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The performance Kosmotechnics (2019) embraces the form of active poetry, a code-based séance where a wormhole is opened to summon transcendental power. In the dark magic space of the terminal shell, time collapses and the text is reanimated.

Transcending the realm of the anecdotal, by automating the analysis of list structures, words are choreographed and transfigured into elemental constituents. In the obscurity of the computer shell, this den of veracity, a divination of texts is initiated, parsing through interviews with and texts written about Eva Rothschild’s exhibition Kosmos; recoding, reinvigorating, reconfiguring, transfiguring and computing textual treasures. I’m interested in the ways one can instil notions of soothsaying and sorcery into computational media - typically considered a domain of pure logic and formal reason. The action of transparently executing code is a way of letting the ‘uninitiated’ into the magical processes of mysticism and computing. Although the shapeshifting of text unfolds and enacts a demystification of technology, still ‘mystification’ lies in and through the performance of the machinic assemblage. In conversation with Max Delany,1 1. Max Delany, 2018, ‘Kosmos Eva Rothschild in conversation with Max Delany’, Eva Rothschild: Kosmos . Exhibition catalogue, ACCA, Melbourne. p.64. Eva Rothschild speaks prudently of the formalist aspiration, ‘My ideal is for the work to float free of narrative or reference, but I know that this is impossible and there are isolated instances where direct references sneak in…I think though that we are sometimes mistaken in our reading of what we think of as formal or minimal art as free from a spiritual or ritualistic “taint.” To me these ways of making are deeply associated with esoteric consciousness.’ I am interested in when abstraction is taken to the limit and comes back as new concreteness, 2 2. Ihabib Hassan, 1987, The Postmodern Turn . Ohio: Ohio State University Press. p. 41 it seems akin to an alchemic process.

Kosmotechnics (2019) is a performance where instead of being ‘spoken’, the execution of the text speaks itself. Through active poetry, other texts unfold inside a new text in order to make it breathe and pulsate. That is, the act of executing code in the command line, in order to parse through a text and make one anew, is revealing of how polyvalent such practices can be, and how they lend themselves. Some of us may be reminded of Friedrich Kittler who claimed ‘We simply do not know what our writing does’.3 3. Frederich Kittler, 1995, ‘There is No Software’, in A Kroker & M Kroker (eds.), Ctheory Articles: a032, viewed 19 Jan 2019, link Language is spun out of the taciturnity of our mutable experience. Utterances recorded in writing acquire a permanence separated from our embodied matrix, a perpetual and illusory aim for stability, underpinning our vaulting visions of affluence where the horizon is forever receding from view.

The benefit of knowing how to translate and read scripted algorithmic procedures, may become a necessity but perhaps not for what we assume. Just as a human performing behind the text often rests in a hesitation of the textual output, the timing in the performance of active poetry becomes a critical factor. The gaps and pauses of the artist can be where human sentiment and meaning reside, and where they are both established and uncovered. Enacting and reframing the computer terminal in a theatrical manner is also a way of subtly destabilising such practices and legacies away from what is a typically male dominated space, one of utilitarian formal control codes, into a virtual cosmos of exuberance and possibility where vertigo, ivresse euphoria instead may exist as potent and valid methodology.

Kosmotechnics (2019) is a proposition for our machine learning age, as to how computers as theatre machines might be read through longing and situation, elation, chatter, retribution and serendipity. Every mishap is there for the viewer. Every gesture is laid bare. This is where physicality and the imagination come down to a line, the command line.


Aidan Dunne, ‘Eva Rothschild: What are you looking at?’, The Irish Times, 24 May 2014.
Kristin M. Jones, 2007, ‘Review: Eva Rothschild’, Frieze, 2 October; viewed 19 Jan 2019, link.
Declan Long, ‘Things Being Various’ (reference unknown—author given the text at expanded writing workshop).
Declan Long and Eva Rothschild, ‘Eva Rothschild: Influences’, Frieze, 10 August 2017; viewed 19 Jan 2019, link.
Tom McGlynn, 2017, ‘In Conversation: Eva Rothschild with Tom McGlynn,’ The Brooklyn Rail, 7 September 2017; viewed 19 Jan 2019, link.

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Writing in the Expanded Field
ACCA & non/fictionLab RMIT