[NetBehaviour] banff

Ruth Catlow ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org
Thu Apr 24 12:15:49 CEST 2008

Dear Annie,

Apologies for the delayed response to your thoughts and observations  
about Fundamentalism v Evolution - another dilemma of coexistence  

While we were in Banff we set ourselves a number of things to  
investigate: approaches to artistic collaboration, artware for live  
networked performance, free and open tools for digital media production.

We had worked out from a few prior experiments that the most  
productive artistic collaborations arose from themes that tapped into  
genuine, ongoing controversies (or bickering) that arose between us  
and that also had a universal resonance. We also knew that we wanted  
to create our first work within VisitorsStudio as a platform that we  
are already familiar with.

In our search for a juicy controversy for our collaborative  
performance in VisitorsStudio we looked through a range of (often  
newly published) media archives. We discovered a 1925 silent news  
reel that portrayed the news of the day about the Scopes Monkey Trial  
by staging a head on collision between two trains upon which painted  
in large letters were the words Fundamentalism and Evolution.

We also had an idea that we wanted to create works whose form/medium  
was somehow itself expository of the difficult subject under discussion.
The key role of looped (and therefore repeating) media files within  
VisitorsStudio mixes provided (in my mind at least) a formal and  
aesthetic reinforcement of the recurring clash between fundamentalist  
Christians and advocates of an evolutionary theory of existence.

To get closer to the subject and to develop positions on the many  
arguments, we gathered and manipulated files from all over the web  
and from the VS archive. Then we both spent time creating mixes in  
the solo studio using montages of looped  sound and image. Returning  
to the Live studio together we reconstructed these mixes in sequence  
which revealed a series of tangles in the dilemmas; unexpected  
alliances and shared world-views in strange places.

We realised that  often the main figurehead protagonists of our  
conflict- fundamentalist beilevers in the literal truth of the book  
of Genisis and the Atheistic champions of the evolutionary principle  
of existence- often shared similar approaches to their beliefs/ 
knowledge and its dissemination and deployment (in the form of  
digestible stories and descriptions) through institutions constructed  
and maintained by mainly male hierarchies.

However there appeared to be at least one core difference in  
approach. Fundamentalism takes the written and unchanging Word of God  
as an eternal authority (choosing to ignore the ramifications of  
endless translation and mutations and the natural wear and tear of  
politics on the Word) whereas the theory of evolution proposes  
endless, fundamental change through repetition and small mutations in  
response to changing conditions over an epic time-scale- evolution is  
the constant unchanging principle of change; )

And no I can't conceive of a personal interventionist God and I don't  
think Marc does either, but instead that we evolve together and that  
this can and does bring about individual personal transformations.  
Transformation appears to be another common preoccupation of both  
Fundamentalism and Evolutionary theory- then the argument is about  
whether the value of this transformation lies in the times of our  
lives or in a proposed afterlife!

Thanks again Annie

: )


On 20 Apr 2008, at 12:25, aabrahams wrote:

Dear Ruth and Marc,

I just watched
Fundamentalism v Evolution
another dilemma of coexistence

the archives of your performance at Banff

I am impressed, It's beautiful, and it brings on reflexion!

While watching I sometimes thought the whole thing was  promoting  a  
believe in God. If it wasn't for the undertitle and the context I  
would, could believe you being fundamentalists.
So strange!
"genes are forever" ?
I was wondering how people reacted after your performance. Could you  
please tell us more about it, and maybe also about your stay in Banff?

The piece has a good pace, beautiful sound, it's not imposing, but  
letting you time to adjust, to find your way, and all the time it  
isn't where I thought it would be, it doesn't bring me where I  
thought it might bring me. That's probably it's force..
I wish someone would write about it.

Yours Annie
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