in vitro [ _ ] |{ _____ } 
Sonic performance, Moving image
Jan 2020

Performed at Konstepidemin on 4 January 2020 as part 
of 13festivalen 2020 in Gothenburg, Sweden

Live sound performance by the artist in collaboration with the jellyfish
Background moving image soundtrack by Lennart Wolter
Photo documentation by Peter Rosvik

Hydrophones, acrylic glass, gelatine, agar, refractometer, reverse osmosis saltwater, accelerometers, 
transducers, hydrometers, analog and digital synthesisers, audio mixer, amplifier, speakers, latex infusion tubes, fabric, silicone, 
aquarium equipment, monitor​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
in vitro [ _ ] |{ _____ } is a research project that in its development takes form in a sonic performance with fictioning elements, exploring the beauty and tension of interspecies networks and negotiation of the performative human/nonhuman body, survival through transgression and forms of queering the structures in place, considering the notion of the 'umwelt' and the milieu as an assemblage instead of a closed system. 
In a dark subterranean space in the year VMMCXCVII on a distorted future timeline as a result of excessive time leaps, a character (embodied by the artist performer) was stuck with a strange and hollow world propagated by ruins and no one to turn to. While plagued by existential ennui and frantically scavenging for anything recognisable or alive, they discovered and retrieved a jellyfish from the sewers in the dilapidated sprawl of the city. After bringing it back to their hideout in the underground chambers of the flooding system, they gradually found solace in the enactment of a thought experiment consisting of ritualistically, obsessive-compulsively changing the water for the jellyfish by moving it among water of slightly varying salinities in a row of seven small acrylic glass tanks foraged separately from the debris. The worldbuilding integrates performance, live sonic fragments, fictional narratives, and found footage of documentaries on aquaculture and ancient coelenterates. The sonic performance is catalysed by the presence of jellyfish and the act of changing salinities of the water, alternating between recordings from found footage and the real-time generated sound from hydrophones, accelerometers, and transducers wired to hydrometers attached to the water tanks, coalescing in an open-ended sonic assemblage. During certain intervals succumbing to entanglement and destruction, organic derivatives slowly take its place, evoking different stages and problematics of biomaterial transmutation beyond the boundaries of life and death.
An inquiry into acclimatisation, precarity, anthropocentric ethics, dominion, and the loss of agency through the visceral and abject human/nonhuman body and the subtleties of violence within. As the visual presentation of the row of cuboid water tanks recalls the structural compartmentalisation of the train and of the society, the gesture of moving the jellyfish that is ongoing and repeated in aquariums, domestic spaces, the institutional spaces of museums, etc. features a certain form of transgression against the compartmentalisation, and yet the act of making this transgression is with precarity and life at stake.
During the process, the character muses on how changing the jellyfish's water condition is what connects us and them through something as inexplicit as survival on the basis of mutability, acclimatisation, and the ability to be resilient and thrive facing a society that compartmentalises. The somatic negotiation of the human/nonhuman body in the performance alludes to a multispecies holobiont model and a guerrilla support structure that queers norms and structures in place in the face of collective survival against systemic violence and adversities. The Ediacaran fauna, or ancestors of jellyfish, have survived and evolved from being the top predators in the marine environment way back in the Proterozoic era. They are there before us, and in this era of collective existential dread due to our own actions, who is the survivor here? It’s still them. The simplest anatomic structure and the ability to be seemingly amorphous may very well be the biohacking people go to corner stores and prosthetists for, to be at the top of the food chain. 
© Vyvyan y. L. | 2022