Lygophilia

Lygophilia

[slovenski tekst ⇊⇊]

Lygophilia is a series of research-based artworks initiated in 2017 by Robertina Šebjanič to explore the love (Gr.: philéō) for darkness (Gr.: lúgē) and the unknown dwellers in places inhospitable for humans.

Piscis ludicrous /Transfixed gaze (Lygophilia) Video essay, 15′ 30”, 2018

* Lygophilia / Transfixed gaze  (August – September 2017), art – research residency at Arte+Ciencia at UNAM  and development for a festival Transitio_MX. (for more scroll down)

To be a thing at all – a rock, a lizard, a human – is to be in a twist.
How thought longs to twist and turn like the serpent poetry!

Timothy Morton (Dark Ecology)

 

Piscis ludicrous / Transfixed gaze (Lygophilia)

Video essay, 15′ 30”, 2018

piscis-ludicrous-_-tranfix-gaze-lygophilia-10-3600x108001 piscis-ludicrous-_-tranfix-gaze-lygophilia-12-3600x108000 piscis-ludicrous-_-tranfix-gaze-lygophilia-04-3600x1080

To be a thing at alla rock, a lizard, a human is to be in a twist. 

How thought longs to twist and turn like the serpent poetry!

Timothy Morton (Dark Ecology)

Robertina Šebjanič is working the fields of living systems (bio-art) and sound art, thus creating interactive ambiental responsive immersive installations, dealing predominantly with cultural, political and biological realities of marine and aquatic environments, not least for their obscured visions in the human imaginaries. In Piscis ludicrous / Tranfix Gaze (Lygophilia) she showcases non-human-subject Mexican salamander »axolotl« – one of many non-furry friends that have long transfixed the human minds – through different narratives:

– axolotl as a species that is facing extinction in its natural environment;

– axolotl as a subject of scientific research considering its extraordinary regenerative abilities and the promise of everlasting life;

– axolotl as a cultural heritage representing biopolitical and decolonial relations, displaying the connection between mythology in the contemporary world.

The artist creates an immersive and poetic visual soundscape and ​encourages the viewers to reflect – on the level of sensory experience – on new (ecological) realities in the time of the Anthropocene (notwithstanding moral judgment). With her field-recording (audio-video) equipment, the artist entered into axolotl’s living environment and discussed this ecology with several scientists, ethnobiologists, farmers (chinamperas) and other experts who monitor substantial changes in axolotl’s ecosystem.

Axolotls, traped in the reality of ecological catastrophy, have taken – through the centuries – many shapes in the imaginaries of the humans who encountered them. A sixteenth-century Spanish naturalist recorded its Nahuatl name and came up with piscis ludicrous – the ludicrous fish. (Henderson, 16) In a short story “Axolotl” by Julio Cortázar, the writer is transfixed, experiencing his own metamorphosis transforming into an animal: “I stayed watching them for an hour and left, unable to think of anything else.” The video essay offers a multilayered view of the animals and the viewer is experiencing the transfer that Cortázar writes about. It challenges the perception of the relationship between the non-human-subjects and human. It explores if and how we are able to perceive the parameters of ecological needs of other species in the times of a dark ecology.

Axolotls intrigued the ancient Aztecs because of their fascinating appearance and regenerative powers, and were believed to be a manifestation of the god Xolotl who was the ferryman of the dead to the underworld and the God of Fire. At the same time, they had been a part of their culinary tradition and folk medicine.

Axolotl’s mythology and scientific facts, merged with popular culture, invite the viewers to gain a more profound view of interspecies cohabitation in the contemporary world. This is a story about particularly complex case of such cohabitation. Since the end of the 19th century, the numbers of axolotls has increased, however, only in laboratories, where they are examined for their biological advantages of their perpetual youth. On the other hand, humans are the cause for (imminent) extinction of axolotls in their natural habitat and the lakes surrounding Mexico City, where axolotls originally live(d) in the darkness of the swamps, are losing their symbolic meaning as a connection of the past and future.

Given all the scientific merits in the field of regenerative biology and the promise of prolongation of human life, it is almost impossible for humankind to see axolotls as they are – non-human-subjects in the process of inevitable extinction.

The project thus opens the questions: Who observes whom? Who is seen as a monster and who is perceived as an optical illusion?

Bibliography:

  • Cortázar, Julio, “Axolotl”, in Literaria, Buenos Aires, 1952.
  • Henderson, Caspar, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings. A 21th Century Bestiary, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.
  • Morton, Timothy, Dark Ecology. For a Logic of Future Coexistence, New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.
  • Voss, Randal S.; Woodcock, Ryan; Zambrano, Luis, “A Tale of Two Axolotls”, in BioScience, Volume 65, Issue 12, 1 December 2015, p. 1134–1140.

Piscis ludicrous / Tranfix Gaze (Lygophilia), video essey, 2018

Camera, editing, sound: Robertina Šebjanič.

The exhibition was prepared by: Ida Hiršenfelder.

Text: Robertina Šebjanič and Ida Hiršenfelder.

Voices: Polona Torkar, Matija Drobne,

Sound editing: Rok Kovač

Interviews: Tzintia Mendoza, CIBAC-UAMX: Dr. José Antonio Ocampo Cervantes, Arturo Vergara Iglesias, Alan Roy Jimenez Gutierrez, Angelina Saldaña; Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas UNAM: dr. Jesús Chimal Monroy in Brianda Berenice Lopez Avina,El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM: dr. Luis Zambrano.

Translation and proofreading (Slovenian): Tamara Soban.

Proofreading (English): Paul Steed.

Technical support: Uroš Veber (Project Atol), Tomaž Kučer.

 

Production: Lygophilia series, 2017-

Projekt Atol, Ministry of culture of Republic of Slovenia, Sektor, CIBAC-UAMX (Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas y Acuícolas de Cuemanco Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco), Arte+Ciencia at UNAM (The National Autonomous University of Mexico) in 2017 art/research residency at Arte+Ciencia at UNAM lead by María Antonia González Valerio with assistance of Roberto Rojas Madrid Transitio_MX 07 festival, at Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART).

Advisers / Special thanks: Tzintia Mendoza,  CIBAC-UAMX team: Dr. José Antonio Ocampo Cervantes & Arturo Vergara Iglesias & Alan Roy Jimenez Gutierrez & Angelina Saldaña CIBAC-UAMX dr. Jesús Chimal Monroy and Brianda Berenice Lopez Avina at Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas UNAM, Arte+Ciencia UNAM team: María Antonia González Valerio, Roberto Rojas Madrid, dr.Luis Zambrano (El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM), Alejandra Ramos (UNAM), Francisco Martinez Perez, Secretario Auxiliar de la Cantera Oriente (REPSA), Pedro Soler, Miha Colner, Sarah Hermanutz, Annick Bureaud, Ale de la Puente, Ida Hiršenfelder (MG+MSUM), Kristijan Tkalec (Rampa Lab), Gregor Aljančič (Tular Cave Laboratory), Transitio_MX  festival at Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART).

 

 

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Lygophilia / Transfixed gaze  (August – September 2017)

Mexico city,  art – research residency at Arte+Ciencia at UNAM  and development for a festival Transitio_MX

 

 (scroll down for Spanish text – español abajo )

The project Lygophilia / Transfixed gaze showcases the Axolotl through different narratives:

– as a species that is facing extinction in natural environment;

– as a subject of scientific research considering its fascinating regenerative abilities;

– as a cultural imperative that helps to understand bridge between the past and future.

The Lygophilia / Transfixed gaze ​encourages viewers to reflect on new (ecological) realities in the time of the Anthropocene. It intervenes into environments and discusses ecology in order to establish the extent of substantial changes in ecosystem. It explores if and how we are able to perceive the parameters of ecological needs of other species in the times of dark ecology.

The mythology and scientific facts, merged with popular culture, invite audience to gain a more profound view of (inter)species’ cohabitation. Since the end of the 19 th century the number of Axolotls has increased, however, in laboratories, where they are examined for their biological advantages of their perpetual youth. On the other hand humans are the cause for (imminent) extinction of Axolotls in their natural habitat. The lakes surrounding Mexico City, where Axolotls originally live(d) in the darkness of the swamps, are losing the symbol which connects the future with the past.

The project thus opens the questions: Who observes whom? Who is seen as a monster and who is perceived as an optical illusion?

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Credits (not final credits yet as project is still in research / development phase)

Author: Robertina Šebjanič

Assistant: Roberto Rojas Madrid

Curator of Transitio_MXPedro Soler

Production support:
Projekt Atol, Ministry of culture of Republic of Slovenia,Transitio_MX, SektorCentro de Investigaciones Biológicas y Acuícolas de Cuemanco Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco (CIBAC-UAMX)Arte+Ciencia at UNAM

art/research residency at Arte+Ciencia at UNAM lead by María Antonia González Valerio with assistance of Roberto Rojas Madrid.

Consultancy / Special thanks:

Tzintia Mendoza,  Dr. José Antonio Ocampo Cervantes & Arturo Vergara Iglesias & Alan Roy Jimenez Gutierrez & Angelina Saldaña from CIBAC-UAMX (Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas y Acuícolas de Cuemanco Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco), dr. Jesús Chimal Monroy and Brianda Berenice Lopez Avina at Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas UNAM, Arte+Ciencia UNAM University, María Antonia González Valerio, Roberto Rojas Madrid, dr.Luis Zambrano from El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM, Francisco Martinez Perez, Secretario Auxiliar de la Cantera Oriente (REPSA),Miha Colner (Sektor), Sarah Hermanutz, Annick Bureaud, Ale de la Puente, Ida Hiršenfelder, Kristijan Tkalec (Rampa Lab), Gregor Aljančič (Tular Cave Laboratory), El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM,Transitio_MX  festival at Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART)……

+ more organizations and individuals involved in the conservation of Axolotl at its natural environment (full credits of all the collaborators will be updated – as the project is still in development and it will premiered at the Transitio_MX festival, Mexico City)

UPDATE: 2017, 21 September: In light of all the tragic events that happened in last days in Mexico and as gesture of the solidarity are all public events canceled. Due to the earthquake and the declaration of emergency in Mexico, the Transitio_MX festival is canceled. – premiere 26. September, 8 pm, at Transitio_MX  festival at Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART) in Mexico City, curated by Pedro Soler,

art/research residency at Arte+Ciencia at UNAM, lead by María Antonia González Valerio with assistance of Roberto Rojas Madrid

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Lygophilia / Transfixed gaze 

Audio y acto visual en vivo con un organismo vivo.

La pieza lygophilia / transfixed gaze invita a los espectadores a reflexionar sobre nuevas realidades (ecológicas) en la era del Antropoceno. Interviniendo los ambientes se analiza la ecología para establecer el alcance de cambios sustantivos en el ecosistema. Explora si es posible y como, percibir los parámetros de las necesidades ecológicas de otras especies en tiempos de ecología obscuras.

La mitología y los hechos científicos, fusionados con la cultura popular moderna, invitan a la audiencia a obtener una visión más profunda sobre la coexistencia entre especies. La extinción del ajolote en su hábitat natural y de los lagos que rodean la Ciudad de México, son un claro ejemplo de una comunidad que está perdiendo sus símbolos y, junto con ellos, su vínculo con el pasado. Desde finales del siglo XIX, el número de ajolotes ha aumentado, pero únicamente en laboratorios, donde se les estudia por su capacidad para regenerar tejidos y mantener su rejuvenecimiento. El proyecto por lo tanto plantea las siguientes preguntas: ¿Quién observa a quién? ¿A quién se le percibe como un monstruo y a quién se le percibe como una ilusión óptica?

 

Colaboradores del Proyecto:

Autora y directora del proyecto: Robertina Šebjanič

Asesoría y consultoría: Roberto Rojas Madrid

Curador de Transitio_MX: Pedro Soler

Colaboradores de apoyo a la producción: Ministerio de Cultura de la República de Eslovenia, Projekt Atol, Transitio_Mx, Arte+Ciencia de la UNAM,  Sektor, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas y Acuícolas de Cuemanco Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco (CIBAC-UAMX)

Residencia de investigación de Arte+Ciencia at UNAM, coordinado por María Antonia González Valerio con la asistencia de  Roberto Rojas Madrid

Nuevo proyecto en  desarrollo – estreno en Transitio_MX Festival del Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART) en la Ciudad de México, curado por Pedro Soler

 

Agradecimientos especiales:

Tzintia Mendoza,  Dr. José Antonio Ocampo Cervantes & Arturo Vergara Iglesias & Alan Roy Jimenez Gutierrez & Angelina Saldaña from CIBAC-UAMX (Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas y Acuícolas de Cuemanco Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco), dr. Jesús Chimal Monroy and Brianda Berenice Lopez Avina at Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas UNAM, Arte+Ciencia UNAM University, María Antonia González Valerio, Roberto Rojas Madrid, dr.Luis Zambrano from El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM, Francisco Martinez Perez, Secretario Auxiliar de la Cantera Oriente (REPSA),Miha Colner (Sektor), Sarah Hermanutz, Annick Bureaud, Ale de la Puente, Ida Hiršenfelder, Kristijan Tkalec (Rampa Lab), Gregor Aljančič (Tular Cave Laboratory), El Laboratorio de Restauración Ecológica UNAM,Transitio_MX  festival at Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART)……

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To be a thing at all – a rock, a lizard, a human – is to be in a twist.
How thought longs to twist and turn like the serpent poetry!
Timothy Morton (Dark Ecology)

The project Lygophilia / Transfixed gaze showcases the Axolotl through different narratives:

– as a species that is facing extinction in natural environment;

– as a subject of scientific research considering its fascinating regenerative abilities;

– as a cultural imperative that helps to understand bridge between the past and future.

The project Lygophilia / Transfixed gaze encourages viewers to rethink the concept of new (ecological) realities in the time of Anthropocene. It intervenes into environments and discusses ecology in order to shed light to the extent of substantial changes in the ecosystem and how these affect the existence of a single species and their effect on the entire habitat?

The mythology and scientific facts, merged with popular culture, invite viewers to understand the life of (inter)species’ cohabitation more profoundly. In the short story entitled ‘Axolotl’ by Julio Cortázar’s, the narrator is transfixed. He experiences his own metamorphosis transforming into Axolotl: “I stayed watching them for an hour and left, unable to think of anything else”.

The atmospheric, audio-visual performance (installation) by Ljubljana-based artist Robertina Šebjanič thus offers distorted view of the Axolotls, while the viewer is still restricted to experience the transfer that Cortázar writes about. However, the project tends to challenge the perception of Axolotls and to restore the relationship of humankind with its natural environment. It explores if and how we are able to perceive the parameters of ecological needs of other species the times of dark ecology.

The extinction of Axolotls in their natural habitat, caused by human intervention, is ongoing; it takes place on a daily basis. The lakes surrounding Mexico City, where Axolotls originally live(d) in darkness of the swamps, are losing the symbol which connects past and future.

The complete extinction of Axolotls in the wilderness could also wipe out important indications which are very useful for environmentalists and scientists studying their perplex traits. Since the end of the 19th century numbers of Axolotls has increased, however, only in laboratories. There they have been bred and raised successfully as laboratory specimens having been a subject of investigation due to their extraordinary biological ability to regrow severed limbs, gills or tails as well as to make head transplants. Experiments using Axolotls as specimens help scientists understand principles of regeneration and aging. The quest to unlock their secrets which hide in very principles of their complex organisms have captivated human minds for centuries.

Axolotls have very rare amphibian capacity to grow into adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis and therefore live in an everlasting adolescent stage. They are the model species resonating with desires of humans who long for perpetual youth. Therefore it is almost impossible for humankind to see Axolotls as they are – animals in the process of inevitable extinction. Instead of being common residents in the laboratories where they are investigated for their mysterious biological advantages, Axolotls are characterized for their strong cultural references – as mysterious creatures that never age.

Therefore the artist questions different aspects of their existence. Who observes whom? Who is perceived as a monster and who is perceived as an optical illusion? It is highly important to explore ecosystems as well as to understand (bio)political systems that reflect on current society.

Progress means: humanity emerges from its spellbound state no longer under the spell of progress as well, itself nature, by becoming aware of its own indigenousness to nature and by halting the mastery over nature through which nature continues its mastery.                                                                                                      Theodor Adorno

 

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V središču projekta Ligofilia – Premeščeni pogled, ki bo predstavljen v obliki video eseja in terenskih zvočnih posnetkov, je dvoživka aksolotl imenovana tudi mehiški salamander, ki jo delo obravnava skozi različne perspektive: kot skrajno ogroženo vrsto; kot predmet znanstvenih raziskav, predvsem zaradi svojih regenerativnih sposobnosti; kot kulturni pojav, ki nam pomaga razumeti most med preteklostjo in prihodnostjo. Projekt naslavlja gledalce v okontekstu nove ekološke realnosti antropocena. Loteva se prepleta bogate lokalne mitologije, pomešane s pop kulturo ter sočasnega obširnega in dolgotrajnega znanstvenega raziskovanja aksolotla. Kljub izumiranju aksolotla v naravnem okolju, zaradi onesnaženja in vdora človeka v močvirnata območja, se je od konca 19. stoletja število aksolotlov povečalo, zaradi njihove rabe v laboratorijskih raziskavah, v katerih se je znašel zaradi svoje večne mladosti, sposobnosti proizvajanja primarnih celic v odrasli dobi. Z jezeri bogata okolica Mexico City, kjer so v temačnih mlakah Xochimilko jezera bivali aksolotli, počasi izgubljajo vrednost kot kultrurni simbol povezovanja prihodnost s preteklostjo.

Raziskavo za projekt Ligofilija je umetnica opravila na rezidenci v Mehiki v sodelovanju z Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas y Acuicolas de Cuemanco (CIBAC) in programom Arte+Ciencia pri UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).