WATER DIAGRAMMATIZING

DIMITRINA SEVOVA

The artist echoes her own voice in-between thousands of water machinic enunciations in a short video movie diagrammatizing her experience with water in Zurich, and especially drinking fountains in District 5 and the neighborhood of Kunsthof. The relation with water is always, even outdoors, a very intimate experience. At the same time these fountains are material traces tied to the social bond in the town, and tell not only material stories from the past, but constitute a present break and temporal pleasurable blocking of the cacophonic movements of speeding pedestrian in their daily-life routine.

Murmuring its own corporeal and dynamic pre-linguistic tune, water merges in the town’s mechanic noise in order to become one. Water is a connector and medium of never-ending machinic individuation, constituting access to a pre-individual reality, a model of trans-individuality and trans- corporeality that creates as many intensities. This is why the experience of water always expresses difference, difference in which there is no original. For the artist, who not so long ago moved from Brazil to Zurich, following water is a possibility to dig into the pre-individual logic of the local’s sensual in a place where she does not have direct access to the local language, and open up onto the primary logic of sense where to say or to swallow are inevitably linked in the apparatus of the mouth, where uttering and holding back are part of one process.

At the same time the artist makes use of the techniques of video and the moving image in order to re- translate and re-articulate this experience, which has not been constituted at a linguistic level. The language of the video machine and its apparatuses and the digitalized pores of the video texture of the image are able to tell this metabolic and sensual experience through the opening of a third space in which the corporeal and gestural coalesce in a multivalent existence that opens into new temporalities, like the experience of water in the streets, but also the machine of video, which consists not only of a recording device but also devices for interpreting and transmission. 

The combined set of determinations of water and video establishes a field of individuation in which a series of intensive differences animate movements that open up potentialities and virtualities. Telling the story of water as an a-signifying phenomenon and pre-verbal experience of intensity, rhythms and movements in the video’s machinic flux constitutes the artist’s form of playing with her new localization and her own becoming and adapting to a new context.

A politics of location is always personal and political. This is why the meta-textuality of the video is globally and geographically constituted. The micro and local context are transmitted through invisible links to another continent, to South America, and specifically to the location of the artist’s home city of São Paulo, where water is always bought, drinking water is bottled, and water from the tap serves only for cleaning and laundry. The two main rivers that cross the city supplying it with their vitality are completely, desperately and probably irreversibly polluted.

Since the beginning of industrialization water has been in a continuous process of militarization, disciplining and control, and of economic reorganization and redistribution. This time around water – vital for all forms of life – is captured anew, to become a flux of the semiotizing capitalist machine and the system of control and hidden privatization of biocolonialism in which streams and currencies merge. This relatively new signifying, branding, trading and transporting is a process of auto-destruction of the molar and invisible process of proliferation. The global water problem in a liquid time lies in the way in which water’s fluid abstract quality is turned into a semiotic flux – water becomes gold, but you cannot drink gold, even in a fluid state, as we know from Jack London’s Hearts of Three.

If water introduced the very idea of speed in relation to space and time, as rivers were the first highways which guaranteed the speed of transport for millennia and enabled the exploitation of new trade routes, and later gave a boost to the fledgling mechanization by providing their kinetic energy to the first mills, then with its heat properties allowed the delocalization of mechanical processes through steam engines, the relation between water and speed is now a different one, determined by new dependencies between the value, volume, quality and speed of water and the mechanisms of its shipping. Water contaminated by toxins institutes new forms of transnational and transcorporate exploitation leading to nothing but a deepening of the problem.

Water circulates in a global but closed system and yet plays a pivotal role locally with its mechanical, biological, physiological, chemical, aesthetic and cultural properties. Can then not a hydrological awareness lead to the cultivation of an ecological mind, creating a space where the molecular and molar cross to invent new conditions of co-existence? Living matter cannot exist without water, making it one of the main commonalities. We are thus convinced that water cannot be property, must remain common, or become common again. Water brings together the issues of ecological and financial crisis and is ultimately a question of survival.

This is why the artist asks herself and the viewer to consider whether the current abundance of clean public water in Zurich can be taken for granted. Can tasty water in its difference inspire a process of thinking and of becoming a metabolistic body of differences across the world, be it through the bodies and colonies of microorganisms which combine with the mineral content to give each water its distinctive taste? If the ecology of the mind is always molecular and local, the planetary water weaves it into molar issues with its closed system of constant circulation and its embodiment of interrelated machinic fluids, as a thousand water machines perpetually multiply in a constant vital mechanic process of becoming in the creative milieus of water’s myriad of ecobodily forms, of corporal fluidities with their physical and chemical specificities.

© 2018 KN STUDIO.