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Kloone4000, amsterdam, Retort 2005, installation "cloned thought, I'm a bad girl... "

visit the weblog on cloned thought by Annemarie Estor, cultural scientist (NL)

research proposal

my thoughts


Working in Retort during Kloone4000 was a chance to investigate the dynamics of my work with the viewer during the process of 'cloned thought'.

During a conversation with a biology student who observed the "abstract DNA in your own kitchen" workshop by Adam Zaretski organized by Kloone4000 (great fun by the way) I asked what kind of knowledge he thinks art is, the student casually remarked that this is difficult to say because of course art is not research so.... This really hit me and I intruded right away. What do you mean art is not research? Why would he think that art is not research? Research is looking for something, an investigation. An exploration. Isn't every artist looking for an answer to his own autonomous question? Be it for instance to gain a better understanding of violence in society or the relation between time and space? Was this students remark an exception or do most scientists do not consider art as research?

In roomforthoughts projects I search for the physics of thought, in this particular project I asked " Is a thought that is re-emitted a cloned copy of a first thought? “I'm a bad girl, I'm a bad girl, I'm a bad girl…” What effect does this repetition have on my brain, my body, my actions? Do my thoughts infiltrate the biochemistry of my body, affecting my psyche and eventually the activation of my genes? Was my ‘good girl complex' carried by the behavior of previous generations before it became part of my programme? How to ever delete this software? " How would art ever be able to give such an answer to me? Feeling the urge to make what I make, knowing what I have to do, has nothing to do with a scientific result does it? When I have a question and the urge to answer it with an installation it is not enough for me to throw it in to the world and say its not my responsibility any more do what you will it's your problem now. That's what I feel an artist does when he satisfies himself with the answer that he doesn't know why he did something. To me the following of the creative moment, the muze as it is often called, is just the beginning. Then comes the process of understanding the creative moment, which I like to call the thoughtless process.

Kloone4000 has discussed the relation between art and science. As I understand it art and science both ask the same kind of questions, but that it is science that mostly provides answers. Is this completely true? I feel that my materialized questions hold hidden answers, I can almost taste them yet they are so elusive. Jellichje Reijnders (art critic) calls it a knowing without knowing. On October 8th Dr. Marli Huijer stated that the highest goal of art is to obtain new perspective. I wonder if a scientist looking at my work could in retrospect find any answer to a problem, because of new perspective given by my work. This means that something must be actually being reconfigured in the scientists brain when looking at my art to allow a scientist to gain knowledge to a question. Now the more science learns about the workings of the brain, the more probable it is that art indeed does have a physical effect on the brain where neurons actually reconfigure their connections, but so does everything else around us, smells, a conversation, all environmental factors. What role does art play is this?

I have thought really hard on this, because in a sense it validates my own existence as an artist. So what is art? Art to me is materialized thought, a concentration of choice, the presentation of an idea. Thought is an energy of information. Thought is what triggers a choice, and choice holds the potential of change. The idea focuses on the direction and area of the change. The choices in my artwork are concentrated because I have thought about every single element, it is a reflective field between conscious and unconscious actions. It is a stream of emotional logic. For me it is a feeling or and urge to say something with an image or material and knowing if it will say what I want and why. Usually there is an environmental factor that triggers an artwork. It could be a fascination with a material. that is on what it means and for instance what it meant in the past. It is a flexible knowledge is a sense that every thought that it might trigger is forseen up to a point. How is it effective in a different way? And is there any way that an artist controles its effect?

Example of emotional logic:

What is a thought - a thought is some kind of invisible energy that surrounds me like vibrating strings- how to portray a thought - a material that is flexible, a material that floats - textile is flexible - but it does not float - it can seem to float if I hang it in the air - how would I shape this material in such a way that it is connected to me - I studied fashion - I studied the language of textile in different silhouettes - cut away the fabric of clothes until only the seam is left - conclusion a thought comes close to the shape of a line - association a telephone doodle is a line born under thoughtless process - a thought resembles telephone doodles - if I want to say something with line of fabric I need a formal form to communicate with (like video or a canvas) - what am I doing - I am measuring - environmental intrusion a graphic in a newspaper - I am placing an element in a space - the knotted thread that holds the fabric pinpoints a location - association the space is x,y,z - placing something in a graphic is measuring - Information of what I am measuring lies in the material - I am always measuring myself, comparing myself with others - logic connection to myself - recognizing a good girl complex - why do I have a good girl complex - the repitition of thoughts- voices in my head - association voices are sounds - sound travels like a stone ripples water - look at my doodles - mostly spirals with different directions - line is good - abstract- not too illustrative - art is not allowed to be too illustrative unless it is functional in the concept- good girl- what is a bad girl- a drug addict hooker-what represents a drug addict hooker- cheap sex - find cheap sexy material - but needs both good and bad in it to represent the battle between the two - black lace is good and bad - it is the woman morning over her husband like a good wife but it is also the most sexiest material for underwear - material has to be black lace - look at shop with hundreds of different black lace - choose lace with pink spider woven in to it - synthetic lace is cheap - pink is ultimate good girl colour - spider represents the web of my thoughts - connection to weblike structure of hanging spirals - lace is transparent - web of hanging spirals is transparent -



















































Jennifer Kanary & dr. Annemarie Estor


Proposal: Cloned Thought

 “I'm a bad girl, I'm a bad girl, I'm a bad girl…” what effect does such a thought have on my behaviour? Is a thought that is re-emitted a cloned copy of a first thought? What effect does it have on my brain, my body, my actions? Movies like “What the Bleep do We Know” ( ) speculate on how if I think I am fat (even if I am thin), my brain will reconfigure it's neurons and I will actually become fat. Giving thought the power to create a different reality. Do I actually become a bad girl, by thinking it? How come this reality does not change overnight? Is it the slow repetition of a thought? Like a virus that spreads? How many cloned thoughts does it take to shift a part of my physical reality? Are there other factors involved such as time intervals between thoughts or materialised action? If I think I am bad and then I think I am good, am I then balanced? Though the opinions were very diverse on the science behind “What the Bleep”, it is not completely without truth as we all know mind over matter placebos.


A really interesting new field is Epigenetics. This is the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the sequence of nuclear DNA. Epigenetics studies the transfer of information between cells, but also between organisms. In this way, gene functions change without the DNA being the cause of this change. “There must be an additional layer of information”, as prof. dr. M.M.S. van Lohuizen said during the Riddle of Information Lecture Series, Paradiso, Amsterdam. Prof. van Lohuizen researched how young mice transferred to a mother with different grooming behaviour would pass on new behaviour to all generations to come, making it genetic. Returning mice from these passed generations to a mother with the former grooming behaviour recreated the initial genetics and again the old behaviour was passed on. My question is: Do my thoughts infiltrate the biochemistry of my body, affecting my genes? Was my ‘good girl complex' carried by the behaviour of generations before it became part of my programme? How to ever delete this software?


The Art Project at Retort (Kanary)

From the ceiling I will hang a thought ( ), shaped in the form of an abstracted good-girl figure bowing her head. A three-dimensional line drawing, the line made of thin fragile black lace that is shaped by ‘sowing' it to the ceiling. The spiral shape and the repetition represent the layers of time, every second a new dimension, every second a chance to re-alter the activation of my genes. The black lace can be seen as the symbol of lust and mourning. The underlying addiction I covet yet want to kill. The lines holding the thought represent the connections that sustain it. How to mutate this thought? At first the (unborn) thought will hang from the ceiling in a line defining the space the thoughts are to slowly grow in. Then while a viewer can watch I will shape this thought and attempt to clone it, by copying my own actions. In the end I will cut the threads loose. Would this be a step forward altering my behaviour?


Research (Estor)

I want to observe how this work of art comes into being, how the cloned thoughts will start to lead a life of their own, and how they will be exterminated. During this process, I will interview the artist and the public. I will ask how people experience the shapes and their (attempted) repetition. Are they exact copies? Other questions are meant to ‘measure' the effects that this work of art produces. Is art capable of bringing about alterations in patterns of thought? To be able to answer this question, I will go into the viewers' personal memories as well. I want to focus on people's private experiences of ‘cloned thoughts'. Did they ever experience repetitive, self-copying thoughts? How did they experience this? Who is the agent in the cloning process? The brain? One's consciousness? The environment? Perhaps even traces from our past? How can it be explained that these thoughts reinforce each other? Can thoughts have a lasting effect on our brain, on who we are? Then, what are they, and who are we? Can we become who we want to be? In the interviews I will also discuss epigenetics. What is the relationship between this work of art and the science that feeds it? Does the work of art feed back into science? I will keep a weblog that reports on the results of the interviews. The weblog will then contribute to a final essay on the way in which science and art deal with one and the same idea. What is Jennifer Kanary's research method? Can her method be compared to scientific research methods? Are art and science addressing the same problems? Do art and science really want to meet? Can they? The weblog and the essay will be published on and on



Dr. Annemarie Estor (researcher and poet) studied Arts and Sciences at the University of Maastricht , where she involved herself with the contemporary relationship between the arts and natural sciences. After her graduation she did her PhD research at the University of Leiden (English Language and Literature department) in the field of Literature and Science. In this period she was also a fellow at the International School for Theory in the Humanities in Santiago de Compostela (1999). She took her doctoral degree in 2004 with her dissertation Jeanette Winterson's Enchanted Science . In the beginning of 2005 she initiated her own artist in lab project at the Dutch Institute for Brain Research (NIH). At the moment she is writing a series of poems about the brain and brain research based on interviews with neuroscientists.

Jennifer Kanary Nikolova studied fashion from 1994-1998 before graduating with the first roomforthoughts from the fine arts department at the Art Academy of Maastricht in 2000. She continued with a Masters education at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam graduating in 2002. She was then invited to participate in the first experimental curator course initiated by the University of Amsterdam and the Sandberg Institute, along with three other artists and four art historians. Together they created the exhibition Interscape that was presented in 2004 at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. She has participated in a number of international solo and group exhibitions. She recently opened the Dutch transgender film festival with an undercover performance and is currently in an art project that researches the implementation of thoughts on self identity with young children. Jennifer's installations research all aspects of the physics of thought.


Jennifer Kanary and Annemarie Estor started their collaboration in the summer of 2005. Both are interested in the nature of thoughts, the fabric of the self, the material nature of spirituality, and the value of art - Kanary as an artist, and Estor as a humanities scholar. Can the value of art be measured? And if art produces knowledge, then, what kind of knowledge is that? Is it different from scientific knowledge? ‘Cloned thought' is the first part of a continuing multidisciplinary experiment, investigating the questions above.



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