In collaboration with Sara Rönnbäck (2021) RAM Gallery, Oslo, NO
Perhaps we are always a pot Or that which is contained by the pot Depending on the viewpoint
Conversation Between Bodies is an ongoing collaboration between Sara Rönnbäck and Daniel Slåttnes, departing from an idea of material consciousness. The project was initiated in 2015 and has so far resulted in twelve exhibitions and an artist book (Locus Publication, 2017). In the project, the artists explore inter-material relationships. Conversations Between Bodies is born out of the ambition to find paths of understanding each other and our surroundings outside of verbal language. Where lies the boundaries between my body and yours? What is a body? What is the distinction between object and subject? These are questions that run through the exhibition.
The conversation is continuous and takes place on different levels, in actions and gestures, through silent and auditive impulses. The artists take a choreographic approach to the world – where the environment exercises influence – for better or worse, just as the water shapes the rocks by a riverbed, rounding down their edges, invading their cracks and tearing them up in pieces.
The artists live on a small country farm, and this is reflected throughout the exhibition, with works made of clay, wood and stone. Some ceramic sculptures are burned in Raku technique in a wood fired furnace built on the farm by the artists themselves. Conversations Between Bodies is an eco-feministic project with an animist and empathic approach to materials. The artists aspire to be sensitive to signals from their materials while shaping the clay or cutting the wood. In their own words: “Shapes develop as we become acquainted with the materials and together we reach an understanding that results in a form. We avoid imposing a preconceived idea of the result and try to be humble in our roles as active agents.”
Meta.Morf X – Digital Wild, Gråmølna Trondheim Kunstmuseum, NO
In 2015 I started off an artistic collaboration with a houseplant. The plant, an ordinary baby rubber plant (P. obtusifolia) happened to sit on my desk when I asked What is life?
I started simply by spending time with the houseplant. This grew a bodily connection. I discovered that we have another commonality in the biosignals going through our bodies. By amplifying the electrical signals via electrodes on my scalp and on the plant’s leaves, we could listen to each other’s vibrations.
During the experiments on the plant’s electrophysiology, I wondered if the plant could be taught to move a robotic prosthesis. It would help the collaboration tremendously if we could be on the same time scale. After a lot of work with programmers, data scientists, and electrical engineers we managed to give the plant a prosthesis that reacted to its bio-signals with the help of machine learning.
Over the past year, I’ve been researching how six houseplants interact with each other and the things around them. They have robotic prostheses as a tool for me to see their reactions immediately instead of weeks later.
This resulted in a journal with observations and reflections around the life of the houseplants:
1 meter diameter Carved dead pine tree, acrylic paint
The work is a site-specific sculpture consisting of a dead pine tree I carved on for a week. I look at it as a portrait of the old tree. An intuitive processing of the body it has left to life in the forest. And an attempt to express the experience I had of the tree while I worked on it.