Convened by: Denise Ryner, Joni Low
Participants: Stacey Ho
Cathedral Square Park
Dunsmuir at Richards Street
12:00 – 4:00 PM
with sound by Elisa Ferrari
Everything has its “that,” everything has its “this.”
From the point of view of “that” you cannot see it, but through understanding you can know it.
So I say, “that” comes out of “this and “this” depends on “that” –
which is to say that “this” and “that” give birth to each other.”
– Chuang Tzu, Discussion of Making All Things Equal
Our orientation within the world and in relation to other entities is subjective, multiple and fluid. Bodies and things extend into space; concurrently space burrows itself into the body. Space is reduced to information, and from this emerges the divisions produced by thinking minds. To interrogate these divisions is to strip away the layers of the city – before digital and media enhancements; before buildings, communication and traffic; before language, sounds and signs. Urban space is increasingly congested and contested; it permits and denies according to belonging. We sense the invisible articulations of boundaries and thresholds drawn, dividing “this” and “that.”
Yet there are many potential ways to subvert a stratified system. For Outer Plexus, Stacey Ho juxtaposes dissonant sounds, situations and performances, creating an interplay that alludes to the pervasive entanglements in which beings, entities and communities are embedded. Beneath the sound of church bells nearby, the low and restless hum of electromagnetic frequencies emanate from Cathedral Square Park, gesturing to an underground substation which powers the entire downtown core. A complementary surrogate structure feeds into Boothy, evoking both a greenhouse and the provisional shelters prevalent across cities, particularly Vancouver. Paired, the structures become portals that present relationships of empathy and sustenance, surveillance and invisibility, voyeurism and consumption. These relationships provoke reflection on what we perceive as foreign or less-than-human; they consider what we care for and relate to, why and how.
Outer Plexus reflects the Chinese idiom 四通八達 (sìtōngbādá), which suggests, for better or worse, the interconnectedness of all things everywhere. Its numerical form denotes multiplicity: a nervous system extending beyond the body. The language of numbers, a foundation of Stacey’s practice, has fascinated mathematicians across cultures since the dawn of civilization. As she describes, genealogies of math and science are “historically rooted in efforts to discover the supernatural, spiritual properties of the world around us… a gateway to the realm of abstraction that hints at the underlying, immutable, yet capricious nature of the universe.” Today, space is littered with numbers and codes that travel through the air as invisible signals. If mobile computer and telecommunications technologies intensify the interconnectedness of things, does this also proliferate the potential for magical happenings? How can these signals be conduits for change?
Sarah Ahmed, Queer Phenemenology: Objects, Orientations, Others (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2006).
Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings, translated by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964/1996).
Keller Easterling, “An Internet of Things,” in The Internet Does Not Exist, edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood and Anton Vidokle (New York: Sternberg Press, 2015).
Patricia MacCormack, “Cosmogenic Acceleration: Futurity and Ethics,” in The Internet Does Not Exist, edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood and Anton Vidokle (Sternberg Press, 2015).
What Are our Supports, a series of artists’ projects in public space by Emily Neufeld with Cease Wyss, Stacey Ho with Elisa Ferrari, DRIL Art Collective, and Khan Lee and Andrew Lee, is made possible through the generous support of the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Program. For Outer Plexus, we thank Alexander Muir for technical assistance.
The Or Gallery and Richmond Art Gallery acknowledge their presence on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories. We are grateful for the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver, the British Columbia Arts Council, our members, donors, and volunteers. The Or Gallery is a member of the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres (PAARC).
Image credit: Stacey Ho, Outer Plexus (study), 2018.