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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The importance of Benjamin's early unpublished fragments for an understanding his wider philosophical project has been emphasised by a number of scholars in recent years (cf.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.