Agitation and Stimulation

The creation of measurable energy

A cough, you sneeze, I orgasm and a car is starting— built up energy erupts everywhere around me. I want to find a way to visualize release; the combustion of an old world; nerve-based irritation; the massive blowout where a hidden, capsulated source is being tapped into.
The Concept of Energy

Any linkage between fossil fuel combustion and bodily reactions can seem somewhat abstract, but then emotions take over. Heat, sound, taste and tactility bind horniness, sneezes and explosive fires together by the way in which we perceive them - as something intense and pleasurable but shortly lived. I wonder if this is a physical and cultural connotation? By researching I found an answer in the modern concept of energy and its creator: Thermodynamics.
    Historically, the branch of physics named Thermodynamics developed out of a desire to increase the efficiency of early steam engine. By focusing in on the properties of the machine itself - heat, work and temperature - scientists tried to explain their relational dynamic to energy, radiation and matter. They tried to define thermodynamic, universal laws to understand how this industrial version of ’energy’ could be extracted and intensified from newly invented systems of combustion.
    The first law created was named The ’Conservation Law of Energy’ and means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed from one shape into another. A formulation which turns all existence into forms of movement and activity - both the machine and its human operator. Together with the steam engine’s physical attributes, this law informed our modern concept of energy: a mirroring of universal conditions in fossil fuel combusting societies.
    This updated version of ’energy’ that came out from these experimentations was a concept entangled with western imperial views and dreams. Where energy and work was closely coupled in ideas of dynamic productivity and constant growth versus destructive, decaying stasis. Energy was seen as a timeless human desire, finally finding its expression in fossil fueled systems, with constant exploited labour as its consequence.
    I imagine energy released from my body and the structures around me in the same way because my language and education have taught me precisely that. The energy-work nexus is tightly knit; all shifting systems is inescapably an expression of the conservation principles of this universe. A cough propelling particles in infinity. Your sneeze causing a watery erosion in the long run. My orgasm pushing me into creative writing. A car carrying workers to their workplace.
    This western science used to measure, proof and draw conclusions. I want to parasite on these old methods to analyze release and therefore the graph becomes my chosen form for investigation. Because of its coordinate system it has the ability to display two components at the same time - energy and time - and form a linear representation of their mergence.
W / t = P

Graphic(al) representation

The graph serves as a visualization of this modern type of energy— it focuses in on the shift and confirms the act of labour. A peak as a symbol of a sudden shift and a vertical drop as the moment were power is released. Making the work measurable and comparable; possible to intensify and streamline. But the graph also obscures - the conditions of work, the side effects of components, all waste and questionable quality - in its hunt for a certain type of objectivity.
    What draws me to the graph is the idea of squeezing too many components into a pre-assumed form. I start with a certain graph of energy and find others who contain the same transformation. I chose my graphs because of their claim to universality; the built-up and shift expressed in their systems. It serves as an attempt of an anthropomorphic approach to scientific data; creating a setting where the act of reading graphs becomes personal and intimate. My aim is to question that which we deem measurable; energy, pleasure, health and the value of certain histories against other.

Extraction and Agitation

I start with a graph of extraction, the origin of combustion. I narrow it down to one of an oil well because its lifespan usually starts with a massive release— a blowout were oil erupts everywhere. Showing off an inherent power inlaid in our porous crust. I find one representing the oil harvesting capacity of an oil well and deem it telling and the first set of graphs is collected in its image. Graphs of rapid gain, a sharp peak and slow de-escalation.

The figures get connected through the act of agitation, of stirring up reaction. A constant banging on bedrock; particles stuck in nasal or oral cavities; the manipulative traits of social media. The agitation - or maybe even irritation - causing a violent reaction and successive decline. This harsh release is tiresome and weary, it propels you forward for a bit before you slowly collapse. I think of this figure as a sign of sickness in our belief in energy, caused by irritating persistency. Both concretely with the resemblance to symptomatic reflexes of coughing and sneezing, but also through its painfully short period of gain and its long, punctuated aftershock.
    The graphs also remind me of the climatic hockeystick but in reverse. Showing the seductive explosion and inevitable decline of dammed up energy. The problem of environmental activism is easily detected in these pictures. The graphs relating to social media makes an almost too clear symbol of most actors engagement. To react can be volatile and energetic but often lacking in impact. Making activism a painful and tiresome activity of agitation, emotional engagement and equally irritated indulgence in horror.
    I wonder if the feeling of agitation follows laws of conservation, if the energy from the triggered motion gets transferred to its receiver—if it builds and builds inside the recipient  until a volatile reaction occurs. Or does agitation maybe break free from contemporary physics and does it creates something entirely new that is self-sufficient. When my little brother teases me I get angry and fired up without effecting his level of energy. He can continue to annoy me until I cry childishly in front of my mother - two energetic actions happening at once. Is that energy released inside me new or transferred? Do we break the laws of physics in our heated brawl, or do we maybe borrow that energy from the silent moments after our fight?

Combustion and Stimulation

The second set of graph focus in on the moment of combustion— the thermodynamic process of creating usable energy. Reactants of fuel and oxygen are inserted into the engine, the pressure is raised and a spark is introduced which makes the fuel burn. This raise in temperature is then transformed into mechanical movement, creating the energy-work nexus previously mentioned. In the second graph I chose kinship could be found easily— its structure mimicked everywhere. Graphs starting close to their maximum, a circular peak and rapid decline - a refrigeration of a system based on in new condition.

In these graphs the common denominator is the precursive stimulation which provokes a desired reaction. Pressuring fuels gives us energy; tickling nerve endings causes movements or orgasms; stimulating our economy allows continuation of status quo; encouraging climate research generates prediction and plans of action. The stimulation creates a stable process of first adding some work to only later receive a bigger action. It is a greedy and calculated action hiding its work, intersections and resources outside of the curve while focusing on perceived result. I see common lies of neoliberalism hiding in these figures— the belief that hard work always pays off and that the limits to growth and wealth is only limited by your abilities for labour. Obscuring the fact that no matter how hard you work, energy will inevitably drop in your system.
    It becomes easy to distinguish our current structure of fossil capitalism in this repeated form. The wondrous gift of free energy appears in the vertical drop of the secluded reaction. Physically traceable to chemical energy and hierarchal systems at the same time. These figures are symbols of growth, of systems propelled by their own continuity. Even the graph of emission reduction builds on the same logic— with a drop indicating green energy transition. Utilizing the tactics of zooming in close enough to conceal all things outside of the perimeters.
    These set of lines has a certain type of pleasure and lust connecting them; orgasmic sensations entangled with sugar highs, comfortable anal temperatures and the injection of fuel into a system. Causing an arousal through its act of partial destruction of this planet, molecules, black sludge or welfare. A pleasurable experience made available by a comforting believe in transformation. After the intensity something new will emerge - like tranquility after sex, drowsiness after too much candy or manageable ashes from coal combustion. A kind of conditional enjoyment where the remains seems feasible. Once again the question arrises of restricted incorporation and limited inclusion.
    In opposition to this orgasmic reading another story emerges. The graphs remind me of the thrill and inevitable drop of excitement, of having a lot of energy up until the point of collapse. All systems around me constantly urge me on with the promise of lust and the pleasure of work. I don’t even know how to start that argumentation, can’t tell if I’m peaking or not. Guessing that my, sometimes stressed sometimes resting, body probably inhabited all points on the graphs simultaneously. I believe that through reading graphs imbued with sensitivity they must somehow reveal similar second stories.
    I wonder where the line for stimulation is drawn - who and what gets included in these stories? I wonder if the same laws of conservation can be followed if you included the whole system. Can my orgasm somewhat match the intensity of monogamy? Can the ownership of a car flatten geographical injustice? Is it possible then that the input and output of energy will remains the same?

Membranous Lines

When I observe these graphs I immediately think of a certain kind of knowledge, this knowledge would be hiding under the graph in its bounded area. Calculable by using integrals this area forms the mass of the function, defined by the strict rules of mathematics. They remind me of the educational system, rewarding the skill of remembrance by testing your ability to repeat years, events and laws. I view these as bites of facts to consume and validate a system; followed by the question ”Why should I know discrete mathematics when I’m going to work at IKEA for the rest of my life?”. The act of forgetting or/and refusing to oblige represents itself as knowledge escaping our graph, breaking free from the lines and evaporating into spatial infinity.
    The lines in our graphs feels like that struggle, they validate a fossil fuel extractive system by its steep learning curve - but then after, a short or long exhale of nothingness and zero contemplation. Making the graph feel sentient, like it is giving up. It could be fruitful to think of them as membranes in living tissues, formed somewhat as a boundary but mostly a passage, pretending to be a line.

Sentient Lines

These graph feels more like delicate movements then illustrations. They force my eyes to follow them in their intended direction and I find it hard to focus, my eyes slip too fast along them. The act of conscious starring and then my shy enactment in looking away makes the graph feel animated. I read them as sentient and cocky when they shove me off. Forcefully I decide to take up on their challenge and I look at the graphs again, closely and I notice something.
    My graphs is not cohesive lines but rather tight, calculated points - connected with a representational and communicational desire. Just like the ache in my belly, the tightness in my chest and uncomfortable sensation in my jaw together form the feeling of anxiety, these graph are parts connected and perceived as something whole. A mode of interpretation viewed either as emotional intelligence or statistical significance depending on the context. An act of sifting data out to receive a cleared result. With this perspective, the form of a graph is given an other suggestive layer— some kind of communicative formation or emotional illustration. And when I look at the graph, one final time, I get it.