Piscis ludicrous / Transfixed gaze (Lygophilia)

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    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Piscis ludicrous / Transfixed gaze (Lygophilia)

Video essay, 15′ 30”, 2018

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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. 1134–114

Piscis ludicrous / Transfixed 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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Ligofilija je serija raziskovalnih umetniških del, ki nastajajo na pobudo Robertine Šebjanič v želji, da bi raziskala ljubezen (gr.: philéō) do temè (gr.: lúgē) in do neznanih prebivalcev tistih krajev, ki so za ljudi negostoljubni.

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Piscis ludicrous / Zamaknjeni pogled (Ligofilija)

Video esej, 15′ 30” (2018)

 Sploh biti nekaj – kamen, kuščar, človek – je biti zavit.                                                                                                                 Kako si misel želi, da bi se lahko zvijala in obračala kot kačja poezija.

Timothy Morton (Dark Ecology)

Robertina Šebjanič deluje v poljih živih sistemov (bioumetnosti) in zvočne umetnosti in z njima oblikuje interaktivne ambientalne odzivne potopitvene instalacije. Najpogosteje se ukvarja s kulturnimi, političnimi in biološkimi realnostmi v morskih in vodnih okoljih, ne nazadnje tudi zaradi nejasnih podob, ki jih tovrstna okolja zbujajo v človeških predstavah. V Piscis ludicrous / Zamaknjeni pogled (Ligofilija) umetnica z več vidikov predstavlja nečloveški subjekt – mehiškega salamandra aksolotla, enega od mnogih nekosmatih prijateljev, ki so skozi zgodovino zamikali človeški um:

  • aksolotl kot vrsta, ki ji grozi izumrtje v naravnem okolju;
  • aksolotl kot predmet znanstvenih raziskav zaradi njegovih neverjetnih regenerativnih sposobnosti, ki obljubljajo večno življenje;
  • aksolotl kot kulturna dediščina v biopolitičnih in dekolonialnih odnosih, kot vez z mitologijo v sodobnem svetu.

Umetnica postavlja potopitveno in poetično vizualno zvočno krajino, da bi gledalce na ravni čutnih zaznav spodbudila k razmisleku o novih (ekoloških) realnostih v času antropocena (ne glede na morebitne moralne sodbe). Z opremo za terensko snemanje je vstopila v življenjsko okolje aksolotlov in o razmerah v ekologiji razpravljala z nekaterimi znanstveniki, etnobiologi, kmeti (chinamperas) in drugimi izvedenci, ki spremljajo/motrijo zelo velike spremembe v aksolotlovem ekosistemu.

Aksolotli, ujeti v resničnost ekološke katastrofe, so skozi stoletja oblikovali številne predstave ljudi, ki so se z njimi srečevali. Španski naturalist je v 16. stoletju zabeležil njihovo ime v jeziku nahuatl in si zamislil latinsko ime piscis ludicrous – smešna riba. (Henderson, 16) V kratki zgodbi »Aksolotl« Julia Cortázarja je pripovedovalec zamaknjen, uročen. Doživi lastno metamorfozo, spreminjanje v aksolotla: »Gledal sem jih eno uro in potem odšel, ne da bi lahko mislil na kaj drugega.« Video esej ponuja večplasten pogled na živali in gledalec/ka doživlja podoben zamik kot tisti, o katerem piše Cortázar. Izziva dojemanje odnosa med nečloveškim subjektom in človekom. Raziskuje, kako bi lahko opažali parametre ekoloških potreb drugih vrst v času temne ekologije.

Aksolotli so stare Azteke fascinirali zaradi nenavadnega videza in izjemnih regenerativnih sposobnosti. Verjeli so, da je aksolotl utelešenje boga Xolotla, ki je bil brodnik umrlih v podzemni svet in bog ognja. Hkrati so tudi del njihove kulinarične tradicije in ljudskega zdravilstva.

Mitologija in znanstvena dejstva o aksolotlih, ki so pomešana s popularno kulturo, vabijo gledalce k poglobljenemu pogledu na sobivanje in soobstoj različnih vrst v sodobnem svetu. Od 19. stoletja naprej se je število aksolotlov povečalo, čeprav zgolj v laboratorijih, kjer podrobno raziskujemo njihovo biološko prednost – večno mladost. Po drugi strani so ljudje vzrok za njihovo (neizbežno) izumrtje v naravnem habitatu, in jezera okoli Ciudad de Méxica, kjer aksolotli živijo (so nekdaj živeli) v temi močvirij, izgubljajo simbolni pomen kot povezava med preteklostjo in prihodnostjo.

Z vsemi znanstvenimi zaslugami na področju regenerativne biologije ter obljubi o podaljševanju človeškega življenja, je človeštvu skoraj nemogoče videti aksolotle takšne, kakršni so – nečloveški subjekti v procesu neizogibnega izumiranja.

Projekt razpira vprašanje: Kdo opazuje koga? Kdo je viden kot (vodna) pošast in kdo je zaznavan kot optična utvara

Bibliografija:

  • Cortázar, Julio, “Axolotl”, v 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”, v BioScience, številka 65, izdaja 12, 1. december 2015, str. 1134–1140

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Video esej: Piscis ludicrous / Zamaknjeni pogled (Ligofilija), 2018

Kamera, montaža, zvok: Robertina Šebjanič

Razstavo je pripravila: Ida Hiršenfelder

Besedilo: Robertina Šebjanič in Ida Hiršenfelder

Glas: Matija Drobne, Polona Torkar

Intervjuji: 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

Prevod in lektura (slovenščina): Tamara Soban

Lektura (angleščina): Paul Steed

Tehnična podpora: Tomaž Kučer, Uroš Veber (Projekt Atol)
ProdukcijaSerija Ligofilija, 2017-
Zavod Projekt Atol, Ministrstvo za kulturo Republike Slovenije, 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), 2017 Art/Research Residency pri Arte+Ciencia at UNAM pod vodstvom Maríe Antonie González Valerio s pomočjo Roberta Rojasa Madrida, Transitio_MX 07 festival v Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART).

 

Svetovanje, intervjuji in posebna zahvala: 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, Arte+Ciencia UNAM: 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, Centro Multimedia celebrado en Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART).

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