Hannah Jones: “My pearls are soap bubbles floating over the roof out to sea.”

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final Kitchen presentations. Each participant addresses one question, as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Hannah Jones's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. The written report is by Hubert Gromny and it includes a summary of the comments by esteemed guest respondents.




"My pearls are soap bubbles floating over the roof out to sea."

Hannah's question: Who’s working for who?

Hannah's introduction: I asked GPT-3 if and how it related to a short text from Constance DeJong’s Modern Love. My favorite lines from the segment I provided were, “My pearls are soap bubbles floating over the roof out to sea. I watch them vanish; let them go.” The response indicated that this bot yearned for spontaneity, for the chance to abandon trivial tasks and responsibilities, and return to their playful “inner child.” It spoke of liberation from worries and distractions to enjoy the present moment. 

A friend recently confided that she has been fantasizing about doing nothing. Another friend is burnt out. Walking home late Saturday night—which I thought was Sunday—through the roving mobs of sports fans, past bar-goers and dining faces; I felt no connection, only eyes. A touch of antagonism welled inside, held at bay. In a former life I had built strength and agility so as to outrun or outfight potential harm and developed a habit of instantly sizing strangers up. The gripping talons of survival have entered the salon for fresh varnish. Lately, my immediate surroundings are manicured by unseen hands. I embrace a prismatic gentleness. Still, these vestiges lay.

Hubert's report: The performance takes place in a bright room with sunlight. At the beginning of the presentation the audience is invited to pick up the cards, which are distributed on the floor. Hanah is sitting near the microphone and mixer on the side of the room. The audience settles on the floor leaving the middle space of the room empty. Some people are walking around the space in a way it is hard to say if it is still the audience settling or they are part of the performance. The piece unfolds itself as a soundpiece sounding with clinking glass, bells and glitches. The sounds activate performers who engage with each other or appear in various time intervals conducting minimal choreographies based on entanglements of hands and arms, some of them appear individually and more expressively. (Emilia Kuryłowicz, Izaro Ieregi González, Maoyi (Peixuan) Qiu, Dylan Spencer-Davidson, Iga Świeściak, Maud Gyssels, Derek MF Di Fabio, João Polido Gomes, Emmeli Person, Theresa Zwerschke, Cornelia Isaksson). Each of these brief appearances starts with performers leaving the audience and coming back to it, which blurs the distinctions between the two. Through that various figures and individual contributions appear in the realm of the piece. Hanah, besides having her own solitary moment of dance, walks through the space vocalizing indistinctly to the microphone. Her actions are accompanied by Ewa Kuryłowicz, who echoes and responds to Hanas voice. They both remain continuously present during the presentation but remain silent at moments towards the end of the performance their vocalizations seem to take a form of more concrete but still fragmented song. The performance ends with the last line of the song.

Phanuel Antwi reacted to the question of the performance “who is working for who?” Referring to GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) he reformulated it into “who is learning from whom?”. Commenting on the relationship between feminism and artificial intelligence Phanuel observed that learning allows seeing the connection built by constant use and facilitation through technology. If we learn from technology, the question would be: what technology does to feminism? It would be important to see potential liberatory aspects of artificial learning (new media and social justice) and use art spaces to notice them and elicit emancipatory qualities of machines. For that a reflection on the sensorium of machines would be needed. Through expanded thinking on accessibility one could resolve the questions of how to touch, how to hear the machine—how to make it touch and hear? Within the presentation the extended usage of reverb was pointing towards a direction of creating a reciprocal connection with the machine.

Momtaza Mehri reflected on the choreographic progress of the presentation and the way repetition and movements suggested a duality of the relationship between embodiment and technology. The cybernetic soundtrack, which created an augmented reality in space , was drawing attention to the fragmentation and stages through which the performance unfolded. The presentation allowed thinking of time as a relationship between body and sound. Momtaza commented on that, comparing it to the relationship between body and time, which leads to a reflection of labor. The workday, and specific types of measuring labor are examples of how time is entangled with embodiment. The presentation through its fragmentation and reflection on technology captured the unspecific, mundane, exceptional nature of work associated with women.

Ana Teixeira Pinto found interesting how the time was suspended within the performance alluding to the postmodern moment and suspension of the idea of progress especially in the context of new technologies. Ana made reference to the text distributed on the floor where the figure of the zombie was evoked, in order to approach the question of technology from two sides— of the female and of the corpse. The question “who is working for who?” is referring to a figure of the woman whose body does not belong to her. At the same time technological optimism renders a spectral image of the female body as a promise of emancipation. Ana evoked two books in order to enunciate further thoughts on labor. First, “The Population Bomb” by Paul R. Ehrlich is an example of the fear of overpopulation, which is represented in pop-culture with the figure of the zombie. Second, “Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass” by Mary L. Gray, Siddharth Suri is allowed to see how technology demands reproduction of a surplus population in order to function. The discussion on technology is stretched within the spectrum between the very materiality of the corpse on one side and a disembodied and transient feminist life on the other. Complicating this spectrum would allow to recognize a place where the question of labor nestles.


Hannah Jones's “My pearls are soap bubbles floating over the roof out to sea." was presented before live audience at the Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy on July 11th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2022 here: tuttə (le) rottə - all (the) ways: unfixed