[NetBehaviour] Artist Injects Herself With Horse Blood, Wears Hooves

Curt Cloninger curt at lab404.com
Thu Aug 11 18:08:59 CEST 2011

Hi Annie (and all),

I will inject (arf) on this one. Deleuze/Guattari's "becoming animal" 
seems relevant. D&G are often accused of being unpragmatic and 
playing hard and fast with science, but of all the philosophers I 
read, I find them curiously pragmatic. To summarize: they suggest the 
existence of various planes/strata, some of which would be animal 
biology, human psychology, art, and symbolic language/iconography. At 
any time these planes can intersect. Such intersections are forms of 
deterritorialization and reterritorialization. The relevant question 
is -- what new emergent futures may result from these intersections, 
and where may they lead that is efficacious? The goal of all this 
de/re-territorialization is not that science (in this case, biology) 
should be utterly disregarded and merely mythologized. The goal is 
that science be seen as only one of many ways in which 
undifferentiated being/immanence has stratified/territorialized, 
rather than seeing science as *the* overarching plane through which 
all other being must necessarily be understood.

Having said all that, the key to performoing Deleuzean experiments in 
de/re-territorializations is *rigor.* Many deterritorializations 
(forms of body modification, s+m) simply wind up reterritorializing 
in a whirlpool spiral that ends in death. So for instance (as in 
Cronenberg's "Dead Ringers"), you can only literally reconfigure your 
internal bodily organs for so long before your body rebels and you 
die. And death is not all that promising a place to wind up (at least 
for those of us who remain; it doesn' really lead anywhere new or 

The other thing to be avoided is what seems to be happening in this 
particular art piece -- a bit of biological engagement coupled with a 
whole lot of human psychological [mis]interpretation (as Annie points 
out) and a whole lot of artistic symbology. What *actually* changes 
in the immanent/affective world? -- not a lot. Yes, the piece has 
pragmatically provoked us to have this theoretical conversation 
(happening on the plane of langauge), but a Rothko painting can 
(still) trigger a theoretical conversation, so that is nothing 
particularly new.

This is why I like Stelarc's biological experiments (particularly as 
interpreted by Brian Massumi) better than Eduardo Kac's biological 
experiments. Because Stelarc's practice moves beyond mere symbology 
and on toward something more rigorous, something that actually 
modulates bodily affect (if only in a limited, prototypical way). For 
the same reason, the Porridge/Breyer pandrogyne expermients exert 
more agency (at least on a biological strata) than Orlan's surgery 
experiments (which are still admirable, but more on a symbolic 

So even something like this: 
http://www.euroartmagazine.com/artUps/1177409414.jpg (Rebecca Horn's 
"Finger Gloves"), which just involves wood and not horse blood, 
actually alters a human body much more affectively/pragmatically than 
does an infusion of horse blood. Horn's entire physical posture  and 
her way of being in the world is changed. So the stilts with horse 
hooves are doing way more than the blood. The horse blood is like 
vampire or cannibal mythology  -- working on the plane of symbolism , 
ritual, theater, spectacle. Of course, symbolism and ritual are 
strata in the world that do actually change the world. No doubt. But 
again, as Annie observes, the piece is doing something other than 
what its artist is claiming -- the blood infusion is more like 
Beuysean shamanism and less like Deleuzean becoming animal.

(Makes a good viral youTube video, though.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdxRPavquIQ  [4:14-6:40]


>Message: 15
>Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2011 21:08:45 +0200
>From: Annie Abrahams <bram.org at gmail.com>
>Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Artist Injects Herself With Horse Blood,
>	Wears Hooves
>"May the horse live in me"
>Interesting experiment, interesting storytelling, but far beyond reality
>"She explained to Centre
>the whole process made her feel ?hyper-powerful, hyper-sensitive and
>hyper-nervous.? She added: ?I had a feeling of being superhuman. I was not
>normal in my body. I had all of the emotions of a herbivore. I couldn?t
>sleep and I felt a little bit like a horse.?"
>Interpretation, wishful thinking - bullshit.
>Anyone who had medical tests done in an hospital to check out the heart and
>who has been injected with chemicals knows it needs little (these chemicals)
>to make you feel a completely different person. (anxious, calm, nervous etc)
>Chemicals have a deep impact on our being (all drug users know this too),
>feelings, experiences of ourselves, so it's no wonder horse proteins make
>you feel changed, anything would.
>I like the experiment, the discussion it triggers, but I abhor the biased
>language used by these artists. In my opinion it doesn't take science
>serious, only uses it for something else.

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