THE POWER PLANT PROJECT
By Isabel Burr Raty
"The proper subject of the posthuman convergence is not “Man”, but a new collective subject, as “we-are-(all)-in-this-together-but-we-are-not-one-and-the-same-kind-of-subject”
Posthuman Knowledge, Rosi Braidotti (2019)
My artistic research is based on ecological, queer, post-human and de-colonial perspectives, where the sources of inspiration range from Indigenous knowledge and Kung Fu to scientific perceptions of matter and bodies. For the past years my experiments have focused on creating conditions for embodied Sci-Fiction, where the role of the human is deconstructed in commodification processes, to open discussions about “value understandings”. As result I have created hybrid art works that farm human bodies stretching the limits between sex labor and empowerment practices. For example: the mobile Beauty Kit Project, which harvests and recycles erotic juices for the manufacture of gender-neutral beauty products and performs a circular economy model based on pleasure exchange.
With Beauty Kit I crossed the boundaries of art, biology, technology, alchemy, agriculture and economics and became acquainted with new questions from the public. Which led me to think with them about the role different entities can play in the production of green electricity. In the midst of a prolonged pandemic, an accelerated post-natural reality and present Ukrainian war. With the global focus on climate and reduction of CO2 emissions, we have to come up with new sources that can power the needs behind our contemporary lifestyle habits, optimizing energy consumption both in the arts and in society.
Consequently, I expand my research seeking for the - super powers from within - examining human body technologies that produce sustainable power. Focusing on how bodies can transmute living matter into more living matter, I move from the notion of - empowerment - to - power generation - in my artistic work. To think about Power, not as something subtracted, but as an added value that never gets lost going from one source to another. By deepening my practice on what eroticism can do, I make use of something every-body has and is one of the strongest sources of the body: sexual energy. In order to de-centre the role of humans within an alternative and playful power system that collectivizes the ecstatic. Providing speculative, yet material assets that can help us learn to live with the increasing sun, without relying on developing technologies that uproot ecosystems.
Over a two-year process I will create a physical and digital Sci-fi archive of performative, scientific, material, political and design data, around the speculative fabulation of an off-the-grid trans-material village centered around a power plant. A green power generator that converts sexual energy into electricity and produces hormones/molecules that offer trans-dimensional travels, where humans and the more-than-human can shape shift and charge. Moreover, this village imagines a self-regulating community of bodies that, similar to unstable electrons, release energy in the process of power generation. An energy that allows ecstatic flow to cut through materials, welcoming multiplicity and generating possibilities of becoming.
The indeterminacy of matter, that theoretician Karen Barad refers to in theirs agential realism (Karen Barad, 2007), proposes that at the base of reality, entities emerge from entangled phenomena, not from pre-existing things. The Power Plant project speculates on a village community labor that can help dissolve the illusion of borders between the human and the more-than-human. Embodying an integrative meta-physics that allows to establish intra, trans and extra planetary relationality.
Therefore, I intend to research and elaborate a body practice that could be performed to turn on and run the power plant, which uses sexual energy to increase the bio-electrical levels of the body. In addition to researching on a technology that collects this energy on a trans-individual level. Meaning, to unite each villager's capacity to produce energy and conduct it into a single unit that converts it into a collective power source. Subsequently, the practice could be an invitation to donate sexual energy, as well as to enjoy the benefits that comes with it. For example, the production of happy hormones (oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, melatonin, etc.), and the awakening of dormant hallucinogenic neurotransmitters that open up visions.
Furthermore, inspired in Latin American indigenous notions of the micro and macro cosmos being extensions of their bodies, where - non biological kinship offers an affiliation with difference through affinity - (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, 2009); the intention is to imagine a village living and agriculture system that is geo-ontology (Elizabeth Povinelli, 2016) based merging the bio and geo. Seeking to take care of the inhabitants, offer ways by which the happy hormones and the affects, the emotions stored in the bodies and released with the electricity conversion process, are molecularly incorporated into the crops and housing constituents. Can we use these molecules to irrigate and fertilize the crops we grow? Can the village materials be an extension of our bodies? Hence, the idea is to think how persons can enter in a reciprocal feeding loop with the space they live and labor in, where the subject: culture/mind could possibly become the object: nature/body and vice versa.
THE RESEARCH PLAN (2022-2023)
By conducting transdisciplinary research in collaboration with experts of various fields, such as hybrid narrative dramaturgs, Tantra and Taoist Sexual Kung Fu practitioners, performers, queer sexologists, hackers, indigenous communities (i.e: Aymara), electronic designers, bio-technologists and the public, we cross-fertilize different knowledge to carryout the research in the following phases:
I. Body Practice & care
1. Research on and start developing an inclusive body practice that increases the electromagnetic levels of the body. Based on training techniques that focus on transforming sexual energy into what martial artists call QI, primordial force, and brain orgasms into an ecstatic life experience.
2. Envision safe spaces that could handle different subjectivities and offer transpersonal tools, from an inclusive sexological and psychological standpoint.
3. Think on how to handle sex in a trans-specific mode, by including the more-than-human agencies of the body and surrounding species, from a post-human onto-epistemological perspective.
II. Molecular and electricity experiments
1. Carry out in the lab experiments with the Body Practice to trace the neuro-sexological electro-circuit path and its collaboration with endocrine and microbiota bio-chemical signaling systems.
a. To look at: Molecular dopaminergic, serotonergic and DMT (hallucinogenic neurotransmitter) expressions.
b. To experiment with the electrical conversion potentials of electro/magnetic and thermodynamic expressions involved.
2. Research on ways by which emotions in their molecular expressions could be distilled from the human body and possibly used as irrigation or fertilizing source in vegetables, crafting interactive research capsules where this can be tested.
III. Power Plant and village materials & morphologies
1. Gather a sensorial and kinetic archive of durable, mobile analogue and digital materials references that generate, covert, collect and transfer energy.
2. Research on different playgrounds constituents, swings, slides, climbers, spinners, trampolines etc., exploring the effects that emerge in these contexts and their possible translation into the morphologies of the Power Plant.
IV. Public engagement, dramaturgy and project model
Carry out live public experiments, researching on the performativity, interactivity and public engagement potentials of the Sci-Fi archive. In order to draw core dramaturgical lines, as well as an analogue or digital model of the Power Plant and village morphologies. Where possible reflections on the following ideas could be discussed: How do we regulate solidarity and exchange? What are the differences and similarities between extracting, harvesting, collecting, distilling, transfusing, transmitting, donating? What does the research incite? Could we eventually come up with a zero waste platform containing: artistic practices that focus on sustainability, or a recreational drugs production facility or a nomadic community that can survive in extreme climate conditions or just a wellbeing playground? What artistic and political boundaries are we crossing with this research? Could we develop the first Power Plant project durational experiment in the Atacama desert, the driest space on Earth?
Research with the kind support of:
Flanders State of the Arts
Kersnikova Institute Ljubljana (Sl), Maastricht University Cognitive Neuroscience Department (NE), Yan Van Eyck Academy Future Materials Lab (NE), La Wakaya Current Desert (CL/UK), wpZimmer Antwerpen (BE)
Administration and creative advisor associate:
-Barad Karen (2007) Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, Duke University Press, USA
-Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo (2009), The Relative Native, Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds, chapter VI, Berghahn Books, Oxford
-Povinelli Elizabeth (2016) Geontology: A réquiem to late liberalism, Duke University Press, USA