Break Time by k0
This essay is an accretive layering of texts and images; some are pulled in from before the School of Commons (SoC) residency, but activated in relation to the findings from my project. A fellow SoC participant, Betül, asked me: “What did you unlearn while working on your School of Commons project in 2022?” I reflect on specific (un)learnings in the captions of figures. Importantly, what I began to unlearn is the focus on producing more new things. Instead, I embraced accumulation and reconstitution of past work.
Figure 1. My 2022 SoC project in context of the life experiences that shape it.
Ahree Lee, a multi-disciplinary artist working in video, new media, and textiles, describes her weaving Timesheet  as follows: “In the fall of 2018, I kept track of what I was doing all day long in a spreadsheet. Each activity I assigned to one of half a dozen different categories, including child care, housework, art practice, and sleep. … By giving these ephemeral activities form through my weaving, I have created an analog data visualization of invisible and undervalued domestic labor and transformed it into an artwork with monetary and cultural value.”
What is time about? Most obviously, it is about things happening. In the space of doing, of agential action and of happenings of things: “what gets counted, counts” .
It’s time; time for a break. Where should I start?
I had been tracking my own time (on and off) since 2008 (see Figure 1) as a personal and artistic endeavor. In 2022, after six months of having to do it within a dayjob (and halfway through my SoC residency) I decided to stop. It was time; time for a break; time to stop counting.
I wrote poems in 2020 and 2021 about time, and about happening as the defining characteristic of time passing. It was time; time for a break; there was a break in time.
Something is happening
Time is flying past and standing still
I’m standing in the kitchen and I don’t know
Whether I forgot to boil the water
Or whether the water has already cooled
Something is happening
I notice myself
trying to still time
holding my breath
holding all tense
again and again
many times a day
many days in an
and then in the night
I wake up
aching in the pit
of my unmoving body
It snowed and I hadn't noticed.
I don't know what I am having symptoms of,
But it's definitely something.
It was through tracking the duration of my sleep in 2020 and 2021 that I realized that something was broken. The main happening I thought might be unfolding had to do with hormones, and ultimately I was right: something was happening, something with hormones. What do I know about hormones? How do I know what I know about hormones?
During my 2022 research within the SoC, based on engaging with people through surveys (at first) and participatory performance (primarily/thereafter), I found that broken-ness, or disturbance, was on the (non-exhaustive, non-representative) list of the ways of knowing: Accident. Advice. Carelessness. Curiousity. Difference. Disturbance. Experiment. Insistence. Lies. Mythology. Normativity. Panic. Research. Shame.
Another SoC project, HumDrum Press, was exploring publishing as practice. Within their invitation to collaborate on a publication, I created a short book to attempt to answer my driving question:
This is not a book about hormones.
This is a book about how we humans think about our hormones, and how we know whatever we know about our hormones.
Hormones are how our bodies talk to themselves, typically without the involvement of our thinking-selves. It can be tempting to consider the activity of thinking, or the experience of agency, as uniquely human. But this hierarchical idea of what it means to be human leads to the expectation of understanding and control, and, when we discover that neither full understanding, nor full control, of our own bodies is possible, it causes suffering and despair. But what if we think of ourselves not as walkers whose thinking agency is a defining noble characteristic, but as eaters, whose bodies can be invited into a cascade of many complex actions, most not directly controllable or even observable? 
I’ve been thinking about my body, or, “the body,” the abstract concept of embodied experience, which is paradoxical in a way as the whole point of embodiment is to ground down from the universal and the abstract into the real. A book that I’m reading [3a] was contrasting the image of the human being as a walker: moving through space, asserting agency; and the human being as an eater: the space moving through it, and all the action taking place largely unseen, involuntary, a metabolic cascade that highlights how little literal control a body - my body, your body, the body, has. The body is not a bag, this book was saying, but a tube, or a donut. Your insides are your outsides, actually. A few weeks ago I told a queer friend of mine about the eater/walker dichotomy. This friend had been thinking about their body as us queers often do. My own queerness is inextricable from being irreducibly a body, a bag of organs, a body bag, a dumpling, the kind with soup in it, maybe a soup dumpling shaped like a donut. One that dances and does yoga, in addition to the walking and the eating. Then my friend texted me in the middle of the night. I am blowing minds in the club, they said, with this eater walker thing. But someone asked, what if you eat while walking? So I answered this text message with a link to a youtube video where they have behind the scenes footage of the twilight movies where the actors are running on a treadmill which is standing on the back of a vehicle. The space is moving through you while you are moving through space, I explained, and continued to dance, alone, in my big empty room, dancing like I am a creature with eyeballs only on my elbows, nothing less, nothing more. 
Figure 2. The book [3a] I had been reading was not directly related to the research but influenced it profoundly, because it changed the way I conceived of the body. For many years, reinforced by my many tracking practices, I had focused on the agency of a body and its capacity to make things happen. Now, I started to zoom in onto experiences that are more automatic or intuitive, and that happen on a finer scale: notably, the heartbeat and breathing.
Over the last couple of years, I had opened a few sessions online with an exercise: make a tick mark every time your heart beats. It is a good exercise to tune into your body and to start a discussion about using drawing to build body knowledge. 
When I finally use this exercise in person, after a year of doing it over video calls, I notice that the pens and pencils against paper make a chorus. The chorus longs for a rhythm that is both inescapable and unattainable. As they make tick marks, people become drawn to the sounds of the others, or distracted by them. They try to either match or overpower what they hear outside the body with what is arising inside the body. When you observe your heartbeat, you can also change it; maybe not much, but certainly a little bit; maybe even a little bit more with practice. As the group is making tick-marks, tak-tak-tak, inevitably some people will start to draw their heart beats into a matching rhythm. Two people with pencils in chorus, but who have picked a different moment in the circulatory beat for tick-mark-making, are making a different song with their hearts.
I ask everyone to make uninterrupted vocal noise. The breath does something similar: it creates pockets from which rhythm attempts to arise. Everyone drones and breathes in and then drones on. The voiced air coagulates into a solid form somewhere in my gullet and gets pulled out into the universe, and I am turned inside-out, am nothing, am that universe. 
Figure 3. Body Songs (2022) was a participatory performance, co-presented as part of “of the echoing hills” with Lili Huston-Herterich and Elisa Lemma at the SoC end of year show at the ZHdK Orgelsaal. The audience was invited to participate in a co-constructed rhythmic vocal composition exploring the physical, mental, or energetic shifts that occur within their/our bodies during a day, a month, or a year. Pictured: k0, cueing audience body songs (left) and Elisa Lemma on pipe-organ (right).
The Body Songs performance (Fig. 3) was strongly influenced by fellow artists in the 2022 SoC cohort, many of whom joined that performance. From the script: “We in this room are an organism. We are inside of this creature. We have our respective organs. And we have this organ. We will now use it.”
Figure 4. The use of the pipe-organ as a participant in the chant was deeply inspired by my memories of attending the Noise Yoga series in Seattle in 2014 . During my research in 2022, I spoke with the original organizer; among other reflections, they described how noise music brings the listener into the present moment by denying anticipation. You don’t know what’s coming; you have to be in it completely because there is nothing else you can do.
I was asked: “What did you unlearn while working on your School of Commons project in 2022?”
Maybe the answer is actually something about being more mindful when observation and articulate, systematic self-reflection is a political act of recognition (as in Ahree Lee’s work; see section (1)); vs. when it becomes an internalization of potentially violent surveillance (3b)...
…but in 2020 (see section (3)), I had written: “I notice myself / trying to still time / holding my breath” and maybe the thing I am unlearning is my own violent resistance to the passage of time.
What is time about? Among other things, anticipating the rhythm of a song .
 Ahree Lee (2018). “Timesheet.” https://www.ahreelee.com/work/timesheet
 Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein (2020). Data Feminism. MIT press. https://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262547185/data-feminism/
 The forthcoming HumDrum Press book on this project contains additional explanation of how these texts are synthesized to inform this position:
[3a] Annemarie Mol’s “Eating in Theory” (free podcast interview with author: https://newbooksnetwork.com/eating-in-theory)
[3b] Deborah Lupton’s “The Quantified Self” (free podcast interview with author: https://newbooksnetwork.com/deborah-lupton-the-quantified-self-polity-2016)
 The text of this section was originally written as an exercise in a writing workshop, and appears in the book “How to ChangeYour Body: What the Science of Interoception Can Teach Us About Healing Through Connection” by Saga Briggs. At the time of this writing, this book is in the process of publication by Synergetic Press.
 This exercise, which I refer to as resonant heartbeats, is based on a prompt in “Observe, Collect, Draw!” by Georgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec.
 The text of this section is excerpted from my essay “Eggland” in the Posthumanist Issue 2, which is at the time of this writing in the process of publication.
 Hollow Earth Radio (2014) Noise Yoga Series, Seattle.
 In “Your Brain is a Time Machine: the Neuroscience and Physics of Time,” Dean Buonomano covers much ground of different conceptualizations of time. Among these is a review of neuroscience studies of songbirds and the observation that to appreciate the rhythm of a song requires the anticipation of a beat through biological time-keeping.