- type: Article
- ref: DOC.2021.213
Connecting to other frequencies, creating alternative paths
The collective Unbewitching Finance formed in 2017 “around a shared desire to look at the relationship between finance and witchcraft.” This entailed explicitly walking in the footsteps of anthropologist Jeanne Favret-Saada and the philosophers Isabelle Stengers and Philippe Pignarre, who, in their respective works, rendered the language of sorcery current and, more importantly, operative. The collective proclaims itself to be “a wild laboratory for experimental research”; it adopts a multidisciplinary, multiform, highly committed approach to its investigations, which lie at the crossroads of art, activism, and the social sciences.
The research project Witching Interferences was conducted along three main axes. The first consisted of foundation research into the origin of the words and images that the collective had been using for two years in its rituals, workshops, and other public events. The second centered on the Slow Frequency Walk, a collective walk along the High-Frequency Trading Line connecting stock exchanges from London to Frankfurt, which took the form of a series of experiences of strolling and even wandering through the midpoint metropolis of Brussels. As a corollary to the second area of research, the last one involved a study of the geographic areas traversed by the walk, one that took the form of data collections and the creation of maps.
However, the pandemic changed how things would play out. First, it compelled the researchers to relocalize the issues they were exploring. A line of research undertaken in the workshop From Diagram to Cosmogram, conducted in the fall of 2019 with graphic design students at the St-Luc School of the Arts in Brussels, restricted its initial scope of investigation to the capital city and its housing issues.
The health crisis also compelled the collective to focus on the project’s premises. After two years of engaging in unbewitching practices, its members decided to take a step back for a moment to consider the language used in the various formats. Thus, a part of the research centered on the compilation of a Glossary, which proved a way of taking stock of the work as they went along, and an opportunity to produce a guidebook to be distributed and reappropriated widely. A version of the Glossary has already been presented at the Biennale de l’Image Possible in Liège, and another one, in the magazine Papier-Machine, with yet others to follow.
Lastly, since the lockdown and its aftermath halted the projects that involved the movement of bodies through walking, the radiophonic medium became a new terrain of exploration, a “medium” in the fullest—that is, including the spiritual—sense of the term. This was also an opportunity to revisit the issue of “interferences” that lent their name to this project.