The Deep Scattering Layer

Herwig Scherabon, Eva Balayan

Location: Club

What we call agency in modern philosophy has been around in indigenous tales for centuries in the form of spirits. Something being animated is something being brought to live. In this artwork 3D scanned artefacts from the Amazon rainforest are combined with motion captures borrowed from video games.
Off Stage

4-channel audiovisual installation
Full HD Videos, projectors, 4-channel, 4:00 min, loop

Following a research trip to the Amazon rainforest I created a series of artworks that were premiered in Berlin during my solo show called "Against Nature". The four channel installation "The Deep Scattering Layer" being the last one in the series most vividly illustrates the concept: our understanding of life and reality from an anthropocentric point of view is in desperate need of an update. While we are used to reading humanoid motion as "alive", we often struggle to find the same sense of agency in things that are inanimate or even merely non-human but in motion nonetheless.

On a surface level we are of course aware of the vitality of fungi and plant life. Our understanding of reality however stays untouched by this awareness. We still think of the value of life being something that correlates with individuality and intelligence. For a truly transcendent experience of the world around us we need to think in terms of a flat ontology: every thing is an object, even we ourselves are. An enormous agglomeration of objects is an object as well (a hyperobject; see T. Morton). The prevalent subject-object dualism of continental philosophy makes it difficult for us to acknowledge non-human life as such. 

The deep scattering layer is a term borrowed from marine biology. There it signifies a layer of marine life, that has for a long time been mistaken for the sea bottom – merely because our sonic measurements indicated a resistance. Discovering life in something that we understood as solid ground colourfully reveals the event horizon of our reality. At re:publica I am hoping to inspire question about nature and life that hopefully spiral us to some new interesting insights.