Published in conjunction with all small, curated by Miller Robinson at the Alcove Gallery, Los Angeles, October 4 - 11, 2014.
all small presents works from Los Angeles and New York based artists: Corinne Bernard, Mynor Chinchilla, Joshua Evan, Marquita Flowers, Jillian Fredericks, Mark Gens, Helen Gu, Jenna Hanson, John Hoon, Emily Isham, Ian James, Aaron Jupin, Eunchong Lee, Chelsea McCarthy, Gray Miles, Mike Pierzynski, Juliette Toma, and Chris Wilder. The publication includes texts from writers residing in Los Angeles and Berlin: GeoVanna Gonzalez, Jenna Hanson, Chelsea McCarthy, Vincent Murillo-Román, and Vivian Sming.
October 2014, English
9 x 11.5 cm, 36 pages, b&w, softcover
Excerpt from "Notes on Presence"
"I want to go to space, for the same reason I go into the city, for the same reason I went to Antarctica, for the same reason I collect sand from the beach, for the same reason I lie in bed on Friday nights listening to parties nearby, for the same reason I take the window seat: I want to feel small."
N-o-nS...e;nSI/c::::a_L's first issue: (ethics), with contributions by: Evan Burrows, Fiona Connor & Amy Howden-Chapman, Leslie Dick, Harry Dodge, Tara Lisa Foley, Páll Haukur, Chandler McWilliams, Ragnar Kjartansson, Thea Lorentzen, Vivian Sming.
N-o-nS...e;nSI/c::::a_L is an undertaking concerned with meaning; a publication featuring artist writings brushing against the uncertainties that dictate our culture, space & actions.
June 2014, English
21 x 30.5 cm, 110 pages, b&w, softcover
Available for purchase.
Symptoms of the Prey
If you’ve ever been held up at gunpoint, you know that your life doesn’t flicker before your eyes in some dreamscape manner. No. You are unfalteringly present. Mind and body tightly wound as one. The surge of fear running through your veins is so great that makes it impossible for you to escape your flesh. Even though you’ve told yourself before that you’d be ready to let go, that you have no regrets, you’ve been the best person you could’ve possibly been—even though you’ve told yourself this a dozen times over, the current of electricity in your body tells you to remain. And if you so happen to pass this moment without harm, it is not a sigh of relief you breathe, no thanks you give. Instead, you feel a hot dusty dry anger rise. An anger that your freedom to life—if that is any sort of freedom at all—can be totally and completely compromised by the choices of one individual. It’s precisely this anger that festers throughout the earth as progress continues—progress that is defined by mankind’s ability to create and end lives at any given time.
Over 3.4 million years ago, our early human ancestors implemented stones as the first tools for butchering and carving meat off of scavenged carcasses. It took another million years before these stones were developed into instruments for the actual hunt and pursuit of live animals. Hunting remained a crucial means of sustenance in the long trajectory of hominids for over two million years. And thus, it is only in recent history, with the onset and proliferation of agriculture by modern humans, that the activity of hunting has come to exist primarily as an activity of leisure or sport.
Artemis with a doe, called the “Diana of Versailles.” Anonymous. 1st-2nd century AD, Roman Imperial copy, Collection of Louvre Museum, Paris, France. [Photograph by Eric Gaba (Wikimedia Commons User: Sting), July 2005.]
Diana of Versailles is the Roman reproduction of the lost Greek sculpture Artemis with a doe (4th century BC). Flanked by a young sprinting buck, Diana prepares for a hunt, drawing an arrow with one hand, holding her bow ready in the other (only a fragment of the bow remains in its current condition). The sculpture represents Diana’s role as both the goddess of the hunt and protector of the wild.
“The tops of the high mountains tremble and the tangled wood echoes awesomely with the outcry of beasts: earth quakes and the sea also where fishes shoal. But the goddess with a bold heart turns every way destroying the race of wild beasts...”
Such a formidable huntress would seem to make Diana an unlikely candidate as a protector of the wild, but it’s perhaps out of fear that the animals seek to her for protection. The duality of hunting and protecting nature is not uncommon amongst hunters-cum-conservationists. It’s a position that is embodied at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (the Museum of Hunting and Nature). Located in Paris, the museum is dedicated to the humanist expressions of nature throughout time, vis-à-vis the hunt. The collection houses decorative and fine art objects that depict the hunt, weapons and accessories used in the pursuit, and animal trophies, taxidermies and other relics. The expansive collection bombards us with death in every gallery, reminding us of our historically violent relationship with other animals. For it’s this relationship that is depicted in even the earliest forms of art.
Hunting trophies placed above glass vitrines containing rifles and other weaponry in the Gallery of Trophies. Vivian Sming. Instagram photograph, May 2011, Museum of Hunting and Nature, Paris, France.
The other aspect of the museum is in its conservation efforts, by way of educating the public and cultivating an appreciation and respect for nature. In the United States, hunting ironically provides the capital for conservation efforts, through the sales of licenses and collection of fees. Hunters can stake claim to their conservationist identities, insisting that the activity of hunting has less to do with the actual killing of an animal, and more to do with the immersive experience of nature, coupled with the thrill of the sport. Furthermore, to truly learn about a particular species (enough to end its life), hunters must be knowledgeable about its habitat, diet, biological senses, and physical abilities. Through their encounters and gained knowledge, these hunters often hold a deep appreciation and respect for the animals they hunt and kill. After all, love and murder are seldom found to be mutually exclusive.
The question amongst hunters therefore is not whether killing or threatening another living (nonhuman) being is morally wrong, but it is within the specific and nuanced intentions and manners in which one kills or threatens. These intentions and manners seem to lie somewhere between the spheres of ethics and aesthetics. The intentions are the purposes for which one hunts, and can include: hunting for food, for sport, for profit, for population control, and so on. The manners are how one hunts, and can include: hunting with or without the use of baits, traps, or dogs, during which particular seasons, the weapons one uses, the distance one maintains—the list goes on. Further concerns include what one hunts: which particular animals, of which particular sex, or at what particular level of maturity. Each hunt maintains its own specificities, and differs in the nuanced code in which a hunter will allow himself to kill or threaten another living (nonhuman) being.
Fair chase is one of these codes, providing a framework in which hunters can work from. In 1887, Theodore Roosevelt formed the Boone and Crockett Club, which has now become the oldest wildlife conservation in North America. Roosevelt famously earned his nickname “Teddy” precisely for being a proponent of fair chase. Although he certainly hunted and successfully killed many bears throughout his life, Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that his assistants had tied up to a tree, on the cause of fair chase. “Fair chase, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.” Free-ranging animals and improper advantagemeans that a case such as internet-hunting, in which rifles controlled remotely through the internet were used to shoot and kill animals kept in a confined area, is not considered fair chase. Other improper advantages that are perhaps less clear-cut are still up for debate and vary in legality from state to state.
Diana. Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 1892-93, Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, USA. Gift of the New York Life Insurance Company, 1932.
In the late 19th century rendition of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the goddess of the hunt balances on one leg, on the tips of her toes, with her bow in full draw. As a sculpture, she is firm and elegant, with target in sight. She has only one arrow, one chance, but the confidence of her stance suggests that she will no doubt make her mark. As a living and naked (human) body, Diana struggles to maintain pose. The muscles in her leg shake in the effort to remain balanced, and the tension of the bowstring is too great for her arms to sustain. It is within this moment of full draw—prior to the arrow’s release—where she is held forever, where ethics is contained.
LIKE A DEER CAUGHT IN HEADLIGHTS
A deer remains frozen in the middle of the road. Her eyes are designed to allow more light to reach her during the night, and thus, the sudden impact of light blinds her. She remains frozen, her future to be determined by the actions of the entities around her.
When faced with the vulnerability and nakedness of another, you are tempted with murder, as you recognize the precariousness of that life in relation with yours. The face, in screaming, “thou shall not kill” reminds you that yes, you hold a power and responsibility towards my future well-being. But whatever you do, do not kill me. This scream is not heard through words, but through the presence in our very being. For Emmanuel Lévinas, this concept of the faceis what successfully prevents us from constantly committing murder on a daily basis, suggesting that presence alone is enough to combat one’s ability and desires to annihilate at any given time.
CATCH & RELEASE 
June 28, 2007
Some say our life is insane,
but it isn’t insane on paper.
It isn’t insane on paper.
It isn’t insane on paper.
July 2, 2007
It was an otherwise ordinary day. We were driving—Dad behind the wheel, Mom in the passenger, me in the back. We were driving home, driving somewhere—just driving. A police car started following us (an unmarked car with one blue light on top of its hood). As it approached, the sirens went off and the blue light flashed. We were being pulled over. My dad seemed to ignore this completely, and kept on driving. My mom and I were anxious, and started screaming, “What are you doing? Stop the car!” But my dad didn’t get it. He didn’t understand why he would need to stop. He’s not doing anything wrong, he said. We argued. Dad, this is the law. I don’t know what’s going on, but you have to pull over unless you want to start some sort of pursuit. And how is that supposed to end? Okay, okay, he pulled over. As the policeman walked towards our car, several other vehicles swarmed around us. It soon became clear that he was not police at all. Dressed in ordinary clothes, the man pointed a gun at my dad and yelled, “Get out of the car!” Other armed men surrounded our car shouting, “Put your hands on your head!” My dad complied, and was promptly handcuffed and escorted to a white van. We were being taken as hostages. My mom told me to call someone—she was next to go. I tried texting [my friend] Iris, but could only form autocorrected gibberish (I had just gotten the iPhone a few days ago). My phone dropped, and as I reached for it, the back door opened. I was pulled out of the car and dragged towards the van, gun held against my head.
In the van:
an old couple
a teenage girl, all dressed up (on her way to prom perhaps)
myself, up next.
Everyone was blank.
Their faces were naked.
Nothing filled my head.
The man pulled down his gun.
“Just kidding!” He smirked.
A camera crew appeared, and the cameras were rolling.
In my frozen state, I recalled footage I had once seen online of a few celebrities, hand-tied and blindfolded, forced to do a number of logic-related tasks. Puzzles.
The website was run by this man, a man with a vision, and it was his manifesto. I suddenly felt nauseous with the realization that we were being filmed this whole time, and streamed live onto his forum. Millions of viewers watching online, reveling in our live performance of fear.
The man spoke directly into the camera, to his virtual audience:
“Let this be a reminder of what the world can truly be. We need to train ourselves to expect the unexpected so that we can protect ourselves in the future. There is a whole lot of evil in this world, beyond the United States of America—horrors that we haven’t even seen. We need to break out of our sheltered lives and start preparing ourselves for the worst to happen. Now, these folks were extremely lucky that this was just a test. If any situation like this ever occurs again, they will be more prepared to take action. We must remind ourselves that every minute can be our last. We never fully understand the true value of something until it becomes a memory. Let’s not let that happen.”
He spewed on and on, cameras still rolling, but I couldn’t hear anything anymore, or refused to.
“This is an event that I will always remember,” my dad sighed.
We were free to go.
Cameras still rolling.
LIKE A FISH OUT OF WATER
The greatest symptom of the prey is that the prey is seldom, if ever, involved in discussion of ethics or ethics-making. The predator and the prey hold two distinct sets of ethics. By the very definition of being a predator, it necessitates that the predator’s set of ethics infringes upon the prey’s. These ethics can be formed around the prey, which can call for the prey’s destruction or well-being, but their formation is made largely in absence of any dialogue with the prey itself. (The prey is not necessarily consulted, per se.) Thus, the prey is always subjected to the predator’s ethics and actions, regardless of the ethics the prey may possess. This is not to suggest that the prey holds no power, but the power of the prey is primarily located in its face, its presence, in its very being in the world, and not through a discursive space. Here, I claim the prey as a position, which can be constituted by any number of entities, both living and nonliving, whose ethics and way of being go unheard, and are infringed upon by the actions and ethics of another. In truth, by our very being in this world, we are always making ourselves available as prey, and through our actions, we become predators, subjecting those around us to our own individual set of ethics.
In Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma (1997), Peter Levine suggests that nonhuman animals are more prepared than humans to face threats at any given time, through their biological responses. Upon threat, animals will often go into an immobile frozen state, if neither options of fighting or fleeing are available. This immobility, however, still contains a significant amount of energy. Levine provides the example of an impala that is caught between a cheetah’s teeth: “From the outside, it looks motionless and appears to be dead, but inside, its nervous system is still supercharged at seventy miles an hour. Though it has come to a head stop, what is now taking place in the impala’s body is similar to what occurs in your car if you floor the accelerator and stomp on the brake simultaneously. The difference between the inner racing of the nervous system (engine) and the outer immobility (brake) of the body creates a forceful turbulence inside the body similar to a tornado.” Levine further claims that in this frozen state, no pain is experience, as the body provides a natural anesthesia in preparation for death. However, if given the opportunity to flee, the animal is able to charge at a blazing speed, thus releasing all energy held within its frozen state. This biological response is what, Levine argues, allows animals to recover from ongoing threats that would otherwise generate trauma within humans.
Once released back into the wild, we make ourselves available to be caught again. For “a good game fish is too valuable to be caught once.” Here in the wild we remain, forever negotiating our positions as predator and prey.
- - - - - - - - - -
 Instructional diagram for “Humane Bug Catcher” by German company Snapy, from PETA’s online store catalog.
 California Academy of Sciences. “Oldest evidence of stone tool use and meat-eating among human ancestors discovered: Lucy’s species butchered meat.” ScienceDaily, 11 August 2010.
 Lewis, Tonya B. “Baylor University Researcher Finds Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Human Ancestors Hunting and Scavenging.” Baylor University Media Communications, 9 May 2013.
 Anonymous. “The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White.” Homeric Hymns. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.
 “About the B & C Club” Boone and Crockett Club, 2012.
 Schoby, Mike. “Remote-Control Hunting.” Outdoor Life, 2007.
 Diana was originally created with a drapery to cover her, which was designed to catch the wind. [Sewell, Darrel.Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1995. 293.]
 These ideas are taken loosely from Emmanuel Lévinas’ concept of the face. [Lévinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1969.]
 Stills from “ABC World News Now: Deer Caught In the Headlights, Literally!” ABC News, 17 November 2011.
 This section contains two edited entries from the author’s 2007 journal. The contents of the July 2, 2007 entry recounts the author’s non-fictitious experience during an REM cycle.
 Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton. Nothing & Nowhere. Last Gang Records, 2006.
 June 29, 2007 was the release date of the first iPhone.
 In reference to Emmanuel Lévinas’ concept of the face. [Lévinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1969.]
 Levine, Peter A. Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 1997.
 Mantra of Lee Wulff, proponent of catch and release fishing.
Prep School Exhibition Catalog
Published in conjunction with Prep School: Prepper & Survivalist Ideologies and Utopian/Dystopian Visions, curated by Max Presneill and Lisa DeSmidt at the Torrance Art Museum, March 29 - May 15, 2014.
Prep School is an exhibition exploring themes in contemporary art that relate to; Apocalyptic predictions, Utopian and Dystopian visions and the Prepper and Survivalist cultures that surround ideas of a close approaching apocalypse.
Artists: Marshall Astor, Daniel Axe, Sandow Birk, Thomas Doyle, Conor Fields, Francisco Goya, Ben Jackel, Claire Jackel, Farrah Karapetian, Debby and Larry Kline, Whitney Lynn, James L. Marshall, Chris Natrop, Siobhan McClure-Rose, Dylan Palmer, Claudia Parducci, Chad Person, Cleon Peterson, Catya Plate, Max Razdow, Jean-Pierre Roy, Aili Schmeltz, Kerry Skarbakka, Vivian Sming, Allison Stewart, Marie Thibeault, Nicolau Vergueiro and Banks Violette.
March 2014, English
20.32 x 25.4 cm, 102 pages, color, hardcover
Available for purchase.
Excerpt from "The Objective Lens"
"As an artist, my concerns around objectivity stem from a greater interest in how we regard others--others being human and non-human, living and non-living. Objectivity is just one aspect of how we come to understand another.
Allan Megill presents four senses of objectivity:
1) the absolute sense, which refers to an undistorted knowledge that "represents things as they really are"
2) the disciplinary sense, which involves a "consensus among members of particular research communities"
3) the dialectical sense, which acknowledges that objects exist in relation to a subject
4) and finally the procedural sense, which refers to "the practice of an impersonal method of investigation" (1994).
My primary focus [for this lecture] is around this last sense of objectivity--the procedural sense, which is the deliberate and considered removal of the self within one's investigation of another. And it's important to note that this form of objectivity is in fact an action. It is performed in the attempt perhaps to achieve the absolute sense of "knowledge without distortion."
Lorraine Daston & Peter Galison trace this "procedural sense" which they term "mechanical objectivity" to emerge in the mid-19th Century. And since then, this form of objectivity has been upheld not only within the natural and physical sciences, but has also shaped practices within social sciences and even journalism, photography, and many other fields.
Over the years, there have definitely been those who have questioned objectivity. Susan Sontag, in questioning the photographer's position of power; Renato Rosaldo, in considering the way anthropologists conduct ethnographies; and of course, Donna Haraway, in her proposal for a science that locates and reveals one's position. These are just to name a few.
I'll begin by showing the Evacuation Plan series, which is primarily concerned with objectivity as it's manifested through photography, and in particular: photojournalism. I started this series in 2009, during which I had spent two months in Taiwan, staying with friends and family. As soon as I got back, there was a typhoon that had hit, Typhoon Morakot, which forced many to abandon their homes. And since I was here and not there, I was only able to experience the aftermath through whatever images were provided by the media.
These images contained a distance. In being photographed, the event had gone through a transformation, one that was removed from the self. Any connection existing between the photographer and the photographed was not at all revealed. This distance prevented me from understanding who these people really were and what they were truly going through. I was left with a stifled pain and a desire to be physically there, just so I could begin to understand and begin to empathize.
In examining objectivity's role in Photography, Susan Sontag suggests that photographs are "both an objective record and personal testimony, both a faithful copy or transcription of an actual moment of reality and an interpretation of that reality." Photography has the ability to capture reality as it is, but always filtered through a lens and the individual behind the lens. She goes on to say, "For the photography of atrocity, people want the weight of witnessing without the taint of artistry, which is equated with insincerity or mere contrivance. Pictures of hellish events seem more authentic when they don't have the look that comes from being 'properly' lighted and composed. By flying low, artistically speaking, such pictures are thought to be less manipulative and less likely to arouse facile compassion or identification." (Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others - p. 26-27) Here, we see that the sort of impersonal methodology that is upheld within scientific research also carries through and affects the way we see the world on daily basis, through photographs.
To demonstrate the distance that I felt within these images, I culled documentary photographs from the disaster and transformed them into mock safety evacuation cards, creating an additional barrier from the event itself. Through the process of digital illustration, all fear, anxiety, and chaos was replaced by a calm, collected, and rather absurd instruction. I repeated this process as more natural disasters continued to occur throughout the world. [...]"
Subject Matters: CalArts MFA 2013 Catalog
Published in conjunction with Subject Matters, the CalArts School of Art MFA Class of 2013 Graduate Exhibition, Mandarin Plaza, Los Angeles, June 8 - 22, 2013.
Curated by Claire de Dobay Rifelj, Subject Matters reflects the diverse fields the graduating MFAs engage with outside the discipline of art, in a wide range of mediums and approaches.
The catalog for the exhibition is designed by Brian Roettinger, and includes contributions by Claire de Dobay Rifelj and Lauren Mackler (founder and director of Public Fiction), as well as conversations with the artists (Pablo Carrillo, Heisue Chung, Roslyn Cohen, Jamora Crawford, Benjamin Dean, Jason Roberts Dobrin, Conor Fields, W. Don Flores, Tara Foley, Satoe Fukushima, Ting Ying Han, Páll Haukur, Andrea Hidalgo, Marie Johnston, Johanna Kozma, Anne Guro Larsmon, Elin Lennox, Arturo Molinar-Avitia, Chandler McWilliams, Heather M. O'Brien, Minha Park, Lauralee Pope, Stephen Neidich, Bryne Rasmussen, Camilo Restrepo, Ashley M. Romano, Tamara Rosenblum, Vidisha Saini, Emily Shanahan, Dina Sherman, Vivian Sming, Lauren Steinberg, Marisa Williamson, Katrin Winkler, Yiji Wu).
June 2013, English
19.5 x 23 cm, 61 pages, color, hardcover
Available for purchase.
Vivian Sming, in conversation with Three
[on the exhibition BLACK NOISE].
"THREE: The light that is happening in there is direct, reflective, radioactive--
VIVIAN SMING: ...radioactive!?
T: Well, meaning, that there's light emitting from objects in a kind of...
VS: in a radiating...
T: [laughs] in a radiating fashion! Sorry. All those forms of light values also have their own meaning. That sort of meaning isn't necessarily widely known. It's more esoteric and perhaps a bit scientific, but you're speaking to your audience through different wavelengths using light. This is something we've talked about early on when we first met, which is how artwork emits a kind of passive wave to the body, through reflected light and color.
VS: Right, unlike sound.
T: Unlike sound, which is more direct.
VS: Where you can physically feel it.
T: And here, you've done the thing that sound normally does, which is, you've used light in a more direct wave. It's affecting the viewer, whether they know it or not. When you have the text piece about the earth's orbit, the light that is coming at you from the LCD display is really touching you. It's doing more than changing numbers and giving information, it's actually playing in the physical space that you're in. And when you turn your back away from that, you have other pieces that feel almost warm and welcoming in comparison.
The rabbit is the smallest piece the entire show, and yet it's one of the stronger pieces when it comes to this light value that we are talking about."
Eat This: the art, politics, and curating of food
Published in conjunction with a CalArts seminar, taught by Jessica Rath, which investigated the cultivation of agricultural land as an entry point into the history of aesthetics and the development of civilization, from Columbus' trade exchanges and political control of crops to urban foraging and food fetishism.
Writings, images, and text by Christopher Reynolds, Dina Sherman, Jen Hutton, Vivian Sming, Ben Fish, Satoe Fukushima, Jessica Rath, Eve-Lauryn LaFountain, and Grace Joetama.
Designed by Melissa Kuo and Lily Sin
Edited by Vivian Sming
May 2012, English
14 x 21.5 cm, 16 pages, b&w, softcover
View full publication online.
Vignettes on Agriculture, Nature & Time
Walking around the Silver Lake Reservoir, I am struck by a particular question: Why is it that so many people (myself included) choose to circle about this fenced-in body of irrigated water? This water cannot be experienced, let alone be viewed. I'm met with the illusion that here, I am somehow closer to Nature.
The words "real time" have popped up twice this week. At Cookbook*, Marta Teegan speaks of her efforts in restoring the relationship between individuals and the food they consume. Cookbook is a greengrocer on Echo Park Ave. that offers a very fine selection of produce. These are the best of the best, delivered to this tiny neighborhood market four times a week. The selection is intricately labored with visits, discussions, and samplings--all with local growers. While the processes of food production are often overlooked (or fast-forwarded through in Farmville), Marta hopes to bring us back to "real time" to recognize the very deliberate methods and conditions that produce the foods we eat. Of course, it helps to know that everything in store is perfectly ripe, ready to be consumed.
*Cookbook (open daily, 8am - 8pm) 1549 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles.
Every week, I spend a day on Ellen's ranch. Well, they call it a ranch because it used to be one, but it's actually more of an orchard than it is a ranch. Once covered in chaparral, rows of citrus trees now form the cultivated landscape. Again, I am met with the illusion of Nature, for it is not actually easy to differentiate the natural from the cultivated, or native from the non-native. In fact, traces of the wild can only be seen with attention. On a walk with naturalist Joel Robinson*, we spot a frog completely camouflaged in the dirt. Without a second glance, it's easy to miss. Watching the frog blink, we feel somehow proud to have even glimpsed something wild, something of Nature.
If there is a Venn Diagram with Nature circled on the left, and Culture on the right, Agriculture is perhaps where they intersect. Nature as wild, Culture as tamed, and Agriculture as the taming of the wild. Pauline von Bonsdorff* argues that Agriculture may provide the missing link between Nature and Culture. Agriculture requires a negotiation with Nature, and it is precisely here that a relationship is formed. Rather than appreciating Nature as a distanced entity, Agriculture allows us to realize our own agency within Nature and reveals how that is then navigated. Von Bonsdorff claims that though often exploitative, this is in fact a genuine way of knowing, appreciating, and understanding Nature.
*Pauline von Bondsdorff. "Agriculture, Aesthetic Appreciation and the Worlds of Nature" (2005)
Clam digger Jen Casad performs this relationship in Sharon Lockhart's film Double Tide*. At the film's screening, curator Bérénice Reynaud sophisticatedly hints at the film's lengthiness by recounting an audience member who was angered by the film's pace, to which Jen had responded, "This is real time." The film frames Jen amongst the coastal landscape of Maine as she carries out her work during two low tides that are rarely both lit. Movement within the film is simplified to Jen's backbreaking labor, clearance of the morning fog, shifts within the clouds, and subtle change in stances of local birds. Every once in a while, Jen pauses in admiration of the landscape. After the film closes, someone notes that the amount Jen has dug for the day would not even be able to feed those seated in the audience. Indeed, this is "real time" and the products of it. "Real time" requires a pause, a consideration, but it is not so unattainable. It can be found daily in the most simple of actions, with a walk around the city or simply a visit to the market.
*"Double Tide" (2009. 99 min. Dir. Sharon Lockhart)
This room holds an entire subjective experience. There is a bed, with a towel that has become translucent from the passage of time. Hold it up to the light, and you will see remnants of a name, once brightly stitched in. The name, barely visible, is "Vivian." Vivian - derived from the form vivus, alive. A pillow nearby holds the characters "思名" (sī-míng). 思 (sī) - to think, consider, and to ponder. 名 (míng) - name. To be alive and to think of one's name.
To the right, there is a lens in the wall. Look through it, and you will see a child who does not understand. A child who is confused by gossip, malice, anger, hypocrisy, and crime. In a moment, you will see the child in contemplation, wondering if her feet are crushing organisms invisible to her eye. She will put a ladybug in a container, replacing 0.5mm lead with blades of grass. She will carefully place it inside her school-desk to later find the red beetle all but alive. Moments later, years later, she will enter a room (in fact, this very room) to find a wasp very much alive. Not wishing to disturb it, she will leave the room and upon return, will find a still body curled upon the floor. The lens becomes fogged with the words: "Even without the intention of harm, death is present."
Beside your feet, there is a box marked "Travels." Open it and you will find tucked within, filed moments of a woman recognizing her own foreignness. Under "France" is a filed desire to be seen as an American in Paris, crossed out years later with a desire to be seen as Taiwanese instead. Under "Taiwan" are filed mockeries for differences in speech, manner, dress, and behavior. Under "Japan" is a filed ability to blend in. Under "Family & Relatives" are filed thoughts and actions marked as precious. Close the lid of the box, and the label becomes "Differences."
On another wall is a shelf stacked with the books:
Culture & Truth
Leçon des choses
The Order of Things
Regarding the Pain of Others
Why Look at Animals?
Scribbled beside it are the words:
In the corner, there is a very small, very miniscule shelf. Look closely and you find a jar with dust built upon it. Examine carefully and you will see a tiny pill within it. Even closer, you will decipher its purpose and in a moment, you will discover the pill that removes all critical thought.