I am an Artful, Agile and Atypical Octopussy. My human-beast chimera performs a novel, embodied interdisciplinary mode of knowledge exchange and creation. I’m artful, to fight the novel viruses (which is ‘clever’ as it hijacks
bodies to infect other bodies, and hijacks ‘normality’), and yet novel challenges to come. I’m novel. I chase novelty. To be agile I travel light, inspired by many fore-runners. I grin, as a Cheshire Cat, entering infinite rabbit holes as my insatiable ADHD /dyslexic / autistic / dyspraxic busy-body-mind desires. I’ve stepped forward, to see, to be seen, using my flesh/form as ‘sight and site of protest’ to intervene the world around me, updating the Chinese Daoist body-mind-place poetics. My spirit recalls the wit and anger of Touretteshero and Teh-Ching Hsieh, blurring life with art. I curate ‘productive antagonisms’, which I first enacted with a geographer, to maximise creative collisions with other bodies and minds to catalyse new dialogues. I’m atypical and ‘ill-disciplined’, a term I invented with a psychiatrist, wayward, trespassing the boundaries of disciplines / geopolitics/ cultures, subverting ‘illness’ and ignoring the end of the freedom of movement proudly declared by the place I’ve chosen to call home. I say the right things at the wrong time in the wrong order. My agility draws on ‘Kaidie’, who ran and ran for 1000-days, and then, a large pink Octopussy I became when I gate-crashed a Research Centre for experts in brain and mind-sciences who declared my brain as ‘abnormal’. Octopussies are die-hard. Around for 296 million years, with 3 hearts and half a billion neurons or excitable cells each, Peter Godfrey Smith shares that they are curious, embracing novelty, protean in behaviour and in body. Each limb is its own mind, problem-solver and sensor. Pussycats and octopuses are keyworkers today (as are artists, says Bob and Roberta Smith). Cats hijack soul-destroying video conferences. We need abnormal measures for the new normal. We need new modalities of being, thinking and making. Let’s conjoin our brains and hearts, entangle our tentacles, and take collective action. Let us become artful, agile and. atypical Octopussies.
Above: Conjoining (digital drawing — one out of 12 or so variations — Kai Syng Tan October 2020).