A Master Thesis under the supervision of
Prof. Jussi Ängeslevä, Luiz Zanotello, and Prof. Dr. Alexander Düttmann.
Universität der Künste Berlin Institut für Transmediale Gestaltung
A Master Thesis under the supervision of
Prof. Jussi Ängeslevä, Luiz Zanotello, and Prof. Dr. Alexander Düttmann.
Universität der Künste Berlin Institut für Transmediale Gestaltung
Table of Contents
1.1 Summer Snow
1.2. Snow Globe
List of references
Summer snow, snow globe, globe, globalism...... It is not my intention to talk about
the spatial aspect of knowledge that each indicates, but rather some vague impression that is
derived from the proximity of appearances between items separated by commas on the paper(or any material containers). The closeness between each item turns into a connection when the commas are removed, summer snow snow globe globe globalism......, and ironic thresholds emerge. A coherent relationship seems impossible to understand in this critical zone. Can we perhaps make a statement about these instabilities of material signs? Do we have any chance of stuttering the realm of disorder? In the meantime, we will have to be content with naming this obscurity summersnowglobalism. No worries, the weakening of signs will not always be disastrous for cognition. In doing so, we might be liberated from the obsession with classification to seek linguistic order. In addition, it makes us aware of the existence of unknown actions between systematical scope and its negation. There has always been a space of silence outside of words. It is in line with “the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. (Haraway, 1985)” Language is a toolbox for recognizing and defining reality, and language creates reality. The addition of rhetoric implies the creation of a conceivable reality. Throughout Summersnowglobe Manifesto, liberation from words and shaping words will be a central theme.
Each item written above in the array will be conceptualized through storytelling in
chapter 1. The refined rhetorical materials are collected in chapter 2, in executing the tangible
recognition of summersnowglobalism.
In the first part of chapter 1 Summer Snow, we will derive the nature-culture dialectic
from Mao’s ideological claim that “man must conquer nature.” Poplars were considered an efficient species for reforestation and gained popularity by symbolizing athenticity of Chinese. As a cultural realm against nature, desertification, poplar trees retain legitimacy to proliferate in actual space as one of the contradictions in the
dialectic system. Other species that do not meet the criteria of ideological
legitimacy are disposable by judgment dependent on the exactitude of the identity and non-identity. Every summer, white clouds blanket the streets because they are well-adapted to the environment and, therefore, ubiquitous. The colonization of summer snow can lead to anaphylactic
reactions, respiratory illnesses, and other problems. The poplars and humans, mirrors of each
other in symbolic systems, create friction in the material world, and the entire nature-culture
dialectic is at stake. As well as the metaphor of a scenic effect, summer snow includes the
sort of a tactile conflict between two material bodies. To reduce the nuisance of fluffs, the city
government has begun to regulate female trees. Should female ones be excluded in order to
carry on the rotational revolution between nature and culture? It leads to the question of how to live well together when
poplar species and homo sapiens engage in border warfare—when the sign turns out to be
The second part of chapter 1, snow globe, begins with the story of the first form of the
snow globe, including a miniature of the Eiffel Tower, a souvenir of the Exposition
Universelle of 1889. The snow globe has the characteristics of a medium for the story.
Throughout history, snow globes have reflected social, cultural, and political relations and
represented any kinds of knowledge. This knowledge is materialized by the symbolic order
separating the subject and the object. While snow globes are more celebrated by international
audiences, the specific form of thought process also spreads from the local to the global. We
will discuss the underlying colonial pattern in the proliferation of the cognitive culture.
However, the snow globe’s material body has always manifested a generative realm beyond subject-object dualism. Beyond serving as a cognitive or optical apparatus, the snow globe manifests symbiogenesis. Solvent-effect liquid amplifies and diffracts the contour of any object that enters a transparent sphere. When other bodies move within the detected area, distortion in jumbling scales coincides. The snow globe is a cyborg world where everything is interconnected. Eliasson’s work “Visual Mediation” will be discussed from this perspective. Unlike the futuristic and scalable ‘the Globe,’ the wacky snow globe projects random connections between worldly bodies. The symbiotic experience in the snow globe’s ecology is so immersive that no human subjects are present, only cyborgs.
Chapter 2 Summersnowglobe attempts to form the cognitive or practical shapes of Summersnowglobe with rhetorical materials related to summer snow and snow globe refined in the previous chapter. Poplar species and homo sapiens have been colonized by microbes even before their biological names were given and even further from when language existed. Regarding the etymology of humans, Haraway introduces “compost” towards ‘hummus’ instead of ‘homo’ in the etymological sense. As compost, humans are interested in response to the biotic and abiotic actions of the vibrating material world. The fermentation process is similar to composting: it is a place of “involution” where companion species eat, digest, and excrete each other. The Rice Brewing Sisters Club expands collaboration from non-human and human, human and human, human and community to community and community through the artistic practice of “social fermentation.” Communities of diverse cultural and geographical origins have long experienced the complex intra-actions between ecological and cultural bodies through fermentation, the culture of “sympoiesis(making-with).” Le Guin reminds us that the first human technology was not a hard and long weapon but a “container” as a recipient. The container has nothing to do with fighting with a spear and sword, but collective maintenance with receiving useful items for my and other bodies. Could the porous structure of poplar seeds become a container for holding or culturing microorganisms? Could the snow globe be the container to house poplar seeds and microbes for yeast production? The participation of “companion species” is inevitably necessary for Summersnowglobalism.
1.1. Summer Snow
Foucault argues that in all cultures and civilizations, there exists a heterotopia, a
place, a reified utopia, designed within the social institutions. For example, there is a garden.
All plants and structures in the garden, carefully selected, must be perfectly arranged at
regular intervals and heights within a limited space. For him, space has its own history, from
confining a specific form and a specific taste in a place like a garden. The idea of constructing
an aspect disconnected from traditional time as a specific spatial arrangement belongs to
modernity. (Foucault, 1984) Logically, it is impossible to find a non-historical space in
contemporary urban areas. Thus, anthropogenic forests provide clues to human
preferences and responses to natural threats in their unique history. Interestingly but not surprisingly, it seems that
the outlines of these historical constellations have been corroded for quite some time. The terrain of the space that was thought to be fixed has always been in motion.
Local news articles that streamline through the screen describe some strange climatic
phenomenon. The contradictory metaphors of 'summer snow' and 'april snow' used in the
article add oddity to this.
"All across the city, the fluffy white stuff is floating through the skies, wafting over hutongs and soaring as high as the 22nd floor of at least one building. It's a mesmerizing sight, with local media dubbing it "snow in April." ... Accordingly, out of the 120 million trees that were planted in the Beijing area during the 1960s and '70s, some 70% are industrious female catkin producers. ... Pedestrians have nowhere to hide as catkins get in everywhere—into the mouth, nose and even eyes. They're a fire hazard, too. Last year during a single week in May, 105 fires involving catkins were reported in Beijing, ... More recently, the government has explored other possible cures for the catkin issue, including sterilization or gender reassignment.” (Ma, 2014)
Artificially propagated poplar females in northern China shed significant quantities of "summer snow", poplar seeds entangled with white microfiber hairs. Firefighters, architects,
environmentalists, pedestrians, government officials, and poplar fluffs are involved in border
warfare. The metaphor of "summer snow" does more than mere scenic effect; it implies tactile
friction between human and non-human, human and human, and non-human and non-human
As defined by the 1994 Convention on the Prevention of Desertification and Drought,
desertification causes the degradation of land caused by a variety of factors, including climate
variability and human activity. It is one of the greatest threats humanity faces in the future as
the world's population continues to grow. China, which has the highest population in the
world, has put great effort into forestation as dust storms frequently strike northeastern China
and central Inner Mongolia. (Chen and Tang, 2004)
China prioritized soil conservation and rehabilitation in the 1950s and 1960s and
established green shelterbelts to protect agricultural fields, grazing lands, cities, villages, and
houses. Meanwhile, the government and the people initiated the reclamation of desertified
land. The initiative resulted in systematic plantings of some species along streets, roads,
fields, canals, and railways, as well as in gardens. Black and balsam poplars were popular
because of their characteristics of fast initial growth and availability to reproduce raw
materials. Poplar's colony fixed some mobile dunes, and recovered vegetation in some areas,
including Mu Us sandy land, Horqin sandy land, Hulun Buir sandy land, and Tengger desert
Despite wars and revolutions frequently disrupting the procedure, in the mind of
progressive Chinese in the early twentieth century, planting was a signal of modernization
and the key to national development. In order to build a socialist state and exercise
ideological control, the government conducted various campaigns. The newly established
communist regime vigorously promoted 'garden landscape' campaigns as part of so-called
socialist reconstruction following the Soviet model. Mao explicitly linked reforestation to the
ultimate goal of the socialist garden during the Great Leap Forward, and his insist goes that :
“We must make the mountains and rivers of our motherland entirely verdurous, reaching such a level that every place is landscaped as beautifully as a garden. The wild must be tamed. Trees must be planted well, to certain specifications, and not be planted without follow-up care. The spacing between rows of trees as well as the types of trees must be appropriately matched. Everywhere the landscape should look like a park. To achieve this means meeting the requirements of Communism.” (Lu, 2017)
According to Food and Agriculture Organization, poplars are one of the most
abundant species of Salicaceae in China. There are more than 100 Populus species in the
world, 53 of which are found in China and 37 in North China. (Yang et al., 1999) White
poplars commonly grew on the Loess Plateau in northwest China and were considered
'authentic Chinese' and 'revolutionary trees.' The left-wing writer Mao Dun promoted this
symbolism in his 1941 essay 'Eulogizing white poplar,' which glorifies the tree as an emblem
of the spirit of peasants behind China's national liberation. Chinese middle school textbooks
included the essay as required reading after the communist victory, resulting in its vast
“White poplars are no ordinary trees. But these common trees in Northwest China are as much ignored as our peasants in the north. However, like our peasants in the north, they are bursting with vitality and capable of surviving any hardship or oppression. I pay tribute to them because they symbolize our peasants in the north and, in particular, the spirit of honesty, tenacity, and forging ahead — a spirit central to our struggle for national liberation. (Dun, 1941)”
In his prose poetry, white poplars and peasants are juxtaposed to mirror each other. The peasant becomes as great as the green legions of poplars that block the sandstorm on the plateau. The authentic peasants and poplars, trapped in a symbolic system, fall into the battle with the deserted land. The dialectic triangle separates nature and culture to reach the ultimate goal of a utopian society. On the other hand, outsiders of collective identities, ironic beings that cannot occupy either side of the classifications, are more vulnerable to being disposable. This odd excuse not to subsume every life into systematic management comes from an obsession with authenticity, that is, the distinction between identity and non-identity. The exactitude of objectivity puts the survival of various beings outside or inside the system extremely at stake.
Beijing's landscape is dominated by poplars, Sabina, Sophora, and Robinia, which
account for nearly 55% of the trees in the city. Even though they are accepted as a suitable
species for the system, they must be deployed according to the demanding architectural code. The rule objectifies lives as a scalable population so that they could be deployed or dispensed
of on grids.
“street trees are usually planted 10 to 15 feet apart, encouraged by a government mandate to increase greenspace in the city rapidly; All large roads and boulevards are planted with at least two tree species, often in two or more rows; Tree planting pits are approximately 6 feet by 6 feet (2m x 2m) when space is not limiting and planting strips are not possible; Thirty-meter-wide forest bands have been planted along major thoroughfares throughout the city as well as along roads leading out of the city.” (Profous, 1992)
For much of history, Mao's insistence that "man must conquer nature" has exploited both non-human and human species. However, his dream of reaching an alternative society has partially been realized through adapting poplar in northern China. The trees contributed to the city's beautification, decreasing dusty weather and improving air quality. However, summer snow suffocates the atmosphere, blankets streets, irritates passersby's view and breath, and impedes transportation circulation in regular periods. To oppress the summer snow, water canons are deployed to drop seeds from the canopy, operate sex reassignment on female ones, and hybrid species that do not produce fluffs are invented and introduced. Poplars and humans meet friction in the material semiosis, in which the order of the dialectic system opens up with cracks. Henceforth, when the sign turns out the flesh, it can not differentiate between culture and nature, master and slave, ruler and subject, and a utopia and a dystopia. The rhetoric for the biological and political system for legitimacy has reached its limits.
In Foucault's view, the sovereignty of the nation-state is based on the biopolitics of its citizens. (1979) The way biopolitics work is through inclusive exclusion, as Agamben suggests, which separates life into social and naked life. Then the regime includes naked life in the state's sovereignty by excluding it from its sovereignty. (1995) By relying on such collective biological identities and non-identities, Foucault's and Agamben's biopolitical thinking makes naked life proliferate and does not raise the question of how the diversity of beings can live well together in a limited space. Because of the nuisance of summer snow, should female poplars that offer vast amounts of oxygen be excluded from the system? The summer snow has more to do with a picturesque metaphor and the bodily friction that enabled it to escape from the violence of semiotic firmness.
1.2. Snow Globe
There was a time in human history when such a visual culture was fashionable—miniature objects in transparent containers tell mysterious tales of veiled protagonists and
unknown worlds. Back then, when spatial networks were less densely entangled, the
object had a certain position of aura. Stories of unfamiliar forms of life appeal to people.
However, as the first snow globe was shown at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in
1889, perhaps the event slightly deteriorated the unique quality of the artifact. Such an
international announcement demonstrated to the world that the West had transcended its local
boundary, introduced its own cultural order to others beyond the sea, and benefited from the
colonized lands and people. According to Maxwell, the exhibition re-created foreign
countries and distant lives for the entertainment of the European public. An extensive
collection of human specimens were brought to the capital to be shown, some from as far
away as Tahiti. The ethnographic displays depicting the lives of colonized people were
arranged in a specific manner with great accuracy. Visitors were separated from ‘natives’ by
tall fences. ‘Home’ for these people, within their allotted space, they performed religious and
other rituals for visitors at fixed times each day or revealed their arts and crafts. By offering
displays that invoked imperialism’s scientific, philosophical, and moral discourses and
portrayed every facet of the empire as realistically as possible, the organizers sought to make
the world seem measurable and knowable. (Maxwell, 1999)
A replica of the Eiffel Tower appears in the first snow globe, which confirms the date
and details of its creation. The tower was completed and opened to the public the same year
of the exhibition. (Hilker, 2014) Maxwell argued that the exhibition had represented a
stridently masculine vision of the modern by symbolizing the Eiffel Tower with its bare iron
frame. A wide range of technological innovations signaled the beginning of the modern era—such as electricity, railways, telecommunications, science, education, culture, art,
photography and cinematography, modern tourism, and even imperialism itself. (ibid.)
“Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is, I dunno. If the Eiffel Tower were now representing the world’s age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle knob at its summit would represent man’s share of that age; and anybody would perceive that the skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.” (Mark Twain, 1903)
Maxwell's analysis of ethnographic display symmetrically applies to the snow globe in terms of embodying knowledge from scaled plans of reality. Miniaturized scenes were put into the interior of the globe container. A
thin layer of glass separates the spectator from the 'things.' In such a subject-object dualism, specific forms of
knowledge are expanded worldwide. The showcase of a particular scene
in fenced or sealed containers serves as the traction of wonder to exhibition-goers. From
colonized culture and people to the Eiffel Tower, showing off the fruits of progress became
products for tourists or travelers. Progress has
been incorporated by the newly dominant ideology of consumerism.
There is probably a particular set of visual cultures associated with this unique way of forming knowledge. In the essay of the rain seen through the window, Flusser wrote:
"Out there, the elements of nature are at play and their purposeless circularity turns as always. Whoever is caught in its circle is exposed to uncontrollable forces, a powerless part of its violent gyrations.
In here, different processes are at play. Whoever is inside directs the events. Hence the sensation of shelter: it is the sensation of one who is within history and culture contemplating the meaningless turbulence of nature.” (Flusser, 1979)
Interposing a framed transparent layer, a window, distinguishes the 'in here'
from the 'out there. One is the realm of culture and the other is the realm of nature. Through
the window, subtle exclusion and inclusion are achieved at the same time—the tactile sense is
closed between the two areas, whereas the visual sense is open. "The sensation of shelter" can
only be achieved when potential threats from nature are prevented through technological
"Hence the sensation of shelter: it is the sensation of one who is within history and culture contemplating the meaningless turbulence of nature.” (ibid.)
The subject and object are placed at an appropriate distance following the path of a specific gaze. There is a correlation between reductive treatment of subjectivization and objectification and the presence of intervening techniques. This determined system can be characterized in Latour's statement of still life:
“But we do not pay enough attention to the symmetrical strangeness that gives the object the very odd role of being there only so as to be seen by a subject. Someone who is looking, for example, at a still life (the expression itself is significant) is entirely programmed so as to become the subject in relation to this type of object, whereas the objects – for example, oysters, lemons, capons, bowls, bunches of gold-
tinged grapes arrayed on the folds of a white tablecloth – have no role other than to be presented to the sight of this particular type of gaze.” (Latour, 2017)
Through the window, any chaotic gesture of agents out there appears simply as a
scenic effect. After all, a particular 'scene' has to do with the aesthetics that come from
partially experiencing reality in a particular order. Regardless of whether the snowflakes are
crystallized or tangled with fine hairs, whether they suck into one's nostrils and cause
sneezing, even if the greenery exploding through photosynthesis backgrounds the snowfall,
everything observed from a distance through the manner is simply a ‘snowy (or different)
scene.' The tactile sense is not included in the dualistic order of subject-object.
However, it is essential to note that snow globes have manifested a generative
process, since before dualistic language arranges our cognition. There is more to the snow
globe than just a material-semiotic device. The first patent for the technical principle of the
snow globe was issued in 1900 by Erwin Perzy in Austria, a surgical instrument mechanic.
Apparently, local doctors asked him to design better lighting to improve the working
environment in the operating room. In applying the principle that a water-filled glass sphere
amplifies the light sources such as a candle, semolina, or magnesium powder was added
inside to test better reflectivity. Contrary to the expected result, the stirred powder went
down, and the material bodies in motion were diffracted in a muddle over the water-sphere
continuum. All things in the techno-organic container blur their determined outlines and
involve themselves as part of a holistic body. The experience of the newly oriented world
never felt before rendered not only a unique vision on such a jumbling scale but something
more. The transitive scales are not pre-treated but synchronized by one’s gazing and
movement. While taking part in this unconventional culture, the aptitude of the observed object and the purity of the subject has gone. There is no the 'out there' and the 'in here' but
only symbiotic relations between bodies as part of their community. This cyborg-form of
non-scaleability does not know how to identify, categorize and classify the interconnected
agents but only to involve, digest, and disgorge. The tactile collaboration of cyborg bodies,
too immersive, worships the material world, therefore fetishism. The most secular form of
body-culture liberates the linguistic order of object-subject dualism.
Eliasson’s "Visual mediation" is an installation consisting of multiple globes with
differently coated surfaces. The globes, arranged in an orderly manner to form a circle,
suggest the intentionality of accumulating knowledge. Each globe has an individual
reflectivity through holes of various sizes for the light to pass through. The cyborg-eyes with
different perspectives generate divergent realities. Real-time synchronization between
interconnected bodies by their gravitation is neither one nor each. Symbiotic bodies create
realities in the knot of time and space.
The non-scaleability of a quirky globe is entirely different from 'the Globe' in terms of
its relationship to time and space. As Latour noted, despite being alien to our thought process,
Eliasson's globe is completely realistic.
“One can of course arrange maps to offer the impression of a zoom effect, but it is exactly that: an effect, an assemblage as artificial as a fake perspective in a stage set. Such montage effects can be verified by a glance at Google Earth. The engine provides the impression of political transition (the pixels become increasingly small), whereas, in practice, each stage in the “resolution" extracts from the new data sets on the server (following the same principle as in cartography, similarly founded on the concept of a range of data whose projection depends entirely on the metric selected)" (Latour, )
Snow globe is a metaphor for hope and actual action to realize a new globe that can be
connected to others but does not possess totality, a globe that reflects secular and worldly
bodies instead of a resemblance to a pre-programmed celestial body, and a globe that speaks
knowledge without cognitive reduction, what we call 'objectivity'.
Figure 1. Ziehe, Jens. Olafur Eliasson: Visual mediation. 2017.
Tsing put that in the twentieth century, we became used to political ecologies of
production—the production of stuff, the production of citizenship, and the production of
knowledge—in which unauthorized others had no useful place. (Tsing, 2012) For Latour, the
fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was more than a signal that communism had failed. Also, it
means the collapse of capitalism itself in the context that we invented the end of infinite
nature and inequality between social lives. Symmetrical collapses are considered cataclysmic
events that could transform our intellectual and cultural habits. (Latour, 2017) Since society is
a collection of different forms of actors, even those who have kept a Western perspective,
there is no longer a possibility of viewing society as simply human history. Therefore, a way
of thinking that emphasizes the individual and its boundaries is questioned by Haraway.
“Hustak and Myers argue that a zero-sum game based on competing methodological individualists is a caricature of the sensuous, juicy, chemical, biological, material- semiotic, and science-making world.” (Haraway, 2016)
It is important to recognize that reality is not always arranged in a specific manner,
and material actions outside identification happen vibrantly but remain unknown. Throughout
this chapter, we stutter and discuss the non-humancentric world, the world outside of the
world labeled, and ultimately reveal it as a realm that can be seen, read, and written, to
implement that "the word became flesh." Attaching rhetoric to something that exists outside
of knowing is an effort to acknowledge our ignorance and understand the alienated forms of
“But the implosion of metaphor (and more than metaphor), of trope and world, the extraordinary tentacular closeness of processes of semiosis and fleshliness, sets me up at the level of both affect and cognitive apparatus for being suspicious of the division between the human and everybody else.”(Haraway, 2016)
Summer snow—the friction between populus species and homo sapiens—and snow
globe—the symbiosis of bodies in the cyborg world— are concepts of the interrelation
between certain bodies that deviate from a specific historical arrangement. With these
rhetorical materials, we will practice the tangible recognition of summersnowglobe.
The notion of 'species' is certainly post-human in that any population can be
vectorized and moved in and out of the system. However, when questions arise about the
issues that determine life and death, who can dispose of them, and who matters, humans are
inevitably associated with their position as the dominant species on the planet. As these
discourses are keen to death, they fail to provide a clear answer to the question of how to live
well together in a material space.
Therefore, Haraway proposes the notion of "compost" instead of "posthuman," asserting
affirmative biopolitics of "living and dying well together within a community." Among the
phallic cult of "homo" and "humus" in the etymological sense of humans, the latter must be
pursued so that biotic and abiotic actors are equally crucial for our collective living. We
depend on each other in unexpected collaborations and combinations in a chaotic world.
"If you’re in compost, the questions of finitude and mortality are prominent, not in some kind of depressive or tragic way, but those who will return our flesh to the Earth are in the making of compost.”(Haraway and Franklin, 2017)
According to Margulis, humans are microbes. Our very existence is nothing more
than the recombination of several microbes and other bacteria that were able to metabolize
using oxygen two billion years ago. Also, ninety percent of the DNA in our body belongs to
microorganisms. (Margulis and Sagan, 1986) As soil is truly a complex ecosystem that hosts
bacteria, fungi, protists, plants, and animals, we as compost have always been "muddling"
with every agent. A variety of collaborations are possible to occur between humans, plants,
animals, and even mechanical bodies through organisms that encompass the entire range of
ecological possibilities. (Jacoby et al., 2017) Also from the soil to the canopy, a wide variety
of bacteria and fungi can be found in the roots, stems, leaves, and seeds of poplar trees.
(Cregger et al., 2018) The hollow structure of a single poplar seed contains a large and
efficient surface area inside. (Zhang et al., 2018) This suggests that microorganisms could be
contained or cultured in their microtubule fine hairs.—putting one piece of news related to
this characteristic, the Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered the cutting and lopping
of hundreds of thousands of female poplar trees due to concerns about the spread of
Convid-19 infection. While there was no study proving the possibility of infection by poplar
fluffs, the tragedy happened in an attempt to prevent the potential danger. (Parvaiz, 2021)
A dense network of collaboration between earthly actors through the compost set us
free from human exceptionalism. Our lives are shaped by microbes that swarm from the very
body to a huge global environment. Everything on Earth is neither a whole nor an individual.
Haraway's terraforming is about implosion and involution—recovering— instead of
expanding and revolution—progress.
“Critters do not precede their relatings; they make each other through semiotic material involution, out of the beings of previous such entanglements.”(Haraway, 2016)
Le Guin reminds us that humanity's first technology was not a stick, a spear, or a
sword, but a 'recipient'. She introduces a container as a medium to tell a story and as a motif
of the story. The tales told do not always have to be heroic sagas.
"We’ve heard it, we’ve all heard about all the sticks and spears and swords, the things to bash and poke and hit with, the long, hard things, but we have not heard about the thing to put things in, the container for the thing contained. That is a new story. That is news.”(Le Guin, 1986)
There is a theme of maintenance in the story of the container functioning between receiving
and transporting. Disharmonious but harmonious actors are put together, culturing together,
and passed from this container to that container, whether they are situated in the ordinary or
"If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it’s useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again — if to do that is human, if that’s what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.”(ibid.)
Container's story tells the collective survival of life. The container accommodates both
helpful and sometimes harmful others and weaves a story about the molecules of life in the
shape of a double helix whose beginning and end are unknown. Container's fiction does not
know an alternative world but lives up on the ground.
“I differ with all of this. I would go so far as to say that the natural, proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.”(ibid.)
Perhaps we have heard too many provocative and exciting stories. Various forms of
culture in the container have not been yet heard as there is no rhetorical common ground for
the knowledge. Ignoring Prometheus and apocalyptic narratives about domination between
different powers, can we tell a sympoiesis narrative of fermentation with other collaborators?
Rice Brewing Sisters Club’s “Terrestrial – Celestial” is a space where symbiotic
collaboration takes place in a microbial culture container for fermentation of Nuruk*. On one
side of the farm, doughs made out of grains such as wheat, barley, and rice are laid out on
grass that will provide microbes.
Nuruk is a traditional Korean fermentation starter used to make starch-based alcoholic beverages. Nuruk
contains fungi that produce amyloytic and proteolytic enzymes responsible for starch saccharification and
Figure 2. Schümer, Oliver. Rice Brewing Sisters Club: Terrestrial – Celestial. Art Laboratory Berlin. 2022.
A temperature-controllable quilt surrounds the incubation field and maintains an
appropriate condition for microorganisms to survive. When fermentation starts, white
mycelium begins to appear on the surface of the dough. Various enzymes are actively
generated during the primary fermentation period when the dough swells and the mycelium
proliferates. In this process, the surface of the yeast is colored white and yellow and gives off
a unique odor. Nuruk is by no means a whole or an individual but bodies, relationships, and a
world of various symbiotic collaborators, thus a bodies. The actors’ tireless longing for each
other and physical attraction change the terrain of yeast. Nuruk provides spatial clues into
how microbes migrated from vegetation and human hands get along with the native microbes
of cereals. Yeast is a small but non-scalable real society that tools, microbes, plants, and
humans co-create. This generative friction in material semiosis tells the story of a world in
which molecules intervene, mix, swell, disperse and become useful together while the chains
of polymer materials weakened during migration and settlement. Nuruk symbolizes the
knowledge of the critters telling the story for well-being together.
Figure 3. Deussen, Tim. Rice Brewing Sisters Club: Terrestrial – Celestial. Art Laboratory Berlin. 2022.
Many mothers of mothers are well aware of the fragile but fundamental process of
fermentation. The types of vegetation for yeast vary from document to document, from
individual to individual, and from local to local. There are a possible variety of materials
from commonly used rice straws, pine needles, mugwort, and lotus leaves to mulberry leaves.
—even one blogger wrote her experiences of fermentation with unidentified random leaves
collected from her neighborhood*.
For worlding summersnowglobe, summer snow's lignocellulosic bodies, silimar with
rice straws, are invited to blanket the snow globe as containers.
Figure 4. Park, Dawoon. poplar seeds on a catkin. 2022.
The microorganisms from summer snow migrate to the cereal bodies and the interconnected bodies culture together in emerging texture and colors in slow motion.
Aspergillus oryzae, Aspergillus niger, and Monascus purpureus......* Looking at
what is called empirical order created by those who like to name it, we only confront the fact
that order exists. Then, mother’s mother's mothers only worship the emerging texture and
color, thus the terraforming in very slow motion. The humble wait continues. If the yeast is
good for humans, humans can eat it; if not, compost can eat it. There is no success or failure
* These are biological names of organisms that live in Nuruk.
Godubap, steamed rice, absorbs yeast-dissolved water and swells. As the Godubap is
fermented, pulp begins to sink. Bubbles inflate and burst through apertures in the milky mud.
The clear liquor gradually escalated on the top of the jar. Nevertheless, unripe Godubap
grains are still floating on the top of the rice wine. You may now serve Dongdongju for
others. Dongdong in Korean refers to something in motion floating in a liquid. Floating white
grains now looks like snowflakes. This material semiosis manifests summersnowglobalism.
Figure 5. Dongdongju. Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture. 2022. https://folkency.nfm.go.kr/kr/topic/detail/ 7515
Figure 6. Snow globe. Coolsnowglobe. 2022. https://coolsnowglobes.com/
Summer snow manifests friction between material bodies in an aperture of the nature-
Snow globe manifests symbiotic ecology of interconnected bodies that can not be reduced
to subject-object dualism.
Summersnowglobe manifests generative friction when companion species culture each
other and make a world together for collective maintenance.
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