Conversation Between Bodies 10.1

Ceramics, wood, stone, plant fiber, steel wire, ivy plant stems, soil, PVC pipes

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.”

Plant Cyborgs

(2020)

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.

Video documentation from the exhibition

Anthro-botanical investigations from the atelier

(2019)

Galleri Hans, Ørland, NO

Photo documentation from visiting Galleri Hans

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:

Portraits of Tree Logs

(2019)

The breath that leaves me, stay inside, Corporum, Aarhus, DK

Variable Dimensions
Carved and painted pieces of aspen wood

I carved portraits of tree logs and tried to let the wood pieces steer my knife while working on them. I wanted to let the tree influence me before I overruled with a form of expression.

Heartwood

(2019)

Hvitsten Salong, NO

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.

Conversation Between Bodies 7.4

(2019)

Aldea Center for Contemporary Art, Bergen, NO
Borealis Festival for Experimental Music, Bergen

Video documentation of performance

Conversation between Bodies is a collaboration between Daniel Slåttnes and Sara Rönnbäck that has been going on since 2015.

In the project, we investigate ways of communication and the limits of understanding the materials as radical non-humans, and each other as fundamentally estranged by nature.

In a performance we wear masks, which also functions as EEG devices. The devices record electrical signals created by our brains and translate it into sound.

The sculptures carry similar devices that act as amplifiers for the materials’ electromagnetic fields, which also are translated to sound.

In the overall sound, we imagine a super-organism together with the materials and the space.

Experiences of time

(2018)

Consciousness in the time of Kairos​, ​Kurant​, Tromsø, NO

The time of the Self,
the time of the Soul,
the time of the Ego

(2018)

H120 x W40 x L40 cm
Polished porphyry-granite and plaster,
aspen wood,
plastic wrap

Patterns of time
(2018)

H100 x W50 x L50 cm
Carved wood cones and plaster dripped on MDF plate for 30 days

Performance during the exhibition Consciousness in the time of Kairos

Vertical and horizontal eternity
(2018)

H15 x W14 x L21 cm
Polished groove in granite stone and aluminum foil beaten to a ball

Imprint of polystyrene dissolving in acetone
(2018)

H5 x W40 x L40 cm
Plaster cast on MDF plate

Vegetal Connections

(2018)

Atelier Nord, Oslo, NO

With contributions from Renate Synnes Handal, Inger-Reidun Olsen, Sara Rönnbäck, Robert Printa & Dvd Kumlin/Emil Jessen.

For the exhibition, I invited artists that in their own ways deals with collaborations with plants and other non-humans.

In the exhibition, I had three plants with robotic prostheses that used their own biosignals to move the prostheses.

Monologue about the collaboration (3:30 minutes, in Norwegian)
http://bit.ly/KjennePlante

For the exhibition, I invited Robert Printa to work auditory with the plant signals, and Emil Jessen worked on the signals with video synthesizers.

Audio documentation of performance at the opening: http://bit.ly/PlantsPrinta

Review “The Plants’ Internet” at http://www.kunstkritikk.no/kritikk/plantenes-internett/ (in Norwegian)