continent. maps a topology of unstable confluences and ranges across new thinking, traversing interstices and alternate directions in culture, theory, biopolitics and art.
Issue 8.1-2 / 2019: 96-104

Trash Queen Pulverator

Laura Hyunjhee Kim

The dream offered by practice-based research (PBR) is of producing the exemplification, via any medium, of thing and thought, practice and theory. With her multimedia exposition on the just-this-side of fictional Trash Queen Pulverator, Laura Hyunjhee Kim does with her PBR what media theories cannot do: she brings to bear predecessors of media archaeology such as Sigfried Gideon, contemporary thinkers of media archaeology such as Jussi Parikka, and both early and contemporary spaces used for the construction of facts such as sixteenth century apothecaries and the modern-day Museum of Jurassic Technology to offer us a performance-as-critique of the Trash Queen Pulverator that "creeps under the sink and magically churns food into waste." While I have heard poets bemoan they will never be able to do with poems what painters can do with painting, as a writer of criticism (writing that is, at most, playful but always straight) I will never be able to do what Kim can do with her strange and wonderful word-image collages that are somehow simultaneously about a single speculative artifact and about everything from the inescapability of the language of late capitalism, the necessity of planned obsolescence to profit, the inescapable blurriness of the boundary between fact and fiction and human and machine, a critique of convenience and efficiency, and more.  Rather than describe or explain or critique what a Trash Queen Pulverator is, or even position it at the nexus of familiar theories, Kim instead gives us...all of it - the dream of PBR become reality.

— Lori Emerson

 


Synthetic Empathic Intelligent Companion Artefacts (SEICA) Human Interaction Labs (seicalabs.org) is an ongoing transmedia narrative project founded in collaboration with multiple-personas in 2017. Operated by a team of cyborgian researchers, SEICA is a virtual organization that produces multimedia-based provocations that reflect on the modern human-(tech)-human condition and researches through designing (non)living synthetic entities that provide companionship.

Prototyping technocultural possibilities and scenarios through the means of practice-based research, SEICA aims to trigger imaginative thinking through the fabulation of speculative artefacts and transmission of indecipherable allego-rhythmic systems that sensitize the gaps in comprension. Through a series of questionable methodologies driven by intuition and improvisation, our code-shifting researchers unapologetically glitch and, as a result, cast a contrived self-reflexive gaze out into the real-world.

In this document, we introduce you to a multimedia experiment conducted by one of our many virtual laboratories, the SEICA Human Condition Research Lab. The investigation you, the active participants, spectators, and voyeuristic narrators, are about to partake in will be as whimsical as the step-by-step procedures for operating the machine you are using to access this digital artefact.

PSI Studies - Anatomical Drawing I (#8-P, Drawing, Human Condition Research Lab) 

SEICA Human Condition Research Lab (HCRL) examines the continued yearning for connectivity in a post-buttonless-world and explores how the desire for tactility physiologically affects the human body. The following multimedia research project on the Trash Queen Pulverator (T.Q.P.) was led by Laura Loremipsum.

SEICA Human Condition Research Lab: Trash Queen Pulverator (T.Q.P.) from SEICA Human Interaction Labs.

 

"DO NOT put your hands or a living thing. DO NOT feed plastic. DO NOT feed fakes.
DO NOT feed your lies or die pulverating."

 —Laura Loremipsum, HCRL Lead

SEICA Human Condition Research Lab (HCRL) Notes (Lead, Laura Loremipsum):

Who is the Trash Queen Pulverator that creeps under the sink and magically churns food into waste? Further examining the operating instructions for this steel-hearted ruthless monarch, the HCRL researchers soon realize that even the merciless acts of a garbage-grinding pulverator can be systematically tamed through a “few simple steps.” 

Trash Queen Pulverator (T.Q.P.) makes surgical incisions in the perceptual interconnectivity of human and machine and brings awareness to all operating agents that are involved in maintaining a balance between (non)living systems. The intense toxicity of fumes resulting from the poetic severance and reconfiguration of natural and artificial activities evoke an uncalled for urgency. For machines, operating instructions surface the vulnerability and fragility of artificial systems while also providing the operating human agents with a sense of control and being controlled by the opacity of the operating rules. For humans, autonomous nervous systems are uncontrollable natural processes that bring awareness to human physiology and projection of hidden bodily systems. As disposables are for pulverators and as consumables are for the human digestive tract, a form of laborious energy is required for both systems to properly function, dynamically deconstruct, and seamlessly transition the state of involved materials.

Accelerating and postponing technological obsolescence, 21st century humans find value in the culminating residue, reflecting on the invisible cultural workings of machines and pondering over their own metabolic existences. From material to semiotic “waste,” what is left is an absurd sense of striking parallelism and cybernetic embodiment that is manifested through the ontological makings of a posthuman that is not-just-animal and not-just-machine but a self-positioning state of vis-surreal optimization in an unstable reality. 

The Institutional Cabinet of Curiosities (ICC) coin press souvenir and documentation from investigative operation of the Trash Queen Pulverator (T.Q.P.) 

Institutional Cabinet of Curiosities (ICC): Pulverate

Visiting the Institutional Cabinet of Curiosities (ICC), we encounter the rare resting form of the “pulverator,” which is to “pulverate”. Inscribed by the Oxford English Dictionary, the plaque for “pulverate” labels that it is on display for its meaningful contribution “to reduce power,” “to defeat soundly,” “to demolish,” “to thrash.” One of the first sightings of this beast is documented in Richard Tomlinson’s revised English translation of the 17th century French monarch’s pharmaceutical authority and chief physician Jean de Renou (Renodœus)’s apothecary book, A Medicinal Dispensatory Containing The Whole Body of Pharmacy (Dispensatorium medicum, Continens institutionum pharmaceuticarum, 1657). This multi-volume series was widely popularized for clearly illustrating the natural properties and virtues in vegetables, minerals, animals, and practically outlining the comprehensive methodologies for compounding and administering them for everyday use (Important Botanical Books, Christie’s, 2009 / Index-Catalogue of The Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, United States Army, 1899).

Finding profundity in Renodœus’s easily digestible instructions, Tomlinson opens up “To The Reader” by problematizing the previously “unforked and unavailabled” “enigmatical expressions” and “cloudy sentences” used by the institutions of a “clouded Genius.” He further elaborates on the importance of clarity and usage of accessible language that liberates, otherwise, encrypted knowledge into the everyday.

Ignorance beskreens the soul, here our Author discovers the dawnings of knowledge, by breaking open the hidden Caverns of Nature, and explaining the secrets, or occult qualities of her multifarious Vegetables.

Here the whole Pharmaceutical Art is denoded, and redacted to the clear intelligence of the meanest capacity, claiming your attentions, whil’st it affords instructions to conduct you to a clear prospect of Via recta ad via longam, promising a Medicine for every Malady, and a Balm for every Soar.

— Richard Tomlinson,To The Reader, A Medicinal Dispensatory Containing The Whole Body of Pharmacy, 1657

Being mindful of Renodœus’ intentions along with a goal to reach a wider American audience, Tomlinson translates French into approachable forms of English and communicates concepts that were once limited to philosophical and pharmaceutical institutions. In Tomlinson’s writing, “pulverate” appears across multiple volumes to describe the process of grinding, mixing, and dissolving various materials together such as rose, honey, wax, camphor, saffron, ivory, and turpentine.

We are fascinated to see our subject of inquiry, the “pulverator,” awakening from this context. Starting to feel its meaning stretch and yawn out of its archives, the HCRL researchers become even more curious.

Medicinal Dispensatory Containing The Whole Body of Pharmacy, Richard Tomlinson’s translation of Jean de Renou (Renodœus) apothecary book (1657)

“Communication is the primo-genite of Goodness; and why should so singular benefit longer lye hid? Doth not the immense Excellency of Eternity delight himself in expanding the beans of his Goodness? And why should the younger sifter, the Sun-burned beauty of Knowledge, and Science sublimer, be encloystered with the obscure verge of a forreign Language, barbarous, and almost inexplicable Idiome? Undoubtedly (Brethren) Heaven will follow it with a correspondency of Blessings.”

— Richard Tomlinson,To The Reader, A Medicinal Dispensatory Containing The Whole Body of Pharmacy, 1657

Institutional Cabinet of Curiosities (ICC): Pulverator 

Wandering into the ICC’s 20th century exhibition hall, we find a royal lineage of pulverators on display, including the notorious “Waste King Pulverator.” This prized garbage disposal was publically crowned in 1951 and its sovereignty was celebrated by Americans since the post-World War II economic expansion, the Golden Age of Capitalism. Increased employment rates in cities accelerated the urbanization of suburbs and the demand for electric kitchen appliances were on a rise. In other words, the “Waste King Pulverator” was one of the many value-boosters packaged with other home installations by builders who were competing in the burgeoning housing market (Commercial Print & Labels, Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series, Copyright Office The Library of Congress, 1952): 

In One Building Project 1,800 Homes are equipped with Automatic Electric Waste King Pulverators. (1951)

All I said was, we’re giving us a Waste King Pulverator. America’s finest garbage disposer (1951)

Builders have used over one million garbage disposers since 1947 (1952)

Just above a whisper. Quiet, just above a whisper. Waste King Pulverator (Garbage disposers) (1952) 

Waste King introduces… Eliminate garbage at point of origin. (1952)

One of the first Waste King Pulverator newspaper advertisements (1951) 

Media artifacts of garbage disposal advertisements that target women in the United States

Further rummaging through ICC’s various media artifacts and observing grimy electric appliances that dissolve whatever is deemed “waste” into oblivion, we finally encounter the mother of all pulverators, the Trash Queen Pulverator (T.Q.P.).

Investigative Operation: Trash Queen Pulverator (T.Q.P.) 

The “Operating Instructions” for the Trash Queen Pulverator is absurdly visceral and provocative unlike others on display that tend to maintain an overall neutral tone or even a slight hint of enthusiasm. Despite variations in content, conventional instructional manuals for machine technologies, including other pulverators, thrive on efficient and effective methods of communication. Whether it be bullet-pointed or numerically organized, these manuals respect tradition. Ending with a peaceful transfer of responsibility by limiting their levels of involvement, makers often use legally bound instructions to declare that the general well-being of a machine is dependent on the operating agents. During this transition, operating agents are made aware that this responsibility comes from understanding the numerous “DO NOT” factors, which is not only a plea for friendly engagement from the makers but also a concern for safety in case of an emergency, should the machines ever go berserk.

Often outliving their makers and operating agents, archived operating instructions are timeless unbreakable gateways to the minds of the original makers. Infinitely intrigued by this mysterious machine and the system of rules it plays by, the HCRL researchers return to SEICA Human Interaction Labs with the Trash Queen Pulverator (T.Q.P.) and, with ICC’s permission, conduct an investigative operation. The inherent treacherousness that comes from the parallel positioning of human and machine brings forth odd guttural sensations for those who bare witness.

Taking Sigfried Gideon’s shiny mechanized scalpel to slice and dice time, the researchers dissect the anonymous story of operating instructions and deal with the machine from a cyborgian standpoint (Mechanization Takes Command,1948). With Jussi Parrika’s media-garbological scissors and forceps, the researchers nervously cut through the thick layers of physiological and ontological skin to observe autonomically networked digestive systems and carefully grasp on to the intricate processes that have been materialized into the resulting pulverized junk (Media zoology and waste management: Animal energies and medianatures, 2013). The outcome of this experimental operation is a perplexing convoluted vis-surreal mess.



Operating Instructions. 

Trash Queen Pulverator, (TQP) Initiated (yeah girl that’s how we do it):

TQP TQP TQ-P-

To activate the “Trash Queen Pulverator,” a few simple tracts and operators: 

  • TURN ON THE SWITCH, cut swish swish
  • Peris-talsis waves-E-SO-phagus-
  • RUN THE WATER, COLD CODE WATER
  • Break the waste, down the DRAIN
  • Hollow, organs, 2-2-6-foot-muscles, be-have

WARM WATER ENZYMES

WARM WATER BILE

RUN,

WILD AND FREE-

STOP, STOP, Make it STOP

WASTE has gone down the drain,

30 seconds run - (i gotta go)

No wasted time gotta run,

15 seconds run - (i really gotta go)

Flip flip off the switch small bowel, large bowel, all the bowels 1 second- WAIT, (what?)

THEN-- turn-- offfffff ------____  

TQP, TQP, OH- WE FORESEE AN EMERGENCY- (oh shit-)

  1. NEVER FORCE feeds, in the pulverator
  2. FEED DATA water, in the pulverator
  3. SMALL CHUNK polymers, in the pulverator
  4. DNA RNA, in the pulverator

DO NOT put metal

DO NOT put wire

DO NOT put your hands or a living thing

DO NOT feed plastic

DO NOT feed fakes

DO NOT feed your lies or die pulverating

MOST IMPORTANTLY, TQP-

NEVER DIY-repair the pulverating-

OPERATE LONGER, PLENTY OF WATER,

LIFE-LONG  LONG-LIFE GUARANTEED TQP