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THE (POWER PLANT) VILLAGE

by Isabel Burr Raty in collaboration with many 

Developing Project application Vlaamse Gemeenschap

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The core of my transdisciplinary artistic practice consists of embodied Science Fiction, where my narratives challenge the role of humans in the commodification process of goods, to encourage reflection on the concept of value and to free bodies from colonial perspectives. Even more, my artistic work consists of multiple mobile formats, which invite the audience to participate in hyper-reality settings that are always DIY, or better DIWO (do it with others) community-building and empowering experiences. These processes are shared through alternative archiving methods and transpersonal art objects, which are often magical and disobedient at the same time.

 

In 2022 I received a multi-year research grant from the VG, which allowed me to conduct theoretical and physical research around the model of The (Power Plant) Village. Now, with this at hand I want to expand my recent eco-erogenous arsenal and take a new direction with my Para-pharmaceutical artistic activities.

The (Power Plant) Village has so far been a Sci-Fi investigative story that speculates about a post-natural communitarian way of living. Proposing a transformative experience where community labor collectivizes the ecstatic, in order to awaken superpowers and experience trans-dimensional travels. All while generating a green power that restores bodies and ecosystems.

​In March 2023 I turned 150mt2 of my house’s backyard in the Belgian countryside into an open-air research studio (Garden Studio), where I could visualize and explore this fabulation on an embodied level. Using analogue, mostly recycled materials and various DIY devices, as well as with the help of some scenographers, we crafted a Moist Media Playground to envision The Village Maquette. 

During the spring and summer of the same year, guests were welcomed to take short parkours through the Maquette and physically explore its spaces, while imagining a small-scale agriculture method of molecular and atomic fusions that is powered with sexual energy. The enhancement of the senses in this process, which liquify the boundaries between the human and the more-than-human worlds, releases happy hormones to irrigate growing crops. Within this ecosystem, a reciprocal nourishing loop could be experienced, creating collective mental visions. 

​Even though The Village Maquette has been an exploration of a story on a fictional level, by the end of the summer my garden, which is surrounded by GMO farming and that was depleted, came to life again. Moreover, when we moved elements of The Village Maquette inside enclosed spaces in semi-public contexts, an incubator or a kind of prenatal space seemed to appear. Although still too much in the process to come out yet, a lively interest and a collective sense of support emerged. 

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With the support of this project subsidy, I want to initiate a new phase in this research where I can take The Village Maquette to a higher level. For this I want to investigate The Village Framework and various Dramaturgical Aspects and bring them to the surface. The Village Framework includes various phases from the Body Practice Score, to Detecting Tools to the Moist Media Playground that are developed and tested. In addition, with the development of the Dramaturgical Aspects, I want to conduct research into the sensitive and political aspects of this work.

 

Between August 2024 and December 2025 together with a diverse group of artists, dramaturges, scenographers, performers specialized in body practices and experts in sexual energy. As well as in collaboration with the Viernulvier arts center in Ghent, the Nadine arts lab in Brussels and the Kersnikova Institute in Ljubljana, which share their knowledge and network and provide substantive, financial and production support; we develop and test The Village Framework as well as its Dramaturgical Aspects. Through residencies in: my open-air garden studio, Vooruit and Hackers Rampa and BioTehna labs of the Kersnikova Institute.

 

In addition, we are experimenting with innovative ways to share the development process with the public, at nadine, iMAL, Viernulvier and Kapelica Gallery of the Kersnikova Institute.

1. THE VILLAGE FRAMEWORK          DEVELOPMENT PHASE

 

 

1.1. THE VILLAGE BODY PRACTICE SCORE

 

Together with transpersonal therapists and facilitators of (Eastern) sexual energy and body practices, Elke Van Campenhout, Aditya Dutta and Yanshuf Kadesh, I develop the Body Practice Score, or protocols (scores) for body practices with special attention to inclusive holistic care and safe spaces. Together we explore traditional and contemporary Taoist and Hindu/Buddhist sexual energy practices that increase the body's bioelectric currents. We try to awaken dormant hallucinogenic neurotransmitters such as endogenous DMT and endocannabinoids (molecules from Ayahuasca and Cannabis plants), which alter states of consciousness and enhance senses and intuition. Producing immense pleasure, often referred to as experiencing brain orgasms, that releases hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins that make us feel good. At the same time, this potentially releases a force that unblocks the spinal cord, freeing memories and traumas. The Body Practice Score will include this entire study, although we still know what form this score will take.

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1.2. THE VILLAGE MOIST MEDIA PLAYGROUND 

 

The Village Moist Media Playground (MMP), based on the Maquette, will be further developed in the Garden Studio in the coming period. We propose workstations that also operate as a part of a small agricultural system.

 

MMP consists of a platform for body practices, where so-called villagers can follow the Body Practice Score. Then the villagers can bathe in a warm, bubbling pond to deposit happiness hormones via osmosis that are released through their skin (the skin is part of the endocrine system). The pond system then converts the water into a vapor that is distributed through a pipe mechanism to irrigate the crops (medicinal herbs, sprouts and edible flowers), which grow in long, thin, transparent greenhouses and in deep holes in the ground. Finally, there is a swing area, a kind of safe space where the villagers come together to share their experiences and visions.

 

Together with scenographer and designer Marzia Dalfini, we develop the nomadic design of The Village Moist Media Playground. We conduct research into portable swing and foldable tatami structures, jacuzzis bubbling and hydroponic irrigation systems and steam generator (sauna) motors. We explore which hard and soft environmentally friendly, recycled and lightweight materials can be considered for the design. Later we will also add the Detecting Tools, portable do-it-yourself instruments and the mobile lab station (see below), to the multimedia playground.

1.3. THE VILLAGE DETECTING TOOLS

 

The development of the Detecting Tools consists of researching and developing do-it-yourself technological devices, that can help capture or record what is happening on the bioelectrical/thermal and molecular levels inside and outside the participants: the living organisms and 'non-living’ entities of The Village. On the one hand, we want to collect information and on the other hand, we want to make these phenomena visible or visualize them. The developed Detecting Tools (potentially) add a visual dimension to the project.

 

1.3.1 BIO ELECTRICAL & THERMAL TOOLS

Together with artist and hacker Dimitry Morozov, who codes hardware and software, I want to develop portable instruments and protocols for reading and visualizing bioelectric and thermal field variations. To this end, we look at electromagnetic technologies that read the absorption and emission of light and display conductivity. For example, Optical Spectroscopy, which is a way to measure light intensity using light (or more accurately electromagnetic radiation) that is split into different wavelengths (a spectrum), just as a prism splits light into a rainbow of colors. And/or Kirlian Photography, a photographic contact printing technique used for capturing electrical coronal discharges, often seen as a bluish glow in the air. Additionally, we also look at thermodynamic technologies that map temperature variations of materials, such as thermal infrared imaging, which creates thermograms with a color palette, where each color represents a specific temperature range.

 

1.3.2. MOLECULAR TOOLS

Together with bioengineer and wetware hacker Kristijan Tkalec, I am developing a mobile lab station for detecting the presence of hormones in liquids or mixtures. To this end, we investigate molecular laboratory techniques used to identify compounds in liquid samples. For example, Liquid Chromatography is used to separate small molecules in complex mixtures for qualitative and quantitative analysis. We also experiment with evaporation protocols to form crystals and atomization protocols to form powders. For example, there is Rotary Evaporation, suitable for the crystallization of heat-sensitive materials, or Spray Drying technology, in which a liquid product is atomized to transform hormones (like peptide hormones such as oxytocin) into powder form, for example.

 

 
 

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2. THE VILLAGE FRAMEWORK

TEST PHASE &

(SEMI-)PUBLIC EXPERIMENTS 

 

Together with the artists and therapists Dodi Espinosa, Camila Montero Elgueta and Ditte Brys, I test The Village Framework. This brings the Body Practice Score, Moist Media Playground and the Detecting Tools all together in a long-lasting immersive experience in the Garden Studio. 

 

We then bring this knowledge to various (semi-)public contexts (in collaboration with the artistic organizations and venues Viernulvier, nadine and Kersnikova Institue) where we look for innovative ways to share the research with an audience. 

 

The first stop is in n0dine, the project space of nadine vzw, where we show the results of The Village Framework in the Garden Studio. I think I will show the documentation of the process as well as the documentation of the development of The Village Framework. The public can register for a tour of the Garden Studio. We provide a shuttle service for the public to experience the MMP route on site for a day. At the end of this residency, we will organize an artist talk (with Q&A) in the media house iMAL (part of nadine's network) about the development and testing process of The Village Framework.  

 

Secondly, I have been invited to Viernulvier for a residency where we can make some stations of the Moist Media Playground nomadic and move them to Ghent. We are also considering testing the Body Practice Score and setting up the Detecting Tools with an audience in closed and open spaces (gardens or patios) in and around Viernulvier. At the end of the residency we organize a public moment to share the results of our residency. 

 

Finally, The Village Framework has been invited to Kapelica Gallery Ljubljana, where I will share the documentation of all parts of the development and testing phases of The Village Framework and the Dramaturgical Aspects (see below). We are thinking of a participatory event where the audience can have an interactive and embodied experience and give feedback.

3. DRAMATURGICAL ASPECTS 

 

In parallel with the development and testing phases of The Village Framework, I am working with dramaturg Kristin Rogghe, multidisciplinary artist Einat Tuchman and media theorist Peggy Pierrot on the Dramaturgical Aspects of The Village that can help mediate the world (vision) I want to create with this project. 

 

A first aspect to explore in more detail is language, and the translation of a study that brings together material from different disciplines and plays with the boundaries between fiction/reality, intimate/public. How do we work towards a sensory and sensitive conceptual work with its own adapted language? 

 

A second aspect is to investigate whether the Body Practice Score could be presented in an open, inclusive and responsible way to a participating audience or whether this could only be conveyed by a specific group of performers. Likewise, the observation of what happens when the MMP is transferred to (semi-)public contexts is crucial. Which artistic doors are open? Within which artistic formats can this project be presented? Could The Village also be installed in another garden? 

 

Furthermore, with the development of The Village Framework, I explore questions that still linger around The (Power Plant) Village idea and perhaps illuminate new paradigms in the imaginary of the public that is situated in an increasingly unsafe world. Thus, with the group of dramaturges I want to delve deeper into questioning who are the villagers? Are they some kind of superconductors? Diffractive bodies? Rainbow bodies? Light warriors? And then, what kind of science fiction is The Village? Is it a Quantum Fiction? And for what? To brew magical weapons? To produce elixirs of hope? Mystical aromas with enchanting whispers? To manufacture aphrodisiacs? Or cosmic travel potions? Sci-Fi oxytocin bombs? If such is the case, what boundaries are being crossed? 

RELEVANCE OF THE INITIATIVE 

 

 

The engine that runs for the betterment of humanity and the (Western) way of life, depletes the energy reserves and sources, becoming biophysically unsustainable for our planet. We must foresee social and economic models for des-acceleration, regeneration and maintenance, both in art and in society. 

 

The (Power Plant) Village focuses on unveiling metaphorical, but also material, assets that queer the role of humans in a power generation process, to deconstruct the commodification of matter. The public is invited to think about the concept of - power -. Or rather, to reflect about where power comes from and what do we want to power? From which state of awareness, of consciousness, do we power the present and the future? 

Through the cross-pollination of different disciplines, this research allows me to invent new forms of artistic production, unique hybrid art organisms that escape classical formats and go beyond the black box. Navigating urban and rural environments, between my Garden Studio and artistic locations in Flanders, Belgium and abroad. 

With my project I aim to respond to the philosophical call to overcome binary systems that split our reality into opposing categories. These only lead to an ontological mode with a single perception of space and time, which emphasizes material boundaries and creates hierarchical constructions. With the development of The Village I want to enlighten a different way of existence. One that overcomes economies based on anthropogenic actions and challenges the concept of 'labor' by centering it around the exchange of pleasure.  

Through the lenses of quantum physics and molecular biology, The Village Framework is a container of diverse know-how, digging deep into Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines’ energetic skills that power with sexual energy extra-sensorial wisdom. Pursuing to play with the light and warmth emitted by bioelectric entities that ignite molecular reactions, influencing states of being, perceiving, learning and understanding. Hopefully this is the emergence of a de-growth agriculture playground that includes humans as an integrated part of a restorative ecosystem method. 

Adventuring into multidimensional reality, I incorporate sexual energy, beyond it sexed matters, as a primary force that can be transmuted. I foster a dreamlike diffractive orchestra of different presences that coexist as an ensemble. Where the villagers can ultimately collectively transcend three-dimensional boundaries of species and resources, and embody a metaphysics of transmaterial superpositions that embraces multiplicity and opens up possibilities of becoming.

PLANNING

 

August 2024

Activation of residence in the Garden Studio. During a week we will dive into The Village Maquette again and reactivate the garden studio. We welcome the dramaturges and additional guests for a tour through the model.

 

October 2024

Two-week residency at Viernulvier to develop two parts of The Village Framework.

Development of Dramaturgical Aspects and Body Practice Scores.

 

January to May 2025

Residency at Kersnikova Institute (Rampa and BioTehna labs) for two weeks. We develop the Detecting Tools in collaboration with the lab.

 

March to May 2025

Residence for two weeks in the Garden Studio for the Moist Media Playground development.

 

June 2025

- One-week immersive residency in the Garden Studio. We test the Village Framework (with all components: Body Practice Score, Moist Media Playground and Detecting Tools) with the team body workers. At the end of this residency, the team of dramaturgs gathers for the Dramaturgical Aspects section.

- In the following weeks we will share the results in nadine's project space in Brussels, n0dine, which also serves as a pick-up point for the tours in the Garden Studio.

- During our presence in n0dine, nadine in collaboration with iMAL organizes a discursive presentation of the development and testing phases of the Village Framework.

 

September to October 2025

Two-week residency at Viernulvier to delve deeper into the Dramaturgical Aspects and the translocation of some stations of the nomadic Moist Media Playground. We organize a (semi-)public event at the end to share the research with an audience.

 

December 2025

Three-day residency in Kapelica Gallery where we will discuss the development and testing phases of The Village Framework, and the documentation surrounding the Dramaturgical Aspects, in an interactive presentation. The Detective Tools are also presented, as are some aspects of Moist Media Playground and the Body Practice Score.

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