Water sampling I
Artist/Author: Ursula Biemann
There are scattered notes and lengthy recordings of the meetings with water and desert experts reporting on the chemical immanence of Egypt. More surprisingly, the procedure also included the taking of actual water samples along the Nile and in the Delta wetlands. In artistic research, it is often more rewarding to direct only partial attention to the narrowly defined object, while leaving ample brain space to roam into the wide. This modus operandi favors a state of divided attention granting the freedom to mentally relax into all directions. In this open research mode, one is disposed to not merely define the findings, but to create new and unlikely coalescences with semi-conscious affects and ideas floating around the mind at the time, and with other material and immaterial things in the surroundings, which all merge into a shared narrative matrix. The water samplings are the momentary cut of a social ecology, a temporary expression of this specific material-mental configuration. They are of fleeting value. For Egyptian Chemistry, these moments are recorded on video as raw data. It is important not to format this loose cognitive fabric too quickly by assigning purpose to every bit and bringing them into a structural form. This kind of research is geared towards unhinging thought patterns, rather than reaffirming them. To enter bio- and geochemistry it is necessary to generate thought forms that are conducive to the perception of immaterial, energetic and fluid phenomenon. What is the analysis of water chemistry without taking into account the sticky saturated air hovering above the reddish salt fields, the humming emitted by the high voltage power lines in the sky, the dark oil-soaked sands swelling up to the ankles when filming the nocturnal refineries in the Delta Lakes, the foul smell of the KIMA effluent draining nitrate into the crystal clear upper Nile or the chanting of the crowd crossing the Qasr al-Nil Bridge to Tahrir Square.