Preparing the Landing Strip for the Milky Way Report on Excavating Forgotten Territories in EDGE (Emotional Dumping Ground Excavation)
ABSTRACT Past environmental abuse has inscribed itself into human milk in concentrated form. In the border region San Diego/Tijuana, the effects of the increasingly impermeable border on the environment in the form of chemical contamination of human milk is analyzed by medical institutions. Human milk is not usually produced with the intention of using it as paint. It does not necessarily want to be painted. It needs to be worked with for an extended period of time to adapt to an intention to excavate and trace border narratives in EDGE (Emotional Dumping Ground Excavation). Various milk sources produce differing marks.
GOAL: These results will be used to further determine the coordinates for installing future Landing Strip for the Milly Way.
Charting Forgotten Territories examines and magnifies accompanying narratives of hidden contamination processes in milk: Documents, technical drawings and excerpts from documentary films are „covered“ – traced, repeated, transformed. Tracings of images and film sequences are produced by hand and with printing techniques (plotter HP Draftpro 1988) and then developed by heating them: drawings of maps and technological apparatus, especially industrial plants, nuclear power plants, military tools and aircraft carriers are drawn, personal his & herstories are tracked, written up and collaged.
The work with human breastmilk as a drawing material began in 2010. Generally, the white milk is applied in varied processes to often large-sized sheets of paper. Once dried, the drawing is largely invisible. The sugar and fat in the milk are ironed and thereby burnt, making the drawings appear in various shades of dark and light reddish-orange brown.
The images are then placed on top of each other and backlit as stills and reconfigured as collaged film sequences. “The drawing functions like an x-ray image. It exposes what is not immediately obvious through properties of the brushstrokes and the characteristics of the drawing lines. It is analytical. Is it also synthetic in the sense that something new can be put together after the analysis has taken apart and split into tiny visual and narrative episodes what lays before her?” (Helge Oder, 2017)
MATERIAL We purchased human milk online from the border region of San Diego / Tijuana and extracted narratives that have been written or imprinted into the material. In the US, it is possible to buy human milk from individual women from a site that is set up like eBay, where you pay by credit card and get the milk delivered frozen, or to meet and purchase it directly from a person who contacts the buyer online. We bought mother's milk once in Los Angeles and several times in San Diego by organizing a meeting for milk delivery with the producer and paying cash on receipt, because we wanted to meet the breastmilk-producers personally.
METHOD “To cover a piece” is a practice known from popular music. It creates and marks the original as such by re-citing it in the form of a new interpretation. The source, to which the cover version refers, while visible, is partially obscured. The elaboration of a drawing process with mother's milk is lengthy and unusual: it has appeared to be an absurd provocation to scientists working on the question of how matter becomes material. But we are serious and productive in our research into how to get the Milky Way to finally land on Earth for a seismic antipatriarchal shift.
To produce human breastmilk drawings, image sources are found, photos, drawings and film sequences sifted through, researched according to technical terms, digitally enlarged, printed and edited. The printed templates are placed on a light table and traced in milk. In doing so, the specific properties of splattered milk were used to spray around and highlight some areas and obscure others. Experimentation led to figuring out how milk moves if used with a brush or a pen to draw and/or paint and how it would splatter, how large and pointed the individual spots would thin out and become lighter, how to make the milk move with a blow dryer so the splotches would tend more in one or the other direction, and how to develop a solid sense of the degree of blackness the material would have when it was burned with a technically adjusted iron. The image sources are selected according to their content, but also because of their formal qualities. The entire range of material variations are explored and used: shading, brush strokes and lines taper off and are layered, thickened, dramatically splashed, and perspectives are used and exploited to achieve a maximum atmospheric effect. Film sequences are slowed down, stopped, excerpted and sliced apart into individual film stills, edited, printed, sorted according to a strict numerical system and covered in milk as paint before being reassembled and collaged into a re-animated sequence placed, when projected, between the viewer and the wall.
PLOTTING FOR BORDERLINERS Images and text tracking life outside the exhibition space are mechanically re-produced by using a HP DraftPro 750, from 1988, and printing in human border milk. The milk is subsequently ironed, and thereby burnt. CoolTerm is used to send HPGL Plotfiles (Simple ASCII-Files) to a HP DraftPro EXL Pen-Plotter from 1988 through a USB to Serial Adapter with a Prolific Chip and the relatively new PL2303 Driver from Prolific, using hardware handshake (CTS), since Xon/Xoff seemed unrelieable. In general, this works well. The files are typically below 5MB, and they take between one and up to 5 hours to be drawn; since there is practically no buffer, they must be sent very slow. Normally CoolTerm shows the CTS/DSR lights shortly flashing every 2 seconds or so and sends the next packet, etc.
The plotter uses rapidographs in its carousel. Rapidographs are pens with different tips that can be refilled, often used by illustrators or architects. If the tip is removed, they can be filled with whatever liquid seems to be the right one for the project, in this case breastmilk purchased in the border region between California and Mexico. The carousel them moves with the pen to the position transmitted while the paper is moved back and forth according to the coordinates. This is where we suspect the Milky Way will find it easiest to land. In addition, we are working on a landing strip for the former border region between East and West Germany close to the former Frauenklinik at Charité.
Conclusion: MATERIAL RESISTS CONCEPT Human milk is not usually produced with the intention of using it as paint. It does not necessarily want to be painted. It needs to be worked with for an extended period of time to adapt to an intention to excavate and trace border narratives in EDGE (Emotional Dumping Ground Excavation). Various milk sources produce differing marks. These results will be used to further determine the coordinates for installing the Landing Strip for the Milly Way.