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We can leave anytime, day or night (let us begin we have much further to go)

Rindon Johnson, in collaboration with Infrasonica
AI, audio and text - Grasse, France, June 2023

For Les lichens ne mentent jamais / Lichens Never Lie, Rindon Johnson presents “We can leave anytime, day or night (let us begin we have much further to go)”. In this text-based work, created with the aid of an AI voice, he intertwines components of artificial intelligence and lichens to confront climate change, addressing them not as opposites to be engaged with on separate horizons but as potential tools to inform one another.

About this Report

We can leave anytime, day or night (let us begin we have much further to go)

Climate change and the acceleration of artificial intelligence seem ubiquitous among public discourse today, particularly in the West. The paradoxical nature of this is curious, yet comes as no surprise. Humanity’s inaction in the face of climate change warns of impending organic catastrophe while its active advancement towards sentient artificial intelligence often comes with stern warnings of a synthetic disaster. As such, these conversations often happen on asymptotic planes as if one has no bearing on the other. They paint the picture of a fuse simultaneously lit on opposite ends with humanity positioned, as always, in the center.

For Les lichens ne mentent jamais / Lichens Never Lie, Rindon Johnson presents “We can leave anytime, day or night (let us begin we have much further to go)”. In it, he intertwines components of artificial intelligence and lichens to confront climate change, addressing them not as opposites to be engaged with on separate horizons but as potential tools to inform one another. The piece blends organic, mechanical, and ambiental sonic elements to construct a chilling soundscape of poetic ruminations on lichens and their role in the life of beings and the planet. Lichens, as a composite organism, could be said to learn like artificial intelligence programs; by collecting and combining data points to create an aggregate worldview, one capable both of impacting its surroundings and reporting on them.

In reflecting on their potentiality, Johnson wove together poetic fragments and used an AI program called Descript, which he had trained over the years to mimic his voice. Then, he, along with Descript’s voice and the voice of his sibling, recorded and layered several utterances of that poem, set against and interspersed with sonic breaks. The piece’s poetics juxtapose nature’s steady advancement against quotidian societal horrors. It compares how nature and humanity transmit critical information and what both entities then do with that information. Though the message may not seem positive, it isn’t bleak either. Instead, it calls for a decentralization of humanity in the discourse on planetary survival. An understanding that we are in this together, a pluriverse of beings. “There was a moment upon realizing that we were still entangled.” One of the three voices says. “We had to find a way to start again.”

Sound Design by Alberto Rubi



I ask Mountain what they know about Lichens. 
There’s one, they say, that live only in the high branches of trees 
that will dye things fluorescent pink. 
Yes, Really 
and then they say that you can only harvest them after it has rained 
and it is still wet. 
Rained enough that the branches have fallen and wet enough that the lichens still make themselves visible. 
Visible when drinking. 
Greener when drinking.

You can’t believe how many they are 
How the further away from us 
you go 
how they prosper.

Do you think they know time?
Of course 
Wait, do they? 
There is the before many 
the current many 
and then the ever future many. 
Forgive me future 
many I whisper watching the police lights on my bedroom walls 
some person has barricaded themselves 
there’s a lot of emergency vehicles 
It is 4 maybe 3 doors down 
I download the citizen app in fear 
I track in fear 
I aggregate in fear 
I collect data in fear, in fear of loss, losing 
Just say it 
But its true 
There’s a video from an informant 
on the app 
that shows a video of all the houses on the block 
with the lights flashing again them, 
lots of ambulances some leave 
the tree has 3 branches on one side 
and can be written risen 
like risen
like a bump 
like how this tree here has 3 branches 
and on one side, 
risen like a bump 
in the point where ribs meet on a human chest 
there is green moss and it must be some lichens 
When you touch the moss 
it rains it changes color 
Do you change color when it rains? 
I haven’t bothered to look if I’m being honest. 
Well now will you? 
Everything I do is about rocks. 
I love them 
I wish for their time scale 
Even that desire is a form of anthropomorphization. 
Here's a theory joke for you: 
All desire is just a projection - get it? 
Anyway, this projected time scale 
for the rocks 
it isn’t forever but it does involve a network of communication at a scale so grand. Like kind of like how we are doing right now 
with basically everything. 
What is near me is becoming me. 
Don’t flatter yourself

Could we do this closer?

And my god the lichens. 
Think of this
they are so old we can’t figure out how old they are. 
Outside the realm of measure.
Some can penetrate quartz ever slowly, 
slipping beneath the surface of a stone. 
You’ve got to be kissing me. 
I love them. 
Me too. 
Did you misspeak back there. 
Look now 
Look now. 
Look now! 
When you leave you’ll see them everywhere

What lives off of another and lost myself thinking 
how many others do I live off of?

Under what guise do we detangle. 
I’ll have to quote myself now, 
How like the weather the heresy of definition.

How to start an impossible thing?
Why measure when we already know that it feels off? 
Numbers are our ultimate abstraction. 
A counting can always be recounted. 
Toward new meaning. 
In the joining of two 
there is only scale 
time is a relative construction 
and the lichen reflect specificity. 
What can’t be relative? 
Is this another joke? 
Like I was saying 
Specificity that they are themselves. 
Some only grow in the shadow and some only in the sun, 
and but always 
on something else. 
We are always on to someone else. 
I’ve touched them as you have 
run my fingers over them 
stepped on them running through the forest.
When the colonists arrived to australia they named the land to be park
like assuming no human hand could create such harmony 
and they were surprised to find when they, they parasite, they viruses, killed many of the indigenious
that the land became thick and overgrown 
What’s missing from the nature documentaries? 
Is it the people? 
Could we be harmonious? 
What are you referring to? 

Why don’t you rebel 
If we don’t agree on what happened in the past how will we agree what time it is now? The rebellion is in the intention? 
And what’s that now? 
For many years we thought they were 2 but upon closer inspection they were 3 and what to make of the number 3 
what to say about a dance 
always a witness 
can we all agree does that happen at the cellular level the disagreements 
the push and pull for 
like light 
and like nutrients 
I am nothing 
Don’t be dramatic
Well I wish I could be as expansive as nothing? 
As cyclical and attentive? 
Pleasure comes in the mixing or is it the mitigation 
who tells us when we have gone too far
and when do we know we have much further to go 
I’ll do it.

We have much further to go 

I can only name that we thought it was spanish moss 
that his hands felt thick, coarse, he never felt smaller than me 
and when our relationship ended my mother said on the phone 
I am very sorry, I know how you loved him. 
How do we know when we have become a landscape is it when 
so many things have happened to you within it that there is no you 
without the rolling of the hill, or the curvature of the road against a yellow hillside, Or is it if it can catch fire just as soon as it could flood, 
why wasn't it enough to be together and in what language do we renew 
in what conglomeration 
do we appear again at all?

There was a moment upon realizing that we were still entangled. 
We had to find a way to start again, 
I thought that was the color of the stone

but I was wrong. 
I am man enough to admit that 
your stems contain glass, 
Why couldn’t you burrow beneath stone? 
Spoon fingers 
I misremembered the etymology to what lives off of another, 
it's actually what east around itself, like warts. 
Eat around yourself? 
I am by the sea side 
Well I am by the sea 
The weather 
the ocean 
the tides 
The moon pulling us this way and that way and this 
I have wished for another life but been given this one. 

Which 3 together are you? 
My brain cannot hold all of this knowledge. 
What is it all here for? 
While I was looking at lichens, were you marching in the streets? 
Looking and counting don’t leave to revolutions 
Do they? 
Don’t they? 
Or aren’t well ever always 3 actors, 
all together

all together now. 
I just want to remember and remember and remember and I just want to forget and forget and forget and live mostly, 
I won’t bend my knees till I do this all again. 
Let’s start then 
I ask Mountain what they know about Lichens 
Pull up the sails 
Did you know I can read 
They’re whispering 
We can leave anytime day or night 
Put your wrist to the sky and count out any hour.


Rindon Johnson

Rindon Johnson is an artist and poet. He has based his work in language. Johnson has presented solo exhibitions at Albertinum (Dresden), Chisenhale Gallery (London), The Julia Stoschek Collection (Düsseldorf) and the SculptureCenter (Long Island City). Johnson has participated in group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Kunstverein Freiburg, The Hammer Museum, The Whitney Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Literaturhaus Berlin, Haus der elektronischen Künste, Basel among others. He is the author of Nobody Sleeps Better Than White People (Inpatient, 2016), the VR book, Meet in the Corner (Publishing-House.Me, 2017), Shade the King (Capricious, 2017), The Law of Large Numbers: Black Sonic Abyss (Chisenhale, Inpatient, SculptureCenter 2021) and Ever Given (Inpatient and Francois Ghebaly, 2022). He was born on the unceded territories of the Ohlone people. He lives in Berlin.


Infrasonica is a digital platform of non-Western cultures. We record, analyse and debate the eeriness of sound and its auras, linked to the world with the audible, the hidden and the sensitive. Infrasonic waves operate at a frequency that is undetectable by human ears even though they are often generated by massive ecological phenomena, such as the movement of tectonic plates or the deep currents of the ocean. Infrasonica aims to be a catalyst for those vibrations. The platform includes archives of experimental sound and visual artists, as well as theoretical musings on contemporary critical thought. By relying on a borderless network of collaborators, Infrasonica blends essays, conversations and speculative works that encourage critical curatorial and research projects.

Rindon Johnson, We can leave anytime, day or night (let us begin we have much further to go), 2023, specially commissioned by Nicoletta Fiorucci Foundation as part of World Weather Network.

Part of the weather station: Grasse, France - find out more here.

WWN · We can leave anytime, day or night (let us begin we have much further to go)