by Soundwalk Collective with Charlotte Gainsbourg
feat. Lyra Pramuk, Atom™, Paul B. Preciado and Willem Dafoe
Curated by Threes Productions
Technology has shaped almost every facet of human life, establishing each time a new grammatics in the way we live, act, think, relate to each other and maybe even in the way we love.
In accordance with the interpretation of man as a “tool-making animal” (Benjamin Franklin), technology has always represented a trigger for human evolution: from the enlargement of the brain as an outgrowth of the making and using of certain instruments that required ingenuity and dexterity, to the invention of the internet. The entire history of man could be traced through the development of tools, from the plough to the smartphone every single invention has shaped the way we actively relate to life, also laying bare the mental conceptions that flow from those relations. From this standpoint, it is possible to understand the extent to which Donna Haraway envisioned in the cyborg model a technology of change, to move beyond traditional conceptions of gender and politics. LOVOTIC explores the entanglement of the human and the machine, starting from the core of human life, namely sexuality, hence opening a space for a hermeneutics of love in the post-human era.
The exhibition has been specifically developed by Soundwalk Collective for FOROF, the new space devoted to archeology and contemporary art, with the aim of reinterpreting ancient roman’s artistic heritage with experimental practices of today. LOVOTIC can be seen as an experimental installation that creates a poietic tension between mythos and logos, namely between what is irrational or inconceivable (Love) and what is rational and can be expressed (speeches about love).
In dialogue with the roman archeological space, the exhibition presents a series of traces of love discourses, fragments of a civilization that transpose the visitor out of space-time. Red is the color of the newborn stars, and so is the light that permeates the entire space, giving it a timeless quality.
The wall types by Paul B. Preciado evoke an idea of post-sexuality and the exhibition continues with the same feeling also with the video displayed, an expression of the transcendence of the concept of male and female, projecting a form of fluidity that can also be seen in the drawings and the sculpture. Central to the show is a multi-channel sound installation, where the leading voice of Charlotte Gainsbourg interferes with those of Paul B. Preciado, Willem Dafoe, Lyra Pramuk and AtomTM. The latter also contributed with additional audio production to the sound entirely produced by Soundwalk Collective. The result is a nonlinear, multiple-voice discourse, reminiscent of Roland Barthes’ masterpiece A Lover's Discourse: Fragments, possibly one of the greatest philosophical explorations of lovers’ inner monologue. As if a hard drive containing the sum of human knowledge on sexuality, with all information being resampled by an algorithm, was sent into space in the attempt to detect the grammar of eros.
The question behind these speculations might be: what is the definition of love? Is there a lowest common denominator of it? What is the game of love; the logic of desire? The answer could be eventually found by an algorithm, or perhaps, as for the mythos, within our own experience. Could gambling with the Unknown, such as jumping into the incognizable depths of the ocean, be an erotic act?
As Byung-Chul Han states, the erotic experience can only consist in the experience of Alterity.
Love is something liminal, it is the experience of the Limit, it emerges from the impossibility of grasping the Other. According to Han, Love is the experience of transcending the Ego. The opacity of the Other, the distance between us, is essential for the erotic tension. The Other and its imperviousness, the impossibility of possessing him/her, are necessary to Eros—who for instance is the son of Penia (Lack). In this sense, to love a machine seems to be a paradox, since a robot is the antithesis of a human being—or to say— its death.
To love a robot would be impossible because there would be no Other. From a different point of view, it is conceivable to imagine that artificial intelligence itself will eventually reveal to humanity the arcane nature of Love. Possibly, once upon a time, this was the essential erotic aspect, or trigger, of religion, for the idea of God as the Other, Limit or Transcendence enabled religion to enshrine a distance, an erotic tension, between the terrestrial and the divine. Perhaps religion, or Love for God, once put order into those fragments of words, research, passions, theories and arts that have been inspired or have inspired that sensation, state of mind—that fire that we call Love.
Eventually, maybe LOVOTIC will be a stargate to a new interpretation of Love.
Soundwalk Collective is an experimental sound collective founded by Stephan Crasneanscki in New York City (2000 – present), and joined by Simone Merli in 2008. The Collective currently operates in a continuously rotating constellation of sound artists and musicians. Their approach to composition combines anthropology, ethnography, non-linear narrative, psycho geography, the observation of nature, and explorations in recording and synthesis. The source material of their works is always linked to specific locations, natural or artificial, and requires long periods of investigative travel and field work.
Distinguished collaborators include singer-songwriter, musician, author and poet Patti Smith, Ethiopian Jazz musician Mulatu Astatke, photographer Nan Goldin, French-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard, actress and singer-songwriter Charlotte Gainsbourg, contemporary dance choreographer Sasha Waltz.
Throughout the years, the Collective has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, documenta, Manifesta, Fondation Carmignac, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Chateu de Versailles, Centre Pompidou, Palazzo Reale, Museo Madre, MuCEM, MUDAM, New Museum, CTM Festival, Berghain, New York’s Times Square, Mobile Art by Zaha Hadid in Hong Kong, Tokyo, NY; among others.
“Peradam” is the transcendent latest album by Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith, featuring Anoushka Shankar, Tenzin Choegyal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and released in September 2020. The album takes as its entry point René Daumal’s early 1940s novel Mount Analogue: a Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing, in which the French writer, critic and poet mapped a metaphysical journey to “the ultimate symbolic mountain” in search of meaning. In it, Daumal introduced the idea of the “peradam”, a rare, crystalline stone - harboring profound truths - that is only visible to seekers on a true spiritual path.