Monday, September 26, 2011

Interior Semiotics and 4chan

I think this is kinda classic, where contemporary art kids are totally into 4chan and the internet aesthetics and the culture it generates, and I guess tries to feed off its subcultural cache and assert their edgy, avant-garde pedigree when the actual subject of their attention hates it's guts and sees contemporary art as synonymous with hipster fags and are actively resisting this co-option by 'high'-culture.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Assemblage Man


Sent to you by gav via Google Reader:


via Larval Subjects . by larvalsubjects on 19/09/11

Today my students and I began working through Bennett's account of thing-power and assemblages as developed in Vibrant Matter. For Bennett, every thing that exists possesses a conatus or a "will" to persist in its own being. This conatus is defined by its affects. Following Spinoza and Deleuze, affects are capacities to act (active affects) and to be acted upon (passive affects). The active affects are what a thing can do. For example, the ability to play a piano would be an active affect. By contrast, the passive affects define the receptivity of an entity or the manner in which it is open to interaction with other things in the world. Within the framework of my own thought (and I'm very much on the same page with Bennett on all these points), the passive affects define a "transcendental aesthetic", defining the field of receptivity entities have to other entities. Thus, for example, a great white shark's passive affects consist of things like it's olfactory powers, the ability to sense the world through the electro-magnetic fields of other entities, etc., whereas my passive affects consist of things like vision, scent, smell, touch, the ability to discern desire in certain slips of the tongue due to my psychoanalytic training, and so on. If there is a transcendental aesthetic at work here, then this is because a certain "distribution of the sensible" must precede empirical sensings to be possible. Each thing has its modes of openness to the world.

The affective conatus of things fluctuates and can be enhanced or diminished as a result of encounters with other things. My power of vision, a passive affect, for example, is enhanced through my glasses. My voice (active affect) and ear (passive affect) are enhanced through my smart phone. The large Texas meal I ate yesterday diminished my passive and active affects, drawing me into a catatonic state where my powers of acting and of being acted upon were reduced (I passed out for two hours), but which might nonetheless increase the power of my active and passive affects by either increasingly my gravitational pull on other objects (i.e., it perhaps made me fatter) or by increasing my strength and ability to perceive and think in a variety of ways.

read on!

From all of this Bennett concludes that things never act alone, but rather always act in assemblages of things. Assemblages, for Bennett, are ad hoc groupings of diverse and heterogeneous elements. They have, she contends, uneven topographies insofar as, at particular moments, some elements might for a time contribute more than other elements and serve a greater regulatory function with respect to other elements of the system. From these assemblages we get emergent qualities and powers that can't be found in any of the elements taken alone. Like fireflies, the elements of these assemblages flicker back and forth to one another, producing all sorts of surprising results; and for this reason they are open-ended. Assemblages are thus something more than a mere heap of unrelated and individual things and something less than a structure. If they are less than a structure, then this is because they are open-ended and the components of the assemblage are never locked into the assemblage, but rather can separate from the assemblages into which they enter or enter into new relations with the other elements.

It seems to me that Jackie Chan's style of fight provides an excellent example of an assemblage:

Within a modernist framework our tendency is to think of nonhuman things as brute clods of passive matter that await us to receive action. Nonhuman things are either blank screens upon which we project our meanings (the value of the dollar bill comes from us, not the dollar bill) or mere mediums of which we make use as tools. In the Chan clip above we see something very different. Chan, of course, is an actor or operator within these networks or assemblages, yet he is not a sovereign unilaterally transferring meaning and use to the entities about him. Rather, Chan is what might be called "assemblage-man". Where "sovereign-man" transfers meanings and aims unilaterally without the things acting back, assemblage-man is the man of the "and". Chan is never simply Chan, never simply an origin, but is rather Chan+wall+tree or Chan+table or Chan+ladder or Chan+crates, etc. Throughout his misadventure, Chan must respond to the surprising actions of the new mediums he engages with as much as he acts upon these things. With each encounter a new set of affects erupt on to the scene, new powers of acting and being acted upon, new constraints that he must contend with, only for these affects to disappear with new encounters, the dissolution of prior assemblic relations, and the formations of new assemblic relations.

Chan is not a sovereign of these other entities– though certainly he relates to them quite skillfully –but rather enters into alliances and sympathies with these various nonhumans which, in each instance, require him to reconfigure his own ways of moving and acting. He is as much acted upon as he acts, as is quite evident from the differential changes that arise due to gravity in the assemblage he forms with the table or the ladder. This is how it always is with assemblages. Within assemblages agency can no longer be located in any particular element of the assemblage, but rather is like sparks in a Jacob's Ladder that jump and dance as they trace their course throughout the world.


Things you can do from here:


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Arbitrary Constraint

Is this a strategy you (still?) ever use?

Its obviously a common strategy in producing work. DO you know any (famous) people that used it as a strategy in their life in general? 

Trevor Paglen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


This months e-flux by BIFO seems to touch on a lot for me; how time structures desire, body, meaning.

Nevertheless I'd be greatly assisted by your interpretation. I particularly am concerned with this separation of language and body, language and desire:

The end of modernity arrived with the
collapse of the future, as Johnny Rotten
signaled. But postmodernism, as far as we can
tell, has only produced a techno-linguistic
machine permeating every recess of daily life,
every space of the social brain. In a 1977 book by
American anthropologist Rose Goldsen entitled
The Show and Tell Machine, Goldsen wrote that a
new generation of human beings will gain its
primal impressions from a machine rather than
from the mother.
That generation is here. This
generation, which experiences a problematic
relationship between language and the body,
between words and affection, separates
language from the body of the mother, and from
the body in general Ð for language in human
history has always been connected to a fear of
trusting the body. In this situation, we need to
reactivate our ability to connect language and
desire, or the situation will become extremely
bad. If the relationship between the signifier and
the signified can no longer be guaranteed by the
presence of the body, we lose our relationship to
the world. Our relationship to the world will
become purely functional, operational Ð
probably faster, but precarious.

more nomad - Deleuze "what children say"

The libido does not undergo metamorphoses, but follows world historical
trajectories. From this point of view, it does not seem that the
real and the imaginary form a pertinent distinction. A real voyage, by
itself, lacks the force necessary to be reflected in the imagination; the
imaginary voyage, by itself, does not have the force, as Proust says, to
be verified in the real. This is why the imaginary and the real must be,
rather, like two juxta posable or superimposable parts of a single trajectory,
twO faces that ceaselessly interchange with one another, a mobile
mi rror. Thus the Australian Aborigines link nomadic itineraries to
dream voyages, which together compose "an interstitching of routes,"
.. in an immense cut-out [decoupe) of space and time that must be read
like a map. " 7 At the limit, the imaginary is a virtual image that is interfused
with the real object, and vice versa, thereby constituting a crystal
of the unconscious. It is not enough for the real object or the real landscape
to evoke similar or related images; it must disengage its oum virtual
image at the same time that the latter, as an imaginary landscape,
makes its entry into the real, following a circuit where each of the two
terms pursues the other, is interchanged with the other. "Vision" is the
product of this doubling or splitting in two (doublement ou dedoublement],
this coalescence. It is in such crystals of the unconscious that the
trajectories of the libido are made visible.

Outside language

As Proust said, great writers invent a new language within language, but in such a way that language in its entirety is pushed to its limit or its own "outside." This outside of language is made up of affects and precepts that are not linguistic, but which language alone nonetheless makes possible.


.. I think the same is true of technology, do you?  I guess the challenge is to push some limit within the internet

Love letters ]

Aren't these the sort of gestures that need to be internal to our institutions? Shouldn't our institutions be anthropocentric rather than impartial, rational and modern?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paul Chan

For me, Paul Chan is probably the most interesting internet artist working right now;
"In the winter we’ll publish a collection of essays by Saddam Hussein. He wrote them in the 70s, before he became the president of Iraq. They are perverse and fascinating to say the least, because they are about democracy. We’ll also put out more experimental erotica by Jean Paaulhan, a great young writer."


Guthrie Lonergan

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

marisa olsen

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Someone shared a clip with you on Vimeo

You can watch it here:

2010 Silberberg Lecture Series: Boris Groys

2010 Silberberg Lecture Series: Boris Groys

About this video:
"Tuesday, October 19th, 6:00pm

Silberberg Lecture Series
Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University; Professor of Art History, Philosophy and Media Theory, Staatliche Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe
"Rules of Repetition: Reflection of the Medium in the Time-Based Art""

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