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Undead Matter

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. Through intersecting conversations with artists, ecologists, poets, cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, musicians and quantum physicists, each offer a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible.

Location:

United Kingdom

Description:

Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. Through intersecting conversations with artists, ecologists, poets, cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, musicians and quantum physicists, each offer a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible.

Language:

English


Episodes

Life at the Edges of Shifting Rhythms | Shezad Dawood and Mark Nutall

6/8/2023
Artist and filmmaker, Shezad Dawood speaks with social and geopolitical anthropologist Mark Nutall, who’s work is embedded in circumpolar rural communities, tracing the entanglements between climate change, extractive industries and identity of place. They discuss the accumulated residues, ecological cosmologies and shifting futures that have emerged from the deepest corners of the oceans, the icy subsurface and geological entanglements of Greenland’s complex landscapes and the lives they hold. Kalaallit creation myths bubble up from liquid worlds below, told by Greenlandic storyteller Maria Kreutzmann, and the slow rhythms of Greenlandic Shark, thought to live up to 500 years, rub up against the past sci-fi imaginaries of icy frontiers, as the abandoned subterranean Cold War military base of Camp Century is revealed in the thawing ice and warming temperatures creates abundant, fertile pastures with rapid agricultural development. Still imbued with ancient knowledges of kinship with its fragile ecologies, but now set against a backdrop of modernisation and new extractive industries, Shezad and Mark consider the dramatic shifting rhythms of these lands, where life-that-thrives takes on different meanings and temporalities.

Duration:00:59:56

Imagining the Permafrost | Special Edition

2/23/2023
The permafrost is a thriving ecosystem, teaming with life, mythology, histories and futures, hidden just below the surface. Yet unlike tropical rainforests or the deep oceans, this frozen expanse rarely appears in the cultural imagination. Curator Sophie J Williamson ventures on a journey to discover the life of the permafrost. In -40° winter of the Canadian Yukon Valley, ancient forests, perfectly preserved by the permafrost, are uncovered by miners and 10,000-year-old grass seeds sprout into life. In the blustery remote Artic town of Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard (the world's northernmost settlement) cryomicrobiologists drill boreholes hundreds of meters deep to explore the deepest and oldest of earthly ecologies, bringing to the surface living microbes that are hundreds of thousands of years old. And in unceded Sápmi lands of northern Finland, permafrost mounds decompose into marshy peatlands, while biologists trace the shifting bio- and geoacoustics of a changing ecology. From the piercing-white tundra and the hundreds of thousands of lakes across the vast expanse of Siberia, indigenous folklore emerges from the unknowns of the icy underlands. And scientists in Yakutsk (the world’s coldest city), travel the icy landscapes to discover the stories secreted within the still fleshy, visceral carcasses of mammoths and ancient creatures that are exposed as the millennia-year-old ice thaws. -- With contributions by Hannu Autto, Jonathan Carruthers-Jones, Tori Herridge, Karen Lloyd, Sanna Piilo, Svetlana Romanova, Nikita Tananaev, Peter von Tiesenhausen, and other members of Sámi, Sakha and Yukagir communities of unceded Sápmi territory and Northern Siberia who prefer not to be named. Specially commissioned spoken word piece by Sata Taas (written and spoken by Al-Yene and Jaangy, with sound design by Karina Kazaryan aka KP Transmission) With excerpts of Jana Winderen's 'Energy Field', 'Listening Through the Dead Zones' and 'Pasvikdalen'. Published by Touch Music. -- Recorded and curated by Sophie J Williamson Sound design by Rob Mackay Produced by Mark Rickards A Whistledown Scotland Production for BBC 3 Imagining the Permafrost is part of the wider arts programme, Undead Matter. Follow on Instagram @undead_matter

Duration:00:28:31

Nurturing the Ancient Undead | Oreet Ashery and Tori Herridge

11/22/2022
Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. In the sixth episode, Nurturing the Ancient Undead, artist, Oreet Ashery speaks with paleontologist Tori Herridge about the past lives that emerge from the permafrost. Through these bodies, suspended in time and perfectly preserved over tens-of-thousands of years, they consider genetic legacies and the body as an archive. Posing contentious questions around the ethics of rewilding and de-extinction projects as processes of new creation rather than of restitution, as well as the controversial drive from some in the scientific community to clone and ‘recreate’ animals from the deep past, Herridge and Ashery probe at the edges of where life starts and the human role in its creation. Through journeys of IVF, fertility and the unborn, they consider examples of hybridity, artificial insemination and cross-species pregnancies as practices that reframe how life is conceived, both metaphorically and in actuality. Weaving through their conversation are readings from Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962). This groundbreaking sci-fi novel, a core influence to Ashery’s practice, collides feminist and anticolonialism thought to question ethics of control over human and non-human bodies. Undead Matter, initiated and convened by curator Sophie J Williamson, is an ongoing collective project, materialising slowly and organically in exhibitions, events, podcasts, publishing and the intangible. The Undead Matter programme has emerged through intersecting collaborations with artists, poets, dancers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators and others encountered along the way. Each offers a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible. Curated by Sophie J Williamson. Produced by Undead Matter. Sound by Either/Or Recordings. 'Memoirs of a Spacewoman', read by Hira Nabi.

Duration:00:38:25

Resurfacing lives | Bo Choy and Sayana Namsaraeva

10/16/2022
Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. In this fifth episode of the series, we delve into animated landscapes that surround Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest freshwater lake on the planet. Artist, Bo Choy speaks with Sayana Namsaraeva, an anthropologist from Buryatia, a republic of Eastern Siberia bordering Mongolia, who’s work focuses on the indigenous cosmologies of the people from her region. Their conversation considers the intimate connection between these largely untouched landscapes and the rich fabric of belief systems, indigenous cosmologies, oral traditions and mythologies that emerge from them. From shared and diverging influences from pre-Buddhism shamanisms, Chinese and Mongolian Buddhisms, Feng Shui and ancient eastern philosophies, Choy and Namsaraeva discuss the spirit-life of these lands as they rub up against planetary climate urgencies and contemplate how ancient wisdoms can have a vital role in the local and global relational ecologies we must form for the future. Undead Matter, initiated and convened by curator Sophie J Williamson, is an ongoing collective project, materialising slowly and organically in exhibitions, events, podcasts, publishing and the intangible. The Undead Matter programme has emerged through intersecting collaborations with artists, poets, dancers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators and others encountered along the way. Each offers a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible. Produced by Undead Matter. Sound by Either/Or Recordings. This episode was commissioned as part of the Dissolving Earths programme. Curated by Sophie J Williamson. Curatorial team: Yulia Gromova and Timur Zolotoev.

Duration:00:37:57

Permafrost Hydrofeminism | Astrida Neimanis and Nikita Tananaev

9/17/2022
Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. Cultural theorist, Astrida Neimanis’ theory of Hydrofeminism, positions water as an ever-shifting body that connects all beings and archives all histories. Unlike other bodies of water however, the permafrost wishes to remain still. In this fourth episode of Undead Matter podcasts, Neimanis speaks with permafrost hydrologist, Nikita Tananaev to discuss the cultural, philosophical and ecological implications of permafrost degradation as it disrupts ancient ecosystems suspended in the ice. Covering almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere’s landmass, the vast expanse of frozen permafrost landscape is an urgent frontier of climate change. Rapidly melting in the warming global climate, hundreds of thousands of years of organic matter is thawing, releasing terrifying amounts of methane, carbon and unknown viruses into the planet’s biome. Traveling across the thermokarst lakes and sparse tundra of northeast Siberia, they explore the complex entanglements of the ecologies, communities, mythologies and temporalities held amongst this fast-shifting landscape. Neimanis and Tananaev consider the blurred realities that exist within the watery movement of thaw and the dissolving of worlds of the Anthropocene. This podcast was recorded in early 2022; since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the threat to these precarious landscapes is now more acute than ever. This episode was commissioned as part of the Dissolving Earths programme. Curated by Sophie J Williamson. Curatorial team: Yulia Gromova and Timur Zolotoev. Undead Matter, initiated and convened by curator Sophie J Williamson, is an ongoing collective project, materialising slowly and organically in exhibitions, events, podcasts, publishing and the intangible. The Undead Matter programme has emerged through intersecting collaborations with artists, poets, dancers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators and others encountered along the way. Each offers a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible. This series of podcasts traverse the slippery space between the organic and the inorganic. The conversations travel from remote Arctic tundra, where ancient creatures emerge from the melting permafrost; to deep within the geological substrata of the ocean bed among the sludge of millennia-old microorganisms; outward to the celestial expanse of interstellar dust, full of life-giving potential; and back again.

Duration:00:49:49

Existing Between | Daisy Hildyard and Karen Lloyd

9/17/2022
Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. In this third episode, writer, Daisy Hildyard speaks with marine microbiologist, Karen Lloyd about 100-million-year-old microbes, that breathe and excrete minerals. From the small town of Ny Ålesund, Svalbard, Lloyd describes her explorations into the permafrost sub surface – where she extracts living microbes that have not interacted with the surface for at least 10,000 years – and questions the possible importance of the individual microbe within its community. Considering time as a malleable resource, they discuss the possibilities of differing perceptions of time, space and motion on different lifespan scales: from the human and the unfathomably ancient. Interwoven with readings from Hildyard’s book, The Second Body, the conversation bridges possibilities of dialogue, connections and the refusal of rules between the organic and the non-organic, the living and the non-living. Undead Matter, initiated and convened by curator Sophie J Williamson, is an ongoing collective project, materialising slowly and organically in exhibitions, events, podcasts, publishing and the intangible. The Undead Matter programme has emerged through intersecting collaborations with artists, poets, dancers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators and others encountered along the way. Each offers a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible. This series of podcasts traverses the slippery space between the organic and the inorganic. The conversations travel from remote Arctic tundra, where ancient creatures emerge from the melting permafrost; to deep within the geological substrata of the ocean bed among the sludge of millennia-old microorganisms; outward to the celestial expanse of interstellar dust, full of life-giving potential; and back again.

Duration:00:51:54

Marking Silences | Myung Mi Kim and Kathryn Yusoff

8/23/2022
Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. In this second episode, geographer Kathryn Yusoff speaks with poet Myung Mi Kim about the potencies of past lives, traumas, histories and possibilities that are held in the demarcated silences between the rock strata and between words. They consider the multiple ‘broken worlds’ that have come before our current perceptions of ecological crisis, and how descriptions of geologies have perpetuated colonial narratives erasing the geotraumas imposed on peoples through colonial extraction and violence. They question the possible sites of politics, intimacies and scripts of life, as places with the potential to activate new realities, as matter and words reform around us, time and again. Interweaving the conversation are readings of Kim’s poetry and a sound work by artist Shamica Ruddock. At the end of the podcast, the full sound work by Ruddock, Sun Dial 51.3861°, 1.3520° plays out, as it reaches downwards to the geological substrata beneath our feet. Follow the full programme on Instagram, @undead_matter or visit www.undeadmatter.com

Duration:00:49:31

Emergent Interstellar Dust | Himali Singh Soin and Chandra Wickramasinghe

8/22/2022
Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. This new series traverses the slippery space between the organic and the inorganic. The conversations travel from remote Artic tundra, where ancient creatures are emerging from the melting permafrost; to deep within the geological substrata of the ocean bed among the sludge of millennia-old microorganisms; outward to the celestial expanse of interstellar dust, full of life-giving potential; and back again. In this inaugural episode, artist and poet, Himali Singh Soin discusses cosmic ancestry and the biosphere of the galaxy with mathematician, astronomer and astrobiologist, Prof Chandra Wickramasinghe. Sri Lankan-born, Wickramasinghe, grew up seeing a pristine view of the celestial expanse in the night skies above his home in Colombo. Now a leading expert on interstellar material and the origins of life, much of his work tests the edges of controversial hypotheses on the cosmos, in particular the theory of panspermia. Drawing from Hindu and Buddhist mythology and philosophy, Soin and Wickramasinghe reconsider the west’s Judeo-Christian perspectives of the universe, questioning fundamental assumptions of the Big Bang as a moment of creation and the problem of how consciousness comes into being. Intertwined throughout their discussion, Soin reads from her vivid and provoking text, written in collaboration with Alexis Rider, Healing from Meteorites. Initiated and convened by curator Sophie J Williamson, Undead Matter is an ongoing collective project, materialising slowly and organically in exhibitions, events, podcasts, publishing and the intangible. The Undead Matter programme has emerged through intersecting collaborations with artists, poets, dancers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators and others encountered along the way. Each offers a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible. Follow the full programme on Instagram, @undead_matter or visit www.undeadmatter.com

Duration:00:36:00

Trailer

8/20/2022
Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia. Traversing the slippery space between the organic and the non-organic, the conversations travel from remote Siberia tundra, where ancient creatures are emerging from the melting permafrost; to deep within the geological substrata of the ocean bed amongst the sludge of millennia-year-old slow-living microorganisms; and outwards to the celestial expanse of interstellar dust ripe with life-giving potential, and back again. Undead Matter has emerged through intersecting discussions with artists, poets, dancers, writers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, death doulas, palaeontologists, geologists, permafrost geographers, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators, indigenous elders and others met along the way. Each offer their own perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible. With Himali Singh Soin, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Okwui Okpokwasili, Sophie J Williamson, Daisy Hildyard, Karen Lloyd, Myung Mi Kim, Kathryn Yusoff, Oreet Ashery, Tori Herridge, Shezad Dawood, Mark Nutall, Astrida Neimanis, Nikita Tananaev, Sayana Namsaraeva, Bo Choy, Rodion Sulyandziga, Carolina Caycedo, Elizabeth Povinelli and Nikita Zimov.

Duration:00:03:04