Panel Performances Two
Lockdown Aesthetic & Quarantine Blues
Veera Jussila (Goldsmiths, London): Postcards from Lost Cities (2020)
Postcards from Lost Cities is a deep learning project inspired by the viral images of spring 2020: empty streets, eerie airports, ghostly landmarks. In her project, Jussila worked with small, handpicked datasets to create messages that captured the feelings of loss, longing and confusion in the middle of the pandemic. Via deep learning algorithms, archive material and new photos of tourism destinations blend with the news coverage of the exceptional spring. The piece utilizes generative adversarial networks (GANs) and is mostly coded in Python. RunwayML software was used for the AttnGAN part. The piece is Jussila’s final project for the machine learning module in MA Computational Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London. Postcards from Lost Cities addresses virality in several ways. It was born as a response to the sudden isolation of popular tourist cities – the kind of destinations that populate our imagination and social media feeds. At the same time, the results only capture a fleeting moment in the pandemic. As Jussila notes in her presentation, the viral visuals have already changed, with images of crowded beaches emerging on our news feeds and representing threat.
Matteo Preabianca (Artist): Like a cloud
I am an Italian, living in Scotland. In my home country the coronavirus death toll was and still is very high. I decided to self-isolate. The term “quarantine” comes from the Italian word, “quarantina”, which means “forty days”. I found it sadly amusing that the UK government wants travellers and people with coronavirus symptoms to do a 14 day quarantine instead of 40 days. The first 2 weeks of self-isolation I tried to work, finishing some projects, but my mind wandered around, thinking about family and friends struggling and dying around Milan. While I was blue, laying down on my bed, I looked up, through my window. I live in an attic, so some of my windows are in the ceiling. I saw another kind of blue: the sky. I start observing all of the clouds. So, I decided to take a picture every day at 10am about clouds. Looking them via the window frame, they seem perfect instant paintings, a sort of primitive Instagram, which remind us to slow down, like the clouds. Now I have a series clouds in different weather, 40 clouds for 40 pictures. They show the negativity of this time, like if you look them via a “nice prison”, but also the impermanence of our life. Every time I took a picture, I looked the death toll in Italy. Was it a coincidence any time the number of deaths increase, the sky was intensely blue?
Angie Voela and Darren Ellis (University of East London): After Lockdown – Opening Up: Psychosocial Transformations in the Wake of Covid-19
This video is about a forthcoming edited book which emanated out of a series of online lectures at the University of East London, named the Monday Afternoon Lockdown Sessions. The sessions were popular, lively and thought provoking, focusing on for example, the effects of living in isolation, strategies of coping, increased reliance on digital communication technologies, the racialisation of Covid-19 and, more generally, the exacerbation of inequalities inherent in Western societies. On a conceptual level, this project reflects the character of Psychosocial Studies at UEL and indeed the two editors’ interest in combining psychoanalytic thinking with process philosophy. ‘Opening up’ therefore chimes with the fundamental psychoanalytic operation of working through, and, when necessary, breaking through and traversing phantasies to effect change. ‘Opening up’ also chimes with potentialities, processes and relations of affective capacities.
Debra Benita Shaw (University of East London): Leaving Home: Safer Spaces Beyond the Neoliberal Family
This video presentation covers Debra’s chapter for the After Lockdown project discussed above.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rise in cases of domestic abuse worldwide. In the UK, the Guardian reported that, by mid-April, domestic abuse killings had already doubled and, in the same week, the government acknowledged the increase and published updated guidance for victims suffering as a result of the lockdown. For many, most of them women, the government instruction to ‘#StayAtHome and stay safe’ is, potentially, a death sentence. This chapter will examine the history of the home as an assumed place of refuge in the context of urban and suburban architecture which both assumes and discursively constructs the contemporary neoliberal family. I want to challenge the determination of the home as a place of safety and interrogate its connection to subject formation. I am interested in how the concept of ‘home’ invokes ideas that conflate specific understandings of corporeality with raced and gendered ideals of social structure and how these are expressed through the built environment. My question will be whether the vulnerabilities exposed by Covid-19 might open a space for imagining safer spaces beyond the neoliberal family and its association with a highly circumscribed idea of what it means to be ‘home’.
Marija Lobanova (University of East London)
Or click on the image below
This video presentation covers Marija’s chapter for the After Lockdown project discussed above.
This chapter will explore the lockdown as a testing environment for the ego and superego through the concept of time. In contemporary society, we have given an immense authority to clocks to determine our daily behaviours – setting up alarms to wake up at a particular time, catch a train that runs (or at least should run) according to a schedule, get to work/school/university on time, leave work when the clock says so, and go to bed at a reasonable time to repeat the process the next day. However, during the lockdown for many of non-essential workers several of these, perhaps hated but nonetheless structuring, properties of the clock have faded. Elias (2005) argued that as clocks became external tools measuring time of the day, these external constrains of time also took control over the individual psyche in the form of self-control and time-conscience. During the civilising process, daily routines became psychologically internalise and insinuated themselves into our mind-sets forming a part of our egos and superegos. However, the clock and the time of the day it measures are also external structures, without which the internal ones can struggle to sustain their routine/healthy functioning as well as maintain the demands of the id. The question that this chapter is going to explore, is what happens to the internal structures in the absence of the external support of managing time, e.g. many working from home doing flexible hours, alarm clock being switched off and classes being recorded, etc.
Fidelia Lam (University of Southern California): Stuck in a Room
Please follow this link to view Fidelia’s video: https://fidelialam.com/stuck-in-a-room
Or click on the image…
Stuck in a Room examines quarantine digital aesthetics and the strange spatiotemporal reality many of us find ourselves in. This collection of videos acts as an ongoing log and response to the paradoxical events of pandemic and protest that mark our present reality. When the rhythms of everyday life are stripped away, what is left, and what occurs? We find ourselves in Zoom rooms and Skype calls and Google Meets and FaceTime exchanges and WhatsApp connections, stuck in virtual rooms and domestic spaces in the same posture for hours on end. In most recent weeks, we find ourselves caught between pandemic and protest, stuck “doom-scrolling” for hours on end. This paradoxical spatiotemporal reality engendered by the pandemic (and exacerbated by the protests) has raised questions of productivity, labour, digital access and literacy, accountability, governance, among many more, amidst an ecology of affective, media, and biopolitical feedback loops. It’s easy to get lost amongst this ecology of feedback loops, to be overwhelmed by the sociopolitical and economic implications of the pandemic, and paralyzed by ongoing uncertainty of how and when this might “end”. We are also caught in multiple registers of experience in our isolated connectiveness, collapsed into the same physical and virtual spaces — we see increased global tensions and police brutality in stark juxtaposition to virtual turnip bartering and discussions of yeast starter all in the same spaces— how do we respond to this immense cognitive dissonance? Stuck in a Room demonstrates a response to continuously unfolding present events, one by no means perfect, but one that grapples with the paradoxical ecology of our present’s media virality.
Genevieve Costello (Royal Holloway, University of London): Worry People Eat the Dollhouse
More information here: https://genevievecostello.net/portfolio/worry-people
This is a lockdown aesthetics narrative. Carried by a body that lives under the (non)normative orders of chaos by way of chronic illnesses that are mostly invisible, and inherently, irresolvable, its preexisting standard of infinite and unknowable confinement stands in parallel with Covid-19’s rampant effects on the reorganizion of social life, or, in some ways, lackthereof. The piece takes form as a mixed digital media screen performance of internet-mediated intimate exchanges and chosen and unchosen domestic scenes, including videos, texts, images, and readings, as a roving-through-another’s mind-body, revealing layers of spatiotemporal and socionormative captivities of this extreme moment in global history. It engages with the concepts of vulnerability, security, and ethics of care, in tension with dependency, power, and control. But, it is not without hope for thinking with a radical relationality that may be felt when loss of control encapsulates and founds subjectivities and socialities, possibly exposing reservoirs of alternative care capacity in new forms of interrelations – a cascade of virality and #quarantinelife under Covid-19.
Natalia Stanusch (John Cabot University, Italy): Reserved for Social Distancing
This film is a semi-autoethnographic project, lasting less than seven minutes. The film focuses on the state-of-mind during social distancing, embracing lockdown aesthetics in an indefinite Coronavirus-caused exile. The film explores the feelings of longing for being outside during isolation: isolation inside one’s room, one’s mind, and one’s digital dependence. The ‘outside,’ however, is represented both by the world outside the window and the world inside the computer screen. The physical space fuses into the digital realm where social interactions can occur. The character goes through a series of fluctuations, from the physical space, through one’s mind, to the digital space. The film explores the anxiety related to quarantine and the fear of breaking free from a seemingly safe, closed, and digital space and the fear of ‘after lockdown’ world. In the glass mediated reality, where both a window and a computer screen provide an escape to something as unreal as the past, the voiceover gives a glimpse of feelings and thoughts of the character, who is mediated through a smartphone camera.
Mikey B Georgeson (Artist, University of East London): Stockholm Syndrome
Where has the potential for change gone? How does a body perform its way out of a definitional framework that is not only responsible for its very “construction” but seems to prescript every possible signifying and countersignifying move from a repertoire of possible permutations on a limited set of predetermined terms? (Parables for the Virtual)
The title Stockholm Syndrome came from a song about how Ingmar Bergman loved Sweden above any other place and admitted that he felt no strong desire to travel. He feels an entanglement with the specific landscape and his film Wild Strawberries presents an embodied fiction of Bergson’s theories of embodied knowing. Wild Strawberries struck me as being more radically empirical than the more overtly psychological approach found in the Seventh Seal, which relies on a coded reading for meaning. It is a mode of fictioning, including the percipient in the region they are navigating, as a means of creating and understanding the subject that motivates me. The series of short films comprising Stockholm Syndrome, features an academic who is struck by the dystopian nature of the future he finds himself in but then as an unpredicted pandemic spreads, what had begun as a fiction to reveal a truth begins to seem anachronistic. He is forced to find a new route through the unfolding crisis and his movements through geo-specificity generate a dialogue with Massumi’s above question. For Massumi, the lag created by the skin being faster than the word means that affectual perception is a virtual, something the current occasion seems to have been designed to interrogate in the most intense and mind-bending ways.
Stockholm Syndrome Episode 5, Digital Assemblage Cameron Poole 2020
Cameron Poole has created digital assemblages from his engagement with the episode’s as I released them over the first half of this year. They replay the films as simple shimmering tapestries and enliven my own understanding of the process. Cameron’s collages act as lobby cards for those who feel emboldened enough to dive into the film’s vortex of lockdown, to catch hold of a recurring form and resurface in non-bifurcated euphoritopia.
Valentina Signorelli (University of East London): London Lockdown
Watch the Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeIQ578lYVg Watch the Pilot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryMZMFrwbng&t=169s Watch the Series: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ6Za6iZgSyT2BmJpxvQ9xA:
Two party goers randomly stuck inside of a house and an artificial intelligence who seems to be keeping them captive. This is “London Lockdown”, the first European comedy web-series ever made… remotely. Six episodes, 5 minutes each. After a massive hangover, the two protagonists wake inside of an unknown house. Their phones are dead and there is no way for them to verify what’s happening outside. Their only source of information is Oracle, the house AI, who confirms the lockdown is on all over London and decides to lock them inside until further notice. Will they be able to escape? My name is Valentina Signorelli, director and producer. I moved to London six years ago from a small place in the north of Italy called Bergamo. My hometown is currently the worst hit territory from COVID-19 in the whole of Europe, with over 5.000 deaths and a mortality rate increased by 568% in March 2020 only. (EcodiBergamo, 2020; Washington Post, 2020) After losing three family members in less than a week, I started to question how creativity could play an active role in facing this catastrophe. I believe that comedy not only has the power to heal our pain. It is also a mirror of society which reflects vices, criticises habits and exposes privilege. Above all, comedy can bring people together, even if they are forced to stay apart. “London Lockdown” was made possible thanks to a team of writers, actors, producers and editors currently self-isolating in three different countries: UK, Germany and Italy.
They have been working and communicating with the help of social media and a discontinuous fibre broadband. The series has been broadcast on Daitona’s social media channels between 27th April and 14th May 2020.
Tony D Sampson (University of East London) – Covid_Lockdown_Blues
This short piece began life as a rendition of Summertime, but ended up a very different song. A bit like 2020.