Spaces in Becoming: Jacques Rancière and Pedro Costa

    Spaces in Becoming: Jacques Rancière and Pedro Costa

    In The Emancipated Spectator, Jacques Rancière challenges traditional theatrical and conceptual binaries separating spectator and actor, active and passive, seeing and knowing, experience and thought, action and reaction, acting and thinking, teaching and learning. Where Brecht and Artaud, despite their differences, assume a pre-constituted subject to be molded, challenged and incorporated within discourses, Rancière assumes […]

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    Matthew Barney's "Hoist" and the Desiring-Production of Space

    Matthew Barney’s “Hoist” and the Desiring-Production of Space

    There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons. -Gilles Deleuze Destricted has finally been released on DVD in the U.S. While I have not watched this version, I have previously seen the one produced for the UK market. The only two films in that series worth recommending are […]

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    The Wilderness Downtown and The Poetics of Space

    The Wilderness Downtown and The Poetics of Space

    I just discovered “The Wilderness Downtown“, an interactive video for Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait,” from their new album Suburbs. The project was created and directed by Chris Milk, who is responsible for a number of interesting videos and commercials, including one my favorites.

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    The Preservation of Banksy

    The Preservation of Banksy

    There is a degree of insomnia, of rumination, of the historical sense, through which something living comes to harm and finally perishes, whether it is a person or a people or a culture. -Friedrich Nietzsche “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life” Banksy has been on a graffiti tour of the United States […]

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    David Lynch’s "Lady Blue Shanghai"

    David Lynch’s “Lady Blue Shanghai”

    David Lynch’s latest film, “Lady Blue Shanghai”, is a 16-minute advertisement for Dior. Apparently Lynch was given creative license to create any story as long as it featured Marion Cotillard, the bag, a blue rose and Old Shanghai – relatively minor constraints for Lynch. However, it might have been a nice change if Lynch had […]

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    Don DeLillo's Point Omega

    Don DeLillo’s Point Omega

    Not a movie but a conceptual art piece…like watching the universe die over a period of about seven billion years…I stayed awhile. Because even when something happens, you’re waiting for it to happen. -Richard Elster on 24 Hour Psycho Don DeLillo’s latest novel, Point Omega, like his (perhaps) greatest novel, Underworld, opens by restaging a […]

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    Blog

    Spinoza on Falsity

    Contrary to most philosophy, which struggles to arrive at truth and yield access to true ideas, Spinoza’s epistemological conundrum is how to arrive at falsity and produce false ideas. Because his theory of knowledge is inextricably linked to his ontology, because modal ideas are God’s ideas (by 1P15), and because all God’s ideas are true (by 2P32), then all ideas – infinite, finite, divine, human and so on – are ostensibly true. Similarly, if, according to Spinoza’s parallelism, an extended idea accompanies every idea in thought, then it seems to follow that every idea has to agree with its object. The solution to this seeming paradox lies in Spinoza’s unique epistemological conception of falsity, as well as its relation to imagination, truth, adequacy and inadequacy.

    To this end, the first part of what follows defines falsity by exploring its role in imagination and the first kind of knowledge. The second part distinguishes the external nature of falsity from the internality of inadequacy. The third part addresses and attempts to resolve possible objections to this characterization of falsity, including the argument that it leads to pure relativism, conflates subjectivity and objectivity, as well as Spinoza’s ostensible positing of false or inadequate ideas in God, which would undermine his metaphysical system. The final part considers the value of falsity, including its capacity to demystify superstition, refute skepticism and explain why we erroneously assume the possession of free will. Falsity also reveals the power and necessity of representation as volition, an active (never passive) conceiving of and by the mind that allows for the development of common notions.

     

    Falsity and Imagination

    Throughout the Ethics, Spinoza never defines truth. Truth is only given axiomatically, first in 1A6, which states, “A true idea must agree with its object,”[1] positing truth as an external relationship. This correspondence theory of truth and falsity is reinforced by 2P43S, which states, “[A] true idea has no more reality or perfection than a false one (since they are distinguished only through the extrinsic denomination).”[2] In other words, externality rather than content or nature distinguishes true ideas from false ones.

    Truth and falsehood, however, do not have a strictly binary relationship.  The agreement of an idea with its object constitutes a sufficient and a necessary condition for the truth of an idea, but a failure to agree does not necessarily constitute falsity.  Spinoza writes:

    If an architect conceives a building in proper fashion, although such a building has never existed nor is ever likely to exist, his thought is nevertheless a true thought, and the thought is the same whether the building exists or not. On the other hand, if someone says, for example, that Peter exists, while yet not knowing that Peter exists, that thought in respect to the speaker is false, or, if you prefer, not true, although Peter really exists. The statement ‘Peter exists’ is true only in respect of one who knows for certain that Peter exists. Hence it follows that there is something real in ideas through which the true are distinguished from the false.[3] (more…)

    Spinoza’s Panpsychism

    What is to be understood here concerning the stone should be understood concerning any singular thing whatever, no matter how composite it is, and capable of doing a great many things: that each thing is necessarily determined by some external cause to exist and produce effects in a certain and determinate way.[1]

     

    Panpsychism, the concept that all basic physical constituents of the universe have mental properties, follows from the relationship between freedom and necessity in Spinoza’s metaphysics. Responding to Tschirnhaus’ concern that there are two types of freedom, one applicable to entities possessing reason and consciousness and another to those lacking these properties,[2] Spinoza notes that his interlocutor’s position is simply an illusion. A stone will remain at rest without external cause, and once external cause (slingshot, wind, arm, gravity) is imposed on the stone, the stone will continue unabated until another force counters. The stone knows only its own striving and mistakenly assumes itself free because it is has inadequate knowledge of these other forces. Human freedom constitutes the same illusion: “that men are conscious of their appetite and ignorant of the causes by which they are determined.”[3]

    Spinoza’s panpsychism is comprehensive insofar as it denies humans any privileged ontological status above other animals and objects, but it becomes more radical as it affords all entities, including inanimate objects, some degree of animation and denies a significant role for the emotions and purpose in human actions. That is, while panpsychism is suggested by the ontology of Part I of the Ethics and made explicit in the modal development of Part II, it has radical implications for Spinoza’s psychology in Part III. The essay that follows 1) defines panpsychism and briefly explicates its logical deduction; 2) elucidates the means by which Spinoza posits and defends panpsychism in Part II of the Ethics; 3) considers the means by which Spinoza further defends panpsychism and incorporates it into his theory of affects; 4) considers some challenges to the non-animal mentality with which Spinoza endows all modes and fundamental particles of the universe; 5) reflects on some potential challenges to panpsychism as it pertains to humans, including goal-directedness, self-destruction, altruism and aesthetics.

    (more…)

    Spinoza’s Two Existences

    Prima facie, proposition 2P7 in Spinoza’s Ethics presents the counter-intuitive claim that there can be no ideas without extended objects accompanying them. That is, ideas cannot exist without correlative bodies. However, Spinoza offers 2P8 to address the possibility of singular things that do not exist, while preserving his mind-body parallelism.

    2P8 states:

    The ideas of singular things, or of modes, that do not exist must be comprehended in God’s infinite idea in the same way as the formal essences of the singular things, or modes, are contained in God’s attributes.

    Spinoza contends this proposition is evident from 2P7 (the doctrine of parallelism) and its scholium, in which attributes are posited as different expressions of the same substance (a circle in Nature and the idea of the existing circle are the same thing), which in turn is proven by 1A4, a concise statement of the principle of sufficient reason. The corollary to 2P8 elaborates the proposition by arguing that if singular things only exist through comprehension in God’s attributes, their objective being (i.e. being in relation to an object), or ideas, only exist through God’s infinite idea. On the other hand, when things exist in duration as actualized objects, their corresponding ideas also have duration, an additional property of reality and being.

    One way of interpreting 2P8 is to argue that Spinoza is simply accounting for things that used to exist (memories of the dead, historical figures and places, thoughts about dinosaurs) or will exist (people and animals not yet born, species evolved 1000 years from now). According to this interpretation, bodies have duration along with their ideas, but their infinite ideas in God, or their essences, do not. It is only necessary that things exist as they do when they do. Things exist virtually in God’s idea, before, after and during their actualized duration as finite modes. This interpretation facilitates commensurability between 2P8 and Spinoza’s necessitarianism. However, 2P8 also seems to suggest that literary characters, unicorns, false sensations and alternative events that could have been – things that exist in possibility, but will never exist as actualities in extension – also have ontological status. (more…)

    Borromini’s Bricks: Matters of Immanence in the Roman Oratory

     

    And if you think of Brick, for instance, and you say to Brick, “What do you want Brick?” And Brick says to you, “I like an Arch.” – Louis Kahn [1]

     A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. – Brian Massumi [2]

    In his renowned dialogue with Brick, Louis Kahn posits his interlocutor as an eternal and static material operating under an internal logic. Brian Massumi, on the other hand, conceives of a brick as a localized singularity, equally material and discursive, substantive and expressive. This ontological distinction between transcendence and immanence is especially significant for historical, contemporary, theoretical and practical considerations of architectural materials.

    Francesco Borromini’s design for the Oratory of S. Filippo Neri (1637-1650) reveals a dramatic process of turning ostensibly transcendent and insuperable constraints into immanent expression. His arresting façade (1637-1640), in particular, deterritorializes and decodes brick, evincing the material’s immanent potential through its creative genesis and enduring capacity for differentiation. As Hans Sedlmayr writes:

    It is a significant fact that in a passage of ‘Opus Architectonicum’ Borromini states that he would have liked to mold the façade of the Oratorio dei Filippini as if it were one gigantic brick made without joints. He made his architectural models out of wax and clay and composed his works as homogeneous pieces, fused into a single solid. These forms are conceived as if indicated by the sharp cornices, in a specific material chosen in consideration of the fact that it is best suited to their fundamental transformability. However, the forms are built in a contrary fashion, in complete autonomy from any specific material. [3] (more…)

    Tearing Real Images from Clichés: Edward Burtynsky’s Industrial Landscapes

    Such a voyage does not necessarily imply great movements in extension; it becomes immobile, in a room and on a body without organs—an intensive voyage that undoes all the lands for the benefit of the one it is creating. (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 319)

     

    Edward Burtynsky’s manufactured landscapes – large-format, photographic compositions of industrially-transformed environments, simultaneously precise and dynamic, static and complex, ordered and irrepressible – feature deliberate, disembodied perspectives of uncontrollable spaces harnessed by the camera and corralled by the frame. The topographic and tectonic images compel a shifting eye and reveal a liminal space neither natural nor cultural, a stratigraphic duration neither primeval nor modern, an image of thought neither rationalist nor empiricist. The visual framing detaches from human perception and reattaches to pure affect in order to interrogate the vast obscurity and silence of the contemporary sublime.

    In interviews, exhibition catalogs and his writing, Burtynsky invariably interprets his photography in mimetic and moral terms, rhetorically transforming them into a didactic discourse on ecology, cautionary tales against technology and prophesies of excess-induced dystopias, especially the precarious transgressions by humans into nature and excursions of industry into otherwise pristine environments.[i] Burtynsky posits his photographic subjects as machines in the garden and reinforces a divide between the natural and built environments, as well as the authentic and the artificial, belying the real aesthetic power and intensity of his images, which lie in the revelation of sensation that compel viewers into the material vitality of this world. Any crisis of ecology is more accurately considered a crisis of vision and less important than the extraction of resources and profit ostensibly represented by the photographs is the extraction of affect and sensation expressed through them.

    In the transition between the two volumes of his cinema project, Deleuze provides a critical framework for (re)considering such images and their immanent dynamics when he relates any-space-whatevers to the process of ‘Tearing a real image from clichés’ (Deleuze 1989: 21). No longer an objective view of reality from which to judge a situation, photography as any-space-whatever posits an indiscernibility between what is real and what is created, between actual and virtual, and it creates contingent spaces in which relationships and connections take lines of flight that undermine habitual recognition, enabling thought to continually emerge anew. Deleuze writes, ‘And the visual image for its part frames an any-space-whatever, an empty or disconnected space which takes on a new value, because it will bury the event under stratigraphic layers, and make it go down like an underground fire which is always covered over’ (Deleuze 1989: 279). This protean process moves the spectator from the transcendent to the immanent, from a capture of objects to new strategies for looking and feeling, from cliché to exhaustion.

    (more…)

    James Stirling and the Post-War Crisis of Movement: An Architectural Model of the Smooth and the Striated

    Gilles Deleuze transitions between the two volumes of his cinema project by identifying a crisis of movement in post-War cultural and aesthetic practices. As film liberates itself from causal logic and linear displacements, introducing a differential subjectivity to replace static identity, space and time are (re)conceptualized to accommodate incompossible worlds. In establishing these late modern dynamics, seen initially in neo-realist spaces devastated by the War, Deleuze indirectly subordinates architecture as the locus of the crisis, which only innovative, temporal practices can avert. Other post-War spatial theorists also, overtly or tacitly, inveigh against architecture as excessively striated, utopian, technocratic and teleological. They find the power of the smooth only in incidental spaces and heterotopias, as well as in the subversive and quotidian practices of strangers and flâneurs, who reappropriate the post-modern landscape despite its architecture. (more…)

    Spaces in Becoming: Jacques Rancière and Pedro Costa

    In The Emancipated Spectator, Jacques Rancière challenges traditional theatrical and conceptual binaries separating spectator and actor, active and passive, seeing and knowing, experience and thought, action and reaction, acting and thinking, teaching and learning. Where Brecht and Artaud, despite their differences, assume a pre-constituted subject to be molded, challenged and incorporated within discourses, Rancière assumes a subject in a constant state of creative becoming. For Rancière, the locus of meaning is not to be found within a widening or narrowing of the gulf dividing these dichotomous terms, but rather in the gaps or interstices themselves, which serve to dismantle such dichotomies.

    For Rancière, distanciation is affirmative insofar as it permits fissures of logic and indeterminacies to arise. Distanciation between binary terms is not to exacerbated as with Brecht’s epic theater or critiqued and closed, as in Artaud’s theater of cruelty (as well as the more recent political theater, such as Debord’s critique of spectacle, influenced by variations of these approaches). Eschewing a master discourse in which the artist conveys superior knowledge to a passive and ignorant spectator, Rancière writes:

    We have not to turn spectators into actors. We have to acknowledge that any spectator already is an actor of his own story and that the actor also is the spectator of the same kind of story. We have not to turn the ignorant into learned persons, or, according to a mere scheme of overturn, make the student or the ignorant the master of his masters (“The Emancipated Spectator” in ArtForum 279). (more…)

    In the Metal and in the Flesh: The Materiality and Individuation of Information through Architecture

    The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things.[1]
    - Baruch Spinoza
    Thoughts in the concrete are made of the same stuff as things are.[2]
    - William James (1912)

    In the decades immediately following the Second World War, architectural practice and spatial theory experienced a crisis of legitimacy following an increasing awareness that what was perceived as the utopianism and formalism of aesthetic and functional modernism was incapable of addressing the complexities of the contemporary world, especially in relation to human scale and function, urban ensembles and social diversity. Connoisseurship gave way to the demands of the growing research-industrial complex. Architecture and architectural education turned, in part, to cybernetics, concerned with control and communications, and systems theory to rationalize and validate its work. In the process, information lost its materiality and its body. That is, the information and systems age, which supplanted the industrial and machine age, struggled to maintain (or willingly ceded) its materiality.

    Katherine Hayles periodizes cybernetics and systems theory by distinguishing between first-generation or –order theory focused on homeostasis (1945-1960) and second-generation or –order theory (1960-1980), which incorporated concepts of reflexivity.[3] First-order cybernetics was concerned with reducing noise to facilitate signal and filtering out non-sense to emphasize meaning. It created a top-down, hierarchical model, which, despite an ostensible opposition to conventional scientific method, remained epistemologically representational, articulating knowledge of, and mapping, a pre-existing environment rather than creating and adapting to a new one. This mode of thought has given rise to what John Johnston characterizes as “two conflicting cultural narratives, the adversarial and the symbiotic,” in which humans either lose control of their environment at the hands of technology or merge with technological systems.[4] Either option creates fear and alienation because humans are not active participants in creation. With the machine, a discrepancy between technics and culture opens up, because humans are no longer “tool bearers.” (more…)

    Spaces in Becoming: Heterotopias, the Smooth and the Striated)

    In Plateau 14 of A Thousand Plateaus, dated 1440 and titled “The Smooth and the Striated,” Deleuze and Guattari posit two types of space – the smooth and the striated – which act as processes that resist a strict binary or dialectic and “exist only in mixture” (474), each one continually being translated and transversed into/by the other. The relationship between the smooth and the striated elucidates the nature of space, its thought and creation, as well as the process of subject formation and individuation that occurs in and through space. While each type of space can be distinguished and studied separately via de jure abstraction, the inextricable linkage of the two concepts constitutes an important element of assemblage.

    Assemblages are tetravalent, Deleuze and Guattari write elsewhere, with two sides – one of material bodies, the other of semiotic expressions – both of which are constantly being pulled in two directions – one toward a molar stabilization of striation, or an articulation of a code with a milieu, and simultaneously toward its dissolution or mutation through smooth and molecular decoding or deterritorialization that detaches and unhinges the code from its milieu. Relative deterritorialization is counterbalanced and offset by reterritorialization through a back-and-forth process, but in absolute deterritorialization, the assemblage dissipates along with the subject position it enables. The destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project, for example, acts as absolute deterritorialization of space, if it is considered the end of high modernist architecture as a means for constituting an oppressive space of the subject, or as relative deterritorialization, if the tenacity of the state and other urban renewal schemes maintain similar spatial demarcations and class distinctions.

    (more…)

    Architecture between East and West: The Emergent Practices of Arbeitsgruppe 4 in Cold War Austria

    The Third Man immortalized post-war Vienna, creating the architectural images most closely associated Austria’s geopolitical position at the time. Physical destruction served as a constant reminder of Austria’s immediate past and its bleak outlook for the future. The decay also served as a material manifestation of the guilt and repression associated with Austria’s role in the war (Figs. 1-2).[1] Historically, a time of “reeducation”, “collective forgetfulness”[2] and rebuilding of the country’s infrastructure, the desire to meet quotidian needs and subsistence overshadowed any concern for renewing aesthetic expression or reinvigorating the discursive strategies that made Vienna central to the development of early modernist architecture

    For Austrians in general, as well architects, artists and designers in particular, there was an ominous realization that the country could not return to its heroic history and did not want to relive its immediate past. As a result, the dynamics of the Cold War, as a comedy of errors with the Soviets and the Western allies as fortuitous occupiers, became a de-facto driving force behind the dynamics of architectural production, consumption and expression. The exhaustion and cynicism of post-war Vienna and its foreign occupation serve as the standard focus of Cold War histories of Austria. However, its unique position between East and West, as well as the gradual emergence of a small group of progressive students, artists and architects, developed promising discursive and architectural practices that challenged the reductive expediency of much post-war rebuilding efforts throughout the decade following the end of World War II and made Austrian architecture once again relevant to a regional and global audience.

    The experimental and collaborative pedagogy at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna influenced the collective work of Arbeitsgruppe 4, a team of young Austrian architects whose projects produced the most significant and underestimated strategies for addressing Austria’s political and aesthetic circumstances. More than any other Austrian architects during the decade following the Second World War, Arbeitsgruppe 4 used the social constraints of history and the disciplinary autonomy forced on them by the Cold War as opportunities for a dynamic engagement with advances in the arts, technology and cultural production and for reimagining Austria’s built environment, simultaneously developing an expressive sense of agency within their own, as well as Austria’s, architecture.

    Arbeitsgruppe 4 (A4) unofficially formed in 1950 when Wilhelm Holzbauer (b. 1930), Friedrich Kurrent (b. 1931), Otto Leitner (b. 1930) and Johannes Spalt (1920-2010) were all students at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts under the tutelage of Clemens Holzmeister (1886-1983). Holzbauer, Leitner and Kurrent knew each other from the city business school from which all of them, as well as Spalt some years earlier, had graduated (Figs. 3-5). Between 1950 and 1970, A4 produced more than 140 proposed and built works, which despite (or because of) the historical, social, cultural and economic constraints of the Cold War in Austria, revealed radically new approaches to programming, tectonics, architectural historiography and aesthetics. (more…)

    Spaces in Becoming: Rhizome

    In “Rhizome,” their introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari supplants arborescent and fascicular modes of thought with rhizomatic ones. The hierarchy within trees and fascicles always has recourse to a root, which as a metaphor operates to elucidate the transcendence and totality of representational thought. Any creative endeavor that follows this model can only be measured in terms of truth, accuracy and mimesis or the strength of the connection between the individual branches or bundles and the underground origin which gave rise to them and to which they constantly refer back.

    The rhizome, in contrast, operates via perpetual creation, prolongation and constant risk of rupture into new lines of flight. Deleuze and Guattari dismantle the subterranean root of transcendence as a static, teleological and eternal actuality and replace it with a virtual immanence as a locus (albeit one in constant movement) of potentiality.

    (more…)

    McLuhan (and Mailer) on Nature

    Rough Type, Next Nature and Hilobrow have all linked to a great video of Marshall McLuhan (and Norman Mailer) discussing the physical and ontological status of nature. (See videos below.)

    Next Nature writes:

    The two heroes of the ’60s are absolute opposites. Leaning forward in his chair, Mailer is assertive, animated, hot, engaged. McLuhan, abstracted and smiling wanly, leaning backward, cool. Mcluhan argues “The planet is no longer nature,” he declares, to Mailer’s uncomprehending stare; “it’s now the content of an art work.” Mailer: “Well, I think you are anticipating a century, perhaps.”

    Hilobrow adds:

    Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan give a master class in how to be richly, creatively, productively, necessarily wrong. Of course our notions of Nature are looks in the rearview mirror; of course nature is a void — empty, vast, and alive — and we’re far from putting an artificial environment around it. And yet even by giving shape to its character, I put it inside a little art work. Like Diogenes, McLuhan couldn’t satisfy his hunger by rubbing his stomach — and yet we can figure that hunger. And the very limitlessness of that figuration makes it part of nature, too.

    Rough Type even directly address McLuhan’s psychiatric state:

    Watching McLuhan, you can’t quite decide whether he was a genius or just had a screw loose. Both impressions, it turns out, are valid. As Douglas Coupland argues in his pithy new biography, McLuhan’s mind was probably situated at the mild end of the autism spectrum. He also suffered from a couple of major cerebral traumas. In 1960, he had a stroke so severe that he was given his last rites. In 1967, just a few months before the Mailer debate, surgeons removed a tumor the size of an apple from the base of his brain. A later procedure revealed that McLuhan had an extra artery pumping blood into his cranium. (more…)

    Stan VanDerBeek: The Culture Intercom

    Stan VanDerBeek: The Culture Intercom at the MIT List Visual Arts Center from February 4 to April 3, 2011

    Moving through Stan VanDerBeek: The Culture Intercom, the current exhibition at the MIT List Visual Art Center, one experiences a sudden encounter, turning a corner between the entrance space and the large primary space of the gallery, with blinding lights. After visually adjusting to space, the visitor is positioned between, on one side, flickering images – some found, some created, some moving, some static, some inexplicable, some familiar – of stunts, people undressing, classic cinema, geometric transformations, athletes and spatial iconography, and on the other, the projectors – overhead, slide, video – producing those images.

    This machinic palimpsest, a recreation of VanDerBeek’s 1968 Movie Mural, immerses the viewer in a relentless montage of image and sound, and the experience, in which embodied affect precedes the synthetic understanding of its cause and meaning, is a productive means of approaching VanDerBeek’s art. It also marks the space of the exhibit in which VanDerBeek’s contribution to art, new media, information theory, his means of working, thought processes and problematic place within art history becomes most discernible. The curator’s refusal to corral this vision – a wall of overlapping and superimposed images that do not fit their viewing screens and the apparatuses emitting and humming with their own life – into the space of the gallery is productively made part of the exhibit.

    This environment, at once intensive and extensive, also reveals VanDerBeek’s contribution to installation art, creating spaces that challenge distinctions between various media, machine and human, mental and physical, utopian and dystopian, techne and episteme, as well as art, science and popular culture. The artist employs both established and emergent media to develop themes related to information, communication, visualization and their changing dynamics in a post-industrial landscape. (more…)

    A Deleuzian Birthday Meal

    Today would have been Gilles Deleuze’s 86th birthday. Hilobrow celebrated his memory by reminding us of the dramatic act of defenestration with which he ended his life (as well as his immense contribution to philosophy). But it seems hard to envision celebrating his birthday anyway other than by eschewing the molar habit of serving the cliched birthday cake in favor of Deleuze’s own birthday meal of choice: tongue, brains and marrow. Deleuze speculated about the the sublime (and admittedly disgusting) birthday meal during (to my knowledge) the only time he ever discussed the culinary arts – during L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze, avec Claire Parnet [Gilles Deleuze's ABC Primer, with Claire Parnet]. (more…)

    The Smooth, the Striated, the Snark and the Sea

    Deconcrete has posted an entry entitled Scaled Infinite on Lewis Carrol’s The Hunting of the Snark – An Agony in 8 Fits. The accompanying image of the map of the sea used by the sailors seems the perfect combination of the striated and smooth, concepts developed by Deleuze and Guattari in Plateau 14 “1440: The Smooth and the Striated” from A Thousand Plateaus. (These terms play an important role throughout the book, even before they are “officially” introduced and contrasted, especially in Plateau 12, “1227: Treatise on Nomadology—The War Machine.”) (more…)

    Clip/Stamp/Fold

    The Exhibition Catalog for Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X – 197X magazines is now available at Amazon. The catalog is edited by Beatriz Colomina, and the content is based on research conducted by her students at Princeton. (more…)

    Simulacrum in the Tableaux Vivants of Thomas Demand

    How the ‘True World’ Ultimately Became a Fable:
    Simulacrum in the Tableaux Vivants of Thomas Demand

    Friedrich Nietzsche introduces a chapter of Twilight of the Idols entitled “How the ‘True World’ Ultimately Became a Fable: A History of an Error” with six concise points that purport to overturn Western philosophy by replacing representation with simulacra.[1] For Nietzsche, the true world as distinct from the world of appearances is anachronistic, misguided and irrelevant to the modern world, which has obviated and made indiscernible the distinction between the Platonic world of light and the world of shadows. He calls his own philosophy “an inverted Platonism: the farther removed from true being, the purer, the finer, the better it is. Living in semblance as goal.”[2] Ahead of, or slightly out of tune with his own time, the prophetic nature of his assertions would have to wait until the late twentieth century, especially among certain French thinkers, to receive their most meaningful development through the concept of simulacra. (more…)

    Actor-Network Rochambeau

    Having recently finished Bruno Latour’s Politics of Nature, I was reminded of his liberal use of “Latour Litanies,” the lists (for which he continually demonstrates an adeptness) he creates to remind his audience of the implications of a flat ontology in which ALL entities – animate and inanimate, human and nonhuman – receive equal treatment and ontological status, none subordinated to any others. The creation of assemblies and collectives, one of the central aims of Politics of Nature, is, like Actor-Network Theory in general, particularly well suited to concise exemplification via Latour litanies. The book is worth reading but probably not worth adumbrating, since Latour himself has provided a “Summary of the argument for those Readers in a hurry.” (more…)

    Matthew Barney’s “Hoist” and the Desiring-Production of Space

    There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons. -Gilles Deleuze

    Destricted has finally been released on DVD in the U.S. While I have not watched this version, I have previously seen the one produced for the UK market. The only two films in that series worth recommending are “Balkan Erotic Epic,” directed by Marina Abramovic, and Matthew Barney’s “Hoist.” These two films are the only ones that rise above the rather staid and counter-productive interpretive question: is this art or porn?, which both Abramovic and Barney render moot. Abramovic’s film is not included on the US DVD, so tracking down (not difficult) the UK version seems preferable. Barney’s film is on both versions and can (for the time being) be viewed here (or below). (more…)

    The Wilderness Downtown and The Poetics of Space

    I just discovered “The Wilderness Downtown“, an interactive video for Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait,” from their new album Suburbs. The project was created and directed by Chris Milk, who is responsible for a number of interesting videos and commercials, including one my favorites. (more…)


    Architecture

    Spinoza on Falsity

    Contrary to most philosophy, which struggles to arrive at truth and yield access to true ideas, Spin…

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    Art

    Tearing Real Images from Clichés: Edward Burtynsky’s Industrial Landscapes
    Tearing Real Images from Clichés: Edward Burtynsky’s Industrial Landscapes

    Such a voyage does not necessarily imply great movements in extension; it becomes immobile, in a roo…

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    Spaces in Becoming: Jacques Rancière and Pedro Costa
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    In The Emancipated Spectator, Jacques Rancière challenges traditional theatrical and conceptual bin…

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    The Smooth, the Striated, the Snark and the Sea
    The Smooth, the Striated, the Snark and the Sea

    Deconcrete has posted an entry entitled Scaled Infinite on Lewis Carrol’s The Hunting of the S…

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    Theory

    Spinoza’s Panpsychism

    What is to be understood here concerning the stone should be understood concerning any singular thin…

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