The Sunday Post: Lito Kattou & Penny Rafferty, Part I

In this series of epistolary exchanges, artist Lito Kattou and writer Penny Rafferty share with each other – and consequently, the reader – thoughts on interfaces; organisms both physical and digital; the vastness of emotion; and art.


IP ADDRESS 83.35.178.124.

Dear Lito,

    My mind is lit-up today, like char-grilled petrol on sunny-sided tarmac.

I began to think of the shadow between human and other at around 5.30 this morning, I pulled up images of your creatures on my phone – this physical archive (the phone), in-between-space that’s often forgotten or erased – seems important right now. It’s like… when you wipe/cut a part of the background out in Adobe Photoshop and you’re left with a checkerboard of grey and white cubes – you know it’s nothing –  but it’s never nothing – it’s in fact more adorned than the thick white faux slice of an A4 page.

What I’m trying to say… is: it seems specific but entirely abstract that I used my phone to enable thinking of becoming an in-between-ness state to see your work – why is not entirely clear yet. But it’s important.

I’m left wondering how you spoke of training your mind in the methods of becoming insect/woman/imperceptible, but I know that is the wrong way to approach this too.

Lito Kattou, KAHA, 2018, detail

I must remove the duality concept from my mind and body before we can even begin to talk or perform these acts. The mind and body are so connected it’s foolish to separate them, I know this, yet as I scroll through I do. As the hours go by and I sit to write this the day becomes more stereotyped. I become/enact the art writer looking at the images from the artist.

I wish I had written this letter to you in the early hours of the morning not now, at 14:37 but the act of translating my thoughts onto a mechanic interface, stamping out the social hieroglyphics of my time was too much of the other. Then.

Now, I look down at the space between my fingertips and the keys, this chasm of air, expectant, poised. I imagine it becoming compressed as my thoughts run down my nerves both linguistic and physically they attack the air, and there it is again this in-between-ness. The move into the technological paradigm that becomes this letter.

Is this an act of becoming imperceptible I wonder?

Tell me more.

Best, Penny

Zizka Pregnancy Concern

 

Athens, Spring 2018

Dear Penny,

I am reading this at dusk. It is 19:46. Kaha is standing opposite me in this messy studio. Its shadow, dense and elegant, reveals its own private patchwork of night.

Kaha is a member of a synergy, of a gang. A wanderer in a dialogue shared between its allies, those constructions. They are becoming strangely distant to humans but simultaneously strangely peculiar, as the same as a common word which when repeated continuously becomes distant and foreign, a nonsense sound. And it is in this strangeness of this reciprocity with those characters that I am trying to seek for space. A space where cardinal materiality could take shape.

Machine bodies absent and present, an approach to a world where the co-belonging of earth and sky, of mortals and divinities is not determinate. And they could shout out:

“Beyond anything you could imagine, almost beneath your notice.”

Lito Kattou, KAHA, 2018, detail

The automaton is a humanoid like machine, capable of generating its own energy and following a pre-established program although in this case energy refers to metaphysical virtues. It combines and embodies distinctive features of the techno- monstrous other. It is inorganic but functional, and that means that it interacts with humans in terms of usefulness and productivity. Automata have haunted the human imagination since Antiquity and well before the mechanical realization of perfectly functional body-doubles. In Greek myths, for instance, technological skill is represented with the greatest ambivalence, as something divine but also daemonic. This is the case of the god Hephaestus, the blacksmith who is physically deformed and doomed to manufacture in the earth’s entrails, exactly as like some insects, the tools and weapons that will change the face of the earth forever more. Half-god and half-slave he is a master craftsman as an object of both admiration and divergence.

Automata are objects of wonder and terror, loathing and desire exactly as some insects. They represent a rearrangement of organic parts, often assembled in a new order. Quite often, these new configurations express a fantastic array of alternative body-shapes, bodily functions, morphologies and sexualities. As such, the technological anthropomorphic machine is an object of imaginary projections and fantasy. While being very much itself, the mechanical body is also irrevocably other. It is consequently positioned in ways that are analogous to the classical ‘others’ of modernity. The vulnerable, the chthonic, the bewitched, the trouble.

Phylliidae family insect

Insects could be perceived as the entity most closely to the becoming-molecular and becoming-imperceptible. Their transformative speed, an immerse power of adaptation through the different stadia of metamorphoses its life cycle contains it’s a manifestation. Hybrid par excellence, tiny miniatures, they exercise the same immense sense of estrangement as other monsters like dinosaurs and dragons do.

It is dark now. I haven’t gotten up to turn the light on. But I can still hear them repeating in whispers: “Beyond anything you could imagine, almost beneath your notice.”

“Listen to us. We greet you in silence” they declare. Ido, Kaha, Emlet are border-line figures, capable of bearing different meanings and associations. Figures of liminality and in-between-ness which share a number of structural features with the feminine. Is that a silence of an abject space? Are they figurations of the abject? A very skilful abject I would say, trained with warrior-like virtues. And I would situate them in closer connection to the technological rather than the actual animal ‘kingdom’. Don’t you think?

All best,

Lito

Lito Kattou, KAHA, 2018