[蒸汽船] Steamboat is a collaborative project between three artists. Together with Katarina Petrovic and Nele Brokelmann, we investigate the nature and form (the possibility) of a horizontal creative collaboration. Taking (building) a steamboat as a metaphor, we explore the chaotic process of co-creation that embodies (power) struggles for taking the lead, our each individual baggage of "style" and preference, difficulties in maneuver (mis-)understandings beyond words and thoughts. These turbulent forces are waves that keep the boat afloat, while looking at the technological drive behind industrial revolution that gave rises to steamboats, we (re-)create how to research and make together through video essays, co-writing, sound walks and workshops.
The image of a Steamboat emerged through a collective drawing session, when we were joyously talking and imagining building a place for ourselves. A place where we can support each other by engaging in stimulating dialogues, a place where the imagination can run free, a place where the plant of our interaction is carefully cultivated. We took the image as a mythical origin from which our inquiry materialized into reality.
In our first exhibition at ruimteCAESUUR (Middelburg), we approached the project by scouting the fields that the Steamboat relates to: the history of steamboats, the technology of steam engines and the contemporary analogy of steam engines to search engines. This rough sketch was documented in a video essay. As we were mapping out the relations, we started to get a clearer sense of the way we work together. This has led to a reflection on the importance of the way collaborations are constructed, in our specific situation as artists and social production in general. How are ideas — considered as steam — formed from a multitude of singular beings? How is collective and collaborative working talked about in the contemporary capitalist framework? What are the limitations and potentials of collective creation in terms of artistic production and the general idea of societal progress? We looked deeper into these questions through our second exhibition at Trixie (The Hague).
We edited our artist talk into a screenplay for 6 actors titled [蒸汽船] Steamboat in the Making, navigating the turbulent world-seas.
As a collective investigation together with our audiences, we hosted three workshops with specific questions inspired by steam:
How to make steam in a Scientific World?
This first chapter in our workshop series departs from our current world based on the reading of a chapter from a steampunk novel: The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, wherein the computer age arrives a century earlier. Based on this we engage in several writing exercises.
How to manage steam as an unwanted byproduct?
The second chapter in our workshop series looks at steam as an industrial byproduct. We look into existing industrial management strategies and take the description of these complex processes from academic papers as an inspiration to write steam poetry collectively.
How to make steam in an Extro Scientific World?
In the last chapter of our workshop series we will take the writings produced in the first two chapters to inform us how an alternative world of steam could look like. We will also collectively read and discuss a short paragraph from Science Fiction and Extro-Science Fiction by Quentin Meillassoux. Concluding into collectively enacting, testing and thereby building this alternative world of steam.
And we organized several public drift sessions with the sound fragments you can listen to and start drifting along anywhere.