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Coi laser9 09_13


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Presentation by Bernie Lubell for LASER at USF on September 9, 2013

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Coi laser9 09_13

  1. 1. Intimacy & Entanglement Bernie Lubell for LASER @ USF --9 Sept. 2013 Tuesday, September 17, 13
  2. 2. Tuesday, September 17, 13 This evening, I would like to focus on some of my art pieces that culminated in this installation which I call “Conservation of Intimacy” -- Pictured here at Southern Exposure in 2005. My installations are an effort to understand how we understand our world. I think we try to do this by making analogies and building models of that world. And my pieces try to understand this understanding by making models of these models.
  3. 3. Tuesday, September 17, 13 In all of this I owe a debt to Etienne Jules Marey -- 19th century physiologist and father of motion Pictures. If you know Marey’s work at all, you probably know him from photos like this-- his attempts to analyze motion through chronophotography - as he called it.
  4. 4. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Marey was really an engineer of life, inventing cameras and various other ways to record motion because movement was, for him, the language of life.
  5. 5. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Marey’s work came in the midst of the incredible success of 19th century industrialism -- and in many ways his work was central to the dawn of the modern age. These photos were indicative of a new concept of time. No longer is there a past, present and future of equal weight. There is just a present -- a Now that cannot be held.
  6. 6. Marey, 1884 Duchamp, 1912 Tuesday, September 17, 13 Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase was both critical and reverent of this new -- modern -- understanding. Marey had hoped his images would help artists to classically render motion more realistically but Duchamp saw in Marey’s work that new concept of the body time and in space.
  7. 7. from “Methode Graphique” by E. J. Marey Tuesday, September 17, 13 I first came across Marey’s work at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis in 1994. I saw this instrument to analyze how the lips move during speech -- and I was so excited that I sought out the curator who gave me a pamphlet honoring Marey’s pioneering work in Cardiology.
  8. 8. from “Methode Graphique” by E. J. Marey Tuesday, September 17, 13 Before chronophotography, Marey used a system of “tambours” and rubber tubing to register movement. Each Tambour is a shallow drum covered and sealed with a rubber membrane so the slightest disturbance in one tambour would send an air impulse down the rubber tubes to the other.
  9. 9. from “Methode Graphique” by E. J. Marey inscriptor sensor Tuesday, September 17, 13 A tambour sensing unit could attach to some part of the subject and transmit a signal to a tambour writing system for visualization. These instruments literally feel and write the life force of the subject.
  10. 10. live dog’s artery mercury pen Early Pulsemeters Carl Ludwig, 1847 E.J. Marey, 1860 smoked glass slide clockwork drive adjustable lever on pulsing artery Tuesday, September 17, 13 Marey began studying the circulatory system. Unlike Ludwig’s invasive pulse meter at left, Marey’s sphygmograph of 1860 was portable, practical, calibrated and not life threatening. Marey had invented medical imaging as a diagnostic tool -- a device we could trust more than our sensory perceptions. In this case observing the pulse over time provided the hidden insights.
  11. 11. Still from Bernie’s EchoCardiogram May,1995 Tuesday, September 17, 13 And as luck would have it, a year after my visit to the Bakken my Dr. discovered I had an aortic aneurysm and needed Surgery. Diagnosed with a descendant of Marey’s imaging apparatus.
  12. 12. from “La Circulation du Sang.” by E. J. Marey Tuesday, September 17, 13 When I recovered I felt compelled to work on some sort of heart piece a la Marey. Marey made simulations like this to test his mechanical understanding of how the heart worked.
  13. 13. Marey,1874 Tuesday, September 17, 13 My simulation a la Marey is called the “Etiology of Innocence” because of the mixture of sophistication and wonder that I had found in Marey’s work
  14. 14. Tuesday, September 17, 13 “Etiology” is the study of causes -- used by the medical profession to describe the origins of a disease. And, in this age of anxiety, we often treat Innocence as a disease.
  15. 15. Tuesday, September 17, 13 --4:25-- Like Marey's apparatus, this is a simulation of the human heart. -Cranking pumps air from organs to other parts -- It also winds a canvas belt -with an appropriate loose end... - the belt passes into another chamber to this bouncing device that makes a heartbeat sound - This is what you might hear from the privileged position of your head on someones chest- you might also hear their stomach gurgling -- the gurgler really provides back pressure for this throbbing organ - (over lung in the jar) Because you can't see what you are making happen while you are cranking -- You must take turns cranking and observing -- IT TAKES TWO PEOPLE TO GET THE FULL EXPERIENCE which seems just about right for a heart piece.
  16. 16. Tuesday, September 17, 13 All the components in my Etiology are quite fragile and this fragility is a part of my mechanical model of being human. I see us machines- -- but not as ideal machines. My understanding is that we are flawed and fragile -- much like the real machines we live with, like my car, that constantly needs to be fixed..
  17. 17. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Our bodies break, our ideas aren’t quite right, our relationships don’t really work. The way machines fail is a metaphor for the way we fail. So my artworks are not made following plans. They evolve as adjustments to things gone awry and representing failure is a large part of what I do. And so began my Marey inspired examination of our mechanistic world view. Which ultimately led to ...
  18. 18. Tuesday, September 17, 13 “Conservation of Intimacy” -- Here for Zero/One in 2010
  19. 19. Tuesday, September 17, 13 To fully appreciate the “Conservation of Intimacy” you need to get physically involved. It is a question of PARTICIPATION rather than witnessing. I am trying to get you to have an understanding of things BECAUSE YOU ARE A PART of the installation rather than as an observer looking in from outside.
  20. 20. sensing tambours Tuesday, September 17, 13 One person on the bench can get things to work...
  21. 21. Tuesday, September 17, 13 ... but it is easier and more fun with two. That things are better with two people working together is one of the points of the piece.
  22. 22. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Beyond the tambour measuring and writing systems, I have borrowed Marey’s approach to apparatus design ...
  23. 23. from “Picturing Time” by Marta Braun Tuesday, September 17, 13 Marey used pneumatics to analyze the flight of birds. This bird would not fly long before the tubes were torn from the apparatus.
  24. 24. from “Picturing Time” by Marta Braun Tuesday, September 17, 13 His solution was to build a scaffold to allow the bird free motion while he still got the critical data.
  25. 25. Tuesday, September 17, 13 You can see my tower/scaffold here allowing free movement of the couple on the bench and like Marey’s scaffold my tower also holds the tambours and linkages to record how they moved. Marey had extended the principle of Conservation of Energy into understanding human movement -- my piece extends Marey’s endeavor to afford an understanding of Intimacy. The title suggests that if there are laws that govern the “Human Universe”, intimacy may well be fundamental to that.
  26. 26. overhead tambours Tuesday, September 17, 13 Think of intimacy like energy in the physical universe. It can be reconfigured but never created or destroyed -- Intimacy must be conserved.
  27. 27. Tuesday, September 17, 13 --8:45-- And here is the installation in action. -- The couple on the bench operate tambours that send air pulses to another room causing balls to roll about on this table -- They can then watch the balls movements, with a slight delay, on a monitor -- The balls seem to float into the air -- A third person on a bike pulls the paper down the wall -- if the couple moves from side to side they blow in the ear of the biker - making a menage a trois -- the overhead tambours operate the pens which write left/right, up/down, and front/back -- As the paper comes down it makes a nice little pool of paper on the floor.
  28. 28. Tuesday, September 17, 13 I originally added the pen/writing system to the installation as a joking commentary on how science will analyze and measure everything -- even our intimacy.
  29. 29. Tuesday, September 17, 13 but I soon found that you really could discern differences in how participants interacted!
  30. 30. Tuesday, September 17, 13 If all three strands of data are active at any one time then the couple is pretty much dancing with each other. If only one strand is active then someone is in charge -- a very different dynamic! So, for me, It isn’t the plans but the accidents that are critical. My work is more about discovering the improbable Like in this Gary Larson Cartoon...
  31. 31. Tuesday, September 17, 13 “Yes, yes, I know that Sidney, everybody knows that. But look: Four wrongs squared minus two wrongs to the fourth power, divided by this formula, do make a right”
  32. 32. Tuesday, September 17, 13 I tend to grope towards my understandings and my understandings are often physical. Touch is, after all, an ancient way to measure the truth. Here the doubting Thomas tries his hand. and remember the Touchstone -- used to check the quality of your gold.
  33. 33. Joos van Cleve 1485 - 1540 Tuesday, September 17, 13 Touch can also be possessive. Joseph, however, is pretty much untouched by any of this. This middle aged baby Jesus brings Jean Piaget to mind. Piaget was a child psychologist who saw the child as a little scientist discovering the world -- he preferred the title Genetic Epistemologist -- Part of his theory of Intelligence is that our early understandings are based on touch. The child develops schemas for what Piaget called Concrete Operations. We start with an Embodied Cognition. It will be interesting to hear our next speaker’s (Helene’s) talk about Stephen Hawking’s intelligence in this context.
  34. 34. Esther Thelen,“...Development of an Embodied Cognition” from Mind as Motion, 1995 Tuesday, September 17, 13 You can see these concrete operational patterns of exploration here. Even at 14 weeks. As we age we replace these physical comprehensions with Formal Operations but they are still with us and I like to think I am tapping into these old schemas as people play with my machines.
  35. 35. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Making a Point of Inflection explores Touch. When you touch and are touched you become a part of the world. Touch provides a mirror which allows us to be both self aware and empathetic at the same time. “Does he love me? I wanna know. How can I tell if he loves me so? is it the way he acts? Oh no it’s not the way and you’re not listenin to all I say. If you wanna know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss, that’s where it is.”
  36. 36. Tuesday, September 17, 13 --13:15--! “Making a Point of Inflection” is about relationships. And in any relationship that is “pumped up” there is always something that comes between the couple -- some little fleeting thing -- like a bubble of air trapped between these two sheets of latex... Latex is very sexy stuff ... and with a double layer of latex we have very safe sex indeed!
  37. 37. Tuesday, September 17, 13 The all male, competitive version of Making a Point of Inflection.
  38. 38. Tuesday, September 17, 13
  39. 39. E,J. Marey & Charles Freemont 1895 Tuesday, September 17, 13 Another of Marey’s contributions to modernism was to use the metaphor of a Human Motor -- applying thermodynamics to human activity in the workplace.
  40. 40. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Muscle fatigue was critical to Marey’s economy of movement. In these investigations Marey created a true science of work leading to time motion studies and the mechanization of labor. Marey helped to mechanically frame the question of how we relate to our technologies
  41. 41. Tuesday, September 17, 13 My “Theory of Entanglement” converts quantum entanglement it into a mechanical analog of our social psychology. It is also a literal entanglement in the form of a knitting machine and it is in the knitting that it relates to the industrialized body. Here in my living room to test the knitting.
  42. 42. Tuesday, September 17, 13 And at FACT in Liverpool in 2009 the knitter is suspended in the atrium. Quantum Entanglement is a property of particles such as electrons where their common history will cause them to always act in synchrony even if they are later separated and have no means of communication.
  43. 43. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Perhaps having to cooperate to get my Theory of Entanglement to work will help to form bonds between the participants like those of the electrons. The bikes on the floor power the knitter. You can see the knitting just starting to poke out the bottom of the apparatus.
  44. 44. Tuesday, September 17, 13 --15:45-- The bikes were geared differently so that one rider has to go faster than they want and the other slower. They have to accommodate to each others pace. (over overhead view of bikers) But all of their biking is in vain if there was no one in the Cafe sitting on the sofa, doing nothing because that will engage the clutch. A friend pointed outy that here I have an analogy to capitalism. In the actual installation, because of the speed reduction, it took 20 minutes of combined effort to knit one row of stitches. Here it is one row a minute.
  45. 45. Labor Capital Craft Frame Breaking Tuesday, September 17, 13 Thinking of my friends comment I made wood tags labeling the bikers as “Labor”, those on the sofa doing nothing as “Capital”. And the knitting itself as “Craft” making a reference to the Luddite Rebellion that happened not far from Liverpool, between 1811 and 1817. Weaving artisans revolted against factories installing machinery that allowed un-skilled laborers to replace them. Liverpool’s wealth, by the way, was built on the fabric trade.
  46. 46. Tuesday, September 17, 13 Entanglement at v2 in Rotterdam where my tags provoked arguments between Labor and Capital.
  47. 47. Tuesday, September 17, 13 I want to close with my most perverse use of Marey’s technology. So with apologies to Marey, Irving Berlin and to Fred and Ginger -- This is my version of “Cheek to Cheek”
  48. 48. Tuesday, September 17, 13
  49. 49. Tuesday, September 17, 13