PASTE YOUR ARTIST STATEMENTS AND FINAL PROJECT PROPOSALS BELOW (DON’T FORGET TO ADD YOUR NAME)
Johanne Marie Aagaard Laache: Learning To Be Good (becoming better)
Elevator sentence: I’m using electricity applied to my brain to become a better person in no time at all!
For my final project I’d like to explore love and loss and cranial brain stimulation. I will be building my own tDCS-device—transcranial direct current stimulation—which lightly jolts your brain with 9 volts. Treatment of this kind has proven to have positive effects on memory, concentration and learning new skills, to name a few. They have even begun using it to treat depression.
I am interested in this because also I would like to become a better person. I don’t call my grandmother as often as I should, I never write to my parents, and any friend that doesn’t live on the other side of my living room is regularly neglected. I’m cruel and harsh sometimes, and I avoid my roommate if I want to be alone.
For five consecutive days before the final performance I will be jolting my brain for 20 minutes each day with 9 volts to become better. Every day I will be writing a letter to someone I love that I haven’t spoken to in too long—be they in Norway, Budapest or Pennsylvania—and I will read all of these letters during the final performance while my brain is getting exposed to the voltage for the sixth and final time.
During the performance I will be sitting at a desk in the middle of the room. The electrodes are hooked up to my head, and I turn it on—I’m zapped. I pick up the letters I’ve written, and read through them chronologically, from earliest to latest. I don’t know what the outcome will be, or if there will even be one, but it is an attempt for me to confront my relations to people and technology and my own mind—if I meditate every morning and I’m still not better, will this be enough? Will it finally be enough? What if all we want is to be happy? Be that via Skype or with a device built for $10 less with materials from CVS.
Will the chemical balance of my brain be altered? Will the electrical functioning be? Will I notice? If so, how?
And will I be able to tell when I read through these letters?
The audience will, after the performance, be free to use the tDCS-device at their own leisure (and risk!), and it will be available for the rest of the day. You can even take it home with you! My mapping will consist of sketches and plans for building the device, and there will be a take-home component in the form of a kit so you can do it to yourself.
My performance work attempts to address female-ness and all of its implications. Over the summer I experienced my first extreme desires for bearing children. Many studies show that the female body biologically can create these desires when menstruating or ovulating, or perhaps even by just being ‘fertile.’ Femininity was no longer an issue for me; it was unrelated to everything I was feeling. Female-ness inquires the body and the potentials of it’s biology to effect both the psyche of the female body that it is and the psyche of the environment it inhabits.
And yet, even though I’m female-bodied, my own selfhood is complicated and may rebel against traditional forms of female-ness. My work attempts to address both what my body is and can be with the complications of who I think I am. This has led me to experiment with imagined states of the body that I have no lived experience of, for example: pregnancy. Most of my performance work lately has resulted in video and artist books to reflect the compression and conflated representations of the female body, pregnant body, and motherhood into societal vessels of love, care, fragility, dependency, commodity, spectacle, sex, and shame. Ideally, I’d like to allow the audience to see the duality of the female body that consistently navigates the physical, visceral body and the imagined, illusions of female-ness.
The human’s preoccupation to combine technology with transcendence – or rather perpetuating narratives of the machine advancing beyond human cognition and comprehension/the machine taking over the body is compelling and extremely telling of our current technological dependence. Through the use of mixed realities I’d like to compare this narrative with that of the shewee (an apparatus for standing female urination – in a sense a female penis.) I see the shewee as an object set up for failure because it satisfies a woman’s desire for a penis and the practical mobility of peeing while standing up, but the power and agency of the penis is still lost and/or inaccessible as the apparatus instead meditates on the notions of the female as lacking or incomplete – the apparatus becomes compensation. Our psycho-social dependence on everyday technological devices (especially computers and smart phones) create a similar situation as our bodies and even intellectual capacity become secondary or even threatened.
For my final piece I would like to continue with the structure of my previous midterm desktop performance. The content this time will be text about the shewee and my thoughts on it as well as video and real-time displays of me using and holding the shewee. I will create a circular curtain in the center of the room where I will be hiding while projecting my computer desktop. I will be running c++ files as well as playing videos of the shewee. To complicate the audience’s understanding of reality/real-time/live-ness parts of the desktop performance will be pre-recorded and not performed live. The performance will end with me peeing from within the curtain.
My work is focused on creating interactive environments between myself, as the performer, and the viewer. I build these playful and inviting environments using simple, everyday games and communication practices. I use the medium of games to explore, challenge and ultimately blur the boundaries between artist/performer and the viewer. This structure of interactivity insists that the viewer and performer exchange roles.
This question of blurring boundaries also expands to the physical space of the environments I create. Where can these games be played? What occurs when the home environment of a game is displaced? Further, my placing these playful activities in public spaces and offering them up to adults asks the questions of when, where and for whom are these games deemed appropriate? Who is allowed to enjoy these games?
On my journey of creating these environments I found that, at its core, my work consisted of me teaching ideas or other teaching me. For example, as part of a performance art seminar, I was responsible for hosting a workshop. In this workshop, I asked everyone to teach a skill. We learned how to whistle, sing in harmony and braid hair. In this case, I was not the statutory teacher and the students were not statutory students, but everyone became a teacher and a student at one point throughout the workshop.
Now, my goal is to deepen the focus of pedagogy through games. I would like to delve into the concept of systems that dictate the rules people need to follow and how to execute on these rules. I would like to draw parallels between the relationship between performer and the viewer, and to the relationship between teacher and student. Similar to the current blurring of roles, in my newer work the student and teacher roles fluctuate throughout a performance.
I will still be working on this idea of kendo mix into teaching, this idea of how we learn thought different ways if its thought learning on a screen and then try it in person mixing more of them Technologies part of this work, trying to make a game and teach thought the game this idea of being able to have a fun experience and learn something new that the some time within this piece.