Here’s the accompanying text for the installation I have in Global Intersection 2013: A World of Materials and Methods, up at Globe Dye Works in Philadelphia.
terra lingua: three aspects
*transmedia installation by Hassen Saker
We’ve for centuries explored and debated the question, “What is Nature?” One can argue that, like Tao, nothing existing in the world is outside of Nature, same applies to that which we imagine does not exist – it, too, is ‘Nature.’ This argument, as currently presented as a question, irritates me. Maybe because to me Nature in truth remains with an embodied definition, as it is embodiment, and less rhetorical. But mostly because I suspect the question is often used as a diversion from addressing the issue of Climate Change and ecocide – a reactive argument to a[n] a/morality that has nothing to do with the Ethic of Reciprocity; it’s reactive to the idea of punishment rather than acknowledging actual consequences more complex than a binary response, equation or sound bite. An attitude that the planet can take whatever damage we inflict is narcissistic and irrelevant. It encourages disembodiment and domination. Even if that were to prove true, all creatures, including humans, suffer for it. Beauty suffers for it. We can dismiss others’ and even our own negligence with the excuse that everything is ultimately O.K. But where does that lead or leave us? Certainly away from experience, here, now, what we feel, in the thick of our co-mingled matter.
The question re the philosophy of Nature (which is really about ‘what is natural’) leads us away from it. It fails to address the more pertinent and useful concern: our deep feelings of loss in a world that’s increasingly anthropogenic – further removed from the earth, our biology and each other. We should trust such warnings in our limbic systems. This state of separation is a device of domination, insisted upon for centuries by those seeking egocentric or material gain over love of beauty or satisfaction from being of service. It serves to create a rift between peoples, from people and their food, their water, their bodies, their spirituality, to further exploit vulnerabilities. It is sociopathy at the basic level; isolate people from Nature (that which harmoniously – or dissonantly – occurs in the ecosystem that sustains us) so that they more fully depend on others with keys to their survival – including the welfare of what some may consider the soul. I’m not the first to argue that it is, in fact, our souls that are diminished when we divorce ourselves from Nature.
At its most basic, Nature is our ecosystem that would exist independently of human production. It’s efficient, self-contained – constantly seeking equilibrium and harmony even in dissonance. It doesn’t take without giving. It’s all that we perceive in our viscera as beauty.
I’m not concerned about the end of the human race so much as I am with humanity struggling to survive without feeling beauty – its soul, milk. No, to be more specific, I’m concerned about individual suffering, especially the suffering that occurs without experiencing a sense of beauty. With this project, I’m interested in exploring what makes Nature work in a way that maximizes sentient lasting satisfaction. I don’t address the conceptual semantics of Nature but her sensory communication. This is a means to an end; I’m particularly curious about how she entices us, via pleasure, to connect with her to better ensure her survival and ours. Are we biologically coded – and triggered – to protect her, to protect that which sustains us – and if so, how do we carry out that program?
This project consists of three videos – Haptics (Skins), NanoNetworks (Transmission), and Cymatics (Frequencies). Three aspects of an Earth language (or ‘mother tongue’) that are not human-centric but human-enhancing. (The irony of me writing ‘poems’ about non-verbal communication is not lost on me, of course – rather, it’s ‘tongue-in-cheek’) Information is the measurable connection between all matter. It’s transmitted in waves or vibration (light, sound) and in molecular and electric modes. I address touch (haptics), sound waves’ impact on matter (cymatics here – imaging of patterns created by sound), and chemical/molecular communication (nanonetworks) – what happens in our bodies and in all bodies, especially fascinating in the symbiotic networks of mycorrhiza.
What’s most exciting for me is the impetus of beauty, our pleasure response to how she communicates in sublime holistic (that is, non-anthropogenic) fashion, and how we are inspired to propagate it. Think of how you may yearn to share with someone your experience of a particularly amazing sunset, for instance. None of us would exist without some form of [non-anthropogenic, at least] communication, sure. We’d not exist without this enigma we call beauty, either. One could say that to be drawn to beauty is in our “nature” – surely it’s encoded in us. Even if we could exist without beauty, who would want to?
*transmedia describes a work that uses various media as a way into a story or idea. Each element is equally important & immersion is key. For this project, I created & orchestrated audio/score, video/editing and text/narration.
terra lingua: three aspects will be up through October 27th 2013 as part of the Global Intersection 2013 exhibition curated by Rachel Citrino. Main gallery will be open to the public from Thursdays through Sundays 9-5. Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St, Philadelphia.
Also exhibiting in Global Intersection 2013: