Saturday, December 29, 2012


From an interview with Bishop;

jbw: Twice you mention BDSM as an alternative paradigm for thinking through this issue. Can you say more about how you see BDSM as a framework for differently processing both pain and pleasure, and how that might extend to participatory art?
cb: Ha! Well spotted. For me, BDSM and comedy provide two other frameworks for thinking about what bodies can say/do in space. There is a lot of moralistic discussion around contemporary art, but comedy also manages to say, very sharp, poignant, transgressive, politically acute things in a way that is highly pleasurable. And in a different way, the 'scenes' that people get into in BDSM are also (for them) highly pleasurable, even though they have no relationship to their actual desire to be dominated (for example) in daily life. Both are areas of experience that suspend the everyday, but also participate in it—they have the double ontology that I see as crucial to participatory art.

Friday, December 21, 2012

3d printing shops

Justin Lin

Interesting backstory to this guy

"In 1976 Lin entered the MBA program at National Chengchi University in Taiwan on a defense scholarship and returned to the army upon receiving his MBA in 1978. As a captain in the Republic of China Army (ROC Army) in Taiwan, he defected to Mainland China on May 17, 1979, under the control of the Republic of China (Taiwan), to the nearby island of Xiamen of the People's Republic of China (Mainland China). Lin left his pregnant wife and his three-year-old child in Taiwan; a year after he defected, he was declared "missing" by the ROC Army and his wife claimed the equivalent of US$31,000 from the government.His wife and their children joined him years later when both of them went to study in the United States. While an officer in the ROC Army, Lin was held up as a model soldier; after his desertion, the ROC originally listed him as missing but in 2000 issued an order for his arrest on charges of desertion.

In a letter written to his family in Taiwan about a year after his defection, Lin stated that "based on my cultural, historical, political, economic and military understanding, it is my belief that returning to the motherland is a historical inevitability; it is also the optimal choice. A Taiwan University alumnus Hongsheng Zheng (鄭鴻生) confirmed Lin's reason and motive. Lin's oldest brother said it was unfair to brand his younger brother a traitor. "I don't understand why people regard him as a villain," he said. "My brother just wanted to pursue his ambitions"

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Alternative reality

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from BBC 

Zizek applies Hegel to examples

 In all these cases, universality islocated in the enchainment or overlapping of particularities: A and B are not parts (species) of their encompassing universality; A cannot fully become A, actualize its notion, without passing into B, which is formally its subspecies, but a subspecies which undermines the very species under which it is formally subsumed. Every species contains asubspecies which, precisely insofar as it effectively realizes the notion of this species, explodes its frame: the space opera is "a Western at the level of its notion" and, for that very reason, no longer a Western. Instead of a universality subdivided into two species, we thus get a particular species which generates another species as its own subspecies,and true ("concrete") universality is nothing but this movement in the course of which a species engenders a subspecies which negates its own species. The same dialectical mediation between the universal and the particular can also be formulated in terms of a universal notion and its examples. The difference between the idealist and the materialistuse of examples is that, in the Platonic-idealist approach, examples are always imperfect, they never perfectly render what they are supposed to exemplify, while for a materialist there is always more in the example than in what it exemplifies, in other words, the example always threatens to undermine what it is supposed to exemplify since it givesbody to what the exemplified notion itself represses or is unable to cope with. (Therein resides Hegel's materialist procedure in the Phenomenology: each "figure of consciousness" is first exemplified and then undermined through its own example.) This is why the idealist approach always demands a multitude of examples—since no single examplereally fits, one has to enumerate a great many of them in order to indicate the transcendent wealth of the Idea they exemplify, the Idea being the fixed point of reference for the floating examples. A materialist, on the contrary, tends to return obsessively to one and the same example: it is the particular example which remains the same in all symbolicuniverses, while the universal notion it is supposed to exemplify continually changes its shape, so that we get a multitude of universal notions circulating around a single example. Is this not what Lacan does, returning to the same exemplary cases (the guessing-game with five hats, the dream of Irma's injection, etc.), each time providing a newinterpretation? The materialist example is thus a universal Singular: a singular entity which persists as the universal through the multitude of its interpretations

Monday, May 28, 2012

Justin Clemens last week debunking internet libertarianism.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


 With hindsight, and given what we know about the Blair government now and their new labour consensus neo-liberal politics in Britain and from the Adam Curtis take on that era, how do we critically evaluate the YBA's as anything other than instruments of that regime? Why is no one gunning for these guys, they certainly deserve it.

I was just thinking that the arguments of occupy could be applied to the art world, ie. why do the 1% of artists control 99% of its wealth, why is there little future for more highly qualified young artists that their predecessors etc.

 art world is a bit different to occupy in some respects. at least as far as selling works is concerned. the system of sales is just a system by which things can be marketed to ultrra rich people and so you obvioulsy only get a few things commanding all the money. they are objects with only sign value  (intersubjective) and no use value as far as themarket can see. so theres no reason for people to spread their interests broadly.

but if you mean it more institutionally that might be a bit more weighty. like the institutions are pretty self serving in who and how they support artists. and people have to know how to jump the right hoops. (which is probs true of everything thouhg)

having said that i agree the ybas success is absolutely unimaginable without the blairism that underpinned the art institutions of that day. its not that theyre work is good or bad and should be gunned for, its more that it is majoritarian and fulfilled within the regime. so doesnt this just leave other forgotten works of the 90s to be rediscovered and rekindled in the future.?


Well, culturally its an analog of Britpop so Damien Hirst is kind of like a Oasis or Blur or something. And all those bands, a much as I liked some of them, were weird union jack waving retrograde perpetuations of an outdated and, at that time and place, perhaps dangerous form of British nostalgia and nationalism. I saw this video with Eschun talking about the nineties, where there is stuff like acid and jungle and rave culture going on underground while the official narrative is these flag waving beatles impersonators which was really disjunctive. I think Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucus and Hirst and a few others fit into that, being really sex, drugs and rock and roll and really turned inwards towards neuroses which perhaps corresponds with the market individualism of the era. I remember Charles Saatchi even tried to spearhead a failed art movement of painters in Britain called something like the new neurotic realists. 


Doesn't reading that time as being purely a moment of failed-blairism-to-come, not acknowledge what the culture was for itself?

Perhaps you could say the cockney nostalgia and country house nationalism was actually what was least retrogressive about the moment in the sense that at that moment england was re-examining itself and reconfiguring its history towards something new. even if it was a failure it was a very interesting time in which the culture was in a time of active renewal and was spring cleaning its old baggage. 

you cant really overlook what a big thing it was for britain to move from thatcherism (although i know this is a few years later on). i think people still really saw it as a democratic moment where all classes of britain could reclaim its cultural heritage as moving on from ossified class elitism. But i guess you are saying this was merely a spectacle?

I am not so familiar with Adam Curtis' take on the era, but does it totally disqualify the idea that at the moment new labour came into power england was involved in a genuine attempt to partake in a political moment? its a bit hard to say that these artists were card carrying neo-libs when at the time some of their directions appeared to be fertile ground. In some ways it was probably a moment  like australia post-howard, where nobody could know that rudd was going to be a psychopath, yet that was sort of beside the point, because a large part of australia just wanted to revise the cultural baggage of the previous years.

Further, are you also saying that the YBA s effectively offer nothing that goes beyond their cultural context?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Global Nomads

Aren't global nomads really what precarious labour is moving towards? Ex-pats who move to where the work is, entire civilisations of people that move to say, one economic boom town to another. Just following large capital investment flows until they develop a region, reduce marginal returns, and then all move to the next fertile region. Isn't this precisely the same as nomadic following of seasonal agricultural produce based on rain patterns ?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Intergenerational equality

Today's precarity of labour - is there not the temptation to construct it as the end of a neoliberal project in which the baby boomer generation has pocketed all that was once the domain of the commons?

"New census data in the U.S. indicate that 37 percent of American households headed by someone under 35 now have a net worth of zero or less; households headed by a person over 65 have a net worth 47 times greater than younger households; the incomes of young people have fallen over 10 percent since 2000 even as the cost of living rises; and starting salaries are frozen or down even for those who do find jobs. 

And at present this problem is dealt with privately, by intergenerational wealth transfer (inheritance / rich parents), but increasingly, by making social compromises: 

Over a million more young people are living at home since 2008, and a "boomerang" generation (returning to live with their parents because of precarious work prospects) has grown up across North America and Western Europe. Traditional milestones of adulthood—living independently, marrying, having children, buying a home—seem as distant to the precariously employed as the traditional social welfare network based on "standard employment". 

In saying that, doesn't neo-liberalism then treat every disjunct between social (regulatory) life and economic (regulatory) life in terms of a crisis of efficiency? 

And isn't the inevitable solution we will be offered be the re-inscribing of familial relations into economic terms?

Male labour participation rate

The Tories 'Free Schools'

Speaking of co-opting...

The Ark charity, started by a bunch of hedge fund managers runs one of the most sucessful chains of schools in Britain. Ark stands for 'Absolute Returns for Kids'

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Goodman/Eshun - Beyond the Long Tail

Whoa! This ties together so many things I've been thinking about it makes sense before I've even listened to it.
Kodwo Eshun from the Otolith Group (nominated for the Turner a few years back) and Steve Goodman (aka Kode9 and head of Hyderdub) talk about 'the Long Tail' and the future of music after the internet, referencing the global ghetto-tech culture along the way.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A pilgrimage perhaps worth making

"It still stands, the One, though there's a new facade, and its former identity lives on in the memories of a mere handful of neighbouring shopkeepers. You would be forgiven for thinking that it was destroyed in one or another ruinous chapter of the city's history. As such, it has taken on a mythic character, the Shangri-La for Boetti disciples, younger artists, and critics. One can visit Smithson's Spiral Jetty or take a trip to De Maria's Lightning Fields, but Kabul, the thinking goes, is an artistic pilgrimage too far. Still, if you come and make the right turn off Chicken Street, you can find the building and compare its visage with a photograph of the place that Murtaza Roshan took around 1973, and do whatever it is that art pilgrims do when treading on holy ground."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thought Experiment No. 001

So if the Industrial Revolution begins around 1750with continued technological developments until the beginning of the information age in the 1970's, that means we are at about 1790 in terms of computer technology and the Internet. Let's try and think of some possible unimaginable futures of the internet and technology in lets say, 100 years time. 

I think that cyborg beings are inevitable, that computers will be hooked directly to our brains with contact lens monitors and ear piece speakers. All notions of intelligence will become obsolete as everyone will be able to look up the answer on their google brains to any question, and we will be able to choose whether to store our memories on our unreliable brains or infinite harddrives. I can't see any future for human, physical selves at all I guess-but this isn't going far enough because I just imagined the Matrix. What could be so out of the realm of possibility that it has to happen?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Superstition and the Stock Market

"One of my favourite researched rituals is a 'reputable' trader who establishes his starting trading position based on the nipple direction of the Sun's page 3 model (up or down). Whilst these facts may be fun and whimsical, what really interests me is when these irrational beliefs start to emerge and become implicated into more cemented systems. For example, 70% of the largest lift supplier's orders, request that the number 13 is removed. So in question, how far will it go, and how far do we demand such beliefs to be implemented? What I want to do is extract these irrationalness and redesign a system which is governed by alternative beliefs. One in which all these beliefs that exist on a private level emerge to infect larger systems. In effect creating this parallel stock market."
Shing Tat Chung

Saturday, February 11, 2012

mass observation 

slavs and tartars

Aesthetically, I think islamic culture is amazing and these guys have a great name and some interesting work. We should form a collective known as 'the journal of sino-judaic correspondence' and devote ourselves to mining the interstitial gap of confluence between Chinese and Judaic culture.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I think I will do it more often, more brashely and more fancifully.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Privatising the internet - can it be achieved?

Apparently so, as the "backbone" of the internet is all in the US. 

This is tragedy on a historical scale.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Superflex and the Limits of Ethical Capitalism

Do you think the critique Kester presents in this essay on Superflex's Biogas project is a bit simplistic and bears an uncomplicated relation to the market? In the sense that the knee jerk reaction of most artists and critics is the simple fact they understand that 'Neo-liberalism=bad', wefareism=good. So when he charges Superflex with siding with the market against the negative aspects of aid dependency in the developing world, ie. structural adjustment, multinational corporate unaccountability, as necessarily an act of complicity, does he miss the advantages of the market in the role of economic development? What he sees as a patronizing and paternalistic position on the part of Superflex in trying to encourage entrepreneurship can also be seen in terms of initiatives like Maker Faire Africa, where small business and small-scale innovation is seen as a necessary condition for national progress when combined with favorable conditions provided by the state.

Wazungu Means White Man: Superflex and the Limits of Ethical Capitalism (2008)

Monday, January 9, 2012

De-Skilling and Re-Skilling

I really love to hate Claire Bishops writing because she has my number every time. I begrudging concede that she really doesn't cut artists any slack. From her critique of participatory art to this critique of de-skilling/re-skilling by artists re: artists dabbling in theater and theater people dabbling in contemporary art brings up some good points. Her acknowledgment that the former is traced to a democratization of the concept of theater and its funneling through punk and DIY in contemporary work is accurate. And the strategy of 'outsourcing' the performance to amateurs as a mirror of the Conceptualist's outsourcing of the fabrication of instruction and text based works to Fordist production process combined with the 'naive' and 'unknowing' amateur performer practicing a kind of art brut, unmediated everyday creativity is exactly what we were doing intuitively in Nomads on Vacation.