SMOKEPENNY LYRICHORD HEAVENBRED, a collaboration with Jennifer Scappettone and Abraham Avnisan, is a mixed reality performance that excavates sites, histories, and languages of mining in a poetics of telegraphy and extraction that is haunted by a multilingual LAMENT of forgotten laborers. The work explores the circular relationship between communications infrastructures and the control and depletion of natural and human resources. While expansive in scope, it draws specifically upon archival research into the events surrounding the 1913 strike at the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company in Michigan.
was supported by a Mellon Foundation Collaborative Fellowship for Arts Pratice and Scholarship as part of the larger experimental context, The Data That We Breathe
. It was presented in November 2016 at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry in an event culminating the experiment's year-long incubation.
Immersed in lush immersive scans of a defunct underground copper mine in the upper peninsula of Michigan, two performers, I (input) and O (output), operate a rigged augmented reality system to unearth, hoist, encrypt and decrypt language from original and archival sources while composing through a database of 30,000 SHUDDERING telegraph codes.
SMOKEPENNY combines performance, poetry, translation, and live performance with custom-developed software for AR and VR coded in objective-c. Based on our site research visiting mines in Michigan's copper country, we invited artist Elena Ailes to create a rope and pulley apparatus for navigating and performing the work's augmented reality component.
Another iteration of this work, LAMENT: The mine has been opened up well was performed for the Ordinary Media Symposium at Northwestern University (May, 2017) and the Electronic Literature Organization festival in Porto, Portugal (July 2017). And recenetly, a third, SAVAGENESS, or There are veins embraced in the property was presented at 6018North as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Telegraph codes in the above text were extracted from The New General & Mining Telegraph Code (1891):
LAMENT: The mine has been opened up well
SMOKEPENNY: During last year
LYRICHORD: By constant penetration
HEAVENBRED: Encroaching on the reserve
SHUDDERING: Copper wire