In the mouth of a polar bear: The undead feeling of the world

by Cassandra Troyan and Helen Pritchard

commissioned by DONE 5 (Foto Colectania)

PROJECT'S WEBSITE: http://theantimenagerie.net/2021_In_the_mouth_of_a_polar_bear/

In this artistic research project Helen Pritchard and Cassandra Troyan engage with the production of transpecies animacy in the domains of edu-tainment, policing, and the military industrial complex. They interrogate the capacities of “legged robots designed to be used by the military, industrial, mining, energy, public safety and last-mile delivery” by Ghost Robotics, to animatronic spy animals made to look believable in natural history BBC programming, “Spy in the Wild”. All violent scenes dependent on visualizing technologies of feeling the world through aggressive sensing, scanning and surveillance.

Posing as either helpful or harmless machines, such as the Boston Dynamics dogs that can pick up your laundry, to more-than-animate soldier combatants dancing to tracks such a “Do You Love Me”. These robots are often posed as feeling the world, although not through embodiment, but with undead visual practices. In their physicality, they are a spy, spirit, or wraith –– witness to the world they sense and scan, yet beyond and removed from the consequences of its material realities. A viewer is constantly left with the place where a face should be looking back at you, or to look into the eyes of an animal expecting recognition only to see a camera lens or computational sensor returning your gaze.

Through the para-fictional scenarios explored in these viral video poems they investigate how transpecies storytelling and visual sensing technologies if not countered otherwise can be imploded as a mode for structuring the racist western imaginary of militaristic carceral imperialist fantasy. Using the visual and sonic principals of clickbait trauma-porn against itself, they reject a negative world-building project by instead approaching these techniques from a perspective of queer decolonial solidarity –– seeking to ultimately abolish the category of the species, along with the injurious technologies that could name, sense, and scan it as well.

[presentación y conversación online el 30.09.21 a las 19h CEST | última actividad de la 5ª edición de DONE] 

+ info: https://done.fotocolectania.org/edicion5/en/creation/in-the-mouth-of-a-polar-bear-the-undead-feeling-of-the-world/#DONE

>>> RECORDING OF THE EVENT >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1-6zkgr9lw




III Seminario internacional de prácticas transescriturales. Cuerpos húmedos, cuerpos meca-digitales: error en el sistema

 22 - 30 SEPTIEMBRE 2021


Lectoescrituras volumétricas // Jara Rocha 

Esta sesión está planteada como una zona de lectoescritura desde y con el inventario de Possible Bodies, un proyecto de investigación-acción desobediente que se pregunta por la mutua constitución entre los llamados cuerpos y las técnicas, tecnologías, infraestructuras y/o protocolos con los que van siendo, específicamente en el ámbito de la volumetría (esto es: en el continuum industrial de la producción de volúmenes a partir de técnicas de medición). Así, la propuesta consiste en (grupalmente) practicar la lectoescritura en el inventario de Possible Bodies, partiendo de interfaces, renders, bug reports o readmes ahí recolectados; y en tomar esa lectoescritura como una praxis en sintonía con aquella condición de mutua constitución, que disiente ante un reparto de lo sensible, la agencia y lo tecnológico demasiado probable (optimización, productividad, eficacia, individualización, extracción, explotación, exclusión) y se ocupa de identificar formas transversales, oblicuas, periféricas, inauditas o latentes para el ensanchamiento de los posibles. https://possiblebodies.constantvzw.org/inventory/

Read & Repair - Digital Solidarity feat. peripheral literatures

general info: http://varia.zone/en/rr-digital-solidarity-2.html

Every last Sunday of the month the Varia Library and the Rotterdam Electronica Depot hold Read & Repair events. Due to current circumstances, most of them have been in an online format. We invite you to visit our online space, make yourself comfortable, read or repair some things together, and share thoughts and ideas.

In 2021 our Read & Repair sessions will be paired, we will take two months to explore one theme. During August and September 2021, we will be exploring the theme Digital Solidarity. In a time where everything points to the further consolidation and accelerated normalization of the Big Tech industry (Zoom, Facebook groups, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.), we need collective digital alternative practices. How can we develop mutual aid strategies and social closeness through alternative digital infrastructures in times of physical distancing, remote working or care giving?

On Sunday 26th September we have a READ with Jara Rocha followed by a REPAIR with Yoana Buzova.


Date: Sunday, 26th September 2021

Time: 11:00-13:00 CEST

Location: Varia (Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam)

NOTE: This reading session will be held in English.

The text selection and our reading choreography in September was made by Jara Rocha.

Of all the greyzones of our readwrite worldings, bibliographic self-defence constitutes a specially powerful one. Both because of the fierce gestures of erasure and silencing that certain recursive presences and absences signal at, and because of the extremely lovely evidences of community building and care thereby performed. Self-defence, resistance, counter-weighting and mutual support operations of immense technopolitical value keep taking place at what can be termed "peripheral literature areas" such as bibliographies, footnotes, indexes, acknowledgement pages, colophons, library metadata and side annotations, where trans*feminist, anticolonial, antiracist, queer, crip, antispeciest, antifa and atiageist solidarities take very tangible and specific forms.

On this Read session, we'll spend time with materials collected from such zones, to identify stories behind or below them, and to perhaps also extend them with our very situated manners to provide ourselves with the bibliographic solidarities that are urgent and precious to us as a latent "we" that exists across them.

Fragments will be read from these bodies of text:

  • Katherine McKittrick, Dear Science and Other Stories
  • Dionne Brand, Blue Clerk
  • (plus a collection of scattered hegemonic bibliographies)


Fellowship | for Situated Practice | on Spectral Infrastructures | for Digital Discomfort

Happy to announce that this week I'm starting a 10-month fellowship at BAK, with a cohort of 18 amazing artist-researchers, joining the Cell for Digital Discomfort with dear companions Cristina Cochior and Karl Moubarak.


'Digital Discomfort' is a mode of dealing with, resisting, attending to and intervening into the sneaky moments of techno-capitalist innovation, linear solutionism and seamless operation. The Cell For Digital Discomfort (CFDD) wants to stay with this unease for all too comfortable modes of infrastructural becoming as a starting point for collectively exploring and experimenting ways to refuse compliance with the informatics of domination. We want to provide ourselves with spacetimes for a praxis of ongoing transdisciplinary critique of technical infrastructurations and the entangled ways they world worlds.

The urgency for the work of the CFDD is produced by the contemporary stage of global digitisation, from an infrastructural perspective: cloud-computing, hyper-connectivity, flow-management, planetary computing (which touches both material and spectral aspects of infrastructure). This results in an increase and intensification of economized forms of accounting responsibilities and their impact (eg.: carbon trade, immunity certificate, platform capitalism) which also causes a delegation of labour, of care, of response-abilites, of imagination, of damage.

The tensions that are produced necessitate a scale leap of problematics: the meso scales of the subject -- or even the municipality -- is often not accountable for the massive/turbo scale of the planetary computing of financial capitalism, the geological damage of climate change, etc. Also on the micro scale: quantum computing, molecular affection of organisms that get exposed to environmental transformations derived from ecocidal practices, turbo speed of high-speed trading and so forth, and the slow violence of an emergent point of no return.

In order to work on this, we have decided to focus the research on a cut through the technopolitical complexity of 'discomfort'. We would like to use the opportunity of the Fellowship to bring that framework in a more explicit conversation with crip techno-science, anti-racism, anti-colonialism, queer struggles and environmental justice. We are interested in developing practices that would go towards something like 'solidary discomfort'.

This means to exchange with agents that might have radically different sensibilities for what digital comfort and discomfort might mean (and to do so by means of conversations, collective practice, experiments of displacement, remediation, etc); to study the particular discomfort that haunts digital infrastructures (reading tools and texts through one another, to identify mutual affections); to extend the Catalog of Formats for Digital Discomfort with additional vectors, and anti-solutionist technologies and techniques (documenting, collecting, testing and trying, remixing, developing digital/conceptual prototypes, disseminating, partially repairing).

The tensors we identify and through whose inbetweens we would like to orient ourselves include (but are not limited to):

  • Comfort-Discomfort
  • Hostipital-Hospitable
  • Parasite-Host
  • Dependent-Independent-Interdependent
  • Inclusive-Exclusive
  • Unpleasant-Pleasant
  • Desirable-Needed
  • Welcoming-Hostile
  • Awkward-Confident
  • Antagonistic-Affirmative
  • Seamless-Broken
  • Accessible-Inaccessible
  • Open-Closed
  • Repair-Abolish
  • Non-extractive-Extractive
  • Solidary-Walled
  • Caretaking/Maintenance-Stabilising/Fixing
  • Continuing-Forking/Derivating
  • Free-Open
  • Macro-Meso-Micro
  • Infra-Supra
  • Turbo-Chronic-Slow
  • Welfare-Goodliving
  • Present-Latent-Absent
  • Damaging-Damaged
  • Situated-Planetary
  • Foreground-Backround
  • Fungible-Durable
  • Inheritance/Legacy-Invention/Innovation
  • Horizontal-Hierarchical
  • Mundane-Universal

The work of CFDD would involve a thickening analysis of radical interdependencies (mutual constitutions of practices and tools, solidary networks, technical self-defence) and the articulation of a shift on accountability (what counts, what matters, what is read as a matter of fact/concern/care). Such analytics implies practically and conceptually engaging in the ontoepistemological shift of what has been termed as the "crisis of presence".
+ info about the BAK Felloship for Situated Practice and Spectral Infrastructures: https://www.bakonline.org/fellowship/2021-2022/

+ info about my work on/from the Cell: https://www.bakonline.org/person/jara-rocha/