Salar: Evaporation


Premiering a new installation work created together with Rodrigo Ríos Zunino: Salar: Evaporation is a multi-channel video and sound work based on recent fieldwork in the Atacama desert.

On view this weekend during the opening festivities of the Graz Kulturjahr, at esc medien kunst labor here in Graz, Austria; the installation continues from February 4-21, 2020 Tues-Fri 14h-19h.

esc medien kunst labor, Bürgergasse 5, 8010 Graz Austria

A significant portion of the world’s lithium is mined in the Salar de Atacama, the salt flats of the high altitude desert in northern Chile. This desert was once the bottom of a sea and still consists of rare geologic and organic systems, though now it is aggressively mined for the ingredients for batteries used in smart phones and electric cars. Salar: Evaporation seeks to de-totalize industrial extractivism in favour of manifesting many worlds from the perspective of temporality, land, and space. This multi-channel video and sound installation takes an experimental rather than purely documentary approach, challenging the deadly hubris of human exploitation in the desert by working with the forces characteristic of the desert itself, such as mirage, perceptual distortion, and the long duration of the geologic present.

The work reflects on landscape, infrastructure, and environmental change, exploring the micro and macro scales of human intervention and activity in relatively remote areas which occupy the space between urban sprawl and wilderness, and investigates the role of people (and artists) as agents in the myth-making and storytelling process which bring critique and create counter-narratives to those of progress and growth that propel unsustainable extractivist corporate and state-sponsored industries. Particularly at this contemporary moment, where the people of Chile are engaged in widespread national resistance and protest to business as usual by the state and corporate forces that have ravaged the country and environment while propagating gross economic and social inequities, such areas of resource extraction like the Atacama desert can hardly be understood as peripheral or as neutral sites of industry. Instead, they are centers of power, exploited to feed the forces of global capital to the benefit of a global elite. The future technological ‘smart’ cities will actually function as the peripheral expressions of this power which is being pillaged from the desert. Instead, we consider how the desert produces power in the form of unique and fragile ecosystems and geological expressions of time, from which we may learn and imagine alternative worlds.

This project is part of a larger series of works based on my research and fieldwork in the Atacama desert in Chile entitled We Build Ruins, and was made possible with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Hellman Fellowship, the Arts Research Institute of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Committee on Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz.



Art’s Birthday 2020


It’s that time of year, when once again we reach into deep pre-history to celebrate Art’s Birthday. It’s been 1,000,057 years to be precise, since someone dropped a sponge into a bucket of water, and so, art was born. Buiding on Robert Filliou’s Fluxus holiday, a loose and changing cooperation of international artists join in networked exchange locally and around the world. Tune in to the hub of activities.

I’m currently in Graz, Austria, hosted by the inimitable esc medien kunst labor . Tonight we are kicking off the year of the urban cyborg with a Cyborg Radiation Day. I’ll be performing a new piece entitled Changes of State, using field recordings from the Atacama desert, together with protest sounds shared by my collaborator Rodrigo Ríos Zunino from the recent popular uprisings in Chile in response to aggravated social and economic inequality.

While the Chilean uprising was sparked by a hike in public transportation prices, the real issue lies in a massive inequity between social welfare and corporate welfare, where Chile’s extraction economy serves the very wealthy while pillaging the environment and forcing more and more people to fall into poverty. International companies and consortia are deeply implicated in this mess, with Canadian mining companies and investors at the helm. Our ongoing project on mining and its associated infrastructure in the high altitude deserts of Chile is the focus of my time here in Graz, both for Art’s Birthday and with the multi-screen and multi-channel sound installation Salar: Evaporation which will open next week on January 24, 2020 at esc.

Tune in via Radio Helsinki , the free radio here in Graz, and here’s the full line up for tonight from esc!

18.00 Uhr:URBAN CYBORGS, Opening and greeting words by Reni Hofmüller and Ilse Weber, presentation of the project URBAN CYBORGS and start of radio transmission including Radio Cyborg Transmitter RCT

18.30 Uhr: Presents to art, Onlinearchive Ö1 Kunstradio, Moderation: Reni Hofmüller

20.00 Uhr:Solar Radio, Absolute Value of Noise, live from Vancouver, Canada

19.00 Uhr: Salar: Evaporation, Lecture by Anna Friz

20.30 Uhr: Spark Gap, Raviv Ganchrow, Preproduction Deutschlandfunk

21.15 Uhr:The sound of artspace, Seppo Gründler live in Graz, then: Presents to art, Onlinearchive Ö1 Kunstradio, Moderation: Reni Hofmüller

21.40 Uhr:Changes of State, Anna Friz, Radioperformance, live from Graz

22.00 Uhr:Die Loslösung des Plans, Lale Rodgarkia-Dara, live from Graz

22.30 Uhr:Embodied Radio Device, Absolute Value of Noise and Anna Friz

22.50 Uhr: 30 Minutes of SDR, Enrique Tomas, live from Linz, in collaboration with Dorf TV Linz

23.20 Uhr: denn jede Variable stellt eine konstante Form dar, Adina Camhy, Bettina Landl & Peter Venus; Presents to art, Onlinearchive RADIA, Moderation: Reni Hofmüller