monday 28 february 2000

life in makrolab follows its own pod rhythm - the summer days are crumpling and its almost sunset by the time we eat lunch.

the atmosphere is one of companionable silence, each of us three engaged in our individual research activities. i'm obsessed with the final stage of work on 'los dias y las noches de los muertos', my project about flows of global capital, the militarization of outer space and the zapatistas' struggle. there are some great and obscure books in the lab library on military space forces, strategic warfare etc, i wish i had more time to read, but i'm at least doing hardcore stealing. when i'm not plundering i'm resizing and recompressing all of the 400 or so images i've made or have been given for los dias. this is the ultimate in snoredom, but something that will make the piece download more quickly from the net so it's my idea of community service.

the wildlife surrounds us - yesterday i saw a large brown dugite (native poisonous snake) by the pod, and today i was nipped by a quokka (the local small marsupial) in the public toilet (it didn't hurt much, it was a small experiment in pain threshholds). i'm photographing animal tracks in the sand and thinking about how i've seen exactly the same patterns in Aboriginal paintings. there are wild yellow bees, flies with iridescent green eyes, fat black lizards in the undergrowth and an abundance of fish in the reef behind the lab. my body is a mess of bruises and cuts from bike spills, coral wounds, insect bites. i feel like i have cracked a rib as it really really hurts to breathe but i can't see how this is possible. i try to limit my breathing.

there's a phrase which the boyz use a lot here in labland, at least 10 times a day -- no future! i can't tell whether they are being ironic or not, mebbe it's a slovenian thing. anyway i'm trawling through 'dollspace' looking for bugs cos i havta burn a cdrom of it for a show in NY and i find my own future's memory.

bicycling tourists (there are essentially no cars on the island, just some old buses and rangers' cars) call in frequently and some days it seems that half the time has been eaten by answering their questions -- we are awaiting a sign that will explain that the lab is a closed research facility, but the sign never arrives. sometimes the visitors have something to offer in exchange, it's cool when the gift economy kicks in. i've met a retired meteorologist from canada, a scientist from the UK with whom i had a discussion about PCBs and other toxic plastics, bird watchers who told us about the changing patterns of bird migration here on the island, and a yachting couple who have been coming here for 50 years. they told me that this is the first year that there have been such large numbers of wild bees here on the west coast. their yacht is anchored at parker point, where the nearby porcillapora reef is the southermost coral in the world and apparently is increasing in size due to the warming of the ocean.

i've spent the past 2 days with my head totally stuck in the book 'the feminization of nature' by deborah cadbury (penguin, 1998). it chronicles the scientific evidence which links significant changes in human and animal reproduction (eg falling sperm count in men, increase in breast/testicular/prostrate cancer rates in humans, feminization of many species of fish and bird populations around the world etc etc) to increased exposure to chemicals which mimic oestrogen and other hormones. these chemical compounds pervade our daily life to the extent where you could say they are ubiquitous, from the plastic lining in a tin of tomatoes to the detergent a glass milk bottle was washed with to the dashboard of a car to pesticide residue on and within fruit and vegetables. there are countless routes of exposure to these chemicals. The chemicals are lipophiliac, or fat-loving, so they accumulate in the fat cells of the bodies of animals and humans, and this accretion works its way up the food chain. Persistent Biotoxic Accumulators.

so i'm swimming in the reef behind the lab, it's almost sunset and hard to see underwater, and kinda scary cos i think about whirlpools, sharks and spirits, but there are big fish milling around doing their fish thing, and to my untrained eyes they look fine but i'm wondering about their gonads, and how motile their sperm is and their breeding patterns, and maturity rates, and then i start thinken about the birds here, cos there are over 40 species which live or breed on the island, i'm wondering if they are nesting ok, or if the females have started pairing up, and if their eggs are fertile, and how the young will develop, cos one of the really bad things about exposure to oestrogen-like chemicals is that it only takes exposure of a developing foetus to a tiny tiny amount, like a trillionth of something, to effect the later sexual development, mating behaviors and propensity to develop certain forms of cancer. then i start thinken about whether my son's sperm count is good or not and if i'll ever score grannies, and then i stop thinken cos it's all too fucking depressing, and i instigate a bad fight over email with my boyfriend whose sperm count has proven just fine.