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A Superabundance of Nothing:
Johanna Hedva & Staff In Conversation
Institute of Contemporary Arts

The locus of the conversation will be Johanna Hedva’s GLUT: a superabundance of nothing, a sound work composed with divination and AI, which manifests as both an immersive physical installation now on view at HKW Berlin in Illiberal Arts, and as a free video game that can be downloaded at glut.website. The core of GLUT is a sound composition made entirely of Hedva’s voice, ranging from its rawest expression of screams, to two AI vocal clones that, in order to trick the surveillance tactics embedded in AI, have been manipulated to sound ever more de-human. These voices speak a text corpus that Hedva built over four lunar cycles, and synthesized through various divination techniques. The corpus is composed of the writings of medieval mystics (mostly of the apophatic tradition); theoretical physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers on black holes, dark matter, night, and nothingness; poets and novelists on sleep, music, and the voice; and the algorithm of amazon.com.

The physical installation of GLUT spatializes the sound in a subtly eerie, immersive room, large enough for one person only, a little pocket of a universe that amplifies the limits of the body by simultaneously erasing them. In the GLUT videogame, users are a teratoma avatar that drags itself through an environment cheating at non-Euclidean geometry through a series of nesting black holes, intestinal tunnels, glittering caves, and oceans of black water.

Hedva and Staff will use GLUT to orbit around Hedva’s recent book Minerva the Miscarriage of the Brain, and their new album, Black Moon Lilith in Pisces in the 4th House, which form a web of inquiry into the proposal that doom is a liberatory (and libratory) condition. There will be specific focus on corporeal ambivalence, collapse and surrender, and whether Amazon, in predicting our desires and shaping our future, is our latest divining tool, a kind of contemporary mysticism.
Johanna Hedva (they/them) is a Korean-American writer, artist, and musician, who was raised in Los Angeles by a family of witches, and now lives in LA and Berlin. Hedva is the author of Minerva the Miscarriage of the Brain (Sming Sming / Wolfman 2020), a collection of poems, performances, and essays, and the novel On Hell (Sator / Two Dollar Radio 2018). Their albums are Black Moon Lilith in Pisces in the 4th House, a doom-metal guitar and voice performance influenced by Korean shamanist ritual that was released in January 2021, and the 2019 EP The Sun and the Moon, which had two of its tracks played on the moon.

P. Staff (they/them) lives and works in Los Angeles, USA and London, UK. Their work combines video installation, performance and publishing, citing the ways in which history, technology, capitalism and the law have fundamentally transformed the social constitution of our bodies today. Staff’s work has been exhibited, screened and performed internationally, including solo shows at the ICA Shanghai, China (2020); Serpentine Galleries, London (2019); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2019); MOCA, Los Angeles (2017) amongst others. They have been part of a number of significant group shows such as 13th Shanghai Biennale: Bodies of Water (2020); The Body Electric, Walker Art Center (2019); Made in LA, Hammer Museum (2018); Trigger, New Museum (2017); and the British Art Show 8 (2016).
Access now
This talk is available to view from Wednesday 20 October 2021 for free.