Winterresident Tuukka Haapakorpi reflecting on the solitude, the come down from noise and the process of his project that will be presented in the exhibition “Stockpiling Time”.
Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain, because something that’s dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from.*
*Taken from the New Yorker’s “The Unfinished”, March 9th, 2009, D.T. Max, from David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel that he called “The Long Thing”.
It begins as a sensation in the body: I can feel my eyes, and my solar plexus. At first solar plexus presents itself as lifted and uncomfortable, hard, a tension extending into my sternum and I suddenly become aware of my posture and the poise of my head in relation to my neck, my back and my belly.
As the lump that is my petrified solar plexus starts to sink downward in my body, approaching my navel, I become aware of a grief, or a pain that is not physical in nature, it is as if there would be a secondary invisible body in me, always as a backdrop but now amplified in a state consisting of less filters. I have an image of that body, it is without skin, like some bodies in the movie Hellraiser, it is sore and there is blood everywhere.
After the tension starts to melt, tears appear in my eyes as if the momentum would’ve traveled upwards from the center of me. Sometimes there are a lot of them, sometimes I feel that maybe I’ve finally emptied a reservoir, and maybe this is the reason I’ve begun to feel so thirsty recently.
First time this started to happen was when meditating, receiving bursts of weep as my defenses began to loosen like fingers in a clenched fist. The first time it happened outside meditation was when I was jogging. For the time being I had been feeling like I’d been stuffed with a spruce, touching the internity of my skin and intestines with its little needles and mass. As I was looking at the water while running, a gush of wind hit the surface of the sea, wrinkling it for a short time. I fell in tears.
During the boat trip from Turku, it lasts for eleven hours or an eternity, or maybe between the two, I was sitting and waiting for the journey to advance and saw a spider clinging, descending from the miniscule, disproportionately small curtain hanging from a thin, shimmering thread of net against a backdrop of a sunset archipelago looking very much like a Rothko painting. I started to cry.
After the first five days at the residency I spent a lot of time by myself not talking to anyone. Sometimes it made me doubt the relevancy of solitude in general, but that’s a part of being alone as well I guess.
One day it made me cry to see two dogs seeing each other, trembling in anticipation and I thought to myself “how can it be, seeing all this life, that I am so absorbed in myself?”.
The process I am depicting above seems like withdrawal symptoms to me, a sort of undesensitization used in conjunction to coming down from a continuous flow of stimuli.
This brings to mind a research I often think about, involving lonely rats and heroin. In the research heroin was made available for lab rats between two control groups.The other one consisted of rats in a group and the other was made of rats in solitude. Both groups had a constant availability to heroin. The group working on the research discovered that heroin has little or no effect on either one of the groups when it comes to its presumed function, causing euphoria. Nevertheless, rats with no friends tended to use more of it than the ones in a group. The effect it seemed to have was that actually it reduced pain in the lonely rats. Maybe loneliness is then actual pain and euphoria might be thought of as actually the momentary release on continuous strain created by isolation and its immediate connection to emptiness, death and grief.
What is the difference between a sculpture and a piece of paper? To reduce it into an everyday dilemma: does a roll of toilet paper cease to be an object once you slowly apply it, uncoiling it into the Styx into which all of the individual tubes from our victorian porcelain thrones run into? Of course the hollow cardboard bone in the middle of it all is finally what is left…
At c.off my primary concern was to produce paper sculptures prior to my first private exhibition taking place in Turku in January 2017. I took up a technique used in printmaking, applying wheat starch glue on very thin Japanese paper meant for printmaking, wrapping it around the object I was “recording” with it. It felt like peeling skin off, making a new dermal layer after another. In reality, my original idea was to produce firm objects that would carry a speaker element inside but instead I ended up with something that is like a leftover or a shed skin, numerous versions of the outline or surface of an object, a line between the object and negative space. The paper sculptures are so fragile they hardly can stand up by themselves. A minute draft or a current of air from a by passer might destabilize them enough to make them collapse. Visitors most likely have to wear no shoes since it is winter and snow carried in by the shoes could destroy the paper on the floor.
The whole project I started working on at C.off was related to noise as both a parameter of music but also as an environmental phenomenon that is increasingly being researched for its effects on national health. The latter means that environmental noise starts to have an effect on health after it gets so loud it starts to over encumber the nervous system, be it audible, visible or other kind.
What I experienced during the residency was the effects of solitude and not having much to do, peeling away the defenses I had built against the feeling of dullness, a kind of undesensitization. This is a word that I’ve become to like since I saw it being used in the sitcom series Community, perhaps related to a nowadays uncommon sensitivity towards graphic violence, a thawing from an overflow of stimuli present in everyday environment, such as music, entertainment, social media and human interaction; basically noise.
My coming down from noise resulted in a process of which I didn’t know where it was going, but the parameters included to it were familiar. I notice that often a specific person or memory gets repeated in relation to muscular memory and sound or music. For example I might have had a specific person or an event in mind while making a song and repeating that specific part of the song brings the person or event to mind again. It is engraved in the action itself, the actual content of the action or music non-related. I wonder if this has anything to do with the idea what many indigenous cultures have both about images and music – that it is the thing in itself without a carrier such as metaphor. In a way a joik for example is the thing itself that it is made of, not actually depicting it.
I experienced exactly similar sensations when taking on the action of replicating cd-record shelves onto paper during my residency. The memories or imprints that happened at specific intervals of the process, for example cutting the paper, placing it on the object and slowly brushing the paper with glue, quickly came to be a sort of a repetition of the combination of the emotions, memories and sensations related to the action I was performing currently.
As I was beginning the project, my initial idea was to erase music from recordings of classical music so that what would be left in the recording would be just random noises from the movements of the possible audience and the performers. The idea of the removal finally took a different form, not by removing music from music, but instead removing stimulus in a more general, life-related way.
This had to do with the idea of music being reduced to something that is often far from a process-based approach, and an experience of music as a intrusive form. This applies to products of music industry, such as records.
Jacques Attali’s book Noise: the political economics of Music states that music as a time-based medium is subject to a use- and exchange value based on the distribution of work in society. Andrei Tarkovsky had something similar in his approach to cinema in his book Sculpting in Time, in which he states that, time being the medium of cinema, the reason why people go to movie theaters is to kind of take back time they lose while working and specializing in work. Maybe this lost time is related to what Foster Wallace is describing as well: a state, an undulation between designations of time from which neither contribute to the backdrop that comes out when time between these two parameters ceases for a moment. Then what it is in itself could be associated with for example the concept of negative space: an emptiness between two intervals, like notes or structures.
The three-week residency at C.off had tremendous effects on my work, given the big and convertible space without the pressure of actually having to produce something. As always, it returns to the contradictory idea or structure that is common to the process making art, that it exists as a space independent of any specific goals, or can be activated through the removal of them.
The exhibition “Stockpiling Time” opens January 12th, 2017 in Raatihuoneen Galleria, Turku, Finland. More info about the exhibition.
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