In this pathway, we were free to arrange the artifacts in any manner. We started by examining each artifact and allowing their qualities to prompt discussion. This method drew us to the subject of rituals. Rituals include a variety of meaningful events and social formations, including in the digital sphere. Though they are flexible and varied processes, rituals do have something in common: they create kin-like attachments between the entities involved, which includes people, deities, and sometimes other species. This pathway therefore organizes artifacts based on how each one ritualizes kin-making: is it through creation or destruction, doing or undoing?

The loose geometric pattern emerged after we identified a basic grid in which “DOING” and “UNDOING” form the vertical access and “DESTRUCTION” and “CREATION” form the horizontal one. Destruction is not always bad: certain types of “undoing” productively open up new ways to think about each other and our world. Likewise, “doing” is not always good. The artifacts at the top of the vertical axis (DOING) are forms of surveillance–a type of ‘god’s eye view’–that imposes meaning on others (Colonial Gaze) and constrains their actions (DNA Surveillance). Moving down the axis toward UNDOING, the artifacts begin to loosen these constraints as prophets and gods guide us away from human hubris (Diviner/Watcher, Portraits, She Unnames Them). Moving horizontally toward DESTRUCTION, we find protests that emerge from violence (Digital Rituals#BLM, Suppression of the Courses), along with performances or narratives that seek to destroy inherited truths (Couple in Cage, Post Natural). Moving horizontally toward CREATION, the artifacts emphasize new types of kin with plants, magma, animals, and dinosaurs.

Since TERA acknowledges a debt to mainstream science, while also creating space for other types of expertise, we bookended the pathway with two well-known scientists from the United States, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and astronomer Carl Sagan, each of whom speaks in a prophetic voice about possibilities for kin in world-making endeavors–the atomic bomb (DESTRUCTION) and space exploration (CREATION).

Would you arrange the artifacts differently based on their kin-making capabilities? Could you arrange artifacts according to the feelings they generate in ritual moments? If the geometric pattern is flipped or rotated, does it affect the patterns that emerge?TERA-Elonda-Clay-Geometric.mp3