Energy Shrine

Energy Shrine

ENERGY SHRINE,  street performance withvideo projection

A VIRTUAL CONVERSATION ABOUT ENERGY SHRINE

I am an anthropologist at the City University of New York and am
studying cultural conceptions of energy in New York City.  Last night
I stumbled upon Sasha Sumner’s interesting “Energy Shrine” on 14th
Street, and watched in fascination.

Dr. Stephanie Rupp
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
City University of New York, Lehman College

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

Hi Stephanie,
Hey, thanks for writing.
Glad you were able to see the Energy Shrine performance.   Would like
to hear more about your focus of study.
Best,
Sasha

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

Dear Sasha,

Thank you very much for your reply, and apologies for the delay in my
message back to you!

It was very interesting to watch your “Energy Shrine” performance this
past weekend.  Your performance brought a lot of important and
interesting questions to the fore, in a very creative and evocative
manner.

I am working on an ethnography of energy in New York City, and am
seeking to understand how New Yorkers think about energy as a cultural
artifact.  I think that most New Yorkers don’t have much of a
scientific foundation for understanding energy and energy systems, and
so rely on other kinds of cultural models for thinking about,
explaining, and managing energy.  I’m interested in exploring these
other models, and laying them alongside the scientific and technical
understandings of energy, in order to get a sense of the “social life”
of energy in contemporary New York.  Some of my work so far has
focused on collecting ethnographic narratives of the various blackouts
in the city (1965, ’77, ’03, ’06), as well as the various frameworks
for conceptualizing “energy” itself.

Your performance was especially intriguing because you integrated
numerous cultural models of energy, from food (bread) to love (the
wedding dress) to electricity (the projector that shone the text above
the mural) to politics (discussions of ConEd and NYC’s historical
blackouts to science (inclusion of some physics in the text). It’s
very unusual (and very exciting!) to find someone who is actively
aware of and interested in meanings of energy in these multiple
registers.

I don’t know what you think about these ideas, and I’m hopeful that
the ideas that I’m working on might resonate with your own work.  If
so, perhaps it would be interesting to get together over a cup of
coffee to talk about our performance/research interests, and to see
where they intersect.  I would be very interested in hearing your
“take” on energy, and to learn more about the background to your
performance.

It’s wonderful to “meet” you through email, and I hope that our paths
cross sometime soon-ish so that we can share our overlapping interests
in energy!

All best wishes,

Stephanie

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

Hi Stephanie,

That’s very interesting that your studies and my performance are so
closely related in content.  This performance grew out of the stated
theme for the Art in Odd places show, that being Ritual, and, the
Energy element came from my initial investigation of 14th St, where
there is a huge Con Edison plant. I wanted the piece to reference that
which is right there in our local environment while also touching on
larger concepts of how we relate to different kinds of energy.
As an artist I try to tap into various elements, the history, multiple
references, live human elements, technology and form.  Different
people will respond to different tangents that they relate to, that
they can understand, or interpret somehow.  I’m so impressed that you
were keyed in to the deeper strains, perhaps even more so than I could
explain.

Best,
Sasha

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

What is Energy?

What is Energy?

RuppStephanie_ConsideringEnergy1

Dear Sasha,

Thanks for your message — and it’s interesting and exciting to see
how our interests intersect!  You’re performing various levels of
energy; I’m interested in finding out what people think (and do) about
various levels of energy.  Maybe there’s potential (energy!) for
bringing our projects and perspectives together???

Thanks again for the performance, for writing, and for this
interesting, ongoing conversation!

All best,

Stephanie

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

Hi Stephanie,

Yes I think that we could collaborate, in some way.
In the mean time if you have ideas that you could write here, that’s a start!
Best,
Sasha

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

Dear Sasha,

I’m in the process of writing a chapter on “sliding registers” that people in New York City seem to have regarding energy; energy is a physical force in a formal, scientific sense, but it is simultaneously a spiritual force, involves an element of belief or religion, is an embodied spirit, is a sense of collective dynamism, is a political issue of control, and affects people’s sense of individual agency.

I find myself thinking back to your marvelous performance of energy at your “Energy Shrine” last October on 14th Street, and wishing I had managed to write down some notes from the captivating captions (pun intended!) that you had projected from your computer, a ticker-tape commentary about sliding scales of energy that overarched your performance.

Would you be willing to share with me the ideas or the text of what you were communicating through those energy “facts” and captions?

I would still be very eager to get together with you to talk about our shared interest in energy.  (By now perhaps your performances have moved on to other topics!)  If you would be game to meet, perhaps we can get together to share a cup of coffee and conversation sometime this spring.

For my part, I would be very happy to send you the article that I’m working on, based on ethnographies of energy in the south Bronx.

I hope that this message finds you well!

All best wishes,

Stephanie

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

Dear Stephanie,

Hello and big apology for the long delay!  Yes I am planning a
different performance for this coming October, as the theme this year
has changed.  But I’d be happy to share with you the text that I
included in the Energy Shrine performance, that is if you are still
needing that.  It was a mix of information from different sources,
some even from some people that I met on the street there as I was
starting to paint the wall mural.  A father and son stopped there and
gave input on Einstein and physics.  Absorbing or digesting
information and energy is an amorphous and organic process.  The
performance was meant to provoke associative thinking, that which is
different for each spectator/participant.  The text includes facts,
related tangents and written observations from different time periods-
they may seem a bit disparate when taken out of context of the piece.

I’d be very interested to read your article on ethnographies and south bronx.

Best,
-Sasha

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π

What Kinds of Energy Do You Use In Your Everyday Life?

What Kinds of Energy Do You Use In Your Everyday Life?

RuppStephanie_ConsideringEnergy2

Advertisements