At the heart of Post hoc is a spoken word list of vanishings, extinctions and disappearances.
Post hoc is an inventory of loss in the form of an unfathomably long list, read each morning on NTS Radio by an artificial intelligence entity named Amy. The vast list spans an incomprehensible range of subjects. This strange amalgam of types of things momentarily gains form — ghostly reminders of what once was — that is now gone. Fossilised on the NTS radio waves, Post hoc is a vast tomb of things that our present moment sits on top of.
The list read over the airwaves confronts the notion that in the very act of naming, power and ownership are exerted over things in the world. Naming also becomes a tool for conjuring: through a speech-act each entity is called-up to the present moment, from vanished wonders of the world to disappeared sounds; extinct languages to things that melted. The project reflects on what disappears from our visibility and brings into focus the cost of a constant demand for progress and the resulting losses and extinctions.
Offering an utterly subjective experience of what might constitute loss, the synthetic yet comforting voice of Amy calls up extinctions, eliminations, removals, invisibilities, casualties, demises, losses, expirations, endings, terminations, cessations, consummations, fatality, climaxes, annihilations, absences, dissolutions, finales and closures without end. Over the course of the NTS Radio broadcast nothing is repeated — each utterance occurs once before sinking back into the past.
The work attempts encyclopaedic totality, yet like all databases, it is never complete — filled with voids and arrested by its own development. Post hoc is produced from existing data, mined by hand from innumerable sources, and yet its form can only ever be determined by the data-bubble within which we reside. It appears to mimic Western epistemological thinking and its attempt to contain the world indexically, yet it undermines any authority in its highly subjective poetic processes.
Post hoc signals the contingent process of constructing history and knowledge, casting light on the impact problematic processes Enlightenment ideals and Western epistemologies have had on this post-truth moment.
In Venice, this prodigious quantity of lost and extinct entities was announced and transmitted via industrially produced tree cell towers. These barely camouflaged, ersatz trees are nodes in a communication network that signal to listeners the entities that have gone before—almost like the trees that the stealth cell towers have come to replace.
The Latin phrase post hoc [trans: after this] describes the assumption that an occurrence has a logical/causal relationship with the event it follows. The broadcast calls up data sets that remind us of the impact of climate change, urbanisation and loss of language and culture, as well as sovereignty, ethics and technological omnipotence. Word by word, Post hoc makes visible unseen and muted histories, a reminder that we must keep the past in focus in order to know the future.
The vast list spans an almost incomprehensible range of subjects: missing artworks; extinct sign languages; lost bodies of water; discontinued newspapers; banned and withdrawn pharmaceuticals; chimerical, forbidden or impossible colours; extinct plants; lost films; previously recognised constellations; destroyed comets; banned aroma molecules; defunct electronic trading platforms; historical currencies; closed nuclear facilities; failed banks; black holes; fossilised birds; prehistoric mammals; sinkholes; cured diseases; former national anthems; tax havens; extinct birds; destroyed monuments; recessions; discontinued photographic film; dinosaurs; disbanded political parties; censored exhibitions; secret societies; supernova; lost archives to name but a few.
Throughout the broadcast, guest composers will produce original work to accompany the reading of the lists that make up Post hoc. The first year of broadcast will include work by Al Doyle with Max Eastley; Hermione Johnson; Rosy Parlane; Rachel Shearer; Torben Tilly; Rob Thorne; Gillian Whitehead.
Dane Mitchell’s Post hoc was first presented in 2019 as the Aotearoa New Zealand National Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale.
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