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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Interview with Truus and Joost Daaler.

Mystical Indigo. Aboubaker Fofana.


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Silence of the Lambs.

Trace can be seen as an always contingent term for a "mark of the absence of a presence, an always-already absent present", of the ‘originary lack’ that seems to be "the condition of thought and experience". Trace is a contingent unit of the critique of language always-already present: “language bears within itself the necessity of its own critique”. Deconstruction, unlike analysis or interpretation, tries to lay the inner contradictions of a text bare, and, in turn, build a different meaning from that: it is at once a process of destruction and construction. Derrida claims that these contradictions are neither accidental nor exceptions; they are the exposure of certain “metaphysics of pure presence”, an exposure of the “transcendental signified” always-already hidden inside language. This “always-already hidden” contradiction is trace.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Image; 'Kazimir Malevich in Uncharted Waters'.2012.

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Gerhard Richter.

Gerhard Richter's groundbreaking study argues that the concept of "afterness" is a key figure in the thought and aesthetics of modernity. It pursues questions such as: What does it mean for something to "follow" something else? Does that which follows mark a clear break with what came before it, or does it in fact tacitly perpetuate its predecessor as a consequence of its inevitable indebtedness to the terms and conditions of that from which it claims to have departed? Indeed, is not the very act of breaking with, and then following upon, a way of retroactively constructing and fortifying that from which the break that set the movement of following into motion had occurred?
The book explores the concept and movement of afterness as a privileged yet uncanny category through close readings of writers such as Kant, Kafka, Heidegger, Bloch, Benjamin, Brecht, Adorno, Arendt, Lyotard, and Derrida. It shows how the vexed concepts of afterness, following, and coming after shed new light on a constellation of modern preoccupations, including personal and cultural memory, translation, photography, hope, and the historical and conceptual specificity of what has been termed "after Auschwitz." The study's various analyses—across a heterogeneous collection of modern writers and thinkers, diverse historical moments of articulation, and a range of media—conspire to illuminate Lyotard's apodictic statement that "after philosophy comes philosophy. But it has been altered by the 'after.'" As Richter's intricate study demonstrates, much hinges on our interpretation of the "after." After all, our most fundamental assumptions concerning modern aesthetic representation, conceptual discourse, community, subjectivity, and politics are at stake.

The problem with free play(beauty/Kant) with no concept -
Kant claims that the experience of beauty rests on what he calls a "harmony," or a "free play" of the faculties of imagination and understanding, punctuated by pleasure. Famously, this free play is supposed to be "without a concept" (§9, 5:217-9; 102-4). In his new book, Kenneth Rogerson argues that "only the doctrine of beauty as the expression of ideas gives Kant a plausible explanation of how we can see objects of beauty as free harmonies" (p. 3). The novelty of Rogerson's approach is twofold. First, he argues that aesthetic ideas can explain not only artistic, but also natural beauty. Second, he stresses the importance of expression: both nature and art talk to us, as it were, and thereby bring about the free play of our faculties. Rogerson bases his solution to the problem of the concept-less harmony on a sharp distinction between concepts and ideas. Since his solution involves ideas rather than concepts, it meets Kant's "no-concept" requirement head on: "an artwork (or natural object) that can be interpreted as expressing an aesthetic idea will accomplish this expression via a mental state that is free of concepts and yet orderly due to the fact that it expresses an idea"

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kasumi. The Drowning.

mage/sound: Kasumi
Dancer: Chan U Hong

3 video channels, 6 audio channels (mixed down for Vimeo)

The Drowning is a short remix - with a new sound design - of an earlier work "MO-SO," an EMPAC DANCE MOViES Commission 2009-2010, supported by the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts, Experimental Media and Performing Arts, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.

The mysteries of cognition and the human ability to think in metaphor have become frequent themes in my work. In "The Drowning," I wanted to explore the impressions running through a man's mind in the moments before his death: the sensation of time slowing down, of heightened bodily perceptions, and the simultaneous unreeling of an internal cinema of images -- seemingly unrelated -- that create an unconscious narrative of personal history and emotion. The story in his head changes in the last seconds as the oxygen-deprived brain starts shutting down, speeding faster and faster, turning into a surreal, psychedelic collage of colors and primary symbols, the foundations of learned experience reduced to their individual blocks of information, electrified and dispersing like split atoms or dying stars.

Video - You Tube - link -

The Higher Concept of Experience. Water Benjamin.

Early Works: Kant and Experience
The importance of Benjamin's early unpublished fragments for an understanding his wider philosophical project has been emphasised by a number of scholars in recent years (cf. Caygill 1998; Rrenban 2005). Indeed, without them it becomes difficult to understand the intellectual context and historical tradition out of which Benjamin is writing and therefore nearly impossible to grasp the philosophical underpinnings of his early works. Of Benjamin's earliest published writing his attempt in the essay entitled ‘Experience [Erfahrung]’(1913/1914) to distinguish an alternative and superior concept of experience provides a useful introduction to a central and enduring preoccupation of his thought. Benjamin's concern with delineating an immediate and metaphysical experience of spirit is valuable in providing a thematic description of a conceptual opposition working throughout his thought. Filtered here through the cultural ideals of the Youth Movement, this contrasts the empty, spiritless [Geistlosen] and unartistic “experiences” accumulated over a life merely lived-through [erlebt] with that privileged kind of experience which is filled with spiritual content through its enduring contact with the dreams of youth (SW 1, 3–6). The influence of Nietzsche in these earlier texts is discernible, particularly, in the importance the young Benjamin places upon aesthetic experience in overcoming the embittered nihilism of contemporary values (although he is unable to articulate this cultural transformation here beyond a vague appeal to the canon of German poets: Schiller, Goethe, Hölderlin, and Stefan Georg).
By 1918 the attempt at a more systematic and philosophically sophisticated understanding of a “higher concept of experience” (SW 1, 102) within what Benjamin now calls “the coming philosophy” is articulated in relation to Kant's transcendental idealism. Benjamin argues that the value of Platonic and Kantian philosophy lies in its attempt to secure the scope and depth of knowledge through justification, exemplified in the way Kant conducts a critical inquiry into the transcendental conditions of knowledge. But this Kantian attempt to grasp a certain and timeless knowledge is in turn based upon an empirical concept of experience which is restricted, Benjamin argues, to that “naked, primitive, self evident”experience of the Enlightenment, whose paradigm is Newtonian physics (SW 1, 101). Despite Kant's introduction of a transcendental subject, his system remains tied to a naïve empiricist understanding of experience, of the kind privileged in the positivist scientific tradition as the encounter between a distinct subject (conceived as a cognizing consciousness receiving sensible intuitions) and object (understood as a sensation-causing thing-in-itself).
In contrast, the pre-Enlightenment concept of experience invested the world with a deeper and more profound significance, because the Creation assumes a revelatory religious importance. This is apparent not only in the deeply Christian world-view of mediaeval Europe, but survives in secularized form in Renaissance and Baroque humanism, and in “Counter-Enlightenment” thinkers such as J. G. Hamann, Goethe, and the Romantics. Benjamin suggests that the “great transformation and correction which must be performed upon the concept of experience, oriented so one-sidedly along mathematical-mechanical lines, can be attained only by relating knowledge to language, as was attempted by Hamann during Kant's lifetime” (SW 1, 107–8). In the essay ‘On Language as Such and the Language of Man’(c. 1916), Benjamin offers a theological conception of language which draws on Hamann's discussion of Creation as the physical imprint of the divine Word of God, to claim that there “is no event or thing in either animate or inanimate nature that does not in some way partake of language” (SW 1, 62–3). This implies that all experience—including perception—is essentially linguistic, whilst all human language (including writing, typically associated with mere convention) is inherently expressive and creative. Language is privileged as a model of experience in these early essays precisely because it undermines and transgresses the neat divisions and limitations operating in the Kantian system, including that fundamental one that distinguishes between the subject and object of sensations. If both are constitutively linguistic, language serves as a medium of experience that binds the ostensible “subject” and“object” in a more profound, perhaps mystical, relationship of underlying kinship. More generally, Hamann's metacritique provides Benjamin with a sense of the hypocrisy of the Kantian separation of understanding and sensibility on the basis of an empty and purely formal notion of pure reason, which can itself only be postulated according to the concrete, aesthetic content of language.
Whilst Benjamin is not interested in returning to the pre-critical project of a rationalist deduction of experience, nor to a directly religious conception of the world, he is interested in how the scientific concept of experience that Kant is utilising distorts the structure of Kant's philosophical system, and how this might be corrected with the use of theological concepts. Epistemology must address not only “the question of the certainty of knowledge that is lasting”, but also the neglected question of “the integrity of an experience that is ephemeral” (SW 1, 100). Benjamin's suggestion as to how this project might be formulated within the Kantian system is sketchy, but nonetheless indicates some of the preoccupying concerns of his later writings. In general, it involves the expansion of the limited spatio-temporal forms and essentially causal-mechanistic categories of Kant's philosophy through the integration of, for example, religious, historical, artistic, linguistic and psychological experiences. Benjamin's enduring concern with the new, the outmoded and the heteronomous reflect this attempt to integrate more speculative phenomenological possibilities of experience into the the remit of philosophical knowledge. It resists privileging any single discipline of knowledge, preserving a multiplicity that implicates truth in the problem of aesthetic representation. This would lead Benjamin to attempt a radical rethinking of the philosophical concept of the Idea, away from its dualistic associations with a timeless and purely rational essence of things.
Benjamin also believes that a more speculative metaphysics would necessitate the abolishment of the sharp distinction between Nature and Freedom—or causal mechanism and moral willing—in Kant's architectonic. Since it is a specific understanding of“dialectic” which mediates between these two spheres in Kant's critical system, this entails a speculative rethinking of the Kantian dialectic. This suggests that new possibilities of syllogistic logical relations might themselves be opened up, including what he calls “a certain nonsynthesis of two concepts in another” (SW 1, 106; cf. Weber 2008, 48). The relation of nonsynthesis hinted at here can be seen to inform Benjamin's understanding of the Idea as a constellation of extremes in the Origin of the German Mourning-Playand of the dialectical image in his mature writings. In this sense, Benjamin's metacritique of Kant represents an attempt to construct an alternative post-Kantian tradition to that of Hegelian dialectics. It therefore required a new philosophy of history.

Kant - Trancendental Idealism:

Photo Constructions by David Hochbaum.

Artistic Research and the Poetics of Knowledge: link.....

It becomes interesting when artistic forms of knowledge do not restrict themselves to applications of theory, but rather begin to develop into hybrid formations of knowledge, or when they intervene in theoretical discourses, or have an impact on them, and thus contribute to theory construction. This summarizes a hybridization of art and research that could present itself as the most significant challenge for cultural sciences today. In other words, with a project of artistic research, which decidedly places itself within close proximity of scientific territory, the fraying of the art genres that Adorno noted in the 1960s would fall just as short as the interdisciplinary aspect of the sciences, and, namely, benefit a chiastic overlapping of art and cultural sciences.
This inquiry expands on ideas initially worked out in The Depictive Image: Metaphor and Literary Experience (University of Massachusetts Press; November 1988). This study demonstrates how authors as diverse as Kierkegaard, Unamuno, Henry James, and Margaret Atwood employ "mythemic figurations" in ways that disclose defining limits of discursive analytical reason in the domains, respectively, of religious, national-cultural, psychosocial, and psychobiological experience.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Barbara Bloom.

Liminality in Art.

Liminality in Art.

The notions of boundaries, borders, limits, thresholds and so on may be as ancient as the human population itself. In Greek/Roman mythology they are expressed by names of different gods/goddesses, hybrids and monsters – Zeus cares for the Olympus, Poseidon is a guardian of waters, Hades rules in the Underground; forests, agriculture, arts and law – every human (divine and monstrous as well) activity and embodiment of the spirit has its own powerful protector/ rules maker and no interference is into each other territory is tolerated.
Religions exist due the numerous polarities, and the most popular story of creation (Book of Genesis) had started exactly from this – from a separation and making sharp divisions between elements and the mater. In order to survive the species would have to define and fight for the territories and the evolution of the human race is an ‘epoch’ of transcending the boundaries of nature, space and time…
The social, cultural and personal identity couldn’t be possible at all without the ongoing, often uncompromising process of the differentiation. And when philosophy tends to look for an unity and structure in the universe despite of all the intrinsic and imposed/created dichotomies, art in general would indulge in exploring the world as seen within the “frame” (think now about Derrida’s “The truth in painting” and his deconstruction attempt of all the ‘frames’ we tend to see the art through) and beyond it.
And so it goes – Christ would be a ‘worthy’ subject, but even some of his disciples not exactly; harmonious human body was only true representation – the ugly/mutilated one was worse than some of the animals; one ‘breed’ of art-view was ‘high’ (read: ‘true’), the others were ‘pseudo-’; painting the landscape naturally excluded the sky-view and the figurative works were exorcised of all the abstract elements (and vice versa). The universe seen as in an atom of a very particular concept/meaning or a set of those (lets say: christian version of god, humanists’ vision of a man, romantic vision of a landscape, modernists’ subversion to the classical art) which had to be frozen, clearly and in a division to its possible and apparent opposites… This is basically what all the history of the Western Art is about. About Old Testament God’s job of making the world happen by creating borders between chaos and order, good and bad, light and dark, sky and earth, the animals and the human beings, the human beings and the Holy one.
Where the ‘liminal’ creeps into all of this? Well – right at the start, I guess and simply because the artistic activity in itself situates man on the existential threshold; a bit like a prayer or a sexual act – two different worlds meet and penetrate each other; the universe as it is (or appears to be) and the universe to be created… And the conscious artist is very likely to aim at or to be the ‘passeur’ -’a boatman’, ‘smuggler’ – the man of passage, the guide who leads his audience beyond the status quo crossing social, cultural, psychological, spiritual and sometimes very physical boundaries in order to show/explain/challenge…