top of page

(un)moving bodies | 2021 | single-channel video documentation

 

KAJA BAKKEN | ANNEKE DRESSELHUIS

In many ways, bodies have been at the forefront of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Bodies infected

Bodies spreading

Bodies controlled

Bodies displaced

Bodies distanced

Bodies, still

 

Yet while this historical moment has certainly been somatically oriented, it has also presented a novel and unprecedented experience of collective disembodiment.

 

“Social distancing” slipped into the evolving lexical framework of the pandemic in 2020 and has since prompted extensive scholarship and discussion around body politics and more broadly, how a collective human experience can find a sense of groundedness amidst the complexities of social and ecological collapsing.

 

Canadian geoscientists Rebecca Salvage and David Eaton explore the measurable effects of earth-shaking, that is, seismic vibration, in a 2020 study that shows pre-pandemic seismic noise and, in the early months of the pandemic, a significant drop in vibration that resulted from halted production and human movement (Salvage and Eaton, 2021)*. 

 

(un)moving bodies uses ambient seismic data recorded from Vancouver’s seismic noise station between October 2019 to April 2020 and transforms displacement levels into audible waves by means of data processing in the software, R. The installation is configured with an Arduino microcontroller, customized software and an open-source connection kit that allows the data sonification played through the Ableton sound editing interface to be manipulated by the Arduino IDE. Despite the technical complexity of the installation, the work creates a vantage point that is removed from the visualizations of the data; rather, the viewer, in a dark room, becomes encompassed by the vibrations of seismic utterances, a sonified narrative of the pandemic. The semiotic indication of two footprints on the individual-sized wooden platform invites a single viewer to interact with the work. As the viewer moves about the platform, vibration signals are received by a piezoelectric diode which in turn, modulates the volume of the seismic sonification playing through two speakers. 

 

(un)moving bodies is activated by the presence of a body. In isolation, the viewer is invited to confront their own current movement situated in the historical context of other bodies and earth vibrations. Alone, the viewer can play, stomp, jump and explore the possibilities and implications of existing with other human and geological movements across space and time. 

 

The unconventional use of geological data is in conversation with Matilda Aslizadeh’s 2018 work, “Moly and Kassandra,” which uses mining data to create an operatic score as well as the projects “Dear Data” by Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi which leverages data as a humanized and subjective creative media. Within the ambiguity of fact and manipulation, (un)moving bodies  compels us to ask, 

 

 

what can embodied experiences of data reveal?

 

how are understandings of ‘impact’ complicated by a global pandemic?

 

and, in the face of increasing public inoculation programs and opportunities for mobility, 

 

how might we channel the collective spirit of the pandemic into the agendas of social and ecological (i)m(pr)ovements?




 


 

* Salvage, R. O. and Eaton, D. W.: Unprecedented quiescence in resource development area allows detection of long-lived latent seismicity, Solid Earth, 12, 765–783,
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-12-765-2021, 2021.

bottom of page