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Anicka Yi in "Bodies of Knowledge" - Season 11 | Art21

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    -[Anicka VO] Humans have
    a fear of impermanence.
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    We go against nature to try
    to preserve and stabilize and
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    control something that
    resists all of that.
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    In around 2010, I started
    deep-frying flowers and plants.
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    This very clunky batter
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    is almost masking and
    destroying the flower itself,
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    and then you subject them
    to 300-degree hot oil.
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    ♪♪♪
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    The visual aspects of it was
    definitely something that I was
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    aiming for, but the odor of,
    like, french fries [laughs]
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    of an artwork or something, that
    was very much compelling me to,
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    you know, fry up
    a batch of these.
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    ♪pensive synth music♪
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    There's always been an
    incredible vulnerable aspect to
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    my work.
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    Many of my works use this
    element of deterioration and
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    perishable materials.
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    ♪♪♪
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    I'm interested in the kind of
    mutations that can take place in
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    these changes.
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    I work with living creatures,
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    ultrasound gel,
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    bacteria,
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    algae,
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    kelp,
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    and soap.
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    -[Anicka] Looks so good.
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    Oh my gosh, I
    forgot all about this.
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    Wow, it's like seeing the
    piece for the first time again.
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    It's really good.
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    There is such a sensual
    quality to this soap.
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    The thing that really keeps
    haunting me is this glowing,
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    floating
    underwater kind of quality.
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    And it's really
    hard to do, you know?
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    -Because resin doesn't do it...
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    -[Esther] Right.
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    -[Anicka] Acrylic
    doesn't do it...
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    -[Esther] Right.
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    -And as problematic
    and volatile as it is,
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    I'm trying to retain
    and capture that quality.
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    I can tell you what
    to anticipate is that,
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    because glycerin is a humectant,
    it will just over time slowly
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    shrink a little.
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    -[Esther] And so that's okay?
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    -If you get dents
    and cuts and gashes,
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    that's fine; it's not intended
    to be pristine and perfect.
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    ♪ethereal
    oscillating synths♪
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    -[Anicka VO] I'm quite
    omnivorous in the areas and
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    disciplines where I draw from.
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    Before it's even a
    fully-fleshed idea,
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    I start small
    trials in the studio,
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    much like you would
    do in a laboratory.
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    As the trials
    start to bear fruit,
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    we bring in the
    experts to help us,
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    whether it's a software
    engineer or a forensic chemist
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    or a perfumer.
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    I look to the natural
    sciences, synthetic sciences,
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    artificial
    intelligence research.
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    That seems like a very
    maximalist approach,
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    but I think that we can't really
    discount how we are influenced
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    by all of these
    different systems and ideas
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    and information.
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    -[Anicka] I just want to
    climb up on these hills...
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    -[man] [chuckles]
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    -[Anicka] And just
    enter into the screen,
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    -and go into the drawing.
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    -[man] Yeah.
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    -How can I translate that
    then into the outer world --
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    that feeling of wanting
    to climb up these hills?
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    'Cause that's what these
    anemone panels do for me.
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    -Yeah.
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    -You know, that
    rolling, undulating feeling.
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    -Yeah.
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    -But then, when we were talking
    about more of a kind of a...
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    Maybe-- I don't know, maybe we
    need to think about something
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    more immersive.
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    ♪upbeat bouncing synths♪
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    -[Anicka VO] We have a very
    limited imagination when it
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    comes to machines.
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    We have a lot of anxiety
    that they will replace us.
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    But what if we could relate to
    them in a more optimistic way?
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    ♪♪♪
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    I really wanted to
    merge the biosphere
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    with the technosphere.
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    I consulted software
    engineers, molecular biologists
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    to create what I
    called "aerobes."
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    I was inspired by
    the comb jellyfish,
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    the lion's mane mushroom...
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    The machines respond
    and detect one another
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    through high
    frequency radio waves.
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    And they're able to detect
    heat signatures of visitors.
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    Some aerobes are
    curious about the visitors,
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    while some are more shy.
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    It was really important for me
    that they were unpredictable,
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    and that they had space and
    time for their own evolution.
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    You know that
    they're mechanical,
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    and yet they feel
    palpably alive.
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    ♪uplifting ethereal music♪
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    It inspires a
    feeling of awe and calm,
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    like you're swimming
    next to a humpback whale.
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    I'm always surprised how
    much power that they had
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    to quell a lot of anxiety.
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    With these aerobes,
    I, too, get to inhabit
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    this space of wonder.
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    -[woman VO] Another kind of
    trace is formidably encapsulated
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    by the French word "sillage."
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    It means "the degree to which a
    perfume's fragrance lingers in
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    the air when worn."
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    So in a way, an organism's
    sillage is a living presence
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    sensed even in the
    absence of a body or an author.
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    -Oh, yeah.
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    This is the bullfrog.
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    -[woman] [laughs]
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    -That is very animal.
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    -It's like boggy, frog...
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    -Mm-hm.
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    -Swampy.
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    -[woman] Very swampy.
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    -One of the earliest forms
    of inquiries in my research
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    is how we relate to smell, how
    it informs what I would call
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    "the biopolitics of our senses."
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    I grew up in a
    very pungent home,
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    and was very keenly and acutely
    aware of how smell does start to
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    create these forms of identity
    around these
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    invisible scent molecules.
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    ♪ethereal piano music♪
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    In the Western world, we really
    tend to reject very pungent
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    odors as a
    sign of weakness,
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    as a sign of
    being more animal.
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    We have left those odors behind
    us to a perfectly-sanitized
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    world where we control what we
    can smell and what we can't,
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    and that is an impossible
    approach to existence.
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    I had an exhibition in Milan,
    and I worked with a French
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    artist and perfumer,
    Christophe Laudamiel.
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    One of the central
    series are two dryer doors
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    with two different scents.
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    One dryer door had
    a bullfrog aroma.
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    The other
    contained this broomstick,
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    sort of cardboard
    sweeping-away aroma
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    after everything has been
    packed up in your home,
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    getting ready to
    evacuate a space that holds
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    a lot of memories
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    of love and
    sadness and despair.
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    It really is about memory, but
    also forgetting and letting go.
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    ♪bittersweet string music♪
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    I always straddle this
    awkward line between
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    perishability and
    non-perishability.
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    We look to art as a
    form of preservation,
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    as a statement on
    our civilization,
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    on our species.
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    And yet, you can't have
    monumentality without
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    recognizing the
    embedded vulnerability around
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    monumentality.
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    My work deals a lot with
    what it means that things are
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    perpetually
    blossoming and decaying.
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    Change is the most constant
    form that we can acknowledge
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    and embrace.
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    ♪ ethereal ambient music ♪
Title:
Anicka Yi in "Bodies of Knowledge" - Season 11 | Art21
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
Art21
Project:
"Art in the Twenty-First Century" broadcast series
Duration:
11:39

English subtitles

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