I've submitted a proposal for the upcoming AAF conference taking place in Sydney, Australia early next year at the National Institute for Experimental Arts. Fingers crossed. The text of my proposal is below.
Project title: Econgeal
What does ecological knowledge “look like?” Based on background learning in biological science and validated and extended by the work of Timothy Morton, Eugene Thacker and others, the project I’d like to propose seeks to give visual form to the spatio-temporal collapse of the biosphere that results from contemplating current ecological thinking. The term "econgeal" implies a thickening or running together of ecology, a collapse in which every articulation of the living with itself is redrawn as continuous. Thus, all scales are flattened and their omnivalent/ambivalent complicity is revealed: pest, predator, disease, invader, saprophyte, opportunist, extremophile, colonizer, parasite, hive, all are maintained in an undifferentiated state. Simultaneously, bodies, cells, organs, meat, gristle, tissue, sensory apparatus, and empty space are elucidated in detail.
I see this work as functioning like a map, but one in which the overwhelming profusion of details and linkages engenders confusion, undermining itself as a useful model. In my attempt to create a ‘map of the world as big as the world’, I hope to posit something of a re-seeing of "the living" in a pre-classificatory sense in which nothing is particularly distinguishable and causal chains are linked in complex, intimate "meshes". One question that might emerge: are we looking at knowledge or its absence? Is there potential for a questioning of traditional aesthetic modes of seeing the world through simplified tropes (simply by proliferating them to an excessive degree)? Trying to see complexity, trying to encompass the whole world within the visual as it is privileged by human beings, may be shot through with contradictions and paradoxes; it may be beyond our perceptual abilities.
This proposal is for a large-scale drawing, approximately 9’ h x 3’ w, ink on paper. Installation to be achieved with neodymium magnets and metal, flat-headed push pins. Work on the image is currently underway. Progress shots are enclosed with the proposal.
Short artist bio:
Lucas Korte is a 2nd year MFA student in painting and drawing at the University of Notre Dame (USA). He holds a Bachelors degree in biology from Wayne State University (USA). His work is concerned with the unhuman, particularly through the lens of invertebrate animals. More work and writing can be found at shoggothkinetics.weebly.com. email firstname.lastname@example.org
I set myself the goal of getting this site up-and-running this summer. I had it in mind to create a platform for getting my work out which would differ a little from the usual artist website. Writing is becoming a larger and larger part of my practice, so having a pretty robust blog seems like the obvious route. I've kept my research notes in a private blog up until now, but I've begun to think that at least some of my inchoate thoughts are worth sharing, at the very least to help open up a dialogue. Some of the ideas I'm working with are quite a lot bigger than me, and no one thread of creative production is going to cover enough ground in order to get at all the questions I want to ask. So, my practice is evolving into multiple parallel threads of work with writing probably acting as the cement. At least that's how it looks right now. You never know...
A word on the title. In dealing with problems surrounding notions of the unhuman, there are two sort of conceptual pivot points that I use: the invertebrate and the eponymous Lovecraftian monster. The invertebrate, primarily, because I think of these animals (and a host of other life-forms notable for their differences from us) as the contemporary source of inspiration, fascination, and anxiety about the unhuman. The invertebrate is an animal, so it is taxonomically closer to humans than plants or fungi, and yet its differences can be so extreme as to render that relation inconceivable. In relating to us, but simultaneously differing from us, as a form of life, I argue that the invertebrate is dancing along the margins of the abyss of objecthood, always threatening to drag us in with it.
This abyss of objecthood refers to those questions about the nature of life that are raised by living things that are so other as to be hard to conceive of as life, let alone as animal. That's where the shoggoth comes in. Lovecraft's formulation of these entities as plastic, amoebic, and capable of masterful mimicry positions them as a way of picturing the unthinkability of life. When pinned down taxonomically, they slither and metastasize out of their categories; when interrogated at the finest grain, they seem to disappear; they offer the potential for being a no-thing. That is, life, like the shoggoth, is nothing in particular. So, there you have it. A start anyway. Here's to the next chapter.
arts educator, painter, drawist, heavy metal enthusiast, and long-time Lovecraft fan