Welcome by Udo Kittelmann, Director, Nationalgalerie / Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin
Francesca von Habsburg, Founder and Chairwoman, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), introduces how the foundation transformed from commissioning unconventional artistic projects to becoming an agent of change at the interdisciplinary intersection of art, science, and policy-making
Markus Reymann, Director, TBA21–Academy, presents the exploratory arm of TBA21, its activities dedicated to knowledge production, and its program The Current, whose next three-year cycle is led by Chus Martínez and SUPERFLEX
Stefanie Hessler, Curator, TBA21–Academy, introduces the program for Fishing for Islands
Chus Martínez, Expedition Leader, TBA21–Academy The Current, introduces “Fishes should not be taken from the deep! Films, Mime, and Misticismo”
Artist Christopher Myers comes from a long line of storytellers. His performative interventions between the different acts approach new and vernacular forms of globalization in sound, media, and culture, thinking about how urban music, film, dance, images, and marketplaces are connected by transoceanic travel. Myers traces how flows of migration and refuge-seeking travelers transcend the local, and considers new models for transnational communication.
The beginning of the program is marked by an experimental “circus”, convened by Chus Martínez, expedition leader of the TBA21–Academy The Current cycle 2018-2020. Martínez considers neither only swimming or researching in the sea, nor thinking about the sea as crucial, but suggests that a new mimesis of the seas is at the heart of developing a new sensorium with the oceans.
“Untitled Hands” (2017), a ballet conceived by Eduardo Navarro for two mimes and four mechanical hands, is accompanied by an image installation emerging from the visual archive of TBA21–Academy The Current conceived by artist Tiphanie Mall and a series of activations – acrobatics – conceived by circus artist Ferkel Johnson, with Silent Rocco. They are joined by the voice of musician and performer Shabnam Virmani singing the songs of Kabir, one of the most interesting personalities in the history of Indian mysticism.
For more than twenty years, Armin Linke has dealt with how humankind uses technology and knowledge to transform and develop the Earth’s surface to adapt it to its needs. In his project “Oceans” (2017), Linke accompanies scientists of leading research institutions and local actors who grant insights into complex processes of marine science, the immanent threats of deep sea mining, biodiversity, and behind-the-scenes negotiations. This panel brings together a number of Linke’s interview partners for a discussion with the audience.
Matthias Haeckel, Senior Scientist, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel
Katherine Houghton, Expert on Ocean Governance and International Environmental Law, Potsdam
Kai Kaschinski, Activist, Fair Oceans, Bremen
Armin Linke, Artist, Berlin
Sebastian Unger, Expert on Ocean Governance, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam
Moderated by Markus Reymann, Director, TBA21–Academy
The law of the sea is a branch of international law that applies to 71 percent of the Earth’s surface area. Present international law of the sea received its frame in the near-universal 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which in turn built on some four centuries of development. Challenging the core normative and institutional structures established on these bases would essentially mean challenging international law. On the other hand, simply continuing along the same path is, given increasing impacts of human activities on the oceans, hardly a feasible option. Ocean governance and law structures may require profound re-examination of what have become accepted perspectives. With few exceptions, our current rules regulate human impacts on the ocean components of the Earth System in terms of the political boundaries of sovereignty and jurisdiction, translated into law. However, the ultimate objectives may need to be shifted, and international regulations crafted so as to enable us to channel and confine the human impact on the Earth System – as we enter the Anthropocene, a new epoch in the history of our planet.
In his talk, artist Trevor Paglen meditates on the global dominance of invisible images, and on how remoteness and invisibility, for instance of what is submerged under the surface of the oceans and in the deep sea, is hidden and exploited deliberately. From smart cities monitoring traffic flows to the immense repositories of photographs on social media that are continually mined for metadata by powerful artificial intelligence systems to speculative explorations of the seabed, we find ourselves in a world where most images are made by machines for other machines and often are not intended to be seen by human eyes. In this talk, Paglen explores the world of seeing-machines, articulates how images have gone from passive representations to active agents, and outlines some of the dangerous consequences for human societies.
For several years, Susanne M Winterling’s research has homed in on the organic bodies of dinoflagellate algae that light up when touched or moved. Increased algae reproduction rates in the shape of blooms caused by warming waters are known as “red tides”. For her recent work “Glistening Troubles” (2016), Winterling worked with marine biologists and communities in Jamaica to gain insight into the medicinal properties of algae for treating skin infections, known to locals for centuries. Creating an analogy to the touchscreens that surround us these days, Winterling’s research investigates dinoflagellates as indicators for the health of coastal waters with toxic potential. Stefanie Hessler, curator of TBA21–Academy, speaks to the artist about transformations of scales and temporality, ecological solidarity, toxic sovereignties, and post-human precariousness.
Tamatoa Bambridge, research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in Moorea, deals with an ancient institution in Eastern Polynesia called the rahui, a form of restricting access to resources and/or territories, also known as tapu throughout Oceania. Currently, individual actors, societies, and states in the Pacific are readapting such concepts for environmental regulations and cultural legitimacy. Rahui have become a means for indigenous communities to be fully recognized on a political level, and restore them in order to preserve political control of their territory or, in some cases, to get it back. Lars Eckstein, chair of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures outside of GB and the US at Potsdam University, who is currently leading a research project with Anja Schwarz, Chair of British Cultural Studies, on navigation and cartography in the Pacific, discusses maps created by Tupaia, a Tahitian navigator who accompanied James Cook on the HMS Endeavour. Tupaia’s maps put the voyaging subject into the center, conceiving of him or her not as outside the territory they are traversing, but deeply embedded in the active construction of time and space. Along these maps, Eckstein discusses with Bambridge different modes of relations between humans and the sea and land surrounding them.
Fishing for Islands culminates in “Soundwaves”, a series of sound works mirroring the increased flow of water in the oceans during high tide. Artists who have been recording underwater sounds make audible a world usually inaccessible to our ears, and call attention to issues like sound pollution, melting icecaps, and endangered biodiversity. Wavering through the historic hall of the Hamburger Bahnhof until the early morning hours, the performances divert from anthropocentric biorhythms and amplify mythological as well as more-than-human noises and perspectives.
22:00 CEST : Jelena Glazova
23:30 CEST : David Rothenberg
01:00 CEST : Peter Zinovieff
01:45 CEST : Andrew Spyrou
02:30 CEST : Jana Winderen
03:00 CET : Jacob Kirkegaard
04:00 CET : Zavoloka
05:00 CET : Carl Michael von Hausswolff
Note: Due to daylight saving, there is one more hour in the night from October 28 to 29. Line-up timings above are indicated as Central European Summer Time (CEST / GMT+2) and Central European Time (CET / GMT+1).
Jelena Glazova’s sound performance “speech islands” (2017) is based on digitally processed speech recordings, deconstruction of vocal elements, as a form of expressing unpronounced speech, which is a metaphor for individual’s subconsciousness as an ocean of infinite possibilities. Speech processing in this project serves as a metaphor for eternal flowing development of “primordial”, “primary” matter on a macrocosmic level (ocean) as opposed to the microcosm of the human body’s physicality (islands of speech).
David Rothenberg presents “The Longest Song in the World” (2017), a new work based on his efforts collecting the most beautiful humpback whale songs from scientists all across the globe. He remixes and interacts with these whale songs as he did on his book and CD Thousand Mile Song, where he played live along with humpback whales in Hawaii.
Peter Zinovieff presents “South Pacific Migration Party” (2017). This is an extended computer work, derived from hydrophone recordings of blue whales recorded by oceanographer Susie Buchan off the coast of Chile and curated by Andrew Spyrou. Unlike the song of the humpback whale, blue whale song consists of repeated low-frequency vibrations followed by a contrasted high-frequency chirrup. A single complete call from the largest creatures ever to have existed on Earth has been manipulated to create an immersive soundscape. Earlier in 2017, a quadraphonic version was played in Athens as part of documenta 14 and a full B-Format rendering was presented at TBA21 as part of the exhibition Tidalectics in Vienna this June. The present version is for two separate quadraphonic systems.
Andrew Spyrou presents "Sevu-Sevu: Sonic Expedition Log" (2017) a new sound piece composed from recordings taken during the most recent TBA21-Academy expedition, to Fiji and Tonga. During the first leg of the 30-hour crossing from the Lau Islands Group to Tonga, Spyrou composed a sonic portrait of the expedition vessel, the M/V Dardanella, using only recordings made around the ship. Here, this material is set against other manipulated environmental sounds recorded on the expedition.
Jana Winderen’s sound performance “bára” (2017) is composed from hydrophone recordings collected during various expeditions with the TBA21–Academy, among other journeys. Submarine worlds are extremely sensitive to sound pollution and the sonic level of underwater ecosystems can be indicative of the health of marine habitats. “bára” comprises diverse sounds, from waves to the clicking of crustaceans, from smaller fish species grunting and interacting with corals to larger mammals whose songs take shape as they waver through the space.
Jacob Kirkegaard’s “MELT” (2016) is composed of recordings of different stages of ice melting. Moving from surface recordings of creaking ice and the tiny bursting bubbles inside ice sheets to underwater recordings of the powerful booms from calving glaciers and ice caps grinding against each other. “MELT” is a sonic image for the flow and change in the Arctic right now. All recorded in Greenland by Kirkegaard in 2013 and 2015.
Zavoloka has composed a sound piece “V” (2017) inspired by submarine volcanoes. Underwater exploding volcano sine waves and tectonic rhythms evolve with submarine sounds. Sizzling lava echoes are erupted with low frequencies. Deep sea glissando created by the slow release of bursting gigantic magma basses. Warped with time volcanoes fill in on hardened sonic lava and build up above the ocean high resonance surface, forming soundscape islands.
Carl Michael von Hausswolff's new piece created for Fishing for Islands is entitled “Ocean Dome Revisited” (2017) and is partly composed with the use of sounds from the oceans and sea mammals and partly improvised using sine wave oscillators.