Notes on a photograph

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

In the airy galleries of the Foundation Beyeler in Basel a roomy white sofa sits in front of a large canvas of one of Monet's water lily scenes. The painting is found within a large expanse of oils that appear and lead you into the living time and space of both its execution and the actuality of the event of Monet's perception of the lily pond. Its materiality a movement of light, ones own apparatus of sight and his intra-action within the field of vision, as in visionary, sambhogakaya or long ku - energy, light and sound.

Speaking with Ravens is a serious of paintings made by Ngak'chang Rinpoche when a student at Bristol Art College. The surrealist figuration of woman and bird appear to dissolve and emerge within the deeply layered and textured ground. The paintings themselves were long lost, but colour transparencies later found. The slides damaged by the decay of time, were subsequently reworked by Ngak'chang Rinpoche using his skills in Photoshop, and newly realised as digital paintings, the beauty of their decay worked into the depths of the paintings.

The toweling playsuit was pale candy stripped and zipped. I was holding a hose in the yard, the area at the back of the house where there stood a long low turf shed, a collapsing greenhouse full of wonder and a stables floored with cobbled stables. Often the two donkeys would be brought down from the hill filed or up from the slope. Riding and grooming them was a favourite pleasure of those summers. Alanna, the grey one, Ashling, her daughter the brown one. Who, as a young spindly donkey charged with great daring the drying sheets hung out on the washing lines, she was like a daft, fluffy bull. Herself and Alanna had a great ploy to rid us off their backs, making a short charge, then a sudden stop, putting the head down we'd move inevitably forwards with the force of it sliding down the furry necks and over the long ears to the ground. Undignified and fun. With a briefing from Thelwell's potty equine illustrations.The light felt saddles weren't much good, and the light bridles pretty lame.

The was a bright red toy trailer that could be pulled, often with a small brother or a pink teddy bear in it. There were not alot of toys, but I don't recollect any lack. There was so much to do, discover and potter with. Dark, dank outhouses full of cobwebs and old, rusty treasures, snails and spiders, beetles and birds, cats and crows, dogs, donkeys, horses, blue tits, great tits, robins, black birds and owls, table tennis and old, black bicycles.

Liz was utterly glamorous, gorgeous and comely in her Kensington up to the minute fashion. A tan suede skirt with a tassel stopped well before the knees, clinging turtle necks, pendant jewelry, large bouffant waves, holding an infant, Shane.

Tick research on the island of Seili - impressions and notes

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

These are notes were made during a short visit to the island of Seili in the archipelago that reaches far into the Baltic Sea from the Finnish city of Turku. I visited Seili as part of a six month project with artist Laura Beloff in which we are exploring relations to the tick and it’s pathogens. Contemporary Art Archipelago facilitated Laura and I making individual visits to the island where the Archipelago Research Institute have been conducing fieldwork since the 1960s., and where the University of Turku’s tick research group have being examining the islands tick populations through field work and subsequent laboratory analysis in Turku.

The writings are made pretty fast and loose, scatter shot and impressions without the benefit of proper reflection.

Visit 5 - 9th August 2019

I visited Seili by taking a small commercial commuter boat from Turku, the journey two hours. The sun was shining and the voyage through the archipelago very beautiful. The departure down the Aura river into Turku’s port was powerfully evocative of Finnish maritime history, and that of it’s previous rulers.

Upon docking at Seili I was met by researcher Jasmin Inkinen, my bags were taken and transported to the main building where I was accommodated in one of the small rooms adjacent to the main building, the former psychiatric hospital.

Tick drag lines on Seili

Given the weather forecast, Jasmin introduced me to four of the tick drag Lines on the afternoon of my arrival. Rain was anticipated, therefore the warm and sunny weather might be the only opportunity to drag.

There are 15 lines in total on the island, transections in a variety of eco-systems, ranging from open meadows to spruce forest and alder forest.

Each line is approximately 50ms and divided into 3 sections, beginning and ending with a red peg in the ground.

A thick cotton flag is dragged for section, the underside is then scrutinised for ticks. They are collected and put into an epindorff tube containing 70% ethanol.

Noted is:

Date, ground temperature, humidity

Lavea, nymph, adult, sex

Male ticks are entirely black, female ticks have a reddish colour on their backs.

The terrains we visited were

1 long grasses, fairly exposed, few ticks at any stage

2 long grasses, more sheltered, evidence of cattle (flattened grasses). Cattle host ticks

3 forest - tree types, ‘hot spot’

4 forest - tree types alder, another ‘hot spot’

We found few adults, always males, many nymphs, few larvae.

(On other lines dragged during the week we found different combinations, but overall few adults, a great many larvae and many nymphs)

At each spot, James asked me if I thought there might be ticks present, pointing out the varying features of

Trees, grasses or their absence, leaves, dryness, wind (particularly wind coming in from the sea), host animals - there is a heard of beef cattle on Seili.

Cloth drags are made to estimate populations of ticks are their three life stages: larvae, nymph, adult and gender.

Collected ticks are sent to University of Turku, there they are analysed for pathogens via DNA analysis. The DNA material is extracted, the tick genomes blocked and the additional genetic material recognised. This is done by comparison to genomic database of known pathogens.

(Later in the week: Today I performed all the drags, holding the pole felt like a staff for a ritual or a procession)

Tick pathogens on Seili

Up to 50% of ticks on the island carry borreliosis.
(Squarespace spell check wants to change borreliosis to religiosity)

Tick glasses

Scrutinising the cloth at first seems to be an absurd task of searching for a needle amidst a haystack. Copious bits of earth, numerous bugs and detritus populate the thick cotton surface. In total we made 12 drags on Monday afternoon (4 lines x 3 drags), plus scrutinising the top side of the cloths after each drag, and ourselves and each other.

By the end of the dragging session I was recognising nymphs with relative ease, despite the poorness of my eyesight. I found by relaxing my eyes and gazing, their characteristics seemed to suggest themselves. Of course my speed and certainty was nothing compared to Jamsmins’ experienced eye, nevertheless she confirmed each of my finds. Towards the end of the week I could identify larvae, often following Jasmin’s example of touching the fine points of the watchmakers forceps to the tiny darkish spot, if it grasped the forceps it was tick larvae.

The gazing was strongly reminiscent of previous fieldwork with spiders and their silks; the relaxed, scrying demeanour of the eyes, allowing the field of vision to be gently haptic, touching, fingers ( the fingers eyes of Eva Hayward).

Jasmin likened the examination of the cloth to putting on ‘mushroom glasses’, the more one looks for them the more one sees them. There is a perceptual field one enters of tick sensing via the sense of sight.

The method/cloths/clothes

The cloth is approximately 1m square, it is made of a heavy duty white cotton. One edge is hemmed to create a casement for a chain with which to laden it down, keeping the cloth close to the ground where the ticks are - when the terrain allows. The opposite edge encases a wooden pole. Attached to each end of the pole is cord, both of which attaches to another pole which is held perpendicular to the ground when dragging. This pole enables the height of the cloth to be controlled so that it can be dragged close to the ground. The speed of the drag is a slowish walk.

Speaking with Jasmin we marveled at the enduring effectiveness of this method, it is crude and yet effective.I asked her about CO2 augmented cloths, but they are not used on Seili. These cloths are about as basic as it gets.

At the end of a session after collecting and counting they are put in a large walk in freezer cabinet which effectively kills anything living. The cloths are not washed, but are brushed to clean them, washing chemicals might inadvertently influence their effectiveness. Eventually after much use clothes are disposed of and replaced with new ones. Jasmin did not know who makes them.

I enjoyed examining the touch stitching on the clothes, the hand-stitched repairs particularly around the chain encasement. I wondered if Laura and I might inherit some of the cloths as they are cast off. I’m interested in them as textile tools, their crude technology and simplicity. But also in their handmade ness. What would it be to place them alongside another textile technology that performed constraint and order on the island, the straight jacket that is displayed in one of the rooms on the bed, in a recreation of the psychiatric hospitals disciplinary order?

I imagined the ‘dress’ garment becoming a plethora of poles and dowels and white fabric.
Perhaps the ‘dress’ has aspects of the straight jacket, with it’s extended, binding straps that impose control and discipline.


Sensing and senses

But what of other senses?

The itch

The skin, the mite, the hair.

After the first session of dragging I could feel my skin crawl, imagined or not, there were minuscule sensations. Discussing this with Jasmin she recounted that following her first fieldwork course on Seili some years ago, she had to tell herself to ’stop’ when she found her skin still crawling two weeks after it had ended.

Since arriving I have tired easily, felt fatigued and heavy, falling asleep too often and easily, almost as if drugged.


The scientists work renders the tick and it’s ubiquity in the landscape apparent. I think most of us who have worked with scale be it micro-organisms, spiders or other minute creatures understand very well the multitudes of presences that populate our environments, we do not need to ’see’ them in order to appreciate that that they are there, and perhaps even to sense them to some extent, even if it is not with the benefit of augmented or extended senses.

Walking through the island today I kept to the paths, I struggled to find a word or concept that might articulate this sense of the ticks pervasion (pervasiveness?) and with it the co-mingling of pathogens. There is a kind of loss of innocence as I want to wonder of the paths, sit down and be more absorbed in ’the nature’ (the definitive article is almost always used in Finland when nature is mentioned), yet I heeded the danger, not trusting my ability to scour my body for larvae in particular.

Growing up in the countryside in Ireland, ticks were something the dog got, the little blood suckers that had to be pulled out and forgotten about. In the UK, I don’t recall much awareness of ticks, and certainly not their pathogens - on my part at least. And yet I had heard of Lyme Disease, primarily I think as something rats could carry. Hence wild swimming in Bristol docks was not encouraged, until the artist Heath Bunting began to penetrate the urban scape as a participatory playground by initiating wild swimming and tree climbing. It was only really upon arriving in Finland that the prevalence of both ticks and their worrisome pathogens that lost my complacency and began to develop a more acute awareness.

Laura has put forth the uncanny as a term to perhaps apply to the tick laden environs that are the new countryside and natural environs. We discussed the abject as well. I then wondered about weird/wyrd, but that doesn’t absolutely do it either but I read Elvia Wilk’s essay on the new weird, finding some resonances with the affective experiences I was trying to express.

The word “landscape” usually suggests the passive, the inert, the natural, the nonhuman—as in the plant, animal, and mineral world that constitutes a backdrop for a human actor. But here, the sudden absence of a human actor occasions a sudden presence: the presence of landscape, the presence of the plants.

The scape of land.

Xenophilia - strange love or love of what is alien or strange?

Place as site of ‘infection’








Seili and it’s multitudinous stories of infection, illness and isolation.


Sites and places

The church

Norman’s field.

There is a line in Norman’s field.

Olaf Norman, the piest renegade who was banished to Seili.

The field memorialising him is a beautiful meadow of wild flowers and butterflies that grows adjacent to the church.

The shock of that church! Every morsel of my own Irish catholic inheritance experiences full body shock at the entirety of decorative absence in my limited experiences of Finnish churches, here on Seili with pronounced effect. It’s austere and gracious lines replete with stories of ghosts, the beginning of which I only caught a glimpse of thanks to Linda the guide.

My online searches in English for ghost stories yielded CAA’s long term island residents Foams writing Specters in Change and the Swedish novel Island of Souls by Johanna Holmström.

Much of the island is behind fencing for the cattle and a small heard of sheep.

How to move through tick words as a potential human?

Disease, dis-ease



Seili is dominated by these stories, according to the sign posts positioned around the island.

Seili as a place and context, occupies a compelling place in the imaginary as well as in lived reality, with it's performances of Gothic otherness and irresistible Foucauldian purviews gave an immensely valuable period of research.It nurtures a particular genre of Nordic Gothic, perhaps one that is less literary and more performed as re-tellings and re-imagining reinforce it’s particular evocations, certainly it is seductive, compelling and curious.

Time lines and narratives

Geological, rising Seili

Middle Ages/ medieval

Pre modern


Post modern

Of what nomenclature of ‘cene might Seili suggest during the ardently debated anthrophocene?

Tick Cults

The Chronic Lyme disease has disturbing cultish aspects, which are very different from the kind of tick cult I was thinking of, my thoughts were perhaps more towards the xenophiliac rather than the xenophobic.

Seili’s pastoral beauty and claustrophobic exclusion as a happy settlement for a Tick Cultish sect. Ritualised cloth drags in ceremonial robes, pathogenic sacraments and mysteries born from attempts to manage plethora of symptoms.

Balloon Membranes

The balloons burst easily.

The weather was warm and damp. I opted to try placing 4 balloons around the graveyard parameters, and one in the graveyard. No ticks.

3 burst easily.

1 was highly resistant to bursting.

They seemed to maintain temperature well.

I liked their alien egg appearance.

Try again with fabric covers?

Seili / Seal / Environment as inhospitable environment

The hospital / hospitable / host / inhospitable

Today, Wednesday, my third day and I find myself irritated by the constraints of the island. Most places are fenced, wondering is discouraged. It feels like a place of constraint and restraint.

The seal of Seili reminds me of conversations many years ago with Sarah Jane Pell about selkies, we were going to explore the stories of seals who transmogrifying into human form and back again. The transformation of a pastoral environs laden with tick bourne pathogen and it’s inhospitability to human movement and wellbeing reminds me of SJP’s work with extreme environments, underwater/exo-earth planets etc. How might these beautiful environments that are the Finnish nature become other, full of fear and torment to us?

Linda, the young guide at the church and recent BA graduate in history is refreshing in her cavalier approach. I think her statistics are possibly wrong, but she refuses to be intimidated by the threat of the ticklish unknown, and by what she perceives as the remoteness of the percentages of which she might become infected by a tick borne pathogen.

Land of Silence and Darkness

Von Uexküll refers to the tick as the deaf and blind bandit (deaf and blind highwaywoman is Undine Sellbach’s beautiful take). Whilst it cannot see (there are exceptions) or hear, it does have the fantastically developed Haller’s organs which enable other nonhuman sensing.

Land of Silence and Darkness is a documentary film by Werner Herzog about people who cannot see or hear. British artist Anna Lucas made a series of ‘blind drawings’ of the film and others, not looking at the paper, not allowing the pen or pencil to leave the paper (check this) and maintaining the gaze on the screen. The drawings are beautiful, abstract lines, clusters of marks that maintain the films temporality into one area rather than an extended timeline.

One morning I had a brief opportunity to use the dissecting microscopes again and to view the tick samples. I drew them without looking at the page of the sketch book, trying to allow my gaze to trace the outline and features of the tick, synchronised with the movement of my pencil on the page. The drawings were short, 2 - 5 minutes in duration. I think more time would of been preferable, to make multiple drawings, but this was the only chance before a seminar moved in to use the facilities.

The making of blind drawings allows for a touching with the eyes, a gazing and grazing upon the surface of the visual field that is as much about the haptic sensitivity of vision, that brushes and traces, as it is about the scope of the optical. I observed and wrote about this extensively when working with cell cultures and spider silks, and with it's work it feels like a muscle memory being stirred back into activity with all of it's latent acuity. The extended sensuality of the microscope is there, but it does not inhibit the sensitivity of the bodily.

Hysterical hysteries

Let’s not chat about despair’

Diamanda Galas

Although it is sunny the ground is still wet and therefore not ideal for cloth dragging, therefore Jasmin asked me to tell her about my work. I dug out a presentation I gave in Biofilia in Aalto University that focused on connections across working with the physicality and mutability of performance and with living materials, so that these activities are viewed more as a spectrum of investigation rather than enquiries into separate fields.

I included a brief overview of work made in the late '90s which partly drew on feminist and medical histories vis a vis the hysteric as well as narratives of bloods material pathology from what were then the still raw effects and affects of HIV/AIDS. One notable work being Bad Humours/Affected, a duration performance of feeding and blood letting with leeches.

The first image of mine following some art historical material, is of Bad Humours/Affected, aka it’s working title, the leech piece. The irony weighed heavily as we seating in the east wing of the former psychiatric hospital that from 1889 to it’s closure in 1962 was for women solely, we were seated on chairs that presumably were former hospital furniture. The blood lettings of my early works were directly informed by a feminism that interrogated and enquired into the operations of power via medical disciplinary discourse. I found myself talking about the infamous photographs of Salpetriere, the Seili hospital of it’s time, the birth of photography as a documenting tool aligned with the medical gazes penetrating purview of hysteria, of how too often the images of the ‘hysterics’ disease visual seemed to mime those of famous theatre actresses of the day. There is a weight in the remembrance of such suffering, whilst it is not an act of literal memory, there is an observance of a collective one made though invocation, imagination and empathy. I try to imagine the noise, the shouting, clanking, smells.

What is hysteric in Finnish?

And this morning my short readings was Lyme Warrior No More, a text that attends to a miasma of what is termed pseudoscience that propels and entire subculture of symptoms and dis-ease. Reading the text, the authors palpable relief of being deradicalized is clear. Her respect and gratitude to a conventional medical practitioner of whom she perhaps is secure in the knowledge of the hypocritical oath being cherished.

Morning conversations with Jasmin

Tick as host

Tick ‘suffering’

What tick sufferance might be or look like was not known by Jasmin, and she concluded that perhaps the tick does not suffer.

Tick obliviousness to media hype, the blind and deaf tick is not aware of the extravagant orchestration of research and the dissemination of that research into the currents of media communications and of health advice. It does not know about the punkkibussi, of vaccines, of advice to not stray from the paths. Concerns about human reluctance to engage with a nature from a perception infested with media’s over sensationalising of ticks and their pathogens.

Ixodiphagus hookeri, the tick wasp, was suggested by Jasmin as a new pathways

Final cloth drags with Jasmin

2 meadows

1 road side verge

1 spruce forest

The cool, leaf strew forest floor yielded the most, a feast of larvae to which my eyes have become more attuned; few nymphs and no adults met the cloth, Jasmin pronouncing it ‘empty’. It seems to me that so much of my work with biology has followed the same kinds of tasks or used similar skills ie visual scrying of surfaces for very small things, wielding watchmakers forceps, thinking by and through doing - embodied thinking. The scientist researcher body is rarely if ever spoken about (that I know of) in scientific methods or papers. Their accumulated bodily knowledges and skills not particularly factored into discussions or writings. I found myself talking about Evelyn Fox Keller’s descriptions of Barbara McKintock’s acute observatory powers trained over long years of daily scrutiny that manifested in an almost intuitive ‘feeling for the organism’.

We discussed the tick further, not being afraid of them, but rather of fear of illness. The tick does what the tick does. To become infected is, Jasmin offered, simply bad luck.

Host, hostage, hospital, hospitality

Tick as host, hostage and hosted

These multilayered themes and their re-emergence are striking, particularly as the what were perhaps the pervading thematics of subjectivities of constructions of gender and it's discontents as are now extended into the environmental and the eco-systemic via the ecological. Material semiotics of motile etymolgies of host, hostage, hospitality and hospital naturally and unnaturally link their associations throughout in compelling naturecultures. What In How Like A Leaf Haraway describes as transubstantiation consciousness, with a wry acknowledgement towards her Irish American heritage.

Sails, Seili, seals, interdepend

The boat sailed down the Aura past geometries of rigging upon boats empty of their cloth sails as they rest in the harbour. The trigonometries sail capturing the winds flights appear the most delicate and astonishing, the notion of capturing the wind with such precariously tiny vessels astonishing.

I am told by Linda, one of the guides who was stationed at the church that the name Seili relates to seals and to souls. Selkies come to mind, the transmogrifying beings that populate the shores of the Celtic countries in imagination and myths - and some say, in reality. Selikes who breach the shoreline at night transmogrifying into human form by casting off their seal skins. Linda explained that the association was from hunting and of the many human uses the bodies of seals were put to. I hadn’t thought about seal hunting in the Baltic before or the seals position in human history and economies, and sat for a while in the church making some cursory research online.

The selki is sometimes conflated with the figure of the mermaid, and carries with it the suspicious of a feminine as other.

Professional diver and artistic Sarah Jane Pell once began a discussion to create a selki art work, one that might exploit her considerable knowledge and experience with underwater breathing technologies that allow her to move in and out of environments that don’t support human survival. Her work has taken her underwater and into outer space simulations as she embodies and exemplifies human resilience in extreme environments. Still pending development resources the selkie work has not yet been manifested, but it still holds and allure and prompts an occasional selkiphillic correspondence between Sarah Jane and myself.


She had also approached me to re-perform Interdepend with her, a performance of mutual breathing that chemically scrubs the out breath of each persons CO2 in order to facilitate their inhalation. She writes about it beautifully here also referencing Ulay and Marina Abramovic’s Breathing In/Breathing Out.

Given the utilisation since the 1600s of Seili as a structuring device for isolation, it suggests as apparatus of technologies that support the conflicting umwelting criteria. Laura and I have spoken at length about protective clothing, also clothing that enables relations with fellow environmental species, clothing that might have functions of dragging and collecting. we’ve been mulling on inflatable structures, and I began thinking about wearable/moveable, thin, porous inflatable architectures.

Themes of breath, breathing and CO2 kept arising in response to the ticklish worlding inwhich CO2 is such a forceful biosignal. It’s been deployed in augmented tick cloths for tick cloth drags, and by US military engineers in their deadly Tick Rover and the TickBot .

Tick Phone and Mirror Check
Carefully following the surface of the skin aided by a small hand mirror or phone, in order to find any ticks whose questing had succeeded in landing on and in my skin. I performed it as a private action on the final morning in my small bedroom. Laying out a white cotton cloth on the floor before taking all of my clothes off and subjecting my skin to the careful search. Joan Jonas’ powerful work Mirror Check being an obvious and valurable reference in which feminine scrutiny asserts and performs and a feminine gaze. Made originally in 1970 and subsequently reperformed in various iterations of 11, 12, and 13 Rooms.


Upon my arrival, shortly after lunch on Monday I fell asleep in the small bedroom in the accommodation building adjacent to the main building. It seemed a normal reaction to a the previous nights scant hours of sleep, but as the days passed the weight of sleep pressed upon me with increasing heaviness as afternoon drew to a close. As if under the weight of a heavy blanket, drugged almost I surrendered marvelling at my inability to hold late hours, and curious as to what conditions were causing this irresistible demand into slumber. Atmospheric? Was the archipelago somehow more prone to a lowness of atmospheric pressure that might afford this heaviness? The days were warm, humid with frequent thunder but only light rain - no proper downpours until my departure. Of could the fatigue be endocrine in provenance? The tides of the transitional menopause bringing the not unfamiliar pull towards copious rest. As the week progressed and the tiredness continued to exert a daily force like some sort of circadian gravity, the fanciful in me imagined the buildings past and its heritage of the lives lived there, particularly that of the women, invoking their irresistible pull into institutional disciplinary demands, of bodies and minds. Perhaps the gateway of sleep to dreams and alterities of consciousness was an apt response to the buildings histories of psychiatry. Upon my return to Helsinki my sleeping patterns resumed their previous and unremarkable mode.

Arriving back in Helsinki I messaged Sarah Jane Pell about Seili and selkies, she replied to me telling of recent seal dreams and expanded upon her experiences of what I know of as the reciprocal sensing between ones body and those within ones environment be it rocks, bodies of water, other non human animal bodies and presences, winds and other weathers. More etymological roots enable affective pathways that describe the movement of sensations, ones that are communicative and that pause definitive borders between self and other, subject and object.

From my perceptive the tick as errant host of tick-bourne pathogens presents confounding puzzles in it’s relations with us humans and our understandable fears of infection of bacterial and virulent pathogens.

Media Umwelt

In conversation with Jasmin as we dragged and counted, we discussed how the tick does present dangers to the health and well being of humans, but equally there is considerable over emphasis on the dangers by the media. The tick does what it does. It is not ‘aware’ of anything beyond the sensory discretion of the biosemiotics of its world, around which there is the increasing and accelerated machinations of media worlding, a media umwelt of sorts.


Some of the processes and actions I captured and put on our Instagram account: @tickact, the format of which I think serves to make for some curious collaging which is apt for the assemblage like modes of our combined practices. It goes without saying that these documents are there to convey the exuberance of experimentation and are not intended to communicate anything more than lab notes/sketches, and to being to reference the tangles of rich references that are activated.

Readings and listenings

Toward a Theory of the New Weird

Elvia Wilk on a Feminist Understanding of eerie fiction

Lyme Warrior No More

From insane to mental patients: the mental hospital of Seili

Music – Jenni Vartiainen – Seili

The hospital island Själö – the spookiest of islands

Foam: Specters in Change

Anil Bawa-Cavia, The Inclosure of Reason

Silke Panse, ‘What Drawings Can Do That Films Can’t’ in Anna Lucas (ed.), Blind Movies, Oxford: Ruskin School of Drawing, 2009

Thank you to:

Archipelago Research Institute, University of Turku

Laura Beloff, collaborator in this project

Contemporary Art Archipelago (Taru and Lotta) for facilitating being on Seili

Jasmin Inkinen who is part of the ARI research team, for her time and her generosity of her knowledge and insight

The cafe, accommodation, sauna staff and island guides who were so helpful and full of warmth

Kone Foundation who have funded this research

Reciprocal Sensing (Insensible Sensibilities) Field_Notes report

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

As part of our final activities, the many headed monster that was our group (taking our modus operandi from our non-human collaborators, the slime molds introduced by Heather Barnett), co-composed a writing for the Field_Notes field report, which you can read here. In our texts we continued working with multiple voices and forces in a effort to convey the myriad modes of engagement of our groups collective constituents.

Hosted by me the groups members were: Heather Barnett, Martin Malthe Borch, Antye Greie, Lumi Greie-Ripatti, Mari Keski-Korsu, Avner Peled, Antti Tenetz.

Also with in the text is a short video of our ‘herding’ practice edited by group member Mari Keski Korsu from footage shot by Teemu Lehmusruusu which I include here.

An exceprt from ‘Goodbye for Ever’ - Vajrayana and the Arts

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Yesterday my teacher Ngak’chang Rinpoche posted exceprt from his forthcoming book ‘Goodbye for Ever’ on Facebook, it concerns a remarkable conversation with one of his teachers Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje

Photo by Ngak’chang Rinpoche, sourced from

Photo by Ngak’chang Rinpoche, sourced from

Before I left his presence, Düd’jom Rinpoche said “Before England going – we Arts speaking.”
He knew I was going back to study at Art school and wanted to say a few words about the Arts in general. He knew I was interested in music and poetry as well as painting – and asked “What music playing and singing?”
“It’s called Blues, Rinpoche. It comes from America – but before that it came from West Africa.”

He then asked me it I would sing him something so that he could hear what it sounded like, so—feeling slightly uneasy—I launched into ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. It didn’t take more than the first line to feel entirely natural because Düd’jom Rinpoche gave me a broad grin.

Gypsy woman told my mother before I was born
Y’got a boy childs coming, gonna be a son-of-a-gun
Gonna make pretty womens jump and shout
Then the world wanna know – what’s it all about?
’cause I’m here – ever’body knows I’m here
I’m the hoochie coochie man – ever’body knows I am.

Then Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche asked me what the words meant. That was something of a problem - because it seemed untranslatable. I asked if I might think about it for a while because I’d have to work out a form of English that would translate into Tibetan whilst retaining a meaning that was representative of the original. I worked out something in English that could be translated be easily translated into Tibetan.

A nomad khandro told my mother, before I was born
You will have a boy child and he will be strong and charismatic
He’s going to cause beautiful women joyful fascination
And everybody is going to be extremely curious about him?
Because I’m here – everybody knows I’m here
I’m the man with siddhis – everybody knows I am.

Once this had been translated to him he laughed saying “Good song! This song very much liking! Very strong and powerful! You must be always signing this song in your country.”

I explained that I’d had to change the words - and they were sometimes a long way form the original — but that the original Black American language would have made no sense in Tibetan.
Düd’jom Rinpoche chuckled about that and told me that as I was a poet it would be natural for me to make a good translation for him. He said he felt confident that I had translated the meaning. He said that this was an important part of the work that lay ahead of me as I would have to translate the meaning of the Tibetan teachings I had received. It would be no use to give a word for word translation — as this might make as little sense as the song would have made had I not used words that would make sense for him.
Düd’jom Rinpoche explained that the Arts were crucial to Vajrayana – and not simply the Vajrayana arts in terms of thangkas, vajra dance, and so forth. The secular Arts were also important. It was through the secular Arts that I could reach out to people – and the secular Arts practised by yogis were no longer secular. A yogi or yogini transformed everything into the dimension of Vajrayana.
“People not ‘Vajrayana only for monks and recluses’ thinking. This is wrong thinking. You must be ‘this is wrong’ saying.” He told me that in Tibet and Bhutan the ordinary people lived their lives were very much within the dimension of Vajrayana and some ordinary people with ordinary working lives had achieved ja’lü. Then he asked me whether I could earning a good living through the Arts and I replied that with painting it was more difficult unless one took the route I planned to take in terms of becoming an Art School lecturer. He then asked about poetry and I replied that this was the most difficult course to take. Then he said “Yah – but music everyone is liking.” And asked me what the future was there. I replied that some people could become extremely wealthy through music – but that I had lost my chance in that direction. Düd’jom Rinpoche looked quizzical for an instant and asked me to explain how that came to be – so I provided a potted history of Savage Cabbage. He nodded—gave me a penetrating look—and said “You must always music playing. This I see. This is important. Always painting. Always poetry writing. Always Art in every part of life – and, in this way, changchub sem always manifesting. This is my prediction. You must always Arts making. Never difference coming in Vajrayana and Art! Always together manifesting – and in this way people are nature of Vajrayana understanding.”
This came as something of a surprise to me. I thought I was giving up my life as a Blues performer – but Düd’jom Rinpoche thought this definitely was not a good idea. He said that it was ‘most necessary’ in terms of realising my potential for the benefit of others. He said that every human being has potential and that potential mist be realised for the benefit of the world. If I gave up playing Blues, how could those who loved Blues come to know about Vajrayana? If I gave up writing poetry what connection would there be for those who loved poetry. The same was true for all the Arts with which I engaged. This would be how I would teach in the West. This would be my métier and forté – because if Vajrayana was to be established in the West it would have to engage with western culture. This was not to say that Vajrayana would change to suit the West – but the Vajrayana would be discovered as naturally inherent within the Arts. This would be seen because I was an Artist. This was the bridge I was to build.
This was—really—not what I was expecting to hear. I had somehow taken on a renunciate view without realising that Vajrayana concerned transformation rather than renunciation. This advice form Düd’jom Rinpoche changed my life—right there—in that moment.

Winogradsky Days: columns progress

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

In May last year a few of us got together to explore making Winogradsky Columns in a workshop orgainsed by the Bioart Society here in Helsinki. Our mud and water source was the south east shore of Töölölahti, the Baltic bay that scoops out a large mass of central Helsinki. I made two columns which, unsurprisingly have looked pretty dormant for the most part, their microbial consortia taking their own bacterial time to sort themselves into their metabolic, spatial arrangements inside the containers and to respond to the window environment of my home. Today in the spring sunshine I couldn’t help but notice their verdant vibrancy and almost audible intensity, as if they were in synpathy with the palpable surge of ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ beneath the ice and snow.

SOLU Invokation and Portal opening

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

This last 9th and 10th November saw the happy occasion of the opening of a space here in Helsinki for the Bioart Society’s activities here in Helsinki, SOLU Space, an artistic laboratory and platform for art, science and society.

Following wonderful speeches by the board chair, funders and other supporters and a performance by Till Boverman, sound and media artist Ava Grayson and I performed a ritual to invoke the qualities, hopes and aspirations of the ‘SOLU Temple’ and to perform the opening and sealing rites for the mysterious '‘interdimensional portal’ the opening to which is located in the kitchen area.

Images by Ines Montalvao and Marieta Radomska

You can read our invokation here:

SOLU INVOKATION + Portal opening Litany


The Eminent and most high Priestesses welcome you to the Inaugural opening of the Unhallowed grounds of the Temple of SOLU

Greetings Distinguished Initiates one and all to this miraculous occasion at this auspicious juncture

An epoch of contestation and elaborate debate


The deeply contested Anthropocene
























We would like to acknowledgement the lands we find ourselves within, and all those to whom these are beloved and home, from the mists of forgotten time to the futurities of far seeing beyond, we acknowledge every molecule, every organism, every evolution, mutation, symbiogenic flourishing that claims this place, each tangible, and intangible that moves within the dimensional layers in delicate hauntings and robust manifests.


This evening in order to open this illusory temple we will perform together a mighty Invokation, a litany of words, concepts, cherished and maverick utterances that are proffered as seeds of potentials for future fruitions.

Each word I will call out and in response you will announce SOLU!

Please try with me:

We invoke Being lost in the forest without any cash

We invoke gin and tonics

And so we begin:

We Invoke:

That which is definitively ambiguous

The constantly changeable

The charmingly erratic

The abidingly fickle

The astonishing insecure

The wisdom of the irrational

The raucousness of the precarious

The insistence of exemplary risk

The liquid yielding of the Rocky

The appreciative sensorium of that which is sensitive
The marvelous instability of all that is shaky

The miraculous inescapability of the slippery

The neural pervasiveness of that which is ticklish

The illusory craft of what is necessarily tricky

The extensive calmness of irreducible uncertainty

The galvanizing electric lightening of the unpredictable

The unceasing curiosity of the unsettled

The all consuming focus of the demeanor of the unsteady

The eruptive generosity of the unstintingly volatile

The generous knowing of that which is weak,
The charismatic charm of the intensity of the wobbly

The unrelenting negotiation of all that is borderline

The academic application of the capricious

The calm settled motion of the dizzy

The alert and assertive confidence of the dubious

The night dreamtime activity of the fitful

The day time attentiveness to that which is fluctuating

The parabolic micro gravitational reeling of the giddy

The methodical hypothesizing of the inconsistent,
The universal reconciliation with the inconstant

The active generosity of the voluptuous lubricious

The metallic mobility of the toxic mercurial

The  pleasure of the mobile

The unrelentingly movable

The steadfastedly mutable

The cheerfully not fixed

The carefully rickety

The candidly shifty
The happily suspect

The expertly teetering

The unapologetically temperamental

The honestly untrustworthy

The enduringly vacillating

The humourously variable

The elegantly wavering

The wafting web of weaving

The non-Euclidian wiggly

The contentedly icy Psychrophilic

The modestly Bold

The eloquence of Connection

The openness to a Cry

The abundant appreciation of the Earth

The extant elucidation of Emotion

The reciprocal understandings of Exchange

The hot fast vector of Love

The unhindered velocity of Movement

The cybernetic serendipity of Networks

The poised skillful means of Politeness

The sky like Space and spaciousness

The irrefutability of Structure

The radical tenderness of that which is Subtle

The knowing smile of Tendency

The non linearity of time

The dis-orientation of the gyroscopic

The comfortable collusion of listening space

The merry sound of attentiveness

The strident mission of what is just

The hospitality of inclusiveness

The humility where domination is not allowed

The myriad possibilities of unprecedented ‘ologies, disciplinary dances and extended fields


We invoke

a place for collaboration and experimentation.

a kitchen,

a lab

a third placed for meeting with friends,

doing crazy stuff

a place to dissect the derangements of our senses with the tender scalpel of our collective minds eye


We invoke Curies Children, glow boys and radon daughters

We invoke the expansive and generative collaboration of Field Notes

We invoke the protean integrity of Making Life

We invoke the agential cut of the intra of actions of hybrid Matters

We invoke irascible Merry CRISPR!

We thank the tremendous initiators of the Bioart Society and keepers of SOLU Temple

We thank the extraordinary hard work and devotion of Magus Erich Burgher and Magicienne Piritta Purto

We thank the expertise of the currently serving Chair Mari Keski Korsu the holder of the Whisking Wisdoms

We thank the baddest ass apparitional intererns

Tyska Samborska

Katarina Meister

Mari Kaakkola


PORTAL transition


I now invite you to witness and participate in the innermost secret mystery of the SOLU Temple, the opening of the interdimensional portal


I invite you to take a position on one of the three points of the indeterminable triangle within which the portal sits.


Proceed to the Portal


We initiate you into the most profound of the Telluric mysteries, the depth of time, the most eldritch and august of realisations of the

multidimensional, inter-geometrical, the Euclidian, Non-Euclidian,

The depths of that which reaches into the infinite below, the pasts the futures the otherwise and elsewhere.

Please remove the lid of iron smelted from unprecedented meteorites, watery lakes, and lightning bolt strikes that ignite and forge the metals of the earth herself.


Here ye, behold the cloistered sanctum of primordial, unconditioned portent and potentiality.

Celebrate the joyful currents of energy into realised form and manifest realised curiosity.

Applaud the movement of dissolution into sanguine emptiness.


I invite you to now one by one to take a pinch of xeno green gold elemental metal, crafted, refined and extracted with extensive love and beneficent gratitude from the metallurgical climes of distant solar planetary configurations with infinite grace and libidinous compassion.


Take a pinch and throw it  into the telluric void

The magical portal

With an inner most intention of making the great work of art, science and society for the benefit of everything and everyone everywhere in the multiple dimensionality of exquisite activity.


After the last person has thrown in the xeno green gold elemental metal



I now pronounce the portal open!

Please replace the lid and I will perform the magical marking with the SOLU seal


The magical sigil is written in green and it’s sonic correspondent is sounded over the portal lid


Written and enacted on the occasion of the opening of the Bioart Society’s

SOLU Space 9th November

Conceived and performed by

Ava Grayson and Kira O’Reilly

SOLU sigil

Abiding influences, Angelic Conversations

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Dance of influences and inspirations never seem to wane and Derek Jarman's Angelic Conversations is certainly one of them that for me endures. Again, whilst gazing towards his cottage on the horizon at Dungeness from the head of Folkestone harbour's arm this still came to mind and began to suggest my third and final action that will take place during ]performance space[ curated Wake Festival.

Gazing towards Dungeness from the arm that stretches out from Folkestone's harbour

Angelic Conversations, 1985, dir Derek Jarman.



Vajra Masters The Body, Speech, and Mind of Vajrayana

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

As the sad and disturbing events and actions related to Sogyal Lakar have become apparent there has been much confusion in the minds of many of his students and other concerned Buddhists as observed on a number of online platforms. One of the aspects of misunderstanding is the rôle, activities and function of the Vajra Master, particularly in regard to the manifestation of Yeshé 'cholwa - Wisdom Chaos, often translated as crazy wisdom. Lakar's activities have been those that abuse, exploit and damage not only his many students but the understanding of the rôle and function of the Vajra Master.

In the hope of assuaging some of the misunderstandings and distress I am posting this recent and clarifying teaching by Ngak'chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, the Lineage Holders of the Aro gTér, on the Vajra Master, without whom the treasures of Vajrayana would not be possible.


Vajra Masters

The Body, Speech, and Mind of Vajrayana

by Ngak’chang Rinpoche & Khandro Déchen

Vajra masters may manifest crazy wisdom – but their ‘craziness’ is never prurient, predictable, hackneyed, clichéd, trite, or crass. Yeshé ’cholwa (Wisdom Chaos) is the inchoate efflorescence of primordial wisdom.
Vajra masters may be divine madmen—or divine madwomen—but their ‘madness’ is never self-oriented, self-indulgent, self-aggrandising, or self-obsessed. sMyon Heruka (Mad Sainthood) is freedom from the bureaucracy of institutionalised experience.
Vajra masters may be wrathful – but their ‘wrathfulness’ is never peevish, irritable, surly, petulant, or aggressively impatient. Wrathful Lamas are never serene in public and sadistic in private.
Vajra masters may be the monarchs of their kyil’khors – but their majesty is never haughty, arrogant, imperious, or desirous of droit du seigneur. Vajra monarchs are vastly wealthy in terms of appreciation of the phenomenal world and therefore have no desire for excessive conventional wealth.
Vajra masters may be accomplished in karmamudra – but they reserve their skills for those disciples whose experience of the non-dual state pervades their practice, rather than for those who are merely young and conventionally beautiful.
Vajra masters may accept students’ vows of vajra commitment – but imposters to vajra mastery can only steal the loyalty of those they dupe. Those who are duped only need to recognise they have been duped, in order to be free of those who merely pose as vajra masters.
Vows can only be broken when they have been entered into with authenticity. Deranged poltroons may pronounce two people married – but their pronouncements carry no weight in either religion or law.
Vajra masters are the living embodiments of Padmasambhava and Yeshé Tsogyel, like our own Lamas Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche and Jomo Sam’phel Déchen. We, on the other hand, are not vajra masters – and cannot be viewed as vajra masters. We are merely convivial vicars of Vajrayana – and nothing we say need be taken too dreadfully seriously.
སྔགས་འཆང་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ / མཁའ་འགྲོ་བདེ་ཆེན་

Sourced from the Aro Encyclopeidia:

A reading for Operature. ATOM-R. Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Kings College London, 21st. October 2013.

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Written to be read withing the performance of Operature by ATOM-R.

Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Kings College London, 21st. October 2013.

Re-read at 6th Inter-format Symposium on Hybrid Natures 2016, Nida Art Colony.


Read #: liverwort/wind/code


Read 001

Liverwort scatters the subarctic tundra in vast dappling clusters of elephantine flaps of pale and palest green. A tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. Here the season is 100 days and the tundra begins at an entirely distinct level, the ecotone a clear mark where short crippled trees[1] as they are called give way entirely and absolutely, no gradual thinning, to where there are no trees, whatsoever.

But mosses. And Liverwort. Marchantia.


Read 002

He’s back up on the feet and he’s being very cautious.  He gets a takedown, but is now dealing with a guillotine for a bit. He pops free. He was briefly in side control, but got up and went into the half guard. He is now in mount after a pass and looking to be real methodical. He is slowly crunching his opponent from side control.[2]


Read 003

We humans have more bacterial cells (1014) inhabiting our body than our own cells (1013) [2],[3]. It has been stated that the key to understanding the human condition lies in understanding the human genome [4],[5]. But given our intimate relationship with microbes [6], researching the human genome is now understood to be a necessary though insufficient condition: sequencing the genomes of our own microbes would be necessary too. Also, to better understand the role of microbes in the biosphere, it would be necessary to undertake a genomic study of them as well.[3]


Read 004

X-ray crystallography.

Diffraction of macromolecules


"the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken."[4]

He said.

Closer she came.


Read 005

Late one night

X-ray diffraction.



Succession of failures


Read 006

It was a chilling experience, being in the hinterlands of a subarctic seemingly sparsely populated, only to discover numerous traces of war, WWII in particular, as we strode and hiked across the immediate surrounds. Gentle mossy dips revealing themselves to be dug out bunkers with rusted remnants still embedded and scattered; evidence of POW encampments, a WW2 Junnker crash site and an exploded WWI munitions storage facility - barely rusted, heaps of wire cutters, vast diaspora of casings and even some live ammunition, as well as heaps of safety pins.


Read 007

The liverworts (or marchantiophyta) are descendants of the earliest terrestrial plants. The group is characterised by morphological simplicity, and this seems to be matched by simple underlying genome structures. Liverworts show promise as new experimental systems after recent developments in transformation methods and genome characterisation.[5]


Read 008

He is back to standing. He has the back and is going for the Rear Naked Coke. He does get the Rear Naked Choke, while the other two carry own. He is in half guard with no kimura threat now.

He is standing as his opponent plays guard. He is being very calm and periodically going into top half and then returning to his feet. He has head control and gets swept by a keylock as he goes for a takedown. He is fending off halfhearted leglock attempts.[6]


Read 009

By providing the ability to examine the relationship of genome structure and function across many different species, these data have also opened up the fields of comparative genomics and of systems biology. Nevertheless, single organism genome studies have limits. First, technology limitations mean that an organism must first be clonally cultured to sequence its entire genome. However, only a small percentage of the microbes in nature can be cultured, which means that extant genomic data are highly biased and do not represent a true picture of the genomes of microbial species [10]–[12]. Second, very rarely do microbes live in single species communities: species interact both with each other and with their habitats, which may also include host organisms. Therefore, a clonal culture also fails to represent the true state of affairs in nature with respect to organism interaction, and the resulting population genomic variance and biological functions.[7]


Read 0010

Closer than most.


Between ‘51 and ‘53.

Photo 51.

In The Development of X-ray Analysis, Sir William Lawrence Bragg mentioned that he believed the field of crystallography was particularly welcoming to women because the techno-aesthetics of the molecular structures resembled textiles and household objects. Bragg was known to compare crystal formation to "curtains, wallpapers, mosaics, and roses."[8]


Read 0011

protein structures


unfolded and




to unsoluble



of crystalline contingencies


Read 0012

We looked for Russian soldier burials, given directions by the headmaster of the local school, and dowsing for bones, found some, but we weren't certain of what species.


Read 0013

The relative simplicity of genetic networks in liverworts, combined with the growing set of genetic manipulation, culture and microscopy techniques, are set to make these lower plants major new systems for analysis and engineering.[9]


Read 0014

He is in mount after a fast pass to the left and is pressuring down in low mount. Looking to get a keylock going. He uses a burst of energy to try a pass, but he pulls him back to half guard, while yielding the flattened back. He gets bucked off and He is standing.[10]


Read 0015         

New sequencing technologies and the drastic reduction in the cost of sequencing are helping us overcome these limits. We now have the ability to obtain genomic information directly from microbial communities in their natural habitats. Suddenly, instead of looking at a few species individually, we are able to study tens of thousands all together. Sequence data taken directly from the environment were dubbed the metagenome [13], and the study of sequence data directly from the environment—metagenomics [14].[11]


Read 0016

“Rosy, of course,

did not directly give us her data. For that matter, no one

at King’s realized they were in our hands.”[12]


Read 0017

Some proteins structures take no time at all, some take tens of years.

Some resist entirely and are unknowns and unknowables.



Read 0018             

We rebuilt the crash event in our minds, visualising it's trajectory from a 13 year old witness account given to us by the now elderly man who houses that memory, and the expert opinion of the drone operators. Incorporations of metal and body, memory and remnant and, fresh evidence.


Read 0019

He moves to a back take/seatbelt control off the arm triangle position. They hit the ground after a guillotine attempt by him. He is besting from side control and he has a very deep Rear Naked Choke stuck in. He appears to be fighting it until the very last moment possible. Guillotine busted in and he is now working a mean guillotine from front headlock position. He lost the Rear Naked Choke.[13]


Rear 0020

Indexical double


helices of coding


Franklin’s persistence


of recording the reflections into Deoxyribonucleic acid resolutions.


Kings here.

Here at Kings.


Read 0021

From these stories new shards were found, fresh, their placement in conciliation with our imaginings. We build model airplanes of Junnkers, enacted crashes, used toy drones and kites and found a quiet seriousness when burning the toy model on the crash site on a windy, rainy Sunday morning. Bodies exploded into nothing by their desperate payload.


Read 0022

He is on top of butterfly, but has the head controlled. They reset to middle. He works a mount to triangle. [14]



Read 0023

In contrast, the sequences obtained from environmental genomic studies are fragmented. Each fragment was obviously sequenced from a specific species, but there can be many different species in a single sample, for most of which a full genome is not available. In many cases it is impossible to determine the true species of origin. The length of each fragment can be anywhere between 20 base pairs (bp) and 700 bp, depending on the sequencing method used.[15]


Read 0024

The one that escaped, in a fever of burns and pure suffering.

‘Drones of Fascism’ one man remarked. 


Read 0025

The liverworts have alternate haploid and diploid generations.[16]


Read 0026

He scrambles out.[17]


Read 0027

For these reasons, computational biologists have been developing new algorithms to analyze metagenomic data. These computational challenges are new and very exciting. We are entering an era akin to that of the first genomic revolution almost two decades ago. Whole organism genomics allows us to examine the evolution not only of single genes, but of whole transcriptional units, chromosomes, and cellular networks.[18]


Read 0028

They lie so low the continuous wind barely moves them. They lie with the wind. The reindeer turn into the wind,



And with them everything takes direction.




Read 0029

He is much shorter, but built like a barrel. He is trying to work from butterfly to an armbar or something without success. He is dancing around and he is being patient.[19]


Read 0030

Keeping strict and comprehensive records of metadata is as important as the sequence data. Metadata are the “data about the data”[20]


Read 0031

She wrote in Acta Crystallographica in September 1953 that

“discrepancies prevent us from accepting it in detail”[21]





Online sources quoted more than once:


ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.  Retrieved on 21st October, 2013 from


A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology, retrieved on 21st October, 2013 from


Why Marcantia? Retrieved on 21st October 2013 from


The Double Helix and the ‘wronged heroine’, Maddox, Brenda, Nature, vol 421, 2003. Retrieved from





[1] Ella Tarvas’ comment that the word for crippled trees xxxxxx, carries more nuances than it’s English translation and referrers to small, elderly people, country people, poor and destitute kept together, crowded in what sounds like a workhouse.

[2] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[3] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[4] Attributed to pioneer of x-ray crystallography, John D. Bernal, retrieved on 21st October, 2013 from

[5] Why Marchantia? Retrieved on 21st October 2013 from

[6] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[7] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[8]  Black, Susan AW (2005). "Domesticating the Crystal: Sir Lawrence Bragg and the Aesthetics of "X-ray Analysis"". Configurations 13 (2): 257. Retrieved on 1st October 2013

[9] Why Marchantia?

[10]  Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[11] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[12] James Watson being quoted by Brenda Maddox in The Double Helix and the ‘wronged heroine’, Maddox, Brenda,  Nature, vol 421, pp 407-408.

[13] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[14] Ibid.

[15] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[16] Why Marchantia?

[17] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[18] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[19]  Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[20] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[21] The Double Helix and the ‘wronged heroine’, Maddox, Brenda, Nature, vol 421, 2003.

Enabling conversations, a-n Bursary

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

This essay was written on the receipt of support from a-n when I had a series of fundamental questions about where I was professionally and where to go. Since then I have taken another less anticipated step into full time education as a lecturer in University of the Arts Helsinki, but the questions I had and the conversations I was supported to have are still being unravelled and developed thanks to this enormously helpful bursary that acted like a fulcrum in enabling conversations that gave direction to some very important actions.

In 2014 I had reached a point in which I had been exhibiting my work since 1998, mostly these had been performances, but also works that had emerged from my interest in the biosciences and that using biological processes and materials. A large quantity of my artistic output has been in the form of live events within across vastly diverse contexts. I was revisiting a large amount of other work, mostly in the form of photographic and video most of which had and still hasn’t been shown. Whilst I have achieved various successes in terms of my art work, both professionally and personally opportunities have changed as had my practice. I felt it was a period that asked for ripe sustained and thoughtful reflection, to pause and to consider where and how I might position my work.

The cultural landscape had changed since 1998 when I graduated from studying fine art UWIC(now Cardiff Metropolitan University) and emerged as an artist, at that time there was a golden age of departments that cultivated performance, multidisciplinarity and there were platforms and festivals that enabled rich and fertile context in which to present and find support for my emerging art works. Whilst gallery spaces and contexts had not generally been where I had presented my work, I still felt affinity to them and interest in artists working with performance who were finding their work curated in gallery spaces. I wondered about how to progress this and who to speak with, what kind of actions might enable this?

I was fortunate indeed to receive a bursary from AN that supported conversations with figures I felt were significant and who I felt would be ideally placed to support and enable my reflections productively.

The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester had provided me with one of the most valuable and important experiences of making work, notably during Marina Abramovic Presents . . . as part of Manchester International Festival in 2009. Over 17 days I returned to the stone steps of the Whitworth and performed a slow fall for 4 hours a day, the willingness of a gallery to give me the space and time to make such a sustained piece was enormously valuable to be so I returned to the Whitworth Gallery and to it’s director, Maria Balshaw to have a conversation as part of this bursary. Maria Balshaw’s ability to grasp, develop and realise the potential what a public gallery is and its potential has been key in my own understanding of what might be possible in terms of performance and where and what its presence might be in galleries, be they public, commercial, national or otherwise.

When I visited Maria Balshaw the Whitworth was still in it’s metamorphosis, cocooned and almost unrecognisable as the galleries were being reconceived and spaces previously unavailable to the public were being revealed and revelled in. Maria mentioned to me that the staircase I had performed my ‘fall’ down, which had been not accessible to the public was now going to be a main access to the large space being opened up on the first floor. The architects had witnessed the work and embraced the stairs potential. Bodies create space, space create bodies, there is a reciprocity of materiality, vitality and movement.

Within the material mutability of the Whitworth we discussed my work through a series of trajectories that were all anchored around and in the Whitworth and the living questions it has under Balshaw’s directorship. Maria was deeply eloquent in her discussion of the movement between performance, gallery contexts, collecting – both pubic and by the private collector. The need to not simplify or make simplistic artist practices that might be considered ‘difficult’ but rather to dignify the individuals who constitute the publics they participate in with the same curiosity and nuanced discriminatory verve they might bring to other arena of expertise. Actually I think Strictly Come Dancing might have been an example we discussed, where audiences are attuned to the absolute nuance excited by the avenues of awareness they garner over the weeks of avid involvement. It was a fascinating and for me, unexpected view point from which to consider how a gallery might approach both is custodianship of collections and its curation, and how I might reframe my work. We discussed my archive, a mass of tapes, notebooks, drawings, photographic prints and other ephemera which has since being undergoing the process of digitisation, and the possibility of its generative potentials. In a process of digitising much of it I had begun to revisit old video works on VHS and transparencies, becoming reinvolved in their material charisma and how I might extend and transform those. I was making small experiments in my studio, reiterations of iterations. I think often conversations are sought not only to learn from but also to validate what is often a sense of direction and to clear or perhaps confirm those hunches, intuitions and instincts. Much of our discussion did just that, but with the added dimension of a gallery context that evidences its commitment to maintaining the relevancy and vitality in regard to its obligations and relationship to its visitors. I found this incredibly important because it is a dialogue, one that is incredibly spacious, massively mobile and adaptable and hugely hospitable.

The second very significant and valuable dialogue was conducted with Matt Roberts who had been mentioned and recommended to me by another artist group. Matt brought a massive and extremely comprehensive gaze to bare on my practice, gathering references, names, points, indications and suggestions to bare with what I felt was a tremendous accuracy. It was tremendously refreshing to present my portfolio to someone I did not have a previous connection with, to quickly identify a series of key actions I might consider for how I might develop my work. The most urgent was a website. I was in the process of finally having a website, and my ambition for it had been something elaborate and extensive that would hold a significant amount of material. Matt advised creating something that was simple and current, that a curator could visit and view what might form the basis of a current discussion about my work. He also gave key advise in how I might utilise other projects, ones that are still in development but are, nevertheless, developing, to create connections and dialogues that I would felt would be helpful and interesting. Importantly I was able to benefit from expertise that was not remotely London-centric but that introduced me to many galleries and institutions in area of the UK I was less familiar with.

There were other conversations I had hoped to have but was unsuccessful in bringing about, and then further conversations that were unexpected but also incredibly useful. The bursary seemed to be a catalyst for an array of exchanges that enabled and realised the kind of reflection that is so difficult to conduct without the dynamism of someone else acumen and expertise. Its outcomes are time capsules, still being processed and usefully realised, albeit relocated since I have very recently moved to Finland, but I am very encouraged and excited to continue with the developments.


Dublin LIve Art Festival, winter

Added on by David Caines.

As a reiteration of the work made for Love Letters to a (post-) Europe, I made an action using the same elements inside the lobby of one of the buildings on the campus of Dublin Instutute of Technology in Grangegormon for Dublin Live Art Festival.

For an hour I drank mouthfuls of salt water the ratio of seawater, with each mouthful I attempted to speak: 'I came to the sea and I was scared, my heart is broken'

Infront of me were two copper pipes resting and overed in salt and vinegar causing verdigris to appear over the duration of the action. Each mouthful of water either dribbled onto my shirt or was spat out washing over the salt and copper, I felt I was at sea.

Documentation from Love Letters to a (Post-)Europe Παρασκευή 2 & Σάββατο 3 Οκτωβρίου 2015

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Love Letters to a (Post-)Europe, concept and curation: Lisa Alexander.

2 & 3 October 2015, Bios, Athens, Full artist line-up

Performed by Dimou Vassiliki

Photography: Eftychia Vlacou

I was overwhelmed by the responses to this work that found me via social networking, I am deeply grateful to Dimou Vassiliki who performed with so much commitment, to Lisa Alexander for curating this work and for her careful handling of it to ensure it's realisation, and to BIOS.

The short piece consisted of Dimou Vassiliki taking salt water into her mouth, saying the words:

‘I came to the sea and I was scared. My heart is broken.'

and then repeating the action, alternating between English and Greek as a slide of a calm sea with the words on it also shifted between English and Greek.

'I came to the sea and I was scared. My heart is broken.' were the words reported to have been spoken by a fisherman on finding the bodies of the small child Aylan Kuridi who drowned along with his five-year-old brother Galip and their mother, Rihan when they attempted to make the crossing from Turkey to Greece and hope of refuge in Europe.


Ballybunion : with memories and feet

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Out of nothing and nowwhere, 'it is epic' she said, as if there were no beginning and no end to the words, to her and what she apprehended.

They picked through the rocks with memory and feet, nothing had changed except memories and feet

LIke threads weaving and shuttling they were, those silvery eddies skimming the glassy cloud strewn sand into delicate geometries

Collected by Dominic

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Scholar and writer Dominic Johnson has been collecting art for some years now, cultivating an extraordinary collection of small works by extraordainary artists including friends and colleagues he has written about such as Slava Mogutin. Franko B, Julia Bardsley, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Sheree Rose, Ron Athey and Fakir Musafar. It's a charming prospect having an artwork sit amongst a such personal cannon of artworks, narratives and linages of practices, and also to know and feel that a work gains another series of possibilities through it's situation and situatedness within the context of someones home and the circulation of objects and languages created by that environment. 

During the our last auction here at Tidemill Studios he had bought a new work Those Misty Girls series, a reworking of some older slides, overlaid, printed and stitched onto a linen table cloth. 

Last week he came by to my studio and we searched through my archive of prints and he acquired a small print of inthewrongplaceness, performed in 2009 as part of sk-interfaces at Casino Luxembourgand photographed by Alex Heiss.

Citing Shannon Bell's Discourse of the Post-Hysteric (Tattoo)

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Last night I spent quite a bit of time alone in Sigmund Freud's former study in London's Freud Museum contemplating an exhibition that has been developing in my minds eye on the Post-Hysteric, informed in part by Shannon Bell's 'hacking the lack' in her refiguring Lacan's metheme structuring the hysteric. I imagined Bell's Discourse of the Post-Hysteric (Tattoo) video work occupying the critical place, above the iconic analytical couch where the informous print featuring Charcot, A Critical Lesson in Salpêtrière is located, originally by Pierre Aristide André Brouillet (1857-1914) and recreated as a lithograph by Eugène Pirodon (1824-1908) it sat in Freuds office in Vienna before coming with him to London. I easily see Shannon giving her paper as a performantive gesture in the house, perhaps upstairs in the lecture room or possibly in the warm, dark, peaceful space of the study itself.

Video still from Discourse of the Post Hysteric (Tattoo), (2015), Shannon Bell

Here is the entire video piece:

and here is a photograph of how the couch looks with A Critical Lesson in Salpêtrière in place

In the Freud Museum is is known as The Lesson of Doctor Charcot.

Bell, Shannon. "Fragment of a Case of Posthysteria: D'or Owns the Jewel." ESC: English Studies in Canada 40.1 (2014): 189-210.