VES seminar (Interactivity in Performance Design) was held from 4th to 5th of December 2020 with the theme [Supr! ise!] Art of Error, Haunting, Chaos, Mistakes, Magic, Failure.
The seminar was online, in Zoom. The event was in English.
- 15.00 Opening words by professors Tomi Humalisto and Jari Kauppinen
- 15.15 – 16.15 Falk Hübner: Talking Emergence
- 16.15 – 17.15 Jukka Hautamäki: Neural daemons with sugary divinations
- 17.15 – 17.45 Coffee break
- 17.45 – 18.45 Lynda Gaudreau: Meeting by Mistakes
- 18.45 – 19.00 Summing up the day
- 9.30 virtual morning coffee
- 10.00 – 10.15 Opening words by professors Tomi Humalisto and Jari Kauppinen
- 10.15 – 11.15 Hejazi, Rasinkangas, Santala, Suontausta: Morning wakeup – viewpoints on surprise, randomness and serendipity
- 11.15 – 12.15 Nanni Vapaavuori: Out [ ] of focus
- 12.15 – 13.15 Lunch break
- 13.15 – 14.45 Honkasalo, Mantere, Päivinen: Three views on the enigma of sound
- 14.45 – 15.30 Summing up the seminar
Content of the seminar
Art of Error, Haunting, Chaos, Mistakes, Magic, Failure
How much does an artist dare to experiment with methods, tools, materials or style? Should one keep using familiar techniques and earlier ideas, instead of experimenting with the unknown? However, it is good to remember that using experienced skill doesn’t automatically result in clichés, and a new working method doesn’t guarantee success. Artists find themselves constantly in between expectations and results, chaos and control, wanting to continue to work with something pleasing and familiar, but simultaneously trying to sometimes listen to haunting, persistent and yet fragile impulses while working.
Theatre director Milja Sarkola writes about her experiences of failure as a theatre student and later in working life experiences of losing control. Making the Eva-D production focused more on de-constructing acting around a topic within rehearsing, not integrity of a performance. Despite the uncomfortable fear of shame and not being in control, Sarkola and the performers experienced unique playfulness and freedom when they finally performed as if they would still be rehearsing. (Sarkola 2010.)
When witnessing popular narratives of success and fame in contemporary societies, there seems to be a strong fear of errors – resulting in chaos, bad reputations and a loss of control. The art world is not an exception. As performance art theorist Bojana Kunst describes, bringing art and (exploitation of) life together is central within the capitalist creation of value. The visibility-driven, communicating and multi-tasking nature of a contemporary artist’s work matches perfectly with post-Fordist, self-branding and nomadic working culture. (Kunst 2015.) Such visibility economics creates a pressure to appreciate success and unmistakability. Yet, like senior director of Kickstarter, Patton Hindle claims (2019), failure can fuel the creative process, and artists may even need help to fail.
Thinking about nature of choices in artistic process, it is interesting how Martin Heidegger relates skill and craftsmanship with meaning making and producing something, which may lead to unconcealedness. In other words, producing something with skill creates an event which unveils something undetected. (Heidegger 2007; Ihde 2021; Whitehead 2003.) Interpreting this phenomenological ontology in artistic practice, art making essentially reveals something which becomes forth in this event. The shape or purpose of an artifact may be anticipated, but it is intriguing to think how revealing in this kind of process may appear as surprise or even mystery to its maker? What are the moments within art making when something unexpected happens and how does an artist relate to such surprises?
It is important to note that previous ontology doesn’t take sides in whether creation is successful or a failure. However, depending on the point of view, failures often contain creative potential. It is more about what we expect. According to artistic director Gerfried Stocker (2018), ”an error isn’t a mistake but rather a deviation from our expectations”. An error may disappoint us, but it also opens a space to question and deviate from norms, which can further catalyse new ideas.
In the context where science overlaps artistic approaches, Professor Lisa Blackman has reminded (2017; 2019) of the possibilities to recognise study unexpected and unexplained, a weird science of anomalies and mysteries. Her understanding of haunted data expands the idea of data towards something that is more sensitive to ubiquities and grey areas. Magic, marginal and obscure become possible fields of epistemic understanding, and an area of intersecting approaches of art and science. Visual artist Stig Baumgartner suggests in his dissertation (2015) that an error becomes a resistance, which prevents painting to follow pre-decided order and visual composition. This way, error becomes a supportive force for nurturing creativity and creates space for unobvious paths. The resistance becomes no longer an obstacle but a catalyst. And we may be surprised – with delight and curiosity.
- Baumgartner, Stig. 2015. Virhe abstraktissa maalauksessa: tekijän paikka maalauksen rakenteessa. Helsinki: Taideyliopiston Kuvataideakatemia.
- Blackman, Lisa. 2019. Haunted data: Affect, Transmedia, Weird science. London: Bloomsbury.
- Blackman, Lisa. 2017. “Speculative Science, Threshold Experiences and Transsubjectivities”. In Perilous Experience? -Extending Experience through Artistic research, ed. Leena Rouhiainen. Online publication. Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki.
- Heidegger, Martin. 2007.Tekniikka ja käänne. Tampere: Niin&Näin.
- Hinde, Patton. 2019. “Artists Should Be Allowed to Fail”. Artsy one line database. Retrieved 23.9.2020
- Ihde, Don 2010. Heidegger’s Technologies: Postphenomenological Perspectives. New York: Fordham University Press.
- Kunst Bojana. 2015. Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism. Winchester: Zero Books.
- Stocker, Gerfried. 2017. ERROR – The Art of Imperfection. YouTube interview. Ars Electronica. Retrieved 23.9.2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya_jr_VI-Gg
- Sarkola, Milja. 2021. “Dialoginen toiminta harjoittelussa ja esittämisessä”. In Nykyteatterikirja: 2000-luvun alun uusi skene, ed. Annukka Ruuskanen, 156-165. Helsinki: Like & Teatterikorkeakoulu.
- Whitehead, Derek. 2003. Poiesis and Art-Making: A Way of Letting-Be. Contemporary Aesthics. Vol.1. Online journal. Michigan Publishing. Retrieved 23.9.2020. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.7523862.0001.005
Abstracts & Biographies
Falk Hübner: Talking Emergence
In this talk/conversation artist researcher Falk Hübner will engage with the relationship between emergence and the dedicated themes of the seminar. While most artists can relate to emergence in some way, Hübner will dive into this term coming from system and complexity theory, engage with its entanglements with creativity theory and offer several examples from various discourses.
From there we will exlore what the relationships and productive tensions might be between emergence and terms such as losing control, error or failure: A core part of this will be “talking emergence”: a guided conversation with the participants regarding not only how to understand emergence, bit rather exchange thoughts about “what to do with it” or “How to let it do its work.” Let’s talk emergence!
Falk Hübner is a composer, researcher and educator. Currently he is working on a postdoctoral research on artistic research methodology at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, next to being core teacher for research at HKU Conservatoire. Next to his work at HKU he works as research supervisor for the ArtEZ Master in Music Theatre, and as director for research and writing at ArtEZ International Master Artist Educator, a master programme with a radical vision on art as conflict transformation.
Jukka Hautamäki: Neural daemons with sugary divinations
Media artist Jukka Hautamäki is dealing with thematics related to the future of visual arts: what kind of art there will be in year 2050? Who is making it, to whom and how it will be presented?
A digital, reproducible and inexhaustible virtual artist is a wet dream for neoliberal political idealists. A visual artist is, a sort of product, shaped by it’s environment, a facilitator of the arts? Visual arts is thus gradually becoming like entertainment industry. How we can use AI as critical tool to study these described phenomena and to expand our artistic expression?
In the future there are hybrid AI-human artistic processes. Should this lead into redefinition of creativity? Is the role of art viewer also shifting towards post-anthropocentric, yet undefined?
Jukka Hautamäki is working with artificial intelligence, lens-based media, sound and electronics. The works, are presented in the form of an installation. He is researching the layers of perception, evolution and technology.
Hautamäki’s latest private exhibitions have been presented at the MUU Gallery in 2020, Gallery Forum Box in 2018 and Gallery Sculptor in 2016. He has also been active as curator and teacher, and he has made live-electronics performances as his sound art practice. Currently he is working with the support of a 2-year grant from the Kone Foundation, focusing on artistic research in AI and visual arts.
Lynda Gaudreau: Meeting by Mistakes
My research is about asynchrony.
I began working on asynchrony at a time I felt no longer able to see anything that holds my attention. Whether as an artist in the studio, or as a spectator at a show after a few minutes, I knew what was waiting for me. I then start working on surprise and unpredictability.
Asynchrony can be described as the modification or disturbance of perception caused by a slight change in space and/or time within a work, and which, like a pebble slips inside machinery.
Mistakes, glitches, errors, details and unpredictability are of great value in asynchrony. They are like attention attractors.
In this meeting/workshop we will look at some examples in cinema, in visual arts and in your own work.
Lynda Gaudreau is an artist from Montreal. She has been leading an international career in Europe and in Canada. Her work―which encompasses creation, research, and curatorship―examines the asynchronic approach and involves a constant dialogue with architecture, visual arts and cinema. She integrates the body, the object, sound, image and text in a mise-en-espace that is most often “off,” either shifting or ruptured.
Her many collaborations include a long-time association with Flemish organizations, and a partnership with the Théâtre de la Ville de Paris which coproduced and presented her choreographic work for seven years. Lynda Gaudreau has collaborated with several of the most prestigious contemporary arts organizations, such as the Venice Biennale, and most recently Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery and the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in London.
She completed a doctoral research in 2018 dedicated to asynchrony in art. She is now occupying the position of postdoctoral researcher and staff at TUTKE, Uniarts, Helsinki.
Hejazi, Rasinkangas, Santala, Suontausta: Morning wakeup – viewpoints on surprise, randomness and serendipity
Alumni and student interactive pondering session. We don’t quite know what will happen either.
Harold Hejazi is a live artist who makes game performances that explore issues and ideas spanning a broad spectrum of social life: from race and class to social memory and interpersonal dynamics. www.haroldhejazi.com
Kalle Rasinkangas is a media artist, working mostly with virtual reality and interactive installations. His background is in music and performing arts, and sources of inspiration range from video games to hiking long distance trails. The works explore new ways for the experiencers to interact with the space, audio and visuals of the pieces.
Freelancer lighting designer Essi Santala has a strong background in theatre lighting and visual design. She is captivated by animation of the inanimate and the process of the observer becoming an active participant in a performance art context. Her latest works include puppet theatre, immersive theatre and an interactive immersive gameroom.
Jere Suontausta is an artist and a lighting designer working multidisciplinarily and multisensorally in the fields of performing and non-performing arts. In his recent lighting design works he has experimented with dialogue-like relationship between the performer and light as well as stirring up some stylistic manners. As a solo artist he likes to embrace intuition, taking often a non-rational approach to pottering around with found materials. Suontausta declares his artistic aspire to be pursuing something otherworldly by means of combining familiar and unknown in peculiar ways.
Nanni Vapaavuori: Out [ ] of focus
The presentation addresses the intertwined notions of focus and surround. The practice of isolating a subject from background is a basic operation of visual culture. A same kind of effort can be found in the practice of lighting design. Obscuring and erasing the surroundings while framing and detaching the focused target strives for accuracy and definition, sharpness, visibility, and clarity.
Here, the concept of focus is taken into closer consideration. It is approached as an intensity of attention and examined as an alert sensitivity, opening outwards instead of convergence.
I´ll present the experiment of ´Light walk´, with which I have explored the tension and relationship between the center and the peripheric zones of the field of sight. The experimental workshop is used as a method to focus on being in and out of focus.
Nanni Vapaavuori is a lighting designer, working with light and space, the circumstances, the surrounding relationships and the tactile material/ity of the light. Currently she is a PhD candidate at the Performing Arts Research Centre at Uniarts Helsinki.
Marja-Liisa Honkasalo: Just an ordinary call
My talk describes the surprises we met with our performance ‘Connecting Phone Booths‘. As an ethnographer, together with Teemu Päivinen, the performance artist, we wanted to present and explore how lived impossibility, the Uncanny (in Finnish: kumma), can be received , lived and shared. We use voice hearing as our example of the Uncanny. How to share with other people something that they don’t hear, like the experience of hearing voices with a visible source? We built a telephone booth in a semi-public and a full-public space where voice hearer could call and where passers-by could answer. Everything had to be pretty ordinary. But then it wasn’t and I’m talking about it. Surprise! My starting point is an ethnographer’s who collaborates with a performance artist.
Miro Mantere: Chaos cannot be controlled but it can be played
A speech about creating music and sound atmospheres to performances in realtime from performers speech and sounds, and contingency as a starting point for composing.
Teemu Päivinen: My voice don´t sound like me
A speech about the alienation of one’s own voice and the making of art in response to the imprint left by the alien.
Honkasalo, Mantere and Päivinen have collaborated on the research project The Body and the Other: Lived Impossibilities in Art and Science (2017-2020). During the project, they have realized e.g. the following works: Spirit Radio (Höyhentämö-Pluckhouse 2019: Päivinen, Mantere, Honkasalo, Kokkomäki.), Connecting Phone Booths (CARPA5 2017, Mielen Tilat -festival 2018, The Pathic Body and the Uncanny -seminar TeaK 2019: Päivinen & Honkasalo), Unfalimar dialogues – Uneksunnan näyttämö (The Pathic Body and the Uncanny -seminar TeaK 2019, Theatre Universum 2020: Päivinen, Mantere, Hallas), and an article to be published in December 2020 Esitetyn ja eletyn välissä (TeaTS 2020:Honkasalo & Päivinen).
Marja-Liisa Honkasalo is a researcher of cultures. In her ethnographic work, she has studied the experience of illness and pain, as well as the vulnerability and the possibilities that people have to build social bonds with each other. In recent years, she has focused her research on the limits of mind that are difficult to verbalize in the language of science. She insists that in order to develop a self-understanding of both, in addition to scientific methods, there is also a need for artistic approaches and dialogues between the arts and scientific research. In recent years, she has been searching answers together with performance artists.
Miro Mantere a.k.a. Mir-0 is an award-winning and internationally performing and publishing musician, composer, sound artist and one of the pioneers of livelooping in Finland. He has performed e.g. as the main performer of the Y2K -International Livelooping Festival in California in 2006 and 2010. In addition to his own productions, he has also made music for films, theater and circus, and produced records e.g. for Sámi artists.
Teemu Päivinen is a performance and theater artist who works extensively in the fields of contemporary performance and also theater pedagogy. In his works Päivinen has dealt with the relationship between body and language, the formation and disintegration of the subject, and the experiences of the Unordinary. In addition to research project the Body and the Other: Lived Impossibilities in Art and Science, he works at the Performance Center and with the artist collective Höyhentämö-Pluckhouse, which has its focus on the contemporary performance.