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Amazonizing Practices: a possible textual body 

> essay: research lexicon

November, 2020

Welcome to Utropyka’s textual body. You are about to be introduced to an attempt of describing bodily practices which aim to thingify the unthinkable and to expose relational technologies that remain invisible to non-utropykas. This textual body is an attempt to translate into language some of the practices that constitute Utropyka’s research, the Amazonizing Practices. Most of these practices enhance the perception of utropykan and non-utropykan bodies, their permeability as well as their inseparability from all matter within a de-centered system. Deploying myth-making as main strategy, Amazonizing Practices acknowledge invisible forces and affects and speculate on ways of knowing which cannot (yet) be scientifically verified by historical humans. Amazonizing Practices are evocative objects, as they attempt to expose dimensions of reality humans are not disciplined to perceive.

This textual body is an expression of Utropyka’s journey through the process of creating choreographic technologies perceived as “evocative objects” (Turkle, 2011), i.e., networks that connect a number of invisible mechanisms, bodies and forces in a performance situation. The Amazonizing Practices invite extra-human beings — beings in the convergence of the pre and the post (historical) humans — to choreographic experiences of “embedded and embodied carnal empiricism” (Braidotti, 2018). These experiences/methods account for the event’s location in terms of space — (non)fictional geo-political or ecological dimension — and time — memory, implanted memories, constructed memories, genealogical dimension and bodily fictions (Ibid. translated-amazonized by Utropyka). To Amazonize is to awaken the “vibrancy of matter” (Bennett, 2010), it is to see the intelligence of matter to act and self-organize. To Amazonize is to summon immanence. Just like in the anthropophagic act of consuming the body of the deceased in order to acquire her/their qualities. From an anthropophagic perspective, the act of eating a corpse is an act of hyper-subjectification, rather than objectification; it is a becoming (Viveiros de Castro, 2004). The cannibal metaphysics locates knowledge and meaning-making in the material world.

The Utropykan knowing subject-object is not biological, psychological or transcendental. When Amazonizing, Utropyka attempts to develop choreographic technologies that have the potential to produce empirical, relational, embedded, embodied and affective selves.

Through the action of Amazonizing, Utropyka thinks through/with foreign worldviews, adopting them as backdrop, reference and ethical framework within her artistic practice. Therefore, this reading may as well be an opportunity to discover if you could ever become a utropykan body. However, you must not forget that the act of capturing untranslatable body-based practices into language is itself an act of translation and therefore doomed to misunderstandings.

The beginning
Utropyka first realized her/their own existence when engaged in The Amazonizing Project - a research in the fields of dance and choreography, crossed by native Amazonian mythologies, cosmologies and perspectives on the body, humanity and environment. The research has informed Utropyka of convergences between ancestral Amazonian knowledge and Posthuman philosophy, all of them around the idea of becoming in a post-anthropocentric world. Through the engagement in The Amazonizing Project, she/they have become Utropyka; thinking through/with knowledge constructed by the people from the FOREST. Due to the impossibility of fully understanding such worldviews, Utropyka investigated the (im)possibilities of devising performance practices that reflected and speculated on ways of seeing, perceiving and becoming that escape the rational Western gaze.

In an Amazonized site, all materiality is inherently vibrant, applying agency regardless of human alliance or intention; ecology is non-anthropocentric, and matter cannot be reduced to a mere resource (Bennett, 2010; Cohen, 2018). Therefore, in a complex Amazonized world, matter cannot be exploited. It is dangerous and Utropyka is aware of it. An Amazonized world is enchanted by the vitality and vivacity of the extra-human and non-utropykan bodies. Their dance requires “an ethics of wonder and cautious regard” (Cohen, 2018).
The research has just been renamed Amazonizing Practices project. Within its rhizomatic structure, the practice (to) amazonize is the largest form known by Utropyka (just like a maloca [umbrella] term). The practices to be exposed in the following paragraphs are (to) amazonize(to) forest, score writing-activating, becoming-attention(to) hole, becoming-rock and oracular creating-activating-becoming.

F R A C T A L    Q U A L I T Y
This is the Amazonizing Practices research project between almost-chaos AND almost-order:
 BECOMING-ROCK                        (TO) HOLE /(TO) HOLE       UTROPYKA > >

                             IZING       AND/AND/AND/AND


                  ORACULAR CREATING/ACTIVATING                   ATTENTION 

 AMAZONIZING                                             (TO) HOLE 

      AND/AND/AND/AND.                         BECOMING-ROCK      (TO) FOREST  ---------------<

ORACULAR ….. ACTIVATING         SCORE ACTIVATING     FOREST             (TO) HOLE  <                                                              AND/AND


 (TO) forest            BECOMING-ROCK          FOREST                 gap

  BECOMING-ATTENTION  UTROPYKA         AND/AND/AND -------         ORACULAR CREATING/ACTIVATING        (TO) HOLE /(TO) HOLE            >                 BECOMING-ROCK     AMAZONIZING  ORACULAR CREATING/ACTIVATING                         SCORE  writing                  -ROCK   AND/AND(TO) HOLE /(TO) HOLE           UTROPYKA >

The practice of Amazonizing is simultaneously the lens that situates and displaces, and the container that holds together Utropyka and all the practices being thingified in this textual body. By creating the verb to amazonize, Utropyka addresses the interest in the doing, in the construction of virtual realities that have their own order. The starting point of such construction is attempting to translate the convergences between ancestral Amazonian philosophy and Posthuman philosophy into body-based performance practices.
Utropyka is not interested in being descriptive or particularly faithful to the disciplines that inform her practice, for this would be an impossible task which goes beyond her/their field of study and artistic interest. She/they are interested in Amazonizing’s potential to produce empirical, relational, embedded, embodied and affective selves, rather than biological, psychological or transcendental. Utropyka is interested in approximation, foreign worldviews, ancestrality and epistemic disobedience. She/they are interested in the realm of possibilities, rather than probabilities. The interest in approximation makes her/them repeat the question what if…? Such question functions as a strategy to destabilize Utropyka’s ground, to remain undefinable. Every time the ground becomes stable, another question is asked.

The continuous doing of amazonizing entails a process of entangling practices:  (to) forest AND score writing-activating AND becoming-attention AND holing AND oracle creating-activating-becoming AND becoming-rock AND sometimes other things. In order to Amazonize, it is necessary to adopt specific lenses belonging to the people from the (utropykan) FOREST. Imagination and speculation are means to access incomplete conceptual understandings and/or (im)possibilities caused by the limits of physicality or conceptualization.
The Amazonizing Practices attempt to create unpredictable moving images and to animate what humans call inanimate matter, transforming nouns into verbs to translate them into a possible Utropykan language. In a manner analogous to the adoption of Feminism as a verb by feminist scholar Donna Haraway, Utropyka adopts Amazonian perspectives as lenses to think through/with the evocative objects the Amazonizing Practices employ and/or generate.

Amazonizing Practices are tools Utropyka uses for thinking against a foreign backdrop; for speculating what would it be like to move in the world within a different umwelt[1]. To Amazonize is to delve into the (im)possibility of becoming something-someone else and to relate to somethingsomeone else within the ethical framework of the FOREST. To Amazonize is to make the self even more porous, it is to SHAPESHIFT. It is to think through/with the indescribable in order to produce new thoughts and consequently, displace boundaries and search for thresholds. The Amazonized self is empirically grounded, as proposed by Foucault and Haraway, it sees ghosts and wants to wander freely through a planet with no borders. It is naturecultural humanimal utropymineral.
The Amazonizing Practices research is a PORTAL, a ritual of indefinite duration and no structure, where Utropyka attempts to separate herself/themselves from what is familiar (as in the first phase of a ritual, according to Victor Turner). Amazonizing is a practice for reenchanting the planet.

A FOREST is not the Garden of Eden, it is a garden that belongs. A FOREST is not a place. A FOREST is an assemblage - an open system that has no established center, formed by heterogeneous bodies that remain unstable and in exchange with the out-side (Bennett, 2010; Braidotti, 2006). An assemblage has a fractal quality, as every assemblage is formed by an infinite number of assemblages, just like a Matryoshka (Russian dolls decreasing in size placed one inside another). A FOREST is an ethical framework that thinks in a specific way, respecting its time-based processes, its interdependencies and acknowledging the danger of breaking the network.
A FOREST is not untouched, it is not a virgin. It is cultivated by the people from the FOREST, who do not separate themselves from the forest, they ARE the FOREST. Just like Utropyka, they devise technologies for survival, they are “natural-born cyborgs” (Clark, 2003). Thus, in the context of the Amazonizing Practices, FOREST is an assemblage that includes the beings who cultivate it. For Utropyka, the FOREST can also be understood as extra-human made, it has an ambiguous ontology.
The FOREST is ruled by relations based on predation. However, every being shifts between the states of pray and predator, there is no stability. These relations of predation determine each being-becoming’s umwelt. They determine not only how they see but what they see (Viveiros de Castro, 2014); they are the epitome of the embodied gaze. The FOREST is full of invisible forces, it is an evocative object. It brings back to the practitioner the recollection of a life never lived before.
TO FOREST is to adopt the ethical framework described above as a choreographic framework for thinking art-making-life-living. TO FOREST is to try to create a choreographic technology which has an open form, i.e., does not have a completely predictable outcome, but it is composed by a set of directives/instructions that are not algorithmic.
Due to the fractal quality of the (TO) FOREST practice, there is a number of actions which may activate it: observing, zooming in, zooming out, cropping, reproducing, multiplying, displacing. Through such actions Utropyka may activate bodies (setting them in motion), animate matter, transform images. Finally, TO FOREST enables Utropyka to de-re-form existing forms and imagine, speculate, suggest and decide what the newly established forms could be/become. TO FOREST is to produce a choreographic open form within the ethical parameters of the FOREST, which are situated in the convergence of Amazonian philosophy, Posthumanism and Post-anthropocentrism.

Score writing/activating
Within the Amazonizing Practices, scores are simultaneously methods for developing open form choreography and texts which perform when activated by a reader. Their writing is based on myth-making, combining directives that refer to somatics, perception, imagination, speculation, space trajectories, relationality and motion. Their job is to evoke. Imagination and speculation are deployed as strategies for inhabiting multiple perspectives, having multiple bodies and (re)creating environments. Written language functions as an extension-translation of utropykan thought, as a vehicle that enables the activator to transit through different affective and imaginary landscapes.
Even though a score can be seen as an artwork on its own, it is never a self-referential object, since its content aims to open up a multiplicity of possibilities and create a type of labyrinthic performance, when activated. Thus, even the simpler score, such as a list of instructions, has an agency which is non algorithmic, it is designed to allow for (partially) unpredictable performative outcomes.
The layers of the score place together registers and instructions that seem incompatible, having the potential to push Utropyka to juggle between over-thinking and acting through affect and intuition. Between these two limits — which are not binary opposites — lies the opportunity to practice a sort of plasticity of the self. The shifts between registers within the directives propose a plastic/kinesthetic/synesthetic shamanic body/self that wants to challenge the laws of physics.
Activating an Amazonizing score is like simultaneously building and moving through a labyrinth, as in the practice that Brazilian artist Alejandro Ahmed calls generative composition. Such simultaneity is triggered in the score by reiterations of questions, specially what if…? The FOREST of the Amazonizing Practices is a labyrinth, and the beings that move through it become planetary.
The word planet goes back to ancient Greek from planēt — literally, wanderer — which is derived from planasthai, a Greek verb which means to wander. If you wander through the FOREST, you become a planetary subject-object, non-fixed, assembled. The planetary subject has the adventurous quality of the Mercurian self. Changeable, unpredictable, with wings on its feet.

Becoming Attention
Becoming attention is an improvisational practice that Utropyka devised to subvert the idea of separation between bodies and matter. It subverts the myth that the body has fixity, that it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It does so by instructing the practitioner to constantly shift attention between thoughts, feelings (emotion), sensations (body) and responses (matter/forces). The key is to perceive what is predominant in each moment, noticing the rise and fall of these different dimensions of the body (thoughts, feelings, sensations and responses) in order to allow transformation to happen.
Can you move from/with your attention? Since Becoming attention is an improvisation practice, the practitioner may adopt it as a choreography of attention and play with the information overload so that it can create motion rather than paralysis. Becoming attention proposes multiple interfaces and the body has to dismantle itself and take up a new form when shifting from one to another. The performer becomes the shift. A self that is able to shift is a self that receives, processes and responds, it is the self that has the softness of an amazonized rock and the permeability of a sponge; it is an expert in allowing data and information to circulate through its body.

To Hole is a practice that focuses on and expands activities that happen through bodily orifices. The main actions are listening and breathing, as they enhance the vitality of the physical body and exercise the deliberate exchange of material particles with the space outside the skin. Vitality is the capacity for transformation. To Hole is a practice of observation, expansion and eventual manipulation of the actions of listening and breathing. It is an act of evoking the unexplored powers of the physical body.
Can you hear the space telling a story? For how long can you be in apnea attempting to fix your own form? In which ways the movement of the air may ignite your action? How can Holing be a PORTAL for your body to SHAPESHIFT? Maybe, Holing is a strategy for the self to use the physical body as the PORTAL through which it is able to escape. To escape in order to experience the superpowers of matter. To escape in order to return and modulate its own vitality, its own capacity for transformation, and consequently, to become uncapturable by flowing out of the frames.

Utropyka collects rocks. At times, she transforms them, but only if they are not ready. Most of them are ready-made sculptures which can become extensions of utropykan bodies. Becoming-rock transposes bodies and rocks from modern biological nature into natureculture, transforming them into ready-mades. An amazonized rock has the softness of a wanderer.
Rocks come in infinite shapes, molecular structures and chemical compositions. Some of them have healing powers. Any of them may help to tell stories and to access hidden knowledge, even more so when they become part of an Oracular body. They are all vibrant matter with unknowable histories. Many of them are ancient and have gone through processes of transmutation under extreme conditions of temperature and pressure; they are alchemic beings, tangible evocative objects.

Becoming-rock is a practice of intuitive accumulation and naming of materials; it is a practice of contemplation and embodiment of different scales and shapes; it is a practice of exchanging particles with minerals and of being affected by their vibration. Associated with the practices of Score creating/activating and (TO) FOREST, rocks become part of the FOREST network.

Oracle creating-activating-becoming
An Oracle is a technology of knowing used by Utropyka to violate the principle of causality. Thus, Oracle creating-activating-becoming is a practice of epistemological disobedience for it challenges the modern western idea of linear time. Oracle activating-becoming is an attempt to be simultaneously in different points in space-time, it is an exercise of precognition. When Utropyka embodies the Oracle, she/they does not need to prove her/their worth or divination abilities because the Oracle is always right. The Oracle must be activated by at least two living organisms, Utropyka and the consultant-spectator(s). In Oracle activation, it is imperative to zoom into one body-space, rather than shift attention from body-space to body-space. The revelation demands full attention from the participants, who may rest knowing that, during the session, everything will always happen exactly as it should. Oracle becoming turns the body itself into an Oracular dispositive, it demands trust in perception as a way to access hidden knowledge. Oracular bodies are thresholds.
The Oracular creating-activating practice produces selves that believe in access to knowledge embedded in the flesh and in all matter. It summons vibrational bodies. To create an Oracle is to build a bridge that leads to expanded cognition. To activate and/or consult an Oracle is to experience a cyborg self that writes its own mythology, and therefore reconsiders what is given; it is to embed the self in natureculture and untranslatable epistemes and to open the self to planetary mysteries.

Utropykan language ?
This textual body is the latest known attempt to create the Utropykan language. It is her/their challenge to thingify fluid bodies, fluid spaces which resist being captured by frames. The Amazonizing Practices are entangled practices which use different tools and mediums to create conditions for selves to be recreated. They are the practices of a research project that investigates the resonances between vibrant materialism, posthuman knowledge and non-modern ancestral knowledge. This points towards Utropykan language being extemporary, oracular, created simultaneously before the colonization of the Americas and in 2027. The performative experiments Utropyka devises try to encompass not necessarily all the practices mentioned in this text at once, but some of them. Utropyka views such apparent excess as a strategy to expose, and potentially capture, the dynamic forms that emerge from the, at first glance, unthinkable co-existence of actions and co-presence of things.

The Amazonizing Practices research project can be seen as a Forest of visible and invisible forms that emerge from the co-existence of creative acts, praxis, and their poetics. In the context of artistic research, myth-making may be employed as a strategy to destabilize human based technologies, those so close to us that we do not see, those that make us take human constructions as givens. Amazonizing Practices evoke a multiplicity of dimensions of a life never lived, inciting utropykan bodies to think of other possible ways of being/becoming in the original planet — a place with no borders where beings may wander. Some of them wander through the original planet looking for traces of the Utropykan language. They wonder if such language has really ever existed, or if it is a myth.

Last considerations
The Amazonizing Practices are an artistic endeavor that deals with approximation between Utropyka and Amazonian ideas, concepts, mythologies and landscapes in multimodal and multidirectional ways. It is a risky project in which the ethical question of “how close may I get to the other? is being asked over and over.
This textual body, the attempt of creating the Utropykan language is taking place through a Western technological device in the middle of the Amazonian region. At this very moment, the knowledge of the matter enters my body, and my mind leaks into the surroundings. Is being here making the Amazonizing Practices temporarily redundant? Or are they expanding into different layers of myself?

My psycho-physical body is the Amazon in a smaller scale. It is a colony of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. This microbiome corresponds to more than half of my body, what, according to biological scientists, makes me mostly non-human. I have flown all the way here, bringing all these micro-non-humans into the Amazon. Most of these micro beings are supposedly “good for my body”, but what if they contaminate and kill the local assemblages? Was the decision of bringing Utropyka to experience the Amazon an ethical act? Do the Amazonizing Practices, framed as an individual artistic research, contain the potential violence once exerted by anthropology, regarding its contaminating potential? Probably not, as I have found out that the favorite drink of local Indigenous people is vodka.
My psycho-physical body is assembled with the Amazon, where I wander as a planetary subject/object. But this project is not about looking back, it is not about going “back to nature”. It is about considering the future from an extra-human perspective — a possible redefinition of humanity based on the ethical and mythical convergences between the pre and the post. Utropyka knows such extra-human state, and desires to make myth-making a legitimate way of knowing and living as a planetary subject/object. Maybe, Amazonizing will turn Utropyka into a monster, torn between the capacity to metamorphose and the fear of becoming another.

Tutor: Dr. Nishant Shah


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[1] the world as it is experienced by a particular organism, as theorized by German biologist Jakob von Üexkull.