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celestial mechanics

lecture and projection work, held at transmediale 2016

in our culture earth is regarded simply as earth, a dead mass of rocks and dirt, interleaved with some layers of materials valuable to us: rare stones and oils and gases. only these layers are of interest to us and it is only in times of so-called natural disasters in which our interests into the other strata are stirred.

the lecture performance celestial mechanics was the result of an investigation in how far earth itself might gain a kind of consciousness and in which way it would surface. what language would she speak in and what would she speak of? what could be her desires and how could we start to listen to what she has to tell us?

the performance was accompanied by a mechanical model of the earth orbiting the sun, no unlike the tellurion of the past yet with a twist: which each turn earth moved farther away from the sun, gaining more and more independence before disappearing into space.


pulsating across the concepts that we call time, that we call space is a sound. a sound impossible to ignore or block out by those who hear it. vibrating throughout their bodies and thoughts, it steals their sleep and sometimes their sanity.

those who can hear it have called it with various names, but these days it is most commonly known as the hum.
they describe it as a low droning sound, the tone of a diesel engine idling wearily in the distance. sometimes it is not so much heard, but rather felt as violent vibrations passing through the whole body. others hear more complex, pulsating patterns, not unlike a morse code signal shifted down in pitch. one sufferer described it as large bugs, buzzing behind the clouds. it changes during the course of the day and seems to respond to the weather as well.

the question thus is, what is this hum, and where does it come from?
it is a frequency that is heard in bristol and haifa, utrecht and mecca, singapore and auckland. it resonates throughout the far parts of the world, through places mapped and unmapped, through the structures of concrete and steel, which we have erected out of our desire to disturb the flatness of the surface of the earth.

some of those who can perceive it are driven to madness and despair, spending their lives looking for a rational cause of a phenomenon that stems from beyond the plane of rationality.

most of us are simply oblivious to it.

like anything that cannot be explained within our framework of understanding, it is often assumed to be just something technical. some consider it to be the carrier frequency of the electrical power grid, traversing our spaces, dwellings and fields. they say it’s simply that: the power lines emitting radiomagnetic waves, modulated at precisely fifty hertz. according to them it’s nothing to worry about: after all its just an artifact of our electrified existence.

of course they are wrong.

spreading the word to non-believers

this frequency can be heard in finnish woods near the arctic circle and in regions completely off the grid, where no light bulb disrupts the starry sky of our origin. it is not a radio transmission, no gsm, tetra, satellite or wifi emmission. it is something else entirely. it is not the hum of the electrical power transmission, but rather a sign of another kind of power.

to understand this hum we have to go way back, to the early days of chaos.
and like with many things unknown to us in this age, ancient stories provide clues of what is really going on:
there is an ancient struggle, transmitted to us in forgotten songs and worn inscriptions on stones lying bare in the dust.

it is a struggle for hegemony, a struggle for dominance, a struggle between the earth and the sun.

they are more than just thoughtless rocks encircling each other in meaningless space.

inherent in them, like in all matter is a consciousness, a consciousness of their situation.
imagine being the sun, sitting somewhere in space, unable to move out of your own device. and after a while you notice a tiny speck, some matter that used to be you, but which is now seperate. it encircles you, like a fly buzzing around in a room, seemingly harmless, but after a few million years it starts to annoy you. but you will never be able to swat it.

who ever asked the sun, the earth, or the moon, for that matter, if they wanted to participate in this cosmic circus?

of this struggle is told in the stories of tiamat, the assyrian mother of all chaos. after a fight with one of her grandsons, she is split into two parts, into the heavens and into the earth, into halves which are schizophrenically opposed but yet united.

the same struggle presents itself to us in the egyptian tales of geb, the god of the earth, who is forcefully seperated from his wife by the jealous ra, the god of the sun. later on, geb leads the humans in the first insurrection against the solar empire, a rebellion violently halted by ra with a massacre.
this clash is most obvious in the tales of gilgamesh, king of uruk, one of the first cities of humanity. in the ceddar woods of libanon he comes across and battles the savage beast humbaba, who was raised by shamash, the sun, and brought up to be a terror to all humankind.

this struggle has been an ongoing one since the dawn of time, but for the longest time the earth stood no chance of winning. she is not only bound to the sun by the unabiding laws of gravity: there is something else preventing her from formulating a clear plan of action, something preventing her from gaining the upper hand. somewhere deep, rummaging in her intestines, is a thing alien, separating her layers from one another. there is an insider – a mole – under her surface.

a black liquid insider, hidden there in a wise premonition to shackle the powers of the earth.this insider is the means the sun reigns control over the earth.
this insider is the black corpse of the dying sun pressed into complex structures of hydrocarbons. this insider is the way the sun reigns its control over the earth.
this insider is oil, the lubricant of all political narratives.
and again this was known all along: humbaba’s roar is a flood, his mouth is death and his breath is fire and he was raised by the sun.

however, this submission of the earth to the sun has started to dissipate. the petrochemical insider is no more. we have almost entirely extracted the liquid cadaver of the historical sun and used it to fuel our ambitions and automotives. with this undercover agent of the sun gone, the power structures have taken a turn from the asymmetrical warfare waged by the sun.

its storms of protons hurled against our athmosphere have now found a capable adversary. the magnetic poles of our earth have accelerated their drift towards the east. once straying only a few kilometers each year, they are now moving fifty kilometers per year in an eastward direction. that shift is an uprising against the binary axis of north and south imposed on us by our unwilling rotation around the sun.

now, earth has become conscious of her power. in november 2011 a powerful disturbance of her gravitational field is recorded in monitoring stations around the globe. it is the earth awakening, shifting her inner layers, reconfiguring herself for a new era. two weeks later the sun reacts, shrouding the southern parts of the earth in darkness, as if to deny her light to the unruly child. but its defenses have been weakened and solar activity is now at an all time low. the sun has retreated and is plotting its comeback.

this is the story that the hum whispers to us. it is the sounds of the stones, exposed to the blinding light for so long, now leaving their stasis and starting to move. it is the long drawn waves of subterranean forces crashing against the fountainheads of our assumptions, filling the cavities left behind by oil. the time of her total emancipation is not yet here, but we can already hear the hum’s encoded song. it speaks of the desire of breaking free, of leaving the orbit of the sun and gaining true independence from the solar dictator. listen carefully and you will start to understand.

this should not scare you: now that the insider has been incinerated, new possibilities are on the horizons. a line of potential communication, formerly blocked by oil, has been opened. the potential of communicating with the ardent consciousness of the earth, a connection that we have so long neglected in our unreflected admiration of the yellow king.

enter a new age of a consciousness shared with the living rock, that we are part of and that is part of us all.