ELÆ | FIELD RECORDINGS MANIFEST
Welcome, comrade. You have landed on an energetic nonplace archive of traces.
I’m currently iterating in human form in a linear timeline, where I go by “Elæ” though you may also be familiar with my given name, “Lynne DeSilva-Johnson.” I am a cell cluster attempting to person and thereby negotiate the habits and customs of this time, to learn the capacities of both this meat suit and what it contains. I am here to evolve.
This process takes a lot of forms, some more visible than others, and happens using a variety of materials and practices in a wide array of settings, sometimes with collaborators or co-conspirators. This site is a living archive of both past and present attempts at this sensemaking, an iterative-life’s work.
When asked what my “medium” is, the answer I’ve been giving of late is: questions.
I’ve been known to fill in the blank with alchemist in the “job” field of medical records, to add in “no” in a multiple choice field under M or F for “gender.”
These small refusals, too, are questions.
Humans have a fondness for categorization and naming, and what even these lines and the menu options above hope to offer is a sort of troubling that I try to remain consistent in across not only what is recognizable as my “work,” but in the work of daily practice in the world. In reframing my entity as ELÆ, for instance, I’ve explained that I wish to be uncomfortable in the mouth and this is accurate about not only my “name” (impossible) but also my work. I do not have a gender. I avoid words like “art” or “poetry,” not because I have no nostalgic fondness for them but because what they’ve come to mean has simultaneously too much erasure and too much baggage: the words we use are only, always, approximations.
Whenever and wherever possible I want to bring forward that tension, so that the conditioned slide into a world I seek to change is interrupted, made awkward, brought into the light in its agentive-thingness, not a priori.
I believe deeply that I (and all of “us,” humanoids) benefit greatly from practices of re/orientation, both initiated by self and other, in the process of coming to understand self, each other, and our surroundings. There are countless ways that this can happen, but central to human (linear) history is the clear tradition of coming into relationship with materials that have allowed us to re/orient sensorially, which is to say: via sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, proprioception, and so on.
Our capacity to help ourselves and others re/orient via re/presentation, or via movement, or via the impact of sound on our somatic and nervous system, or via the manipulation of language causing a fissure in how we’ve found and understood ourselves in the world is a critical tool in our personal and collective learning. But not more or less than, or separate from, processes of caring for self, kin, or biome, processes of collective system building, etc.
Do you see where I’m getting at here?
My process is liminal, more than and between definitions, but sometimes for codeswitching purposes I will explain to others that I am “a multimodal creator and scholar, addressing intersections between bodies, language, technology, and system change.” I make work in materials available to me, and attempt to archive, distribute, and teach in the spaces that are available to me. Sometimes the “art” world allows for exploration and expression that would be impossible in the social or hard “sciences;” sometimes language broken out of formalized norms of prose or research gets deemed “poetry” because of its seeming similarity to others’ work going by that name. Sometimes I have the energy to trouble those appellations, sometimes this type of passing has utility.
Here you’ll find the detritus I’ve collected in my baleine.
I hope you enjoy exploring these humble efforts and using whatever tools you may find align with your own.
in solidarity and possibility