“ Political ecology is the end of Nature” Bruno Latour,
“How do you change your situation? What is the mechanism by which you change your life? That’s politics. That’s the political question. It’s about negotiation, or it’s about revolution, or it’s about terrorism, or it’s about careful step-by-step planning – all of this is political in nature. It’s about how people, when they get together, agree to change their situation. ”
“The last hundred years have demonstrated empirically that if an organism or aggregate of organisms sets to work with a focus on its own survival and thinks that that is the way to select its adaptive moves, its 'progress' ends up with a destroyed environment. If the organism ends up destroying its environment, it has in fact destroyed itself.” The Darwinian paradigm
“Space appropriation” by Maria Lucia
Project Diagnosis: Ontological Ecology of echoes “When Nature takes back, a social story” 1. Concept 2. Trajectory/ background 3. Symptoms: illness/malfunctions 4. Science and art 5. The House 5.1. Concept 5.2. Description of the Structure 5.2.1. Security measurements 5.2.2. External visitors and collaboration 5.2.3. After the end: What is left? 6. Performance 6.2. Duration 7. Research 7.1. Methodology 7.2. Research and Residencies 8. Collaborations/ Partners
Under the umbrella of Apass artistic research program in Belgium, one-year research has been followed in 2009/2010. An intuitive approach, which involves a deep rethink: about Human and Nature politics, space diagnosis and its symbiotic mutual relation. A research that rethinks space as a living organism. A poetic and symbolic exercise that proposes the illness of the space as a metaphor, revealing the spatial malfunctions and disabilities, its failing organs and metabolism. The end presentation, was a research station: S.O.S. Space Ontology Station, a reveal of semiotic analysis that transposes our understanding of physical illness to ‘illness’ as a property of space: as the visible outcome of the invisible symptoms in the spatial organism, partly through human interference. Symptoms such as ‘damaged’, ‘abandoned’, ‘broken’, ‘bruised’, ‘wounded’, ‘forgotten’, were diagnosed through actions and interventions that made the metaphor visible. In order to re-write the physical damage of the patient/space, the healing process revealed concepts of topography and space surgery. The research relates the singularity and weakness of humanity to the complex layering of nature’s politics and the impact of human interference within natural processes. It reveals the cataclysm of nature and its natural resistance against humanity. Using the reference of the cordyceps (a kind of mushroom) as organisms that invade, alter and affect the behaviour of the host, the station was a research-in-progress: an animist approach to reading the traces of life in the space.
The intention is to research about sustainable strategies to build a wounded house, as if its surrounding reality is presented as the main entrance for a “wounded social sculpture”. The house is a result of a research done during two years about wounded spaces. It is a construction of an architecture body, which has an internal dysfunction on its own metabolism. It is a body that grows out of alienation within its own species, others species and the environment where it grows. As if it’s born out of an existent infected body, like a spreading cancer. The idea suspends an ontological reference to the past, present and future alienation and contamination amongst species, nature and cultures.
Design by Ken de Cooman
The collapse encounters a metaphorical approach that suspends the idea of societies on its floating economical and capitalistic system. The house will be suspended in only one point, which sustains both living systems, the space and the individual, the artist and its own creation, the environment and humanity, the present and the future, life and dead. It reveals a mutual collapse, which is only possible by the interference of non-existent species in the Belgium ecosystem: Termites. The process remains a survival, an appropriation of organic material from termites: by eating the wood, architectonic paths will be assembled in the house, and at the same time the new paths will lead the structure until its own collapse. The moment of collapse reveals the moment when nature takes back: internal body collapse. Where the wisdom and power of human society is not able to interfere in the process of drowning systems. Where there is no point of return. It is a reference of unexpected collapses which by the lows of nature the end is never predicted. We live an era of crises and catastrophes, we are the spectators of one after the other: a social epidemic. More and more the increasing numbers of victims from economical crises, climate change, natural catastrophes, from 21st century spreading diseases coming from alienated food, air, earth and oceans. Nature is dead. We are no longer humans. It is a visceral system where capitalism is a spreading cancer. The house encounter a poetic decay driven by a survival revenge from living systems that by being displaced from its own ecosystem, became the means of total destruction. The revenge of Nature. The time duration is one of the principal fundaments in the creation of the art piece, it remains a temporary creation, which depend on the interference and action of living organisms: Termites. Therefore the end is decided by nature.
5.2. Description of the structure:
It is a house, a living organism within its own ecosystem, and mechanisms of sustainability. In order to build a house, in a territory of changes and interconnectivity, the idea is to construct an entire system of sustainable energy, water and gas supply. In order to build an independent house that works on its own, it is necessary to assemble a system that is not part of any existent system. By learning from the laws of nature in its complex diversity, resources and life systems, the idea is to create a system where it can be implemented a micro-cosmos
where both human and nature are taking care of each other. Therefore the wooden house will be surrounded by a permaculture garden. It is important to generate new life by using the existent properties of the soil and as the benefits of termites as decomposers, they will be very helpful for the growing of the vegetables. By having a dual and paradox role, the termites function as powerful machine of destruction within human habitat and at the same time as a benefit for its own survival by helping to
maintain the source of food. Therefore the survival of the artist will be provided by a sustainable garden. Eventually there will be also some chickens because they love termites.
Design by Ken de Cooman Side prespective
In order to have a quick collapse (less then 6 months) all the strength of the house will be suspended in only one foundation, the structure is suppose to work as a domino system. As we have been talking about a project that is suppose to be a metaphor for the existent collapses in society, also the architecture principles are generated by an hierarchic system of collapse, that suspends all its strength in only one point which logically is connected to all the others foundations of the structure. It is a reflection of globalization, capitalism and economic system. There is no escape concerning collapses, once one system drowns, all the rest will come slowly down.
Design by Ken de Cooman Domino samples
As we all remain to a “democratic system”, where the truth is hidden by systems of power relations upon systems with any believes of strength, also the architectonical perspective approaches a strategy that makes invisible the traces of collapse. Therefore it will not be visible any trace of instability, insecurity: the evidences are placed underground, so that on a aesthetic and superficial level nothing is visible. The lighting will be provided by solar panel. However the lighting is a symbolism of its own, the house undergoes a system similar to photosynthesis, like a living laboratory, which works entirely by solar power. During the day the light is externally absorbed and during the night the light is expanded through the holes and slots that over time the termite’s decomposition of the space. The house will be constructed in soft wood, pine or poplar, which is the favourite food of termites. To have effective decay, every element of this house will be made out of wood, including furniture.
Design by Ken de Cooman Plan of the house
The wooden house will be surrounded by a second structure as incubation system. It is a “cube” inside a “cube”. The second cube works as physical protection for termites escape, it will be made out of a repulsive film (barrier for termites). The underground protection is 5 meters deep, and it needs a second layer in cement. Because the termites will be first placed under need the structure, and they need time and space to adapt to a new ecosystem. Duo to its own danger of epidemic propagation in the Belgian ecosystem, the house will be constructed in isolated site location. As a security, there will be a corridor from where the public will enter. This corridor is divided in two rooms: in one there will be a shower and the other a changing room. The visitors must wear protective clothes to enter and must take a shower before they live so that there will be any risk of taking a termite in their cloths.
Because the artist is living inside the house, the construction will be properly planned so that the collapse is “slightly and controlled”. “If will ever be possible, to control a collapse”.
Design by Ken de Cooman Perspective of the house
5.2.3. External visitors/ audience participation:
First of all the house is a meeting laboratory, therefore all living beings are invited to contribute in this human reflection. Duo to the social interconnectivity, the project presents a collaborative methodology as external intervenient. The process of collapsing is a reflection of human interference. As an ultimate, to reveal collapses of a social sculpture, the physical and conceptual intervention of artists, scientists, philosophers, politicians, economists, students… The intervention can be in any format, with pre-negotiation and agreement, therefore it can turn into a discussion, a dialogue, exchange, a physical intervention in the structure or with the performer, a help to maintain the garden and so on… As we are living in a moment of historical crises, environmental catastrophes, economical collapse, climate change and so on, the house should be a turning point within the tendency of society to sit and watch, to assume its position as an audience waiting for the apocalypse. It is a decision of visitors to enter the house: at any time it can collapse, so they are aware about the fact that they take the risk to be part of the collapse. The spectatorship, become a power relation within choices that transposes the role of the spectator within the borders of real life and artificial reality. Although the house is placed in the public space, the reality confined by the space it is part of the same reality that the spectator come from, as if all the elements are part of the same city: Giant Scenario. The meaning of collective social behaviour is a reflection and action upon the life. How do we change our situation? The spectator can choose to have a passive or active role within the apocalyptical, aesthetic, ethic, moral and political change. The house is a meeting place, a working space and living space. It will be the decision of the spectator, to keep this house alive or to help to collapse faster…the visitors are invited to propose solutions to our actual state.
5.2.2. After collapsing: What is left?
The end of the project is an historical moment. It is a collapse caused by artistic and scientific creation, interference, and approval. There is no intentions to use the termites only as tool to achieve the goal. The termites are a symbolic use of nature to reveal its benefits and its destructive influence. The intention is too reuse every thing that is left and to recycle its waste. During the living period of this house there will be scientific investigation in how to recover the termites, either bringing back to its belonging place in France, or to reuse for social proposes. Still ongoing research.
6.1. Concept The performance encounters a physical and mental adaptation to changes in the space. The acceptance and the unexpected intervention involves an understanding that the artist witnesses the transformation of the space in her daily live, since the idea is to stay inside the house until its collapse, as if it is her own home. The production of new meanings occurs when the metaphor is expressed by interference in everyday life, such as the decomposition of the furniture, openings and grooves in the structure of the house. The confrontation with dead is evidenced by the presence of mechanisms that lead the house to its decomposition. The daily experience with unexpected collapse requires an understanding of psychological and physical interferences in the space. The confrontation with his own existence belongs to the combination of a spiritual and existential hierarchy as confrontation and acceptance to her own dead. The decomposition process, is illustrated by the space diagnosis and its pragmatic relationship between the metaphor and the effect of interference of termites in the structure. The time lived in the house, will provide the continuation of scientific models and meta language: in the description, classification and analysis of space as a living organism. The artist will experience the decomposition of its territory, and without any attempt to rescue or restore her habitat, she will face its own collapse. However, there will be punctual moments where the artist will also go outside. The focus of the project is not on isolation and rejection of one single individual from the system, but on the experience of its own collapse within a normal life, without making any action to stop it. Nature will always survive. It is planned a clinical psychological following from specialists in order to understand and analyze the interferences and impact on the body and mind of the performer. It is important to keep the health conditions of the performer and keep the balance in order to not lead the body into extreme situations. Thorough a politic system, based on rethinking the immanent world of existing beings, the construction of an habitat, is the place where one single human is living: researching the significance and unconditional relationship between humanity and environment and its response towards a collapse and extinction. 6.2. Duration: Once the order corresponds to the time when the collapse occurs in the house, this is a long-term performance with no scheduled date for an end. The duration is defined by the speed with which organisms take ownership of the space. The end, is the moment when the nature conquers the human habitat. However, the forecast is calculate for about six months. - 7- Research 7.1. Methodology Research period, works as a political awareness within the collapsing methodology. It is period to focus on the development of strategies on the collapsing systems. Research methodology: It is a project in collaboration with science/ architecture/ art Scientific research together with cirad institute in Montpellier about termites. Namely its biology, social organization, habitat, human interaction, ecology and its reuse, impact on the ecosystem, benefits, history, relation with other species, infestation control…. Wood terminology and composition (termites related) Finding strategies to transport legally the termites from France to Belgium. Working together with a lower on finding methodologies to approach the environmental and ecosystem protection department. Naming the project as a scientific research, will present a educational study plan. Understanding and analyses of all kind of living organisms that provokes decay on architecture buildings. Architecture research and design in collaboration with Ken de Cooman from BuildingCaseStudies. Architectural plan, sustainable system plan, safety measurements for the house incubation, temperature regulation, light, materials. Research and development on political awareness within the collapsing systems. Creation of collapse simulations within propaganda and graphical interventions in the public space. Simulations and research of collapses that are happening now. Imagine how it would be in 20 years? A cycle of catastrophes that had happen in the past and that will keeping happening in the future. Performance research, namely impact on health, adaptation and survival strategies into collapse scenarios. Research on the confrontation with dead, living systems and its relation to other species, in this case, find ways to live in harmonious environment with termites. Finding strategies on collapse survival. Continuously meetings in order to exchange information with specialists, environmentalist, artists, scientist architects Soundscape, research together with a sound designer in order to record and document the entire process of termites interference on the wood. Video documentation: 1. Document the entire process, such as meetings with lower, scientist, environmentalist, collecting of the termites, building of the first maquete… 2. Document the decay and eventually collapse. The idea is to record from all the angles and inside the wood the all process of the termites interference. And eventually present 24h life in different art institution in Belgium or if invitations will rise, it‘s a possibility to stream internationally and create a network where the audience can follow the collapse. Website design, in order document the all process of the project, and stream 24h life in different art institution. 7.2. Research and Residencies: Past research: 2009/2010 Advanced studies in scenography, apass http://www.apass.be/as.php?cwPage=browse%2Fuserhome&cwUser=113 January 2011 Residency in Fo.am http://fo.am/residency_maria_lucia Future research: http://www.bains.be/ From 15th of October till 30th of October - http://www.performancespace.org From 24th of November till 03 of December http://www.stuk.be/ From 15th Of January till 29th of January Presentation of the project: Past presentation: 21/06/2011 Summercampelectried at timelab http://www.timelab.org/nl/info/nl/maria-lucia-cruz-correia-portugal-timelab-café-0 Future presentation: 12th of December Research gathering at fo.am http://fo.am/residency_maria_lucia - 8. Collaborations/Partners : This project aims an intersection and collaboration between art, science and architecture. The organizations involved and committed to this project are:
Centre of agricultural research and development that provides the scientific, in the decomposition process and interference of termites in the house. (www.cirad.fr) Nicolas Leménager is the scientist involved on the project.
The architecture studio, BCS (BuildingCaseStudies) which aims the study and design of the house and its decomposition as an architectural structure witch ensure an effective collapse. http://www.brusselscooperation.be/buildingcasestudies/ Ken de Cooman is the architect involved on the project.