Posts Tagged ‘Gardermoen’

haptic affect

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Energy Image

1/8: Passing through the Oslo airport, looking at an advertisement for Reinertsen consulting firm hanging inside the domestic terminal. Resting two meters above the floor, rising another 3 meters in height and nearly 4 meters in length, the image looms over passers-by and is recognizable at a distance of 20 meters.
The advertisement provides a contrasting experience to other large-scale commercial images inside the terminal, most of which are visible at eye-level and similar in size to a movie theater poster, as in the banner advertisement directly under the Reinersten image.

In addition to unusual size, the Reinersten image caught my attention for depicting an offshore oil rig. The photographic realism has been altered through computer design, giving the impression of an artist’s familiarity with color and brush stroke.

Above is a close-up perspective. It is what I saw when walking up close to one side of the image. At this distance, I experienced perceptual stimulation through what appears to be the uneven strokes of the paint brush.  I experienced a sense of touch, or what the art world calls “haptic,” derived from the Greek word meaning “able to lay hold of”.

I perceived the image in a haptic way despite not actually being able to feel it. That is, I could interpret the image as a real material, a material with expression, functionality, and credibility. The distance between me and the studied object intensified a sense of the artistic encounter — whereby physical depth creates implications for the perception of how a surface changes with distance.

I since checked the internet and found that the Reinersten offshore oil rig image is based on a photograph circulating on industry websites, where its meaning is associated with risk in subarctic waters.
Below, I placed bottom-to-top the photographic image from an industry website and its computer graphically altered version hanging in the Oslo airport. The placement of these two images in close proximity demonstrates a noticeable transition. The photographic image on the bottom documents a mechanical record through realism. By contrast, the “painted” image on the top emphasizes an artist’s relationship with color and brush stroke.

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concentric distance

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No. 1 — Technology Transfer …

My current research in northern Europe and Russia, an approach different from what I undertook for the North American Arctic, began from email exchanges with the Russian natural gas guru, Director of Oxford Energy Institute, Jonathan Stern.

Actually, prior to this — as my initial purpose for contacting Stern — I stumbled across a curious set of quotes from his early work on the Russian natural gas industry development written during the late 1980s — fascinating for according to Stern’s telling, the corporeal body of Western expertise remained in “the West”.

And it transfixes because of the question the sentence raises: what form of Western expertise circulates into Russia on the topic of natural gas development prior to the 1990s, if it is not the body of the Western expert?

Stern states:

As far as the Soviet domestic industry is concerned, I would suggest that the Soviet authorities will be extremely reluctant to allow Western Personnel on Soviet soil, particularly for a project such as the construction of a large-scale pipeline” (124).

Today, Western experts travel through into Russia — on Soviet soil — and provide advice on various concerns of the natural gas industry. The corporeality of Western expertise, the actual body of the natural gas energy expert is the topic of my research, and its circulation within Russia. For this reason, I became fascinated by the kind of language used by Stern, to describe the circulation of Western expertise into Russia — without the body of the expert. Here are some examples:

It is argued that irrespective of current technology transfer, however, ‘more American exploration and exploration equipment for maximal development of the Samotlor fields in West Siberia and potential reserves in East Siberia onshore and offshore may be a critical requirement” (152, emphasis mine).

and again,

There are certain key areas in which Western technology does play an important role. For the gas industry, straight purchase of large-diameter pipe and compressor station units continue to be of immense importance…” (150, emphasis mine).


The imported technology and hard currency that such development would contribute to the Soviet economy was one incentive, and this was backed by the realization that, without Western assistance, ten to fifteen years would be added to the lead times for bringing the east Siberian deposits into projection” (117, emphasis mine).

In the following quotes, notice the emphasis on material technology transfer:

Italy has been receiving Soviet gas since 1974 in return for steel pipe deliveries from [the company] Findsider” (105, emphasis mine).

Many Western contractors are involved in the project, with much of the pipe coming from West Germany and Japan” (78, emphasis mine).

It is doubtful whether Soviet capacity to manufacture large-diameter pipe can expand at a sufficiently rapid rate to meet the increasing demand. The inference must be that in the future, as in the past, they will rely to a large extent on imports of these materials from the West” (74, emphasis mine).

All the gas currently exported to Western Europe is in exchange for deliveries of pipeline and gas field equipment” (49, emphasis mine).

In Short

      • technology transfer
      • key areas [of] Western technology
      • imported technology
      • Western assistance
      • steel pipe deliveries
      • pipe coming from West Germany and Japan
      • materials from the West
      • deliveries of pipeline and gas field equipment

…without the body.

No. 2 — To Paddington Station …

I remember quite distinctly the several hours before my first meeting with Jonathan, when we had just flown into London. A driver from Howard Swiss Hotel met us at the airport. Through to London, we passed the cheaper bed and breakfasts recalling my previous visits, either alone, with friends or with my father and now grateful that on this trip I was released from those shoddy rooms.

Settled, we walked up Victoria embankment along the river, past Cleopatra’s needle, then up through Trafalgar Square past the national museum through Piccadilly Circus and through China town, before finding a British pub for dinner. From there we walked through Covent Garden back to the Swissotel. The town was buzzing. A hot afternoon. We among the throng. I wondered how OS would respond to the crowds and architecture. There was no difference between our conversations from the office. A changed environment but still speaking about the same issues. Didn’t sleep much, waking at 4AM, watching a film.

We walked over the millennium bridge, past the Tate Modern Museum along the river to breakfast at the Roast on Stoney Rd. a recommendation from the Concierge.  Here is where our trip began. I could say that it began earlier, when the night before we departed, and instead of working in the office, we drove into P., having dinner on CB. But it was in the Roast, having coffee after breakfast, that I began to express my underlying motivations about the trip. That I began to unpack the style of my thinking about what expectations I did not have concerning research, data, and meetings with professionals.

I suggested that we were focusing on method, and especially our method. Learning was not important, or not as important as reflecting on our expectations about the context of learning and representing knowledge. That is, how up to that point, we could say: we flew, we rested and now we would be in meetings. But how instead, we had talked ourselves into a frenzy about what things could and could not possibly mean, and therefore, how the spaces in between the so-called real events could sink the entire project, and that I would like to see things nearly sink, because of my desire to emphasize everything.

We left breakfast toward the Tate Modern, and discovered the time was overdue, and we needed to head back to the hotel to prepare for our appointment with J. S.

We were seated in Café Rizzata at Paddington Station, and J. S. came up to shake our hands, and then stated he would grab something to drink from the vendor. As I watched him at the counter, I reminded myself that I had carried out this exact scene hundreds of times—meeting with someone to discuss my project. What is my project? The meeting itself, an experimental exchange in which a guest is invited to share some thoughts for which there is no determined outcome, and no result.

Which raises several points that OS and I talked about for the next 2 hours, after the end of the meeting. And then again in particular, during dinner over ramen with chopsticks and on the way back to the hotel past the millennium bridge where we decided to grab the last call on the embankment looking across the River Thames.

In a conversation between Shatov and Nikolai Stavrogin from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Demons, Shatov states: “Can’t I see by your face that you’re at grips with some awesome new thought?”

He continues, explaining to Stavrogin, about the power of an expression used by the latter several years before: “there was a teacher uttering immense words, and there was a disciple who rose from the dead. I am that disciple and you are the teacher.” Shatov continues: “It is hard to change gods. I did not believe you then because I did not want to believe… but the seed [the idea] remained and grew” (emphasis mine).

Stavrogin replies in various ways: “I was not joking with you then, either; in persuading you, I was perhaps more concerned with myself than with you.”  Stavrogin again: “If I had a belief, I would no doubt repeat it now as well; I wasn’t lying, speaking as a believer…but I assure you that this repetition of my past thoughts produces an all too unpleasant impression on me.” And finally, “On the contrary, with your ardent words you’ve revived many extremely powerful recollections in me. I recognize in your words my own state of mind two years ago…[which]…even seems to me that they were still more exceptional, still more absolute….”

I met with Jonathan two weeks later in Oslo, at the Petrosams workshop sponsored by the Research Council of Norway, and then nearly six months later at Holmenkollen, at the Oslo Energy Forum. Prior to all of these meetings, but certainly after reading his books, we had several exchanges over email where my topic of Western expertise in Russia began to take shape.

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