SOOT Stereo Ritual (negative pattern)

Recently I have begun working with soot taken from a tire factory, where it is used as a pigment and component for tires. I visited the tire Factory Barum/Continental in Zlin/Otrokovice which was created as a subsidiary of Bata shoes in the 1930’s. In 1992 the factory bought the German tire company Continental and is now one of the biggest producers of tires in the world. Soot represents a symbol of the industrial era and automobilism and is also one of the first man made pigments. During this time which can perhaps be thought of as a slow apocalypse, I have begun to think about healing objects and what they might look like. For this reason I developed the SOOT Stereo Ritual as a kind of one person stereo light strobo-therapy.

While working on this piece I was also reading a book about medical experiments with LSD in the 1970’s as a treatment for mental illness(LSD: Research and Clinical Trials Behind the Iron Curtain/ in Czech: LSD: Výzkum a klinická praxe za železnou oponou by Milan Hausner and Erna Segal). Although these experiments were very successful, they were later forbidden due to the stigma that LSD had taken on after problems in the USA. The book was written in a medical scientific language, but also included stories about interesting cases and their healing process, including how they broke some of the negative patterns that had been inhibiting them from healing.

An analogy to this, in our physical landscape, might include all the toxins we have created from the industrial revolution to the present. Such toxins unquestionably affect our physical and psychological health.

My inspiration for the SOOT Stereo Ritual was to create a cyber-punk utopian object that would work as an aid in meditating on both the past and the future. By repurposing a toxic material into something that can create awareness, the piece also shows how we can break negative patterns that relate to humanity’s impact on its environment.

In the 1970’s, patients with mental illness taking LSD were healed after they opened up to the therapist and were able to talk about their trauma, usually stemming from a childhood episode hidden deep in their mind. While creating the SOOT Stereo Ritual I thought about the light patterns that become imprinted in the eye as a reaction to stroboscopic light. In turn the techno kick was a reference to shamanic trance rituals. I randomised the kick in order to make the rhythm more human while the modular system was a simple random patch which triggered the stroboscopic light. The painting on the plexiglass was done with soot black paint using a slow painting process I’ve based my work on for years: tracing circular patterns and creating interferences and patterns through repetition. Although my work has usually made use of a vinyl record to create these circular patterns, here I used circular components from the tire factory. This gestures away from memory (the vinyl as the first physical carrier of sound) and its relation to our understanding of ourselves and the world and toward a reflection on industry, particularly the transport industry which has sped up our world, perhaps ultimately bringing it to its knees.