Blind Spots on a Spectrum
Dane Mitchell’s practice of establishing scenarios in which nothingness becomes part of experience, and which provoke us to question what exactly is at stake and how we should respond, is intensified with Post hoc (2019). In Mitchell’s work, installations and objects posit invisible, sensual, cognitive and sometimes spiritual presences that exist between thingness and nothingness. Empirical systems of thought, conventional expectations and certitude are challenged by a strategic privileging of subjectivity and doubt. The sense of ambivalence between rationality and imagination within scenarios of materiality and immateriality in Post hoc are, then, consistent with Mitchell’s practice to date. In addition to this, the communications technology central to Post hoc magnifies contrasts between commerce and the worlds of the mind and the spirit. While techniques of Western knowledge are employed in the work’s archival compilation and abstract delivery, the artist’s purpose and position are not completely stated.
Post hoc is a subjective amplification of things — natural and human-made — that are no longer. The project’s engine is an anechoic chamber, a triangular galvanised steel compartment, a room within a room in Venice’s Istituto de Scienze Marine, at the Palazzina Canonica. The industrial nature of the chamber and Post hoc’s other components continue Mitchell’s interest in minimal and serial forms, but the project takes a new direction in its concentration on speech and auditory perception. The window offering a view into the tapered chamber reveals a microphone and speaker surrounded by the acuminate pyramids of studio acoustic foam — an insulation material that absorbs reflected sound.
Anechoic chambers create the illusion of an infinite space by absorbing reflected sound waves, so that transmissions within them travel over an illusory horizon. The microphone and speaker arrangement is the mechanism delivering the electronic simulation of a human voice that annunciates lists of things which are now erased, gone, vanished or obsolete. These sounds are fully muted by the chamber and the electronically spoken lists are audible only through another mass-produced technology: stealth cell towers, the commercially manufactured digital transmission towers camouflaged as pine trees, in whose proximity the broadcast lists can be heard.
Venice is the primary site of Italy’s Marine Science Institute and the Palazzina Canonica was its historic base before a recent move. The Institute is the perfect collaborator for Post hoc as a place of research into extinct and unseen marine life, among other scientific endeavours. A number of the projects’ tree towers are visible there. Purchased directly from a factory, these barely concealed objects are designed for the purpose of transmission — not as truthful replicas of trees — and are symbolic of an attitude in which nature is seen merely as a resource, as a supply to plunder in the production of communications commodities.
Several of the other receiver-broadcaster trees are stationed throughout Venice at sites where certainty and uncertainty meet, where names are assigned, research hypotheses and empirically derived knowledge generated or disproven, and where expressions of belief and ritual incantations take place. In Post hoc this communication infrastructure, these fake trees, also support a work which is a field of nothingness; a field, in Mitchell’s words, of ‘transmission, an invisible, horizontal sculptural field of activity’.01 The use of the air as sculptural energy in Post hoc recalls Rosalind Krauss’s notion of expanded sculpture in both form and content: a dissembling into a ‘negative condition — a kind of sitelessness, or homelessness, an absolute loss of place’.02
A multiplicity of absences without beginning or end calling up extinctions, eliminations, removals, invisibilities, colonisation, casualties, demises, losses, expirations, endings, terminations, cessations, dénouements, consummations, fatality, climaxes, annihilations, dissolutions, finales, closures with no closure are stealthily transmitted from the Palazzina Canonica. In Post hoc these physical and mental realities, principles, concepts, representations and actions exist momentarily — as digital radio signals that are never repeated. Privileging the act of hearing over seeing, Post hoc can really only be experienced in fragments; to hear the complete lists of millions of disappeared and invisible things collated by the artist and researchers would require listening eight hours a day for seven months. The insistent voicing or incantation preserves each thing for a moment in the otherwise impermanence of time. Post hoc, which posits a perspective on the real that is based in nothingness or the bridging of material and immaterial, is a distinctive elaboration on Mitchell’s past practice.
This Ocean of Materials
Intersections between the material and immaterial have taken different forms in Mitchell’s practice, including: apprehension of the relations between living and non-living things; privileging other senses over sight (especially smell); the embrace of alternative or non-rational systems of knowledge; and stimulating transformations between physical and non-physical states. Importantly, in Mitchell’s work an outcome of distinguishing matter from non-matter is the almost paradoxical exposure of permeability between the two. A clear example of this porousness is the set of six oversized glass test tubes filled with different
samples of earth entitled Ancestral Dirt (2011). Pointing to soil as a substance that can hold the rights of geographically located selfhood or property inheritance, the work strongly resonates in Mitchell’s home country of Aotearoa New Zealand where the Māori concept of whakapapa or genealogy encompasses history and heritage as well as lines of descent bound to place. The nearly two-metre long vials of Ancestral Dirt potentially contain and symbolise both the material of individual ancestry and a conceptual community kinship and status.03 In a work from the same exhibition, Diabolical Object (2011), a large fragment of obsidian rock acts as a black glass or mirror. Obsidian is an igneous rock with a glassy lustre bought about by its volcanic origin. Fashioned into early tools, the rock is also thought to represent darkness in divination, to contain healing powers, and was used in 18th-century black magic. Mitchell used obsidian in the pursuit of creating spaces and atmospheres alive with invisible energies.
The artist’s continuing fascination with the molecular world in regard to connectivity between the material and immaterial is foregrounded in numerous projects. Works in Minor Optics (2009) revealed matter on the borderline of our visual perception, collected on large sets of upright steel sheets clamped together. Black monolithic sheets balanced on their clamps carried an electrostatic current that attracted dust and other particles, which then attached to the sheets.04 Similarly collecting together material at the edge of perception, an early and continuing project, Dust Archive (2003–ongoing), comprises C-type prints of petri dishes growing bacteria sourced from dust collected from nearly 160 art galleries and museums. The design of the Dust Archive project replicates an empirical attitude toward an otherwise largely unconsidered micro-world (with a similar approach undertaken in Post hoc). Ubiquitous and pervasive, dust’s capacity to absorb other substances has even more encyclopaedic possibilities than the institutions designed to keep it at bay.
Mitchell discusses how dust contains multiple materials that are sourced by movements in the atmosphere, from human and animal hair and skin, textile and paper fibres, minerals, pesticides and sprays, to molds and bacteria, including being riddled with ‘allergy-inducing dust-mite parts, with the mites themselves, and with the pseudoscorpions that stalk and kill them’.05 The mutability of living and non-living materials, in this case at a microbiological level, leads us to the connection between Mitchell’s practice and current thinking on the relational existence of material and immaterial things.
The West’s long history of thought about the nature of reality has focused on the physical existence of the universe and, in metaphysics, philosophical questions about the nature of its existence. The metaphysical status of understanding is constantly challenged by questions about the reality of physical objects, whether reality is fundamentally immaterial, whether hypothetically possible but unobservable entities exist, and questions about the existence of a supreme being and other possible worlds. The base question of whether objective reality exists alongside ideas of time and space remains disputed in Western metaphysics and theories derived from the physical sciences. Phenomenological or personal interpretation, spiritual philosophies and ideas of the social and cultural construction of concepts and world views are also part of the dialogue around attempts to define reality on a spectrum reaching from the concrete to an illusory, impermanent world. Finally, technology and computer science continue to influence
ideas of reality by being able to create a continuum from the everyday to a completely virtual or artificial reality, an augmented or ‘mixed’ reality.06 Among contemporary philosophical approaches to radical materiality is that of speculative realism, which follows other metaphysical views that reality exists outside human perception and experience. Speculative realism and similar ideas, such as object-oriented ontology, postulate that reality is outside rational understanding. Such concepts place objects and humans on the same spectrum — all being things at the centre of the real. These ideas postulate an equivalence of existence that opens questions about the nature of relations between things by proposing that all objects, including humans, have traits enabling them to interact with each other. The sceptical hypotheses played out in Mitchell’s practice on the nature of matter and non-matter and their changing states — the visible and invisible, and rational and non-rational — show a similar reluctance to accept established thought and a desire to activate a further questioning of the status quo.
As evident in works mentioned, air features in Mitchell’s microbiological interventions and, as anthropologist Tim Ingold points out, the real is a complex hive of activity that includes the air between things as well as things themselves. Ingold asks how we can recognise all the many inseparable macro and micro things that comprise the properties of any environment as processual rather than as fixed elements. He advocates that we should be ‘restoring them to the generative fluxes of the world of materials in which they came into being and continue to subsist — things are in life rather than life is in things’.07 Ingold includes humans in this indivisibility: ‘As they swim in this ocean of materials, human beings do of course play a part in their transformations. So, too, do creatures of every other kind.’08 Audiences
themselves may experience sensory and other transformations with Mitchell’s molecular sculptures, many of which comprise perfumes or scents sometimes designed by Mitchell with collaborator, French perfumer Michel Roudnitska. These airborne works challenge visual cognitive objectivity by introducing an ambiguity between the real and the artificial. Perfume played a role in Your Memory of Rain Released (2011), in which the promised smell of rain was emitted from a hole in the wall.09 The primary component of Smokescreen Coils and Trans-species Miscommunication Vacated Can (both 2016), included in the exhibition Smokescreens (2016), were commercially available deodorisers used by hunters to disguise the trace of human body odour.10 Exploring the idea of invisible camouflage, the cloaking smells
of apple, corn and acorn were sprayed into coiled brass sheets setting off a further material and airborne reaction. Scents created to enter the sensory language of the prey, crossing the human-animal divide with a (fake) experience aimed at camouflaging human presence, activated in viewers the inseparability of the macro and micro living worlds.
In Ingold’s understanding, the substances which material and air comprise are continually swept up in circulations of their surroundings that alternatively portend their dissolution or ensure their regeneration in the ongoing flux of materials.11 Mitchell’s scent structures evidence the agency of invisible material, with some being composed to activate a circularity of suspension and revival of cognitive and sensual certainty. Discussing Smokescreens Mitchell explained his interest in the operation of the sense of smell: ‘Smell is the most enigmatic of our senses — difficult to interpret and understand — smell reaches
beyond the capability of our other senses, perhaps even assuming a position closest to what we term the sixth sense, the sense of intuitive awareness, one’s gut feeling.’12 Subsequent
projects enhanced the hypothesis that reality is defined by invisible elements that create their own reality. In the exhibition Let us take the air (2015), the work Concentrated Form of Loss: Alpha — Ionone/Beta-Ionone (2015) required the viewer to climb a ladder into the gallery’s ceiling in order to smell a perfume swatch inserted in a beam. The scent replicated that of a violet, a flower whose chemical make-up includes ionones, which are believed to cause a temporary insensitivity to smell (a condition known as anosmia).13 The de-sensitivity is momentary, requiring the brain and senses to constantly re-register the fragrance molecules without having a memory of them; as Mitchell states: ‘forgotten instantly, the experience of the smell (and in this case, of the artwork) is one that is constantly slipping away’.14
His most recent project experimenting with the mechanics of perfume extraction, Iris, Iris, Iris (2017), created a sensual and metaphorical environment between scent extract from an iris flower and historical Japanese technologies including the fusego, believed to trap ethereal scents and spirits, as well as incense developed in collaboration with Japanese company Shoyeido.15 In the way that Mitchell considers perfume a ‘sculptural form that literally enters the brain’ and one that ‘dwells on thresholds — of vision, of physicality, of affect, of time and dimensionality’, his use of the unseen qualities of different scents interrogates the olfactory as part of the personal and cultural processes of sensing of the world.16
The material world is part of the flow, mix, interface with and mutation of the physical world and the world of ideas, of nature and culture. In Mitchell’s practice, assisting the unlocking of an intuitive realm where things and nothingness dwell together often requires alternative forms of knowledge. Homeopathy has been a vehicle for exploring the relations between material and immaterial worlds, offering a ‘framework for a productive (mis)understanding of a material universe and how meaning might be inscribed in objects’.17 Remedies for Remembering (AI) and Forgetting (NaCl) (2015–16) involved working with the homeopathic principles of ‘like cures like’ (analogous to physical laws and spiritual principles), and ideas of contagion in which potency is gained through dilution as well as ‘water memory’. The project comprised a liquid remedy stored in 16 industrial intermediate bulk containers labelled AI and NaCl, which an attendant sprayed onto the gallery windows at regular intervals. In an accompanying work, Remedy for Agoraphobia, Ataxia, Anxiety (AgNO3) (2015–16), a container labelled ‘AgN Argentum Nitricum for Agoraphobia, Ataxia and Anxiety O3’ intermittently released its airborne cure, circulating invisible energies in the environment.18 Such works activate the latent possibilities of the unseen, lent conviction by the language of industrial chemistry and, depending on the viewer’s belief, the ability of homeopathic ‘science’ to elicit changes in organic and material forms.19 Mitchell’s work is based in a conjoining of principles from science and mysticism to offer a ‘productive (mis)understanding’ of the universe.20 The historical idea of conjuring something out of nothing or combining the mythical and rational, the analytical and imaginative, situates the work inside speculative ideas and proposes new relations of existence between the material and immaterial.
What further sets Mitchell’s practice apart from philosophical understandings of reality is its often playfully poetic attitude and frequent turn to the supernatural to illuminate the unseen. Epitaph (2011), a collaboration with the perfumer Roudnitska, comprised an empty museum display cabinet with a hole in the glass, through which the viewer caught the scent of a (ghostly) body accompanied with a hint of dust — a gesture toward the Dust Archive and the vestige of institutions. As a naturally sourced, pliable substance, glass in Mitchell’s hands becomes a container of spectral qualities. The artist’s ancestors materialised as stories he spoke into seven handblown glass vials during their making for Spoken Heredity Talismans (2011). Similarly, local ghost stories hardened into the glass of Spectral Readings (Liverpool) (2012) and a bagpiper’s laments were literally blown into six orbs for Bagpipe Talismans (Funeral Lament in Glass) (2011).21 In addition, since 2008 when a mystic haunting was the centrepiece
of an exhibition, clairvoyants, psychics and spirit guides have been key in Mitchell’s site-specific conjuring of alternative knowledges or ‘not knowing’.22
These projects disrupt the cool spaces of galleries and artist residences — or the transactional environments of art fairs — introducing a mysterious life force into the space of things. ‘A Spirit has been summoned to this space. Please do not enter’ reads the sign at the front of a cordoned-off gallerist’s booth at Art Basel, denoting the work Conjuring Form (2008). Mitchell’s part was to perform a spell, following a witch’s instructions, and call forth the ghost of the last person executed for witchcraft in Europe, Anna Göldi.23 Similarly, the stanchions of Fourfold Threshold (2015) at Art Basel Hong Kong (2015) demark a
seemingly empty space but in fact outline a grid inside which a sorcerer’s spell cursed the artwork’s enemies. These projects raise questions, such as how the curse is contained to the dimensions of institutional stanchions and, more significantly, is this trick or truth? Questions of belief lie with the viewer when Mitchell or other mediums call up the spirits of the dead, potentially charging spaces with the sovereignty of alternative voices, knowledges and presences, as when in Gateway to the Etheric Realm (2011) and Conservation of Mass (2013) we are told a pagan witch was invited to invoke the dead; or
in Clairvoyant Vision (2014) when an anonymous volunteer was hypnotised at Mitchell’s exhibition opening in order that they see an object invisible to other guests.24 Obsidian, chalk, charcoal and water in The Dragon, The Purple Forbidden Enclosure (2011) at the decommissioned Kallang Airport, Singapore, appear as the purported evidence of a recent spell by a medium. Here, spirits were called through the connection between the artist’s star sign and Chinese astrology as they related to this site of air travel.25 These works employ unseen manifestations to encourage awareness in the viewer of non-rational realms and other senses beyond the five physical ones.
The artist himself is at the centre of these incantations, the subject whose enemies are cursed. In Fourfold Threshold photo banners of Mitchell’s hand hung over four sets of stanchions protecting the floor space below. A villain hitter — a sorcerer indigenous to Hong Kong — had worked within the four geometries to curse the work’s enemies. The hand gestures depicted were sourced from Western anthropology, from the religious histories of ancient Rome to Hindu, Buddhist and Afro-Brazilian traditions, and their titles suggested how they could open great cosmic powers and energies to the gesturer.26 Partners in mysticism have played a part in determining the processes, elements and form of Mitchell’s projects. A shaman in Gwangju required Mitchell to collaborate by communicating primarily on the astral plane,
with the project Celestial Fields (2012) (p 104) reflecting their conversations. Joint rituals and sharing of materials led to the circular design of the work and its glass and other elements acted as an equivalent to a Joseon Dynasty 14th-century astronomical chart and informed the project’s contents at other sites, including Mugaksa Temple.27
The last type of intersection between the material and immaterial in Mitchell’s practice I will discuss is a transformativeness across physical and non-physical states. Weather is emblematic of where matter and immateriality meet in human experience as the invisible forces of pressure, wind, humidity et cetera impact on our everyday existence. The installation Sketches of Meteorological Phenomena (2014) manifests objects that largely go unnoticed — naturally forming fulgurites generated from fused siliceous, carbonaceous, and calcareous substances resulting from lightning striking the ground. Fulgurites
appear like glassy plant roots. Mitchell’s ‘sketches’ are a mass of irregular glass strands that mimic fulgarites and evoke the transformation of energy into matter. Mitchell’s compilations of things, including the Dust Archive, Cosmic Dust Collection (Extraterrestrial Smithereens) (2010) and even the data in Post hoc, hint at the significance of acknowledging the regenerative nature of material reality. Cosmic Dust Collection (Extraterrestrial Smithereens) employed magnetism to collect space dust — interplanetary dust particles less than half a micrometre in size that penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and are in constant movement around us. Cosmic dust particles provide scientific clues to the temperature, pressure and chemical composition of the nebular cloud from which the solar system emerged over 4 billion years
ago and could have contributed to the organic compounds important for the development of life on Earth.28 In Mitchell’s project cosmic dust is accumulated in modified satellite dishes using a technology originally developed by a planetary scientist 29 and suggests ideas of connections between astronomy and astrology — another example of his practice destabilising expectations by combining alternative practices with orthodox Western epistemologies. Calling up the invisible, whether from the physical or spiritual world, Mitchell’s practice troubles accepted philosophy and science to activate recalibrations of the spectrum of relationships defining our environment in its largest sense.
Out of Nothing, into Nothing
Post hoc unleashes an unrelenting roll call of: mines; stolen artworks; banned foods; UFO sightings; banned pesticides; lost bodies of water; discontinued newspapers; barred and withdrawn pharmaceuticals; chimerical, forbidden or impossible colours; extinct plants; lost films; previously recognised constellations; destroyed comets; aroma molecules; defunct electronic trading platforms; historical currencies; closed nuclear facilities; redundant railroad companies; closed tunnels; crashed aircraft; failed banks; collapsed black holes; fossilised birds; discontinued video game consoles; prehistoric mammals; sinkholes; cured diseases; superseded medical procedures; prehistoric insects; replaced national anthems; dissolved tax havens; extinct birds; destroyed mosques; recessions; discontinued photographic film; dinosaurs; disbanded political parties; censored exhibitions; secret societies; exploded supernova; lost archives and more . . .While given rational alphabetical or chronological ordering, these facts are the product of a subjective selection process and the Internet’s ‘filter bubble’ or choice of data presented based on the past information history of the user, which provides a further distortion of knowledge.30 This questionable amalgam of different types of things, that once swam in the ocean of reality, momentarily gains immortality as ghostly reminders of what was part of life.
The Latin post hoc translates as ‘after the event’, or ‘after this’. So, post hoc literally can only exist after the fact, as does Mitchell’s inventory of things which are no longer. More significantly, used in the phrase ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’ (after this, therefore because of this), the term is often used to refer to causal connections between events and is also understood as a fallacy when applied as logic in arguments proposing that cause is consequent on an event. Mitchell’s Post hoc leaves aside the premise of causality for the mass extinction and the loss it names; its mix of the rational and chaotic is far from a fingerpointing or cynical exercise in blame. Art is not an ethical guide or set of principles, and neither is it the essence or sum total of our collective morals. Post hoc seeks out and conveys the enormity of the material and immaterial real that is no longer but which words can convey. Yet, as Umberto Eco reminds us in The Infinity of Lists (2009), while lists by definition operate to order, exclude and control, and thereby emphasise orthodox histories, they also offer a profusion of meaning, uncontrollable excess and incompleteness. Eco considers that lists sit on a spectrum across the rational and imaginary, and defines practical, functional inventories as a tool for compiling a finite outcome while poetic lists express the inexpressible.
In the alphabetical and chronological ordering within a list, Post hoc salutes the practical information process of archiving. The intrinsic logic of archiving is the collecting and categorisation of an authoritative encyclopaedic set of data, which promises truth but also curtails meaning to that of the organising authority. Like Mitchell’s ongoing Dust Archive, Post hoc engages with the archive as a dynamic, living, communicative thing with the criticality developed by post-structural thinkers such as Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. As content that will continue to be compiled beyond the Venice exhibition, Post
hoc will persistently offer new understandings of history and in its process remain incomplete and discontinuous.31 Post hoc is also without any originary point: the ‘list of lists’ can be reordered in any way. The work does not avoid a dominant Western world bias but provides an alternative voice — another way to construct or rethink discourse on its topic which has the potential to trouble historical paradigms. This is partly because it is unclear where Post hoc sits on Eco’s spectrum of the practical and poetic — whether its research comprises fact or fiction or lies somewhere in between.
The uncertain status of Mitchell’s projects is magnified by the hybrid fields of knowledge and technologies on which they rest. The surreptitious cell tower trees first appeared in his work as a single tree in Hiding in Plain Sight (2017).32 Used to add reception capacity to wireless communication networks, the towers’ purpose is like most commercial digital technologies — to be more effective and efficient in capacity and energy in serving ever-increasing demand at lower cost. In Venice, the towers and the robotic, artificial voice they transmit are the digital, virtual continuum of the present. However, with
the continued pace of technological change the trees themselves will soon be as obsolete as the redundant items on the lists they help transmit — another ghost in the machine. The formal abstraction of the digital signal syncs with the rhythmic electronic chanting of the work’s ritual of naming the departed and withdrawn, an incantation that this time is without perceptible magic qualities.
Mitchell’s practice explores the speculative nature of bodily and cognitive experience that comprises the real across a spectrum of empirical and alternative knowledges. In this post-fact, vox-Twitterati moment, when who speaks loudest wins, Post hoc comes when political and social ideas of truth have slid far down the fantastic end of the scale, inflaming tensions between techno-rational, evidence-based thought and fake news, alt-right pronouncements. Today’s Eve is as tortured by the puzzle of choice between science and self-consciousness wisdom as when John Milton wrote of the Devil’s temptation in Paradise
Lost (1667). Only after eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge (Milton’s metaphor for the wisdom of the scientific revolution) would Eve not only be able to ‘discerne/Things in their Causes, but to trace the ways/of highest Agents’. The incantations of Post hoc raise the dead in an archive which marks the infinite interdependence of thingness and nothingness. By prompting a questioning of our ambivalence towards doubt and speculative thinking, Post hoc activates an interface between the past and our current understanding of reality, so that they might continue to live in a permanent state of consideration and recomposition.
01 Dane Mitchell, Hiding in Plain Sight, Venice Biennale proposal document, 2017.
02 Rosalind Krauss, ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field’, October, no 8, Spring, 1979: 30–34, 34.
03 Exhibited in Radiant Matter II, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin (2011).
04 Minor Optics, daadgalerie, Berlin, Germany (2009).
05 Hannah Holmes, The Secret Life of Dust, Wiley, New York, 2001, p 12.
06 Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘Virtual Reality’, https://bit.ly/2RfJwHH.
07 Tim Ingold, ‘Materials Against Materiality’, Archaeological Dialogues, vol 14, iss 1, 2007: 1–16, 12.
08 ibid., p 7.
09 Exhibited in Radiant Matter I, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2011).
10 Smokescreens, Art Basel Miami Beach (2016).
11 Ingold, p 12.
12 Dane Mitchell, ‘Smokescreens’, https://bit.ly/2Qw9mlh.
13 Let us take the air, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland (2015). Also included Vaporous Materialism: Remedies for Remembering (Aluminium) and Forgetting (Sodium Chloride) (2015), essences emitted by two humidifiers. On violet perfume see, Rosamund Richardson, Britain’s Wild Flowers: A Treasury of Traditions, Superstitions, Remedies and Literature, National Trust Books, London, 2017. ‘Let us take the air’ is a line from T S Eliot’s poem ‘Portrait of a Lady’, and is also the title of one of Mitchell’s favourite perfumes by Frederic Malle.
14 Dane Mitchell, ‘Let us take the air’, https://bit.ly/2EypGiN.
15 Iris, Iris, Iris (2017), co-commissioned by Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, was shown at Mori Art Museum (2017–18) and Auckland Art Gallery (2018–19).
16 Dane Mitchell in Mercedes Vicente, ‘Dane Mitchell’, Flash Art, iss 323, 2011, https://bit.ly/2SHebtX.
17 Dane Mitchell, ‘Indwelling’, https://bit.ly/2C9xzZF.
18 Remedies for Remembering (AI) and Forgetting (NaCl) (2015–16) was part of Indwelling, Mitchell’s participation in the 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016) and was staged at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Remedy for Agoraphobia, Ataxia, Anxiety (AgNO3) (2015–16) was located in the Sydney Botanical Gardens.
19 Homeopathy appeared in the late 1700s in Germany and is based on the belief that triggering the body’s natural defences brings on symptoms in a healthy person and can treat an illness with similar symptoms.
20 Mitchell, ‘Indwelling’.
21 Spoken Heredity Talismans (2011) and Bagpipe Talismans (Funeral Lament in Glass) (2011) were part of Radiant Matter II, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin (2011).
22 Invocations, Gertrude Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne (2008). Spirits were also called in the exhibitions: Curse, Starkwhite, Auckland (2006); Thresholds: Rita Angus Cottage, Massey University, Wellington (2008); and Inaugural Curse, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2008). Gateway to the Etheric Realm (2011) was part of Radiant Matter II at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin (2011).
23 See Mitchell’s discussion on the role of mystic practices in Natasha Conland, ‘Conjuring Form’ https://bit.ly/2sd4wjf.
24 Part of Mitchell’s works for Klontal Triennale, Kunsthaus Glarus, Glarus, Switzerland (2014).
25 The Dragon, The Purple Forbidden Enclosure (2011) was part of Singapore Biennale 2013: If the World Changed (2013).
26 Banner titles were: Non-verbal Gesture 1, (Here one feels a fine tingling and a gentle pricking in the thumb: the outstretched fingers begin to vibrate lightly. Thoughts are focussed on receiving fire and solar powers. This sign particularly affects the forces of life, in a rejuvenating and strengthening manner.) (2015); Non-verbal Gesture 2, (Here cosmic energies begin to collect in the hand, experienced as prickling in the extended finger-tips, as well as in the ring finger and the tip of the thumb. Thoughts are focussed on the reception of solar powers. The collected energies are circulated throughout the body by an act of conscious will. At the deepest moment they are focused in the
feet.) (2015); Non-verbal Gesture 3, (Here one feels a tingling sensation throughout the hand, the thumb slightly vibrating. Thoughts are focussed to ward off the evil spirits of the dead and lure wishes of good fortune to protect oneself from a malevolent glare and distract those with the ability to curse you from the mental effort needed to successfully do so.) (2015); Non-verbal Gesture 4, (Thoughts are focussed on the development of magical powers. You
strongly feel the influx of cosmic energies into the tip of your index finger. Often after this exercise the smell of ozone can be detected from the hand.) (2015).
27 Celestial Fields (2012), 9th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea (2012).
28 Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘Interplanetary Dust Particle’, https://bit.ly/2TBOLy1.
29 Kenneth A Farley at California, Institute of Technology, USA.
30 A term defined by Eli Pariser. See Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble, What the Internet is Hiding from You, Viking, Penguin Books, New York, 2011.
31 Part of Mitchell’s work Lost Bandwidth (Canopy) (2018) at Thailand Biennale, Krabi, Thailand (2019) is another ongoing archive of sounds, and in this case comprises extinct bird calls.
32 Hiding in Plain Sight (2017), Connells Bay Sculpture Park, Waiheke Island, Auckland. Mitchell’s work Tuning (2018), exhibited at Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington, was also a precedent for Post hoc: a brass discone antenna lying on its side that broadcast a ‘spurious’ electronic field of transmission into the FM bandwidth, camouflaging itself among the established radio spectrum.