WORK 09 / THE SELF / THOUGHTS

THOUGHTS 01/12 Whenever I walk alone, I formulate each of my thoughts in about a 12 seconds long audio recording. The recording are done using HI-Q MP3 REC, a freeware application I run on my smartphone. At the end of each month, an average of 60 recordings are made amounting to 12 minutes of all my thinking. On average, I record a thought every 500 meters of walking meaning that, in normal circumstances I walk alone at least 30 kilometers a month. At the end of the project in 2040 there will a total of 25.920 audio recordings of my thoughts which amounts to approximately 12.960 kilometers of walking. The amount equals to the length of the Eurasian continent and it is only an estimate of what I managed to walk in solitude, not accounting to the many walks I took with friends and in particular with my kids. It is possible however that during walks I take with others, if a clear thought comes to my head and there is enough distance from these other persons, I might venture to record. This is more the case when I am for example out walking with my kids and their mother (Fig. Screenshot showing me walking in a Swedish forest while recording a thought. It was this solitary environment that enabled me to keep up such a discipline also in response to my urge to speak out my inability to be included within such peripheral society).

THOUGHTS 02/12 I began recording my thoughts at an early age using booklets and later experimenting with the first digital dictaphones appearing in the market. These dictaphones where mostly used to record interviews and made use of the old .MSV audio file format. The latter formatwas developed by Sony but was later dismissed and as a result I was not able to recover these recording anyway made prior to the project. Initially my first recordings were a way for me to register my stream of thoughts. Coming to being I have been very prolific especially in my early adventures biking across the Italian peninsula or around the Peloponnese coast. In these occasions I had limited access to my physical notebook and the use of a dictaphone came at hand. Already at that time I was experimenting with the first digital technologies keeping track of my mental proliferation while on the move and feeling most inspired. This approach differs from the romantic poetic practice of recollecting in tranquility after making it back from an exploration of for example the Lake District by William Wordsworth (Fig. Picture showing me with my first digital dictaphone. It was taken while recording my thoughts walking down a dangerous slope in my native alps. In the first recordings then my thoughts were fuel by the very risks I was taking in my outdoor explorations).

THOUGHTS 03/12 Here is the transcription of a randomly chosen thought from the recording of month 012: "and if among strangers we need to mimic in order not to be spotted among equals we need to stand out in order to prevail", from month 058 "and we as humans should only allow the spiritual side to act for us and oppress all greediness", from month 088: "and struggling becomes virtue only under the spell of nature", from month 129: "and if great is the quest to represent a concept even greater is the quest to find a medium to represent it", from month 141: "and in all our remoteness we shall only allow a path through the wilderness". In all these thoughts there is a reminiscence of the actual experiencing I am undertaking. While living in Sweden and more so in my native alps I took many challenging walks and the resulting thoughts were perhaps also challenging but not so much while walking in the more flat and predictable paths in for example the Dutch landscape where I often took walks with my kids (Fig. Picture showing an early set up I adopted before the begining of the project and right at the birth of digital devices. The dictaphone can be seen as central to all other devices meant for typing, photographing and storing data. My early set ups were all meant to allow me to be on the move as right on the move I felt most prolific and in need to register my observations).

THOUGHTS 04/12 This work has been often slowed down when I lived in busy urban environments. It was particularly when living in Shanghai between 2009 and 2010 that I had troubles finding moments of solitude. Then I barely recorded my thoughts but a year later I moved to the Boston Area which offered more spaces to roam alone. Generally however the work flourished as soon as I opted to live in peripheral villages with an easy access to the countryside or simply an access to walks in nature such as along the Lek river in the Netherlands next to the house where I spent most of my later years. While in earlier years I lived in the more isolated Sweden and could throughly work on the thoughts that came to my mind, right in the Netherlands many of my thoughts were at time stuttered due to the fact that I felt the presence of other people in a close enough proximity to hear him. Also while in the Netherlands taking daily my kids out for a walk and pushing them in the stroller made it rather inconvenient to record my thoughts with both the stroller to push and them to keep an eye on (Fig. Screenshot showing me recording my thoughts while walking with my youngest kids in the forest. Walking with them and recording my thoughts have been possible only until kids started talking. From then on I mainly talked to them and have to find other moments to record such as when they are in school).

THOUGHTS 05/12 This work emerged from my dissatisfaction with the social environment and was originally intended to be combined with videos of the social surrounding. Most of my recording express my negative consideration on such surrounding; they emphasize the necessity to get spiritual by reopening to our humanness. My considerations are in line with Stoicism, Transcendentalism, Tolstoyanism, Daoism and other philosophies stressing the need for humans to act according to nature. Supposedly in my way of thinking I come close to what has been defined as Christian Anarchism. However I starkly disassociate with any type of religion connotation. Given my emphasis on the spiritual, I came to see it more as a form of Stoic Anarchism. While this concept is recurrent in my in my rather politicized essays, generally I express in my thinking a total refuse of any sort of ideology even the highly human right oriented. The reasons of my oppositions are that even these ideologies come to develop power structures (Fig. Right hand photo showing me recording my thoughts with a dictaphone. It was in this early period that I needed to get my voice out experiencing the conservative Swedish environment in which I had no possibility to develop. Later I understood that pretty much all human environments are oppressive and my thoughts began to reflect my quest for autonomy).

THOUGHTS 06/12 While the reciting out loud of my thoughts may seem weird and I might be perceived as a crazy man always walking and recording my thoughts, it is in fact a practice advised by ancient philosophers. In Plutarch for example we read that in order to keep healthy it is more important to train the voice than the body. This is particularly the case when one is left alone. I am mostly unable to undergo any debate with my distant friends. This recording out loud is then my approach to keep up an intellectual life as much as Michel de Montainge wrote his essays after the death of his best friend. This approach has been particularly of relevance as some kind of peripatetic intellectual practice not so much focusing on prolix and sophisticated writings as contemporary intellectual practices such as those of scholars keeping in the comfort of their office chairs with a comfortable salary. Not only one thinks as one moves bringing freshness to human thinking; it is also an attempt to synthesize these thoughts and getting them inspired by elements of the surrounding desolated reality I traverse (Fig. Screenshot showing me taking a lonely walk prior an academic conference. In this respect I not only trained my intellect but also my intellectual autonomy by developing and clearly understanding my own thoughts beyond all the blinding academic notions and brain washing ideologies conceived seating at seminars).

THOUGHTS 07/12 I keep formulating my thoughts without much censoring, without being afraid of ruining my reputation. Rather I act as an outsiders trying to rationalize whatever comes in my head, walking through the natural landscape as a Petrarch or a wandering poet recollecting his intuitions at the very moment they appear. No matter whether the nature is peaceful and lovable or whether the wind and the rain is battering me, I keep up my stream of thoughts, at times feeling very prolific and enlightened. In fact the more society and its people disappoint me the more I have material for thinking just as as a Lao Tsu or any person on his way out of society to become a hermit. In such circumstances however there is not really a full possibility to go in depth with my thinking and I am aware that what I might have recorded is just something that popped in my head but that would have needed more reflection, a reflection I did not fully performed feeling in a hurry to round up for whatever reason (Fig. Right hand photo showing me using an actual smartphone to record my thoughts. While this device made it more convenient for me to record both sound and visuals as different instances of my project require, I am also sensitive not to be tracked by external applications accessing my phone to monitor it for marketing purposes, if anything can be understood about it).

THOUGHTS 08/12 A small part of my recordings are completely ruined by strong wind blowing in the recording microphone. At times also the thoughts are barely whispered especially in these situations in which I am walking not fully alone but in a semi-solitude with houses on my side and possibly ears sticking out of them. In this semi-solitude I cannot fully concentrate in my thinking but anyway feel the urge to speak out. One feature of the recordings I made while perceiving that someone could hear me it that I often stammer. Stammering also occurs in the open field as soon as I perceive that there is a passerby approaching. In this respect, while I attempt to be thourough with the thoughts I record, some of them may be hastened. Nonetheless these thoughts can often works like maxims I try to formulate thinking in terms of their universal applicability. The shortness in which they are spoken equals to one single exhaling of my breath but at times I might be walking up a mountain or anyway up hill and inhaling also occurs in the duration of a thought (Fig. Screenshot showing me taking my usual walk around the island of Djursholm in Stockholm. This was usual walk I did to find some solitude in the city yet at times I perceived the presence of a person. Usually these persons also avoids me by moving out of the path. In these circumstances I am likely to be conceived as a weirdo).

THOUGHTS 09/12 I am generally soft and elaborate in relating my thoughts to others. This work however is quite judgmental and is often disliked by people exploring my project. The same people prefer my more artistic and creative work such as my drawings. The latter work is a more subtle critic of society. Understanding then that the general audience do not want to deal with negative content, I still pursue the manifestation of this aspect as a way also to give some darker shadows to the general depiction of reality I am undertaking with the whole of my works. In this respect I attempt to provide a complete spectrum of a human nature and the reality it perceives and conceives. I cannot but also depict this darker human aspect and keep true to my attempt of bringing forward the thoughts that comes to my head. I acknowledge that they are disliked by even the more cultivated crowd with their set of values. If the uncensored content might be harsh, the practice itself can be an example of how to cultivate our intelligence in a non-written fashion, becoming more synthetic and more convinced about the way we wish to position ourselves (Fig. Picture showing a prototype built and exhibited in collaboration with the Uppsala Art Museum in 2009. Here I presented 12 months of my thinking using 12 different MP3 players each containing a month of thoughts).

THOUGHTS 10/12 Thanks to my actual practice of recording my thoughts I have been able through the years to keep out of the increasingly polarized way of thinking partially promoted by social media. The actual recording of thoughts has in this respect become my way to see through all the heated discussions and tensions in which my project as a whole become most excluded. Fully independent I do get hit by one or the other polarity in the moment I attempt to come out through an official channel. It was not only the case of my doctorate thesis as well as the building of the project museum in the alps. In this respect all the friction that I have provoked in the highly conservative political environments of both the academic left and the political right has left me in a different position, that of a stoic enduring the times of transformation and not debating the present but debating for a future recovering of common sense (Fig. Newspaper article initiated by the Italian far right representative Luigi Santi in an attempt to sabotage my initiative to build the project museum in my native alps. Right on my skin then I have felt the rise of a new imperialistic mindset seeking populist consent to become warlords of a geographical area they do not belong to. The recording of my thoughts has been a way for me to reflect on these circumstances and turn even more into a stoic character ready to endure them).

THOUGHTS 11/12 Walking and walking and thinking and getting old through the season of the landscapes and life, I have pretty much maintained my initial views, often oscillating in advocating a life more or less close to society but in general always outside of it or as an outsider within it. Having removed any expectation to become someone and having fully focused on the caring of my nature represented by my project and my offspring, in all the thoughts coming to my head perhaps I have conceived the idea that beyond any type of philanthropy fighting for distant causes, most importantly one ought to focus on the care of his or her own nature. I learned that this ought to be done without also expecting anything from it; kids may one day leave and my project forgotten. Most certainly death will come. In this respect beyond all the disappointments given to certain expectations, beyond the taking side against the causes of these disappointments, only by transcending my expectations I was able to live my life peacefully in the name of taking care of my own nature and share this love to others through my project (Fig. Photo showing my youngest kids eating an apple I just picked for them from a tree. Roaming with them on a daily basis, for a period I recorded my thoughts with quite some crying and children voices emerging from the background).

THOUGHTS 12/12 In an ideal exhibition context, I wish to present these recordings in three square panels with 12 by 12 slots. Each of the slot contains a digital audio player corresponding to a month recording. These players works as museum guides to also view the other parts of the project. In this respect the audio might work as some sort of random yet profound commentary to other instances of the project such as the drawings or the videos or the more graphical and anyway visual works. Also a concentric hexagonal path is created around the panels to enable the audience to walk around almost circularly within it and experience the thoughts without any random juxtaposition (Fig. Rendering of the ideal exhibit where the 3 180 by 180 centimeters panels are highlighted. My unconscious wish with the audience listening to the recording is perhaps also to invite them to reflect on their own nature and eventually develop their own autonomy with it and away from socially triggered catastrophic events bringing humans further away from the common sense that only in the fresh outdoor one can regain. There is no attempt in this work to impose a certain way of thinking but the one a person can develop on its own reactivating an intellect that is often made numbed by the increasing pervasiveness of the social media paradigm in which these recordings were made).