SENSOTRA tutkimushankkeen aistiympäristökokemukset talteen | SENSOTRA research project sensory environment experiences captured

(Please, scroll down to read a summary in English.)

SENSOTRA-hankkeessa tutkitaan eri sukupolvien edustajien kokemuksia omasta elinympäristöstään. Erityisen kiinnostuneita projektin tutkijat ovat olleet siitä, miten erilaiset laitteet ja teknologiset apuvälineet vaikuttavat ihmisten elämään. Tutkimuksen kohteena on kolmen keskisuuren eurooppalaisen kaupungin – Turun, Brightonin ja Ljubljanan – elettyjen aistiympäristöjen muutos aikavälillä 1950—2021. Puolet tutkittavista on eri alojen taiteilijoita. Hankkeen johtaja, kulttuurintutkimuksen professori Helmi Järviluoma sai Euroopan tutkimusneuvostolta (ERC) noin 1,9 miljoonan euron varttuneen tutkijan tutkimusmäärärahan vuosille 2016—2021.

Tieteidenvälinen hanke tuottaa rikasta dataa

Tieteidenvälisessä hankkeessa on keskitytty tutkimaan ylisukupolvisia ympäristösuhteita erityisesti aistielämäkertojen avulla. Äskettäin ilmestyneessä humanistista kaupunkitutkimusta esittelevässä kirjassa projektin tutkijat kuvaavat SENSOTRA:n päämetodia seuraavasti:

Tutkimuksen aistielämäkerralliset kävelyt toteutettiin siten, että eri sukupolvia edustavat parit kulkivat yhdessä yhden tai useamman tutkijan kanssa kaupungilla. Kumpikin tutkittava sai vuorollaan valita kävelyreitin. Kävelyiden aikana keskusteltiin aistimuksista ja aistimuistoista. Puhe ja muistelu keskittyivät yleensä tutkittavien kokemuksiin ympäristönsä muutoksista sekä siihen, kuinka tapamme käyttää kaupunkia on vuosien ja vuosikymmenten varrella – ja myös teknologioiden kehittyessä muuttunut. Keskustelut ovat fokusoituneet sekä aistiympäristöön itseensä että siihen, kuinka tapamme “käyttää” kaupunkia on vuosien ja vuosikymmenten varrella – ja myös teknologian kehittyessä – muuttunut. (Järviluoma, Aula, Pöllänen, Pärjälä, Tiainen & Venäläinen 2021, 63.)

Hanke tallentaa näitä eri sukupolvien kokemuksia aistiympäristöistä videoina, kuvina, äänitallenteina ja paikkatietoina. Hankkeen alkuvaiheessa oli kunnianhimoinen tavoite toteuttaa avoimen tieteen periaatteita ja avata kerättävää aineistoa mahdollisimman avoimesti jatkokäyttöön. Tämä oli kirjattuna myös hankkeen aineistonhallintasuunnitelmaan.

Datan avaamisen haasteet ihmistieteissä

Tutkimusaineiston avaamisessa kuitenkin törmättiin heti haasteisiin: tietosuojalainsäädännön mukaan avoimeen käyttöön voidaan antaa vain anonyymiä aineistoa, josta yksittäiset henkilöt eivät ole tunnistettavissa. Esimerkiksi kasvokuva ja puheääni ovat henkilötietoa. Tämän hankkeen etnografisen aineiston anonymisointi eli henkilötietojen pysyvä poistaminen, ei ole mahdollista ilman että aineisto menettäisi tieteellistä ja kulttuurihistoriallista arvoaan. Niinpä jo alkuvaiheessa päädyttiin siihen, että aineisto on arkistoitava tunnisteellisena (Järviluoma & Ruotsalainen 2018.) Vielä hankkeen loppuvaiheessa on epäselvää, miten tätä ainutlaatuista arkistoitavaa aineistoa voidaan luvanvaraisesti antaa jatkokäyttöön.

Koska varsinaisen tutkimusaineiston antaminen avoimeen käyttöön ei ollut mahdollista, hankkeessa toteutettiin interaktiivinen Sensotra Tour -verkkosivu osoitteeseen: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/1364831714358067201. Sivusto esittelee aistielämänkerrallisia kävelyjä kolmessa kaupungissa, hyödyntäen sekä 360-kuvia ja 360-videoita että äänitallenteita äänimaisemista ja haastatteluista. Tutkittavien anonymiteetin takaamiseksi haastatteluosuudet on tuotettu ääninäyttelijöiden avulla.

Kokonaisuutena tutkimusaineistoa syntyi lähes yhden teratavun verran. Suurin osa aineistosta on videomuotoista. Videot on tallennettu mov-tiedostomuodossa. Aineistoon kuuluu lisäksi äänihaastatteluita, jotka on tallennettu wav-tiedostomuodossa. Aineistosta löytyy myös 360-valokuvia, tilaääntä, GPS-dataa, atlas.ti-, Excel-, ja Word-tiedostoja sekä PDF-dokumentteja. Suurin osa aineistosta sisältää henkilötietoja, joten aineiston käsittelyssä on huolehdittava tietosuojaan liittyvistä kysymyksistä. Näissä on noussut uusia haasteita hankkeen aikana voimaan tulleen Euroopan yleisen tietosuoja-asetuksen vuoksi.

Koko aineisto on katsottu kulttuurihistoriallisesti merkittäväksi materiaaliksi, joka halutaan säilyttää pitkäaikaisesti tutkimustarkoituksiin kokonaisuutena, jolloin sitä ei voida myöskään anonymisoida menettämättä itse aineistoa. Hankkeen aikana aineisto on ollut tallennettuna EUDAT:n B2DROP-palvelussa ja se on tarkoitus siirtää IDA-palveluun ja sieltä edelleen pitkäaikaissäilytykseen Fairdata-PAS -palveluun.

Pitkäaikaissäilytykseen siirtyminen on edellyttänyt, että aineistoa on tarkastettu monista näkökulmista ja tiedostomuotojen siirtokelpoisuudesta on täytynyt tehdä selvityksiä ja ratkaisuja siitä, mitä aineistolle tarvitsee tehdä ennen pitkäaikaissäilytykseen siirtämistä. Hankkeen toimijat ovat olleet yhteydessä CSC – Tieteen tietotekniikan keskuksen asiantuntijoihin, joilla on ollut pääsy tiedostoihin ja näin he ovat voineet keskustella heidän kanssaan ilman välikäsiä.

Fairdata-PAS palvelun käyttöönottoa valmisteltiin hakemalla tallennuslupaa Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriöstä, jonka jälkeen ryhdyttiin keskustelemaan palvelusopimuksen laatimisesta yliopiston ja CSC:n kanssa. Käytössä oleva palvelusopimus on yliopiston sopimussäännösten vastainen, joten sopimuksen allekirjoittamista varten täytyi laatia erillisen selvitys allekirjoittajalle ennen sopimuksen hyväksymistä.

Myös sopimuksen liitteissä on ollut haasteita, kun palvelun käyttötarkoitus on palvelusopimuksen mukaisesti tutkimus, mutta pitkäaikaissäilytystarpeen mukaisesti tarpeemme on myös arkistoinnillinen. Tämän huomiointi edellyttää erityiskirjauksia aineiston käsittelyliitteeseen. Kirjaston tehtävänä on ollut koordinoida hankkeen toimijoita prosessin edistämiseksi ja tehtävien aikatauluttamiseksi.

Hyvä datanhallintasuunnitelma ja ennakointi auttaa datan avaamisessa

Hanke opetti paljon tutkimusdatan avaamisesta sekä tutkijoille, että dataan liittyvien palveluiden toteuttajille. Humanistinen tutkimus, jossa tutkitaan lähtökohtaisesti yksilöitä, näyttäytyy erityisen haasteelliselta sekä tutkijoiden, että tutkimuskohteiden kannalta. Yksi keino avata aineistoa laajan yleisön nähtäville on tämä SENSOTRA -hankeen toteuttama muokattu versio, jolla annetaan kuva – jopa näytelty – siitä, mitä aineisto on.

Varsinaista henkilötietoja sisältävää tutkimusaineistoa voidaan tietyissä tapauksissa luovuttaa luvan varaisesti toisille tutkijoille tutkimuskäyttöön, mutta käytännöt tähän ovat vasta muotoutumassa. Jos aineisto on mahdollista anonymisoida, kuten esimerkiksi usein haastatteluaineistoissa voidaan tehdä, avaaminen helpottuu. Tällöinkin on syytä panostaa etukäteissuunnitteluun.

Tutkimushankkeelle ja tutkijoille onkin erityisen tärkeää valmistella viimeistään hankkeen alussa se, miten tutkimusta ja sen tuloksia halutaan avata. Selkeät sopimukset kaikkien toimijoiden kanssa, mukaan lukien tutkimuskohteena olevat henkilöt, voivat mahdollistaa laajankin aineiston avaamisen ja ne tulee tehdä heti hankkeen alussa. Jälkikäteen niiden laatiminen on hankalaa ja aikaa vievää.

Tutkijoiden kannattaa ottaa yhteyttä jo aineistonkeruuta suunnitellessa siihen arkistoon, johon aikovat aineistoa tallentaa tutkimuksensa jälkeen. Näin arkiston asiantuntijat voivat auttaa huomioimaan tarvittavat toimet esimerkiksi tutkittavien informoinnissa, ja joko aineiston anonymisoinnin tai sen arkistoimisen henkilötietojen kannalta.

Uudet teknologiat myös mahdollistavat tutkimuskohteen monipuolisen havainnoinnin ja datan tallentamisen. Tästä kannattaa olla yhteydessä myös viimeistään tutkimushankkeen alussa datan tallentamisen ja avaamisen asiantuntijoihin, jotta tiedostomuotojen sopivuus varsinkin pitkäaikaiseen käyttöön voidaan varmistaa.

Lähteet
Järviluoma, H., Aula I., Pöllänen, S., Pärjälä, E. & Venäläinen, J. 2021. Kaupunki taiteena ja taitelijat kaupungissa – Taiteentekemisen ja ympäristön yhteismuotoutuminen aistielämäkerrallisilla kävellyillä. Teoksessa Humanistinen kaupunkitutkimus, toim. Tanja Vahtikari, Terhi Ainiala, Aura Kivilaakso, Pia Olsson & Panu Savolainen. Tampere: Vastapaino.

Järviluoma, H., & Ruotsalainen, J. 2018. Betoniporsaita avoimen tiedon valtatiellä: SENSOTRA-hanke tietosuojalainsäädännön murroksessa. Elore, 25(2). https://doi.org/10.30666/elore.77216

Briefly in English

The SENSOTRA project examines the experiences of different generations of their own habitat. Researchers in the project have been particularly interested in how different devices and technological aids affect people’s lives. The study focuses on the change in sensory environments experienced by three medium-sized European cities – Turku, Brighton, and Ljubljana – between 1950 and 2021. Half of the subjects are artists from different fields. The project leader, Helmi Järviluoma, Professor of Cultural Research, received a research grant from the European Research Council (ERC) of approximately EUR 1.9 million for a researcher for the period 2016–2021.

The project taught much about opening research data to public use for both researchers and data service providers. Humanistic research, which basically examines individuals, seems to be particularly challenging for both researchers and research subjects.

One way to open research data for wide audience is the SENSOTRA’s modified version that gives an overview – even a highly edited one – of what the material is. Sensotra Tour in an interactive web page that demonstrates the sensobiographic walks carried out in three cities. It uses 360-photos, 360-videos, soundscape recordings and recorded interviews. The excerpts of the interviews are acted by voice actors to secure the anonymity of the interviewees.

In certain cases, the actual research data containing personal data can be shared to researchers through permits for reuse in research. However, the practices for this are still taking shape. If it is possible to anonymize the data, as it is often for example with interview data, opening the data is easier. Even then, it is essential to plan carefully in advance how to open the data.

It is therefore important for the research project and researchers to prepare, latest at the beginning of the project, how the research and its results are to be opened. Clear agreements with all actors help in this and these must be made early on in the project. Post-preparation is cumbersome and time-consuming. At the very beginning of the data collection planning, researchers should contact the archive where they are planning to archive the data after the research. The experts in the archive can assist to consider all needed aspects such as informing the participants and either anonymizing the data or archiving it with personal data.

New technologies also enable versatile observation and storing different types of data. Here, it is also worth contacting experts in data management at the beginning of the research project, to ensure the suitability of the file formats, especially for long-term use and preservation.

Helmi Järviluoma, tutkimusjohtaja | Research Director
Humanistinen osasto / Suomen kieli ja kulttuuritieteet | School of Humanities / Finnish Language and Cultural Research

Anne Karhapää, tietoasiantuntija | Information specialist
Tomi Rosti, tietoasiantuntija | Information Specialist
Tutkimuksen tuki | Research support
Opetus- ja tietopalvelut | Training and information services

Jarmo Saarti, kirjaston johtaja | Library Director


Kirjoitus on alunperin julkaistu Itä-Suomen yliopiston kirjaston blogissa.

Sharing humanity

The sensescape is not the same for everybody. Our subjectivity and sensibility, shaped by previous experience, make us feel some qualities of the space around us in a specific way. We react differently to heat and wind, to the smell of a flower or the noise of traffic. Our heart beats for the mountains in the distance or for the flowing river at our feet. During a walk, our memory and imagination are trigged in unexpected and very personal ways.

And yet, when the other is near us, walking side-by-side, we are fully aware that he, or she, will be able to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel, what we are sensing. We just need to tell them. To show. He, she is like us, a human. Our species evolved in a way to coordinate senses: this allows us to do amazing things, together. Senses and coordinated action are fundamental for human life, for survival.

Our research investigates the role of the body, mind, memory, and imagination – an embodied consciousness – in building a coordinated sense of place, time, and identity. We are interested in how the human capacity to feel plays a role in the construction of unexpected relationships. Walking together in a place of choice is a powerful way to meet the other, as well as otherness within us.

In our study, refugees living in the Province of Lecco, Northern Italy, met local young adults for a walk in their “places of the heart”. It was before the Corona virus, before social isolation, and this crisis that will haunt all of us for the years to come. Now, a lonely walk around the block is what we can do. Meeting others – strangers – is dangerous. We are forgetting how to share our humanity.

So, it feels good to look at photographs taken by Silvia Luraschi, my co-researcher, during the sensobiographic walks in the summer of 2019. This Sunday, Silvia will meet online some of the participants for a dissemination conference, to refresh their memories – and ours – about those walks. About our humanness.

Laura Formenti, Full Professor in General and Social Pedagogy, University of Milano Bicocca

Pictures by Silvia Luraschi, Italy 2019

Čutni sprehod “na daljavo”

Leto 2020 je leto improviziranja in eksperimentiranja. Razlog je znan. Tako imenovano socialno distanciranje, ki seveda ni nič drugega kot fizično distanciranje, je v službi preprečevanja širjenja virusa Covid-19 poseglo tudi v izvedbo Sejma akademske knjige Liber.ac. Ta je bil, kot vsako leto, namenjen promociji akademske knjižne produkcije v širši javnosti, a je tokat potekal »drugače«, po »karantensko«. Sejem je, kot pravijo njegovi organizatorji, »zasnovan kot tridnevna javna prireditev s spremljevalnim programom, s katero se v slovenskem prostoru uveljavlja nov tip knjižnega sejma, obenem pa se vzpostavlja novo kulturno in komunikacijsko središče«. Praviloma poteka v parku Foersterjev vrt in bližnji okolici, letošnjega maja pa se je prireditev v največji meri odvila na različnih spletnih platformah.

Tokratno edicijo so organizatorji s Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani naslovili Stopinje v mestu in jo namenili odkrivanju kulturnih, umetniških, raziskovalnih in znanstvenih sledi v Ljubljani ter njihovemu umeščanju v čas in prostor. V tem pogledu je Liber.ac 2020 zasledoval podobne cilje, kot jih zasledujemo v projektu SENSOTRA. Zato je bilo smiselno, da v neki obliki sodelujemo. Prvotna zamisel izvedbe je bila, da bi Rajko Muršič, Sandi Abram in Blaž Bajič pripravili sprehode, ki bi se osredinjali okoli zvočno-slušne izkušnje, veččutnega dojemanja okolice in preteklih doživetij v konkretnem prostoru. Ti sprehodi so bili vsekakor mišljeni kot dejanski, »fizkulturni« sprehodi v skupini, kjer bi udeleženke in udeleženci med seboj delili vtise in razmišljanja. Toda kaj ko tovrstna druženja v času pandemije niso bila dovoljena. In čeprav se je čez pomlad izkazalo, da lahko marsikatero reč opravimo po spletnih platformah, pa hoja v skupini po mestu gotovo ni med njimi. Poiskati je bilo treba drugo rešitev. Zato je sledilo nekaj improviziranja in eksperimentiranja.

Padla je odločitev, da se udeleženke in udeleženci sicer sestanemo prek spleta, kjer se pred in po sprehodu pogovorimo, sprehod pa vsak opravi sam ali v družbi članic in članov njenega oziroma njegovega gospodinjstva. Najprej je to pomenilo, da smo določili »pravila igre« t. i. čutnih sprehodov: odmerili smo čas za sprehod – trajali naj bi do 20 minut, fotografiranje in snemanje sta sicer bili zaželeni, a omejeni (omejevanje smo vzpostavili z namenom spodbujanja prisostvujočih k slikanju oziroma snemanju zgolj tistih res najbolj pomembnih in zanimivih zaznav), udeleženke in udeleženci pa naj takoj, ko se vrnejo s sprehoda, strnejo svoje vtise v krajšem zapisu, kasneje pa lahko pripravijo, če želijo, daljšo pisno refleksijo: nekatere prispele refleksije si lahko preberete spodaj. Nadalje je to pomenilo, da smo za določen čas poslovili in odpravili vsak na svoj špancir. V tem oziru se je spletna komponenta delavnice izkazala za nepričakovan blagoslov. Omogočila je, da smo se lahko sodelujoče in sodelujoči razkropili ne le po Ljubljani, kjer bi se sicer sprehajali, temveč po vsej Sloveniji in tudi onkraj njenih meja. Tako smo nazadnje lahko slišali pričevanja z zelo različnih lokacij: iz samega središča mesta, iz predmestij, s travnikov in gozdov.

Reči je treba, da je delavnica uspela. Njene uspešnosti seveda ne gre soditi zgolj po številu sodelujočih – pa že teh je bilo solidno število! – temveč po kvaliteti skupnega pogovora po individualnih sprehodih. In ta je bil nadvse zanimiv! Pa morda niti ne toliko zaradi zadev, ki so jih udeleženke in udeleženci izpostavili – čeprav, in to moramo nemudoma dodati, so prav vsi zaznali nekaj, kar bi najbrž le malokdo drugi, tudi če so pot zelo dobro poznali. Na teh izbranih poteh so skozi sprehod »izrazili« svojo lastno identiteto. Dokaj dolg pogovor je bil zanimiv (in pravzaprav lep) tudi zato, ker je bilo moč pri sodelujočih opazovati sam proces odkrivanja predhodno ne(za)znanega v sicer dobro znani okolici.

Nekaj vtisov, kot rečeno, si lahko preberete spodaj, v zapisih Kaje Poteko, Mance Voje, Rajka Muršiča in Blaža Bajiča ter vizualnem zapisu Ivana Mijačevića.


KAJA POTEKO

Merleau-Ponty, filozof, ki je v svojih delih na specifičen način nadaljeval Husserlov fenomenološki projekt, je v jedro svojega raziskovanja postavil tezo, da telesna percepcija predhaja kognitivni. Še preden svet spoznavamo konceptualno v kogniciji, tako Merleau-Ponty, ga spoznavamo s telesom. Kaj se zgodi, ko se želimo vrniti na mesto, ki predhaja znanju, o katerem pa znanje vselej govori? Zdi se, da natanko v to smer ciljajo čutni sprehodi, ki v fokus postavijo telo ter nam nalagajo odpiranje vseh čutov in pozornost, da bi lahko videli, slišali, vonjali, okusili, se dotikali, predvsem pa – bili dotaknjeni.

Ker so naša telesa vpeta v prostor, vgrajena v prostorski in družbeni kontekst, zaznava ni nikoli nevtralna, zato tudi odpiranje čutov, pomeni odpiranje, ki je zaznamovano z obstoječo situacijo. Ko stopim iz hiše, zaslišim petje ptic in veter, slišim zvok lastnih korakov, pa tudi odmevanje bolnišnične sirene. Pot skozi pografitiran podhod me pripelje do šole, kjer odmeva igra otrok na šolskem dvorišču, obenem pa tudi tišina na igrišču sosednjega vrtca – življenje se postopoma vrača nazaj, nekoliko štorasto, na kar me opozori dialog dveh staršev pred šolo, ki se sprašujeta o smiselnosti pokoronskih ukrepov. Štorasto ali ne, se je nazaj sploh vredno vrniti? Starejši grafit znanega provokativnega umetnika, t.i. vzorec iz otroštva, ki se na zidu pred mano razgalja skozi podobo medsebojno povezanih »zajcev«, govori o nasprotnem. To zdaj ni novo, to zdaj deluje v službi starega in stopa v smeri, ki je začrtana že dolgo, smeri »reševanja« posledic s krepitvijo njihovih vzrokov … Zdaj samo bolj zgoščeno in pospešeno… kakor je bil pospešen tudi moj korak ob ugotovitvi, da sem jih v 20 minut želela natrpati preveč. Ta odločitev je bila slaba, saj me je hitrost oropala natanko tistega, kar bi me lahko iztrgalo iz navade in mi dalo čas za opažanje sicer spregledanega. Ob zaključku opazim še grafit, ki je v sihnronizaciji z ostalimi političnimi grafiti zapisan v jasnem, hitro razumljivem jeziku: »Delavce na varno, politke v tovarno!« Odziv od spodaj, na ukrepe od zgoraj. Opazim tudi, da njegovega dvojnika par deset metrov stran, na fasadi za pošto, več ni – živel je zgolj malo dlje od muhe enodnevnice.

Kako dolgo bodo sporočila iz bližnje preteklosti in obstoječega trenutka ciljala v isto smeri? Pogled na kolesarnico pred hišo, ki je v teh dneh postala politično orodje par excellence, me je spomnil, kje bom čez dva dni. Kot je zapisal že Dewey: so stvari v telesu, ki so mu tuje, in so stvari zunaj telesa, ki mu pripadajo.


Manca Voje Stopinje v mestu – delavnica

Nahajala sem se na delu Poti ob žici, v bližini Dolgega mostu.

Že v pričakovanju začetka delavnice me je na vrtu spremljal glasen in konstanten zvok različnih ptic; to se mi je zdel prevladujoč zvočni pojav že vsaj skozi celotno karanteno – ali pa so zdaj zvoki ptic le bolj prišli do izraza.

Iz začetne pozicije sem se po mehki in rahlo močvirnati trati odpravila v predhodno izbrano smer sprehoda. Ko sem z vrta stopila na pot, sem pomislila, da je res lep dan: sončni žarki so prodirali skozi krošnje dreves in ustvarjali prijetno svetlobo. Poleg ptic sem zdaj slišala tudi zvok peska pod nogami.

Med hojo sem pogled usmerjala v vsako smer pred seboj in moje misli je nato prevzela neenakomerno pokošena trava ob straneh poti; za trenutek sem se spraševala, zakaj je tako.

V naslednjih nekaj korakih sem razmišljala, kako nimam občutka, da sem v mestu, saj sem bila sredi čudovite urejene narave. Srečala sem le dve osebi. Nikogar nisem slišala govoriti, le z nekega vrta se je oglasil kašelj, na kar smo morda v tem času bolj pozorni.

Spoznala sem, da še nikoli nisem hodila sama po tem odseku poti, pa stanujem v neposredni bližini že vsaj tri leta. Prvič sem se torej res poglobila v doživljanje okolice, kar mi je prineslo posebno veselje. K temu je pripomogel tudi  občutek ‘oksigeniranosti’ zraka – lahkotno dihanje, ki ga sicer, zaprta v sobi, ne zaznavam. Ves čas je pihal prijeten rahel veter.

Na dotik sem pravzaprav pozabila, zato so bile impresije večinoma vidne in slušne. Le pod nogami sem čutila strukturo tal. Vmes se je izmenjevala intenzivnost svetlobe: z močnega sonca v senčnost in oblačnost.

Prej nisem vedela za vse stranske stezice, ki se odcepijo od glavne in so me zato precej navdušile. Na približno polovici poti se je okrepil še zvok Gradaščice in avtoceste, ki se je skupaj s pticami dinamično spreminjal na različnih odsekih poti.

Stopila sem bližje k vodi, saj je bilo le na tej točki (fotografija levo) to najlažje. Na najbolj oddaljeni točki sprehoda je bila vidna tudi avtocesta, ki jo je prej zakrivalo rastlinje.

Ves čas delavnic sem čutila izjemen mir in spoznala, da me običajno cel dan spremlja hrup naprav in človeškega govora. Zato je ta čas presekal vsakodnevnega, ker sem se odklopila od vsega tega.

Ko sem se vračala nazaj na skupno nadaljevanje delavnice, sem imela še nekaj časa in zato zavila do zunanjega fitnesa. Na tablah z navodili za uporabnike me je takoj pritegnil in navdušil političen grafit (na sliki levo). Pri hoji skozi mesto vedno opažam različne grafite, ki se jih odkriva kot velikonočna jajca. Fotografirani grafit se mi je zdel najbolj urbana stvar na mojem sprehodu.

Izkušnja je bila zanimiva, ker nisem pričakovala, da bom v tako ‘navadni’ stvari zmogla izluščiti senzorična opažanja. Na delavnico sem se prijavila prav zato, da se preizkusim v metodi, poleg tega pa sem si želela pri drugih udeleženih slišati opise prvih praktičnih primerov senzorične avtoetnografije.

 


Blaž Bajič

Po dnevu predavanj, delavnice. Še dobro, da je večji del teh sestavljen iz poslušanja (ne pa govorjenja), iz hoje (ne pa sedenja)!

Sprehod sem izkoristil, da sem mimogrede dol odnesel smeti (dol – če stanuješ v bloku, ven – če stanuješ v hiši). Ko sem odprl vrata stanovanja, me je nekoliki presenetila odsotnost izrazitih vonjav. Če se preseliš v zate nov blok, tik pred vse splošnim lock-downom, in ta blok (s)poznaš v nenavadnem obdobju, ko so ljudje bili prisiljeni ostajati doma in dolgčas očitno preganjajo s preizkušanjem kuharskih in pekovskih receptur, ko so skupni prostori bili vsak dan temeljito očiščeni in razkuženi, ko se sosed odloči kaditi ob odprtem oknu na stopnišču, se pač navadiš, da ob tistih redkih priložnostih, ko končno zapustiš stanovanje (pa to ni pozno zvečer), da blok prevevaj izrazite vonjave. Tokrat nič. Stopnišče je brez opanega (!) vonja, niti tistega po zatohlosti in starem.

Že sprehod po stopnicah je kul, paše si pretegnit noge. Zazdi se mi, da je šop ključev v žepu nenavadno težak in glasen.  Zunaj je toplo, rahel vetrič, prijetno. Smeti odvržem – oziroma moram reči na silo staličim skozi režo – v enega tistih razmeroma novih »underground« smetnjakov. Čeprav je baje ena od njihovih prednosti v tem, da preprečujejo širjenje neprijetnih vonjav, jim danes to nikakor ne uspeva. Mogoče je pritisk, ne vem. No, pa saj tudi sicer ni dosti bolje.

Nadaljujem mimo parka, kjer je slišat pogovor in smeh klošarjev, ki tam pridno hengajo, bližnje trgovine in lokala, kjer sicer ko so stvari »normalne« prirejajo koncerte. Nekaj sem se jih tudi udeležil  … najbolj mi je v spominu ostal koncert Nemcev Embryo, čeprav je bil za v pozabo. Zavem se, da se kar nekako nostalgično spominjam »dobrih starih časov«, ko smo hodili na koncerte in spili kakšno pivo. Lokal so sicer ravno nekaj dni nazaj odprli, a še zdaleč ni tak, kot se ga spomnijam, poln ljudi, dokaj glasen, »zamegljen«. Deluje, po tiho.

 

Naredim krog okoli kompleksa, kjer je plesni studio, in zavijem proti Ljubljanici. Vmes se ustavim in pogledam ptičjo hišico, postavljeno na visok drog. Ptičev ni bilo opaziti. Ne vem, zakaj, a zopet obrnem, nazaj proti bloku in se tako obsodim na zelo kratek sprehod. Pri smeteh – kaj je danes z mano pa temi smetnjaki!? – opazim lepo in bujno travo oz. rastje, ki je videti skoraj kot nekakšna pšenica, klasje je prav izrazito. Videti je zelo touchable – tudi je! Zgleda tudi, da bi bilo super ležat v takšni travi, če ne bilo zraven smetnjakov in ceste … Ključi v žepu še vedno žvenketajo.

 

Zdelo se mi je, da sem bil zunaj že dolgo in da morda zamujam na nadaljevanje delavnice. Skorajda stečem po stopnicah, odklenem vrata in nazaj na kavč. V zadnjih mesecih sem skoraj zvrtal luknjo vanj. Oziroma: prilagodila sva se drug drugemu.


Rajko Muršič

Impresija solističnega čutnega sprehoda, 20. 5. 2020

Čeprav sem se trudil odpreti vsem čutom, je moj solo sprehod označeval predvsem zvok, natančneje zven stopinj, ki so bile tokrat nekoliko mehkejše, saj sem nosil športne copate. Ritem korakov, enakomerno gibanje skozi zrak, ki sem ga ves čas čutil na koži kot veter, sta bili stalnica sprehoda.

Zrak, ki se me je ves čas dotikal, v glavnem božal od zadaj, je bil vlažen. Nisem ga ravno občutil kot vlažne brisače na ramenih, toda nekako sem imel občutek prehoda v kopalnico ali iz nje.

Poleg korakov sem ves čas sprehoda poslušal ptice, ki so preglasile tudi zelo hrupen promet na Tržaški. Veliko ptic. Morda jih je dejansko vedno več.

Odločil sem se prečkati železnico oz. poiskati podhod, da se preizkusim v samoposlušanju podhodnega prehoda. No, vlak je pripeljal, še preden sem se približal prehodu, tako da sem vedel, da v podhodu ne bo neposrednega soočanja s to jekleno maso. Čeprav je bil daleč, sem si domišljal, da se mi stopala tresejo zaradi njegove tonaže.

Na sprehodu me je spremljal vonj sveže pokošene trave – ali pogled na enakomerno pokošeno travo med bloki in na dvoriščih. Dotik te trave me je spomnil na nogometno igrišče. Nekdo je v oddaljeni preteklosti res znal odlično skrbeti za Branikovo pomožno igrišče.

Porezana živa meja sicer ni oddajala svojega vonja, jo je pa bil izziv prijeti: ostrina porezanih vej je povsem drugačna od mehkobe sveže pokošene trave.

Ko sem končno prišel do podhoda, sem najprej naredil nekaj posnetkov, nato pa se umaknil ženski, ki je prav takrat hodila po tem tesnem podhodu. Ko sem se končno premaknil skozenj, se je na drugi strani zaslišal glas nekoga, ki je kar glasno narekoval nekaj nekomu v telefon. Vlaka od nikoder. Pa vendar: drugačen zrak v podhodu, posebna ojačitev lastnih korakov in predstava odboja zvoka ter tudi dihanja in zraka. Občutek, kot bi bil v zelo majhni sobici. Sklonjen in previden. Sam.

Nazaj grede sem se ustavil v pekarnici, kjer prodajajo veganske dobrote. Kadar ga pogrejejo, je burek tisti, ki označuje vonj prostora. Tokrat ni bilo nobene gneče. Pod masko sem vonjal samo svoj lasten izdih. A so pekarnice tako prijeten prostor: ko se prvič dotakneš kruha ali drugih zapečenih jedi, se vedno vrneš nazaj. In ko se zapro za teboj vrata in se utopiš v hrup mestne vpadnice, bi najraje stekel nazaj, v zavetje.


Ivan Mijačević – Čutni sprehod po okolišu ulice Ivana Tavčarja

 

  1. Strmo navzdol

 

2. Za Zavodom Zavarovanja Zdravja Slovenije

 

3. Skozi nabiralnik

 

4. V šestdestih sekundah slepo do javnih medijev – Po prepihu vas prepoznam

 

5. S srebrnino ometanimi dlanmi na Kolodvorski

 

6. One na (o)sveže(ne)m zraku

 

7. Prepovedana ustavitev in parkiranje, razen za dva P(rva) M(inista) ter veleposlaništvo nad njima

 

8. Bratovščina levo od vhoda

 

9. Bratovščina desno od vhoda

 

10. Bratovščina vizavi

 

11. Dva in nič so množina

 

13. Neomajni veliki slavist

 

15. Za nosom z zanosom

 

 

16. Tak si sodišče – v 3 p.m. z dovoljenjem v MOL-u

 

17. Še na drugi strani sodstva

 

18. Še pa še na drugi strani sodstva

 

19. Čas pred (foto)kopijo

 

20. Še pa še paše na drugi strani sodstva

 

21. Predaja doma

 

 

22. Še pa še paše pa grize na drugi strani sodstva

 

23. Še pa še paše pa šepa na drugi strani sodstva

 

24. V-tla-kovan pogled

 

25. Pozor, 3 stopnice!!!

 

26. Ljubljane najboljše

 

27. Mara Ton

 

28. Podoba za mojo slino

 

Recalibrating after the sensory lockdown

June 29, 2020 was a long-awaited day in Finland. After the three months of staring steadily at the first rapidly rising and then slowly declining Covid-19 figures, the number of patients in intensive care finally went back to zero. Already two weeks earlier, the Finnish government had revoked the Emergency Powers Act, signalling a steady but careful shift towards a “new normal”: a sort-of-ordinary social life still haunted by a cautionary undertone.

Although Finland never went to a complete lockdown – there were no curfews, half of the employees worked on-site, the nurseries remained open throughout the spring –, the experiences of the strange and frightening period are still largely to be processed, debated and critically unpacked. While the media discourse and the governmental sources stressed that “we’re all in the same boat”, there was actually a mishmash of tiny vessels with tremendously varying capacities in which people had to sail through the unknown sea.

The experience(s) of Covid-19 are illuminating also for sensory studies, even if still too close to be thoroughly scrutinised. The regulations and recommendations for physical distancing imposed a sort of “sensory lockdown”, a massive in vivo socio-cultural experiment that could have never been implemented without the threat of the pandemic.

It would be natural to think of the past spring in terms of sensory deprivation: we were advised not to touch other people or even to be in the same physical space with them. We had to let go of elementary ways of connecting bodily with others. Also, what was meant as physical distancing quickly became social distancing. Even the spatial boundaries inside which we could wander were severely limited.

However, and especially from the perspective of sensory studies, it is also important to look into how people remediated and reconfigured their habits and sensory relations in the exceptional conditions. A sudden disruption of the accustomed senso-social order not only gives hints about how the “old normal” was constituted in the first place but also sheds light to how people devise new improvisatory tactics that may go well beyond merely compensating for the reduced physical contacts. We were deprived of certain modes of sensing (-together) but surging or even abundant with other ones.

For Sensotra, in April 2020, our little worry among the much bigger worries was to decide on what to do with our much-anticipated international conference: Urban-related sensoria. Transferring a sensory studies conference into a purely digital space was not an easy decision to make. Many sensorial and bodily elements – sights, smells, sounds, or proprioseptics of walking together – would evidently be lost. Neither could we enjoy the particular landscape (in Koli national park, Finland) what we thought would have provided an inspiring backdrop for exchanging and developing ideas. However, we did not want either to throw away the unique opportunity of bringing together researchers, artists and activists around the common topic – of sensing the urban space.

In June 2020, when preparing the technical aspects of the online conference, I already felt “Zoom-exhausted”. Even that the online teaching for the spring term at the University of Eastern Finland went quite smoothly, I had recognised that the online-only working mode had become burdensome: in every Zoom meeting, there seemed to be less cameras on, and less smiling faces in the ones that were. We were, or at least some of us felt being, overburdened by a restricted mode of sensory communication.

The decision of organising the Urban sensoria conference online somehow reflects the approach that Sensotra takes towards the historical transformations of the sensoria more generally: we acknowledge that the changes brought about by new technologies (such as smartphones) can be (and often are) drastic, pushing away customary ways of relating to the environment and other people. Still, we cannot submerge ourselves into a melancholy that would prevent us from seeing the novel and emerging modes of sensing-together.

From my perspective, which is evidently a partial one, the conference was a success. Instead of negative affects invoked by the Zoom burden, what I witnessed was a prolonged moment of warm-heartedness, togetherness, and conviviality. Even that we heard very kind words about how the conference was organised, it is obvious that this kind of atmosphere cannot be created top-down. Instead, it emerges (if emerges!) semi-spontaneously by and amongst those who come and converge. This said, I wish to thank all of the participants for making the event possible!

Recalibrating after the sensory lockdown is not only about remembering and learning again how to hug a friend without hesitation, but also about building upon and extending on the new modes of connecting, be them “offline” or “online” – or preferably both. Not only the pandemic but also the climate emergency requires us to reconsider our mobility practices as “global academics”. While online conferences cannot replace the atmosphere and open and undetermined potential of the offline ones, they can still teach us to appreciate more the precious moments of converging for a common cause.

Enjoying the performance of conductor/clarinettist Eero Lehtimäki at the conference party.

Juhana Venäläinen, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Eastern Finland

The art and science of attunement with the unseen – Ghost Light brings forth the more-than-human relations and temporalities we are immersed in

Art and research can walk hand in hand, intertwine, dialogue and explore the same questions. The sensory history of Europe and our transforming relations with the environment require both art and science approaches. The sensobiographic method walks with both1.

Art work can bring research data to experiential contexts that afford new horizons for reflection and personal attunements, and for possibilities of noticing things that tend to remain in the shadows. SENSOTRA’s approaching conference ”Urban-related Sensoria” will publish new art work founded on dialogues and thought & sound experiments between a researcher and two artists: Inkeri Aula from SENSOTRA in cooperation with prominent young sound and media artists Mark Niskanen and Jani-Matti Salo.

Ghost Light is a video installation that has been documented on an empty theater stage. It explores the metaphorical notion of ghosts2 of the environment: past lives, fossils, radiation, extinct species and their interconnections – namely, ghosts of the past – that remain with us. Traces of more-than-human past entangle with both our present and our imagination of the future. The art work participates in grasping the complexity of atmospheres and social and material mediations present in SENSOTRA’s transgenerational walking data by relying on fragments of the walking accounts. Yet it becomes something beyond, as a work of its own. Awareness of “ghosts” questions the notion of human exceptionality in relation to other beings and organisms, revealing our interconnectedness. Ghost Light calls for a time for the human species to coalesce around stories of the more-than-human.

Ghost Light can be watched and listened to online related to the conference, Urban-related Sensoria, 10.6. 2020. https://www.niskanensalo.com/ghost-light

Follow the conference website here: Urban-Related Sensoria: Environments, Technologies, Sensobiographies. https://www3.uef.fi/en/web/urbansensoria2020

Follow the artists Mark Niskanen and Jani-Matti Salo’s site here: www.niskanensalo.com

Inkeri Aula, Early Stage Researcher, SENSOTRA-project

1 Järviluoma 2019; The Art and Science of Sensory Memory Walking (see Publications on this blog). Moreover, half of our interviews in three countries have been conducted with artists of different fields and ages, who have their own special attunements to sensing the urban environment.

2 Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. (Eds. Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan, Nils Bubandt. 2017.)

»Covid tovariš razgalja taj sistem«*: Fieldnotes from Ljubljana in the Age of a Pandemic

Tuesday, March 17 2020

A few days have passed after the corona-quarantine has ventilated our daily lives. My partner and I performed a self-isolation housebound act starting from Saturday. Today, after hours of sitting at the office-dining table, I decided to take Sabali [our tail-wagging human-companion] for an evening walk around the city. Truth to be told, I take myself out for a walk. First, I plan a short stroll around the neighborhood, nothing longer. After a few initial steps, overhearing a conversation in the distance in Croatian – I guess the two are either tourists stuck in Ljubljana or workers lodged in the hotel nearby – I decide to take Sabali off the leash. There is no one else in sight, therefore no danger for him to rush into someone. At one of the coronavirus checkpoints in the city, at Metelkova, we screen a graffiti that reads »Človek človeku korona« [Homo homini corona]. Spray-painted in army green.

We are moving past the beloved Metelkova. Ground floors are empty. Clubs have shut their doors over the weekend, even the hostel looks forsaken. Consumed with curiosity, how’s the situation in front of the UKC [University Medical Centre or Ljubljana] we set foot in that direction. Rare are the faces we encounter in the dim atmosphere: a lone walker here and there, a dog lover on a mission similar to ours. A glance across the street reveals a void –  spite of the fact that on Friday people queued in line, today desolation is imprinted all over the place. On the thoroughfare Njegoševa only a car passes now and then. The air is clear. A phrase once uttered on other occasions. Viral clips of dolphins returning to harbors and the Serenissima crystal clear water-traffic corridors flash to mind. Earlier in the afternoon I had a chat with my partner upon her return from hometown Mengeš [a nearby town some 20-minute drive away]. She reported an encounter with a buzzard, a bird she hasn’t seen in ages as it doesn’t fly over the air-traffic area.

Spring is in the air. A gust of warm wind blows. I pulled on a winter coat, a winter hat and pocketed a pair of gloves just to be on the safe side – without need. As the usual Cukrarna seems deserted so we can stretch our extremities on the green plots in peace and quiet. Across Poljanska a group of dewired high school students are having a loaf. There’s someone on the basketball court yet I only hear the evenly drumming  echoes that bounce off the nearby buildings. Some floors lower a snarl through the teeth responds to it. OK time to quicken the pace. The sky opens to a linear noise, that of an airplane. Commercial flights to Brnik [national] airport were shut down as of today. Streliška has to offer glowing beams of light coming from opened windows; reflections of TV screens and chandelier shines mix together as the scents of just-made delicacies fill the nostrils.

For the first time in about 10 years, I privileged to bake bread. (That was in New Zealand which feels like a far-off chapter). The 1.5 kg pile of flour didn’t end up in anything too aesthetic. It is only after the flashback that I notice two human silhouettes rummaging with fingers on the Castle Hill’s info board. Touches arrived to be lethal, I say to myself, so continue down the pavement on the opposite side of the road. Every now and then Sabali is washed ashore to my presence only to yet again disappear into the pitch black corners of the streets that have grown quiet. In reality, here too, there’s no need to keep him on a leash – even the pedestrian crossing at the Puppet Theater looks safe. Cars evaporated much like the life in the city. I recall what my colleague posted in one of the past days on Instagram: is a city without its people still a city? Out of sheer curiosity I head across the Old Town. The clock chimed 9 o’clock, but there’s no sign of music from the bars. All there are chairs neatly stacked on top of one another and chain locked. The lights are off everywhere – the situation on the upper floors is no different. Darkness. From the catering industry only the ventilator sounds are left. At the cathedral, we experience a close canine encounter, but the situation quickly passes by.

On the corner, what the four-legged friend somewhat smelled earlier judging by his awkward behaviour, a well-known melos awaits. The sound of “nebodigatreba” accordion eery-terrorist. What an apocalyptic image of a bellows-stretcher cashing coin into his lit suitcase, even today! Perhaps he plays to himself, who knows. If anything, that’s probably how the local counterpart to the Titanic orchestra scene will look like. Drown we go, with the total signifier of being-Slovenian. Following the example of Italy, today at around 7, music was DJ’ed from balconies. The neighbors’s opening song was, no surprises, some Oberkrainer tune. Trubarjeva street is still messed up on some corners. A few bags of construction material, open excavations and the tools indicate that even today workers have been renovating the street. A realization of Banerjee’s necrocapitalism, in a nutshell. Sabali woofs for the first time only when we literally cross the doorstep. A pizza delivery scooter acts as the barking trigger. I unlock the apartment door, it smells like antiseptic and chickpeas.

* »covid comrade unmasks this system«, lyrics from Strategia Tensie – Korona (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNsfOWQuRdE)

Photo and video credit: Darja Kopitar

***

Supplement: Working Class in the Time of a Pandemic by Danilo Milovanović

The mini documentary presents the position of construction workers after the state went into lockdown. Filmed in Ljubljana on March 21th 2020. https://vimeo.com/400225730

Sandi Abram, PhD student of Social and Cultural Encounters (UEF, Joensuu) and SENSOTRA’s project researcher

Art and Activism Constructing Urban Sensory Environments

During a sensobiographic walk urban experiences are composed of sensed environment, individual and collective memories and remembering, which are then shared with the fellow walkers participating to research.

With this in mind two walks were carried out in Spring 2018 in Turku, Finland, with two participants and a researcher documenting the discussion. Both walkers had a background in artistic work, artistic interventions and activism related to political decision-making, especially in the context of accessibility of art and how this all relates to issues such as sharing of public funds and how they are channelled not only locally and nationally but also within the European community.

The participants tackled themes such as artistic interventions and how EU-subsidized and grassroots artistic interventions were constructing common urban environment – and how certain political and artistic views tended to collide. Also, topobiographical descriptions referring to the walkers’ life-courses as it relates to lived places enabled transfer of knowledge on traditions, beliefs and behaviours from one generation to another thus contributing to transgenerational nature of the walks.

An aging informant described the acts of activism in the 1960s taking place in local park, next to the Turku Art Museum. Turku activists called themselves situationists after their French contemporaries. Situationists International was a transnational organization of social revolutionaries, a collective of avant-garde artists and intellectuals prominent in Europe from 1957 to 1972. Their goal was to change society by provocations and mainly artistic interventions, that a group of people could experience in a given place at a given time.

Sensobioraphic view to Turku Arts Museum

To some extent this took place in Turku, too. According to a Sensotra participant the Turku situationists had puzzling slogans such as “Hooray for what?’ [Eläköön mimmoinen?] and “If you go somewhere, you can expect anything”. [Jos menet jonnekin, voit odottaa mitä tahansa.] The act of repainting signs in the park was described as follows: “Then we painted ´Please keep off the grass’ signs. We collected them at night and with a couple of artists painted new slogans and then brought the signs back again. It didn’t have much effect, though. City workers collected them in the Autumn and brought them back the next Spring. They practically circulated the ones we had painted!”

Situationist International was a movement, which was afraid of recuperation. Their fundamental fear was that the situationists’ ideas would be first trivialized and sterilized, and then they’d be safely incorporated back within mainstream society, where they can be exploited to add new flavours to old dominant ideas. In retrospect, it looks like that Turku situationists were not necessarily afraid of recuperation, but perhaps slightly amused of it.

The act of remembering occurred in given places meaningful to sensobiographic walkers. In this specific context multifaceted definitions of place could benefit from Edward Casey’s ideas, which make the relationship to physical places utterly dynamic: culture is carried into places by bodies. Thus, memories of individuals are connected to factual events and places become layered ethnographic histories of a given urban environment.

Furthermore, as part of the data analysis and in support of sensobiographic research, it is possible to combine the information generated by walking method with the social and cultural history of a particular place and area.

Dr. Heikki Uimonen, Principal investigator (ACMESOCS) and Project researcher (SENSOTRA), University of Eastern Finland

Sonja’s greetings from Santiago, Chile

K: So the only thing you needed was that feeling of “I have to pee” and there you were: outside. Everything used to happen outside.
A: And, and and there was the smell and the sound.
K: Yeah.
A: But nowadays there is no smell in the bathrooms […]
K: Mm.
K2: Mm.
K: They are inside ones home. [the bathrooms]
K2: Life has moved indoors.
K: Mm.
K2: And the walls isolate.
A: Yeah.
K2: The sounds and.
K: The walls isolate everything.
K2: Mm.
[…]
A: And like smells and scents they get eliminated, sterilized.
K2: Mm.
K: Yeah. Yes.
(Sensobiographic walking, Turku, Pair 24)

While going through our data for one of my PhD article, the above quotation from Turku caught my eye. It is true. Scents and smells are being eliminated all around Europe. In Finland we have people who are more and more affected and sensitive to strong odors. It seems like we have a lower threshold for smells.

Nonetheless, today I am not in Turku, but I find myself in  Santiago, Chile. I am staying here as a visiting fellow at the University of Andres Bello “Critical theory” doctoral program.

There is a hunch of the past in Santiago, Chile regarding  strong smells, loud sounds and touch; how people kiss the air while their cheeks touch to greet. One night there was a loud party next door and I was trying to sleep. Strange thing was, the noise did not bother me the way it would have in Finland where we are not used to any sound pollution after 10:00 pm.

When you enter  the grocery store, the first thing you smell are the fruits, the sweet and aromatic scent of a nectarine, the touch of sun and earth in the oranges. The music is loud. People are loud. The shopping carts are like the ones  we had in Finland 10 years ago. Do you remember the small ones that always had at least one wheel that would not turn properly? Those. I buy chewing gum from a vending machine and it just eats my 100 pesos and I get nothing in return. Nothing really works properly, which creates a forgiving atmosphere where one is allowed to fail too. But in some things the Chilean are ahead of us: there are NO plastic bags in the grocery stores.

I ask whether there are people who are sensitive to smells. The locals don’t even really understand my question. “What do you mean? Like, sick?”

I feel like my most primitive senses are in more active use here than in Finland. The sense of smell and taste are heightened and in great use while I walk through the city. The park of Bustamante has four Carabinero (police) tanks and one can smell and taste the tear gas of the protest that is taking place. The feeling of one “being alive” is very present here on the edge of the risk that something might actually happen to your body.

In October 2019, there was a 30-peso increase in the metro ticket price. It is from there the protests start. Safe to say it is not just  an increase in a metro ticket that made the citizens angry. That was just the tipping point in the long history of economic inequality in a country, that is ranked as high-income economy (World Bank) and that was the first of all Latin-American countries to ever enter the OECD and that has had steady economic growth since the 60’s. It’s about a country where minimum wage is 447 US dollars per month (Ley 21.112 1) but the class differences continue to tear people apart.

I buy water from a small kiosk opposite the plaza. I ask for advice from an older lady who replies:“si, mi amor?” – “Yes, my love?”. I feel like being hugged by this country as well as I feel violated when I wander through the plaza to get to the other side of the city. Someone calls me “bonbon, caramelo!” When I cross the street. (Later I use this insult as my Instagram nickname). There is a text written in the wall that says: “Nos mean y prensa dice que llueve” that means “They are pissing on us and the media says it is raining”. The distant tear gas enters my lungs. I stop to stare for awhile but the tank drives closer so I decide to leave. It is strange how all the most terrifying things become ones normality and everyday life within days. It is the survival instinct I guess; one needs to feel “normal” no matter the situation.

Sonja Pöllänen, PhD student in anthropology and Project researcher at SENSOTRA
She will be staying in Chile until 11th of March.

Artist of the painting in the photo: Caiozzama

 

An appetizer: The making of (and a sneak preview of) ‘Senses of Cities’

While definitely a pleasant task, editing a volume is, probably for anyone, also a challenge, regardless of his or hers previous experiences with such projects. Nevertheless, the challenge is particularly, well, challenging, if you are – to use the only expression proper for blog – a noob, “fresh.” Like me. Or Sandi Abram, my colleague and co-editor of the collection of essays, Občutki mest: Antropologija, umetnost, čutne transformacije, or, in English, Senses of Cities: Anthropology, Art, Sensory Transformations. We’ve been working on the first volume to be published within the framework of the SENSOTRA project for the past couple of months. For now, only a version in Slovene language is planned, but never say never especially, when it comes to publishing in English in the publish-or-perish-world of contemporary academia.

Well, neither I, nor Sandi are total noobs in the editorial business; we both have some experience with editing scientific journals, myself with KULA – Journal of Slovene ethnological and anthropological association Kula and Sandi with the Journal for the Critique of Science, Imagination, and New Anthropology. Still, working on an independent, self-standing, so to say, monograph is another kind of undertaking altogether. Luckily, though, we have a third editor joining us, someone with a considerable millage in dealing with all sorts of texts, authors of various persuasions and temperaments, shall we say. Perhaps even more luckily we have not needed Rajko Muršič’s expertise – yet (I’m pretty sure we’ll need some of his wizardry in the upcoming weeks, when we’ll start wrapping things up). So far, the editing process went as smoothly as one could hope for: authors sending their contributions well after the agreed-upon deadline, the reviewers likewise being late with their commentaries, authors being unhappy with the reviews they’ve gotten, us being unsatisfied with (some) texts and reviews… In short, everything is as it should be!

While we expected to receive a colourful mix of contributions, as we have in addition to scholars, invited several practicing artists who, each in his or her own way, engage (or in one instance disengage) with the senses, we received a truly kaleidoscopic mix of texts. In the call-for-papers, we wrote that

the book Senses of Cities: Anthropology, Art, Sensory Transformations invites broader reflections on the meaning of sensory perceptions, experiences and memories, reflections on, in short, senses, from the perspective of anthropology, ethnology, ethnomusicology, sociology, philosophy and other related disciplines as well as artistic practices and reflections. /…/ The collection will therefore include selected works by working artists in Ljubljana who, with various techniques and through different media, thematise sensory experiences of the city, senses and sensory transformations. We leave it to the artists to decide what kind of artwork they wish to present, either in the edited volume or online (photographs, poetry, scented slips, textured paper, video, sound compositions, multimedia works, etc. are welcomed).[1]

Now, I must admit a slight disappointment over the fact that only one artist, or rather artistic tandem, decided to provide a primarily non-textual contribution, a photo-essay documenting the changes in and of streets and squares of Ljubljana. Probably, the origins of the “issue” lie, of course, with us, the editors, who were not explicit enough in voicing what we want, but that is perhaps the inevitable outcome when you wish to be as “open” as possible … In any case, I do not intend to speculate (any further) as to why the artists decided the way they did. Ultimately, this does not really matter, as the contributions they did provide proved to be interesting.

Most engaged in a more free-form textual experimentation, combining theoretically flavoured reflections with prose and poetry, dealing with their own works, contextualising them in the processes they deem relevant, while ruminating on these processes “as such.”  While each of the artistic contributions is characterised by its own je ne sais quoi – hence the kaleidoscopic quality of the collection –, what is, nevertheless, in my opinion, shared among them is a keen observational capability, but a capability firmly rooted in present-day structures of feeling (in fact, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that these were, perhaps inadvertently, employed as a methodology of sorts) and expressed in a contemporary artistic-critical mode. Thus, these texts strike me as both “raw” considerations and as insights into specific ways of thinking-feeling-sensing. However, one article (which its author has yet to submit) will, I am quite certain, standout due to its author’s artistic stance, which could be perhaps best encapsulated by the injunction Artists shouldn’t make people feel, artists should make people think!, and whose mainly (neo)conceptualist work, in a certain sense, disregarded the senses.

As for the more scholarly-oriented texts goes, these, if compared to the artistic contributions, appear somehow bland – at least if read as sort of creative outputs. Of course, their strengths lie elsewhere; they are based on meticulous research, wherein the research was done in several European cities and deals with distinct historical periods. Moreover, these are written in systematic, methodical ways. In short, these papers contributions are “cooked” both in the sense of their subject-matter, ranging from the remembered scents of coffee to student protests provoked by the noise of the traffic, and in the ways in they which deal with it. (Here, a naïve, but ostensibly crucial question comes to my mind: Who or what cooked them?) Apropos these articles, the grounds for describing the collection as kaleidoscopic are disciplinary. As I mentioned above, we invited researchers from anthropology, ethnology, ethnomusicology, sociology, philosophy, history, cultural and media studies and other related fields to contribute to the volume. And, indeed, most – though sadly not all – of the enumerated disciplines are “covered” by at least one contribution. Quite expectedly, anthropology and ethnology lead the way as the most numerously represented disciplines. However, one should not expect to find “pure”, textbook examples of the abovementioned scholarly fields in Senses of cities, at least not in the majority of the texts. Most of them have distinct inter- or transdisciplinary flavour to them.

If the artistic contributions are indeed “raw” and the “scholarly” are “cooked,” the question is, then, what in the edited volume we are preparing is “rotten.” Well, the only thing that comes to my mind that could – and should – be characterised as such is my own contribution, or rather one of my contributions, namely the introductory chapter that I was supposed to draft. Together with Sandi, we discussed what it should deal with, but come writing time my mind and fingers, naturally and accidentally, wandered off into the unknown, outlining something completely different. So, instead of a nice “cooked” introductory course, I am stuck with a “rotten” mush of an abstract. As we are now already quite in a hurry, I should, I guess, try to make the still-missing course – right after I finish this appetizer, of course! If, however, there is something else that we can learn from the French(man), it is that what from one perspective smells like rotting corpses may prove to be deliciously ripe cheese, then, maybe, just maybe, there is still some hope for the “rotten” abstract.[2]

[1] I have somewhat modified the translated segment. One of the reasons being that the semantic range of the Slovene term občutek only partially overlaps with that of the English term sense. The comparison of the two, however, will have to wait for the time being, or until the next post.

[2] I am, of course, refereeing to Claude Lévi-Strauss, whose concept of the culinary triangle I have been refereeing throughout this post (see Lévi-Strauss, Claude, 2013, “The Culinary Triangle”. In Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik, eds. Food and Culture: A Reader. Peter Brooks (trans.) (3nd ed.). New York: Routledge. Pp. 40–47.

Blaž Bajič, Post-doctoral researcher, SENSOTRA

I created a voice of silence – Lyon in my mind

I created a voice of silence, one where I could grow.

There is no need for sacredness in my home; there is no need to wait, for my heavy feet prostrate, begging for sleep. I stand alone- there are no need for words, enough has been said about the dreadful heat and the walks around the city, which did not include ice cream.

My tongue waits inside, fostering saliva as a lonely guide.

There is no need for anything as I lose my mind. Finding reasons to pay attention to all the things I cannot buy and do not desire. Yet they take my mind for hire, it wants to touch. To have a placemat that induces an aroma of smell. I want to rest in air-conditioned space that does not include swarms of people, or merchandise that has no taste. That is the narrowness of my scale, a postured frustration.

A blissful breeze calms me to the centre of my needs and wants. All my sensory decisions stay within my gaze. My heavy feet carry me, patiently praying to the ground, creating a gentle thumping sound.

I stay behind the crowd. The smell of summer is a densely airy one. A fragrance that is simultaneously sweet but foraged with sweat and polluting fumes. A fountain of wills speed past us; they are walking with the determination of a skilled hunter, viewing the city enough to capture it through a lens. We walk through a corridor, darkness swarms and the heat falls. Walking around the courtyard, like soldiers in training, we march along the wall, like cobwebs hidden in plain sight. I see no spiders only their remains, this is their playground and we are the rude guests that invade their quarters without a knock or invite. My feet beg to be still, the silence of mind is making me ill, begging for solitude or rest, we continue walking, today has not given a second of rest. My mind wonders alone, my body surrounded by the burning heat and all those who infest to feel its wonder and bow down in defeat.

There is a marble throne. A goddess, who holds an oceanic feast, riding a turtle with a delicate wave and monstrous gaze in a window, that is fairy-tale of imaginative beliefs. There lives a unicorn with a grace-like flow, its body unknown, its mane tussled with intricate care. I wonder who works here. The cobbled streets hold begging men asking for a flame. A human friend offers him a flame; the light awakes. They walk away not giving each other another glance.

Humans bent at the knee, outside the stores are ignored, you must stand to be seen, perhaps have pale skin or a deserving gaze, in this heat. We walk past, our silence giving us freedom from the stare, how do we live here? How do we turn away? We find solace in our air-conditioned rooms and forget all those desperate to stay awake.

We continue to walk through the corridors and alleys, that are made for the breeze to pass and thankfully, there are no cars. They are a humming noise in a far off place, where the sun hits you directly and there is no place to escape. My mind buzzes with the same tune, a glittering song, made from the heat fumes. A fox stuffed by a taxidermist is placed beneath a table of mint; I smell the mint and chew the rest. I have tired feet and an even heavier bladder, but the silence of my mind, need not tatter or run for the walk is nearly over. I take off my shoes and bend my back, finding a place where the silence of my mind can stay intact. A place where the sun does not sit and my hand can roam freely and speak, although my body is weak. My mind lives to breathe.

They move out of sight. I pick up my pen and take the silence of mind to the paper.

The smell of the heat and the glitter of the marble streets, fuelled carriers for overpriced artistic delights is what Lyon is in my mind.

Day Moibi, (University of Bern) is a master’s student who took part in CREOLE Intensive Program / SENSOTRA seminar ‘Anthropology and/as mediation(s)’ in Lyon, France in June 2019. The text is written after a group sensory walk in Lyon.

Pictures from Lyon’s group sensory walk: Helmi Järviluoma