

This journey around the themes proposed by the artworks reveals similar concerns with very different approaches. With more or less emphasis on how these changes, worries, and fears sound, in every case the audio gives us clues or ideas about the reflections they propose. The exercise of listening can allow us to get into their worlds and embody the act of thinking.

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