Animating the Telepathic Balaclava Fascinator into Thin Air



Drinkall’s work with woven ‘thought forms’ made from woven telecommunications wire is combined with performative engagement with community in this site specific work. This work was made whilst learning intensely about aesthetics of cognitive capitalism and extended cognition in the age of the anthropocene at Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art (SFSIA). The video depicts students from Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art and European Graduate School interacting with local trampoliners whilst using a headpiece, called a ‘Telepathic Balaclava Fascinator’, made by the artist from white handwoven telecommunications wire. The coiling of telecommunications wire simultaneously renders telecommunications to be ‘hacked’ crudely via luddite scissor action, whilst also creating a very primitive radio transmitter of Extremely Low Frequencies (ELF) by coiling the wires in the weaving process. Drinkall’s Telepathic Balaclava Fascinators are pointy-tipped headpieces that evoke an elf hat, and perhaps also a fictional device used by Elf/Earth Liberation Front, and these concepts have informed her earlier performances with Telepathic Balaclava Fascinators. At SFSIA Drinkall also learnt from Neidich about Defense Advance Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Cortical Modem, and she has since undertaken further research into Australia’s research engagement with DARPA’s program of developing brain augmentation for war veteran ‘brain wounded warriors’ as well as brain impaired people. She is fascinated by the formal similarity of the elongated and spiral twisting wire stentrode (a stent that is also an electrode) used to insert a Cortical Modem that is currently being developed in at University of Melbourne (Australia) for DARPA for the insertion of their Cortical Modem inside brain arteries to her spiral forms worn on the outside of the head. This Cortical Modem device is likely to be trialed on civilian patients with cognitive impairments and defense soldiers this year (2017), following successful trials on sheep (2015). The stentrode-inserted-Cortical-Modem will facilitate universal virtual reality with no need for external devices, including telepathy and telekinesis. In the mean-time telecommunications and internet data storage facilities are major contributors to global warming and melting of mountain snow fields and glaciers, as seen in the surrounding alpine location. Animating the Telepathic Balaclava Fascinator into Thin Air is a playful animistic invitation for people to ponder the clunkiness and invasiveness of virtual reality telepathy and telecommunications, whilst both celebrating the sublime environment. The comic jumping action seems to suggest humanities attempt to exceed the limits of nature through the hubris of technological innovation.