Crit theory class

BLOG 1


EXPERIMENTATION IS A PROCESS BY WHICH THINGS COME INTO BEING

MAKING IS AN UNPREDICTABLE ACTIVITY


MULTI-SITED RESEARCH: the object of study may itself not been known before, but emerges on the links.


Do not follow a goal.

Let yourself flow into affection, exploration, intuition, questions.


In the path of experimentation/observation, we build a relation with the things we are doing. With matter, with the digital, with whatever we are working with. Instead of following a goal, explore. Let yourself to be affected. Change of plans may appear, that is: being in relation, being affected. This could bring unexpected decisions. An act of listening and talking. Communication, in sort way.


To embrace other’s agency to drive my own practice, is necessary to focus on processes, experimentations, exploration; instead of results. Trust in the process.


Looking for a final result already in mind is a human-intended action despite the world. No affection. That’s the kind of art education that I received in my undergraduates. Pure conceptual art. The idea first. The processes as just as a gap to achieve a pre-conceived idea, but not a process itself. Clever ideas with no-body.


Reading ‘Alien Agency” I concluded that a posthuman and non-materialist art practice involves a methodology of work that embraces processes and its unpredictability. It needs a methodology that listens. It needs an artist that allows itself to be affected by the matter of study; an artist that gives up control.


To be able to do this, I insist, we need time. Time for connection. Time for experimentation. Time to be with the other.


“(...) I know that when you are working in this way [durational performances], phychological and physical change takes place. You are affected by duration: your perception and your reality becomes different. So, if its done truly, int the way that Tehching did it, transformation takes place (...)” Marina Abramovich in Time (2013).


Some time ago, I attended to a lecture about “non-human theatre”. In it, the play writer highlighted that this was still theatre for humans by, for example, the use of human language. Nevertheless, there was something about the process that could be less hierarchical, instead, center in learning from others. This talk comes to my mind now. Contemporary art might still be done by “humans” and for “humans”, but I like changing the focus on the idea/goal and take it into the process. Listening others.


The act of listening is different from the act of seeing/observing. In this last one, there is a distance between the observer and the observed. As in front of a landscape, the observed is always in front of us. Even in a tiny distance, you need distance to focus your eyes. A completely different situation is the act of listening. Sound is a surrounding phenomenon. We are always in the middle. There’s no distance. Moreover, listening implies bringing to the inside what is outside. We need a connection with ourselves to be able to listen.


// Areas to explore (computing)

My interest about the concept of time, affection, living with others; misses a computational question that I haven’t find yet. To achieve connections, I’ve concluded the following areas of study to explore:

- Relations human-machine, cyborg relation, how to live together, interactivity, sensors, computer vision, bodies in relation.

- Book: Vehicles, Valentino.

- Autopoiesis, Maturana-Varela.

- Book: On the mode of existence of Technical Objects, Simondon.

- Computer predictions or a posthuman/non-materialist unpredictable approach.

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Bibliography

Salter, C. (2015). Alien Agency. Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press.

Time (2013). London: Whitechapel Art Gallery.



BLOG 2 : 16th November 2020


“(…) our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.”

D. Haraway (1984)


When I read this phrase for the first time, I agreed with it but, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. We’ve seen many cyberpunk movies depicting the “ghost in the shell” imaginary: from the film that titles that phrase, to many other productions such as Terminator, Tron, Blade Runner, Ex-Machina, WestWorld, among others. Beyond the fact that these “living machines” have been pretty much conceived as “human-like” replicants —; I kept wondering how “frighteningly inert” are we. How inert am I?


I’m not going to dig into the life-inert dilemma, nor into “we are all cyborgs” nor either into “all matter is vibrant matter”. But I’m interested in this turn from “life” to “inert”, as Haraway suggested. Inert, here, doesn’t seem to mean “absent of movement”, or “absent of action”. “We” keep breathing, our hearts keep beating, though, Haraway’s words feels very accurate. The dystopian cliché: wake up, go to work, go back home, sleep, and wake up again: an eternal loop of linear automatism. Or pretty much as "Matrix" (1999): living human-battery supplies that feed the capitalist system. Empty automatic behavior. No time for decision-making. No space for a sensitive and relational being. In addition, processes of homogenization, loss of individualization and alienation.


On Vimeo, I found a video of Franco Biffo Berardi talking about his book “After the Future” (Sujo Docs, 2011). Here, he explains that “the future is over”, so we would need something beyond the end, beyond the future. That, he says, is time. Time to live.


“We don’t need more things; we need more time. We don’t need more property; we need more joy. Today, we have developed the conditions to produce everything we need in terms of exploitation. So, the problem now is not about growth, but enjoy the world we’ve achieved. (…) the possibility of self-care, self-therapy, self-education. “ (Sujo Docs, 2011).


“We need to stop working and start living”, he says.

If we need to start living… that sentence already contemplates that we stopped living.


“(…) frighteningly inert”.


That’s finally the meaning that I was looking for.

We are frighteningly inert, frighteningly dead. Dead in the middle of the end of the future.


Berardi was very emphatic in the phrase “we need time for living”. He repeated it several times. And even when I find his approach very snob, I agree with the sentence. Actually, it is the core of my current research.


Berardi also mentions Simondon’s ideas of “individualization” and “singularity”. If I understood correctly, he is trying to explain how “the history of capitalism is the history of homogeneity” (Sujo Docs, 2011) which flats our human singularities. I would add that this homogenization is not new at all. Started with Europe and its violente colonization around the world, erasing and literally killing lives and cultures that were different, therefore, unacceptable. Today, finally, the process went back into the colonizers. Homogeneity has reached us all.


Berardi claims: “we have more information but less meaning”, and this might produce an effect on our human relationships. Alienation from nature, from other people, from our work and from ourselves, as Marx categorizes. I deeply believe that we need time to live, as Berardi says. Living is living time, we can’t just skip it. Living takes time, it involves duration. A concept that I was studying in Byung-Chul Han’s book “The Scent of Time: A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering”.


But before going any further, I would like to highlight Marina Garcés’s “Nueva Ilustración Radical” (Garcés, 2017), in which she also rises the phrase “the end of the future”, calling it a posthumous condition. I like that she introduces the concept of “life of dignity” as the condition for a posthumous future. She observes:


“The end of modernity, of history, of ideologies and revolutions. We’ve been seeing the end of progress: the end of the promise of the future as development and growth. Today, we see resources running out, water, oil, clean air, and the extinction of ecosystems and their diversity”[1] (2017, p. 13).


What we find here is a liminal state. “The limit of a livable life”, she says. In this context, "life of dignity" would mean something like "basic socio-human-being needs". A basic standard to live and die healthy, “properly”, with no-alienation and back to our bodies, back to our relations with others and the world.


Let's remember the initial idea of "inert" for a second. A life without dignity would be, then, an empty and inert automaton. Living, then, it's not just about joy, as Bifo manifests, it's –a lot— about dignity.


“Dignity” is the more spread word in the recent Chilean revolt (2019-): if you ask any Chilean the reasons behind their protests, they would probably say: "for a life of dignity". This is a very open answer, I know. It's not about pensions, it's not about taxes, it's not about education; it's about all of them. Is a structural problem. The basics are broken.



Bibliography

Garcés, M. (2017). Nueva Ilustración Radical. Barcelona: Anagrama.


Haraway, D (1991). ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’, in Haraway, D. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free Association Books, pp. 152.


Sujo Docs (2011). Bifo: After the Future. Available at: https://vimeo.com/25367464 (Accessed: 16 November 2020).

[1] Translation from Spanish by Camila Colussi


BLOG3: 1st December 2020


Cycle and transformation


Last week, a student asked me about my project “Better Times Are Coming”. “Cycle and transformation” was the core of her thesis, so she was looking at artworks that could express her approach. She asked me if my work could be thought from that perspective. Sadly, I realized that it doesn’t.


The concept of time and transformation are very significant to me. I built the project about ideas of cyclical history versus progress, linearity, eternal return and the possibility of change. Mainly about the possibility of change. When this student asked about my work, I realized that I was talking about transformation, but the structure of the piece was purely cycle. It might show variations at each cycle but, at the end, it doesn’t allow transformation. The code is fixed, stable, even when the interactions alter sound and graphics, it always resets itself as a brand new repetitive cycle.


Lately, I’ve been approaching to theories of chaos and predictability. Fractals, recursion, feedback. Cybernetics and theory of systems. Complexity. Change, cycles and transformation. This approach comes from a relational understanding of existing in the universe. No more individuals, but complex agents of fluid systems, inseparable and in mutual