Hydrofeminist METitations is a listening series brought to you by Ensayos. This episode was created with students from the Nomad MFA program at the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School. The course was taught by Christy Gast and Camila Marambio with technical units taught by sound artist Ariel Bustamante and radio journalist Catalina Jaramillo.
Episode 4: Phase Transitions
Coastal Curriculum is one of Ensayos’ ongoing projects. It’s dedicated to conserving and caring for the sea and the coastline. Ensayos uses pedagogy to give form to these issues–through teaching, storytelling, artmaking and songs.
Episode four was created with fine art graduate students from the Nomad MFA, an interdisciplinary MFA dedicated to regenerative culture, hosted by the University of Hartford. Ensayistas Camila Marambio and Christy Gast asked the students to think “with” water as they developed these segments.
This episode was produced during a course in the Nomad Interdisciplinary MFA. Students in this program live all over the world, and these stories come from those locations.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, students could not meet in person or access professional recording studios. They recorded with their phones and digital recorders. We consider these to be artifacts of the learning process, and also of the imperfect time in which we are living and working.
Act One: The Buried Myth of The Park River
Hartford, Connecticut is a city that lies on the highway between New York and Boston. Hidden beneath the urban bustle, lies the Park River. NOMAD’s Julie Chen curiosity about the motives to channelize and bury Park River lead her to capture these words of local historian Kerri Provost. Join us on a hike with Kerri along what’s left exposed of Hartford’s Park River, to the tunnel that takes it underground.
Hartford, Connecticut is a city that lies on the highway between New York and Boston. Hidden beneath the urban bustle, lies the Park River. Artist Julie Chen was curious about the motives that led the city to channelize and bury the river under concrete, so she asked local historian Kerri Provost to meet her for a hike along the riverbank. They walked and talked along the exposed section of the Park River, and into the tunnel that takes it underground. Kerri tells us how it happened.
ACT Two: Sweet Waters
How do we care for our waters and where do we obtain guidance for that caring?
Arnethia Douglass shares the Yoruba cultural teachings, a religious practice that originated with the ancient people of West Africa. Arnethia tells of the forced diaspora of West African peoples. As a surviving descendent, she shares her history and spiritual connection to the faith of her ancestors.
Arnethia tells the Yoruba Creation story. She speaks of Oschun and Yemoja, two of many spiritual teachers, known as Orishas. Yemoja and Oschun, Yemoja the mother of seven oceans, around the world, and Oschun the goddess of rivers, lakes and fertility.
Kathryn Cooke’s listening and editing is elemental to the storytelling in this piece. Arnetha’s story offers a pathway of awareness to the lands and waters which sustain the world.
Act Three: Spaceship Earth–A single droplet of water
Visionary architect Buckminster Fuller wrote: “Spaceship Earth was so extraordinarily well invented and designed that to our knowledge humans have been on board it for two million years not even knowing that they were on board a ship.”
Spaceship Earth is like one droplet of water hurtling through infinite space. Artists Katie Grove and Aiyesha Ghani reflect on states of being… and what water and humans might become in the distant future.
What phase of transition is this ship hurtling towards? Liquid, gas, solid, or the quantum state of water? Pressure, temperature, environment, experiments on the quantum level. All of these elements and more are initiators into states of infinite possibility. And if we are to think to the far, far future we may see a time when we have become something we can not yet fathom.
Act Four: A Deep Dive
In these uncertain times we may feel like fish out of water, gasping for air. But we can find our way back to sea. Artists Roberta Trentin and Monica Kapoor choose to breathe through the un-predict-ability. The rhythm of breath mirrors the waves of the ocean.
Free divers rely on breath control, and trust, to navigate external pressure. This somatic exercise takes a cue from them, and invites us on a deep dive.
Trust your guide’s voice as she leads you on an inner aquatic journey.
Act Five: Probability Waves–A song by Mauricio Vargas
Dissonant particles bounce between dimensions in the expanse of space. Time dilates to a halt. A fateful spark releases an oxygen atom from its kin…simultaneously bonding it with two hydrogens.
The abandoned oxygen oscillates in search of balance, turning a molecule into a droplet… a droplet into a puddle… and a puddle… into a flowing stream. Chaos dissipates… and frequencies align.
A song ..forms.
A dance… ensues.
About Hydrofeminist METitations
Gender studies scholar Astrida Neimanis coined the term “hydrofeminism” to bring together feminist, queer, and ecological sensibilities.* In her words, hydrofeminism begins “one’s ethics and politics from the realization that we are mostly made of water…refusing a separation between nature and culture, between an environment ‘out there’ and a human subject ‘in here.’”
When Ensayos collaborated with Neimanis in 2017, Camila Marambio formulated “METitation” to emphasize Ensayos’ material-somatic research that considers molecular and global relationships in the physical world.** MET is an acronym for Mechanical Electrical Transduction, a sensory mechanism through which cells convert mechanical stimuli into electro-chemical activity. MET accounts for senses of hearing, balance, and touch; hair cells in the inner ear convert the stimuli of drum vibrations, water dropping in the sink, a crashing wave, and voice into electro-chemical signals received by the brain. This transformation is the sense of hearing.
*Astrida Neimanis, “Hydrofeminism: or on Becoming a Body of Water,” in Undutiful Daughters: New Directions in Feminist Thought and Practice, ed. Henriette Dr. Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni, and Fanny Dr. Soderback (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
**“Hydrofeminist METitaions” was first used by Ensayos to describe a live sounding experiment performed by Neimanis, Marambio, Sarita Gálvez, and Karolin Tampere and presented as part of the Liquid Architecture program, “Negative Volumes: Body Languages” held at West Space, Naarm/Melbourne, on October 14th, 2017.
Hydrofeminist METitations episode four, Phase Transitions, was produced by Ensayos and Masters of Fine Arts students in the Nomad MFA at the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School. This episode was created by Julie Chen, Kathryn Cooke, Arnethia Douglass, Aiyesha Ghani, Katie Grove, Monica Kapoor, Roberta Trentin, Mauricio Vargas and Catalina Jaramillo. It was produced by Christy Gast and Camila Marambio. Special thanks to Kerri Provost, Linda Martini, Luigi Murphy and Shawn DeRyder, Dexter Drayton, Joyce Ramsey, Logan Thackray, Teri Hayes, InspectorJ, Arc Voyager 25, MusOpen, Bloom’s creek, Spring Creek, Park River, the Sea of Sardinia, and the Pacific Ocean.
This episode was mixed and mastered by Ariel Bustamante and Pablo Thiermann. Original music is by Mauricio Vargas and Vera Dvale.
“We are all bodies of water” are the wise words of Astrida Neimanis.
Creative Commons attributions:
“Ambience, Seaside Waves, Close, A.wav”, “Splash, Jumping, A.wav” by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.org
This episode is brought to you with support from the Nomad MFA: