Looking at Laminal Interfaces, I am reminded of the stories that have materialised at the peripheries of my life. The work explores barely seen transformations; transformations that speak to an absurdness or irrelevance at the very heart of these stories. Laminal Interfaces is a rendering into data, a transformation that could be viewed as a kind of death and an escape from death. In that journey there is lateral movement, a sideways shift away from cause and effect and into the poetic assemblages of contemporary objecthood. These assemblages are rhizomatic, dispersive renderings of labour, clay, steam, fire, and bodies. The following stories are myths of becoming.
My partner told me recently of their first visit to a gym. The visit included a meeting where they were evaluated to discover their strengths and weaknesses. At this meeting they were measured, weighed and questioned, their BMI was calculated. Through analogue quantification, the body was not just rendered into numbers but also moulded into new shapes. With this raw data, they could model the shape of their future self. The charts that were given seemed to suggest different types of bodies that could be attained. My partner argued that this experience epitomised the problem with the world today. Everything is numbers. Numbers to predict and mould the self, even the very flesh of the body was not exempt from cold quantification. Then they told me another story, a story about a dark and sinister hole. Anything that fell into the hole would disappear immediately, be it a rock, a leaf, an animal, a human. Meanwhile, on a desk far away from the hole, another bead was added to an abacus. A discrete click would sound as the bead slid down the shaft to rest atop the others. My friend suggested that the hole was a great metaphor for the gyms activities. They exclaimed with large gestures that surely a rock was not equivalent to a stick, or even an animal or human. They argued that the existence of this cold-blooded system was perhaps more tragic than the disappearance of things and people. The gym was a hole where people tried to put their bloated bodies, a vacuum of numbers that could strip the fat and turn it into math.
There is a story about the sea boiling. The water began to steam, like a cloud lifting off the water. The water quickly turned white, the salt increasing in proportion, the liquid becoming jelly-like. The steaming did not last long, and afterwards only a hard plate of salt remained, extending out past the horizon. The people who witnessed this began to walk out onto the plane of salt, but the salt broke apart like icebergs, leaving each person stranded on their own tiny island of salt. I imagine the lonely people being picked off by giant birds, taken to feed their young.
Some time ago, I mentioned offhand to a colleague that I was looking to buy a bird. My colleague recoiled in horror. They told me that to put a bird in a cage was to rob it of its aliveness. I expected the familiar argument: that a bird has wings and to put something with wings in a cage was to rob it of its freedom. Their objection to the cage however, was that the cage would be a framing device for the bird, that it would turn them into a valued object. Take, for example, a picture of your friends in a photo frame, my colleague explained. They are no longer your friends, they are an object; something to be placed in complementary colour schemes rather than valued for the relationships it signified. Placing an animal in a frame was effectively objectifying it for nothing but the sake of how attractive your house might look to strangers. My colleague then told me a story they thought might be relevant to my imminent purchase, a story about a bird with a fetish for shiny things. This bird would scavenge sparkling objects for its nest, often to the detriment of its own health. My colleague went into great detail about these objects; often they were precious things, wedding rings, significant objects, signs of feelings and human relationships. The birds nest became so full of these trinkets that there was barely any room for the materials most often associated with nests. Instead of twigs and straw, there was a knobbly architecture of silver and jewels. The metal nest was positioned in such a way that it caught the sun, its light dancing on the many shiny surfaces, reflecting and heating the solitary egg that inhabited the nest. The egg heated up to the point where my colleague maintained you could hear the yolk boil from the ground below the nest.