Filed under: Aesthetics, art, Philosophy | Tags: art, Cai Guo-Qiang, ethics, Nancy, Ontology, taking-place, zones of undecidability
Cai Guo-Qiang, Self-Portrait: A Subjugated Soul, 1985/89
From the first time encountering this image, the associations with a handful concepts were inescapable. In one fell swoop, ideas of subjectivity, energy, temporality, the trace, eventality, halos, and (most interestingly) incandescence glisten in the flow of attention when standing before the Qiang’s image.
Multiple passages from Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Experience of Freedom speak to this flash of bundled energy in the act of taking-place or becoming that Qiang’s self-rendering seems to record. In one particular instance, Nancy writes of the ontological dimensions of freedom’s flare (82):
…freedom is itself nothingness, which does not negate itself properly speaking, but which, in an pre-or paradialectical figure of the negation of negation, affirms itself by making itself intense.
The intensification of the nothingness does not negate its nothing-ness: it concentrates it, accumulates the tension of the nothingness as nothingness (hollowing out the abyss, we cold say…), and carries it to the point of incandescence where it takes on the burst of an affirmation. With the burst–lightning and bursting, the burst of lightning–it is the strike of one time, the existing irruption of existence.
This radiance occurs at the border between the formless being that lays beyond representation and representations of humanity that take on a determinate form or another. It is the most basic point of our existence where ontological and ethical categories blur and come into play with each other.
Qiang’s gesture shows a trace of a human being that at a point in time glistens with a particular intensity, radiates heat and energy, and warps and bends the field around him. At some points the halo surrounding the figure crackles with electric flashes whose ardor match that of the body.
In the halo’s dark singes it is difficult to determine whether each ray is a wayward flash straying outward from the body or if the body is attempting to collect loose bits of energy from the surrounding environment to concentrate and make possible that blinding flash of light that burns the parchment of our world. The halo allows itself to radiate and dissipate outwards in a faint light to reveal the dark, unknown form that captivates our attention.
Filed under: Aesthetics, Books, Chicano, Ideas, Latinos, Literature, Mexico, Philosophy, Politics, Publications, Uncategorized | Tags: Agamben, Aura Estrada, Badiou, Benjamin, Bernard Steigler, Biopolitics, Books, Foucault, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Journal of Theives, Literature, Mexico City, New Blogs, Photography, Pochismo, Science
- From Mexico City, Intersections returns from its hiatus with an update on recent events honoring writer Aura Estrada as part of an effort to create a literary prize in her memory. The prize will offer promising Mexican women writers an opportunity to hone their literary chops.
- Intersections follows up with a post on recent programming at Mexico City’s Center for Contemporary Culture. Maras y la Cultura de la Violencia focuses on La Mara Salvatrucha, among the most widely-publicized and feared street gangs in the US and El Salvador. The show raises a host of questions, especially about the way in which museums and cultural institutes address highly charged contemporary issues. Is the show an instance of the ongoing ‘museumification of the world’? Is it an attempt to deal with a matter usually placed under the sign of public safety/police/crime journalism with the resources of humanistic reflection? Or is it just a foolish, useless, and unsympathetic expedition glorifying a way of life marked, or perhaps defined, by cruelty, aggression, and ruthlessness?
- The MIT Press is holding its Winter White Sale until January 31, which is the press’s coolest discount book buying opportunity next to their loading dock sale. If any dear readers wish to donate books to the tirado/thrown staff (ahem…), please feel free to ask how you can send Ruben Gallo’s Mexican Modernity and/or Adam Sharr’s Heidegger’s Hut. Generosity will be compensated with a treatment of received book on this blog and recognition from a grateful beneficiary.
- Perverse Egalitarianism reflects on Bernard Steigler’s Acting Out. The call to philosophy and the discipline required in its practice, which, at the risk of oversimplifying, is part in parcel with getting on in this existence of ours.
- Why has No Useless Leniency not been in my reader? Why were three outstanding posts missed here at tirado/thrown? In the interest of making amends, first some notes on Badiou’s The Meaning of Sarkozy, highlighting some useful precepts. Second, a post reflecting on the ontology of the interval, with some hints for further reflection regarding the conquest and creation of the New World. Third and last, some notes on Walter Benjamin’s essay Capitalism as Religion, an essay that Agamben riffs heavily on in “In Praise of Profanation.”
- This Recording’s recent “Science Corner” entry, aside from being colorful, is an example downright cool science blogging for the barely initiated. And now we are a little more familiar with the mating habits of the banana slug.
- I Cite shares with readers some notes on Foucault’s 1978-79 lectures on the genesis of modern biopolitics. Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
- Guillermo Gómez-Peña, who has helped bring pochismo into the cultural vernacular, is The Mexorcist. Yes, xenophobia is a spiritual disorder. An interview with the Tuscon Citizen elaborates. (Note: Gómez-Peña will be giving a talk at USC on January 28. For more context, his article in The Journal of Visual Culture from 2006 titled El Mexorcist lays out the basic idea.)
- Rhizome calls our attention to the brick being thrown at us. Buffalo Head: Media Practice, Media Study, Media Pioneeers 1973-1990 is the 800-plus page , 10 pound book documenting the work of SUNY Buffalo’s Center for Media Studies.
- tirado/thrown receives a greeting from Journal of Thieves. Not at all safe for work, or for those who are easily offended. We were definitely charmed by the assault on sensibility that makes easily reproduced spectacle and images of extreme ambiguity render pornography inoperative. tirado/thrown thanks JoT for making us think. We welcome you to the blogroll, with open, er, you get the point.
- Please, click through the link at the end of the bullet . You’ll find your computer to be interesting and fun again. http://www.zigzagphilosophy.com/
Image: Screenshot of zigzagphilosophy.com, (2009). Digital work by Angelo Plessas, found at Rhizome.
Filed under: Aesthetics, Ideas, Politics | Tags: Architecture, criticism, Kazys, markets, political economy, theory
Goodbye marketechture, um I mean, starchitechture: many hardly knew ye.
At his blog, architecture theorist Kazys Varnelis shares some thoughts and questions on the post-critical moment in architecture, that lavish marriage of private wealth, tidal infusions of capital, technology, building, and design. This movement might be mercifully on the wane, at least for the time being. Varnelis summarizes:
Now that architecture has allied itself with a failed theory of the market, what will become of it? This isn’t an idle question. As society and culture reconfigure, an architecture that has little to offer except a direct representation of capital flows is unlikely to succeed. Moreover, the fascination that post-critical architects had with producing designs through software parallels the reduction of architecture to complex financial instruments that existed primarily in the network. This has already been called into question in the market. Architecture is, as usual, just a little behind.
The failure of markets to justly dispense goods and resources not only re-poses the question of a just political economy, but also with respect to the political significance of architecture. Will we begin witnessing the dethronement of the starchitect as the paradigmatic figure of building and design in culture? Can more critical perspectives on these relationships gain serious traction in architecture education, urban design, philosophy, and aesthetics? I would like to believe so, and in the process make amends for fawning over the overwhelming and nearly stultifying triumphs of Gehry, Mirer, Koolhaas, and the market-driven architecture that defined my adolescence and early adulthood. [kazys.varnelis.net]
Image: The Frank Ghery designed Deutsche Bank building in Berlin. As of this post, DB’s US stock closed today at $30.68 a share, down from a 52-week high of $135.49. Image source, Paw89, Flickr; stock source, Google Finance.
Filed under: Aesthetics, Anthropology, art, Chicano, Latinos | Tags: border crossing, cybernetics, exhibition value, low riders, post-chicano, profanation, technology
Artist Ruben Ortiz Torres digs into his archives and offers his readers at For the Record a video piece entitled Custom Mambo (1992, 5 min., 13 sec). It’s a marvelous study replete with kaleidoscopic imagery and multiple juxtapositions: Mexican folk iconography with 1950s and 60s American pop culture symbols, dancing cars set against women dancing at car shows, signs of the dangerous, furtive, and panicked border crossings contrasting the relaxed, low-and-slow car cruise. Ortiz brings these signs of arrival into American consumer life, highlighting in them the desire for recognition in a cultural setting that relegates such ingenuity and communication to the margins of American culture. Custom Mambo also shows the technology of low-rider culture to be a kind of proto-cybernetics, giving cars the capacity to take on human qualities of gesture, movement, and storytelling beyond through aesthetic intervention. About these re-tooled, re-constituted wonders, Torres-Ortiz notes:
These “rides” constitute an effort to be noticed in a society that doesn’t want to see the people that ride them. I hope the video conveys the overwhelming experience of the Dyonisian “beauty” that escapes any notion of rationality and at the same time hints at some of the problems it raises.
Filed under: Aesthetics, art, Music, Philosophy | Tags: art, camilo sesto, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Philosophy, Politics, recognition, sensibility, taste
It’s reasonable to suppose that a prompt report comes out of a moving encounter. In that respect, I make a poor journalist. But it also takes some time to make sense of what has moved the participant in an encounter.
You & Me, Sometimes… is an exhibition obscuring the distinction between a private cabinet of curiosity and a curatorial project. Sandra Antelo-Suarez, founder and editor of TRANS>, assembled an abundance of work and events from over twenty artists in the relatively small confines of a 1.5 floor gallery space. In this collapse of idiosyncrasy and publicity was a play of discourse neither self-addressed nor intended towards an expectant public. The press release was a friendly, colloquial, and outgoing letter from Antelo-Suarez to herself (“Sandy”) full of desire and warmth. It’s a modified soliloquy ask its addressee to partake in her intense interest in the intersections of the social, political, and aesthetic. The brief visits to the gallery bookending my short trip to New York City were among the most memorable and stimulating surprises. You and Me, Sometimes… offered an opportunity to happen upon some new works and re-visit some familiar acquaintances in a renewed light.
While there was more work than could be really taken in a short hour in the gallery, repeated visits were rewarded with events, stagings, and performances. Among the work that I was able to take in , highlights included a mix of old and new. Six of Francisco de Goya’s Caprichos lined the foyer’s main wall, including El sueno de la razon produce monstruos. Arguably, these little pieces were the signs that informed the driving sensibility of You & Me, Sometimes…, where art lingers beside and cuts across quotidian existence. (Could it be possible that these little pieces influenced the work of a certain Mexican printmaker born twenty-four years after Goya’s death? Art historians, please let me know.) Paul Ramirez-Jonas‘s work dealt with the potentialities of communication amid the apparatus that purports to aid us in communicating. (Hopefully, a quick piece on some of his pieces at the show will come in a later post.) Various works by Alexander Calder in the show jump between formalist and political, such as Three Segments and and his ads protesting the Vietnam War and the abuses of power perpetrated by the Nixon administration. These currents cross in the model of Mercury Fountain on display aside the Caprichos. Minerva Cuevas contributed her unflinching critiques of concentrated corporate wealth and colonialist power through her multi-media works, including a staging of the Mejor Vida Corporation‘s Donald McRonald intervention outside the Union Square McDonald’s on April 25. Finally, Fresa Salvaje brought together selected sounds of forgotten latin music that became recognizable upon hearing, courtesy of Aldo Sanchez (aka DJ Papichulo) and Dulce Pinzón. When not doing their selecting and spinning, Sanchez is an independent curator, and Pinzón is a photographer recognized for her outstanding 2006 photographs, Los Superheroes.
Both the general form the show took and the variety of works and artists on display illuminate questions about the act of selecting pieces for display and their organization under the designation ‘taste’. A couple of weeks ago, a short discussion concerning the connections between taste, knowledge, and experience prompted speculation the definition of the term ‘taste’. Carolina pointed out “a possible relation between sabor (taste, flavor) and saber (knowledge). ¿A qué sabe? What does it taste like? Tasting as a form of knowledge.” The connection is quite palpable in Spanish, but not so in English. One does not say in English that a lemon knows sour. (Jose Iraola’s Simultaneous Translation on display vaguely illustrates the phenomenon of how translation can turn into a game of telephone.)
This speculation on the relation between knowledge and experience quickly led down a rehashing of Kantian contradictions without resolution that were just unproductive. But some further thinking and a serendipitous reading of The Origin of Philosophy by that philosophical Goya, José Ortega y Gasset, offered a possible clue. In a discussion of the thinker as a social figure, he takes an effortless etymological detour into the common Indo-European root of the terms of wisdom, knowledge and savoring (tasting) that have left their traces in ourmodern languages. His discussion suggests is that taste is less about a possessed knowledge, but an exposure to openness “…always referring, however, to a non-theoretical, still non-existent type of knowledge.” (116) From this suggestion we can imply that taste is the possibility that artistic production can convey both the knowledge of producing beautiful sense experiences and sense experiences whose beauty make knowing more knowable. And it’s that very simple possibility that resides throughout You & Me, Sometimes…: that contact with the very edge of another’s sensibility can yield knowledge about the world we inhabit and the way we approach it.
How can I not end a post without a video? It’d be cruel of me to not do so. It’s the least I can do to reward your having made it from one end of the post to the other without clicking out. Here’s some priceless footage of Camilo Sesto meeting his promotional obligations for a then freshly-cut record, Solo un Hombre. Check out Fresa Salvaje. You & Me, Sometimes… ends Saturday, May 3.